Friday, March 25, 2011

The Arabs and The Aeneid

As I was in the process of editing my latest novel, THE ABSCONDER, I came across a scene in which the protagonist, Chris, who has memorized THE AENEID in Latin and in English says, “I won’t bore you with the Latin. But I can offer you what Aeneas said to his companions when Troy was burning around them and the Greeks were overwhelming them: Come, let us die/We’ll make a rush into the thick of it./The conquered have one safety: hope for none.”
Those lines immediately gave me a better understanding of the passionate courage of the Arab populace across the Middle East rebelling against the dictators that have deprived them of the basic freedoms every human being should enjoy. To make the quote fit the Arab uprisings all that is required is to substitute the word oppressed for conquered. The result would be: Come, let us die/We’ll make a rush into the thick of it./The OPPRESSED have one safety: hope for none.”

A suggestion: My novel, THE PENCIL ARTIST is available as an e-book on Smashwords, Kindle, and Barnes and Noble; as a paperback on Amazon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gegare on how Hoffa lost millions

Fred Gegare today (March 16, 2011) on his website revealed at least one of his serious disenchantments with Teamsters President James P. Hoffa contending that a panicked Hoffa dumped millions of dollars in stock held by IBT entities at rock-bottom prices during the financial crisis of 2009.
“Nearly $30 million dollars of Teamster dues money and charitable contributions were lost when Hoffa's weak knees got the best of him. Countless millions more have been lost because the IBT no longer owns the stock and can't benefit from the market's rebound,” Gegare said.
Gegare has an inside knowledge of the Hoffa Administration since he is an International Vice President who was elected on Hoffa’s 2006 slate. He shocked the Teamsters world when he announced last year that he was running for Teamsters International president against Hoffa.
At the time, Gegare claimed that the union faced a dire future under Hoffa’s disastrous leadership. That generality finally has been brought somewhat into focus by Gegare proclaiming today on his website that Hoffa ignored the advice of financial professionals and bypassed the Teamsters General Executive Board to sell the stock. He said, “By running scared, Hoffa incurred staggering losses that have crippled some of the IBT's most important funds. The Strike and Defense Fund plunged nearly $15 million. The Scholarship Fund saw $3.4 million vanish. The General Fund experienced a $10.2 million decline.”
If Gegare has many more weapons of character destruction to use against Hoffa such as this rush to sell the stocks that portrays him as somewhat clueless then the Teamsters 2011 election will prove to be exciting indeed. In addition the question of the silliness of the rank and file voting to elect James P. Hoffa as a strong leader, because his father Jimmy Hoffa was, will be resurrected.
Gegare is heading the Fighting for the Members slate in his campaign against Hoffa.
Sandy Pope, president of New York Teamsters Local 805, also is running for the Teamsters International Presidency with the backing of Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

IBT Election Supervisor to Hoffa: tsk, tsk

Richard W. Mark, the official overseeing the Teamsters 2011 International union election, issued his decision today (March 15, 2011) on the Hoffa campaign’s attempt to use the IBT’s treasury (in the form of jobs and benefits) to buy off the opposition led by Fred Gegare. The penalty imposed amounts to tsk, tsk.
Tsk, tsk has a variety of meanings: You should be ashamed of yourself or perhaps, I disapprove of what you are doing or have done.
In sum, Teamsters International President James P. Hoffa (son of Jimmy Hoffa) and some of his cohorts were found by Mark to have offered jobs and at least one extra pension to three Teamsters officials, IBT Car Haul Director Fred Zuckerman and International Trustees Henry Perry and Frank Gallegos, in exchange for their support or for not running in the 2011 Teamsters International Election.
Kenneth Conboy, the Teamsters Election Appeals Master, ordered Mark to come up with a punishment short of denying Hoffa the privilege of running for reelection. Why? The crucial element: the three refused the offers.
Back in 1997, Conboy was the official who barred Ron Carey from running for reelection in 1996 for his supposed involvement in a scheme to misuse the Teamsters’ treasury in his election campaign. Five years later—and somewhat too late—a federal jury found that Carey was telling the truth when he swore to federal agents and a Grand Jury that he knew nothing about the dirty deal. A tsk, tsk wasn’t imposed on Carey, but as part of his pre-trial punishment he was not only barred from running for reelection, but was expelled from Teamsters membership.
Mark’s remedy for the failed dirty deal: “The Hoffa campaign and each candidate on the Hoffa-Hall slate are ordered to cease and desist from using union resources to conduct campaign activity.”
In addition, Mark ordered the posting of a notice to Teamsters members across North America saying: “The Election Supervisor found that before and during May 2010, IBT officials associated with the General President Hoffa’s campaign offered IBT jobs, including salary and benefits, to three individuals in exchange for a promise to support the Hoffa campaign in various ways.”
While the Hoffa folks might be embarrassed by having to face the members who actually read the notice, the sentence imposed by Mark falls far short of Gegare’s demand that Hoffa be disqualified as a candidate.

A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

An interview with the author of THE TRUCKERS

An interview with Kenneth C. Crowe, author of THE TRUCKERS, by the $100 Plus News of the Association for Union Democracy (
The interview appeared in $100 Plus News on Jan. 6, 2011:

$100 Plus News: What made you write the story now? Were you working on it for some time?
Ken Crowe: The original version of THE TRUCKERS was completed ten years ago in July, 2000. My agent figured there was no market for a labor novel. So, I put the book away with other novels I had written, seemingly doomed to gather dust in a closet. Along came the e-book and online publishing revolution in 2008 led by Amazon’s CreateSpace and Smashwords. I took the novels out of the closet and began rewriting them and putting them on the internet as e-books and
paperbacks. Last summer, I reached THE TRUCKERS. I rewrote the ending to accord with the emergence of Sandy Pope as the TDU-backed, rank and file candidate for IBT president.

$100 Plus News: There is a tension between Helmut Knall and Tommy Kerrigan about whether the International Pres. should get involved in local elections, with Kerrigan believing it was inappropriate despite Knall’s attempts to persuade him that he must support local reformers against the “old guard” which still ran the majority of the locals. Do you believe that dynamic was present
in the Carey administration? Is that meant to be a lesson for reformers?
Ken Crowe: Ken Paff has always believed in reforming the Teamsters from the bottom up. When Ron Carey was elected the IBT’s general president he thought that Teamsters at the local level shared his vision of unselfish, committed leadership, that the good guys would follow his example and the membership would oust those who didn’t. Ken Paff was right in that winning the top
is not enough.

$100 Plus News: Was there any merit to Kerrigan’s position to stay out of local politics?
Ken Crowe: No. That is like the President of the United States staying out of Congressional and Senate elections. A sympathetic base (local union officials in the case of The Truckers or the Teamsters) makes governing so much easier and leading so much more pleasant.

$100 Plus News: After the novel ended we are left with the irony that despite Kerrigan’s successful efforts to win the battles against the companies for the rank and file, it was union enemies from within that were his undoing. In that regard it’s a sad story, though Kerrigan comes across as a hero who gave his life for the working person. Any thoughts?
Ken Crowe: The sophisticated, vicious, unrelenting campaign to destroy Truckers Union president Tommy Kerrigan had its parallel in the Hoffa campaign operatives’ continuous onslaught to undermine Ron Carey from the moment he was elected. Just as in my novel, THE TRUCKERS, the Teamsters old guarders were aroused by self-interest and some rather sordid consultants to turn
out their supporters in their locals or risk losing their comfortable life styles to an awakened rank and file. Myths are built on the bodies of the assassinated, the murdered, and the martyred.

A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

A review of THE TRUCKERS by Kenneth C. Crowe

The following review of THE TRUCKERS appeared in the Association for Union Democracy’s Jan. 4, 2011 edition of $100 Plus News. It is reprinted with AUD’s permission:

THE TRUCKERS by Kenneth C. Crowe
(CreateSpace, Charleston, SC: 2010) 300pgs.
Available in paperback on for $9.99 and
as an e-book on Kindle and


This is an entertaining and fictional account of
the administration of a reformist IBT international
President called Tommy Kerrigan. The
novel is very loosely based on the Carey presidency
of the 1990s. But it is clearly fiction, and
Mr. Kerrigan’s fate turns out to be very different
than Mr. Carey’s. Mr. Crowe dedicates the
novel to Ken Paff, then, and still, director of the
Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) --
who in the novel is the fictional character
“Helmut Knall.”
A very palpable tension between Kerrigan and
Helmut Knall’s “TFOCC” (“Truckers Fighting
Organized Crime and Corruption”) is present
throughout the story. The reader is introduced
to it on page 11, when Kerrigan is planning his
post-election victory party and is consulting
with his top aide “Cobb Wowka” on who
should be on the invitation list. Wowka advises
Kerrigan not to invite Knall, but Kerrigan
reminds Wowka that “TFOCC did a lot for us.”
Wowka replies “Not for us. For their agenda.
Never forget that... Now that you’ve won,
Helmut and crew might get a little hungry for a
piece of action, which is okay, but we want to
keep them at a certain distance. Don’t let them
get the notion they’re gonna run this union
instead of you.” Kerrigan responds accordingly:
“I’ll give ‘em a couple of jobs. I’m sure we
can find an opening for Helmut in Alaska or
Hawaii.” “Right on buddy,” replies Wowka.
Helmut Knall is a smart, no-nonsense, pain-inthe-
neck whose advice to Kerrigan seems
always to be ahead of the game and works each
time Kerrigan does follow it. But Knall’s first
piece of advice, Kerrigan does not follow. The
uninvited Knall interrupts the victory party and
demands to speak to Kerrigan -- Kerrigan
reluctantly gives him a few minutes -- and
Knall points out that though Kerrigan has won
a great victory he needs to remember that most
of the locals are still being run by the “old
guard” -- the officials who owe their allegiance
to “Steamer Staski” and his successors. The
Steamer Staski character is loosely based on
the administration of Jimmy Hoffa, Sr. On his
victory party night, Knall implores Kerrigan to
help Trucker reformers get elected in the locals:
“The union is the locals, the locals are the
union. You should know.” But Kerrigan is
never willing to do this, as he tells Knall time
and time again throughout the book that an
“International President should not get
involved in the politics of the local.”
Meanwhile, the “old guard” infiltrate the
Kerrigan administration, and become his most
trusted aides, only to betray him, and eventually
succeed in their goal to get rid of him.
Sabotage by the old guard starts with its defiance
of Kerrigan’s call to go on a strike, then
moves on to a series of “dirty tricks” and smear
campaigns having to do with Kerrigan’s personal
relationships and alleged ties to organized
crime. Using its influence with an all too
compliant press, and even the FBI and Justice
Department, the old guard overwhelms
Kerrigan with government investigations into
alleged links to organized crime, or “communists.”
Knall advises Kerrigan on union strategy -- it
was the TFOCC’s plan to strike a major carrier,
a strike which turned out to be a a smashing success,
and makes Kerrigan a hero within the union. Later,
Knall and the TFOCC bail out Kerrigan
in another strike when the old guard begins to sabotage
it. But as the dirty tricks by the old guard become more
and more outrageous, and the investigations proceed,
mob characters appear – and are ready to go after
Kerrigan, reacting to schemes orchestrated by
Kerrigan’s union foes.
In the end, Kerrigan makes great gains for the Trucker
rank and file in its battles with employers, but, sadly,
is unable to withstand the relentless assault by his
internal union enemies.

A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

Monday, March 14, 2011


My wife, Rae, had Crystalens installed in both eyes after cataract surgery in November and December. Afterwards her left eye began bothering her variously with the sensation of something in the eye, itching, pain, and dry eye. Sometimes these are very intense afflictions.
In January, our ophthalmologist found nothing wrong and suggested an over-the-counter eye drops. Sometimes the eye drops help, sometimes, the drops seem to increase the uncomfortable sensations.
Searching the web for Crystalens aftermath and problems, one mostly gets ads on how wonderful Crystalens are and from surgeons who want to install them. There are scattered accounts by individuals looking for help about having dry eyes or the sensation of something in the eye—and their doctors have suggested eye drops, which don’t cure the problems. As one interlocutor wrote of his problems: “Obviously, nothing helps.”
Hopefully something does help. If you have had problems such as Rae’s in the aftermath of Crystalens implants, please let us know via comments or my e-mail, We are interested in both the extent of the population of these problems and well as a cure.

A suggestion: My novel, THE PENCIL ARTIST is available as an e-book on Smashwords, Kindle, and Barnes and Noble; as a paperback on Amazon.