Saturday, September 22, 2007

Animal advocates urge pet adoptions post-Labor Day

The city's animal shelters are still flooded with homeless cats and dogs - and with Labor Day behind us, animal advocates are urging all to come out and adopt.

"It's the perfect time now that people are back from vacation and back to their routines," said Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor's Alliance for New York City's Animals.

Tomorrow, the Alliance will host an adoption event at Central Park, East Drive (enter at E. 59th St.) from noon to 5 p.m. In addition to dozens of adorable cats and dogs from various shelters and rescue groups, the event will also feature vet experts, cat therapist Carole Wilbourn and low-cost microchipping.

This summer, big-hearted readers pitched in to adopt after The News' Lisa Colangelo reported that 85 cats a day were being taken in by the Animal Care & Control shelters. Lack of room in the three ACC shelters and with few people adopting meant many of the animals were in danger of being euthanized.

Despite kitten season ending, the situation remains dire.

"It's gotten better, but we still need people to adopt more cats and kittens," Hoffman said.

And, while adorable puppies and small breed dogs are in demand, pit bull mixes and other large breeds dogs, like Rottweilers and shepherds, are often left behind in the shelters.

Brooklynite Jon Bozak is one pit bull lover who hopes that more people would give the underdogs a second chance.

"I only wish that more people understood that there is no breed of dog more capable or deserving of love than a pit bull," he said. His two rescued pit bulls, Brinks, 3, and Demo, 14, were the inspiration for Bozak's new graphic novel, "Demo: The Story of a Junkyard Dog" ($17.95, about a junkyard dog that endures abuse to save a town from destruction.

Adoptions are up, and the number of unwanted animals euthanized at city shelters has dropped dramatically in recent years, thanks to the many rescue groups that take cats and dogs out of the city shelter. Still, nearly 50% of animals that land in the ACC shelters are euthanized.

In August, a total of 2,092 cats and dogs were adopted from the ACC shelters, but 1,981 animals were put down. Unlike the ASPCA, Humane Society and other "no-kill" shelters, the ACC is required to take in any animal brought into its three shelters or left on the street.

It is the only nonprofit organization that holds a contract with the city to handle its stray and unwanted animals, an estimated 44,000 animals a year.

The operating budget to run three shelters is about $8 million, a number that Hoffman says just isn't enough.

"We need about $20 million," said Hoffman, noting the desperate need to fund low-cost spay/neuter clinics and to achieve the city's "no-kill" initiative.

To find an animal shelter or rescue group near you, pick up the brand new 2007 Trails to Tails Map, a glossy, foldout guide created by Rational Animal. The map can be found at adoption events, in pet supply stores, the New York Public Library and YMCA branches, and at dog-runs. To get a free copy of the guide, go to, or send a business-sized SASE to: Rational Animal, Trails to Tails, 7 Cornelia St., #1E, N.Y., N.Y. 10014.

Pet calendar: On Saturday, Sept. 29, from noon to 6 p.m., Animal Care & Control will host the Brooklyn Top Dog and Kitty Karnival Adoption Event, located at J.J. Byrne Park at Fourth St. and Fifth Ave. in Park Slope.

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Family of teen killed in Labor Day Weekend crash can't afford to bury her

Hetty Chang reporting.

A tragic accident over Labor Day Weekend killed four Las Vegas teens; one of the victims has yet to be laid to rest.

The crash near Baker, California killed two sisters: Tatiana Thornhill and Chennell Jones. During funeral services last week, the family could only afford to bury Tatiana.

The mother, Robin Stumps, was in that accident. She is the only one who survived. Stumps will never fully recover from her injuries and her jaw is now wired shut, but that didn't stop her from speaking with News 3 about giving her daughter Chennell a final resting place.

Robin Stumps survived the unthinkable. A horrific car crash that killed all four teens in the car. Stumps says she has no memory of what happened. "All I know is that I woke up and I was in the hospital... never knew nothing," Stumps explains.

But what Stumps can remember is something no parent should ever have to hear. "I remember them coming in and telling me that... they had all passed away. They told me they didn't have a seat belt on. Chenelle wore a seatbelt. I just wanted someone to tell me that she was wearing a seat belt because she always wore one."

Chenelle turned 15 just two days before her death. Her mother says she was genius; a writer; someone who was proud to call her mom. Now Stumps feels not only grief but also guilt that she buried one daughter but not the other. "Awful, awful... I just feel like I live in a city that has so much money and we've been trying and nobody's helping. I lost two kids, two young girls, and we're doing everything we can."

The family has held car washes to collect donations but they are still $5,000 short of some sort of closure and at least a little peace of mind. "It's not fair for her to lay like that. We've worked so hard to get them everything... keep them in good schools. I can't bury my child."

The driver of the car, Diaunte Flannigan, and Chennell's friend Jada Carrier were also killed in the crash.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Party Menu Ideas for a Summer Labor Day Party

Labor Day is one of the last chances you and your family will get to enjoy a summer barbeque, and it really is a nice way to celebrate all the hard work you and your loved ones put in for the rest of the year. It was created by the Central Labor Union to give working men the day off; now, many people see it as a paid opportunity to enjoy spend time with loved ones! Here are a few catering ideas:

A menu you may create for Labor Day is barbeque ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, watermelon, and cupcakes for dessert. Any simple, tasty, picnic-friendly food that your family loves will be suitable though.

Broccoli salad is another healthy dish you may find for Labor Day. All you need is a 1-2 large heads of broccoli, ½ red onion chopped, 10-12 slices of cooked bacon broken up (substitute bacon bits), ½ cup of raisins, 1 cup of mayonnaise, ½ cup of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. You just combine all of the ingredients and you have a salad to eat along with your barbeque.

Another great recipe is ham and cheese salad. You take 1 cup of chopped ham, 1 cup of chopped cheese (preferably to types of cheese, any kind), ¼ chopped onion, ¼ chopped red pepper, and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. You may need to add more mayonnaise to make it creamier, but that will be your choice. You combine all the ingredients in a bowl until the ingredients are well coated with mayonnaise. Dips and other salads work great with crackers or chips depending on your preference for Labor Day.

It’s a good idea to keep your food options for Labor Day simple. And just because food is fairly quick and easy to make, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t taste good too. Before you know it your guests will be coming back for more.

Mrs. Party... Gail Leino takes a common sense approach to planning and organizing events, celebrations and holiday parties with unique ideas for Labor Day party supplies and fun party games. She explains proper etiquette and living a healthy life while also teaching organizational skills and fun facts. The Party Supplies Hut has lots of party ideas with hundreds of free holiday printable games and free birthday party activities. Over 100 adorable Themes including Party Supplies to fit your birthday celebration, holiday event, or "just because" parties. Party themes include cartoon characters, sports, movie, TV shows, luau, western, holidays, and unique crazy fun theme ideas.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Labor Day Reflection

Labor Day now has fewer parades and even less organized labor involvement as the American worker is facing a new reality. The real celebration of the traditional long weekend now rightly resides in backyards and neighborhoods of the people the holiday was originally intended to honor. The changes are better, reflecting market economies and the resourcefulness of the American worker.

Labor unions questionable future rests with their ability to serve a greater good than simply increasing wages. The irony of the massive dwindling of labor unions (from 45% of the US workforce in the 1950’s to less than 14% today) is the growing base of non-union workers putting in more hours, increasing safety concerns, lowering the quality of life with less net income and shrinking benefits. In the past this was fertile ground for union organizers.

Safety should be an issue that labor unions own but they seem only focused on protecting hourly wages against market realities. Air traffic control, trucking hours of service, mining practices, hospital care, product reliability, construction issues are just a few of the areas big business deflect tragic incidents as acceptable percentages with organized labor being invisible on these issues. Tragically neither has a vision for what needs to be a collaborative effort on US global market competitiveness and future relevance. The old methods of one dimensional economics do not leverage our resources and market potentials. The old objectives are held onto desperately to protect outdated mindsets.

Labor should reinvent themselves, being much more inclusive of the entire US labor markets, appealing with deliverable values to salaried, small business and home based entrepreneurs. Evolving to incorporate similarly what other associations have done in gathering all relevant data that serves market needs (safety stats/tips; efficiency ideas; profits/capital, addressing behavior problems; accountability and gain share results to name a few) is practical and addresses a clear need.

Management should embrace the employee as partner for prosperity rather than necessary evil. Communicating impact issues like ongoing balance sheets in language and presentation all can understand, sharing industry trends and risk assessments, encouraging and rewarding employee contributions in ideas for profitable growth, safety, HR, pay/benefits, etc. This must be done in small groups with Q&A, not just newsletter spins from marketing.

True, the passing of the industrial revolution to the knowledge age has for many reasons displaced much of our production and industrial might. However we still are a manufacturing and services world power with all of the noted labor issues relevant even in the 21st century. Our new service economy is uniquely geared to accommodate nimble small business start ups, the entrepreneur and home based businesses. There is a void of support mechanisms that neither organized labor nor big business are filling.

Labor unions can and should be the leaders in safety advocacy, employee accountability and productivity and process improvements for each industry. They should be leaders in consumer advocacy. They should be leaders in presenting fair and balanced reporting of wages, benefits by industry with global competitive realities. They should be leaders in non-discrimination whether race, gender, faith or diverse background. They should be leaders in worker training and cross industry mobility. They will not however as neither their current membership nor leadership have any desire to accomplish anything other than holding on to their death the shrinking objective of wage improvements. Increased wages and benefits can only come with businesses increased profitable growth.

Big business can and should be the leader each of these areas as well but are rarely as they are focused on wealth accumulation with lip service to anything other than what services this objective. Old established big businesses in transportation, manufacturing and technology have outsourced, reinvented their purposes or gone out of business, creating turmoil to every day workers, forcing these workers to seek other livelihoods.

Turning to the government is not the answer as our democracy is not designed, nor should be for a socialistic approach. Regulations are already in place, leveraged by interest groups that keep the fight rigged with no awareness to domestic realities that the battle for jobs has been lost to a more efficient and effective global economy.

The future of US market relevance, productivity, safety, wealth generation and accountability sits squarely on the shoulders of individual workers. The explosive increase in entrepreneurial small business start ups and home base businesses will evolve into value driven associations that provide informed and realistic guidance on safety, wages, benefits, training to needs /results, market opportunities, efficiency ideas, economic tools and much more. Instead of the US economic clout coming from old big business mainstays, we are already seeing new companies’ crop up and evolve literally overnight in a sea of entrepreneurism, small businesses and home based wealth generators.

The US worker is taking personal accountability and investing in their own economic livelihoods. They understand that there is no value in pointing fingers, living in the past or ignoring reality.

Labor Day no longer has any meaning for organized labor to celebrate or for big business to rue the long weekend of lost productivity. Americans' are embracing this Labor Day to recharge their energies, value their families and freedoms to individually build the knowledge, skills and experiences to take ownership of their livelihoods. No doubt disappointed in their unions, employers and government for the lack of visionaries or leadership, yet embracing their potential and dreams to build security for their families with their own resources and inventiveness.

Like the mythological Narcissus, the American worker has looked at their reflection in the gleam of global markets and likes what they see, ignoring the seductress nymph Echo repeating the refrains of labor unions, big business and government officials. We are pursuing our own happiness, morphing into a new flower of beauty and wonder in the new global economy.

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