The Joys of Bureaucracy

Just go up until you find the down staircase and then turn left to go right.
Just go up until you find the down staircase and then turn left to go right.
Today, I wanted to write about the recently completed World Body Painting Festival. I have worked with body painters at club functions, for music videos and other reasons. I find them to be immensely talented people who have a fun take on life. However any article on body painting must, by rights, have images of said painting. Just telling you that this was blue and that was yellow doesn’t really do the work justice. But when our producer saw the images I was planning on using his comments ranged from “You can’t use that, you can see a …” to “Hey! We can’t show her …” to “How about I just take these pictures home and get back to you later?” Since that should keep him occupied for a month or so, I’m guessing the staff will be buying me drinks after work. Even so, I was without a topic for today’s post.

Then serendipity hit. I was blessed to find several articles about people who are caught up in horrible bureaucracies and the nightmares they’re enduring.

That, for those of you playing along at home, is called a segue.

Let’s start with the poor sap who was arrested for murder. Why? As best I can tell it’s because he’s a White Sox fan living in Philly. Dan DiFilipo has the story.

In the nine months since his wrongful arrest for murder, Kenny Woods has tried fruitlessly to get a job. Even though the real culprit confessed and already has been sentenced, Woods can’t convince skeptical employers to hire someone with a murder charge on his record.

After the Daily News chronicled his plight on Thursday, our readers sprang to action.

Four lawyers offered to work for free to help Woods, 22, a West Philadelphia father of two, clear the charge from his record.

The owner of a truck-driving school offered to waive the $4,000 tuition, pending a positive meet-and-greet, to teach Woods how to drive a big rig and get his commercial driver’s license.

A Postal Service employee sent Woods an application for an opening for mechanics to service mail machines and vehicles. She also sent a heads-up about an upcoming job fair in West Philadelphia.

The owner of a fire- and emergency-restoration company also called to see if Woods would be interested in working for him. “I believe in second chances,” said Jason Kluska, owner of Guardian Restoration.

And even (Philadelphia) Mayor Nutter asked for Woods’ phone number.

Not sure what the mayor’s going to do for the poor guy, but help does appear to be on the way. And, at least, Philly has a mayor. The City of Tar Heel, N.C. recently held elections for all their public offices and no one ran.

The races for mayor and three commission seats are wide open in the small North Carolina town of Tar Heel , because no one bothered to run.

No one has registered as a candidate for the fall elections in the Bladen County town. The story was first reported by WECT-TV.

The ballots will be printed with blank spaces for voters to write in their choices.

Current Mayor Ricky Martin says he’s not surprised no one wants the jobs. Even in a town of 117, it’s hard work with little compensation. And Martin says state budget cuts mean the next elected officials might have to raise taxes.

Cynthia Shaw, the director of the county’s board of elections, says it’s the first time she has seen an entire town without a candidate.

Actually, the nice people of Tar Heel might be on to something here. Just say “The heck with government” and deal with things as best you can.

Certainly common sense might have prevailed if there wasn’t an incredibly outdated rule on the books at the Food and Drug Administration. Jerry Davich at the Sun Times reports that a man was sent away from a blood bank because he looked like he might be gay.

Aaron Pace is admittedly and noticeably effeminate, but he says he’s not homosexual.

Still, his looks, character and behavior prompted a blood donation center to reject him when he tried to donate blood recently and he’s miffed, to say the least.

“I was humiliated and embarrassed,” said Pace, 22. of Gary. “It’s not right that homeless people can give blood but homosexuals can’t. And I’m not even a homosexual.”

Pace visited Bio-Blood Components Inc. in Gary, which pays for blood and plasma donations, up to $40 a visit. But during the interview screening process, Pace said he was told he could not be a blood donor there because he “appears to be a homosexual.”

No one at Bio-Blood returned calls seeking comment, but donation centers like it, and even the American Red Cross, are still citing a nearly 30-year-old federal policy to turn away gay men from donating.

The Food and Drug Administration policy, implemented in 1983, states that men who have had sex — even once — with another man (since 1977) are not allowed to donate blood.

The policy was sparked by concerns that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was tainting the blood supply. And, back then, screening tests to identify HIV-positive blood had not yet been developed.

Today, all donated blood is tested for HIV, as well as for hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases, before it can be released to hospitals. This is why gay activists, blood centers including the American Red Cross, and even some lawmakers now claim the lifetime ban is “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”

“It is unfair, outrageous and just plain stupid,” said Curt Ellis, former director of The Aliveness Project of Northwest Indiana, an agency that’s been educating the public about HIV-related issues for many years.

“The policy is based on the stigma associated with HIV that existed early on,” Ellis said. “It seems like some stigmas will just never die.”

The guy’s willing to let random strangers jab needles in his arm. How much more manly does he have to be? I mean it isn’t like he can dress like John Wayne any more. Folks would think he was in the Village People. Or, worse yet, auditioning for Brokeback Mountain: The Musical.

And if he dons a plaid shirt and work boots they’ll just accuse him of being a lesbian.

Nevertheless, his problems pale in comparison to Wrenella Pierre’s. Her bank declared her dead and now refuses to admit it might be wrong.

A central Florida woman says she’s having numerous financial troubles because of a bank error that caused Chase Bank USA to declare her dead last November.

Wrenella Pierre has filed a lawsuit and Chase officials said Monday they’re investigating how the mistake happened.

When Pierre and her husband built their home in 2007, they got two mortgages through Chase.

According to the lawsuit, the bank notified credit-reporting agencies last year that Pierre had died. They sent a letter of condolence to the family, saying someone from the bank would be in touch about the mortgage.

Pierre says she notified bank officials that she was alive and also went to a local branch to correct the mistake.

A month later, the lawsuit alleges, credit agencies still reported her dead.

While being declared dead might seem freeing at some level it could also end up like Kafka’s legendary character who was executed for getting a parking ticket. In other words, not well.

Nevertheless, this all started with me wanting to write about body painting. Since I couldn’t do that the least I could do – and never let it be said I didn’t do the absolute least I could do – is share a music video that has body painted women. It’s from, Chicago’s very own, DJ Russ Harris and features DJ Keri and Bam Bam Buddha. It also features, briefly, the producer and star of ABC’s 190 North, Cathy Vlahogiannis, as one of the dancers.

See what can happen without a bureaucracy? A guy who writes on an NBC related blog and does a radio show on Fox can support someone from ABC without the world ending.

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!

Related posts