Please allow me to verify much of what Jim Reed wrote in his review of the debacle that the Dave Chappelle concert at the Johnny Mercer Theatre turned into. Part of the problem may rest with the fact that the show was advertised as starting at 7 p.m. That was also the start time printed on the tickets. Yet Chappelle didn’t hit the stage until 8:10 p.m.
What are people to do when they’ve got over an hour to kill and there are three bars set up in the lobby? You guessed it.
By the time Dave got going, the most boorish members of the audience were already lubed up and ready to make asses out of themselves. This, coupled with the fact that most folks were there mainly because it was the hip place to be in Savannah that night, spelled disaster.
My personal thanks go out to the three talkative, drink-relay-running couples who occupied Row K, center section. By the time they engaged in actual fisticuffs with a guy in front of them during the performance, it was obvious to me that my fifty bucks had been largely wasted.
I doubt Chappelle will ever appear here again. And I don’t blame him.Jay Sinclair
In my search to become a more informed citizen, I recently met some extraordinary people: labor organizers and workers from the Smithfield Foods Meat Packing Plant, in Tar Heel, N.C., near the South Carolina border. I listened intently to their stories and watched a documentary film produced by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), who made the film to gain public support for fairness, safety and workers’rights enforcement.
I discovered that at this Smithfield Plant, most of the local, state and national health and safety standards have unfortunately been ignored for the sake of profit. Major plant violations include violence against workers; fired and injured employees denied workers’ compensation; employment of illegal immigrants; fomenting of racial tensions to divide and conquer African-American and Latino workers; and denial of the right to assemble and speak out against labor abuse.
Most outrageously, injured workers are often immediately fired, so a majority of injuries, including the most severe, go unreported.
Smithfield’s Tar Heel plant is the largest pork processing plant in the world, processing 32,000 hogs per day, and eight million per year. Smithfield has a long, well documented list of violations and disregard for U.S. law going back to 1995. Instead of fixing the problems, they pay the relatively small fines levied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“In 2006,” reports OSHA, “the injury rate at the plant increased 60% from 2005; 673 injuries, up from 421. These injuries primarily included large wounds, as well as joint, finger and wrist amputations from meatcutting saws.”
So how does this affect the Savannah area? The answer is threefold. Publix, one of our finest food chains, is the largest regional supplier of Smithfield products. According to Human Rights Watch and the UFCW, “Publix Brand” pork comes predominately from Smithfield and specifically from the Tar Heel Plant (Product Codes: EST 79C and EST 18079; source: Human Rights Watch).
Secondly, the U.S. Army Commissary at Hunter Army Airfield and Ft. Stewart almost exclusively use Smithfield products.
Lastly, Paula Deen, our respected and famous local celebrity, is a voice for Smithfield products, and Smithfield is sponsoring her current media and book tour.
On a recent CNN Larry King Live Show, Ms. Deen stated that she would look into the plant complaints and meet with labor representatives. I hope she is true to her word.
As responsible and ethical Americans living in South Georgia, we must demand a clean supply chain for our goods and services. If we don’t act now, similar incidents like this will be coming to a factory and plant near us soon. Savannah and the surrounding rural areas could see less safe working conditions, decreases in wages, less legal rights, increases in illegal immigration and bad regional and national press.
We cannot turn our back on the great advancements America has made in workers’ rights and for the working class. This is 2007, not 1887.
We must protect and urge social justice, open government and responsible corporate stewardship.Bill Gillespie
Editor’s Note: The writer is exploring a bid for the 1st Congressional District of Georgia.
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