Thursday, September 16, 2010

16 SEP 10: An Imperfect Ten

Remember the Goodwill Games - Ted Turner's attempt at a huge sports event to compete against the Olympics? I don't think it ever had a triathlon. But if those games come back, I have a candidate for that event. She's a Goodwill employee nominee who's shown plenty of endurance - even if critics say managers sometimes ride her back.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: A recently-fired Goodwill Industries store manager told your blog Wednesday one employee in the Southern Rivers region recently finished a pay period with ten consecutive work days. So when I asked a Goodwill spokesperson last week about "nine-day work weeks," I forgot two key words - at least.

Meanwhile, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers store managers reportedly were summoned to a meeting with executives Wednesday. I'm hearing it was in part the result of our Sunday post about possible mistreatment of employees -- and in part because a Goodwill employee posted complaints on Facebook. Hopefully that employee didn't ask "Mafia Wars" to intervene.

An e-mail posted here Sunday claimed Goodwill's Opelika store manager was fired due to slow sales. Chuck Clope confirmed that Wednesday -- telling me he was fired 31 August even though he was "employee of the quarter" for January-March. That trophy apparently melted in the summer heat, like Ben & Jerry's ice cream....

"Yes, it does happen," Chuck Clope said in response to Kim Cantrell's denial that Goodwill Industries employees work nine-day "weeks." He claims the staff member who endured a ten-day week works at the Eufaula store, and piled up 120 hours in a 13-day pay period. That's more work in two weeks than Brett Favre avoided in his last two training camps.

Chuck Clope spent three years with Goodwill Industries, and he says the program has performed good deeds in the Columbus area. But Clope adds the Southern Rivers agency is "top-heavy" with executives, including a 19-member board of directors. Yet if someone donates an extra-large table, you don't want it to go to waste....

Chuck Clope pointed me to Goodwill Industries' financial reports, saying Southern Rivers stores have about half the income of a small Home Depot store. Yet he says Goodwill has more executives, including three Vice Presidents. Two executives actually reported six-figure incomes last year - so they can buy all their clothing at Columbus Park Crossing.

Yet one Goodwill "scorecard" reveals revenues from the now-closed Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop were down 16 percent in the first half of this year. Even with a tough economy, that's a surprise considering our hot summer. Yet Baskin-Robbins hasn't rubbed it in, by announcing its sales were up 31 percent.

Chuck Clope agrees with the assessment of "Anony," who wrote the new Goodwill Industries store in Opelika was badly planned. Clope explained six months after that store opened, some staff members have yet to go through company orientation to receive an employee handbook. Why, they still might be spelling "Goodwill" as two words.

Chuck Clope says Goodwill asked for trouble by opening a new store in Opelika this year, because history shows Lee County is "not a generous community for donations." That was a surprising statement to me. Do Auburn University fans throw every spare dollar they have into the "Beat Bama" food drive?

Chuck Clope tells me he submitted a plan for turning around slow sales at the Opelika Goodwill store, and several ideas in that plan were implemented. But that happened two weeks ago, on the day he was fired. At least the executives listened to Clope - until he was out in the parking lot.

"I got screwed," Chuck Clope says of his March promotion to store manager and his late-August dismissal. Despite official comments, Clope is concerned Goodwill Industries executives don't really care about its employees. Perhaps Wednesday's meeting of managers will change that - or perhaps a few Facebook accounts suddenly will be deleted.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then heads in directions you might not expect. See what we mean at "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG CORRECTION: We removed a joke about Paul Olson Wednesday, after a reader noted he actually did speak at Tuesday's Columbus Council meeting. The "public agenda" had so many speakers that even Olson became lost in the shuffle for us.

But it appears Paul Olson needs to post a correction as well. His mayoral campaign website claims Wayne Anthony voted as a Democrat in the Georgia Primary - yet the Election Board told WRBL Wednesday Anthony actually voted as a Republican. Besides, where did Olson get his information - by snooping around ballot boxes?

Let's see if we can get the facts straight from Wednesday's news....

+ The high temperature in Columbus was 94 degrees F. The Georgia state climatologist reports our area is back in a "moderate drought." An "extreme drought" might describe the Spencer High School football team.

(WRBL reported an evening wildfire erupted on Fort Benning, spreading smoke across parts of Columbus. Those delegates at the Warfighting Conference simply don't know when to call it a night.)

+ The University of Alabama announced fall enrollment went above 30,000 students for the first time. The Tuscaloosa campus has seen enrollment jump 54 percent since 2002 - once again proving a winning football team matters.

+ Randy Morris confirmed he'll leave the Columbus Northern Little League program to become "Community Coach" for Northside High School baseball. The Ledger-Enquirer explained that means he's an uncertified assistant coach. I guessed a "Community Coach" offered batting tips on Twitter.

(Little League lovers should remember two things about Randy Morris. He talked about retiring from coaching after Northern won the 2006 World Series, but he returned. And Bobby Howard could tell you a high school baseball coach doesn't have much to do during Little League playoff time in August.)

+ Instant Message to the Nathan Deal gubernatorial campaign team: OK, it's your turn. What do you mean, your candidate will "get it right the first time?" If that's true, why was Deal a Democrat for years before switching parties?

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