Corra Daily Planet » 2006 » November

Did You Hire A Bad Santa?

Mon, November 27th, 2006 - 10:35 am - By Gordon Basichis

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We saw this article on

Berlin is facing an acute shortage of Santas just a month before Christmas, the head of a Father Christmas placement agency said Monday.

The director of Berlin’s “Heinzelmaennchen” agency, which provides Santas to thousands of Berlin families every Christmas Eve, said he was having trouble getting enough qualified help.

“We prefer chubby men, of course, ideally with a real beard but we’re not picky and take what we get,” said director Rene Heydeck, whose official title is Ober-Weinachtsmann (chief Santa Claus).

The Santas, many of whom are students, earn 28 euros ($37) a visit for bringing a sack of presents provided by the parents into each home and handing them out. But Santas must also pay 45 euros for a costume and give the agency 15 percent of earnings.

“In a lot of families in Berlin it’s a tradition that carries on even after the children grow older and stop believing,” Heydeck said.

Each Santa visits an average of 10 to 12 families, although some have managed up to 20.

“It’s hard work and sometimes you have to run faster if you fall behind schedule,” Heydeck said. “But it’s great fun.”

All over the country and even the world retailers are looking for elderly fat man with white beards who can pose as Santa Claus and promise kids toys and goodies they will probably never receive. If they can’t find the jolly old white bearded guy, they will settle for someone who wants the job who doesn’t mind wearing pillows under his costume and itchy false hair and beards. For that matter, he may not mind nervous little children drooling or otherwise relieving themselves on his red tunic.

Back in the days of yore, Corra remembers come Christmas and even old winos had a shot at the job. They may have been crusty and such, but most were benign and seldom breached their compact with the children. But those were different times, and today a retail Santa could really be a pervert, even on someone on a sexual offender’s registry. While many retailers check out whom they hire, others only pretend to and in desperation give the applicant the job.

If you think not, last year CBS News ran a television segment where CBS had one of its staff pose as a convicted
felon and sexual offender, replete with a record of convictions. He applied for a Santa gig in five shopping centers in the Los Angeles area and was accepted everywhere. When CBS confronted the hiring parties with the news they had just hired a pervert, three swore they had conducted background searches, and one didn’t return any calls.

The point of all this, as a hiring retailer, employing a sexual offender, a child molester, as Santa Claus is a really bad idea. It leaves you and your business open for liability and all sorts of bad publicity. The only way to determine whether someone has a record is to run a background check and make sure what he puts on his resume is on the up and up.

So help us all share a wonderful holiday season. Don’t be putting a child on the lap of a sexual offender. Run a serious background check. For the few bucks you spend, it will do you wonders in preventing litigation and creating good will. Remember, these are children we are dealing with, after all. Our job is to protect them from those who could ruin their young lives.

As Corra says, check them out before you hire.

Private Pilots Over Cities; For Pleasure Or Terror?

Tue, November 21st, 2006 - 11:37 am - By Gordon Basichis

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We found this in the New York Times.

SCHUMER CALLS FOR AIR TRAFFIC REVIEW Senator Charles Schumer yesterday called on the Federal Aviation Administration to complete a review of New York’s airspace in the next 90 days in light of the plane crash that killed the New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor,. The senator proposed several measures including assessing whether pilots should have background checks before being allowed to fly in river corridors or over Manhattan. Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the F.A.A., said that the agency would continue to review the air space over New York.

It is pretty amazing to Corra, after the catastrophe of 9/11 that private pilots are permitted to fly merrily along the New York Skyline or any other city skyline, until the city once again is forced to endure yet another crash into one of its fabled structures. This, to Corra, is like an invitation for terrorists. A simple question comes to mind–only now they are getting around to the idea of background checks?

Any private pilot in this day and age should be subject to his review on the Terrorist Watch or OFAC report as well as Federal Criminal Searches. It is just common sense, which one pundit once remarked, unfortunately, is not so common. But then we should at least pretend to be smart about our home security and run background checks on anyone capable of turning even a modest leisure plane into a deadly weapon.

Check them out before they fly over a city near you.

Human Resources Finds Many Younger People Not Great Job Candidates

Mon, November 20th, 2006 - 1:09 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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We found this interesting article on

Younger Employees Lack Basic Skills

By: Angus Loten

A new survey of employers finds that recent high school and college graduates fall short in a number of areas.

With small businesses scrambling to find qualified employees, a recent national survey of employers found that young people are increasingly ill-prepared for today’s workforce, lacking basic skills in communications and critical thinking.

Of 431 human resource managers polled, more than 70 percent said recently hired high school students proved to be deficient in academic skills, such as grammar, spelling, and written communications, according to a survey released on Oct. 4 by a coalition of business research and advocacy groups, including the Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

An overwhelming majority cited problems new hires had handling such routine tasks as writing memos, letters, and other reports, the survey found.

Poor writing skills also proved to be problematic for two-year and four-year college graduates, though to a lesser extent, according to the survey’s respondents.

Another 70 percent said recent high school graduates also lacked applied skills, including professionalism, a sense of work ethic, and critical thinking, which more than half described as “very important” for succeeding in the workplace, the study found. Among these skills were personal accountability, effective working habits, punctuality, working with others, and workload management.

Researchers said the findings reflect the growing frustration of employers seeking qualified workers within a tight labor market, and could have grave consequences on the competitiveness of the U.S. workforce as well as the vulnerability of the economy in the global marketplace.

“It is clear from the report that greater communication and collaboration between the business sector and educators is critical to ensure that young people are prepared to enter the workforce of the 21st century,” Richard Cavanagh, president and CEO of the Conference Board, said in a statement.

In September, just over half of the nation’s small businesses hired or tried to hire at least one new employee, based on a monthly survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, a Washington-based lobby group.

Of those with positions to fill, more than 80 percent of small-business owners reported finding few or no qualified applications, with as many as 12 percent citing a lack of qualified employees as their biggest business problem — the highest number in five years, the group said.

According to the Conference Board survey, employers said they would likely start raising the level of qualifications required for most new positions. Some 28 percent said they would stop hiring applicants with only a high school diploma within the next five years, while more than half said they would increase the number of new hires with a college degree, the survey found.

Beyond that, business leaders are also “actively engaged in efforts to address the skills gap through a variety of initiatives,” said Donna Klein, president and CEO of Corporate Voices for Working Families, an business advocacy group that bridges private and public sector issues.

These initiatives include efforts to boost students’ academic performance by partnering schools with businesses to provide mentoring programs, internships, job-shadowing programs, and summer job opportunities, Klein said.

Among the skills expected to be essential for businesses in the years ahead, nearly three-fourths of employers polled ranked creativity and innovation in the top five. Other sought-after skills included foreign languages, and understanding of global markets, and the economic and cultural impacts of globalization, the survey said.

Corra finds this depressing but not surprising. Corra realizes there are millions of truly intelligent and ambitious younger people in our country. But Corra also sees the type of results reported in the article as as part of the dumbing down process, mixed with rewarding kids in youth groups by giving them trophies for participating as opposed to excelling. Perhaps we shouldn’t get started about the way we coddle our youth for fear of hurting their self-esteem, how we apologize for their obesity and lack of ambition. We fear basic games like tag and dodgeball since they might impose on someone’s sense of self.

And then we wonder why our youth are lazy and are outperformed by students in many other parts of the world. We don’t raise them to be competitive anymore; we raise them with inflated senses of expectation and entitlement. Corra so far hasn’t even mentioned the drug problems, the credit problems and the criminal propensities that seemed to have captured more than a few of our younger job candidates.

So as a human resource manager, you should be careful and run criminal checks, credit checks and possibly civil checks on your job candidates.

Anyway…studies show they might not be up to the job. Our kids lack skill sets and are, oh what a surprise, somewhat lazy. If they lie about their resume Corra finds they will mostly lie about education, so be sure to run education verification checks.
Remember, check them out before you hire.

When You Are Among The Top Fifty, You Don’t Need A Background Check

Thu, November 16th, 2006 - 4:14 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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FORTUNE 50 Most Powerful Women in Business

FORTUNE’s annual ranking of America’s leading businesswomen

Full list

Highest paid


Women to watch






Rank Name Company Age

22 Charlene Begley General Electric 39

9 Sallie Krawcheck Citigroup 41

32 Pat Curran Wal-Mart Stores 42

33 Lisa Weber MetLife 43

18 Abigail Johnson Fidelity 44

50 Stacey Snider Viacom 45

24 Lois Quam UnitedHealth Group 45

45 Claire Watts Wal-Mart Stores 46

43 Deirdre Connelly Eli Lilly 46

31 Mary Minnick Coca-Cola 46

20 Susan Ivey R.J. Reynolds Tobacco 47

46 Catherine West J.C. Penney 47

13 Anne Sweeney Disney Media Networks 48

14 Ann Livermore Hewlett-Packard 48

27 Ursula Burns Xerox 48

41 Amy Pascal Sony 48

42 Dawn Hudson PepsiCo 48

7 Andrea Jung Avon 48

39 Carrie Cox Schering-Plough 49

16 Ginni Rometty IBM 49

17 Susan Desmond-Hellmann Genentech 49

29 Linda Dillman Wal-Mart 50

23 Amy Brinkley Bank of America 50

21 Ellen Kullman DuPont 50

40 Paula Rosput Reynolds Safeco 50

3 Meg Whitman eBay 50

1 Indra Nooyi PepsiCo 50

48 Diane Gulyas DuPont 50

19 Zoe Cruz Morgan Stanley 51

10 Susan Arnold Procter & Gamble 52

26 Carol Meyrowitz TJX Cos. 52

44 Ellyn McColgan Fidelity 52

35 Joanne Maguire Lockheed Martin 52

37 Colleen Goggins Johnson & Johnson 52

47 Nancy Peretsman Allen & Co. 52

5 Irene Rosenfeld Kraft Foods 52

8 Oprah Winfrey Harpo Inc. 52

11 Christine Poon Johnson & Johnson 53

2 Anne Mulcahy Xerox 53

6 Brenda Barnes Sara Lee 53

4 Pat Woertz Archer Daniels Midland 53

25 Heidi Miller J.P. Morgan Chase 53

12 Judy McGrath Viacom 54

15 Ann Moore Time Inc. 56

36 Doreen Toben Verizon 56

30 Shelly Lazarus Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide 59

49 Christina Gold Western Union 59

34 Mary Sammons Rite Aid 60

38 Cathleen Black Hearst Magazines 62

28 Martha Stewart Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

Corra would like to congratulate these fifty women for their achievements in industry. While we almost always urge for background checks, this is one time we can honestly say these women are who they say they are.

That said, if your employment candidate isn’t on a list like this, we suggest strongly that your human resource department always conduct a background check. There is nothing more cost effective than pre-employment screening to reduce your llitigation risks and to help avoid employee turnover, employee theft and violence in the work place.

Remember what Corra says, Check them out before you hire.

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