Welcome to another Monday and another week, CivMixers!!
It was an…interesting weekend.
From President Donald Trump walking out of a press briefing when asked about telling the same lie 150 times, to his announcement that he had signed four executive orders (of questionable enforceability and legality) in the absence of a stimulus deal with congressional leaders, the White House was busy over the past several days.
And then today, top top it all off, a shooting outside the White House briefly interrupted Trump’s daily news conference, leading Secret Service to call the president away from the briefing room lectern.
Trump returned to the podium minutes later to inform reporters that the Secret Service had shot someone outside the White House, and that individual was being transported to the hospital in an unknown condition. (The Secret Service confirmed the incident in a tweet).
It was a personally interesting weekend for me, too, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was waking up this morning to find at some point last night our fridge stopped working…After we did some grocery shopping, naturally.
I said interesting, which is not necessarily always good, right?
Let’s get to it, shall we?
1) In 2019, as the world was still adjusting to the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, the seemingly mutual and aboveboard parting of McDonald’s former CEO Stephen Easterbrook for a relationship with an employee that was described as consensual but not necessarily appropriate, was barely a footnote among a litany of similar, and much worse, storylines. The CEO made out well, leaving with a severance package that was rumored to be worth around $40 million.
Now, McDonald’s is suing Easterbrook to recoup their costs, saying that three more employees have come forward with claims of relationships with him that he either hid or lied about before his termination. The lawsuit alleges a potential approval by Easterbrook of a stock grant to one of those employees worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to the suit, the company has many dozens of explicit pictures and videos of many different females, some employees and others not, sent from Easterbrook’s work email in the late part of 2018 or the early part of 2019.
Easterbrook’s lawyers have not yet commented on these allegations.
When he left, Easterbrook wrote a farewell note to his employees, saying that he and the McDonald’s board were in agreement that his time to move on had come, and offering congratulations and well wishes to his successor, Chris Kempczinski.
This week, Kempczinski wrote his own email to the McDonald’s employees, explaining that Easterbrook’s deceit hid precisely how far from the company’s core values his actions actually had been and that he should not have been allowed to leave so easily and with such a large severance package.
Easterbrook, a native of England, helped to bring many technological advancements to the company and is credited with doubling the value of its shares during his four short years in charge. All told, he worked for McDonald’s for about two decades. At the time of his termination without cause (then), he was entitled to $675,000 in severance pay, benefits like health insurance, and stock shares valued in the tens of millions.
McDonald’s is suing to get the money back by seeking to reclassify his termination as “with cause.”
2) A new study found that a record number of U.S. citizens are giving up their citizenship. In the first six months of this year, more than 5,800 Americans took that action, compared to only 2,072 who did so in the entirety of 2019.
According to the firm Bambridge Accountants, which based its findings on publicly available information the government publishes every three months, the majority of these are people who were already living outside of the U.S. and simply decided to sever ties with their home country completely.
A big motivator for taking this particular plunge, other than being generally fed up by the state of things back home: Taxes.
Even while living abroad, U.S. citizens are still required to file an annual tax return. In those returns, they have to report all of their accounts, including any foreign bank accounts and all foreign investments or pensions. Many Americans who live abroad grow tired of this annual ritual.
To give up U.S. citizenship, one must go to the U.S. embassy in whatever country they are in and pay $2,350. There are many inherent dangers in giving up citizenship – including the struggle of trying to come back if you change your mind. You may even have to get a visa to come back in some instances – and the Department of Homeland Security can deny you that visa if they determine you renounced simply to avoid paying taxes.
Though tempting at times, remember that you once your citizenship is gone, it’s gone for good.
According to Bambridge, the number of people renouncing their U.S. citizenship is expected to continue trending up, and many are waiting until the outcome of the November election to make their decisions.
3) Gov. Andrew Cuomo today made a promise that the 107 school districts who did not submit their COVD-19 re-opening plans would not be allowed to open at all if they do not turn those plans in by the end of this week – two weeks past the initial deadline.
However, many of the supposedly delinquent schools thought they HAD indeed turned their plans in on the state’s online portal. By this afternoon, it was clear that there was mass confusion about the entire submission process.
As the situation developed, it came out that some schools that thought they were submitting plans to the state Health Department and instead sent them to the Empire State Development site that is overseeing the re-opening of businesses. Some submitted proposals to the state Education Department instead of DOH.
Some claim they submitted correctly and have been wrongly listed as failing to do so. Nyack School Superintendent James Montesano, for example, expressed surprise that his district was called out so quickly and publicly and suggested state officials should have spent time working with the districts to figure out what went wrong.
As you likely recall, schools need an approved plan to open their doors to students this fall, and they were supposed to be submitted for approval by the DOH by July 31. State officials are still working to sort out this mess.
4) Two suspects in a robbery that took place in the Wilton Mall area have been arrested, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s office.
According to the SCS, Jesus Ortiz, 20, and Gerald Colombe III, 36, befriended their victim somewhere in the vicinity of Target and Home Depot before they robbed the victim at gunpoint.
Both men are from the Glens Falls area and both have been charged with felony robbery.
5) There is a low-risk alert for potential COVID exposure in Saratoga County. If you visited the Scallions Restaurant on either Friday, July 31, or Saturday Aug. 1, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., you might have been exposed to an employee who has since tested positive.
The employee was wearing a mask at all times, but if you were at the restaurant in that period it is recommended that you self monitor for any symptoms of the illness. If you were there at those times and are displaying symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider.
Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.