I am writing for three reasons. This might be better as 2-3 diaries but I'm cramming them all into my one diary for the day.
First of all: THANK YOU. I think I'm going to be OK til early June at least with the help from the blogs. In that time, I am going to 1 maybe 2 conferences related to progressive politics/food. And I will now be free to concentrate full time on food and health care reform. My book comes out in July so my initial goal is to hang on until then. (You can pre-order it... use the link in the ads column BELOW the paypal thing. I'm trying to make the ad for my book on top go away.)
Second: The latest urgent burning issue I'm hearing about is a potential bad appointment or two. I've got dueling sets of rumors reaching me from DC and I'll tell you as much as I know and let you decide what you think.
My Personal Issues: Regarding my own personal problems, I got some criticism in the comments of my previous diary that I'd like to address. Was it bad of me to be late to work? Yes. Was it always my fault? No. On several occasions the meeting times or locations were changed on me for early morning meetings and I screwed up and missed them. Once I texted a co-worker to say I was sick and coming in late and taking sick time, but it turned out his cell phone didn't get texts.
Other times, I was just late. I'm sure it was passive-aggressive behavior due to my resentment of the job. The resentment was because there wasn't much work to do and I was bored. I was making a huge salary, but earning it by sitting in a chair at a desk in an office that gave me headaches and doing - much of the time - NOTHING. What's the hurry to get out of bed and go to work so you can do a few extra hours of nothing?
And the boss? She WAS a psycho. I was the 3rd person fired in her 6 mos there, and my coworkers told me they did not think she was justified in her actions. So take that for what it's worth. The point of it is that I'd prefer to devote my efforts full time to our collective progressive cause and not to sitting in an office doing nothing with a headache.
Someone else said he'd rather give money to someone who was actually living under a bridge. Fair enough. But I'm not asking for any help because of pity or just because I'm a nice person and you like me. I'm asking for help to move our progressive issues forward. Believe me, I could just go back into another job in health care making big fat paychecks. I'd hate it. And it wouldn't allow me to devote myself full time to the progressive movement. I was essentially asking you to "hire" me to continue the work you've seen me do over the last 3 years and to fully devote myself to it. I think most people understand this, but I'm just clarifying.
At any rate, I've been able to take stock of what I've got in the bank and I think I can make it until June. I'll be better off if unemployment comes through - I've applied thanks to the advice of this community. Hopefully that will happen and that will be a huge comfort and help. And someone else urged me to try to re-negotiate my car loan. It's not a bad idea. I'll call tomorrow.
Oh! And just so you know I'm doing my part... I've scaled back my lifestyle considerably. I'm cooking my own food, buying cheap stuff at the farmers market to eat (broccoli and oranges... and my one luxury, tomatoes). I'm no longer going out for coffee - I just bought a half pound of some really terrific organic stuff for $7 and that's going to be much cheaper. And I took back the $400 in SCUBA lessons and equipment I bought a week ago when I still had the job. No more massages (I used to get them weekly as a remedy for my headaches) unless for headache emergencies. So I'm trying to do my part to the best of my ability here.
Last, as a thank you to this community, I'm helping a friend start blogging here. He's a professional resume writer and an expert on job searches. Since many of us are all in the same boat, we've been talking about him doing a diary series with job finding tips. His website is at http://www.resumeguru.com and he'll probably write under the name resumeguru.
The Obama Appointment Rumors
I wrote this up on my blog here but here's the deal. One set of rumors (presumably from Capitol Hill) says to expect a food safety appointment this week. There are two (BAD) names mentioned for two positions. Michael Osterholm for USDA's food safety guy, and Michael Taylor for a White House food safety "dude" (as one friend put it).
Rumor #2 says: No USDA appointment is upcoming for food safety, and Michael Osterholm isn't the near-definite choice as rumor #1 says. Well, let's hope that's true. If you want to know about the problems with Osterholm, I recommend checking here. [UPDATE: Looks like we had better keep the heat on Sec. Vilsack about the Osterholm appointment... it might be true and it would be BAD NEWS.]
But that leaves Michael Taylor... there's no rumor saying that he's not getting appointed. Just a rumor that says he IS getting appointed. Of course, there's another rumor saying he won't take the job if offered, but every politician says that so I don't believe it.
Why to Say No to Michael Taylor
If you open the dictionary to the word revolving door you will see a picture of Michael Taylor's face. My best and favorite source on him is Marion Nestle's book Food Politics, p. 101:
Revolving-door issues are not always easy to categorize, however, as is perhaps best illustrated by the career of Michael Taylor.
Mr. Taylor is a lawyer who began his revolving-door adventures as counsel to FDA. He then moved to King & Spalding, a private-sector law firm representing Monsanto, a leading biotechnology company. In 1991 he returned to the FDA as Deupty Commissioner for Policy, where he was part of the team that issued the agency's decidedly industry-friendly policy on food biotechnology and that approved the use of Monsanto's genetically engineered growth hormone in dairy cows. His questionable role in these decisions led to an investigation by the federal General Accounting Office, which eventually exonerated him of all conflict-of-interest charges. In 1994 Mr. Taylor moved to USDA to become administrator of Food Safety and Inspection Service. In this position, he became the hero of food safety activists for his courageous development of the agency's groundbreaking policies for controlling dangerous microbial contaminants in meat and poultry. After another stint in private legal practice with King & Spalding, Mr. Taylor again joined Monsanto as Vice President for Public Policy in 1998. He resigned that position late in 1999 during the height of public controversy of Monsanto's aggressive promotion of its genetically modified foods. At the time of this writing, he had returned to the private sector, this time to Resources for the Future, a nonprofit think tank on environmental and natural resource issues in Washington, D.C.
Do we want Michael Taylor as White House Food Safety Dude? I'd prefer someone with a more independent past.