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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tayshaun Prince heads to Memphis

After an 11 year career in the NBA, Detroit Pistons Tayshaun Prince has been traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Prince, 32, was a star at the University of Kentucky and grew up  in Compton, Calif. He has a degree in Sociology and last year launched a signature wine.

Prince is probably best known for playing on the championship Detroit Pistons team his first year in the NBA and for challenging Indiana Pacers Reggie Miller in his last game. He played in the All Stars Game and on the winning USA Olympic team in Beijing, China.

Some family members are happy with the trade and are hoping that he will enjoy the weather better in the South.

(Photo by Kurk Johnson)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quote for today...

"The best way to build a great brand is to invest in people...Put your best teachers in first grade."
Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General, United Nations, from World Economic Forum, the Global Education Imperative

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gas prices in Roswell scare motorists


While driving on Mansell Rd. in Roswell, Ga., I almost had a wreck when I saw the price of gas...$9.99!

This station is not open and is under construction, but the sign was very eye catching. At other stations, regular was selling for $3.39!

We called Dana Reed, RaceTrac's marketing manager, to explain the signs and left a message for a return phone call. Sure got my attention...

UPDATE:  I talked to Amanda Rodriguez from RaceTrac, and she informed me that the signage at all non-working pumps are tested but not accurate before stations open for business.  The same day she called, I snapped the following picture of a newly constructed BP station off Chattahoochee and Howell Mill Road in Atlanta. The gas price on the sign - $5.55.

I guess it's a sign of the times that more gas stations are opening in Metro Atlanta!  
©2013 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.  

W.E.B. Du Bois Conference Feb. 20-23 in Atlanta

Du Bois in 1918
Clark Atlanta University (CAU) will convene national and international scholars for a four-day homage and birthday celebration of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois on February 20 - 23, 2013. The CAU campus is located at 223 James P. Brawley Drive, S.W. in Atlanta.

Interested persons are invited to engage in an interdisciplinary and international introspection of the life, scholarship, and activism of one of the most influential intellectuals of the 20th century.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Du Bois. Sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, author and editor, Du Bois wrote his most influential works in the 23 years he spent as a professor at Atlanta University.
Over 150 panelists from 50 institutions will speak in 30 panel sessions. Highlights of the conference will include appearances by descendants of Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Madam C.J. Walker, and Dr. Charles Drew and reading of poetry and prose written by Du Bois performed by Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka.  

The Du Bois Legacy Project was initiated and organized by Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans, chair of the Department of African American Studies, Africana Women's Studies and History (AWH).
To register, go to:

Photo credit: Cornelius Marion (C.M.) Battey (1873–1927) Library of Congress digital ID cph.3a53178

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Africa's GDP expanding; must manage terrorism and trade

S.A. Pres. Zuma wants free trade expanded.
At the same time U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was informing Congress that instability in North Africa - especially in Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco - was a huge threat to security in the region, Africa was heralded as the "world’s second fastest growing economy" at the World Economic Forum being held in Davos, Switzerland.

After expanding 5% a year in the past two years, well above the global average, Africa’s GDP is on track to grow by 5.3% this year. “If certain bottlenecks were taken out, I can easily see that doubling,” said Chrm.Graham Mackay, SABMiller.

The "bottlenecks" he was perhaps referring to include governance, economic and political exclusion, and weak institutional risks. Louise Arbour, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Crisis Group (ICG), Belgium, said current armed unrest in Mali is destabilizing West Africa.

“The narrative in Africa is changing and changing very fast,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer, Bharti Enterprises, India. “From the standpoint of investors and people coming into Africa, I think what is important to see is commitment from the political leadership to secure investments, ensure there are no major fallouts of any terror activities which have recently developed, and, importantly, manage foreign exchange in a manner which does not deliver shocks,” he added.

Mittal, one of the richest men in the world with wealth reported at $8.3 billion in 2011, also called for repatriation of business profits becoming the norm and development of Africa’s financial system.

Jacob G. Zuma, President of South Africa, said, “We realize that intra-trade is not enough and are working hard on that. We’ve just discussed and agreed to integrate three of the five economic regions, creating a free trade area of more than half a billion people," Zuma said.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Colorectal cancer drug approved by FDA

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new use of Avastin® (bevacizumab) in combination with fluoropyrimidine-based irinotecan or oxaliplatin chemotherapy for people with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer deaths. In 2012, more than 143,000 people were diagnosed and nearly 52,000 individuals were projected to die from the disease in the United States. If colorectal cancer spreads (metastasizes) to distant organs, such as the lungs or the liver, five-year survival declines to 12 percent.

“The majority of people diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer receive Avastin plus chemotherapy as their initial treatment,” said Hal Barron, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “These people now have the option to continue with Avastin plus a new chemotherapy after their cancer worsens, which may help them live longer than changing to the new chemotherapy alone.” 

People with this disease are urged to contact their healthcare provider for more information.


Father Jacob Myers: friend of the poor - funeral services to be held this weekend

The rector of St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church in Atlanta reposed in the Lord on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 around 8 p.m. after what his church described as a sudden, devastating illness.

"He was a really good priest, one who helped the homeless, those sometimes rejected by their own families, those embarrassed by their condition," said Fr. George Pallas, protopresbyter at Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Marietta, Ga.
Myers (ctr) was not afraid to help others. (Church photo)
Born Phillip Myers October 24, 1948 in Springfield, Ill. and aligning himself early with non-denominational religious groups, Myers used what he learned in Northwestern University's business school to help society's neglected. 

Moving from the West Coast in 1986, Myers was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church, came to Atlanta where he was ordained, and established Blessed John Orthodox Church, the first church to be named for Saint John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco in the United States. In 2000, his church was received into the Orthodox Church in America, an independent branch of Orthodox Christianity, and became known as The Church of St. John the Wonderworker on Cherokee Street.

Myers was devoted to ancient Christian precepts, exercised brotherly love, and was committed to intense daily prayer. He started the church's Loaves and Fishes ministry which provides hot food for the underprivileged twice daily, five days a week.

Speaking of Myers as a monumental servant focused on harmony and Christian outreach, Paul Lundberg wrote in his "the eastern light" blog about the man known as Father Jacob and the church he loved. "The parish of St. John the Wonderworker reminds us...that unity can and does occur at the grassroots level. More importantly, it reminds us that unity comes as a blessing for doing the will of God, simply and devotedly," Lundberg said.

Myers developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) last Fall and spent time in Colorado for treatment. Recently, however, he contracted the flu and never recovered. After a staph infection and sepsis were also diagnosed, he was placed in an induced coma in ICU but succumbed, surrounded by family, church members, and friends.

Myers, 64, is survived by his wife, Rebecca, two daughters, a grandson, siblings, nieces, and nephews.

His body will lie at the church at 543 Cherokee Avenue on Friday, January 25th starting at 3 p.m. Psalter readings will be performed as people pay their last respects. The Funeral Service will take place at 7 p.mOn Saturday, January 26th at 9 a.m., the Funeral Memorial Liturgy will be held. The procession to Greenwood Cemetery will follow, with graveside prayers and internment.

A meal will be offered to the Loaves and Fishes men and women in Father Jacob's memory afterwards. A reception will also be held at the Orthodox Greek Cathedral, Cathedral of the Annunciation, after the graveside service.

In memory of Myers, donations can be made to the Loaves and Fishes program which he stewarded and loved. Funds will go to the continuation of the pan-Orthodox ministry to the poor of Atlanta. Dennis Dunn has been tasked to manage the Loaves and Fishes ministry started by Myers.

Read more about vision for Loaves and Fishes at or call (404) 577-6330 for more information on how to help.

Clinton highlights lessons learned from Benghazi attack

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is speaking before Congress on Capital Hill now. In her opening statement, she mentioned several items learned from the attack at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

More resources needed for security from attack.
Increased transparency of research on threats necessary.
Independent investigations after attacks should be viewed.
Support emerging democracies and improved communication and coordination in actions.
Maintain courageous leadership of State Dept. employees.
Multiple attacks and protests hamper security posture around the world.
High threat posts should get the security attention they need.
Accountability of response is paramount.
Action items and timelines for decision making, reviews, protocols, and actions in high threat areas are in place.
Instability in North Africa is a problem with regards to terrorist threats, especially in Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco.
Reform security services.
Target al-Qaeda.
Authorizations are needed for expanded defense needs.

Doctorate degree holders increase 45 percent

PhD stripes being conferred more often.
From 2002 to 2012, the highest rate of increases in education attainment levels were doctorate and master’s degrees, according to new statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. The population with a doctorate grew by about 1 million, or 45 percent, while those who held a master’s climbed by 5 million, or 43 percent.

Although many doctoral programs offer full tuition waivers and stipends, it costs about $20,000 per year to be involved in a PhD. program.

Meanwhile, the population with an associate degree rose by 5 million, or 31 percent. Those whose highest degree was a bachelor’s degree grew at a smaller rate: 25 percent to 41 million. Meanwhile, the number of those without a high school or GED diploma declined by 13 percent, falling to 25 million.

Women outnumbered men in 2012 among people whose highest level of education was a bachelor’s degree (21 million versus 19 million) or a master’s degree (9 million compared with 7.4 million). Conversely, more men had doctorate (2 million versus 1.2 million) or professional degrees (1.8 million compared with 1.2 million). Between 2002 and 2012, however, the gap between the number of men and women with professional degrees shrank.

The statistics come from Educational Attainment in the United States: 2012, a series of national-level tables showing attainment levels by a wide range of demographic characteristics, including sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, household relationship, citizenship and nativity, labor force status, occupation and industry.

The tabulations also show that education continues to pay off. Among people 25 and older who had any earnings in 2011, average earnings were $59,415 for people with a bachelor’s degree (but no graduate degree), compared with $32,493 for people with a high school diploma, but no college.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Poverty factoids may affect Obama's legacy

According to speakers at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration in Atlanta, within walking distance of the MLK Center there are 5,000 families living who earn less than $3,000 annually and at any given time, 10 families live with single mothers in cars in metro ATL.

How will these poverty facts affect Obama's second term, and will they have a bearing on whether Mayor Kasim Reed will be reelected in Atlanta?

Other poverty facts:

Among single parent (male or female) families, 44.0% of all black persons (which includes black Hispanics), lived in poverty.

In FY 2009, black families comprised 33.3% of TANF families, non-Hispanic white families comprised 31.2%, and 28.8% were Hispanic.

A recent NPR report states that as much as 30% of Americans have trouble making ends meet and other advocates have made supporting claims that the rate of actual poverty in the US is far higher than that calculated by using the poverty threshold.

In 2012, it was estimated that roughly 38% of Americans live "paycheck to paycheck."

The U.S. Department of Education predicts that the average cost of college tuition continues to rise at a rate of 4.5 % at private universities and 8.3 % at public colleges

Coke announces youth issues competition

The Coca-Cola Company today announced US$ 100,000 of funding for a major World Economic Forum initiative aimed at helping exceptional young people take action on issues they care about in more than 200 cities worldwide.

The funding is offered in a competition aimed at more than 1,700 entrepreneurs, social activists and “positive disruptors” who make up the Global Shapers Community. It will provide seed financing for Shapers’ projects that address some of the most pressing problems in their communities.

To win, Shapers must demonstrate the benefits of their initiatives over the next 12 months. The winning project will be granted US$ 50,000 to expand its reach, while five additional projects will each be granted US$ 10,000 to sustain and expand their efforts.

A panel representing the Global Shapers, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, The Coca-Cola Company, governments and members of civil society will select the most impactful projects. The criteria include:
  • importance of the issue addressed
  • number of lives impacted
  • overall return on investment
  • ability of the project to be scaled or replicated
The winners will be announced at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014.

“A challenge to spark and expand innovative ideas from the world’s young leaders is exactly what our world needs today as we look to create new growth in the global economy,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company.

“With more than half of the world’s population under age 27, it’s clear that solving current and future challenges is dependent upon involving the ideas and energy of the millennial generation. Our support of the Global Shapers recognizes a belief that talent and leadership to create new growth and solve societal problems can come from anywhere, not just from governments or businesses,” Kent said.

For more information, go to: and

Favorite inaugural remark and photos...

Look at those people!
MSNBC's Chris Matthews responds to his delight at seeing pictures of the Obamas. House Speaker John Boehner doesn't look too happy.

My favorite line heard while watching the Obama Inaugural ceremonies was when "Hardball" television commentator Chris Matthews while looking at pictures of the Obamas remarked, "Look at those people."  He was talking about the grace, beauty, and flair exhibited by the First Family.

Way to go, Chris!

It's nice that America is taking a second look at African Americans through the life and pictures of the Obamas. Let's continue this discourse by making sure that all U.S. citizens receive the food, clothing, shelter, and education they need to be shining examples of the many gifts bestowed on us by our Creator.

The Obamas appear to genuinely love one another. I like that! What a great example for the country to follow. May God bless this couple as they move forward in trying to make the world a better place.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Message from President Barack Obama...

I just renewed my oath of office to serve as your president for four more years.

Thank you for making this possible. It's an honor to be your president.

Now it's time to finish what we started -- let's get going.



Concurrent themes running on MLK Birthday and Obama Inauguration Day

"The dream lives, and the legacy continues." Dr. Bernice King

Remember, act, celebrate - in the Lamb's agenda

King's Dream for our World

Service, non-violence, dreams becoming reality, foundations being shaken, inextricable bindings,  tables of brotherhood, glory of the Lord revealed; educated and committed to freedom youth who are nurtured, supported and connected; immigrants overcoming obstacles, diversified business in a land of opportunity and prosperity; social justice, equal opportunity; food for the hungry; leadership, persistence, impossibility becoming reality, movements being revitalized, blood calling out to keep moving, salesmen needed for movement overhaul, changed hearts filled with love for one another, personification of love, determination to act, humanity; scoldings to serve

Rev. Rodriguez said MLK's dream lives in those who follow the Lamb.

Notes from Speech of Rev. Samuel Rodriguez at MLK Day Celebration

The dream still lives!
Read John 1:29, Rev. 5:13
"Fulfilling Dr. King's via the Lamb's agenda"

"Through the church of Jesus Christ.. I am convinced that the best is yet to come... and we are in prophetic movement led by the cross's agenda."

Evil spirits do live, but the spirit of God is more powerful. It is that spirit that gives us the power to live out King's dream. 
Agenda - complete freedom from sin, poverty, illiteracy, drugs, too much coffee...
So much bondage - we must be set free by the blood of the Lamb who is the most powerful person on earth.
The devil hates free people.Free people seek out the Lamb and His power. 
Christ was freedom incarnate - "He who the Son sets free is free indeed."
Knowing truth is true freedom.

Simple symbol of the cross frees. Life is a cross. Vertically connecting us to God, horizontally connecting us to community relationships. Ethos and Pathos; prayer and activism...DC and ATL.

It's time to fulfill Dr. King's vision today. Justice flows from on high ... activism is the key.... speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Silence is not an option. 30 million live in poverty. Immigrants living in the shadows.
We need a multi-ethnic movement in America - to fulfill King's dream. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thought for today...

Beauty is unfolding all around you. Open your eyes to see it!
Tomi Johnson

Thursday, January 17, 2013

U.S. 4th graders improve in reading, math

Dr. Veda Jairrels
In 2011, students in more than 50 countries were tested, and U.S. fourth-graders improved in reading and math, according to Jack Buckley, the commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics. These findings have just been released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Parents are encouraged to read to their children, and one professor says that at least 2000 books should be read to a child before age six. 

“Non-required or pleasure reading is a must, for reading done for school may not be enough," said Dr. Veda Jairrels, professor of Exceptional Education at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga. Jairrels is the author of "African Americans and Standardized Tests: the Real Reason for Low Test Scores."

A discussion of the latest international assessments of reading, math and science, and the U.S. results for fourth- and eighth-graders will occur Friday, January 18 at 9:15 a.m. on C-SPAN’s “America by the Numbers” segment on its “Washington Journal” show. Calls from the public will be taken.  

For more information on this topic, go to:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Georgia Democrats praise Obama's move on gun violence

Mike Berlon, Chairman of the Georgia Democratic Committee, stated the following on Obama's move to stop gun violence:


"Today our nation took the first giant step towards ending the senseless violence that has become part of our national fabric. President Obama outlined a solid plan aimed at curbing the gun violence that is all too prevalent in this country.

"As a nation and as a state we need to realize that change concerning responsible gun ownership will only work if we are all willing to stand up and say that this culture of violence is no longer acceptable and that we need to start the process now.

"From closing the gun show loopholes to banning assault weapons designed for battlefield use to limiting the size of the clips that can be used in certain weapons, the President’s proposals are the start of a much overdue debate in this country.

"This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights. Instead of trying to address this problem by making guns even more accessible or requiring teachers and administrators to carry weapons in our schools, it's time for a reasoned discussion about how we protect the rights of those that own, use and collect weapons to those who should be free from being harmed by them.

"During his speech, the President told a poignant story about a young girl named Grace whose life was tragically cut short in the massacre at Newtown. He talked about her life, her dreams, her parents and of her potential that was tragically cut short.

"It’s time for us as a nation to start “Saving Grace”. In the past ten years there have been more than sixty school shootings. That’s an average of one every two months for the past decade. We as a country deserve better.

"Congratulations to President Obama for opening this national debate. It’s long overdue."

Obama nominates B. Todd Jones for firearms post

B. Todd Jones
Stating that now is the time to do something about violence, U.S. President Barack Obama signed 23 Executive Orders today and nominated B. Todd Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (AFT) to curb the sale of guns and assault rifles. 

"...while reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn’t be a divisive one," Obama said during his remarks in the South Court Auditorium.

B. Todd Jones has been acting director of the AFT since 2009 and currently serves as the United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota. He is a former Marine and served during Operation Desert Storm. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Jones if confirmed will head the ATF which has 5,000 employees and an annual budget of $1.12 billion (2010). Jones is 55, married, and has five children.

Executive Orders delegate discretionary powers to the President under the Constitution to help manage the operations within the federal government and have the full force of law.

The Executive Orders consist of the following directives:
  1. Require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun.
  2. Restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines .
  3. Help law enforcement as it does its job to get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. 
"In the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary, more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun -- 900 in the past month.  And every day we wait, that number will keep growing," Obama stated.

Photo: Official ATF portrait of B. Todd Jones

Sunday, January 13, 2013

JSTOR announces release of 4.5 million documents

In a bizarre twist the same week Open Library architect and Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide, digital library company JSTOR has agreed to release millions of documents free to the public which have been produced by America's colleges and universities.

Swartz faced a $1 million dollar fine and 35 years in jail if convicted of downloading data from JSTOR and allegedly hanged himself in his apartment on January 11.  The investigation and suit were being leveled by the U.S. government.

Excerpts from Swartz's family statement:
"Aaron’s commitment to social justice was profound, and defined his life. He was instrumental to the defeat of an Internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open, and accountable political system; and he helped to create, build, and preserve a dizzying range of scholarly projects that extended the scope and accessibility of human knowledge.

"Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community’s most cherished principles."

Claiming that "A new chapter begins" on its website, JSTOR offers scholarly journals, primary sources, and 15,000 books, to individual and institutional researchers, librarians, and publishers.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rally against Republican "fiscal cliff" vote staged for Monday

The Cobb County Democratic Committee will be holding a rally January 14 at 1:00 p.m outside the office of Congressman Phil Gingrey (Ga. District 11 - R), 219 Roswell Street, Marietta, Ga. to protest against the "fiscal cliff" vote.
"We're now more than a week post all the 'fiscal cliff' discussions and as you know, none of our Republican Reps voted in favor of the bill," said Melissa Pike, chairwoman of the Committee.  "We're really focusing on all of the Reps who didn't support the bill," Pike said.
Gingrey believes that the government's money problems stem from too much spending and that the "fiscal cliff" can be averted "without raising taxes."

"President Obama and Democrats have added trillions to our national debt with no signs of stopping. They’ve offered no specifics on spending cuts or entitlement reform, which must be part of any fiscal cliff deal," Gingrey said. Gingrey, a former OBGYN, has gained recent news attention for making controversial comments on rape and abortion.  
In the House, 172 Democrats were joined by 85 Republicans in supporting the"fiscal cliff" measure, while 151 Republicans voted against the bill.

To learn more about Cobb Democrats, go to:


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thought for today...

"We should keep in mind that God 'cannot' help us, even if He really wants to, unless we acquire a positive way of thinking."
Priestmonk Christodoulos

Monday, January 7, 2013

Deltas poised to celebrate 100th birthday

The "Year of the Delta" is kicking off this month in Washington, D.C. where Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded 100 years ago by 22 black women at Howard University. Public service are buzzwords for Deltas.

"I hope to see you as we kick off the Centennial year of DELTA in grand fashion," said National President Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre on the sorority's website.

"We not only want to celebrate our founding and our accomplishments, but we also want to acknowledge those communities and leaders who have partnered with and stood by us as we collectively affected change throughout the U.S. and abroad,” said Butler-McIntyre.

Activities are beginning Thursday morning with interviews on  television shows in N.Y. followed by a 20 bus caravan to D.C. This follows a Delta Torch Tour which began in Los Angeles on Jan. 1 and will culminate after passing through 22 cities at the sorority's annual convention in D.C. in July.

Other scheduled Centennial events include:
* NYC Mayor's sendoff - Jan. 10 - Mayor Michael Bloomberg will greet Deltas and present proclamations before bus caravan begins.
* Founder's Walk - Jan. 11 - Deltas return home to the campus of Howard University and walk the path of Founders, fulfilling 100 year commitment of community service.
* Re-Dedication Ceremony - Jan. 12 - re-dedication to the Nine Cardinal virtues of Delta Sigma Theta
* Women’s Suffrage March Reenactment - March 3 - beginning on the steps of the Capitol at 9:00 a.m. (EST)

Women's Suffrage March Reenactment Map

Deltas are members of the second major Greek sorority founded by African American women on a U.S. campus. The thrust of their service is to help communities by managing projects aimed at educational, economic, and political development. They place great emphasis on physical and mental health. 

A list of Deltas includes noteworthy women in the arts and numerous professions.The Sorority currently has approximately 200k members in 900 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Republic of Korea.

For more information on this organization's activities and celebration news, go to:

Shield graphic scanned from 1969 college yearbook.

Zaza, wife, and other mallers nice in 2013

Zaza and me at mall - photo taken by his wife.
I like meeting people, especially at the mall. Yesterday I met Atlanta Hawks basketball player Zaza Pachulia and asked him for a picture. When I fumbled with my iPhone, his wife, Tina, volunteered to snap this photo of me and the quiet giant.

Later, I talked to two folks who are members of a local mega church while we were picking up copies of Atlantan Magazine. They seemed genuinely excited to meet me, invited me to a women's retreat, and exchanged emails. These two episodes made my Sunday especially lively and happy.

It's the season to be nice to each other. I'm enjoying it while it lasts!

©2013 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.     

Friday, January 4, 2013

Customer service, return policies, and technology at the register can spur or negate retail profits

Today I can buy "stuff" anywhere - online, at estate sales, at Goodwill, or in upscale retail stores - and pricing is highly competitive.  How I do my shopping, however, depends on the way I am treated during the sale and how I will be treated should I want to return items.

"We take care of our customers," said a salesperson when I asked about seating arrangements in the dressing room corridor. I was shopping with my daughter in Express, and he made sure a comfortable bench was brought in so I could view her future purchases. He was smiling and courteous but not a pesky salesman who bugs you every two minutes or watches you as if he thinks you are trying to steal something.

Sometimes loss management decisions can sour customer relations. At Dillard's while returning two of six clothing items on one receipt, I was told I had to go to a different floor and return one item to the proper department. Since I was carrying several bags of returns and had an aching hip, I informed the saleslady that I had bought the item at another store location and didn't know where to return it.  Furthermore, all the items were on the same receipt; all the appropriate tags, including the return tag, were on the item, and I had my debit card for the return transaction.

"It's company policy that you return the item to the department where it was purchased," she commanded. She said they were short staffed. Walking through the store and onto the up escalator, I found myself in the Petites Department where I couldn't find a cashier, so I had to go to customer service. I had the store manager called.  "We will have upper management review our policy," I was told.

Customers also examine the way salespersons look as a reflection of the store's image and the way they care about their employees. One salesperson in Dillard's had a paperclip inserted into her glasses to keep them together which was dangerous and could have resulted in an eye injury should she fall or snag the clip on a piece of clothing. A good manager should have noticed that!

Macy's has perhaps the best idea of what customer service should be and the technology to manage returns at the customer's satisfaction.  A sweater my husband received from his sister was paid for on her credit card. Since it was a gift, we were able to return the item and credit his account instead of receiving a gift card.  Phillip, the store manager on duty, made the transaction effortlessly after listening attentively to me explaining my Dillard's experience, but making no comments which showed professionalism.

Von Maur, a store new to the Atlanta metro, has perhaps the best customer service I have witnessed when I was helped by Juniors Department Manager Madison. During the Christmas rush, she made sure a blouse that I purchased was spot cleaned and the jewels were re-tacked. She said that if the spot was not removed to my satisfaction, they would order the same blouse and have it shipped to me at no charge, even though it was a sale item. Now that's great customer service!

When you receive exemplary service, you should call the store and praise the salesperson, for retail is no easy business. The hours are long and the work is sometimes backbreaking. That is no excuse for how customers are treated, though. When you get poor customer service, report it so management can improve next time if you decide to return.

©2013 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.