Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Part Two....C/O Straight Up, With Sugar Coating or No C/O

In Part One, I began talking about some very controversial Certificate of Occupancy issues in a couple of downtown businesses.  For reasons that are still not completely understood, my husband lost his job because of the preference of these businesses for “noncompliance” and their deceitful lies and those of City Officials.  They also were the cause of the close of my shop located in the same building as these businesses.  City Officials served as the “Judge, the Henchman, and the Hangman” that I wrote about previously.  I am breaking this up into “parts” as it is very long and detailed reading.  As I write of these events, I want to reiterate again and again, I want redemption for those that have gone through this battle before us because they too have been wrongly accused of things not done.  And I very much want to keep this from happening to those in the future.  These people are bold, powerful, and threatening yet our God is definitely in control and the truth will set us free as others begin to understand the truth of this corruption.

In the spring of 2012, some of my artists and crafters first began helping me by working at the shop.  I had gotten sick with a serious bacterial infection that had me sidelined for six weeks.  After I resumed working, some of the crafters continued working an afternoon a week so I could have some extra hours off weekly.  During those times, Dwight would often go and close out the register, get the day’s receipts and lock up the shop.   Most of the time, it was after we had dinner and after most businesses had closed for the night.  With the time change in the fall and lights on inside the Wylie Art Gallery, he began noticing night gatherings other than art classes.     

In November of 2012, the building where Ballard Street School of Music resided was placed on the market.  There was a huge Keller Williams FOR SALE sign with “Lynn Grimes, Realtor of the Kathy Spillyards Real Estate Team” blazoned across the sign.  It could be seen from outside the front door of The Crafter’s Co-op and the sign size made it impossible to miss.  Early in December during one of the late night trips to close out the register, it dawned on Dwight that he was frequently seeing Kathy Spillyards at the gallery and he surmised that the Keller Williams business was sharing office space with the Wylie Art Gallery.  Dwight sent a text to his Code Administrative Secretary to have her check the records for that business address.  He indicated to call the gallery IF there was no new or updated Certificate for the Keller Williams business and to inquire IF the Keller Williams business was operating and sharing the office at that address.  He indicated to add it to the list of businesses to contact and that it would not be classified as an urgent call since there were no safety concerns such as hazardous materials compromising Police or Fire responders should there be an emergency call in the meantime.     

Sometime around the end of January or early February, the CAS made the call to the gallery. Lynn wanted to know WHO had reported her. ** Standard response to such inquiries for Code Enforcement calls is “anonymous”.  And most calls of this nature are in fact specified as “anonymous” by the callers.  This is standard protocol for all municipalities to protect callers, neighbors or whoever calls about enforcement issues.  It is to prevent retaliatory issues.  Lynn then called the City Manager to find out WHO reported her and Mindy called Dwight to ask him for the who, what, why details of the call to Lynn.  He told her he would check and call her back.  Since Dwight’s text to the Code Administrative Secretary had been weeks before, he wanted to check the details of the call with the CAS.  After verifying the details of the call to Lynn, he called and told Mindy that the call had been prompted by his text for inquiry regarding the Keller William business weeks before.  Mindy wanted to know HOW Dwight knew the Keller Williams business was being conducted in the gallery and he told her about the late night gatherings and Kathy’s frequent presence.  Mindy informed Dwight that she would handle the call to Lynn and she promptly sent the Assistant City Manager to Dwight’s office to question if he had directed the CAS to tell Lynn “anonymous” and Dwight told him “NO” and explained the standard protocol response and the reason being possible “retaliatory actions” against a neighbor, etc.  I would like to note that this is probably the exact same protocol used by the Wylie Police for complaint calls and Jeff would be very familiar with this protocol as Wylie’s former Chief of Police.  Dwight explained to Jeff that the protocol had been standard response long before he came to the City of Wylie, and that it had been the same for the City where he had worked for almost 30 years.  Regardless, Jeff strongly advised him to rescind the Keller Williams Certificate of Occupancy requirement and with an apology.  As instructed, Dwight promptly “exempted” the Certificate of Occupancy requirement for the Keller Williams business, sent an email of apology and notification of the Certificate of Occupancy cancellation to Kathy Spillards (Team Leader and Wylie Mayor Pro-Tem at that time) and Lynn Grimes.   In response, Lynn sent a long and apparently abusive email addressed to the City Manager and Dwight.  Mindy called Dwight and instructed him NOT to read or respond to Lynn’s email as she intended to handle it herself.

Just days after this, Lynn vaulted her agenda to the next level.  We were told that Tuesday after the February 12th City Council meeting adjourned, a Special Called Meeting was held for the purpose of information gathering for Dwight’s “at will” dismissal.  It was not until 4pm Thursday, February 14th that I had a clue of something amiss.  My landlord’s son came into The Crafter’s Co-op angrily demanding Dwight’s direct phone number at the City.  Dwight did not answer his desk nor cell phone, so I gave him the CAS’s number.  I then heard him ask “does the new salon on Ballard Street have a Certificate of Occupancy”?   At this point, I still knew nothing of what had happened regarding Lynn’s Certificate of Occupancy tirade.   That night during our Valentine dinner, I found out that while Bobby was in my shop demanding to talk to Dwight, the Assistant City Manager was in Dwight’s office placing him on “Administrative Leave” pending HIS investigation into code of conduct violation charges made by Lynn.  Unfortunately, Dwight was never included in “the City’s investigation”—he was just told “the story that everyone would be told”, the one that they collectively made up.  And why wouldn’t they?  We have been told by others that this is just a repeat of what has been done to many employees before Dwight.  They too have been ushered out the door without the chance to counter charges and their leaves are often with POLICE ESCORTS as in Dwight’s departure.  

I honestly believe that the upper management handling of the “situation” created an escalating, uncontrollable scenario.  They added “fuel to Lynn’s fire” setting precedence for all future dealings with her and her boss.  As they threw the fuel on her fire, they dealt Dwight a bitter “slap in the face” for doing his job and managed to treat him like an insubordinate employee claiming “breach of conduct” and “violation of the code of conduct”.  And this has sent a message to all employees that upper management’s loyalty is certainly NOT to their employees even when they are excelling in their job.  Do they not care that their actions have managed to handicap every single employee in their job?  Do they not care that they are compromising the quality of the City employees job performances and adversely affecting their morale?   

Since Dwight was never given an opportunity to tell HIS side in defense of the charges against him, I will tell it here as we know it.

The Mayor said Lynn accused Dwight of retaliatory bullying after I “sicced him on her” when discovering her conducting a real estate closing at the gallery.   
  • I rarely went into the gallery unless asked to come over at her request.  I knew the exact date she was referring to as Dr. J Davis had come into the shop to ‘say hello’ on the way to his closing.  He and his little family had previously come into the shop on several other occasions when going to the gallery during their search for a new home.  This particular day (Thursday, January 17, 2013) when he came in, I was actually gathering up donations that had been solicited (by Guild Member, Pat B) and were to be delivered THAT day to the gallery for the Charitable Silent Auction Fundraiser for Richardson’s St. Joseph Catholic Church.  The date on closing documents and my dated donation sheet would both be January 17th.
The Mayor said Lynn claimed that I stormed into the gallery that day disrupting her closing.
  • I truly believe everyone that knows me, knows that I do not “storm”, “rant” or in anyway would be disrespectful as to disrupt any business.  The camera feed in the gallery would show that I walked in and  held up the bag stating that I was dropping off the donations and cheerfully wished them both a ‘good evening’ and promptly left. 
The Mayor said that Dwight’s email inclusion of Kathy Spillyards “turned it all into a political issue”. 
  • I still do not understand the Mayor’s “political issue” statement.  Kathy’s presence at the gallery gatherings (no evidence of paint classes) at night PLUS her name as TEAM LEADER on Lynn’s Keller Williams signs, made it appear that the gatherings were Keller Williams meetings, so how is this POLITICAL?  If it was political, does that mean that there were in fact gatherings being held at the gallery that by definition would be subject to the OPEN MEETINGS ACT and therefore POLITICAL meetings?  Is this why the Mayor made a point of explaining what he referred to as "his frequent visits to the Gallery" for the purpose of "special projects he was working on with Bob Heath"?  Were they really off site meetings that WERE subject to the OPEN MEETINGS ACT?  How was the Keller Williams Team Leader’s inclusion “political” if it was merely Keller Williams’s gatherings?  Did they blow this so out of perspective and if so WHY?  Was it merely to avoid a Certificate of Occupancy and again, WHY?  Was it because not only Lynn and possibly Kathy had their reasons, but the Mayor himself had his own reasons since he himself was joining the Kathy Spillyard’s Team once his own real estate classes were completed?  What reason would he/they have for objecting to a Certificate of Occupancy? 
The Mayor said Lynn did not conduct real estate business in the gallery.  She had only conducted business that one day because the client had requested the location for his convenience.
  • For many reasons, this is still such a mystery as to why everyone went to such lengths to disclaim the Keller Williams business at the Wylie Art Gallery address.    If Lynn was NOT conducting Keller Williams’s business at the gallery as they all claim, then why did she advertise the Keller Williams business at the SAME address as the gallery in the “Wylie Chamber of Commerce Community & Business Guide” for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013?  I bet at some point since 2010 she has run ads in the Wylie News with the Wylie Art Gallery address as well.  So why did she, the Mayor and the City Officials accuse Dwight and me both of being on a “witch-hunt” and deny there was such business?   Am I the only person Lynn has called to the gallery to show computer searches of the landlord’s downtown properties available for lease when she knew I was looking to move into a larger location?  Am I the only tenant graced with her presence at the signing of their lease as she did mine?  I thought nothing of it as I knew from the very beginning that she helped the landlord as his realtor, in helping manage his properties, etc.  Lynn made sure that I knew she was NOT just a tenant and that she had favor with everyone, including the City’s elected AND appointed Officials.  But NOW I do wonder WHY all the denials and all the lies and cover-ups by all the same people in City Hall she claimed were “watching out” for her?  What’s to be gained and what’s to be lost?  And who all is involved in the tangled web of deceit?  From the very beginning, I repeatedly have said “We do not know WHAT is going on, but after all they have done to us, IT HAS TO BE VERY WIDE AND VERY DEEP”.  That has proven to be a prophetic statement and nearly nine months later, it gets ‘wider and deeper’ with each passing day.  

**Note:  We were told by the Mayor that the protocol of anonymity was not acceptable according to the City Manager.  Recently we have been told that the protocol of record that has been enforced for a number of years, is in fact still the standard protocol.  Complaints or calls of this nature come from a number of sources such as internal inquiries (which was the case with Dwight’s inquiry) outside agencies and the general public to include citizens and businesses.  Information obtained is considered confidential and can only be revealed through a court subpoena in most cities.      

Part Three of    C/O Straight Up, With Sugar Coating or No C/O   to be continued…..

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

C/O Straight Up, With Sugar Coating or No C/O?

Part I
Would you like that new business with a Certificate of Occupancy or Without?  Options are usually NOT given as businesses are required to have a Certificate of Occupancy to open their doors.  It really is for everyone’s protection, but yes, it does mean government is in your business.  But if it is for my protection and the protection of all who should enter my place of business, why should I object?  Why should I lie about what I am going to do in that place of business?  Why object to reporting more than one of your businesses in your one location? In a perfect world void of corruption and the bad and ugly, Certificates of Occupancy would not even be a reason to get a City Building Official fired, but in some cities, it is considered justifiable cause, IF you happen to be BFF of the Mayor, the City Manager, and the Assistant City Manager.

I am talking here about businesses within a city ONLY, for businesses located outside city limits, the county jurisdictions have their own requirements that may differ from the municipalities.  Most cities nationwide require Certificates of Occupancy for the following:
            All commercial buildings within city limits
            All new businesses within city limits
            Businesses changing ownership of an existing business within city limits
            Businesses moving to a new location within city limits
            Each separate business sharing office space within city limits

Permits are to be obtained prior to change of use, construction, demolition and remodel work, occupancy classification, ownership change, and tenant name change.  This is required in buildings, tenant spaces, and commercial sites.  The specific intended use of the space is required so the occupancy classification can be determined.  This is very important for Police and Fire calls for the safety of all involved.  A final inspection is done by the Fire Inspector and Building Inspection Department once all requirements for the occupancy are satisfied AND prior to conducting business or occupying the space.  If everything passes inspection, a Certificate of Occupancy is issued for each business establishment in a commercial building.       

In USA.com Wylie’s 2010 statistics showed that there had been a population increase of 173.77 percent since the year 2000.  Along with the continued growth in Wylie, one could see new businesses sprouting up everywhere.   With the increase in business start-ups, Wylie’s Fire Inspector was discovering non-permitted businesses and called on Dwight for assistance.  In summation, after repeated visits from the Fire Marshall’s inspector, Dwight met with the Fire Marshall.  A plan for an informal task force comprised of the Fire Inspector, Code Enforcement Officers and Multi-Trade Building Inspectors was presented to upper management for approval.  The plan was approved, the only objection being referred to as “a task force”.   Dwight and other employees living in Wylie would report any weekend move-ins, remodels, etc. to the Code Administrative Secretary for follow-up.  This type of team effort was helpful, as the city growth continues, yet the employee count decreases in many areas by attrition—the gradual reduction in personnel through resignation, retirement or the elimination of specific jobs for cost reduction purposes.

With the opening of the shop in the fall of 2011, I went through Wylie’s application process to obtain The Crafter’s Co-op Certificate of Occupancy.  The required application is short, easy to understand with straight forward questions and prompts.  It should be easy for anyone to apply and be up and open with little trouble.  Yet there are businesses failing to apply, some are dishonest with the information they supply and others expect favors from their friends in high places to get rid of the Enforcer.  In the Q Office Suites and Art Center building where The Crafter’s Co-op business was located, there were two different businesses that caused the closing of the shop and the end of  Dwight’s career by lying to cover-up their questionable and non-conforming business practices.  The Mayor and the City Officials continued the charade and helped facilitate the ending with their own lies and cover-ups as well.

A’Vouloir Apothecary’s Certificate of Occupancy was issued, yet the owners failed to meet compliance requirements according to the Texas Pharmaceutical Board which is the governing agency for all apothecaries and pharmacies in Texas.  According to the owner of A’Vouloir, his Chemical Engineer degree is all that was needed to open his apothecary in California and claimed that he met Texas requirements too.  There are definite differences in the California and Texas laws governing apothecaries.  One major difference is that in California, apothecaries can dispense marijuana, but it is considered illegal to do so in Texas.  Another difference is that the Texas Pharmaceutical Board requires a pharmacy license from the Texas State Board of Pharmacy and does not consider a Chemical Engineer degree an acceptable alternative to a pharmacy license.  In addition, the Texas Pharmacy Act prohibits any business from using the word “apothecary” in any manner that would lead the public to believe that the business is a pharmacy, unless the business is a licensed pharmacy.  In the Texas Pharmacy Laws and Rules, the intent of the law is to view the words “apothecary” and “pharmacy” as having the same meaning.  A health-related business that uses the word “apothecary” in its signage or advertisements or verbal presentation to the public, may certainly be in violation of the Texas Pharmacy Act, if it does not hold a pharmacy license from the Texas State Board of Pharmacy.  All requirements for personnel, operation, records, etc. that apply to a pharmacy would apply to a health-related business that uses the word “apothecary”.  

The many infractions in everyone’s blame game were not Dwight’s or mine, but A’Vouloir’s owners and accomplices in the building as well as city officials aiding in the charade to cover the truth behind this business.  Not knowing if A’Vouloir was still in operation, I did a Google search tonight.  Imagine my surprise, when I found 14 pages with 132 entries of advertisements for A’Vouloir Apothecary.  And of course many of these listings were for “pharmacy”, “drug store” and of course “apothecary”.  Obviously, they are continuing to hide behind their web of deceit.  At the bottom of page 14 of the Google search, this is what reads to continue on to page 15 through who knows how many more pages??
"In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 132 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."

For more information, you can refer to the Texas Pharmacy Laws and Rules regarding statutes for Apothecaries in the Occupations Code as follows.
                   TITLE 3. HEALTH PROFESSIONS

PART II of   C/O Straight Up, With Sugar Coating or No C/O   to be continued….

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blessings in His Time

I have been writing about some heavy stuff in prior posts.  Today, I opted for a change of scenery; after all there will be more to the continuing saga of the City, as the players keep on keeping on.  But for today, I am writing of some of the blessings encountered during these troubling times in our life.

Today, I met with my mother’s Edward Jones advisor.  As Trustee, I routinely meet with Bryan for his expert advice in the management of her accounts.  Since I am no longer working downtown and our “gag” meant no talking or contact with friends in the community, we have had little contact with others over the last eight months.  It was really good seeing and being able to visit with Bryan and Susan.  To them I am sure it was just another day at the office, but for me it was like a long yearned for reunion with friends.  May sound foolish, but I did not opt for the silence of these past months as I have always been a “people person”.  Today’s encounters at Bryan’s office and the Israel send off at First Baptist Wylie were blessings for me.

While in Bryan’s office he had a wall decorated with framed artwork that I liked and told him “Dwight would really, really like those”.  The pictures were of cowboys on horseback—my favorite one was of two cowboys riding their horses though a stream.  I shared with Bryan the blessings we have found in a small Cowboy Church first discovered back in February, the very week Dwight was placed on administrative leave.

Back in the summer of 2011, Dwight and I went to East Texas looking for a location to open a Cowboys for Christ chapter.  Dwight had been talking with Ted Pressley, the Founder of Cowboys for Christ about his desire to start a chapter and suggestions for location.  That August, we spoke to quite a few people as we traveled through various towns in East Texas.  As we traveled back home, we were talking as the places and timing for the Cowboys for Christ chapter just did not seem right.  We discussed financial needs that all seemed to be experiencing and hearing of in Wylie during the economic downturn.  We decided to focus our ministry efforts here at home instead of taking them eastward.  I had been facilitating craft classes at First Baptist Wylie since early 2011 and was hearing talk in the classes of desires to supplement income with handcrafted works.  I also had been told of the increased needs at Wylie’s Children’s Clinic where former donors having lost jobs and insurance were then in need of the clinic services for their children at that time.  Once we reached home, I had formulated a plan for The Crafter’s Co-op and in just a few weeks, the shop was open and home to various artists, crafters and ministries.

Now, fast forward 18 months to the weekend before Dwight’s administrative leave.  A lifelong friend of Dwight’s had heard of a new Cowboy Church and knowing of Dwight’s interest in the churches and chapters for the cowboys, he called to tell him about the church.  They decided to go and visit Sunday the 10th of February.  Dwight came home that day so enthused about the little church and told me “I think this is where we are supposed to be”.  With Dwight’s leave and the close of the shop Thursday, February 14th, we have come to believe it was definitely the Lord’s timing for our involvement with the Cowboy Church.  But we have also come to know that our involvement was NOT to help start or grow the church, but the time for us to experience His healing grace and mercy shown by the wonderful ‘salt of the earth’ people of the church.  He is using these brothers and sisters to minister to others in ways that heal the broken hearts.  They do not even know our story; they just love us as Christ does.



Shalom...Peace Be Unto You....

We went to see friends off on their mission trip to Israel this morning.  As I write this, they are probably half way into their 20 hour flight to Israel.  The team was met by well wishing friends extending Shalom and offering up prayers for them all.  As the van pulled out of the First Baptist Event Center parking lot, I felt as if each of them were leaving on a mission for us all. 

Debra T. is the team leader for the Israel trip and she has come to love the Israeli people and the country of Jesus’s birth with an awe inspiring passion.  I expect one day to pick up the phone to hear her say, “My bags are packed and I am moving”.  When that happens, we shall tearfully, yet gleefully bid her Shalom.  After all, Israel is the place where she has found her roots and hence the yearning in her heart “to go back” is a natural feeling.  

As “grafted in” Gentiles into the family of God, the everlasting covenant given to Abraham is ours too—our everlasting heavenly home with Him.  Grafted In: Israel, Gentiles and the Mystery of the Gospel” by D. Thomas Lancaster is a very good book that answers questions about the inclusion and relationship of Gentiles with the people and land of Israel.  As in Psalm 122:6, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem....  

Dwight and I extend our wish of Shalom to you all.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Do It Anyway

I have had family and friends asking me why I decided to start this blog.  When the idea first took root in the fall of 2012, it was to be dedicated totally for the promotion of the artists and crafters of The Crafter’s Co-op.  Eleven months after the blog was first planned, there have been some changes.  The blog name is different, but I still intend to showcase those awesome folks that made up The Crafter’s Co-op.  I plan to feature lots of fun stuff and inspirational and informative stories as well.  But that is not why family and friends have expressed their concern for us and the blog, it is because I also intend to explain the truth behind the closing of my shop and the dismantling of our life as we had known it up until February 14, 2013.

Because of our forced silence, so much in our life has been placed on hold.  There has even been a change in the dynamics of relationships that we experienced in the past.  All the while we were being threatened to silence, there was still much being said by Officials in town as evidenced by many occurrences and other people’s behavior towards us.  Even when you are not guilty of all the accusations, just the treatment of others makes you want to gather up your toys and leave town.  And seven months later after Dwight’s leave, the reality of our silence is that things are so much worse for us in the community because the Officials are still spreading the lies and innuendoes around town.  Dwight has been blackballed for any job within driving distance of our home, and there are friends in the business community now shunning us to discourage us from seeking their services anymore.  An organized class at the library is believed to have been dropped from the calendar or cancelled because I was registered for the class and I am certainly no longer considered a “welcomed visitor”.  We have been informed that people were told not to even speak to us in the grocery store.  Knowing that explained an encounter we experienced at the Lowe’s in Murphy several months before we heard this.  Since the beginning of this debacle, I had not wanted anyone subjected to any scrutiny because of us and we stopped going to our favorite places in town, not wanting them hurt because of association with us.  We now know that they too have heard things and do not want our presence “scaring off” their business.   The more we are shunned in town, the more we realize all we have lost.  Yet the more we have lost, the deeper our faith has become in God and in our marriage---both relationships are stronger than ever before.  But the more we have been hurt, the more I have wanted to take the “gag” off, yet we have remained silent, believing the lies would eventually cease.  About a month ago, I decided my “gag” was coming off.

Several things happened that made me realize that the Lord allowed all of this to happen so we would come forward with the truth for the sake of others.  Something we recently heard made me realize that there are other employees going through this same mistreatment since this happened to Dwight.  If we had not been silent, maybe this would not be happening to them.  By exposing the City’s modus operandi, I believe it will not be so easy to hang innocent employees “out to dry” using their fabricated stories anymore.  The “documented” lies and false accusations against most of these employees are virtually impossible to disprove.  The real reasons that are suspect are those that would be considered discriminatory in nature, and the City would be hard pressed to answer such discrimination charges.  Another reason was due to phone calls we have received from people in other municipalities warning us that news of us had traveled their way and of the dangers they believe we are in.  I now believe that the more people that know of all of this, the safer we will be instead of their “sitting ducks”.  Silence is not helping anyone except those that perpetuate this wrongful judgment and deeds on good employees.  And the final thing that convicted me was when I sat down and made out a list of all the people that have contacted us over these seven months, telling us of their own stories resulting in their wrongful dismissals.  For the past ten years, most share the same commonality—the same players are involved and fabricated lies resulted in incontestable charges.  There have been so many before us caught up in the City’s wake of destruction—promising futures annihilated, families broken, lives destroyed, and too many never recover.  If we did not have our faith in God, I do not believe we could recover from such damning attacks.  It has without a doubt been the most difficult battle Dwight and I have been through since we married.  It has been devastating for us even all the while we believe and know God is in control.  It is also for all the victims of these Officials that I decided to use this blog, a forum for sharing their stories too.  I believe in God’s redemption, the redemption for the wrongful verdict for these former employees by the unscrupulous and bullying Officials in the City of Wylie.             

Imagine how your life would be impacted and affects it would have on the rest of your life if you were subjected to what we and so many others before us.
  • Our witness for Christ has been compromised because of all the innuendos and lies told about us.
  • The closing of The Crafter’s Co-op, our community ministry and the displacement of our awesome 98 artists and crafters, including the representation of 28 ministries.
  • Dwight’s 40 year career and reputation in the business community has been greatly compromised.
  • 80 percent of our income has been lost and will adversely affect our retirement.
  • We lost our group health insurance and taking out COBRA was cost prohibitive now as the cost is over $2,000 a month and we are still unemployed.
  • I also had to discontinue my cancer medication as the quoted price for private pay was $589.00 at Costco and that was the most affordable price quote received from 5 different pharmacies.  This was a medication my oncologist said I would be on the remainder of my life due to the type of breast cancer I had and the risk of metastasis before it can be seen on mammograms as occurred before.       
  • We are now shunned in our community.

In closing, the following poem by Mother Teresa sums up how I feel about this.

“Do It Anyway”
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered,
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies,
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you,
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight,
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous,
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow,
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough,
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God,
It was never between you and them anyway.

To be continued……..

Friday, October 4, 2013

What's in Your Wallet?

…Platinum, Gold, Bronze, or Silver?  The more you have in your pocket will be a determining factor for your premium costs in the Affordable Care Act mandate.  In September, I went into HealthCare.gov to get a general idea of what to expect through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  My sneak preview indicated…..
"You may be eligible to get quality health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  But based on the information you provided, you probably won't qualify to save money on your monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs.  You'll find out for sure when you apply for coverage starting October 1, 2013".            

Now these results are based on our estimated income for 2014.  This is difficult to project since we have been unemployed since February 2013.  Dwight is taking early Social Security and it will begin this month.  For the unemployed this is a major PRAISE!  With the loss of income, we have been living on my Social Security and Dwight’s pension.   These were the figures I factored into the estimate calculator and the resulting premium cost represented 22.57% of our estimated future household income—and this was for their more affordable Silver plan.  Unbelievable!  Needless to say, we will be doing a lot of research and study between now and the deadline to see what we can find that is actually “affordable”.

I have been checking different online financial sites to see if there is a “new” budget percentage for healthcare and insurance.  From one site to the next there are small variances, but none showed more than 10 percent for Medical/Healthcare.  I could not find any adjustments made to the percentages with the Affordable Care Act in mind.  This makes me think everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room and hoping it will go away.

6% for the National Average Budget Category Percentages of Net Income
5-10% for Dave Ramsey
5-10% for Desjardins Financial

If we opted for the “affordable” premium cost of the Silver plan (which we can NOT) then there would have to be major budget adjustments elsewhere and honestly who can easily make such modifications?   In our state of unemployment, our cutbacks have been dramatic and the next step we have wanted to avoid is the sale of our home.  For the first time in our lives, we have no health insurance.  When Dwight worked for the City of Wylie, the deduction for our health insurance was 8.7579% of his gross income.  After Dwight’s leave, the amount quoted for COBRA was actually $1,500.00 more a month than what we were paying when he was employed.  There was not a decision to ponder as we absolutely could not begin to afford COBRA with no jobs in sight. 

This path we have been diverted to has been scary, but we remind ourselves that since we married we are continually “stepping out in faith” and this is just another one of those “steps” in life.  We are truly thankful that the Lord is carrying us through these troubling times and providing and blessing us in ways we never could have imagined.   God has entrusted us as He does everyone with much to deal with in this life---unfair and unexplained circumstances and burdens that we all have to embrace.  We can accept where we are at this moment with absolute thanksgiving, as we know His hedge of confinement is for our good at this time and that He will bring all of this together for our good as well.  Once I know how it works out, I will share it with you, as I know it will be better than what I could ever dream.  Be safe, stay healthy, and make sure you eat that apple a day!