Tag Archives: shenanigans

Are You Serving #Cookies or #Dookies? Click to not break your guests’ hearts.


Nothing kills holiday cheer faster than when someone offers you Christmas cookies; you gleefully accept and are presented with a tray covered in little jelly-filled things, lemon bars, and crap with nuts or coconuts all over it.

“Cookies” implies deliciousness, like chocolate chip, Hershey’s Kiss or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookies, peanut butter cookies (fork-pressed cross-hatches with no chunks of nuts), Rice Krispies treats (in any iteration including chocolate and peanut butter shenanigans), Christmas wreaths, or even lady-locks or lady-fingers (or whatever you call them).  I’ll even give you buckeyes.

“Cookies” does not include anything with jelly in the middle, anything with nuts on or in it, lemon squares, Fig Newtons, anything with coconut shavings or flavoring.  These are (in a term coined by my friend Saurav I believe) in fact “Dookies.”

Cookies vs. Dookies

Sugar cookies and shortbread are barely passable as cookies. (Sorry, Eat n’ Park.)

Pizelles can be tricky.  Some of them are delicious, and some taste like what I imagine licking the inside of a dumpster in August would be like.  If you use a spice called annis that sounds almost like anus, you get what you deserve.

Chocolate covered pretzels, Oreos, peanut butter crackers, etc. are acceptable.

Red licorice is OK, black licorice is not.

Thumbprints can be tricky too.  If they have chocolate icing, usually only the icing is edible.  The rest is tasteless powder formed into a cup of lies.

Do we need someone to make a flow chart?  Are you getting this?  Don’t ruin someone’s Christmas by offering cookies when you’re presenting dookies.

Please, sort it out in the comments.

Guitarobatics 🎸


I’m on a few super gear-nerdy and G.A.S.-educing groups on Facebook.  To the Awesome Cheap Guitars group, I recently posed this question:

So,what awesome cheap guitar moves have you pulled on stage? I’m a horrible guitar player, but I can wow a crowd with some flash, flair, and goofy-looking guitars. I’m guilty of the checked following…

Dancing E.

Dancing E.

☑ Playing behind the head.
☑ Playing while squatting with guitar in between knees, reaching arm through legs from behind.
☑ Playing while falling/laying down.
☑ Dropping-trou and continuing to play.
☑ Playing on knees bending back until head almost touches the ground.
Sad 80’s dance move with shuffling feet while playing.
☑ Playing on chairs.
☑ Playing on tables.
☐ Playing on the bar.
☑ Walking outside & in another door if possible with a wireless.
☑ Sitting in a seat with a wireless.
☑ Stage-diving.
☑ The Chuck Berry/Angus Young walk.
☑ Switching instruments mid song.
☐ Using a beer bottle as a slide.
☑ Using a mic stand as a slide.
☐ Blowing bubblegum bubbles. (Like Doyle.)
☑ Drinking mid song.
☑ Injuring a band mate by accident. (I chipped the lead-singer/bass player’s tooth.)
☐ Injuring a band mate on purpose.
☑ Improvising a mic stand out of duct tape, a hockey stick, & gatorade bottles. (Hey, we were playing at a dek-hockey rink.)
☐ Playing on someone’s shoulders.
☐ Playing while someone is on your shoulders.
☑ Playing from behind a wooden bear statue with the guitar on the front of the bear.
☐ Putting a lit cigarette under the strings in the headstock.
☐ The amp-hump. (Like Jimi.)
☑ The guitar-as-a-phallic-symbol air-hump. (Like Rex from the Lone Rangers  in Airheads.) 
☐ The guitar toss – Badass edition. (Like Prince – also, check out the falling into the crowd move!!!)
☐ The guitar toss – Oops edition. (Like Prince with the borrowed Epiphone or Krist Novoselic on MTV.)
☐ The guitar toss – Someone else catches & starts playing.
☐ Smoke-bombs. (Like Ace Frehley.)
☐ Set Fire to the guitar. (Like Jimi.)
☐ The windmill. (Like Pete.)
☑ The powerslide.
☑ The failed powerslide.
☐ Swinging from the rafters. (Hard to do while actually playing? This dude did it.)
☐ The “‘round the world” spin.
☐ The failed “round the world” spin.
☑ Yelling out a second story window mid-set for people to come into the bar.
☐ The “nyah-nyah you can’t see me” EVH turn-around.
☐ The flying karate kick.
☑ On the knees.
☐ On top of a piano. (Like Slash.)
☑ Dancing with the crowd.
☑ Duel of the Fates – using another musician’s fretboard as a slide.
 The salute – All in the air.
☑ The Poison-ish choreographed lean.
☑ Lean on a bandmate.
☑ Lean into a bandmate.

I know there are more.  I know photos & videos exist of some of these with me.   I know this post can get goofy. Please, I implore you to share your moves, including videos, animated gifs, and photos in the comments!  This kind of stuff is hilariously entertaining to me.

What’s your favorite to do?  What’s your favorite to watch?  What have you copied?  What have you invented?  What did I miss on this list?  Share your stories and images and favorite stuff from your favorite performers!

Now, for the self-indulgence:

Wait. What? (The Bob Evans saga continues.)


I never emailed these names.  Seriously.  Someone must have sent Jon the text of my blog, or a link to my blog.  My original email contained the names which I then changed to something I thought would be ridiculous and obvious, so I didn’t accidentally call out another real employee.

Am I being trolled?

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 8:54 PM, “0503, BER” <Unit_503@bobevans.com> wrote:

Hello,

                I am following up on a bad review that we had charge to our store.  I was hoping to get some more information, as we believed our location received this review in error.  We don’t have servers by either name mentioned in the review (Maleficient and Lincoln), and would like to find out which store you were actually at.  Then we can send this along to them, so that they can address these issues.  Thank you for your time.

Jon Herrmann
General Manager
Bob Evans #503
Bridgeville, PA
(412) 257-1369

Shenanigans. ☘

I wrote back.  Nothing interesting besides pointing out that I never sent those names in an email.

I also got an email from LeAnn confirming our Dormont address, so I passed along the new one.  I wonder if I’ll get a T-shirt?

If it’s gift certificates, does anyone know of a charity that accepts them or of a family in need?

Maybe they’re sending someone to dispatch of me.  Maybe I should ask King’s to weigh in?

This still makes me laugh uncontrollably:

YOU GET A CRAYON!

Smiling & coloring rule.

I did get a really insightful comment on the last post though. Doesn’t seem like it’s gone down that way so far.

 

Bob Evans: 1 • Eat’n Park: 1½


So, did you read about our most recent experience with a waitress we’ll call Maleficent at the local Bob Evans?  If not, you may want to read that first.

I recently got the expected response from Bob Evans, and it’s nowhere near as enthusiastic as last time.  They are probably more displeased with my over-the-top approach to storytelling than the actions of Maleficent.

——– Original message ——–
From: “Barga, Leann D.
Date: 11/11/2015 9:23 AM (GMT-05:00)
To: me@my.email.address
Subject: Bob Evans – Reference # 1106568

Good Morning Eric,

I am so sorry to hear that you recently had a poor experience at our Bridgeville location.  The behavior demonstrated by one of our servers was unacceptable, and for that we truly apologize.  We expect all of our employees to treat our guests like family, and want our guests to be completely satisfied – it is clear that we let you down with your initial server during this visit.

On the other hand, I am happy to hear that Lincoln ‘saved the day’ and made the rest of your time with us an enjoyable one.

I will be sharing your comments with the general manager and area coach of this location so any necessary action can be taken to ensure that all of our servers are meeting our and our guests expectations.

Sincerely,

LeAnn Barga (formerly Purdy)
Representative, Guest and Consumer Relations
8111 Smith’s Mill Road
New Albany, Ohio 43054
Phone: (800) 939-2338
http://www.BobEvans.com

It seems that Leanne is still rocking it with Bob Evans, now with a new name.  I hope she is doing well!

Not sure what this means (if anything) for Maleficent and Lincoln.  Will anything actually be said?  Will general management or area coaches write back to me directly?  Will I get a dirty look from Maleficent next time we’re there?  Hopefully Lincoln is on the clock.

Of course I can’t just let things like this be, so I reached out to Eat’n Park on twitter. Their response was glorious

Ha.  Eat’n Park for the win.

EVERYONE GETS A CRAYON!

Checkmate.

All we wanted were some crayons.


So, this past Saturday night we had an interesting experience at the local Bob Evans.  I have blogged about one of our experiences with an angry server there before, but haven’t touched upon the 3 or 4 other times that “the kitchen held up the order” while she talked to other customers at great length about slot machines at the Meadows, or the time that she rolled her eyes at me while the wife and I were discussing the seasonal shrimp on the menu in regards to where it was cooked and my allergy.  This time we were most likely doubly annoying as we had two small children with us.  The saga begins…

From: Eric Carroll <me@my.email.addre.ss>
To: Leann D. Purdy, Nathaniel A. Riggs, BE-mail

Hello Leann and Nate,

I hope this message finds you well, and that you’re both still with the Bob Evans team!  You may remember that I had contacted you in the past about the #jelly3x rule and a bad experience at the Bob Evans in Bridgeville Pennsylvania, and blogged about that alongside your enthusiastic response, and even more thorough follow-up.

We have since had a few other experiences with that waitress, including one where she rolled her eyes at me and said “well, you don’t have to order it” when I was discussing the shrimp stir-fry available seasonally.  Clearly, she has absolutely no grasp of cross-contamination.  The running theme with her seems to be that the kitchen is always late & to blame with any service issues.

Being that we have generally excellent food & service at the Bridgeville location, and it’s now even closer to home since we have moved to Bridgeville, we have gone in to dine and simply requested with the host or hostess to not be seated in her section.

Sadly this weekend, we didn’t spot her upon our arrival and did not inform the hostess of our preference.  We were quickly welcomed by the hostess, seated in her section and decided to go with it as it had been a while since we had Maleficent as our server.

Nowadays, we have a 2½ year old and a 7 month old in tow.  Bob Evans is a great place to get a full meal for a family without breaking the bank, yet another notch in the proverbial “pro’s” column.  (I mean, have you spent the same amount of money at Panera or Steak n’ Shake? It’s not even half of the food.  Maybe local heroes Eat’n Park can almost compete.)

Maleficent quickly came to the table and took our drink orders.  Our eldest ordered apple juice, I asked for an iced tea, and the wife went for water.  Our drinks were brought quickly and our waitress shot a nasty look to the table beside us as the hostess sat another family with 3 older children as she set our drinks down.  She came back a bit later to take our food order and my wife politely asked for straws which we didn’t get with our drinks and some crayons that weren’t included with our kid’s meal place-mat menu.

Maleficent Immediately huffed as she slammed down the straws and remarked that she didn’t have time to get crayons because she just had two other tables seated in her section.  We were only wanting crayons because it had taken her a while to come back and take our food order, well before anyone else had been seated in our section.

I forget exactly what the exchange was that followed.  I know my wife had mentioned that we had had several problems in the past with her service. I was pretty much shocked into jaw-agape silence at that point.  My wife ended with standing up to go speak to the manager, and Maleficent yelled (yes, yelled) “Lincoln, take tables 54 and 56!” or something to that effect.

After my wife came back from a conversation with the manager, one of the aforementioned customers beside us said “Wow. I can’t believe she told you no on the crayons.”  We gave the super-condensed version of our history with Maleficent as they continued in their wide-eyed disbelief.

Maleficent continued to serve that family, but we and another nearby table had been reassigned to a young man named Lincoln (Linkin?), on either Maleficent or the manager’s authority.  I wasn’t present for my wife’s conversation with the manager, but it was apparently full of knowing nods and angry head-shakes as she regaled the manager with tales of our past adventures with Maleficent.  I do know that my wife apparently characterized me as a madman about to lose all patience to bolster her point.  Perhaps that’s why the manager never came to the table to offer either an apology or an explanation.

Now, reading back on this, the story so far does sound like we are being absolutely ridiculous over the exclusion of two crayons for the amusement of our child who’s behavior, rearing, and amusement are wholly our responsibility.  Do you also see how the past history and an apparently poor attitude towards customers and a potential tip factor into this moment?  It must have been some serious shenanigans in order for the next table to notice.

The lesson I have learned is that we will keep crayons and a coloring book in our family vehicle for just such a purpose.  It is not Bob Evans’ responsibility to develop my child’s creativity and fine motor skills, nor to provide a means to pacifying the insatiable need for constant activity or the lack of patience to wait for a delicious prepared meal.  Despite evidence to the contrary, we were indeed prepared parents with our own plastic mess-prevention and environment-sterilizing place-mat for our son.  He can’t color yet, but he can shovel tiny bits of food into his mouth at a rate destined to require another kid’s meal sooner rather than later.

This leads us to Lincoln (Linkin?). Lincoln was certainly on top of his game after being saddled with two more tables in addition to his already presumably busy/full section.  He came through and delighted our daughter with a two-pack of pink and purple crayons. Lincoln took our order with a smile, brought the food out quickly with no conspiratorial kitchen issues, and was just all-around pleasant.  We even had to ask for a replacement fork as we had somehow lost one.  It was brought out amid a flurry of what I presume to be normal Saturday restaurant activity with no hesitation, and rather quickly.  We even got jelly on one request.

After our meal, we thanked him for being such an incredible server, and I remarked that I was glad he was so understanding because I was nervous about being labeled as some sort of problem after requesting a new server.  He indicated that it was not a surprise, happens regularly, and that he didn’t come to us with any preconceived notions.  He also added that people inexplicably (my words, not his) come in and request to be seated in Maleficent’s section and Maleficent’s section only.

We will request Lincoln’s section in the future, and barring that option we’ll just request not be seated in Maleficent’s section.  I can play that game.  We cleaned up as best we could from our inevitable child-induced mess, left close to a 50% tip, and found the errant fork before we left.  The table directly beside us (I assume the other table taken by Lincoln at the same time we were handed over) also rather audibly and publicly thanked Lincoln for being such a great server.  I’m not sure if they also had issues that we weren’t aware of?  I told the cashier how happy we were with our service upon checkout.

I don’t want to pick on a server.  I do want to illustrate the contrast between what I see as poor service as it relates to incredible service and how it didn’t seem to be any more difficult than you make it.  I do hope Lincoln is rewarded for a job well done and his overall attitude.  I’m sure it reflects in his work effort and in his gratuities.  I would hope that you can again pass this email along to all of the appropriate parties.  Area coaches and the store management, correct?  I really feel like we were nothing but polite and reasonable up until we were denied crayons, and we remained polite and reasonable immediately after that whole exchange.  That seems like an absolutely insane sentence for one adult to write to another.  Do I have a valid point, or am I just super way out of line here?

I would just drop the entire issue and move on, but Bob Evans is one of the few places that I can safely get a meal with my shellfish allergy, I can comfortably order anything on the menu (outside of the seasonal Lent-deathfish), it’s very close by, and I feel like we really get great value for a dollar when we dine at your establishment.

Last time you sent out some gift certificates.  Please save them this time.  I don’t want free food, I just want a stress-free dining experience.  If you must send gift certificates, can you direct them to a Pittsburgh charity that can give them to people who do perhaps need a free meal?  Thankfully I can put food on the table for my family while many others struggle to do so.  We need to get our butts out on a kids-eat-free promotional night if we want a free meal.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my complaints are trivial.  I realize that some would enjoy any meal regardless of the way in which it was delivered.  What if though, this had been that meal for someone?  What if this was one night out that they looked forward to and it was met with the kind of service that we regularly receive from one apparently disgruntled waitress?  Is this how Bob Evans wants to be perceived?

I plan to blog this adventure also.  I do less of that these days, but this seemed to be appropriately entertaining.  Of course, the names will be omitted or changed.

I also look forward to your response and insight.  Thank you once again for your time and assistance!

Just crayons?

-Eric

https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com

me@my.emailaddre.ss

I can’t wait for a response.  Sadly, I see from the Yahoo! mailer daemon that Nate is no longer with Bob Evans.  I think I knew he outgrew them a while back.  I may try to ping it out to a few more people.  I have contacted others at Bob Evans in the past, during my pre-Wordpress days.  I even had someone send me a “safe” list of where things were cooked and what would be OK for me to eat while they had shellfish on the menu.  Overall they have stellar corporate customer service, but we just have this continual issue with a crazy server who reminds me of the mailman in the movie Funny Farm.

Bob Evans - Tuesday Night is Family Night

Tuesday Night is Family Night

I have another idea for a TV show… #YouDriveLikeAnAss!


OK, so TLC never got back to me about Missionaries Impossible (where Mormons & Jehovah’s Witnesses try to convert each other), but I will not let complete and total failure or lack of any interest in actually following up on these sorts of things keep me from writing a blog about my newest idea.

It’s called: You Drive Like an Ass!

(Hey, Shit My Dad Says made it to TV.)

All I’d need would be a car with cameras all over it.  I could drive it around for a week and have enough footage for an entire season of shows.  All I would have to do is drive the speed limit, and obey all traffic laws… then watch everyone around be driven completely insane by that type of apparently abnormal behavior.

I see things several times a day where people are breaking traffic laws that we all read in the book from driver’s ed, things that are unsafe, or just plain aggravating; Like flags on cars, or even worse… eyelashes-on-healights aggravating.  Don’t even get me started on bicycles.

Get some people to edit it, you have a super low-cost hit.  You wouldn’t even need a narrator.  Just get some clips of Samuel L. Jackson swearing & we can edit them all in.

If we were in the movie Idiocracy (and don’t think we aren’treally.), this would rival Ow My Balls!

Someone get on this, and send me the car and a royalty check.

#YouDriveLikeAnAss!

#YouDriveLikeAnAss!

I’ll eventually get back to blogging. Really.


I’ll eventually get back to blogging.  Really.

This has been going on:

But, I want to talk about this…

…and another sort-of fuel-related possible scam that I was involved in earlier this week.

Having fun embedding posts from FB & Twitter, too:

“Our hot air poppers are not designed with an on/off switch.”


Didn’t I just email & tell you that?  I think I did.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself again.  Did you read all about the Evil Popcorn Popper?  It wants you to tempt death by electric shock each time you feel like making a tasty air-popped snack.  Others chimed in on Facebook with their tales of appliance treachery.  In the comments, I formulated an email. I sent it.  Here it is:

Hello Presto®!

I recently bought one of your popcorn poppers because we had one when I was a kid and air-popped popcorn is always better than that microwave stuff. We can agree there, right?

I have a few questions about your design choices.

First… The butter tray. Why doesn’t any butter that I put in it melt? I’ve tried actual butter and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®” both to no avail. Did you guys test this out in the factory? Does anyone there own one of these poppers? They’ve never pointed out this problem? I can certainly melt it in the microwave, but it’s amusing to me that the popper has a butter tray that clearly doesn’t work (even long after all the popcorn has popped). Yes, I have sat there stubbornly for a while waiting for the butter to melt for many minutes after the last dead kernel spits out of the popper. When I was a kid, our popper had a metal tray. I think it did a better job of conducting heat & melting the butter. I think it even fit an entire artery-clogging stick (as long as my parents or the babysitter weren’t looking). Do you guys have any poppers for sale that actually pop popcorn AND melt butter? I’d like to see one.

Second (and more importantly)… The power switch, or lack thereof? It’s kind of scary. You guys seem to gloss over it on the video located on your site: http://www.gopresto.com/products/products.php?stock=04820

Is that guy a chef and an electrician? Is he certified to plug in live wires? Do you guys not see the spark(s) when you plug the thing in? Have you ever actually plugged one in? Do you feel that it’s dangerous? I almost want to plug it in to a mulch-outlet power strip with an on/off switch and use that to turn it on so I don’t accidentally put my thumb in between the prongs as I’m plugging it in.

Speaking of switches, you can get a nice rocker switch from Grainger relatively cheaply: http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/CARLING-TECHNOLOGIES-Rocker-Switch-1A822

I’m sure you can get them even cheaper if you buy in bulk… and I’m sure they’re not all that difficult to install.

Can you imagine if other electrical products didn’t have an on/off switch? Toasters? Curling irons? Hair dryers? (They almost all come with circuit breakers now!) Electric knives? Electric hedge trimmers or weed whackers?

You really don’t feel that it’s dangerous? Not so much as a warning label adorns the power cord? Do you use gloves to plug yours in? Why was the plugging done off camera in the video?

I really look forward to your thoughts on these issues. I might go make some popcorn while I wait. I’ll be sure to melt the butter in the microwave first, and I hope I’m not electrocuted when I plug the popper in so I can read your reply!

Inquisitively,
-Waldo

This was the reply:

From: Presto Customer Service <contact@gopresto.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 3:01 PM
Subject: RE: Where’s the switch?
To: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>

Good morning,

I’m sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with your hot air popper.    We have not received complaints of butter not melting in the butter melter.  Please note that the instructions do indicate that soft/room temperature butter or margarine needs to be used, refrigerated butter will not melt during the short popping period.  I do not recommend that you let the unit run after the corn has popped, as this could cause the unit to overheat.

Our hot air poppers are not designed with an on/off switch.  I talked with our Quality Manager and he indicated that there are no plans to change the design to include a switch.  The unit has been tested very thoroughly and meets all UL mandates.  If you read and follow the instruction manual,  you can feel assured that this appliance is safe to use.

Have a good day.

Colleen
NPI Customer Service
Shipments made to U.S. or Canada only

Well, that was unsatisfactory.  Letting it run empty to melt butter is bad, but plugging in a live appliance is OK?  I call shenanigans.  Shenanigans because we keep butter in the ‘fridge, and shenanigans because plugging something in that sparks feels kind of dangerous.

I do find the sentence “I talked with our Quality Manager and he indicated that there are no plans to change the design to include a switch” highly amusing.  They had a discussion about my email.  This has never come up before?  Say it with me: Shenanigans.  I’d like to know what the quality manager really said.

Who exactly are Underwriters Laboratories and why do they put their logo on everything?  How did they decided that plugging in a live wire is safe?  Maybe I should write to them and ask about it?

Impugnment & Embarrassment


Dormont Park Playground

Should this be the new municipal building?

I must admit, I don’t generally get all fired up about local politics… and I’m not involved much, so I guess I really have no big voice in complaining until I get off of my ass and vote next local election.  From what I read in the papers, the Patch, & the quarterly newsletter it’s all some sort of goofy circus in Dormont anyway.  (Does that quarterly thing live online anywhere?)  If you’ve read a paper (in print or online), I’m sure you’ve seen the chaos in the little borough on the hill just outside Pittsburgh proper.

It’s a very odd pissing contest between the mayor, the borough manager, the city employees, the police, and the counsel.  I’d love to know where/why/how it all started.  A comment on a recent article from the Dormont-Brookline Patch sparked local editor Erin Faulk to reply with some links to try & help me sort things out.

I’m going to try & ignore all of the comments, as they appear to be mostly inflammatory statements.  (The dates are article dates, not event dates.)  Let’s see if we can all follow along…

  • March 7th, 2011 – Dormont Counsel demotes the police chief Phil Ross to Sergeant without explanation.  Ross was on “sick leave” at the time.  Dormont mayor Thomas Lloyd publicly disagrees with the decision.  This is an alarming quote form the article: “Residents and business owners asked for an explanation, but got none.”  Perhaps some more insight is gained here:  “Fire Captain Bryan Taylor followed up, saying that since council did away with minimum shift requirements, two officers are tied up on each call.”  So, the counsel tightened the budget for the police?  Maybe this caused some tension.  How long had Ross been on sick leave at the time?
  • March 8th, 2011 – A “no-confidence letter” signed by 29 (if my math is right?) city employees is presented to counsel that calls for the resignation of Dormont Borough manager Gino Rizza.  This seems to be a theme already: “Several residents questioned Rizza’s experience during the public comment section, but got no answers.”
  • April 27th, 2011 – I wish I could, but really can’t say it any better than this:

    “If this were a case about whether or not Phil Ross is a nice guy or a good man or someone people like, we wouldn’t be here … But being chief of police is a big job,” he said.

    Within Ross’ first year as chief, he said, council began noticing problems.

    Testimony by Rizza, Assistant Manager Ian McMeans and council President Kim Lusardi painted a picture of man who didn’t have control of his department.

    Rizza testified that during a meeting with him and Lusardi in November 2010, Ross said he didn’t want to be chief, but others in the department wanted him to be.

    Ross, Rizza said, “felt they threw him under the bus” and wouldn’t listen to him.

    Lusardi testified Ross had told her his men wouldn’t listen to him and that he was unhappy.

    According to testimony:

    • Ross couldn’t control overtime, which exceeded the 2010 budget of $93,000 by about $50,000. This was in part because Ross would not use his ability to deny officers from taking comp time in some cases. At the time, the borough had a minimum shift requirement of a sergeant on all shifts and at least one officer.
    • Ross did not notify Rizza of an attempted child luring in October. Instead, Rizza said he learned several hours later from the school superintendent. The delay, he said, prevented prompt notification to borough residents using the borough’s reverse 911 system.
    • Rizza learned from another officer in November that police cars weren’t being well-maintained and that cameras in two of the cars hadn’t been working for about a year.
    • Officers were also not walking beats as required by borough code. In 2009, officers walked 126 foot patrols, and 83 in 2010 and one in the early part of 2011.

    Lautner also suggested the police may have had reasons for not coming forth with information about the attempted child luring. Rizza and McMeans said public safety should take precedence.

    Lautner also said vehicle maintenance wasn’t in Ross’ job description. And, he suggested, police were walking more beats than those that were logged.

    In his cross-examination, Lautner asked Rizza why he sought to demote Ross by holding a Loudermill hearing—essentially a due process hearing at which a public employee facing discipline can present his or her side—on Feb. 18, just six days after council had given Ross 60 days to comply with its latest directives.

    Rizza said that was because Ross’ reactions during the hearing indicated he had no intentions to following council’s instruction, saying “Bull—-. Council is not my boss.”

    At the end of the hearing, Rizza said, Ross complained of shortness of breath. He left the meeting and was taken by ambulance to the hospital and went out on sick leave until about early April.

    Gabriel characterized that as a “panic attack,” to audience groans. Lautner objected and was sustained.

    Heh, “under the bus” thing.

  • May 3rd, 2011 – Councilwoman Joan Hodson questions the intentions of Gino Rizza’s GPS unit monitoring, citing excessive time logged on to the system.
  • June 9th, 2011 – Dormont Borough Manager (apparently unaffected by letter from nearly all employees calling for his resignation in March) is cited for trespassing at the police station.  I believe that all borough offices are in the municipal building.  It seems that Rizza used a non-civilian entrance to the police station to go in & complain about a parking ticket.  Surprise!  Then Sgt. Phil Ross made the citation, apparently after several warnings to Mr. Rizza & his sidekick assistant manager, Ian McMeans, to not use that entrance.  Apparently Rizzo parked in a space set aside for LifeSpan (a company that serves senior citizens) to earn the ticket.  It is noted that Ross did not write the ticket or citation.  Really, at this point… everyone involved is starting to look like an ass.  Rizzo paid the $15 ticket and made this statement: “This unfortunate incident is an example of what the Borough Council and Administration have been trying to change: a Police Department that sees itself as unanswerable to the elected Borough Council and officers who are willing to go so far as to file inappropriate criminal charges to keep it that way.
  • June 10th, 2011 – Rizza calls the trespass charge “Utterly Ridiculous”.  Of course.  I can’t make this stuff any clearer/funnier:

    Ross said the area Rizza walked through contains sensitive police documents and file cabinets and also a juvenile holding cell.

    Ross denied that the citation and ticket were in retaliation for his demotion, which he is appealing.

    Sgt. Jim Burke, who issued the trespassing citation to Rizza, was placed on paid administrative leave for an unspecified amount of time Thursday afternoon by Assistant Borough Manager Ian McMeans, Ross said Friday.

    However, Mayor Tom Lloyd said he reinstated him.

    Asked if he had that power, Lloyd said, “I think I have more power to reinstate than the assistant manager had to suspend him.”

    Placing Burke on administrative leave was authorized by council.

    Ross said Burke was on his regular day off Friday.

    Really?

  • June 14th, 2011 – Sgt. Ross suspended.  Of course.  Still amidst his appeals of demotion from Police Chief, apparently.  The reason?  “…for directing officers to disable GPS units installed in patrol cars earlier this year.”  The article later refers to this as “The GPS incident”.  (Great name for a band.)  Ross ordered the disconnection of the units under the direction of Mayor Lloyd.  Can we see a Dormont flow-chart of the seats of power here?  Who’s in charge of who?  Apparently no one knows.  Again, I quote directly as this is unintentional comedic gold:

    Lloyd and others have suggested the GPS units were installed in the five cars so Rizza could spy on police.

    “They were installed for safety purposes and they were not used that way,” Lloyd said Tuesday. “The way I look at it is, (management has) abused the use of them.”

    Rizza has denied using the units to spy on police.

    Lloyd said as mayoy he is in charge of the police department and that the order to disconnect the units is within his powers.

    Rizza and council maintain that the police ultimately answer to them because they set policy. The struggle over who has authority over the police department has been ongoing.

    “They’re certainly not in charge of a lot of things they think they are,” Lloyd said of council and management.

    “I just believe they’ve gotten some bad advice,” Lloyd said. “I don’t know how it’s ever going to get resolved. But it’s got to because we’ve had an excellent department for years and years and years. And they’ve done everything they can to destroy (police) morale.”

    But Councilman Drew Lehman said Lloyd has been giving bad guidance and said ordering the GPS units to be disabled wasn’t the mayor’s call to make.

    These are grown-ass adults.  This is not a prime-time drama plot line.  The last line of the article makes me giggle; “Rizza contends he is entitled to use the door.”

  • July 6th, 2001 – Sgt. Burke (the guy who issued the citation to Rizza) is demoted to patrolman.  Counsel approves.  Lloyd annoyed.
  • July 6th, 2001 – Sgt. Ross (former police chief) also demoted to patrolman.  For real.  “The decision followed June hearings regarding the job performance of Ross, who has been on paid suspension since last month for previously telling officers to disconnect GPS units installed in patrol cars, according to previous reports. Ross said he gave the order at the direction of Mayor Tom Lloyd, who suggested the navigation devices were being used by borough Manager Gino Rizza to spy on police.”
  • July 6th, 2011 – Hey, where’d all our money go?  Apparently all of these demotions, hearings, legal proceedings, suspensions, etc. had fees, and in July Dormont was already $6000 over budget.  A quote from Mayor Lloyd: “All problems of this borough will go away the day council has enough nerve to terminate the borough manager.”  Rizza countered: “Council has the ultimate authority in the borough. Council does the hiring and firing.”  In other words, “nanny-nanny boo boo.”
  • June 21st, 2011 – Richard Dwyer hired as acting interim police chief, while he helps look for a new one.  Article tries to recap the insanity:

    Disagreements over who has ultimate control over the police department have festered for some time, with both Lloyd and Rizza—through council—claiming authority.

    Tensions escalated after Rizza was ticketed last month for parking in a spot at the borough building lot designated for another tenant.

    Officer James Burke issued the ticket. After getting the ticket, Rizza entered the police department through a door inside the building for which he has an electronic key pass, Burke cited him for defiant trespass.

    Ross contended Rizza wasn’t allowed to enter that way, saying sensitive materials were in the area and a juvenile holding cell was visible. Rizza should have waited for an officer to meet him at the door and escort him, according to Ross.

    Burke was suspended, then demoted to patrolman instead of being fired over the incident. The trespassing charge has also been dropped.

    Rizza said he needed to get to a meeting and all other spots were taken, and that he only intended to park there until another spot opened up. He has paid the parking ticket.

    A related statement signed Thursday by a police union representative and a police union attorney acknowledged Rizza is permitted to enter the station, the trespassing charge was inappropriate, and that council has the “ultimate authority to hire and discipline its police officers, subject only to the collective bargaining agreement and the Pennsylvania Borough Code.”

    The statement also acknowledged the mayor cannot direct police officers to disconnect or damage the GPS units or other equipment the borough owns.

    Dwyer will not have arrest powers, but can carry a gun.

    Heh.  Nice line there at the end.  It would look great on a movie poster.

  • July 27th, 2011 – Now the civil service commission is involved?  Wait, what the hell is the civil service commission?  At any rate, this 3-person commission decides to overturn the demotion of Phil Ross, but I’m unsure if that makes him a sergeant or the police chief.
  • July 28th, 2011 – Dormont borough (of course) appeals the commission’s ruling.  You knew it was coming, right?  The meat of this article:  “The appeal is the latest round in an ongoing battle over who has ultimate authority over the police department. Council claims it does, but Ross and Mayor Tom Lloyd say the mayor is in charge.”  Contains another quote from Ross pre-dating my fancy timeline: “But on Feb. 11, Ross told Rizza and Ian McMeans, the assistant borough manager, that ‘council is not my boss’,’ I don’t care who hired me, council can’t tell me what to do’ and ‘council can’t terminate me,’ according to the appeal.”
  • August 2nd, 2011 – The borough solicitor (whatever that is?) says Mayor Lloyd has no power to dismiss tickets.  (I see an article form January about it.)  The mayor says it’s tradition.  I don’t know if it has anything to do with the cops or the GPS units, but it certainly has to do with the chain on authority in Dormont…

    Lloyd provides no accounting to council of dismissals and and his reasons.

    “Nobody but except a few people here have even brought it up as a question,” he said of council members who’ve questioned the practice. “I’ve been doing it 18 years and most people have understood that process.”

    The issue has come up several times this year. In February, council said it was looking into the matter, and recently, acting Chief Richard Dwyer told officers that certain tickets should be issued as state violations, not borough violations.

    Lloyd defended his practice during Monday’s meeting when Manager Gino Rizza asked him how many tickets he thought he dismissed. More than 300, Rizza said.

    Lloyd pressed on with an example of tickets issued during street sweeping on July 11. During holidays, street sweeping is postponed. Lloyd said they shouldn’t have been written.

    “Now, if you come in here and say, ‘Look, I wasn’t around, I wasn’t aware of it.’ What would you do?” he said. “I’m not asking you to give me an answer, I’m saying, ‘What would you do?’”

    “We should be the protector of the residents,” he said after the meeting. “We should also be showing compassion to the residents.”

    Crazy.

  • August 4th, 2011 – Color me confused.  Did the commission’s ruling not stand?  Was it all for show?  These people call for a vote to overturn a ruling in favor of Ross.
  • August 23rd, 2011 – I’m sorry, you just have to read this one: “Mayor Tom Lloyd told Richard Dwyer on Monday that he was suspended for seven days without pay beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday over the incident, though council quickly reinstated him as of 8:30 a.m.” should get you started.
  • August 30th, 2011 – Residents are wondering what exactly the new police chief is doing… and mentions that the Mayor suspended Dwyer for 7 days… on no authority?  Wait, what was the the new guy suspended for?
  • November 1st, 2011 – Phil Ross is suing the already over-budget Dormont.  For obvious reasons, I guess.
  • November 16th, 2011(Acting) Chief Dwyer reflects on his accomplishments.  This poor bastard just seems like he was trying to do his job despite the pee flying in at all angles.

    Despite the numerous issues swirling in the borough, Dwyer has tried to stay focused on his mission of improving the police department.

    “He has exceeded all of the goals we set when he was originally hired, and he helped to implement and correct many things we were told were lacking in our police department,” council Vice President Laurie Malka wrote in an email to Patch on Tuesday.

    Dwyer detailed some of those changes he feels have benefitted the borough.

    Walking the beat

    In an effort to make officers more responsive to community needs, Dwyer has instituted walking patrols.

    “I’ve got them out of the cars, walking in the business district,” he said. “The average officer probably walks two times on each shift. It gives you an increased feeling of security when police are visible in the community.”

    In addition, the officers check on bars at closing time and, when pharmacies in Castle Shannon and Mt. Lebanon were hit by robberies, Dwyer asked them to talk to Dormont pharmacy managers to let them know there would be additional patrols.

    Police cars

    Dwyer said to make Dormont’s patrol cars more visible to the community, he changed the color on three of the five vehicles to a classic black-and-white paint job. He also has put a new police car in next year’s budget as two of the cars are “in bad shape.”

    Cutting overtime

    Dwyer said, upon his arrival, police overtime pay was “out of control.”

    In an effort to cut those costs, which have resulted in some officers having annual incomes of more than $100,000, Dwyer implemented a 12-hour schedule. He has the officers split into three-man platoons working the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift or 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

    Within a 14-day period, the 12 officers will work seven days and have off seven days and the shift length results in less overtime pay. The average officer has 182.5 pass days and, with sick and vacation time added in, that adds up to about 208 days a year.

    “Every second weekend, you have a three-day weekend,” Dwyer explained. “What this tends to do is cause less sick time abuse.”

    He had told police that if the new scheduling didn’t work out, they could switch back. Since the new schedule has been in effect, a few officers who were turned down for overtime have filed grievances, Dwyer said.

    But when he sent an email to officers last week asking if they want to return to the old schedule, half replied that they want to keep the 12-hour schedule, he said.

    ID cards

    Officers carried their weapons certification cards with them, but Dwyer felt that police should have a Dormont Police Department identification card.

    “All public employees should have ID cards,” Dwyer said, including school and hospital staffs and all borough employees.

    Though the cost is generally about $35 a card, Dwyer was able to have cards made at the county police academy at no cost to the borough.

    Tickets

    Council voted on Monday to overturn Lloyd’s veto of the new parking ticket ordinance. Dwyer said he discovered that citations for state violations were being written up as borough tickets so the borough obtained the revenue. He accused Lloyd of supporting the practice.

    Equipment

    Early on, Dwyer was shocked to open the trunk of a police car and find it empty, devoid of safety equipment he said should be standard in all police vehicles—flares, fire extinguishers, gas masks, helmets and safety vests.

    “I’m not faulting previous people, but that’s what you’re supposed to have,” Dwyer said. “You’ve got to be prepared.”

    Since then, the department received a federal grant to purchase all new bulletproof vests for each officer.

    “Nobody was worried where the safety equipment was in the police car,” Dwyer said. “But they were worried about badges?”

    The future

    While no one knows the outcomes of Ross’ suit against council or the final ruling on his civil service case in Common Pleas Court, Dwyer has his future planned.

    Because his wife still works, he’ll go from being interim chief to the “house guy.” But he plans to spend more time fishing, meeting up with friends and spending time with his grandchildren, who range in age from 2 to 21.

    And while he might have taken the heat in Dormont, it won’t deter him from vacationing in tropical Jamaica next year.

    For real.  So he expects Chief Ross to be reinstated?

  • December 12th, 2011 – James Burke is now also suing the borough.  Clearly, this will drag on to the end of time.

I’m not picking any sides…  I just would really like to know the whole story.  I’m sure most residents would.  The whole ordeal seems like a waste of time & resources for everyone involved, the losers ultimately being Dormont residents & business owners.  I also find it odd that a police blotter isn’t published regularly with easy access & complete information for all citizens.

Sadly, to me, all involved look like fools at this point.  It appears that no one involved has taken the high road, and any further defense of their position will just sound more ridiculous.  I’m amazed that there is no clear-cut chain of command outlined anywhere for the local government.

I don’t like parking tickets.  (On-street parking is such a royal pain.)

I do like the strong visible police presence in the neighborhood.  It makes me feel safe, & like there will be a very quick response should I ever need them.

I don’t care if the cars have GPS units.  Isn’t Dormont less than square mile?  What reason other than monitoring the cars would they have for installation?

I do care that Dormont is wasting money on these counsel meetings, demotions, appeals, and comparing pee-pee sizes.  I’m sure the money could be better used elsewhere.  (Almost anywhere else – like defining — in writing — a clear Borough chain of command.)

Am I missing anything?  Is this the whole ordeal?

Can someone make an info-graphic or Lifetime movie about this, please?

Food Allergy News, the good kind…


OK, so my last Food Allergy post was a little sad, disheartening, and rant-like.  Hopefully this one will be the Yang to the others Yin.  (Or is that Yin to the others Yang?)

I’d like to share some good news in the form of links, and a little commentary…

  • FAAN | The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Management Act – Finally, the FAAMA bill has passed, and is expected to be signed into law.  This will hopefully prevent events like the ones surrounding Katelyn’s death from happening in the future by making sure schools are more educated on the subject, and more equipped to deal with similar situations.  Sadly, it’s a voluntary policy and not a mandatory one.