Friday, December 23, 2005

Thank You &

Merry Christmas to all my readers and all my friends!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


A letter to the Editor commenting on a article printed November 14 in the WSJ titled “The New Diversity” by Carol Hymowitz, Roger Clegg, General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, answers as follows; “When a company brags that it celebrates diversity, it almost always means that it takes, race, ethnicity and sex into who gets hired and promoted. This isn’t fighting discrimination. This is discrimination. When business say they are marketing to a diverse customer base; what they are saying is nonsense. You don’t have to be a member of a particular ethnic group in order to figure out how to sell to them. Just because you happen to belong to that group doesn’t mean you actually know anything about selling to them. Also, a company can’t discriminate against black applicants just because the customer base is white, and the same is true if the shoe is on the other foot.

Companies should just hire the best qualified people, without out regard to skin color, the country their ancestors came from, or their plumbing. And they should fire their vice-presidents for diversity and fire their diversity consultants.”

The President and CEO of the Associations for Americans for Civic Responsibility also answers to the same “The New Diversity” article by stating “a good “diversity practice” doesn’t adopt a mere numbers game of hiring certain minorities alone, but also QUAIFIED people from every segment of society, both native born and naturalized. Corporations that play the numbers game excluding highly qualified immigrants because of their accent, ancestry or appearance, interlinked with their national origins, should not claim to be good corporate citizens.”

Amen for colleges and any organization that excludes people of ability OF ANY RACE OR GENDER just because they have “quotas” to fill.

On 12/5/02, an article written by the conservative Linda Chavez, she sums it up by saying “No person should be denied opportunity because of skin color.” But she goes on to say “that colleges and universities have been trying to socially engineer their student enrollment to reflect some ideal racial balance at the expense of more qualified students.”

William Henry in his book “In Defense of Elitism” points out that when companies’ downsize the elimination comes from those who were lured to college thru diversity plans and on the mistaken premise that college would transfer them from mediocre to magisterial.

Myron Magnet in his 1993 book “The Dream and Nightmare” predicted the dumbing down of America by our leaders trying to be politically correct. There is no doubt that we are a diverse country which has always been an asset our growth and successes. But the quality of the product offered is what will sell, not the diversity of the workforce.

I leave you with this quote from Rebecca West “If the whole human race lay in one grave, the epitaph on its headstone might well be: It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Iraq Today

The Noon Optimist Club welcomes Amir W. Al-Khafajl, Ph.D., M. ASCE, Professor and Chairperson; Department of Civil Engineering and Construction at Bradley University, on January 32, 2006. The Optimist Cub meets every Tuesday at approximately 11:30-1:00 at Barracks Catering. Our meetings are open to the public and the $9.50 charge includes a buffet lunch.

Dr. Al-Khafajl will speak on “Iraq Today”. He has recently returned from his native Iraq and other locations in the Mid-East. His familiarity with the regions most of us know little about except what we hear, and his experiences and first hand knowledge should help us better understand this area of our world.

Dr. Al-Khafajl may surprise some who have bought in to the “doom and gloom” of the situation in Iraq as described and shown by most of the liberal press.

Look for the announcement of this event in the Journal Star under the heading of “Social Clubs” on Monday January 30.

Hope some of my readers can join us. Having heard Dr, A-Khafajl speak, I believe your time will be well rewarded. Plus, the buffet is excellent.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A School District #150 Jewell

The Place -The Optimist Club Luncheon today at Barracks Catering.

The Performers – Preparatory School for the Arts

From – Peoria High School

Directed by - Ms. Karen Henderson Choral Director

The Choral Group – Absolutely delightful and talented!

The Director – Ditto!

The Optimist Members – Very appreciative!

This group of talented and seniors and underclass students put on a very refreshing and delightful and attention holding performance, presenting excellent vocal skills; even a barbershop quintet of five guys who not only were talented singers but entertaining performers. This group is a must see.

Their pre-holiday performances are scheduled as follows:

Thursday 12/15 at PHS – Peoria High Holiday Concert at 7:00 P.M.

Sunday 12/18 at the Civic Center Theatre – PACC Concert at 2:30 P.M.

Saturday 12/24 on WHOI-TV – Songs of the Holiday – 7 -9 P.M.

The leadership of Ms. Henderson and the attentiveness to her leadership by the boys and girls in Peoria High Choral Group is a pleasure to observe. This choral group and their director, is just one prominent example of accomplished people in Peoria Public School District #150. The Preparatory School for the Arts is a very important addition to the district’s curriculum, providing learning experiences from a respected and talented teacher whose extra efforts assist to graduate well-rounded high school, and probably college bound, students.

You can reach Ms. Henderson at or at 672-6630. She knows how to relate to her students and assist them to perform their very best and it is obvious this choral group enjoys performing.

See for yourself and tell your friends!!

Linking Pay to Performance

“More Companies Offer Packages Linking Pay to Performance” quoting from an article in today’s Wall Street Journal. “More companies are looking to increase the importance of merit-based raises. And more companies may also seek to link performance to benefits such as retirement savings with health care. Home Depot, like most companies, had long had a bonus program limited to managers and executives; workers in its stores had little incentive to go the extra mile. Several years ago, the company decided to change that. In 2003, it launched a program that gives store associates (workers) the opportunity to earn a bonus if their stores meet certain financial goals. Last year, Home Depot paid out $90 million under this plan”.

Yesterday I sent a three page email to DeWayne Bartels covering merit pay, longevity, automatic raises based on seniority instead of on merit, ect., in answer to his request for my comments on comments made on the floor of the City Council last week. Perhaps DeWayne will quote me in this story he is planning for the Observer on the subject of pay for city employees. If anyone wishes a copy of my email just send me your email address.

I started my business career as a salesman. The first three months I was on straight salary, (not much) the 2nd three months I was on salary and commissions and after nine months I asked to go on straight commission and never looked back. Incentives have long been used by private enterprise. Expect incentives to become more the way of keeping up with the emerging third world and with competition at home and in all sectors of employment.

Not all people re-act the same to incentive pay. That is understandable but longevity and loyalty will not keep you employed as you get older if you cannot compensate with greater production or efficiency. Dependability will certainly be factored in your job security. Nor will it guarantee you a yearly wage increase. In this new world developing, the rules are changing. You will need to keep up or accept no raises and possibly less benefits. Believe me, the best guarantee for job security is your own ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world. Belonging to a union is helpful but even some unions have not been able to retain jobs for their union members. Maytag in Galesburg is just one of many examples.

Relate what I write to the secure old Peoria system of “Dad works at ‘so and so” company so Dad of Mom will be able to get son or daughter a job there also.” I don’t believe this system has worked at large companies for quite a while now. For job security today he or she must more than adequately fill the job description and he or she must accept the responsibility of their position. And expect job descriptions to change more frequently. Expect to hear the word “compete” more and more frequently. For those who do not want their kids to have to compete and expect their grown kids to get a trophy for showing up at work; this probably will not happen unless Dad and Mom own the business and probably not even then.

Those of you who work in the public sector will find as the years go by the public sector will be run more like a private business. It has no choice if this country wants to maintain its leadership in the world. There will be constant challenges by employees, union or non-union, and challenges to elected officials and administration to gain access to additional dollars. If this part of the country loses more of its economic growth steam the demand may be greater than the resources.

All who have prepared themselves to compete and to be responsible will be in the best position to insure their own job security.

Monday, December 12, 2005


When I was a manager in Dallas, Texas many years ago, my Chicago based regional manager told me that the U.S. would become like Japan; once an employee was hired on and gained tenure, the employee had a job guaranteed for the rest of their life. While I greatly respected Mr. Charles Morse, I told him I did not believe that would come to pass in this country. I certainly saw the possible advantages for the company and the employee. I also saw the potential downfall of the company or organization who promised lifetime employment to any employee.

The small town farming community where I grew up, Congerville, this community like all rural communities assisted those in real need and until they could again take care of themselves. Families were more intact and there was less materialism. Those who left the community to work for city companies never expected that they had lifetime employment if they didn’t meet the needs of their employer or if the company could not afford to keep them employed. Those able to work worked. Those who didn’t want to work moved from job to job or lived off their relatives and friends. Those unable to work were cared for by the community. The communities produced solid citizens.

How things have changed. An article in the JS on 12/5/05 reads “Study: Tenure Means Job Security”. It proceeds “Illinois teachers are rarely fired if they have tenure; it’s next to impossible for Illinois teacher to lose their jobs”. The article states that strong teachers unions and high costs related to legal appeals often scare many school districts form getting rid of even the worst tenured teachers. Clyde Seniers, superintendent of Cicero Elementary School is quoted “When I hire talented new college graduates I tell them “You are going to meet a lot of people in this profession who just shouldn’t be in it. But there is not a lot that can be done to hold them accountable because of tenure”.

Jim Dougherty, president of the Illinois Teacher Federation of Teachers, says “so few teachers are fired because so few need to be”. Hmmmmnm. Let’s look at the procedure to fire a teacher. Under a reform law passed 18 years ago, every school district except Chicago must recommend tenured teacher’s dismissal to an arbitrator. Arbitrators have ruled in 35% of the cases that the teacher should not be fired. The Geneseo school district has spent more than $400,000.00 in attorney fees over the past five years fighting appeals stemming from the firing of ONE tenured teacher.

Of the 95,000 tenured teachers employed in the state an average of only two per year are fired for poor performance. Another five a year are fired for misconduct. Public bodies are “plain out scared” to fire even the worst performing person because of fears of excessive litigation costs. 7 fired out of 95,000??

So my old boss was partly right. The public sector and some of the private sector in the U.S. is going the way of Japan. The Japanese model failed.

Many of the tenured teachers and other tenured people are promoted on the basis of length of time with the system instead of on their ability. Promotion by tenure instead of ability continues to deteriorate our public bodies, especially in the public school system. Expect more and more people moving to locations where the teachers are better, aren’t worried about tenure and the classrooms are less disruptive. Expect more “choice” schools being created for those parents who are concerned about the education of their children.

Northmoor is the perfect example of a well run school with a talented principal and staff. A large part of their success comes from being an Edison school. Superintendent Hinton and perhaps a majority of board members now talk of abolishing this “choice” system instead of reducing costs in other areas.

By contrast, an article in Forbes Magazine on 11/14/05 quotes Google CEO Eric Schmidt commenting on Goggle’s torrid growth, “this company loves to talk it out, jettisoning hierarchy, business silos and layers of management for a flatter “networked” structure where the person with the best data wins. He says “Google employees 5,000 painstakingly chosen people, sets up small, tightly focused teams, setting them up in an instant and breaking them down without remorse”.

Again, by contrast, many public schools hire whoever applies. Some weak school boards and administrators, overly protective unions with skilled attorneys and apathy in some communities have allowed “situations” within the schools that make it unattractive to be a teacher. Visit classrooms and you will see what some good and poor teachers have to put up with today. When I visit a school with strong principal and good teachers, I regain my confidence that the public schools can still succeed.

I left teaching after five great learning years and joined the business world. Since then it has been 50 years of continually learning and the more I learn the more I realize that while our public schools are some of the best in the world, many are failing or at least part of the system is failing. Having been a teacher, coach, business leader and now working as an elected official in the public sector, I am convinced that the public sector must be run more like a successful private business. To do that means more talented people are needed in the all the public sector ranks. Too attract more talented people; one major talent needed is “people skills”, we will need to make sweeping changes at the top starting with changes in the ivory towers of Washington, DC and Springfield.

Basically, I am a union man. My company was represented by the Teamsters Union. We had a mutual respect for one another and only one grievance was filed in 22 years and that was filed by an employee’s son. He lost his case. Widmer Interiors after 35 years is still represented by the Teamsters Union and is a very successful company. There was never a strike or even informational picketing. Last Friday, the company accepted an award from Loyola University as the best small business in Illinois. When the partnership between unions and management becomes unbalanced, all private and public sectors suffer. Good management keeps the working relationship in balance.

Unfortunately, many parts of the public sector and some of the private sector like General Motors, is out of balance. While one side may think they have gained an advantage all will suffer when a mutual goal becomes lost in lust for power.

I could write a book on the subject of tenure. I invite your comments. Sorry I went “missing” for awhile but I’ll be back after the holidays with more regular blogging.

Thanks for keeping in touch.