Last week, we raked Missouri Sen. Kit Bond over the mesquite for being a hypocrite about pork. Missouri's one-man bacon explosion earned honors for wrapping himself around President Barack Obama's stimulus package — which he voted against — like a gamey strip of Sizzlelean hugging a filet mignon. Au jus, Brute? But it's not raining pork for everyone — not even the people making the real thing.
This little piggy stayed home
The 2009 Responsible Pork Symposium was supposed to be in Kansas City the last week of February. But this year's summit was canceled because everyone is dead busted, according to the Responsible Pork Web site — no plane tickets, no group-rate rooms, forget the mini-bar. Presenters were supposed to discuss how responsible pork production relates to animal well-being and food safety and environmental concerns. Toward a more moral pork chop? That might have been interesting. Seriously, what the Wilbur is "responsible pork production," anyway? Now we'll never know. And do you have any idea how much cash people who make their living off pigs would've dropped in a cow town? That's like a vacation in the Greek Islands for them. Way to be responsible and stay home, pork people.
Kauffman Center rising
When the Sprint Center was going up downtown, rooftop cameras and the blogorazzi kept the images (and the commentary) coming. The same buzz hasn't hovered over construction of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which will be a much more dramatic building by the time it's done. That is, if it ever actually gets done — funding remains incomplete, and the Kauffman Center's Web site is still soliciting donations. Maybe if the KC Symphony and the KC Ballet booked their performances on interstate-highway tarmac, Kit Bond would find a scrap of responsible pork to toss this way.
Anyway, since the center is practically right across the street from Pitch headquarters, we walked out and took some photos. The most striking thing is simply how huge the place will be.
Layoffs suck. Take it from Mike Parker, who has been laid off three times in four years. (We've agreed to use thinly veiled euphemisms rather than name Parker's former employers.)
Parker, who told his story to staff writer Nadia Pflaum, started working for a major telecommunications company, based in Overland Park, back in 1996. The job was in Bethesda, Maryland, at first, but Parker bought a house in Lee's Summit when the company moved his duties to an office there in 1999.
Shortly after Parker, 37, moved to Lee's Summit, he was relocated again, to the company's main campus in Kansas. Suddenly, he had a half-hour commute, plus he had to start paying taxes in two states.
In November 2004, the company went through a round of layoffs, and Parker's job met the scythe.
"I'd moved up in that company," Parker says. "I started in customer care, worked my way through IT and then went up to networking. When I got laid off the first time, I think they did it because I was making too much money. When I came from Maryland, I was making Maryland money, and when I came out here I kept that. And they took care of that by laying me off. It was cost-effective."
Eventually, Parker found work with a company that had an outside contract with his former employer. That led to him being rehired by the major telecommunications firm in October 2005. The company laid him off again on Easter Sunday, 2008.
This time, the loss hit Parker harder. "I was depressed for a couple months right after the fact, just wondering what I possibly could have done wrong," he says. "It was probably absolutely nothing. I would have felt better if they'd said, 'You didn't do anything wrong — we just have to let you go.' They could be more humane about the process. That was what hit me the most. I couldn't figure out why this happened to me."
Parker was unemployed from March through November 2008, when he landed a temporary job for a major tax-preparation company headquartered in Kansas City. The job was supposed to last for six months, but the company overestimated how many employees it needed and cut people early. Parker lasted two months.
"They said I'd be able to apply for unemployment, but I want a job," he says.
He had been out of a job only a week this time when a friend called and told him about another temporary-job opening, this time at a major trucking company. The contract is just three months, but it could go longer, and he may be hired full time.
Meanwhile, just like an abusive girlfriend, the telecommunications company wants Parker back. A former co-worker has put through an application for Parker, for a position that is available again. But Parker doubts he'll go back.
"Layoffs suck," he says. "I think that was really the biggest part of it for me. It's all in how you handle it. I didn't handle it very well. I just didn't understand: Why me?"
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