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Opinion Editorials

Bubbl ridesharing app: Drivers are former and off-duty officers

The Dallas ISD police Chief Craig Miller is building a business where he’s hiring off-duty and former police officers to drive people around in an Uber-like startup. Does this really ensure your safety?

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To protect, serve, and chauffeur

I want to say upfront that most of the police officers and law enforcement personnel that I’ve dealt with are very honest and trustworthy. I respect what they do wholeheartedly. That said, there is no way I believe that being a police officer makes someone inherently safe and credible. Why is this important? Because the Dallas ISD police Chief Craig Miller is building a business where he’s hiring off-duty and former police officers to drive people around in an Uber-like startup.

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“We’re going to bubble wrap your kid”

Miller’s new business will be called “Bubbl” as in bubble wrap. He told The Dallas Morning News that “We’re going to bubble wrap your kid,” and “Having a police officer as a driver reassures parents and gives them instant credibility for being safe and trustworthy.”

I applaud Miller for wanting to make ride-sharing safer. It is a big concern for parents who need to get their kids somewhere or women who might be traveling alone. Uber halted services in Austin because the voters didn’t approve a measure that would eliminate the fingerprint rule. I’m still a little confused why a business wouldn’t want to ensure the safety of their customers, but that’s for another article.

Are cops that much safer?

But I think although well intentioned, Miller’s missing a big point. I’m from Oklahoma, where Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to prison for 236 years for sexual assault of seven different women while on duty. There were even more allegations against him. He’s not an anomaly. According to a story from the AP in November 2015, reporters uncovered over 1,000 officers who had lost their badges in the previous six years for rape, sexual assault and sodomy.

What scares me even more? California and New York don’t even have a statewide system to track these cases.

It’s estimated that sexual assault crimes committed by police officers are underreported.

There’s a fear of retaliation with any crime, but when it comes to sexual crimes, the victim gets put on trial. Who is going to investigate crimes when off-duty police are involved?

Safety still not a guarantee

Miller has a great idea, but I’m not buying the whole idea that people are safer because the drivers are cops (and I wouldn’t send my child in a car alone with any stranger, law enforcement or not). I’m aware that there are more good cops than bad ones. But the bad ones scare the heck out of me. They’re already in a position of authority to cover up their crimes.

I applaud the effort, it’s a positive step in the right direction, it helps with the safety factor, but I’m stuck thinking about how Miller can ensure that potential victims feel safe to come forward? Bubbl sounds good, but it has the same issues as every other ride-sharing service. The bad apples can still get through.

#Bubbl

Dawn Brotherton is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. BW

    July 14, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Good for you Miller, I would much rather hire a cop that has had an extensive 6 month background check and would have been fingerprinted than some stranger per say that had not.

  2. RM

    August 27, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    This is what Uber background check looks back 7 at these records:
    1-County courthouse records for every county of residence for the last 7 years
    2-Federal courthouse records going back 7 years
    3-The multi-state criminal database going back 7 years
    4-Motor Vehicle Records
    4-Social Security Trace
    5-National Sex Offender Registry
    So it’s pretty easy become an Uber driver.

    Not to become the Dallas police officer you have the following to go through.
    1-preliminary Interview.
    2- civil service test
    3- pre-polygraph exam
    4-physical fitness test
    5-final polygraph exam
    6-applicant interview board
    7-background investigation goes back to the age of 17
    8-psychological examination
    9-medical examination
    10-Final review board
    11-30+ page background packet that needs to be completed
    12-35 weeks for police academy
    13-24 weeks of field training
    it’s very hard to become a police officer and just about anybody can become Uber driver.

  3. Joe

    September 20, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    A FBI finger print check for rider share drivers in San Antonio is free from the SAPD, and it is illegal to carry anyone under 18 yo with Uber and Lyft
    It looks like a great ideal up in Dallas

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.

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unemployment

Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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Opinion Editorials

COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted

(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.

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rev pay issues act

The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.

But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.

This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.

And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.

This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.

Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.

There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.

Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.

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women-owned business

Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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