Guess it depends on a lot of factors, if one is to be part of the "in" group here on campus (or not) .  What are these factors?  Hell, I sure don't know, but I DO have some general ideas.  I also know I'm not part of this group, never will be and wouldn't want to be... as odd as that may seem.

I think it helps to have been here many many years, like double digits numbers of years.  It probably helps if you're a JCO 5 or 6.  Might be real handy to have relatives/kin that work here, too, and to live in the local area.  Other factors may include your age, gender, and race -- I really don't know -- but it seems likely somehow they all figure in somehow.  Having a tobacco habit probably helps as it gives folks something to do while hanging out in the parking lot... and liking to drink may be a necessary trait for fitting in to those after-hours get togethers at Bernie's.  That counts me out right there, as I've NEVER been to Bernie's, and honestly don't care to ever go there to get intoxicated with my co-workers.  Guess I'm doomed to remain a grunt on campus... sigh.

But if I WAS in the clique', oh, the benefits I'd have!!  Come to work when/if ever I wanted... not have to hold the dorm/deal with the kids... get to spend hours "making copies" on The Hill... hang out in the Cafeteria all day... leave early... be reprimanded again and again and again for any on-and-off-campus peccidillos (sexual, drug, money etc) and never have to worry about being outed or REALLY disciplined after even multiple infractions... stuff like that.  Must be nice to have such a secure job that no one will question what you do, or, hold you accountable since you're in The Clique', huh? 

I guess.

If you're not in The Clique', your only option is to do what you're told and shake your head yes -- and do it.  No one in The Clique' claims they're trying to be FAIR or anything, oh, no -- they'll shift and shaft people from dorm to dorm however they like, repeatedly change the schedule at the last moment, assign 12 hour shifts to who they don't like and let their friends off the hook when they call in or come in late.  MUST BE NICE!!  Kissing ass seems to be THE surest way to get ahead around here for those who can stand to do it.  I can't -- and therefore am not going to get anywhere in this agency further than I already have.  I know this.  And I know those in The Clique' will continue to treat me like a second class employee, no matter how long I work here.  Ohhh, well.

If only ALL JCO's were held to the same expectations, what a great place this would be!!  No, wait... I remember reading online that Official TYC Policy line is that supervisory JCO's are held to a HIGHER expectation of competence and performance because of their positions.  Anyone seen that happening?  I haven't, and would be surprised if any line JCO's has seen evidence of that either. 

So what's going on here?  Who's in charge?  Not Admin, who has their collective heads in the sand.  Not the supervisor JCO's or program managers or case workers -- they're never on the job enough to find out what's going on.  Not the 1-4 JCO's; we're left without clear mandates on what we can do, are given no real power or authority to manage negative behaviors, and are constantly thwarted by the Higher Up's attempts to bribe and placate and play paddycake with the kids into compliance... so... THAT'S why we've got the problem that the KIDS run the show and dictate policy around here.  Can I get an AMEN on that???!

All I want to do at work is not waste my time, or to fail the State of Texas' right to expect the kids are helped by my efforts during their stay here.  Just let me feel like what I'm doing is MEANINGFUL and WORTHWHILE and that my efforts will help result in safer neighborhoods, happier citizens, and less recidivism.  I don't need or want to be in any damn Clique' -- I just want to do the job I'm expected to do with the full and honest support of Admin, my supervisors, and fellow co-workers.  Is that TOO MUCH to ask for from someone who's NOT in The Clique'?  

Otherwise, I'm just coming in to do my time and get the paycheck, no more and no less.  The kids deserve more, though, and we all know it -- but why should I go out of my way for THEM if no one is willing to go out of their way to look after and listen to ME??    

~ ~ ~

Y'all know about the boring Bulletin Board on the main Gateway page, where you can ask questions of head TYC folk?  Well... here's my experience with it.

Last question I left was "It's been 4 months since you updated any answers to questions asked.  Why don't you provide more timely feedback or just get rid of it?"  Not an unfair question, eh?  I've asked a number of other topical questions there and somehow no one has ever addressed any of them.  Hmmm.  Gotta wonder why.  

Never mind.  The questions they DO answer online from others are softballs, which are replied to with platitudes and pat answers.  OK, but WHAT IF we really hit Central Orifi... ahhh, Office...   with some real doozies like:

"Why are we not now, and when CAN we expect to be fully staffed?"
""Why isn't a youth charged with a sex crime if he openly masturbates in front of staff?"
"Can we work out a requirement to have ALL steff on a dorm meet once a month to hash out concerns?"
"Are there any options other than the CoNextions program that might work better for kids and staff?"
"Can the 110 form be changed for notation of when 5/6 staff are on/off the dorm during a scheduled shift?"

It's important to keep in mind that agency-wrenching changes generally won't come about with a wave of the hand ~ ~ but if we have to work within The System, we have to work with what we have.  It sucks, I know, that there seems to be no admission of accountability from the Higher Up's that maybe, just MAYBE CoNextions is even PARTLY the reason we're having more problems on campus.  Sorry they can't acknowledge that it was/has been the PROGRAM -- not just THEM -- that has let us ALL down; the kids especially.   The youth are not being re-connected or re-programmed into acting like nice little children when they leave TYC nowdays as much as when we used the old Resocialization program... am I wrong?  Does the paperwork prove me wrong?  If so, I'll sit down and shut up.

Methinks we don't have another 4 months to wait for some straight answers and significant changes being made in "the way we do business".  Otherwise, the outlook is for more chaos -- and we can't deal with much more before the whole System collapses.  So ASK THE BOSS and see if you get a timely answer, say, within a week.  In light of the recent avoidable incident on campus, time IS of the essence at this point.  

Speak out!!

~ ~ ~

The more I research, the more I read about how everyone "in the know" from the Governor on down did all they could to cover up the Pyote scandal, how people got fired for telling the truth, for doing what they thought was best to help our "troubled" youth... and it just makes me SAD.  No one seems to care for us JCO's, let alone the kids.

Oh, sure, the kids get snow cones and off-the-books goodies, but that's not CARING for/about them.  The ugly truth and the ugly operative word here is BRIBERY.  The extent that us JCO's are being cared for is to be told to look for other employment if we try to offer unsolicited feedback.  That's sad, too.  The only thing the Higher Up's seem to care for is COVER UP'S -- and THAT'S what caused all the problems back in the first place!

So is that where we're headed -- again?  Another major meltdown?  I only know what I see and hear on my own and what my co-workers tell me... WHO KNOWS how deep the conspiracies/lies/deceit/facts-fudging goes?  I shudder to think.  No one seems interested in any reforms until the horses have all run out of the corral and someone comes up with the bright idea to close the gate.  That's no way to run an organization where OUR LIVES AND LIVELIHOODS and the KID'S FUTURES are concerned!  That I DO know.  Probably would be no worse off to just mind my own business and have the bile-tinged satisfaction of being able to say "I told you so" once the shit hits the fan the next time -- and we all know it will, eventually.  Very sad, indeed.

Who will be responsible and take the blame when the whole house of cards comes tumbling down?

~ ~ ~

Go figure.  On July 5, 2011 I get a no-explanation summons to go to The Hill.  OK.  Get there, and a couple JCO 6's greet me and say it's time to receive my LIVE (oh?) Yearly Evaluation.  Hmmmm.  As usual, ALL ratings are just "meets expectations" --- same as every time, over 6 years now.  OK, fine.  So far.

Then the kicker.  I get read a letter that I think was done TOTALLY  off the books.  And that was carried out in a TOTALLY unethical and most likely illegal manner.  And yes, I did sign it.  But here comes kicker #2...

Right below where I signed, the letter reads "signature only confirms receipt of this letter.  Your signature does not signify your agreement with this letter nor does your signature limit your ability to protest this action".  WHOO HOO!!  GAME ON!!

Just as a teaser, there's more ~~ like, the other 6 signed below ME, where it says I thought/assumed he would be signing as a witness ~~  honestly can say I did NOT read HIS part of the document ~~ he signed attesting that "I have witnessed that this letter was present to the above named employee and he/she DECLINED (capitals mine) to sign the letter.  Huh??  They SAW me do it. 

Looking over the paperwork a few days later I noticed that some dates were wrong on it, too.  AND THAT'S NOT ALL.  Ohhhh, no, not by a long shot.  When I contacted the JCO and asked it be amended to reflect the facts, you wouldn't hardly believe the horse-and-pony show make believe bullshit I was expected to swallow.  Ohh, well.  Can't expect any more around here; shoulda known that by now.

After getting home from work recently  I was looking at it again and "discovered" -- in plain sight -- another VERY suspicious anomoly.  This has led me to call the Director of the McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility, and, get the number of the TYC head of legal matters in Austin.  Haven't called her - yet - but her name is Ashley and she can be reached at 1-512-424-6278 if you're like me and have no taste for filling out grievances against people whose supervisors consistantly turn a blind eye to their behavior.  Yes, it's true.  Some thing about some people makes them Capital-S Special.  I've never ever even considered filling out a grievance on anyone here -- I'm not "that kind" of person.  If you will talk openly and honestly with me, I don't need to put out any damn paperwork on you to prove I'm right.  If all you do is open your mouth and emit HOT AIR, well, our conversations are OVER.

I can't say why I don't fit in an exalted and favored stratosphere here, myself.  For SOME reason, one would imagine... I just don't really know.  But that's not what I'm here to write about today... what's on my mind is this:

Are you ready to share my pain?  There's a staff who not once ever never a single time has arrived to work on time, and I mean IN THE DORM when the Big Hand is on the 12.  NOT ONCE, in months and months now; don't even remember.  Today my co-"worker" was 2 hours late.  I get a call at 12 minutes prior to suppoesed to being off work and am told to expect this person would be an "hour" late.  Turns out it was two.  NO surprise.

It's never a question of IF this person will be late or not -- or, maybe not even make it in at all.  EVERY SINGLE DAMN DAY.  WITHOUT EXCEPTION. ALL CAPS!!!!

We've got people who've called in  more this MONTH than I have ALL YEAR... AND get in late, leave early, do nothing, hide out, go out on FMLA multiple times AND get requested days off!!?  WTF??!  Just for the record, I've called in TWICE this whole year, and IF I should be as much as 3 minutes late entering the dorm I sincerely APOLOGIZE for my tardiness to my co-workers who are ready to go home.

Yep... meets expectations.  Or SNOT.  Snot ME.  Grrrr.  As I've mentioned before -- it's not in my realm of responsibility to ream this person out a new rear end -- after the second consecutive time.  To write him up after a 3rd or 4th instance and to get SOMEONE, ANYONE, to FIRE their lazy butt if co-workers are having to claim overtime to ensure dorm coverage because of this employee.  One CANNOT come in to work late every day -- every day --  by "accident".  Hell, if I lived in town and woke up at a quarter till, I could STILL make it at least to the GATE on time.  Sheeesh.  You can excuse exceptions, but when you do nothing about it becoming a habit it becomes accepted as the rule. 

Guess my best option is to keep in mind an old saying I first heard years ago:  "When life (or your job) deals you a shit sandwich, sometimes the best thing you can do is ask for more bread."  Allright -- BRING ON the overtime! Open another loaf!! I'll just end up owing it all back in taxes anyhow; but still, gotta be glad I got a job, right?