by John Darer
Emmy award winning reporter Josh Bernstein has picked up where Bill Hemmer left off, sensationalist bashing what the media has perceived as excesses in the use of taxpayer dollars. In lieu of AIG's "hot stone massages", this inane sensationalism includes a video captured by a "secret camera" of a mid-program "get up and stretch" that features zaftig SSA employees dancing, ironically, to The Trammps "Disco Inferno" whose lyrics include the phrase "burn baby burn". These sensationalist bashes have led to death threats against our civil servants. I hope Mr. Bernstein and ABC15 of Phoenix are proud of themselves.
While I too am concerned that Social Security trustees said in May the program will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2016, and the program's trust fund will be depleted by 2037, perhaps we could do with a little less "shoot first and ask questions later" by the press before a disgruntled someone, incited by Bernstein and ABC, puts a bullet in a civil servant's back.
One gets the feeling from reading these exposes that certain press "watch dogs" feel that the best way for companies and organizations to motivate people is to put them into an austere dungeon with picture less walls and expect them to pay attention? Or perhaps this is what they had in mind...
The Official SSA Statement
"This was a training conference. The location was selected through the government's competitive bidding process. The facility that was selected was the lowest bidder, and we paid well-below the prescribed government rate".
-Leslie Walker, Regional Communications Director, Social Security Administration
I understand from the material presented by ABC15 that the negotiated hotel rate was less than $100 per night. Try getting that in the Washington DC area!
According to ABC15, a spokesperson from the SSA's regional office said the conference was essential, that teleconferencing was not an option, and that all 675 managers needed to meet in person.
Read the full ABC/Josh Bernstein Bash of the Social Security Administration
AIG St. Regis Event Was Not Executive Retreat Portayed in Media October 8, 2008