Anthrax then, COVID now: When the buck stops at the top

Five sometimes rival groups have formed the Government Managers Coalition. They say the government needs to devote more time, energy and money in developing pol...

According to some surveys, the number one reason people leave their jobs is because of the boss. As in they can’t stand them.

Sad but probably true.

Right now, if you surveyed bosses, there’s a good chance they might say they are leaving because of the job itself. Like now.

One week after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, letters started appearing at the offices of politicians and journalists. The letters contained anthrax, which is deadly if inhaled.

At that time, Federal News Network and WTOP shared a building near a primary postal facility in D.C. As a precaution, FNN set up a special room for mail. People sent letters in those days. They came in paper envelopes, with a stamp. Ask your mother. Only managers were allowed in to sort or distribute the mail. Somebody labeled it The Anthrax Room. Fortunately, no such letters. No fatalities for us. But dozens of people, including a number of postal employees, did encounter them.

Fast-forward to now. Tens of thousands of managers have been forced back to offices (while subordinates work remotely because of COVID) to do all sorts of things. From cleaning to clerical work in some cases.

If you are one of those people who is sick of working from home for the last 18 months, imagine the lack of joy among workers (many of them high-level managers) to have to go into the office to get the job done even though it is deemed unsafe for rank-and-file employees. With cases spiking in many states where masks and vaccinations are considered silly. Or whatever!

Two weeks ago, a friend was visiting an old, critically ill relative in a VA facility in the south. Because of quarantine and positive cases, he only saw the patient once in 15 days. While there, the VA kept in touch with visiting relatives with regular telephone updates. One of them, my friend said, reported that as of that moment 50% of the staff (not the patients, the STAFF) had been vaccinated.

Half in a VA hospital? Filled with mostly elderly, very sick men!

Which explains why five sometimes rival groups have formed the Government Managers Coalition. It represents 250,000 senior executives government-wide and managers in the FAA, IRS, the Social Security Administration and the Defense Department. People in nearly every federal agency, managers and employees, deal face-to-face, one-on-one with customers/taxpayers. Much of that kind of customer service has changed. In many cases, the managers have picked up the slack at work. And many of them are scared. Rightly so. They are worried about the lack of funding for testing, about agency vaccination requirements and getting the their rank-and-file employees out of the Sun.

In a Aug. 25 letter, the coalition said the government needs to devote more time, energy and money in developing policies government-wide that will best serve the public and protect employee and managers from the on-going and growing lethal threat.

“Without proper guidance and clear lines of communications, our members will ultimately bear the brunt of challenges and be subject to personal legal risk. It is critical we avoid this outcome to maintain morale and ensure that the American public receive the most from its civil service,” the letter said.

So did the letter from government managers to those in charge help? Last week the White House reacted with a sweeping (many say overdue) mask mandate for feds in the executive branch and the much much larger group of government contractors who work alongside them. No way to tell how much the managers statement played in the role. But a White House staffer said it was “just the right tone” in a message to the CEO who has spent most of his adult life in government.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

Despite its large size, Jupiter is the fastest spinning planet in our Solar System. With the shortest days of all the planets, Jupiter completes a rotation in under ten hours.

Source: Cal Tech

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