Randy Amick | Pittsburgh City Paper

Randy Amick 
Member since Feb 26, 2012



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Re: “Dennis Roddy lives! And he may be posting in a blog near you!

Sorry Sorry Sorry, everybody. Yes, my postscript a couple days ago was puerile, but it was also an afterthought, written in the 40 seconds before hitting “send,” and everyone seemed to be goofing on the whole disclosure business at the time. I never meant it to be a focal point. I should have, but I didn’t give it a second thought at the time. Now, I check 2 days later and see there was a free-for-all. Again, that wasn’t my intention. I don’t know if anyone’s interested anymore, but I have a few final comments about Mr. Roddy’s reply to me, whether anyone’s listening or not. Then, I’m done.

Mr. Roddy,
Puerile fantasies or not, I still pose less threat to public school kids by being in the classroom than you and others do when you say “let’s do some math.”

First, what does this mean? - “Trust me in this, nobody planned the recession around you.” Is that a joke? “Trust me”? At the very least it’s a lot to ask. Is saying it wasn’t planned around me like saying the recession (or the “nobody” who planned it) doesn’t discriminate? That it’s like a black cloud or something that rolls in and soaks everyone equitably and arbitrarily, so that we all end up the same degree of drenched? Kind of a cool as hell idea, but I don’t think that’s the case. No, the “powers that be,” so to speak, didn’t plan the recession, or at least its aftermath, around me. They didn’t plan it around my son’s music program at high school. And they didn’t plan it around your son either, who isn’t the only one who has to leave the state to have any hope of working in education.

But somebody’s picking and choosing who pays for the damage and who doesn’t. They’re taking a real good look at people and programs that I care about, yet they don’t seem to mind that Marcellus Shale doesn’t have to pay much in tax, for example (somebody did plan this recession around Marcellus Shale, trust me in this). They’re somewhat OK on the Delaware loophole (a lot of people got planned around on that one). And they even kind of like that whole bonus depreciation scheme, which cost taxpayers somewhere around 250 million in the first half of this fiscal year. Yet, they downright hate the idea of buying 3 trombones for Northgate High School. (Then MY property taxes go up to try to recoup some of the money the state isn’t collecting on behalf of public schools.)

I know that 250 million dollars isn’t the billion dollar education cut that tidies up the budget, but I also know that politically-abetted greed (even in a recession) isn’t some kind of an isolated incident. If I’m going to do "some math," it’s got to be simple, first off, and then I’m going to try to figure out how many loopholes and special favors are going to people and corporations who don’t need them at a time when we’re gutting the education system. Using the $250 million figure above as a starting point, I’d do something like this, maybe:

250,000,000(X) = 1 Billion; solve for X.

“X” is the number of 250 million dollar party favors we need to cut to reach a billion dollars. Then, that billion translates to "Y" number of teachers who can teach in Pennsylvania, with enough left over for my own puerile fantasies of doing what I want to do, what I’m best at, for a living.

I hate to see teachers go. I know a few of them myself. And I’ll hate to see me go, too. I especially hate to see them go when I have friends and family who work in Pittsburgh Public who say they could certainly use some help. Maybe, Mr. Roddy, you could just tell them, like you told me – “Even I had to change jobs.” They’ll like that. Just don’t tell them that corporate goodies are more important to the economy or the state than education. They won’t like that, though they can see for themselves. Better to tell them nobody planned the recession around them.

I wish them luck, though, because I know what they’re up against: People who see the lives of others as an equation and see themselves as mathematicians, yet who – due to politics, ideology, self-interest, or lack of imagination – choose to remain willfully, conveniently, ignorant of the variables involved in simple math.

Randy Amick
No disclosure
No more posts
Certainly no postscripts
Goodnight, Good luck

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Randy Amick on 02/29/2012 at 4:10 PM

Re: “Dennis Roddy lives! And he may be posting in a blog near you!

I’m enjoying the debate between Dennis Roddy and Jessie Ramey on Yinzercation and the City Paper. I’m thankful that Mr. Roddy is now identified as a member of the governor’s staff, though in the City Paper he says he “figured they would know who I am.” I’m one of those rare, uninformed citizens who didn’t know. I moved to Pittsburgh only seven years ago, for no other reason than I always loved Pittsburgh as a kid and a younger man. That said, I’m glad to be acquainted with Dennis Roddy (and the governor, for that matter). I’m one of the many unemployed high school teachers in Allegheny County. Now that I know who Dennis Roddy is, I can finally put his point of view into context. At first reading, I figured Mr. Roddy must be a mouthpiece for some sort of angry political entity. Now that he’s been identified, I can see that he speaks as a concerned citizen and parent. As an unemployed father of three (one of whom is now applying for college and financial aid), I share his concern.
After years of minimum wage jobs, and finally after a stint as a low-level bureaucrat in a soul-sucking corporate cubicle, at forty years of age I went back to college for the second time, took out a new round of student loans, moved to Pittsburgh, bought a cheap cozy home in Bellevue, and generally enjoyed my new life despite the uncertainties. After school, I found a job at a private school, teaching high school English for four years, until the school hit an unrelated budget crisis of its own.
Four years of teaching was just enough for me to (1) figure out that I’m exceptionally good at it, and (2) watch the whole profession tank in Pennsylvania. For the past year, I’ve been substituting at $80 a day and looking for another teaching job, either public or private. Understand, I’m not bitter at the governor. I realize that my problem is not mass layoffs and budget cuts aimed at education; it’s simply that I lack one or another of those qualities that define good Americans. For me, it’s a case of misguided aspirations. I wanted to be a teacher at a time when teachers have “priced themselves to the point where no amount of money will be enough.” Since I couldn’t bear to see myself among this country club set, I’m finally reassessing my priorities.
Foolishly, I even let my former students and fellow teachers reinforce my folly. When the kids would tell me I’m the only teacher who ever took the time to really get to “know” them, and my fellow teachers told me, “With kids, you’re an impact player,” I didn’t realize how deceptive they could be. They were simply trying to pull me away from my minimum wage roots and strip me of all claims to street credibility. In short, they were leading me down the path to avarice and sloth. Now, after a year of soul searching and substituting, I can finally see the truth. Therefore, in the future (and the future is now!), I’m going to refocus all my energies into getting a job with the governor’s office.
I’d like to thank Mr. Roddy for helping me see the light. I’d also like to dedicate a small piece of an old country song to him. I assume he’s familiar with it, since the jukeboxes in Mt. Lebanon are already loaded with Dwight Yoakum. It goes like this (with a little paraphrase): “I want to thank you, Dennis, for teaching me brand new ways to be cruel.” Thus, as soon as I land my plum blue-collar job with the governor, I’m going to finally give those public school teachers – with their damned full-time jobs, their salaries, their unions, pensions, health care and retirement plans – a taste of rough justice as sanctioned by the governor’s office on behalf of “the everyman,” the concerned citizen, taxpayer, and fathers everywhere. Onward and upward. Mr. Roddy, show us the way.
“O.G.” (that’s what the kids used to call me) Amick

* In the interest of full disclosure, which, after all, is not unreasonable: (A) I have a recurring dream in which I’m kneeling at a 21st-century job-skills workshop, painting Jessie Ramey’s toenails - sometimes gold, sometimes lavender, sometimes shirtless (weather permitting); (B) I expect to have dreams in which Dennis Roddy holds the governor’s feet while he does sit-ups, and then snaps him with a wet towel (they both laugh); (C) having read this article, I’d never even dream there was a past, positive affiliation between Chris Potter and the Rameys.

4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Randy Amick on 02/26/2012 at 7:35 PM

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