Human-to-Human Service

Saru Jayaraman, Fekkak Mamdouh, ROC United Leadership & Members: Is ONE FAIR WAGE really FAIR for All? Tipped Minimum Wage-Part 1

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 05/3/2018

It’s complicated.

On Sunday, April 22, 2018, I sent the email below to ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Center) United leadership.

The next day, on Monday, April 23, 2018, I received an email confirming receipt from Sekou Siby, executive director ROC United, indicating that someone on the ROC team would respond. People copied on Mr. Siby’s email included:

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder ROC United (saru@rocunited.org)

Fekkak Mamdouh, co-founder ROC United (Mamdouh@rocunited.org),

Teofilo Reyes, Research Director ROC United (teo@rocunited.org)

Jennifer Prescott, postion w/ROC United not listed on website (jennifer.p@rocunited.org)

My email with responses received from Fekkak Mamdouh  from ROC United on 4/29/18 are noted after each question:

T0:  Saru Jayaraman, Fekkak Mamdouh, Sekou Siby

CC: Yamila Ruiz, Legal Organizer ROC United (yamila@rocunited.org)

Subject: Opportunity to Respond to Patrick Maguire for Server Not Servant blog post on Tipped Minimum Wage

Hello, Saru, Fekkak, and Sekou-

My name is Patrick Maguire. I write a blog titled, I’m Your Server Not Your Servant advocating for service industry workers. I’m working on a blog post about the impact of gradually increasing, and ultimately eliminating, the tipped minimum wage as you are proposing, “Through the ONE FAIR WAGE campaign, ROC United is fighting nationally to eliminate the two-tiered wage system by raising the separate, lower minimum wage for those who work for tips in the restaurant industry to match the regular minimum wage, so that no one has to experience the financial insecurity, discrimination, and sexual harassment that comes with being forced to live off tips.”

I would appreciate it if ROC United leadership would consider reading and responding to the following items for inclusion in my blog post scheduled for release the week of May 1:

I live in Massachusetts, and the pending MA minimum wage legislation (House 2365 & Senate 1004) is what initially sparked my interest in this topic. Many restaurateurs and servers are understandably concerned about the impact of the legislation on their livelihoods. In addition to reading everything I can, I’m gathering information and perspective from several sources to present a thorough, balanced, and fair assessment regarding the proposed MA legislation and related issues. Two of the major issues that I will be addressing are the scenarios where servers in full service restaurants would take a pay cut, and the threat to the survival of independent, full service restaurants.

Theoretically, philosophically, and morally there is rationale to support why the idea of eliminating tipping makes sense. However, the practical implications of imposing an experimental ‘solution’ on a culture unwilling to embrace the change will adversely impact the earnings of many servers, and simultaneously threaten the survival of independent, ‘Mom and Pop’ restaurants. For those reasons, I am going to propose in my blog post that tipped minimum wages remain, and are set as a percentage of rising full minimum wage amounts. Further, I believe that the simplistic sounding, ONE FAIR WAGE ‘solution’ to the ‘living wage’ problem is far more complicated than ROC United and others make it sound. One size does not fit all. Legislation that might increase the pay for servers averaging $9/hr at a rural, national chain in the Midwest could simultaneously and significantly reduce the earnings of servers working at independent, full service restaurants in American cities where servers are earning a lot more than even ‘full’ minimum wage. I believe that we need to encourage local legislators to be more creative rather than imposing rigid, cookie cutter ‘solutions’ that just don’t work. I’d like to see ROC, NRA, RWA, RAISE Up (and other advocacy groups) consider a framework/compromise that is in the best interest of the diverse group of local workers, restaurants, and the customers they serve. We need more tiered solutions based on revenue, # of stores, # of employees, benefits provided, type of service, geography, median income, etc. I will encourage that creative collaboration in my blog post.

Considerations for Question #1:

Leslie Stahl interview with Sara Jayaraman on 60 Minutes Overtime on 4/15/18:

Leslie Stahl: “Jayaraman helped NY restaurateur, Danny Meyer come up with his policy of eliminating tipping entirely, building the cost of service into the bill and into every employee’s pay, but she says the real answer is eliminating the sub-minimum [tipped minimum] entirely.”

Saru Jayaraman: “The solution is so concrete and tangible. Pay these women an actual wage just like kitchen staff, just like every other industry. Let tips be on top of that as they were always intended to be. And let them actually not have to put up with anything and everything from a customer.”

[End of interview excerpts.]

Saru, I realize that your position on tipping may still be evolving, and that some of your quotes have been taken out of context. I also realize that you are most likely well aware of the initial failures of the Danny Meyer “Tipping Included” experiment. On 10/19/17, I posted the following message in my Server Not Servant Facebook Group with this piece from Grub Street attached:

On October 14, 2015 I posted in this group that “This (Danny Meyer’s implementation of a no-tipping business model) will significantly advance a movement that has been slowly gaining momentum the last few years.” My supposition was wrong. Two years after the initial announcement, Danny Meyer’s ‘Hospitality Included’ (no tipping) experiment is in peril. Excellent update from Keenan Steiner for Grub Street. I strongly recommend reading the entire piece, but here are a few excerpts: #1-“After Hospitality Included was introduced at Maialino in 2016, the entire front-of-house staff turned over twice with the exception of a few people. At North End Grill, a significant group of workers from both the front-of-house and back-of-house quit. At Gramercy Tavern, though many veteran servers have stayed, a good number recently decided that they couldn’t bear the pay cut anymore and that the situation was not going to improve.” #2-“We were very ambitious with our timeline,” Moran (Union Square Hospitality Group’s Chief Culture Officer) explains, “and we learned very quickly that this is much more challenging than we had anticipated.” And yes, it is noteworthy that Keenan (reporter) is a former USHG server.

3/13/14 Cal Alumni Association: In fact, she [Saru] says the bickering over raising the minimum wage is almost beside the point. “Ultimately, this system of tipping needs to go,” she says. “I can see a day when restaurant workers are paid like salaried professionals, make a livable wage for the region where they reside, and tips are a luxury on top of that. It’s our moment to set things in motion to make that happen in the years to come.”

#1- Given the above, what is the current ROC United position on the social contract, the custom of tipping in America?

Fekkak Mamdouh:  ROC supports One Fair Wage, which means better wages and better tips.[1] The seven states that have One Fair Wage – which means that restaurant owners pay their workers the full minimum wage and that tips are on top of the wage – have higher restaurant sales per capita, higher job growth among servers and other restaurant workers, and the same or higher rates of tipping.[2],[3],[4] All seven states have the same or higher tipping averages as the 43 states with lower wages for tipped workers.[5] According to PayScale, servers in San Francisco, California, with the highest wage in the country at $14 per hour, earn median hourly tips of $11.90, compared to $9.50 in NYC, and $8.50 in Washington, D.C.[6] That’s because customers do not tip based on how much the server earns in wages – most customers have no idea how much the server earns in wages.

ROC has been the leading voice defending workers’ tips as their own. In fall of 2017, the National Restaurant Association (NRA), which represents the Fortune 500 restaurant chains, pushed President Trump to propose a rule that would make tips the property of owners rather than workers.[7] The NRA has been lobbying to keep its workers tips for managers and owners for many decades. ROC led the fight against the NRA and this troubling rule, mobilizing 400,000 workers, employers and consumers to protect workers’ tips as their own. ROC won the battle against the NRA’s proposal to keep their workers’ tips, achieving a bipartisan Congressional bill in April that declares that tips should remain the property of workers now and forever.[8]

Patrick Maguire response: Fekkak, thank you for responding to my questions in a timely manner. I asked question #1 because it appears that the ROC position on tipping has evolved over the years, from denouncing the notion of the practice entirely, to now embracing tipping in addition to servers receiving full minimum wage. Is that because of the evidence that several ‘no tipping’ or ‘hospitality included’ (Danny Meyer-USHG) experiments are failing in America? In addition, you didn’t answer my original question:

Given the above, what is the current ROC United position on the social contract, the custom of tipping in America?

Wendyll Caisse-Treasurer and co-founder (RWA) Restaurant Workers of America response to Fekkak Mamdough #1:

RWA listens to real servers and bartenders across the country and we are looking at real people and businesses instead of misleading statistics. We assist independent restaurant operators with wage escalation proformas, so that they can see what’s coming with Saru’s experiments. Servers average over $30 an hour and bartenders $40 an hour. Our mission is to save lucrative tipped jobs that do not require a college degree, and preserve the full service dining experience as an option for all, not just the Hollywood elite or those with similar bank accounts.

On ROC’s website they list 200 restaurant member,s not 500. The 21,000 restaurant workers in NY, in addition to the 5000 in Maine, and not even counting our friends in Minneapolis, Seattle, D.C. and beyond – we outnumber ROC to a staggering degree. We talk about the math and we talk about the potential job losses and our voices are not paid to testify, unlike ROC. Saru and ROC supports unions, and it’s a symbiotic relationship as outlined in this 5/25/17 piece by Capital Research Center. From the piece:

Summary: “It began on the fringes of union activism. In just a few years, the campaign for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage—armed with the slogan “Fight for $15!”—has gone mainstream. And should this union-driven movement succeed, the result could be a lot of frustrated job seekers and shuttered businesses.”

Saru wants to eliminate tips: NYT Opinion 10/15/2015-Why Tipping Is Wrong by Saru Jayaraman

We at RWA believe that tips have normally been the property of the interfacing FOH staff–RWA does not have a board position on this rule. However, we would like to see some definitions of positions put into this language, as a ‘Shift Leader’ has not been defined by the DOL, and this is a pivotal position in transition to management, but should be a tipped position.

We believe the tipped model works, and our owners and tipped employees are allies in this position. We take offense at ROC saying we’re slaves that are helpless and abused. We are a STRONG restaurant family that will fight for keeping tips as part of the equation to ensure that our workers continue to make well above minimum wage and we save the experience of dining. Our customers enjoy tipping and it benefits servers.

#2- Saru, I don’t recall reading anywhere that you have ever worked as a tipped server. Have you?

Fekkak Mamdouh:  Saru has not, but I have worked as a tipped worker – delivery person, busser, and server – for more than 20 years. I have worked as a server in particular for over 17 of those 20 years. All of my fellow server colleagues from Windows on the World and the restaurants I’ve worked in support One Fair Wage. I am the co-founder of ROC United and co-lead the One Fair Wage campaign.

Wendyll Caisse (RWA) response to Fekkak:

Saru Jayaraman is a Labor Attorney with an agenda to unionize those who are not asking for it.

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Considerations for #3:

From the One Fair Wage link via (ROC) United website, “It’s time to do more than raise the tipped minimum wage. Through our ONE FAIR WAGE campaign, we will be advancing campaigns across the country to pass legislation in cities and states that will require the restaurant industry to pay all its employees at least the regular minimum wage.”

One Fair Wage allows those who work in the industry to receive a fair base wage & their tips on top. We must make clear that One Fair Wage allows those who work in the industry to increase their overall income because tipping will still be allowed.” -(ROC) United website.

According to Andrew Farnitano of Raise Up MA, “ROC United has been a great partner of Raise Up MA on our campaign to raise the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. We’ve relied on their expertise, research, and worker organizing throughout our campaign.” If the MA legislature does not address the tipped minimum wage issue to the satisfaction of Raise Up MA, they (RU MA) will move forward with a ballot initiative that incrementally raises the tipped minimum wage as follows:

1/1/19 $5.05

1/1/20 $6.35

1/1/21 $7.64

1/1/22 $9.00

1/1/23 Tied to CPI

Those numbers are significantly less than the proposed MA Legislation that incrementally raises the tipped minimum wage in MA from $6.75 on 1/1/19 to $15.75 on 1/1/25.

#3- What is the official ROC United position on the pending MA Legislation? Do you support the Legislation as proposed, or the more moderate Raise Up MA ballot numbers?

Fekkak Mamdouh:  ROC supports One Fair Wage – the full minimum wage for tipped workers, with tips on top. As mentioned above, the seven states that have One Fair Wage have higher restaurant sales per capita, higher job growth in the restaurant industry, and the same or higher rates of tipping as Massachusetts.[9]

Wendyll Caisse (RWA) response to Fekkak:

The restaurant industry normally has a 30% labor cost (with a tip credit model) – retail has 11%. To put forth ROC’s version of this measure that not only raises the minimum wage but eliminates the tip credit is an experiment that has never been done before. Full service restaurants will have a 400% cost increase in their server pay line item, to most operators, this is simply not feasible without making drastic labor cuts or automating. ROC has not done the math. We can make changes as owners, but it will be at the detriment of our staff. Changing from a full service model to counter service for example, would allow an operator to cut their FOH staff by 75%. Additionally, some urban, high end operators may succeed with a 40% menu price increase – but there is no financial evidence that this model is sustainable for independent, mid-priced restaurants. RWA has put forth an escalation model, that doesn’t even speak to PEOD (Price Elasticity of Demand) in menu price increases, it is beyond irresponsible that a national, well-funded organization like ROC, with $9.8 million in total revenue in 2016, can’t give a financial model of a 400% increase in the tipped wage in Massachussets from $3.75 to $15 that they are promoting. The following RWA financial forecast is based on RaiseUp MA’s proposed ballot numbers with a small tip credit ($6) and tipped minimum wage of $9/hour. ROC’s proposed $15/hr minimum wage (and NO tip credit) would have an even more devastating impact.

Screenshot_20180501-172322

This model doesn’t ever consider an increase in rent. Restaurant owners want to know how they can operate – WHILE KEEPING THEIR STAFF – when labor costs increase from 30% to 49% when you only have 5% profit?!?

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Considerations for #4:

After the Maine legislature failed to act, in a ballot question in November of 2016, voters elected to eliminate the tip credit by 2024, bringing both the tipped minimum wage and regular minimum wage to $12/hour. After a period of confusion, restaurant servers, cooks, staff, and owners, along with vendors and other tertiary businesses, joined together in a grassroots campaign to reinstate the tip credit. After gaining momentum on social media, holding meetings and rallies, and appealing and presenting their case to state legislators, the campaign was successful. I have reviewed several of the documents used in the campaign, media accounts, and communicated with servers and restaurant owners. Some of the items they used in their argument included:

  • Server tips and take home pay was lower because some customers were confused about the implications of the new minimum wage laws. There was a perception that customers didn’t need to tip, or could tip less because servers were now making much more money.
  • Eliminating the tipped minimum wage by 2024 would result in a further decrease in net income to servers.
  • The public was not ready to adopt a “tipping included” cultural shift.
  • Serving is a “real job” that many folks choose and enjoy for a variety of reasons that work for them.
  • ROC and other out of state lobbyists had no business imposing their agenda on the people of Maine who disagreed with the threat to their livelihoods in full service restaurants. And the lobbyists weren’t using realistic, sustainable, business models to make their case.
  • Restaurants with normal debt service would face significant financial challenges to stay open. A full service restaurant cannot survive a 320% server labor cost increase from $3.75 in 2016 to $12 in 2024 without automating and/or cutting jobs and hours. From Wendyll Caisse, ME restaurant owner, and current RWA (Restaurant Workers of America) Treasurer in her testimony to Senator Volke, Representative Fecteau, and members of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee: Let’s use $1M full service restaurant model for an example. A full service generally makes 5% profit. With the tip credit removal our labor percentage moves from an industry average of 30% to 49% in 2024 when servers make $12/hour. The 50K profit from 2016 transforms into a $145,216 deficit in 2024. That’s with no increases registered for COG’s (cost of goods) and NO MENU PRICE INCREASES, and not a penny for retained earnings which is extremely important in seasonal Maine.
  • Projecting out to 2024 with servers making $12/hour, the prospect of finding staff willing to fill those positions was not good. One restaurant owner noted that in 2016 the average income for her servers working 30 hours/week was $44,850. At 30 hours/week at $12 in 2024, gross pay would be $18,720. Given the new cultural paradigm, tips above that could not be counted on.
  • Raising menu prices to cover the additional labor cost meant running the risk that customers would stop coming or dine out less, especially folks on fixed income where even small increases have a big impact. If an egg salad sandwich goes from $4.25 to $5.75, that might be enough to keep guests from coming in.
  • Eliminating servers and installing I-pads or order stations would obviously lead to a reduction of jobs and a less intimate hospitality experience.
  • Service charges to potentially make up some of the income reduction to servers are not legal in Maine (unlike CA, Seattle, or Alaska).
  • Exit strategies for restaurant owners (selling the joint for retirement) were more difficult because of the looming, prohibitive operating costs.
  • Closing their restaurants might be their only alternative.
  • The Maine Department of Labor recommended reinstatement of the tip credit.
  • The packed, 15-hour, hearing in April of 2017, with hundreds of restaurant workers at the Burton M. Cross Building in Augusta was one of the best attended public hearings in Maine history.

#4- If eliminating the tip credit and implementing ONE FAIR WAGE is in the best interest of all servers, workers, and restaurant owners, why did LD 673 pass reinstating the tip credit after careful scrutiny by the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee (11-2 favorable vote) and a bi-partisan legislative vote for reinstatement in Maine? Shouldn’t the reversal in Maine send a loud and clear message to Massachusetts, New York, and all other states considering elimination of the tip credit and tipped minimum wage to slow down and thoroughly consider the implications before passing legislation or a ballot initiative?

Fekkak Mamdouh:  The people of Maine passed the One Fair Wage ballot measure in November 2016. More people voted in favor of raising the wages of both tipped and non tipped workers than either Presidential Candidate.[10] After it passed – and before it was implemented – the National Restaurant Association (NRA) spent significant funds lobbying to overturn the ballot measure.[11] The NRA is a highly funded trade lobby representing the Fortune 500 corporate restaurant chains. It has lobbied heavily in every state, including Maine, to keep wages for tipped workers as low as $2.13 at the federal level and $3 in Maine. Corporate interests should not overrule the basic needs of working people to survive.

Wendyll Caisse (RWA) response to Fekkak: 

As an active member in the Restaurant Workers of Maine, which was simply a Facebook Page started by a server by the name of Jason Buckwalter from Bangor; I can attest that we did NOT receive even a phone call from the NRA during our grassroots effort of 5,000 servers – and absolutely NO funding – we didn’t even have a bank account! The tipped wage information cited here for Maine is incorrect. After the referendum passed by a slim margin in November, many voters were not even aware of what they had voted for, as the elimination of the tip credit was 1 part of a 3-part question. The start of the wage escalation was implemented on January 1, 2017, the tipped minimum went from $3.75 per hour to $5.00 and the minimum wage went from $7.75 per hour to $9.00. The people most intimately affected by the loss of the tip credit were the ones asking for the reinstatement.

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Considerations for #5 +#6:

 I’ve spoken and communicated with several full service, MA restaurateurs who have run the hard numbers of escalating wages and costs. Many are very concerned about their ability to hang on, especially after an awful, extended winter. (One MA restaurateur just paid $6,400 in a penalty for their employees on MA Health Connector for 2017. That is in addition to what they pay for employees on their restaurant’s health insurance plan that has tripled over the last 8 years.) Given the business model realities of many restaurateurs, the prospect of eliminating the tipped minimum wage and paying all of their servers, bartenders, and tipped workers the full minimum wage threatens the survival of many independent restaurants. There are some folks in unique situations where they own the real estate their restaurant is located within, they have no mortgage or investors to pay, and no debt service, but those circumstances are rare. And some exist with unique financial resources such as grant money, donations, and/or wealthy benefactors. I’ve read a lot of ROC United’s published work, including some of the pieces put forth by the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley where Saru is founder. In all of your work, I have not seen a viable proforma of how a ‘typical’ restaurant, with ‘normal’ debt service is expected to survive in a full minimum wage environment. I would love to see one with verifiable backup.

General Guidelines from Chron: According to Randy White, CEO of the White-Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group, a consulting group, the cost of labor and food at a restaurant should ideally be less than 60 percent of the revenue you bring in. Labor should be less than 30 percent of the revenue. Depending on the type of restaurant you run, though, costs may be higher or lower. For example, if you run a full-service, white-tablecloth restaurant, your labor costs will most likely be higher than if you run a casual dining restaurant, since you will employ more staff to provide a higher level of service.

#5- If a restaurant previously had a tipped minimum wage of $3.75 (current in MA), and the tipped minimum wage went up to $15/hour, even gradually over 5-6 years, what would ROC United’s advice be to owners of FULL SERVICE restaurants (with servers, no automation) to keep Prime Cost under 60%? How much would an owner need to raise their prices to achieve 60% prime? Do you acknowledge the risk of your experiment and why so many restaurant owners are fearful of it?

#6- With the elimination of the tipped minimum wage and ROC United’s Fight for $15, what is the ‘new’ labor cost percentage goal if servers are making $15/hour?

Fekkak Mamdouh (Responses to #5 + #6): Restaurant owners in seven states – Alaska, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and California – keep their prime costs well under 60%, and are thriving. The NRA’s data projects that these states will grow faster than the subminimum wage states.[12] California is home to some of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country; growth would not be possible without profit.[13] These seven states have higher restaurant sales per capita, higher job growth in the restaurant industry, and the same or higher rates of tipping.[14]

Even in New York, the tipped minimum wage has gone from $3.15 to $8.50 over the last several years, and most restaurants keep prime costs well under 60%. The New York restaurant industry has grown significantly over the same period that the tipped minimum wage has risen.[15]

We have 500 restaurant owners, many of whom are from the seven One Fair Wage states and New York state, who would be happy to share data on how they have managed to raise tipped workers’ wages, many to $15 an hour. All of those OFW states have a treasure trove of information on how to grow WITH their workforce that the Other NRA could share with restaurants around the country if they were so inclined. We invite restaurants to join RAISE and meet high road restaurateurs from around the country and discuss their business models. The National Restaurant Association has certainly spread fear among restaurant owners based on misinformation and calumny.

Patrick Maguire response: Fekkak, I would love to see the data from the full service restaurants in the 7 ‘One Fair Wage’ states operating at prime costs “well under 60%” that are “thriving.” Has this data been presented to the legislature, the Labor Committee and all parties currently negotiating in Massachusetts?

Wendyll Caisse (RWA) response to Fekkak:

To loosely say “One Fair Wage States’ is disingenuous, as all of the seven states have significant carve outs and lower minimums than any of the current legislation ROC is promoting. These states added language to make the financial model of full service restaurants remain viable:

  • Alaska: Statewide minimum wage of $9.80 (See below).
  • California: Minimum wage applicable to employers with 25 employees or less: $10; applicable to employers with 26 employees or more: $10.50.
  • Minnesota: Large employer, an enterprise whose gross volume of sales made or business done is not less than $500,000, has a minimum wage of $9.50; a small employer, an enterprise whose gross volume of sales made or business done is less than $500,000, has a minimum wage of $7.75 as of August 2016.
  • Montana: Business with gross annual sales over $110,000: $8.15; A business not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act whose gross annual sales are $110,000 or less may pay $4.00 per hour. However, if an individual employee is producing or moving goods between states or otherwise covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, that employee must be paid the greater of either the federal minimum wage or Montana’s minimum wage.
  • Nevada: With no health insurance benefits provided by employer and received by employee: $8.25; with health insurance benefits provided by employer and received by employee: $7.25.
  • Oregon: $9.75
  • Washington: $11.

…..and this is the result even in Alaska at $9.80:

“BigRuss” on Apr 1, 15 at 1:40pm, (Commenter on Fodors.com travel site for Alaska, one min. wage state, at $9.80/hr):

“Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula probably have more competition and more access to supplies than anywhere else in Alaska and the dining prices are 30-50% higher than what you would expect to pay in the lower 48; yes, even in NYC or San Francisco.”

ROC chose not to answer the second part of #5 above, “How much would an owner need to raise their prices to achieve 60% prime?” It’s between 20-40% depending upon how much an operator reduces staff, if an operator automates, the menu price increases would be closer to 12% (plus traditional inflationary increases) over the course of the Massachusetts escalation. It’s a math issue that will be absolutely unsustainable for our rural locations and customers on fixed budgets.

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Considerations for #7:

Leslie Stahl conducting an interview with Sara Jayaraman on 60 Minutes Overtime on 4/15/18:

Leslie: “… you can see that if you’re wanting to get a tip and a guy reaches out, you’re probably not going to slap his hand.”

Saru: “You have no choice. You’re living completely off your tips. You have to put up with whatever the customer does to you.”

[End of interview excerpts.]

That’s not true. In well-run restaurants (and all businesses), sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior from customers, employees, vendors, or anyone is not tolerated. Strong servers, managers, and owners take a stand, intervene, and follow up aggressively and thoroughly to protect the well being and rights of their employees. They are proactive and ensure that their staff knows how to quickly and decisively escalate a bad situation, and they make sure that communication and support systems are in place to follow up.

Erin Wade, co-founder and chief executive of Homeroom restaurant in Oakland, CA wrote an Opinion piece for the Washington Post on March 29, 2018 titled, I’m a female chef. Here’s how my restaurant dealt with harassment from customers. Here are a few excerpts:

“What’s needed is a conversation about women — not as victims, but as revolutionaries. I am an overtly feminist restaurateur, and harassment still happened at my restaurant. This is my story, my solution and my call to action.”

“Women of America’s businesses — please share your suggestions for solving the problems plaguing your workplace. This moment is ours — let’s take hold of it and make the world listen.”

From the Raleigh, North Caroline News & Observer on 10/26/17:

“In Raleigh, chef Ashley Christensen took to social media to call on restaurants to reevaluate kitchen culture, its reputation and its reality, and ensure environments are safe and respectful. In a statement posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, she commended the bravery of the Besh Restaurant Group accusers and denounced the allegations.”

Quotes from Ashley’s social media from within the piece:

“The issue of sexual harassment is extremely important to me, to my company, and to the industry as a whole.”

“We also have a great HR director, who we hired about 18 months ago, and her guidance has been invaluable. She is directly available to all of our staff to address any of their concerns, positive or negative. Additionally, our managers will direct employees to her if they feel we’re anywhere close to a topic that may require her skill set. I think it’s almost impossible as a business owner to review situations between employees in a truly neutral manner, and having a skilled HR director allows us to provide that resource and safe zone to our team. Everyone deserves that. I think many independent restaurant owners view investment in an HR presence as too costly. I have to say, I think it’s the most important investment we’ve ever made.”

“I applaud the women who came forward and admire the bravery that it took to do so. While these reports are difficult and disheartening and confusing, I’m grateful for the spotlight that it’s shining on the work that needs to be done. Lewd language and behavior is so often overlooked or tolerated in restaurants and as leaders, we have to take the steps to cleanse our industry of this. I think even the most engaged, well intentioned hospitality groups out there can probably find opportunities to be better, safer, more respectful. So let’s get to it.”

Dawn Lafreeda, owner-operator of Den-Tex Central, which owns 81 Denny’s restaurants in an Opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on 4/12/18:

Don’t Blame Tips for Sexual Harassment – Waitresses see gratuities as a great feature of the job.

From the piece:

For years I was told that running a full-service restaurant was a man’s game. I still remember the response from the banker I approached in 1984 to open my first company account: “Young lady, are you sure you’re not the waitress?” I was a waitress at one time—saving my tips and maxing out credit cards to buy my first restaurant—but not that day.

A lot has changed. Today I’m the owner-operator of 81 Denny’s restaurants across the South and Midwest. I don’t get many double-takes when I try to open a bank account, but I still encounter people who suggest women can’t fend for themselves in the restaurant industry.

Consider the claimed link between sexual harassment and tips. Because female servers earn most of their compensation through tip income, the narrative goes, they’re forced to put up with bad behavior from customers. We’re told that women are powerless victims, so dependent on the customer for their next dollar that they’ll tolerate any boorish behavior.

But that doesn’t describe the thousands of women I work with. Servers in my restaurants, especially women, don’t see tip income as a drawback. It’s a great feature of the job. Having cash at the end of the day—and not just on payday—helps a lot. Bad behavior is an occasional problem in any industry, but blaming the tipping system insults millions of women who benefit from it.

Yet some want to do away with tipping. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering a proposal to eliminate the lower minimum wage for tipped workers. This could lead to the end of tipping.

The theory is that replacing tips with a higher base wage will reduce sexual harassment. In reality it will result in less take-home pay for a large section of the hourly labor force. New York restaurateurs have already learned that lesson the hard way. Servers are fleeing restaurants that try higher base wages in lieu of tips. Some 97% of restaurant staff prefer the status quo to a tipless alternative, according to data from Upserve. Even a base wage of $20 an hour wouldn’t compensate many servers for the income they would lose if tips disappeared.

Forbes Magazine published a piece by Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policies Institute on 3/6/18 titled, Sexual Harassment Is Awful. But It Has Nothing To Do With Tipping.

From the piece:

“(Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) is a controversial labor advocacy organization with its own history of alleged bad behavior; it was even sued by its own employees for illegal firings. But ROC’s profile has been rising in recent years, with celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Amy Poehler embracing its cause (if not the restaurant servers that ROC claims to represent).”

“Some version of ROC’s “tipping = harassment” claim has been repeated hundreds of times by ROC, its surrogates, and reporters who apparently believe it’s too good to check. But the errors are numerous, and start with the fact that ROC doesn’t even cite its own research accurately. (I reached out to ROC and offered its team the opportunity to comment on this and other critiques of its report, but did not hear back.)”

“This column has previously debunked the dubious economic benefits of raising the tipped wage. And the analysis above makes clear that the sexual harassment angle is equally flawed. If servers oppose the “raise,” and there’s no good policy rationale, the question remains: Why would policymakers propose changing such a beneficial and widely-favored status quo?”

#7- Saru, Fekkak, Sekou, and ROC United leadership- I believe that commingling the issues of sexual harassment and server compensation (via tipping and tipped minimum wage) is a strategy being employed by ROC United (with cherry picked data) to mislead and exploit the very people that you are claiming to be advocating for. And many of the Hollywood folks jumping on the morality bandwagon are enjoying the optics of the crusade, but are misinformed and unaware of the crucial details (and math) of how a cause they claim to be champions of could actually harm many individuals and small businesses. There should be more time, effort, and energy focusing on facts, education, and compromise to benefit servers and all workers rather than all of the divisive rhetoric against ‘rival’ lobbying groups. I welcome your response to my statements and anything cited above following question #6.

Fekkak Mamdouh:  There are now multiple sources of research and investigative journalism that corroborate that a mostly female workforce of tipped workers (two-thirds of tipped workers nationally are women) having to rely entirely on tips for their income subjects them to sexual harassment from customers, co-workers and managers. We surveyed 688 workers nationally on the issue; nearly 90% said they experienced sexual harassment as a result of having to tolerate inappropriate customer behavior to feed their families in tips.[16]These workers reported that because co-workers and managers knew that the women in tipped positions relied on them to earn their income in tips, these co-workers and managers had the power over these women to exact sexual favors. These workers also reported that managers told them to ‘dress more sexy, show more cleavage, and wear tighter clothing’ in order to please customers and earn more income in tips.

Workers in the seven One Fair Wage states reported experiencing sexual harassment at half the rate of the states that require restaurant owners to pay the subminimum wage of $2.13 an hour. Workers in these states reported that because they received a full wage from their employer, and tips were on top of that wage, they did not have to tolerate anything and everything from customers in order to feed their families entirely in tips. Workers in the seven One Fair Wage states also reported that managers told them to dress more sexy, show more cleavage, or wear tighter clothing in order to make more money in tips at one third the rate of states that only require employers to pay the subminimum wage of $2.13 an hour. Again, women in the seven states have wages in addition to tips, and so they do not have to accept disrespectful behavior to receive income.

We conducted this research because so many women servers and tipped workers came forward to us and shared their stories of sexual harassment in the industry, and how their experience of sexual harassment was directly connected to having to live entirely off of tips rather than receiving a wage from their employer with tips on top. Most of the celebrities working with ROC worked as servers and tipped workers in their youth and experienced sexual harassment themselves as tipped workers. So our campaign is based both on a great deal of research and facts and the lived experiences of millions of women and men across America.

Patrick Maguire response: Fekkak, you painstakingly provided 18 footnotes for several items, but did not provide any to support your opening comments, “There are now multiple sources of research and investigative journalism…” 

Please provide a copy of the survey and the method of choosing the 688 workers that you mentioned above.

Wendyll Caisse (RWA) response to Fekkak: 

The perpetrator of harassment bares the sole responsibility of their deviant behavior because to point blame on the compensation system removes the blame from the accused. Sexual harassment is a cultural problem that we are finally beginning to address, and if solving this social issue was as easy as a wage discussion, on street harassment wouldn’t be the most prominent situation that harassment is experienced in. RWA in no way acknowledges any ‘reports’ executed by ROC because of their flawed methodology, such as using IP addresses for the One Wage states vs. doing focus groups and interviews. Additionally, we at RWA hold their interviewer training and interviewer ‘drawing’ techniques as highly suspect. This is from ROC’s interviewer training manual:

Screenshot_20180501-183632

Fekkak states above that 90% of their respondents had experienced sexual harassment, but in reading their ‘report’ they include everything from off-color jokes to being asked out on a date, and this 90% also includes management, as I said, their ‘research’ is not viable. With all of this, the numbers are naturally inflated from, say, what would be reported to the EEOC. They also lump responses from current and former restaurant workers. Also, oddly in this same ‘report’ here’s this direct quote on page 10, “ROC United has gathered over 5,000 surveys of restaurant workers around the country examining wages and working conditions.*(42)* Over ten percent of workers surveyed reported that they or a co-worker had suffered from sexual harassment.

*(footnote 42)*  ROC-United analysis of National Behind the Kitchen Door (BKD) Database, 2014

I would say this means that ROC has spent a lot of time and money crafting language in their boilerplate reports that suit their agenda, but happily for the millions of workers in the restaurant industry, ROC has found that close to 90% of the workers surveyed have never suffered from sexual harassment, nor have their co-workers.

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Considerations for #8:

From Politico’s Morning Shift Newsletter on 3/29/18:

TIP TIFF IN NEW YORK: A pro-tipping restaurant organization attacked supporters of a plan by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to end the state’s lower tipped wage. “Thank you for your concern. But we don’t need your help, and we’re not asking to be saved,” said the Restaurant Workers of America, a group that opposes ending tip credits. The group was responding to a letter sent last week by 16 prominent film and TV actresses (including Jane Fonda, Reese Witherspoon, and Natalie Portman) that urged Cuomo to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers. The letter said that tipping results in higher rates of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.

But the RWA contends the actresses were “misled” by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a worker advocacy organization, into believing restaurant workers are “helpless victims of sexual harassment.” ROC United President Saru Jayaraman accused the RWA of being backed by the National Restaurant Association, and pledged to furnish proof next month. But both the National Restaurant Association and Restaurant Workers of America  denied any financial ties between the two organizations. “Once again ROC is wrong. … The National Restaurant Association has never made financial contributions to Restaurant Workers of America,” said Cicely Simpson, a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association.

#8- Has the pledge to furnish proof of the accusation that RWA is being backed by the National Restaurant Association been followed up on by Saru or anyone at ROC United?

Fekkak Mamdouh:  Restaurant owners who are part of the National Restaurant Association funded the launch of Restaurant Workers of Maine, which then launched Restaurant Workers of America. The RWA has admitted it receives no money from restaurant workers, only restaurant owners.[17] The NRA funds the RWA to travel around the country to oppose higher wages for restaurant workers.[18]  (Fekkak Mamdough footnotes are included at the end of this blog post.)

Wendyll Caisse (RWA) response to Fekkak:

While some of the above answers are disingenuous, this response is a patent lie. The Restaurant Workers of Maine was simply a Facebook group of 5,000+ servers, started by a server that received ZERO funds and never had a bank account. The RWA is not funded by, nor connected to, the NRA. As the Treasurer of this new 501c4, I was happy to see numerous $1 and $5 membership fees coming in from tipped servers across the country; there have been no deposits from the NRA. Again, ROC has made another false statement; we HAVE received funds from restaurant workers. Through the generosity of our restaurant community, our board members have been able to enjoy low travel expenses due to people offering rides, couches, and meeting accommodations at no cost to us.

Summary response from Wendyll Caisse (RWA):

I need to highlight a few extremely-concerning false statements that ROC made. ROC dismisses our grassroots victory in Maine by suggesting the National Restaurant Association spent “significant funds” to undo it. If you look at their source for this claim, it doesn’t even support it — it’s a FEB 2016 newsletter  that relates to a minimum wage ballot measure in the city of Portland. In February 2016, the statewide initiative wasn’t even qualified for the ballot yet! So it’s unclear to me how ROC can justify its claim about something in 2017 using a Feb 2016 newsletter.

“After it passed – and before it was implemented – the National Restaurant Association (NRA) spent significant funds lobbying to overturn the ballot measure.[11]”-Fekkak Mamdough ROC United

Wendyll Caisse: The tipped wage information sited by ROC for Maine is incorrect also. After the referendum passed by a slim margin in November, the start of the wage escalation was implemented on January 1, 2017, the tipped minimum went from $3.75 per hour to $5.00 and the minimum wage went from $7.75 per hour to $9.00.

This section below is what’s most concerning to me. While I’m flattered that ROC is apparently tracking our activity very closely, it’s frankly insulting that they would make such false claims and expect no one to question it.

“Restaurant owners who are part of the National Restaurant Association funded the launch of Restaurant Workers of Maine, which then launched Restaurant Workers of America. The RWA has admitted it receives no money from restaurant workers, only restaurant owners.[17] The NRA funds the RWA to travel around the country to oppose higher wages for restaurant workers.[18]” -Fekkak Mamdough ROC United

Wendyll Caisse (RWA):

Let me be clear:

1) No one “funded” Restaurant Workers of Maine — we didn’t even have a bank account! Servers and owners each chipped in where necessary to cover signs, buttons, t-shirts, etc –that’s it. We did what we did without funding.

2) We never said we receive “no money” from restaurant workers, and the article ROC links to doesn’t say that, either. In fact, even though we waived servers’ dues for the first year, we’ve nevertheless had a number of employees who’ve voluntarily chosen to join as paying members because they support our cause so strongly.

3) This statement — “The NRA funds RWA to travel around the country to oppose higher wages for restaurant workers” — is categorically false. I’m the treasurer of RWA, and I’d know if we were receiving support from the NRA. We’re not — zip, zero, zilch, nada. Amusingly, ROC gives a 2017 citation to support this — and we didn’t even launch our group until 2018.

Response to Fekkak Mamdouh’s answers from Massachusetts Restaurant Association:

Stephen Clark-Director of Government Affairs MRA (sclark@themassrest.org) and Bob Luz-President & CEO MRA (BLuz@themassrest.org):

ROC, which is funded by national labor unions, continues to mention Fortune 500 companies and a $2.13 federal tip wage. The reality is that less than 2% of tipped employees in Massachusetts work for a company on this list (a list made up of some of the largest companies in the world, not the Sunday morning diner, the local Friday night dining spot or even the lunch place that just opened that you have been meaning to try). The Massachusetts restaurant industry is made up of small, independent restaurant owners and these are the restaurants on Main Streets in every town in Massachusetts.

 The Massachusetts tip wage is currently $3.75, and each tipped employee is guaranteed to earn a full minimum wage (currently $11/hr) for all hours worked. The tip wage allows the highest percentage of employees in a restaurant to earn the highest average wage, with many tipped servers earning in excess of $25 or $30 per hour. Massachusetts tipped employee wages have increased 84% in the last 15 years and currently has among the highest tipped wage earners in the country (hourly tip wage + declared tips), topping even California which has no tip wage. Any increase in the starting wage automatically increases server wages. Whenever an operator is forced to increase menu prices, the amount left for a tip increases as well. There are 80,000 tipped employees in our state that choose to work in our local restaurants and they are not asking for the change, they understand the economics of a restaurant and recognize they are maximizing their earning potential under the current system.

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Future items for discussion beginning with Tipped Minimum Wage-Part 2:

General Topics:

  • Follow up on every item in Part 1.
  • Proof of who is telling the truth and who is lying to their ‘constituents,’ the public, and why.
  • “Follow the money” of all lobbyists and advocacy groups. What is their true motivation and ‘end game?’
  • Timing of MA legislative action and ballot initiative.
  • Definition of “Tip Credit.”
  • Political, ‘Think Tank’ machines with financial, self-fulfilling motives vs. bare bones, grass roots initiatives.
  • Unintended, counter-intuitive consequences of proposed advocacy of workers. Lower net compensation, reduced staff shifts/hours, less full service restaurants.
  • Public records, including salaries and expenses of all non-profits involved.
  • Deep dive into data of 7 ‘One Fair Wage’ states. (Include discussion of state-specific service charges, admin fees, etc. in comparing states.)
  • Math/ financial models of real MA restaurants and the impact of proposed changes. How will independent, full service restaurants thrive, not just survive? Can a creative compromise work?
  • Math, data, and facts from as many resources as possible.
  • Breakdown restaurant types from no service, no tips/casual to full service, full liquor, fancy. One size does not fit all. Let operators adopt what works for their business.
  • ‘Celebrity’ crusaders. What exactly do Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and others know, and what are their sources of information?
  • Lack of media coverage/awareness of the details in Maine before ballot vote. Preventing the same outcome through education in MA, NY, and elsewhere. Simplifying the message.
  • PEOD-Price Elasticity of Demand. Statistics on impact of increased menu prices and what the public will tolerate.
  • Educating the public about the realities of the low profit margins for independent, full service restaurants.
  • New MA EMAC (Employee Medical Assistance Corp) supplemental tax for restaurants up to $750 per employee per year.
  • Higher minimum wage raising all other hourly wages at the restaurant.
  • Increased minimum wage taking money away from fairly compensating other staff, as well as restaurant improvements.
  • The gradual increase only prolongs the agony before the demise of independent, full service restaurants.
  • Restaurateurs have already been aggressively reducing costs every way possible. Don’t tell them they need to start now.
  • Comparison of revenue per employee for small businesses (5-10k) vs large companies.
  • Creating a fair and reasonable legal framework and let the entrepreneurs and the free market decide what works best for individual operators.
  • Specific actions workers and restaurateurs can take to advocate for their income and livelihoods.
  • Alternative creative solutions if MA legislature doesn’t act and ballot question fails. (Matt Mazzotta’s proposal.)
  • Break RaiseUp MA ballot question into 2 parts, full minimum vs. tipped minimum?
  • Cambridge, MA cafes closing earlier due to labor costs. Boston Globe 9/26/17.
  • Boston Globe, 10/24/17-Dudley Dough in Roxbury, MA and lessons learned about labor costs.
  • Globe MagazineThe Citgo Sign Has a Dark Side. Should Boston Care? Commingling the social contract of tipping with slavery.

ROC United:

  • Salaries, travel, office and lobbying expenses, and grants for ROCU listed on form 990, including 2017, when available.
  • Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley (Salaries, data ‘gatekeeper,’ does public access to all data and methods?)
  • NYT “Dear Sugars” Podcast 3/24/2018 (Data to support claims about 7 states that ‘did away’ w/tipped minimum wage. IHOP, Applebees, Denny’s, and Olive Garden Workers vs. tipped workers at independent restaurants. “Systemic situations of structural power, story at the end of the podcast empowering staff and strong leadership.)
  • Union affiliation/support? Is unionizing restaurant workers the end game?
  • ROC dues from individual worker members and restaurants.
  • Jennifer Schellenberg (RWA) in Washington Examiner on 3/12/18 on union dues and membership motivations.
  • Response to Wendyll Caisse (RWA) financial projections for MA restaurants 2108 vs 2024, “The MA Tip Credit Protects Jobs.” ROC projections/proforma vs. RWA forecast?
  • Julia Tavlas Capital Research Center piece dated 8/2/2013.
  • Comingling of issues to support the cause (Tipping, slavery origin, sexual harassment, bullying, power dynamics.)
  • Morality play/extremism of celebrity PR.
  • The crusade vs reality. Imposing what works for some with the moral high ground and guilt.
  • The history, operating model, and funding of COLORS restaurants.
  • EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) stats vs. ROC stats, interview methodology, and demographics of participants. Rhetoric vs. reality.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics median vs. mean and inclusion of tipped non-restaurant workers to skew the data.
  • Real restaurants. Real math. Working financial models and proof that eliminating the tipped minimum wage is the best model. This should be the foundation of the discussion.

RWA (Restaurant Workers of America)

  • Wendyll Caisse financial projection 2018 vs 2024, “The MA Tip Credit Protects Jobs.”
  • Financial models of real, operating restaurants redacting names to protect identity. Real math and the projected impact. Let’s compare all of the models in MA and every state before moving forward with legislation or ballot questions.
  • Initial perception of servers that they would benefit from the change vs. reality. Misconception of “higher base pay = more money.”
  • Maine People’s Alliance and Maine Small Business Alliance in Maine. Fact vs. Fiction
  • Member dues and funding.

NRA (National Restaurant Association):

  • Responses to items in Part 1?
  • Financials, member dues, and funding.

MRA (Massachusetts Restaurant Association):

  • Additional responses to items in Part 1?
  • Financials, member dues and funding.

Raise Up Massachusetts:

  • Response to items in Part 1?
  • Financials, funding.

The Alliance for Business Leadership

  • Response to items in Part 1?
  • Awaiting response from Nai Collymore-Henry
  • Finances and funding.

Please join the conversation in the comments section, and share this post if so inspired. Much more to follow. Stay tuned for Part 2. Inquiries and submissions to patrick@servernotservant.com. Thank you to everyone who contributed. –Patrick Maguire

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Fekkak Mamdouh Footnotes:

[1] Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (2018). Better Wages Better Tips.

[2] National Restaurant Association (2017). 2017 National Restaurant Association Restaurant Industry Outlook.

[3] 2011-2016 data for 722511 number of full service restaurant workers. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

[4] Average tipping rates for all states in 2016 and 2017 using Square data based on millions of observations. See Ferdman, R.A. (March 2014). Which US states tip the most (and least), based on millions of Square transactions. Quartz.; and Johnson, D. (August 2017). Find out which states give the worst tips. Time.

[5] Ibid.

[6] PayScale (2015). Best and Worst Cities for Food Service Workers.

[7] Fu, J. (February 2018). The Department of Labor’s tip-pooling proposal is a mess. The New Food Economy.

[8] Strong, A. (March 2018). Restaurant Owners and Managers Cannot Keep Servers’ Tips Per New Budget Bill. Eater.

[9] See note 1,2,3,4.

[10] Chin, B. (January 2017). Ditching personality politics for bold policies is how to win working class, rural Maine. Maine Beacon.

[11] Maine Innkeepers Association (February 2016). Legislative Happenings. INNterviews.

[12] See note 2.

[13] Technomic (2018). 2018 Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report.

[14] See notes 1, 2, 3, 4.

[15] Institute for Policy Studies & ROC United (2018). New York Saw Boost in Restaurant Worker Wages and Employment after Tipped Minimum Wage Increase.

[16] ROC United & Forward Together (2014). The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry.

[17] Romeo, P. (February 2018). Restaurants Find an Ally in their Fight to Keep the Tip Credit: Servers. Restaurant Business Online.

[18] National Restaurant Association (2017). 2017 U.S. Restaurant Government Affairs Conference: Protecting America’s Industry.

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‘Common Sense,’ Guns, and Murder in America. Boston Alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Speak Out

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 02/19/2018

On 2/15/18, the day after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, I posted the following on Facebook:

Wikipedia notes that Craig Nelson called Thomas Paine a “pragmatic utopian,” who deemphasized economic arguments in favor of moralistic ones, and the writer calling himself “Cato,” denounced Paine as dangerous and his ideas as violent… Despite Paine’s dissenters, Historian Gordon S. Wood described Paine’s pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era.”

[“Economic arguments,” (read GREED) is winning. The will of the American people, ‘moralistic’ values/arguments are losing.]

Could we ever use some common sense now…

Imagine if common sense, intelligence, and wisdom prevailed and we gathered together the brightest people from America and around the world, checked egos, greed, and party affiliations at the door, put everything on the table–including practical solutions that are working in nations around the world (Australia), and implemented policies, strategies, and laws to curtail the inevitable murders if we continue to do nothing??? This IS life and death. Unfortunately, our current leaders don’t have the courage, conviction, and vision to make that happen, and common sense has become a utopian concept in America.

The rancor, vitriol, entrenched acrimony, and divisive political paralysis that rule the day in America is perpetuating murder, it’s disgraceful, and threatening our ‘civilized’ democracy. Our inept ‘leaders’ are tragically failing the people whose interests they have sworn to represent and protect through their lack of leadership, initiative, and action. And we’re enabling them when we fail to rise up, demand change, and hold them accountable.

I understand that this is a complex problem, but ‘we’ (Americans) need to step up and respond to this tragic crisis with the ‘life and death’ sense of urgency that these repeated mass murders warrant. Complacency and inaction have never been the hallmark of “The Greatest Nation on Earth.” (We’re not, and don’t need to be.) The unequivocal, ‘plain truth’ is that the lack of response to the wanton murders is disgraceful.

Tangible, thoughtful, realistic action items and solutions welcome, please. Thank you.

In the comment thread that followed I included this post from the Live The Hero Blog. A few noteworthy quotes from the piece:

“Heroism, as depicted in great legends from around the world, from ancient myth to modern accounts, gives us a blueprint for how to act in the wake of crisis. The stories of real and fictional heroes are meant to remind us that heroism is about taking action and seeking solutions rather than succumbing to despair.”

“Please don’t think I’m suggesting that everyday heroism is the only solution to mass murder. I’m not trying to be simplistic. Like any human behavioral phenomenon, this is a complicated crisis. This issue certainly encompasses mental health, gun control, and other potential causes. These things should be part of the complex conversation.”

“But the legend of the Gordian Knot teaches us that no matter how complex an issue, we have the ability to make the “simple” decisions to act and strive toward solutions. Life may be complex, but deciding to seek positive change can be a small yet powerful step in a better direction.”

I also included a quote posted on facebook by my friend, Justin Manjourides, that was included in an email from the Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health regarding the Parkland shooting:

“As many of you know, federal funding for gun violence research has been stifled for two decades. This research could lead to a greater understanding of the causes of gun violence and ways it can be prevented.”

Following that quote, Justin’s post continued:

“So whether you want congress to ban all guns or whether you think this is a mental health issue, surely we can all agree that more research into WHY these mass shooting events occur can help us answer this question and prevent future tragedies.

We should all be contacting our congressional representatives and demanding an end to the restrictions placed on public funding for gun violence research in this country.

Despite these restrictions, my friend and colleague Matthew Miller, has been able to conduct meaningful research in this area which consistently shows that access to firearms is positively associated with higher rates of homicides and suicides. Please read it.

Justin is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

My friend, Leah Goldman posted the following powerful, passionate piece on LinkedIn that I included in my facebook thread:

I am a Marjory Stoneman Douglas kid

I am from Parkland. I went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. These two facts used to be obscure “deep cuts” of Florida geography after saying I grew up in South Florida. Now, since last Wednesday, my hometown and my alma mater are front page news and a staple of the 24-hour news cycle. It is surreal. It is heartbreaking. But I know that if real change is coming, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High is the catalyst to make it happen.

Why am I writing this?

• I am mobilizing my network.

• I’m letting you know that you are connected to this community.

• I’m telling you this is a “whole life” (yes, even professional) issue.

Why is Parkland different?

Well, because it isn’t. Parkland is a place where families move “for the schools.” It’s basically a suburb of a suburb. You, my network, live in these towns or perhaps think about the not-so-distant future when your kids will be in middle school and you’d like to live somewhere like this.

But it also is. MSD molds incredible people. It is a foundation shared by my friends – doctors, educators, engineers, lawyers, tech leaders and so many other amazing individuals – that provided us with the tools we needed to go on to build paths to all make change. We took challenging AP class loads, and were given opportunities to become debaters, band members, athletes, “mathletes,” and so much more… because this school values hard work and community and the students, teachers, and parents reinforce those principles.

My education at Marjory Stoneman Douglas profoundly shaped who I am today. In fact, both my husband [Justin Manjourides] and I went to high school there and attribute much of our paths through college and beyond to the time we spent in (and out) of those classrooms.

Why do you care?

This tragedy obviously hits us emotionally. “What if it was my kid’s school?” “How will those students and teachers move forward?” “What do we do to protect ourselves?”

But now is the time for more than emotion. It is a time for action! We have a national crisis that must be addressed.

• There is a clear outcome that must be delivered. I know from my years working with Fortune 500 companies transforming businesses to perform, we start with defining the outcome we want, determine the root causes and value drivers, and then go and do the work. Move the “big rocks” and cut the “low hanging fruit.” Right now our outcome must be ensuring that students are safe in their schools. Our rocks are the quagmire of policy and a battle of whose “rights” are more sacred. The low hanging fruit is communicating, engaging, and taking action… even if the action is writing your legislators or a LinkedIn article!

• This is a pipeline and employee engagement issue. Students are impacted, and they are now legitimately passionate about their right to learn safely. And they will be your new hires in 5-10 years. I read my network’s posts… we care about engaging our employees, adapting our cultures to best work across generations, and motivating our organizations to constantly grow. Well, guess what, this is a huge population that will be voting and working within the next few years and we must be their champions.

• We have the power to change. We are responsible for creating and growing the great digital ecosystem that is central to our lives. Yes, WE are! My network is full of influencers – executives, consultants, founders, strategists, coaches, and communicators. We are trained to problem solve and create change. We vote with our ballots, our dollars, and our social engagement. We are empowered to do something to change the course of history.

So… What do we do?

In the hours and days since these murders, I have been humbled and proud of the action I see on Facebook. From alumni mobilizing support and action to friends connecting and donating, the view of Parkland from here in Boston is hopeful. But on LinkedIn the stories I see are about “hot job skills” “risk taking” and “communicating”. Let’s take a break from discussing conferences, white papers, and points of view. Let’s mobilize our networks to act and make Marjory Stoneman Douglas High the last mass school shooting in America.

“You have to stand up for some things in this world.” – Marjory Stoneman Douglas

• Contact our leaders. Regardless of our political leanings, we can agree that school shootings are bad and we need to hold our leaders accountable. Go to www.usa.gov/elected-officials and let our leaders know that we demand more from them.

• Demand sensible gun policy. We must ensure that dangerous people do not have access to guns. See how your state stacks up and take action.

I write this today to let you know that YOU are connected to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. I am your connector. Together we can amplify the message of these incredibly brave students and really be the change we want to see in the world.

Leah can be reached at leah.m.goldman@gmail.com.

Thank you for your intensity, empathy, compassion, and for sharing, Leah and Justin. Thank you for including me, and in turn, everyone reading this, in your network. We’re just getting started…

Please share this post if inspired to do so. I will edit this post and add recommended action items and events for those who are moved to participate. Please email me at Patrick@servernotservant.com with action-item suggestions. Our government is failing us. It’s time to speak up, mobilize, take and demand action. Thank you.

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Kindness in Boston Restaurants Captured by Kara Baskin for The Boston Globe

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 12/23/2017

Boston Globe correspondent, Kara Baskin posted this lead-in on facebook to her attached piece on kindness in the restaurant industry in Boston:

There has been lots of disgusting news about abhorrent behavior in the restaurant industry (and every industry) lately. Talking to these restaurant workers who look out for our elders and treat senior citizens with respect, offer them companionship–and in some cases actually keep them safe–was a happy reminder that most people really are good at heart.

Amen, Kara. Reprinted with permission.

By Kara Baskin Globe correspondent December 18, 2017:

For older diners, restaurants serve up sustenance of another kind

Leo always visited Johnny’s Luncheonette in Newton alone. Over time, he became a familiar face for co-owner Karen Masterson.

One mid-summer’s day, Leo showed up wearing a down jacket. “My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s disease,” says Masterson. “I’m sensitive to the early confusion stage.” Not long after, he pulled out a piece of cardboard. The cardboard had contact information for his most important touchstones: the YMCA, Veteran’s Taxi, his daughter — and Johnny’s. He handed the card to Masterson and asked for a ride to an address scrawled on the page. Not wanting to bundle Leo off to an unknown address in a cab, Masterson phoned his daughter, who confirmed his home address.

“I feel so strongly that this is how we need to care for each other,” Masterson says. “Restaurants need to make that phone call, be that place, see when someone needs a little extra. If you’ve been gifted with a long life, hopefully people in your orbit will do a little more. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Lately, news from the restaurant world has been short on beautiful things. Formerly untouchable chefs like Mario Batali and John Besh have fallen spectacularly from grace amid accusations of sexual harassment. Earlier this month, five kitchen workers filed a sexual harassment lawsuit based on experiences at the Faneuil Hall McCormick & Schmick’s. Who’s next? Where’s next? Restaurants aren’t always a safe place to be. Sometimes they’re scary, discriminatory, dangerous.

But sometimes they’re safe havens, too, and steadying influences for people who need it most, warm places in the literal — and figurative — cold.

That’s what happened at the Black Rose near Faneuil Hall. The Irish pub has turned into a hangout for Phyllis, who lives alone in the North End. When Phyllis came in complaining that her TV had broken — which meant that she couldn’t watch her beloved cartoons — the staff pooled money to buy her a new one. When it’s snowy, someone will drive her back to her apartment.

“It’s just a minute away, but it could take her a half-hour in the ice and snow,” says bartender Christine O’Neill.

Staffers at the Black Rose met Phyllis when she began coming in with her mother, says O’Neill. Soon, though, her mother passed away. Phyllis kept visiting, even when she had cancer and needed a walker for tumors in her legs.

“She comes for an hour or two, has fish and chips, and always sits at the same table,” O’Neill says. “She’s everyone’s friend. She calls us her children. She brings us candy that she gets at the bank.”

Another Black Rose server sometimes buys Phyllis dinner.

“She’s on her own. We pay the check for her. You don’t know what her situation is completely, you know what I mean?” says O’Neill.

The relationship works both ways. These restaurants are sanctuaries for customers — and an emotional boost for workers, too.

“Phyllis always lightens up our day. She comes in and says, ‘Hello, my darling!’ ” O’Neill says.

For staffers, these customers feel like family. Mike Tirella is a regular at Trattoria Il Panino, always with a full-bodied wine and chicken parmesan. He drives to the North End from the boulevard in Revere and sits at the bar to chat with Leo Rodriguez, his favorite bartender. Tirella is 80 and Rodriguez is 28, but they have plenty to talk about.

“These people are like my family. I see them more than I see my family. You know how life is. You barely see your family once a week. But I see Mike three or four times a week. I walk in and want to give him a hug. If I take a day off, he’s worried,” Rodriguez says.

“You feel like you belong. You feel like you belong to the place, and it means a lot,” says Tirella.

Across town, Richard Ray describes himself as the “Norm” of the Butcher Shop in the South End, as much a fixture as its tagliatelle with bolognese. Ray lives two blocks away and has been visiting since it opened in 2003. Now, he has his own designated seat at the bar on Friday and Saturday evenings.

“There’s a group of friends who I spent most of my time with before the Butcher Shop opened,” says Ray, who is 78 and lives alone. “When you reach a point with your friends when you complete their sentences, you’ve run out of things to say.”

So he decided to spice things up at the new local watering hole.

“I found it comfortable, a way to meet new people,” he says. A manager greeted him with a glass of sherry, and he never looked back. Now he’s there every weekend before 5 p.m., chatting about books, TV, and whatever’s streaming on Netflix.

“I’m a creature of extreme habit. Everyone knows I’m not available for anything else because I’m at the Butcher Shop on Friday or Saturday. It’s like a second family. I don’t want to say I’m their old grandfather — but maybe their old uncle,” he says.

He’s especially fond of Saturday night bartender Steven Gilarde and his wife, Kate, a former Butcher Shop employee who’s now at O Ya. The couple sometimes goes out to dinner with Ray; he’s invited them to his birthday parties.

“We care a lot about him. My wife even set up a rule with him: If you won’t show up on a Friday or Saturday, you have to call so we won’t worry.”

And he does.

In a busy world, certain restaurants serve as sanctuaries and safeguards for people. It’s not just about the food; it’s about the companionship, the pure human connection.

That’s what happened for Rita Manor, a Brookline icon who used to make the rounds in her walker, popping in at local businesses and sassing her favorite owners.

Steven Peljovich owns Michael’s Deli in Coolidge Corner, one of Manor’s chosen haunts. Over time, she became a surrogate grandmother for him, busting his chops if there wasn’t enough honey in her tzimmes.

“She lived in her own apartment in Brookline by herself. I don’t know how she was so happy, because she had nobody. She’d cheer us all up, bring us presents on birthdays and holidays. I’d fight with her in the winter, the way you’d fight with your grandmother: ‘Rita, stop walking! It’s snowing!’ ” he with a laugh.

Finally, concerned for her health, Peljovich got her phone number. During bad weather, he’d call and ask her what she wanted delivered for lunch. He bought her a new walker from Belmont Medical Supply when her insurance wouldn’t pay for it, trading it for food.

“She hung a Michael’s Deli sign from it,” he says.

Then Manor stopped visiting. Her special table was empty. No more wisecracks. No more meatloaf or chicken noodle soup, no more bread toasted so black that Peljovich’s toaster nearly caught fire.

“I literally started calling hospitals because I wanted to bring her food,” Peljovich says. Finally, he tracked her down at a Boston hospital. She would be transferred to hospice in Chestnut Hill, he was told.

So he drove out to see her one last time.

“I’ll never forget: It was a horribly snowy day. She loved to read. So me and the staff, we put together a bunch of books, food. I had no idea how bad her condition was. I said to the desk, ‘I’m here to see Rita.’ The woman said, ‘She’s not seeing anyone, but I’ll get her this stuff.’ I left my card. The folks called me the next day to let me know she’d passed.”

But, in a way, Rita still visits the deli, even though she’ll be gone two years next month.

“She’d sit at the very first table. There’s a picture of my father here, and her picture is the only other one I have,” Peljovich says. “I have a lot of regulars. But I’ll never forget Rita.”

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Please share your stories in the comments below, and share this blog post if the spirit moves you.

Here’s to a much better year in 2018. Cheers-Patrick

#ServerNotServant

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100 Days of Trump-The Unabashed Era of Arrogance and Ignorance in America

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 04/30/2017

The lack of grace, humility, and class are stunning. We knew he was a narcissist, but the true colors revealed in Donald Trump’s first 100 days as President of the United States are truly disgraceful. And just when many of us thought we couldn’t sink much lower during The Era of Ignorance in America, ‘Trumpers’ who elected him doubled down. According to a recent piece in the Washington Post:

There are no signs of major slippage in support among those who voted for Trump. His approval rating among those who cast ballots for him stands at 94 percent. Among Republicans, it is 84 percent. Asked of those who voted for him whether they regret doing so, 2 percent say they do, while 96 percent say supporting Trump was the right thing to do. When asked if they would vote for him again, 96 percent say they would,…

 Hate is still winning, and we’re still far from “smarter than this,” as many optimistic Americans wanted to believe following the election.

The  ABC/Washington Post poll sample size is small (1,004 adults), but even if we triple the margin of error (+/- 3.5%), and use 10.5%, then 85.5% of Trump voters surveyed said voting for him was the right thing to do, still an overwhelming majority.  Consistent with their demagogue, Trumpers can’t admit they made one of the worst mistakes in American history. Despite all of his disgraceful words and actions, has Trump ever put forth a sincere, contrite apology? I don’t believe he has the capacity to, and that lack of humility is one of the most loathsome flaws in his character. It often takes time, but arrogance, hubris, and/or elitism are often what topple the once ‘mighty.’ As I’ve said before, my gut still says he’ll never last. Despite his cunning and manipulative ways, I believe he’s too dirty and incompetent to survive a full term.

On April 28th, Robert Reich posted the following on facebook:

In his weekly address today, Trump touted the accomplishments of his first 100 days in office: “My fellow Americans, I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country’s history. Our country is going up, and it’s going up fast.” [One can only hope not literally ‘up’ in smoke. -P Maguire]

Reich: If Trump sincerely believes what he’s saying, he’s delusional. If he’s in touch with reality, he’s a bald-faced liar.

Whether it’s pathological or not may be up for debate, but there is no dispute when it comes to the fact that Trump is, at the very least, a habitual liar whose supporters are willing to defend him at all cost. ‘Self preservation’ of ideals is a strong, often blind, motivator. I had the following exchange on 4/28 with a Trumper discussing Trump’s first 100 days on facebook:

Trumper: Funny……I think he’s doing great!!

Me: (Trumper), surely you jest?!? If not, 3 questions:

#1After seeing Trump’s true colors over the last 100 days, when it comes to intelligence, research, preparedness, example, social skills, business acumen, savvy, intuition, focus, and integrity, are you proud the he is the leader of our country and representing us on the world stage?

#2What specifically has he done to improve your life and/or the lives of your loved ones?

#3At the core, do you believe he’s a good and decent human being? Caveat, your responses cannot include references to Hillary or Obama. Thank you.

Trumper: I have no response to your rebellion of our president!!! My answer…. He is doing everything he needs to do….

Me: No response could also be called “willfully ignorant.” “I’m done learning and blindly supporting my demagogue, no matter what.” More than 900 people in ‘Jonestown,’ Guyana worshipped their leader in a similar, naive fashion and died. Trump is a manipulative, narcissistic, maniacal, incompetent, unhinged and extremely dangerous human, using/preying on people unwilling to see him for who and what he is. Not surprisingly, his supporters can’t even admit they fucked up by electing him. I can’t recall a time when their deity ever issued a contrite apology, even after bragging that his wealth entitled him to sexually assault a married woman by grabbing her by the vagina. That blind faith in a ‘leader’ like that is beyond frightening. We are living in an Era of Ignorance in America, and if people don’t wake the fuck up and resist this scumbag and his regime at every turn, he will destroy us. His first 100 days mark one of the worst stretches (by comparison) in the history of our country.

Sometimes I wonder if ‘resisters’ (me included) are guilty of the same thing we accuse Trumpers of, lack of critical thinking and insulating ourselves with like-minded opinions. After all, a common refrain from the 96% (Trumpers) when accused of being uneducated or ‘willfully ignorant’ is that we’re being condescending and elitist. The irony here is that their teflon hero is the king of arrogance, elitism, and entitlement. And the facts are the facts whether you want to learn them or not before formulating an opinion. Ad-hominem attacks and avoidance are knee-jerk, protectionist responses from people unwilling to support their ‘worldview’ with research, facts, and sound, intelligent reasoning. (I know, “Damn elitist.”)

Renée Graham of the Boston Globe concluded in her opinion piece on 4/28/17:

On Saturday, his 100th day in office, he’ll host yet another rally, this one in Harrisburg, Penn. He’ll bask in the anxious love of supporters who know that recognizing his failure as president is to admit their mistake in voting for him, and they won’t do that. For Trump and his true believers, it is a perverse delusion that blind adoration will be enough to stave off the botched policy decisions, mounting calls for impeachment, and the unshakable reality of a hapless, toxic presidency in free fall.

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Rage Against Hatred, Ignorance & The Trump Machine

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 01/20/2017

Inauguration Day 2017.

My gut says he’ll never last. Despite his cunning and manipulative ways, I believe he’s too dirty and incompetent to survive a full term. How can he in an intelligent, civil society with so many checks and balances? Unfortunately, ‘we’ are not as smart and civil as we once perceived ‘us’ to be, and we’re in big trouble. Maybe we were better off before social media and the persistent reminders that hate and ignorance are pervasive and rampant in America. What disgusts me the most is that America used to represent so much more. There was a time when leaders or public figures committing a small fraction of the atrocities that Trump is guilty of, would be shamed, forced to apologize, and resign immediately. Today, we worship them as deities and elect them president…

After confirming the news on November 9th, and reading and watching some ‘patriotic’ cheerleading, I posted the following on Facebook:

Post Election Day. Enough of the “rah rah” America, clichéd rhetoric. Hate won, and as a country, we lose. We’re not “smarter than this.” The ignorance that is pervasive in America is stunning. The lack of critical, independent thinking is horrifying, especially when it is evident from our own family members and people we used to respect. They can’t even comprehend “critical thinking” because they don’t have the desire, nor the capacity, to understand what it means. The fact that they’ve been manipulated and brainwashed by a demagogue who has played them is beyond disturbing. “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” – H. L. Mencken. “They don’t even know what they don’t know” confuses the hell out of them, and confirms that they are amongst the ‘idiots’ Mencken mocks. Self-preservation is a strong motivator. Many extremists are done learning, and instead, have built a wall around their established, shallow ‘ideals.’ Evangelical ‘Christians,’ and white, blue-collar workers (I was one for several years), who Trump routinely and repeatedly screwed, walked off the cliff like lemmings in support of him. He’s a vile, arrogant, disgraceful, demeaning, lying, corrosive, corrupt, racist, entitled, obnoxious, divisive, homophobic, selfish, sexist, manipulative, xenophobic, bullying, belligerent, sociopathic scumbag who has no regard for anyone beyond himself, “Me, Myself, and I.” If you voted for him, he used you, and he’s now your president, idiots.

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Since the election, one therapeutic outlet has been reading as many viewpoints as possible-yes, including those of Trump supporters in an attempt to understand their motivation. There are many people who are much smarter than I am and who write more eloquently than I ever will, thus the quotes below. The following are excerpts from the Facebook thread and links I compiled within the comments following my original post on November 9th.

(PM) are my quotes, all other initials are commenters on the public facebook thread:

  1. “Imagine making fun of someone with a disability and thinking it’s ok? It’s unconscionable, and would have been enough to derail anyone years ago. Based on everything we have seen (true colors over time), there is nothing decent about this guy.” (PM)
  2. “It amazes me that these people have no recollection of the state we were in at the end of Bush’s 8 years!!!!???? Trump has not said one thing that he will do, not disclosed his tax returns, is a complete asshole, and people follow him like a God??? I don’t get it?????” (EG)
  3. “This election was also a victory due to the huge apathy in our country. At least 100 million eligible voters failed to vote in this election. If even 5% of those eligible voters had voted for Clinton, the election results would have been drastically different. When almost 1/2 the country failed to vote, I’m willing to bet that a number of the people who are now protesting failed to actually vote. America had an opportunity to fight back against ignorance, racism, sexism, etc, but failed to do so, largely due to apathy.” (RA)
  4. America Elects a Bigot-NYT 11/10/16: “Mr. Trump will become this country’s 45th president. For me, it is a truly shocking fact, a bitter pill to swallow. I remain convinced that this is one of the worst possible people who could be elected president. I remain convinced that Trump has a fundamentally flawed character and is literally dangerous for world stability and injurious to America’s standing in that world.”   “It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself.””Also, let me be clear: Businessman Donald Trump was a bigot. Candidate Donald Trump was a bigot. Republican nominee Donald Trump was a bigot. And I can only assume that President Donald Trump will be a bigot.”  “I must settle this in myself in this way: I respect the presidency; I do not respect this president-elect. I cannot. Count me among the resistance.”
  5. “Trump ran his campaign by appealing to people’s reptile brains. Fear, greed, tribalism.” (AT)
  6. “In the deep south of Louisiana, a high school diploma is considered to be a good education. And, our public schools are horrible, so it isn’t even a good high school education. Working class people, who are working class due to their lack of education, are easily persuaded by someone like Trump, due to their “hero worship” of the rich and famous. Down here, the only thing worse than a black man is an “uppity” woman. “Uppity” women are disrespected by working class men and working class women alike. That I have always understood. What continually amazes me is that educated men down here hate “uppity” women too. Only one of my male law partners voted against Trump. There is no question in my mind that if Hillary were a man, at least half of these good men would have voted against Trump. It’s ok for a man to be a crook (Trump) but its not ok for a woman with a bad haircut, ugly pantsuits, and sensible shoes (Hillary) to be a crook. The only reason that I am a partner in this sexist law firm is that they have no choice due to my client base. They know I can walk. Still, I am paid less than the men, and that won’t change unless I walk North. Way North. So why do I stay? This is my home, and my family and friends are here. While I am not talking to anyone in my family now because they all voted for Trump (and they are not poor white trash, so I am confused), that wound will heal with time. It’s 1954 in South Louisiana. And it always will be.” (JS)
  7. “If one were to take a massive group of Americans (tens of millions?) and rank them based on their knowledge, temperament and preparedness to be president of the US, where would this guy rank?  Top 100?  Top 1,000?  How about somewhere between the 9,500,000th and 10,000,000th most qualified?  It is truly mind-boggling how we got to this point.”(EK)
  8. “I did not and could not vote for him. I disagree with your assertion that all people who voted for him are idiots, however. Among the people that did: my aunt and uncle who are multi-millionaires and lifelong Democrats, my dog’s veterinarian, and my husband, an Army brat whose Colonel father is currently consulting with Nigeria on national security for their country. In my humble opinion, one big factor as to why this reality show creep is now in the most powerful position in the world, is because Americans are sick to death of career politicians. Politicians are supposed to be public servants, but have somehow evolved into self-servants. They have had no incentives to cross aisles and compromise for the good of the country. And in spite of the fact that I woke up on Wednesday feeling like I’m now living in the Twilight Zone, I take some pleasure in the thought that politicians are feeling very, very uneasy.” (DGS)
  9. “Patrick, he did what they call in a cult control of the minds ,he sought out what people wanted to hear and over and over he said the words that defined what was appealing to most and the words came out harsh as they could over and over , until people heard it . Research has shown if u drill ideas into a person mind over in over again u can accomplish a better outcome to what u want to happen, as u listen to his words , same every time he spoke in fact it was in the same sentences and fashion at every really . It’s the most common task some cults use.” (LD)
  10. “Extremists will defend their deity to the death because that defines/validates their existence. And they are in denial of anything or anyone who ‘threatens’/challenges how they rationalize their place in the world. (Even intelligent people with genuine, good intentions trying to help them.) They’ll never know the truth because they are done learning. Self-preservation is a strong motivator. It’s frightening to watch people who have paid exorbitant fees, shout out approval, and emphatically nod their heads in approval of the bullshit spewing from the alter on middle-of-the-night TV. Tens of thousands of people pack those arenas, desperately clinging to the words of bullshit artists, like Trump, who are lining their pockets on the desperation and naiveté of their flock. The Kool-Aid may initially look and sound appealing, but if you drink it before questioning and verifying, it may kill you. Remember Jonestown.” (PM)
  11. “I am stunned and sickened by this. Ten steps forward and 50 backwards.  Unbelievable.” (EM)
  12. If you voted for Trump because he’s ‘anti-establishment,’ guess what: You got conned Washington Post 11/11/16: “…But one thing it will not be is a threat to the establishment, or the system, or whatever you want to call it. The wealthy and powerful will have more wealth and power when he’s done, not less. There’s a lot that Trump will upend, but if you’re a little guy who thinks Trump was going to upend things on your behalf or in order to serve your interests, guess what: you got suckered.”
  13. “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” H.L. Menken The Baltimore Evening Sun-July 26, 1920
  14. A Time for Refusal-New York Times Magazine 11/11/16:  At the end of “Rhinoceros,” Daisy finds the call of the herd irresistible. Her skin goes green, she develops a horn, she’s gone. Berenger, imperfect, all alone, is racked by doubts. He is determined to keep his humanity, but looking in the mirror, he suddenly finds himself quite strange. He feels like a monster for being so out of step with the consensus. He is afraid of what this independence will cost him. But he keeps his resolve, and refuses to accept the horrible new normalcy. He’ll put up a fight, he says. “I’m not capitulating!” (Reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers)
  15. “The worst part of all of this for me is that my family put Trump in office. I have forgiven my 83 year old father, for a number of reasons. But after the words I exchanged with my sister and her wicked racist in laws on facebook, I doubt that I will ever see her again. And I doubt that I will ever see her kids again. My feeling of despair at this moment is unspeakable.” (JS)
  16. “If Trump had an ounce of decency, he would make a thoughtful, powerful speech vehemently denouncing the people who have used his win to spread hatred, bigotry, and violence, and call for an immediate end to it. A brutally obvious move for a leader sincere about “unifying” our country. And if he’s not aware/smart enough to do it on his own, where the fuck are his advisors insisting that  he does?!? WTF?” (PM)
  17. “Can I come to someone’s house for Thanksgiving?” (JS)
  18. By normalizing hatred, we’ve already normalized Trump- Boston Globe November 15, 2016: “Yet for all his unrepentant xenophobia and misogyny, Trump invented none of the social afflictions that propelled him to the White House. All he needed to do was bellow them out loud on the largest possible stage, and tap into the toxicity of a nation that has long been too tolerant of intolerance.”
  19. This list of facts and allegations is stunning.
  20. Why I Left White Nationalism-New York Times November 26, 2016:  “There are millions of Americans who don’t understand why anyone might worry about the effects of this election. They see it as “feelings” versus their own real concerns. Those of us on the other side need to be clear that Mr. Trump’s callous disregard for people outside his demographic is intolerable, and will be destructive to the entire nation.”
  21. Dan Rather November 27, 2016: Could someone who has Donald Trump’s ear please take away his phone and tell him that he now has a very big job to do that requires paying attention to reality? There are no training wheels for being president. You go from a common citizen to the most powerful person on the planet. And that is not a joke.

“He’s got the whole world in his hands” is an old spiritual that has become a favorite of camping trips and sing-a-longs about the power of the Almighty. But when it comes to the affairs of humankind and the planet, you could make the case that you could almost say the same thing about the powers of the president of the United States.

War and peace. Justice and the economy. Even now with the looming catastrophe of climate change, the very health of our Earth. All are in the hands of the president. But here we have Donald Trump, who will soon be sitting behind the desk of the Oval Office tasked with decisions that will shape millions of lives and our world, tweeting lies – lies – about illegal votes.

The very job description of the presidency is you can’t afford to be petty. Richard Nixon was and it destroyed him. But I can’t think of anyone else who was so obsessed with apparent slights and minutiae. Donald Trump has won the presidency. I know there is a movement to recount votes in a few key states, but barring a plot twist worthy of the Twilight Zone I can’t see all of this changing much. For Trump it should be a minor distraction to task a junior aid to keep in touch with not what dominates his mind to such a degree that he issues multiple public statements about it – statements far adrift from any reported fact.

22. ‘I will give you everything.’ Here are 282 of Donald Trump’s campaign promises. Washington Post November 28, 2016:  In Donald Trump’s final days on the campaign trail, he promised his supporters that “every dream you ever dreamed for your country” will come true if he becomes president — one of dozens of sweeping promises he made and is now expected to fulfill. In January, I compiled a list of 76 campaign promises Trump had made. Since then, the list has grown to 282, collected from Trump’s speeches, public comments, tweets and campaign and transition websites.

23. The GuardianPolitical correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy. For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting nemesis has been a favourite tactic of the right – and Donald Trump’s victory is its greatest triumph. by Moira Weigel: Trump drew upon a classic element of anti-political-correctness by implying that while his opponents were operating according to a political agenda, he simply wanted to do what was sensible. He made numerous controversial policy proposals: deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from entering the US, introducing stop-and-frisk policies that have been ruled unconstitutional. But by responding to critics with the accusation that they were simply being politically correct, Trump attempted to place these proposals beyond the realm of politics altogether. Something political is something that reasonable people might disagree about. By using the adjective as a put-down, Trump pretended that he was acting on truths so obvious that they lay beyond dispute. “That’s just common sense.” 

24. How long before the white working class realizes Trump was just scamming them? Washington Post  November 23, 2016: “So what happens in two years when there’s a congressional election and two years after that when Trump runs for a second term? Those voters may look around and say, Hey wait a minute. That paradise of infinite winning Trump promised? It didn’t happen. My community still faces the same problems it did before. There’s no new factory in town with thousands of jobs paying great salaries. Everybody doesn’t have great health insurance with no cost-sharing for incredibly low premiums. I still hear people speaking Spanish from time to time. Women and minorities are still demanding that I treat them with respect. Music and movies and TV still make me feel like I’m being left behind. When Trump told me he’d wipe all that away, he was conning me. In fact, in many ways he was the fullest expression of the caricature of politicians (everything they say is a lie, they’re only out for themselves) I thought I was striking back against when I supported him.”

25. “If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years on this planet, it’s that the happiest and most fulfilled people I’ve known are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest.” – John Glenn. So much class. RIP (PM)

26. Rolling Stone-December 8, 2016: Trump’s Presidency Is Shaping Up to Be an American Tragedy. His administration is likely to be just as bad as you think – and possibly worse: “At the very least, we’re being led by an unqualified man-boy who doesn’t grasp even the most basic tenets of governance. At worst, we’re headed down an extraordinarily dark road where the things that make America America simply cease to exist. A president who won on a campaign of anti-immigrant furor, who believes in casting aside freedom like litter, who craves constant validation and can’t abide criticism or satire – that’s a tyrant in the making.”

27. Huffington Post December 12, 2016An Open Letter To ‘Mr.’ Trump: WTF Is Wrong With You!? “…Next, the conflicts of interests are not just mind-numbingly unethical, but perhaps illegal and impeachable. You’ve refused to release your tax returns and have bailed on your big press conference this week to explain how you’re going to separate yourself and your family from your business… leaving the American people with zero transparency for the first time in modern presidential history. Between your foreign investments and debt, and your domestic properties (DC hotel, for example), your conflicts are staggering. You’re blatantly putting your personal financial interests before the safety and security of the nation. Oh, and because of you I now have to add the word “emoluments” to my vocabulary.”

28. New York Times December 19, 2016How Republics End: “Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history — specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare. But the ’30s isn’t the only era with lessons to teach us. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.”

29. Boston Globe December 19, 2016Yes, there is shame in not knowing: “There’s no shame in not knowing; there’s shame in not wanting to know. For years I’ve said this to my college students as a way of telling them that learning should never stop. But I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that, at a certain point, there should be shame in not knowing.”

“The emerging narrative of this election is that Donald Trump was elected by people who are sick of being looked down on by liberal elites. The question the people pushing this narrative have not asked is this: Were the elites, based on the facts, demonstrably right?”

“And still this imperviousness to fact pales next to the racism and xenophobia and misogyny — in other words, the moral ignorance — that Trump’s supporters wallowed in. All of the condescension of which liberals have been accused can’t begin to match the condescension of the  current storyline that Trump voters are too disenfranchised or despised or dismissed to be held morally responsible for their choices. It’s an insult to these salt-of-the-earth types, we’re told, to think they acted out of racism. You must understand, the pundits say: They resent being told they are dinosaurs, they fear their lifestyle is passing away.”

30. Bill Moyers.com November 10,2016-Farewell, America: This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bound us. We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.

If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.

31. Anthony Bourdain-Eater December 21, 2016: “I’m a New Yorker, Donald Trump is a New Yorker. And the New Yorkers I know, we’ve lived with this guy for 30 years. I’ve seen Donald Trump say things one day, and then I saw what he did the next. I’ve seen up close how he does business. Just like if you lived in a small town, you’d get to know the sheriff, the guy who runs the hardware store, the guy who runs the filling station — Trump comes from that era of guys you followed, guys you knew about every day: Trump, Giuliani, Al Sharpton, Curtis Sliwa. I’d see him at Studio 54, for fuck’s sake. I’m not saying I know the guy personally, not like I’d hug him, but I’m saying that as a New Yorker, we pretty much are neighbors. And my many years of living in his orbit have not left me with a favorable impression, let’s put it that way. There’s so many reasons to find the guy troubling.”

“…But if I can convince people to look around, and see who’s actually doing a lot of the work in this country — picking vegetables, it’s all immigrant labor — and then ask themselves, truly, whether they under any circumstances would take that job? You know, to look in the eyes of the cook who makes their eggs-over every day…”

“…I’m sticking it out, I’m not gonna run away to Canada. I’m gonna pay my fuckin’ taxes, I’m gonna vote, I’m gonna do all of that. But I’m not going to be taking it to the streets any time soon — well, we’ll see. I think we’re going to be feeling the effects of this for a long time. I’m just not optimistic. I worry about my daughter, of course.”

32. Vanity Fair-Graydon Carter December 21/2016:Until the November upset that will send the most ill-equipped president in history to the White House, political correctness had reached a fever pitch over the past three dec­ades that left all but the dampest of liberals feeling out of step with the times. The pendulum had swung so far left that it was only a matter of time before it swung back right. The horror is that it has swung right so hard and so fast. In the time it takes to build a house, a nation that was forged on inclusiveness has begun to accept the most extreme forms of the unacceptable as a new normal. In word and deed, the president-elect has turned on a tap of hate—and it will be a while before we can turn it off.”

33. Moby on Facebook December 19,2016: And now that the electoral college has certified the results we will watch @realdonaldtrump be inaugurated in January and sworn in as our next president. A reminder: 45% of women voted for a man who bragged openly about getting away with sexual assault. 40% of Latinos voted for a man who routinely maligned Latinos. 70% of Christians voted for a man who has been divorced 3 times and brags about committing infidelity. 70% of blue collar workers voted for a a trust fund baby who routinely didn’t pay his workers and who produced his merchandise overseas. And now we have a president elect who has time to tweet and hang out with Kanye but can’t be bothered to attend security briefings. America you’ve lost your mind and made a truly colossal mistake. And on top of this he got 3,000,000 fewer votes than his opponent. Dark days.

34. Huffington Post Here’s Why We Grieve Today November 10, 2016: “And it is not only that these things have been ratified by our nation that grieve us; all this hatred, fear, racism, bigotry, and intolerance—it’s knowing that these things have been amen-ed by our neighbors, our families, our friends,…That is the most horrific thing of all. We now know how close this is. It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that. We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.”

35. Mother Jones December 19, 2016 Special report: I spent 5 years with some of Trump’s biggest fans. Here’s what they won’t tell you. 

…The most widespread of these suspicions, of course — shared by 66 percent of Trump supporters — is that Obama is Muslim.

What the people I interviewed were drawn to was not necessarily the particulars of these theories. It was the deep story underlying them — an account of life as it feels to them. Some such account underlies all beliefs, right or left, I think. The deep story of the right goes like this: You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black — beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you’re being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He’s on their side. In fact, isn’t he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It’s not your government anymore; it’s theirs.

36.  Daily Banter January 5, 2017Donald Trump Avoids Intelligence Briefings Because He’s an Idiot: “For most of his life Trump has tried to hide his compromised brain capacity through false bravado, insults, verbal and emotional abuse of others and the marketing of his name. Trump has mastered the art of deflection of his business incompetence, along with his personal insecurities and fears. He took this model and ran for president, winning by convincing enough Americans to find fellowship in the dark message of his own narcissism.”

37. Boston Globe January 9/2017The presidency as psychodrama: Consider these characteristics: An exaggerated sense of self-importance. An unjustified belief in your own superiority and brilliance. A preoccupation with fantasies of your own success and power. A craving for constant admiration. A consuming sense of entitlement. An expectation of special favors and unquestioning compliance.

Or these: A penchant for exploiting or disparaging others. An inability to tolerate criticism or critics. An unreasoning fury at people you perceive as not supporting your wishes or desires. A tendency to judge people in terms of whether they flatter you — see, e.g., Vladimir Putin. A belief that you already know all there is to know.

Or these: The need always to be right. A lack of empathy for others. An array of inconsistent statements and behaviors driven by your needs in the moment. A tendency to lie so frequently and routinely that objective truth loses all meaning.

In sum, an incapacity to separate the world from your own psychodrama.

This is bad enough in selecting a spouse or friend. But in a president, it is flat out dangerous. And it presents a unique challenge for the journalists trying to cover the Trump presidency in a meaningful way, and for Americans seeking to assess the man we have made the most powerful person in the world.

38. CNN January 16, 2017Donald Trump is ‘gaslighting’ all of us: The techniques include saying and doing things and then denying it, blaming others for misunderstanding, disparaging their concerns as oversensitivity, claiming outrageous statements were jokes or misunderstandings, and other forms of twilighting the truth.

39. New York Magazine January 13, 2017Kahneman: Your Cognitive Biases Act Like Optical Illusions:Where does confirmation bias come from? Confirmation bias comes from when you have an interpretation, and you adopt it, and then, top down, you force everything to fit that interpretation,” Kahneman says. “That’s a process that we know occurs in perception that resolves ambiguity, and it’s highly plausible that a similar process occurs in thinking.” Which is precisely why you — or a president — shouldn’t trust everything you think. Unfortunately, the more powerful you are, the more you believe your own thoughts.

40. Democracy Now-January 17,2017Insane Clown President: Matt Taibbi Chronicles Election of “Billionaire Hedonist” Donald Trump: “I would never compare myself to Hunter Thompson. I think that’s an unflattering comparison for any writer, but I think I do a little bit understand what he was going through with Nixon. I kind of feel a little bit the same way about Trump. He’s a—you know, it was kind of hate at first sight, actually, when I first saw him on the campaign trail. He’s a fascinating, repellent, awful, epically horrible character. And in a way, it makes for this incredibly engrossing story to follow him. So, you know, I think that, to me, is what really stood out about this last year, is Trump himself, he is just such a unique figure in our time. He’s kind of the perfect foil to reflect everything that’s excessive and vulgar and disgusting and tasteless and cheap and greedy about American culture. He is the perfect mirror to reflect everything about our society.”

41. New York Times-January 19,2017 Are You Not Alarmed?: “I continue to be astonished that not enough Americans are sufficiently alarmed and abashed by the dangerous idiocies that continue to usher forth from the mouth of the man who will on Friday be inaugurated as president of the United States.

Toss ideology out of the window. This is about democracy and fascism, war and peace, life and death. I wish that I could write those words with the callous commercialism with which some will no doubt read them, as overheated rhetoric simply designed to stir agitation, provoke controversy and garner clicks. But alas, they are not. These words are the sincere dispatches of an observer, writer and citizen who continues to see worrisome signs of a slide toward the exceedingly unimaginable by a man who is utterly unprepared.”

42. Politico Magazine January 18,2017: ‘He Has This Deep Fear That He Is Not a Legitimate President’: “From his pick of nominees for posts in his cabinet to his belligerent use of Twitter to his unwillingness to cut ties with his business to avoid conflicts of interest, they see the same person they’ve always seen—the consummate classroom troublemaker; a vain, insecure bully; and an anti-institutional schemer, as adept at “gaming the system” as he is unashamed. As they look ahead to his inauguration speech and to his administration beyond, they feel confident predicting that he will run the country much as he has run his company. For himself.”

43.  The Guardian, Jessica Valenti November 19, 2016: Trump voters sure are sensitive lately. They’re upset that the cast of the hit play Hamilton made a statement to Vice-President-elect Mike Pence, and that the audience booed him. They’re displeased that their vote is costing them relationships with family and friends. And for some reason not entirely clear to me, they’re unhappy with Starbucks and decided to demonstrate as much by … buying lots of coffee at Starbucks.

The same people who wear shirts that read “fuck your feelings” and rail against “political correctness” seem to believe that there should be no social consequences for their vote. I keep hearing calls for empathy and healing, civility and polite discourse. As if supporting a man who would fill his administration with white nationalists and misogynists is something to simply agree to disagree on.

Absolutely not. You don’t get to vote for a person who brags about sexual assault and expect that the women in your life will just shrug their shoulders. You don’t get to play the victim when people unfriend you on Facebook, as if being disliked for supporting a bigot is somehow worse than the suffering that marginalized people will endure under Trump. And you certainly do not get to enjoy a performance by people of color and those in the LGBT community without remark or protest when you enact policies and stoke hatred that put those very people’s lives in danger.

Being socially ostracized for supporting Trump is not an infringement of your rights, it’s a reasonable response by those of us who are disgusted, anxious, and afraid. I was recently accused by a writer of “vote shaming” – but there’s nothing wrong with being made to feel ashamed for doing something shameful.

Donald Trump’s ascendance to the Presidency of the United States represents a low point for America. He has undermined so many American ideals by replacing hope with hate. We have so much work to do–fighting to preserve the progress we’ve made, and to find new, inspired leadership to change the current direction we’re heading in to move forward again. Imagine if our leaders spent the same time, effort, energy and money fighting to advance the critical issues that really matter to our people, our country, and the world as they do on the vitriolic, hateful fighting promoting their own agendas and grabbing power for their political party? #WeStandUnited

Thanks to @amandablount2 on twitter for this post:

#WeStandUnited

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