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MCAA Member Perspective

Back on April 29th, I took a little trip to the big city to discuss legislative topics on behalf of the members of MCAA. Understand I live on a small ranch outside the community of Leroy, Texas, population 174 great people, one old grouch and a whole bunch of cattle. We have a very small postal office, one old store with a couple of pumps and, of course, one beer joint for all the cowboys. Even when I go to my office each day in Waco, I am going to the big city; so you can imagine how I looked at Washington, D.C.

I left the house at 4 a.m. for my drive up to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. There stood one of my bulls right in the middle of the drive, since it goes through one of my pastures. I honked my horn, and he didn't move a muscle. He just looked at me and then raised his tail, and... That's right, he did it as if he was saying, "Get ready." He finally moved on, and so did I.

As I drove toward my red eye flight, I knew there would be another red eye country guy on the plane. Wow! Paul Odom, our Legislative Chairman, did not look like a country guy at all. In fact, he had the look of a polished congressman from Hamilton, Texas.

After an uneventful flight, Paul and I met up with Marian Marshall, MCAA's Director of Government Affairs and our chauffeur, guide and spokeswoman for the day. Of course, we started talking politics, OSHA silica and hexavalent chromium. We were listening and at the same time noticing the beautiful masonry in the city. I also noticed the security measures around our government buildings. On a side note, allow me to give you some advice — don't wear cowboy boots to D.C. After four security checks and having to remove and put back on my black ostrich boots — which I think are beautiful, but they are difficult to pull off without sitting down — it gets a little tedious. Now, understand I tell you not to wear boots, but at the same time D.C. is a good place to wear them too. Understand?

Our first appointment was with Paul's fine congressman Judge Carter — he had his ostrich boots on, too. We had a great meeting! He was very understanding about our position and offered his help.

From there we went to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson's office and met with her aides. Marian did a marvelous job explaining our situation, and us two country boys just filled in as needed. I was proud of what Paul said and hoped he felt the same of me.

From there we walked to the Department of Labor, where we met up with Mike Adelizzi, Executive Director of MCAA; Frank Campitelli, Owner of Campitelli Masonry, Inc., Westminster, Md.; Roy Swindal, Owner of Masonry Arts, Inc., Bessemer, Ala.; and George Strunge, Owner of Banner Masonry Corporation, Baltimore, Md.

We had a super meeting with OSHA's Assistant Secretary of Labor, John Henshaw. I wish all of you could have been there — all of you MCAA members would have been proud. We had a meeting that I hope is the beginning of making this issue right and bearable for all concerned. John Henshaw extended the opportunity to give our input on the silica standard before it becomes an OSHA standard. With that we must roll our sleeves up and go to work! I want to encourage each of you to get involved and give your support and time to Mike, Marian and the entire MCAA staff. Now is the time to get involved and make a difference.

Upon the completion of that meeting, Marian, Paul and I went to our next meeting, which was with the staff of Senator John Cornyn. This meeting was also great, and once again we had the support of our Texas folks.

Now it was off to the airport so I could get back to my ranch. For the first 30 minutes of the flight you couldn't get up, so I just sat and thought about everything we accomplished in one day.

First of all, I am so proud to be a member of MCAA! Why would any mason contractor not be a member? Surely we realize just this one point: legislative matters have such an impact on each of our profits and losses. I am so proud of our staff and all their efforts and hard work that they put in day after day. I am so thankful that I am a citizen of the greatest nation on Earth, the United States of America. As I left D.C. behind and as I looked back, I saw justice, a government chosen by the people and above all liberty and freedom!

As I cranked my truck and headed to Waco, I could not help but smile and say, "What a day in D.C.!" By the way, I'm writing a letter to my senators asking if they could get a bill passed just for us boot people. It would be called "The Boot Scootin' Bill." That could allow boots to go through the metal detectors on your foot. By the way, Marian, Paul and I had a great time!





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