Walmart – Ripe for Scams and Fraud

It has been quite a while since I last posted.  Not that there hasn’t been the idiocy or stupid people tricks all around – just a quick look at Donald Trump and where he is at the moment speaks volumes (when someone can make George W. Bush look somewhat reasonable, that’s something).  But I have grown somewhat tired of bitching about most of the crap going on around this country mostly because I’m not sure there is anything that can be done to fix things – sad that I’ve come to that point but there is little hope when we have Trump and Carson maintaining their leads in the Republican side of the presidential race.  But I digress.

I was greeted today with an email from my credit card company regarding potentially fraudulent activity on my card.  Given the holidays, I’ve been using my card quite a bit but when I went thru my recent transactions, there were twenty-one separate $50 transactions on my account – all the same day and all at what appears to be the same Walmart.  My obvious guess is that someone purchased gift cards – 21 at the same time for a total of over $1000.  Okay, maybe one could say they have a large family and are never sure of what everyone needs so gift cards work.  But in any case, how does a company see that type of transaction and not verify identity?  I won’t go down the path of who takes checkout jobs at Walmart but any retail corporation worth anything and with any integrity, ensures that processes are in place and are followed in order to protect consumers.

Should I be surprised – not given Walmart’s track record with how they do business and how they treat their employees but just the same I’m pretty pissed.  Not because I have any financial exposure but at the end of the day we again have a situation where the scammers and cheats get away with the easy path.

To be honest, I stopped visiting Walmart years ago so this won’t change my shopping habits but I thought it might work well if I informed anyone looking for a place to run a scam or to make fraudulent transactions that they should first consider their local Walmart. Might as well go where the low hanging fruit is.

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Pocono Township – Fear and Half-truths Defeated

It would seem from unofficial results that the Pocono Township First Class Initiative has overwhelmingly passed with 77% of voters supporting the change to how we are governed.  Congratulations to all that worked on getting the first class initiative passed – kudos for your hard work and great results.  I’m also pleased that the people of Pocono Township were intelligent enough to vote for what is best for our community as well as send a message to the Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township that we aren’t as dumb as they think.  It is no longer the time of the good old boy network and it is time we actually have citizens step up with the skills, experience and integrity needed to help manage and grow our community as it demands in the coming years.

All that being said, I’ll take a chance of being seen as a poor winner but I would suggest that we not underestimate the drive and willingness of the Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township to do whatever possible to undermine progress since returning to anything resembling the status quo will protect and ensure their personal gains no matter the cost to the township.  Don’t be fooled as many of these people have been working behind the scenes for years to push their agenda. our elected officials essentially only pawns in the process.   We all have a view into who many of the “Vote No” business people are and anyone who has attended the information meetings have heard the slanted and  misrepresented views and information they were willing to spew and stand behind in order to further their gains.

So what can we do?  Within our family, we have made it a point to speak loudly thru our wallets when we encounter businesses or people who work directly against that we believe – especially those who make it clear their concerns are only for personal gain and profit and care little for the needs or wants of others.  We will do the same to the extent we can locally and make sure that we do not support any of these people or their businesses.  If that sounds harsh I would ask you to think about who they have been concerned with over this needed change for Pocono Township and where they put their priorities.  I don’t believe they will just lick their wounds and skulk off into some corner.  No, they will work to find ways to undermine the changes and will look for alternative means to influence and turn decisions in their direction.  There needs to be ongoing vigilance of the upcoming changes as they happen.  I have no doubt that the people who have been most influential in this Initiative will remain fully engaged and attentive.  We, as the rest of Pocono Township, need to do the same to support them and to make it clear to those looking to step backward that it isn’t going to happen.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.  It’s time we know who is behind that curtain.

Pocono Township, PA – Scumbag Politics & Tactics Flow Downhill all the Way to Local Politics

poconoTwnp_map

I don’t normally blog about local issues but we citizens of Pocono Township, PA in the heart of the Poconos are in the midst of a ballot referendum that has become rather heated.  At issue is the governing structure of our approx. 12,000 resident community.  The question is whether to move to a First Class Township structure or to stay as a Second Class Township.  In reality, the guidelines and rules are quite similar across class of townships with only several key areas of difference – albeit important differences.  While I don’t intend to go into the details to a great extent, my opinion and perspective is that the change reduces the likelihood of personal agendas and influence, governance by proxy (who is really pulling the strings behind the curtain) and the myriad of unethical and unacceptable actions that have taken place in local government for years.  While we have slowly moved forward from the “old boy” network that was evident when we moved here 26+ years ago, the back room dealings and decisions remain an ongoing event.  Is it just Pocono Township?  No, it is rife throughout Pennsylvania if one does a google of incidents of impropriety in local government in PA.  The move to put this First Class initiative on the ballot was driven by the actions of several of our current Supervisors.  In fact, we now sit on a million $ lawsuit as a result of these supervisors.  But back to the issue at hand.  As with any change there are those who support and those that don’t.  Same here but interestingly enough (not surprising though) the “citizen” group that supports the current Second Class Township structure is made up of local business interests who fear the change as their level of influence will weaken if not disappear entirely.  My opinion only but given the tactics and the information spin their campaign has taken you can see fear and loathing as they look at the potential shift in power.  Again, not surprising, this is primarily a group of Republicans.  Now if we have learned anything at all about the current Republican Party, whether national or state, taking care of the people’s needs is not a priority.  One needs look no deeper than the recent Federal Government shutdown to see it at the national level.  At the state level, look at the havoc Tom Corbin, our Republican Governor, and his massive cuts to education and social programs to see it isn’t about anything beyond politics.  And we in Pocono Township now can be our own microcosm of what we see at higher levels.

 

Our three Supervisors - Guess which one is the RoadMaster?

Our three Supervisors – Guess which one is the RoadMaster?

This struck home very clearly this past week when we attended a “non-partisan” information session advertised to objectively address the differences between a First and Second class township structure.  The attorney, experienced in dealing in both structures, was actually very good.  However, on the table as one walked in was the propaganda literature being offered by the “Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township” (let’s call them CCPT) – a non-profit organization leaning heavily to the right.  I, for one, judge any organization by the honesty and accuracy of its message and supporting information – which means I do try to read and research most any statement or position taken before I decide my stance.  In this case, I’ve read (several times) both the First and Second Class Township Code documents so I think I’ve got the detail.  While it is obvious the CCPT has read and understands the differences, they have taken the liberty to play loose with the facts – something very obvious in their political literature.  Let’s take a look.

 

Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township Propaganda

Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township Propaganda

So – we have only CCPT choosing six statements to scare the public into voting against the First Class Township initiative this Nov 5th election.  When you dig a bit into the detail it becomes quickly clear that not one of these statements is really true – if we define true as meaning it is entirely true – so we have the spin factor to contend with.  These are all partially true – leaving out important details that when considered take the bite out of all of them.  To help put, I’ll rate these on a simple scale – the Bullshit Scale.  Pretty simple – the more BULLSHITs – the larger the lie or partial truth or the larger the manipulation. I don’t really need a symbol for entirely true since none of the statements actually qualify.

Let’s take a look at each one –

1. Raises the maximum general purpose tax rate to 30 mils.  Okay – in a First Class township this is true.  They are comparing to a Second Class Twsp where the GENERAL PURPOSE TAX RATE is capped at 14 mils.  However, there are several additional opportunities to add other tax mils to that number in the Second Class code – in actuality when comparing apples to apples, the total potential tax burden is actually higher in a Second Class Township – they just don’t have it all in the general tax bucket.  And, by the way, this is really about the maximum potential mils – doesn’t really read that way in this literature leaving quite a bit of room for interpretation that our taxes will rise. So this is not only misleading but implies something (raised taxes) that it has nothing to do with.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

2. Mandates that all future police officers qualify as Civil Servants.  Yes, all future police officers will have to pass a test established by a Civil Service Commission established to oversee all matters related to the Police Department.  Not sure the problem with requiring that future police officers be required to pass a test that is specific to Pocono Township as it is a test created by the commission.  I guess the problem is that a board of three, non-paid commissioners can’t play favorites as easily and having it establish an equal playing ground for police qualifications means there might actually be a test to get a job.  No criticism of our current police force in Pocono Township at the moment but having to demonstrate qualifications is not a new concept for getting a job.  No current policemen lose their jobs and yes, there is qualification to be a police officer in the future.  Then again, anyone working for any form of government can be considered a civil servant – not sure why today’s policeman don’t fall into the same category.

civil servant

noun

: a person who works for the government : a person who works in the civil service

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

3. Mandates a Township Manager Position.  This one is somewhat true but it does require a bit more examination at which point it becomes less than forthright.  Our illustrious supervisors, since they all hold down township positions (part of the problem – they are their own bosses and accountable to no one other than at election time) felt the need to hire a Township Administrator at somewhere around $60K salary.  So the current position is not called “Manager” but it essentially does what the “mandated” role will do – especially since the commissioners can define the job generally as they please.  So to protest the new position might be a little disingenuous.  The other interesting consideration here is that the Code also provides the Commissioners with the power to abolish the position of Township Manager.  As I read it, doesn’t sound like a mandate.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

4. Substitutes elected Supervisors with Court Appointed Commissioners.    Not really but in the initial transition to a First Class Township there is no provision for a special election and the new Commissioners need to be in their position by the January following the election.  A board of judges from our County Courts does the initial appointment but that is the only time there is not an election to select the Commissioners.  So part truth but a bit misleading all the same.  Once established, all Commissioners are elected as current Supervisors are.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

5. Mandates that anyone holding a position with the township must quit their job before they can seek public office.  The only consideration close to this that I can find in the Code is that Policemen cannot hold any public office while being a policeman. I’m calling this one a total fabrication – sounds good as a talking point but this is an outright lie.  I’m only deciding not to give it 10 BULLSHITs since I can’t find it and I could have missed it – doubtful but maybe.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

6. Can result with 5 new commissioners who have no experience running the township and potentially no experience with the sewer system and its known deficiencies.  Okay – I guess this is true but again we have an intent to mislead and make a problem where there is not necessarily one.  To be honest, this can happen anytime anyone new is elected to Supervisor in the current structure.   All we need to do is look at the current Supervisors (kind of our local Moe, Larry and Curley of sorts) to see that this concern about experience is not a new one.  Our current trio consists of an ex-policeman who most recently sold advertising for billboards, a road department employee and a plumber.  Don’t get me wrong, these can be honorable professions but I fail to see the deep experience that any of these three brought to the table with they were elected.  Not really anyone with broad and deep management experience or capability among them.  As far as sewer knowledge, I’ll give the plumber some latitude when it comes to dealing with crap but given the size of the sewer project (many millions, many years, much coordination), I might concede this point a bit if the number and the size of problems being realized wasn’t so large – and the plumber has been around for most of it.

Rating – BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT  BULLSHIT

Total BULLSHITs – 47 (yes, that’s a lot of BULLSHIT)

Average BULLSHITs – 7.83 – on my scale, I’d say this average rating positions the good Concerned Citizens of Pocono Township as pretty high up there on the BULLSHIT scale – pretty much full of shit.  Just the type of people I want leading my township and its future.

So when we look across the “concerns” and the “facts” as to why we should stay a Second Class Township, one would think that it should stand on its own merit – not the lies, spin and manipulation that is evident in this case.  Maintaining the status quo in this case only really seems to be good for those running things today – whether as supervisors or puppet masters pulling the strings in the background. They all have something to lose and it is personal in every case.

We can only hope that there are enough of us Pocono Township citizens who can see this for what it is when Tuesday rolls around.