Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | August 29, 2006

Puh-lease: Fired volunteers and ‘A’ listers

How do you fire a volunteer?

That question sprang to mind when I read that “Controversial firing of [Bonfante Gardens] park volunteer Marie Ziegel fuels a staff exodus” in a recent Dispatch article.

I shook my head and rolled my eyes while reading the spin that Bob Kraemer, president of the Bonfante Gardens Board of Directors, tried to put on the docent revolt that followed the dismissal of longtime docent Ziegel.

(Talk about your odd juxtapositions: a fired volunteer and a docent revolt. These words are not commonly combined in phrases.)

Former Bonfante Gardens volunteer Roger Anderson estimated that following the dismissal of Ziegel and park employee Richard Soria as many as 13 docents left the horticulture-themed amusement park.

“I would say that immediately upon hearing news that they fired Richard and let Marie go, there might have been six to eight docents who quit right then,” Anderson told reporter Serdar Tumgoren. “Since then, I suppose there have been four or five docents who quit.”

According to Tumgoren’s article, the park has about 70 volunteers. I don’t know how many of them are docents. But even assuming that all 70 volunteers are docents, then Bonfante Gardens lost almost 20 percent of its docents as a result of dismissing Ziegel and Soria.

That’s a significant percentage. Any business that has a turnover rate of nearly 20 percent of workers in one position over a short period of time is going to notice that it has a serious problem.

But Kraemer tried to downplay the docent revolt.

“We really have no indicator that we have a substantial difference of docents this year from last year,” Kraemer said. “We have some additions, we have some fallout, and some of those are no doubt volunteers who worked with those two people and are loyal to them.”

Puh-lease. I didn’t just fall off the potato truck. Attrition of that level is a significant indicator no matter how you try to spin it. And trying to say otherwise sets my eyes spinning.

***

I’m still catching up on local news after my recent vacation. As I leafed through recent copies of The Dispatch, one headline in particular caught my eye. “A-list Celebs Rock with Local Band,” the headline promised.

“A-listers,” I mused, “I wonder who they could be.”

A few possibilities ran through my mind. Maybe Oscar winner and Thirty Odd Foot of Grunt band member Russell Crowe jammed with a local band? Perhaps Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt like to karaoke in small towns? Maybe Kevin Bacon, actor and member of The Bacon Brothers band, had been in South Valley? While I’m not sure I’d give Bacon A-list status, I’m sure I could connect him in less than six degrees to many bona fide A-listers.

But even if I’d been given unlimited time to guess, I don’t think I’d have come up with Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock. But the newlyweds are the supposed A-listers who visited a Tres Pinos bar earlier this month.

Puh-lease: No matter what the paper says, I just can’t grant Pamela Anderson or Kid Rock A-list status.

A brief review of Ms. Anderson’s and, er, Mr. Rock’s claims to fame is in order for the editor who penned that misguided headline.

Pamela Anderson is famous chiefly for starring with David Hasselhoff in Baywatch, for her frequently changing bra size, for posing in Playboy and dropping her drawers for PETA. And we mustn’t forget that before Paris Hilton earned her fame with a sex tape that found its way onto the Internet, Anderson made one with her ex-husband, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and another one with Poison singer Bret Michaels.

Kid Rock is famous chiefly for a few rap albums and for a sex tape that also featured Creed singer Scott Stapp that found its way onto the Internet, and, now, for marrying Pamela Anderson.

None of it adds up to A-list in my book.

Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock might deserve each other. They might be famous. But I cannot grant them A-list status.

Show me a raft of Emmys, a host of Grammys, some Tonys or a few Oscars. Show me some high-quality, positively reviewed acting or musicianship. Then maybe I can consider A-list status.

Until then, if anyone wants to call Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock A-listers, they’ll have to pardon me while I roll my eyes, shake my head, utter a two-syllable “Puh-lease” and tune my television to Kathy Griffin’s “My Life on The D-List.” It’s a step up.

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