SocraticGadfly: 10/29/06 - 11/5/06

November 04, 2006

TIGER has some reasonable bond alternatives post-Nov. 7

I got my mailing from TIGER, the citizens’ group in opposition to the Lancaster School District bond, in the mail today.

I’ve actually been working ahead on a possible editorial incorporating at least some of the same ideas, for the Nov. 16 issue of Lancaster Today, should the district’s request fail at the polls Nov. 7.

I agree with much of what the group’s mailing says, with a caveat or two.

The main caveat is that we won’t need a second high school for 10 years. We can do that and still be smaller than Cedar Hill or DeSoto high schools will be by then; in fact, 10 years from now, we won’t be a lot larger than DeSoto High School is today. The fears mentioned by the district of us having a monstrous Duncanville-sized high school are just that: fears.

Behind that caveat of mine is that a high school is a focal point for a community. And I don’t want that focus divided. Even more than that, I don’t want that focus divided without community input that’s been lacking so far.

Second caveat: The TIGER mailing left out the technology, maintenance and vehicular fleet issues.

I have no problem including them ― as long as they’re in one or more separate bond propositions. I’m especially thinking of the technology items. On the maintenance issue, just setting up a pay-as-you-go isn’t enough. The backlog is big enough we need some cash investment for catch-up work now. But, at the same time, the district should start budgeting maintenance needs; by doing so now, we could at least lessen the amount of bond money needed in this area.

So, pending what happens Nov. 7, stay tuned.

I wish now that I had written something like this after the failed May bond election, rather than writing a more indirect editorial, trusting that Superintendent Larry Lewis would get ― or would choose to get ― the message it contained.

Preserving Lancaster from The Preserve?

Rick Eilers is trying to get signatures from property holders owning 80 percent of the land adjacent to the requested rezoning area for The Preserve, the proposed 800-acre planned development on the southside.

If he’s successful, that would require a supermajority of the Lancaster City Council, not just a simple majority, to approve the rezoning, assuming the Lancaster Planning and Zoning Commission signs off on it Tuesday, Nov. 7.

If you live next to the site, focused on the Bear Creek/Houston School/Bluegrove roads area, or know someone who does, you can call Eilers at 972-989-0638.

And, if you want to try to get P&Z to say no, which would also force a supermajority approval from the council, you can e-mail P&Z Chairman Jer Giles here.

Eilers says that City Manager Jim Landon is pushing this to the point of already having given Topletz access to some of the land. Wasn’t this the same guy suing the city a year ago over Landon’s telling him he had to have all-underground utility lines on his Pleasant Run development? Politics and development do indeed make strange bedfellows.

A real Perle of a rib-tickler on Iraq

The Prince of Darkness himself, Richard Perle, is now saying that if he knew in 2003 what he knows now about Bush Administration incompetence in general and Don Rumsfeld in particular, he would have advocated against invading Iraq.

There’s only one problem with this self back-patting: YOU DID KNOW THEN.

Remember Gen. Shinseki and the hundreds of thousands of extra troops he said would be needed, Richard? Remember how you joined Rumsfeld’s chorus of laughing him off the stage, then sabotaging his career.

And, Perle and Ken Adelman can go on to talk about “they,” as though the two of them were never a part of the Bush Administration.

Yes, a real rib-tickler, how you can lie to protect your “legacy.” The Prince of Darkness hasn’t lightened up one bit.

Update, Nov. 4 More proof Perle’s lying? A 1999 Pentagon war game estimated 400,000 troops would be needed not only to defeat Iraq but also maintain stability afterward, and even that number didn’t guarantee post-war stability. You simply cannot tell me that Perle, as part of the Project for a New American Century, hadn’t heard about the war game, as PNAC and its generator, the American Enterprise Institute, were already pushing to “do something” about Iraq a year or more before this date.

November 03, 2006

Technorati post

Just "claiming" my blog on Technorati, something I thought I had done. Technorati Profile

Frankie Schaffer bails on the GOP? WOW

More formally known as Frank, and the son of the early-movement highly influential conservative evangelical philosopher-theologian Francis Schaffer, Frank wrote the Morning News to announce he was officially throwing away his GOP membership. Seems to be a lot of that going around recently.

What pushed him over the line was the Sen. George Allen robo e-mail all but calling challenger James Webb nine kinds of pervert.
The Webb e-mail is the embodiment of the cynical Republican strategists, some of whom must know the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Was Agatha Christie a murderer because she wrote about murder?

According to the Allen camp's logic, God would be a pedophile, too. After all, we Christians believe God inspired the Bible. And God-the-author chose to include the "sleazy" story about Lot offering to send out his young virgin daughters to be raped by the men of Sodom.

The Bible has masturbation scenes, rape, pedophilia and God's favorite man – King David – warming himself with a young virgin in his old age. He's the same man God tells us committed murder after he indulged his peeping Tom fantasies. …

My wife and I have reached the tipping point. We plan to go to town hall to dump our Republican voter registration and reregister as independents. I don't care anymore what party someone is in. These days, what I care about is what they're made of.

When you lose someone like this, you know you’re in trouble. And, though many run-Bush-up-the-flagpole-and-salute hardcore conservative evangelicals (not to mention fundamentalist ostriches) will march blithely on, many other evangelicals will not. They’ve just been looking for a voice telling them it’s OK to get off the GOP bandwagon.

November 02, 2006

Disingenuous on the city charter?

As a home-rule city, Lancaster has the right to have tougher standards on issues such as the Open Meetings Act than the minimum required by state law. So, it sounds interesting for City Manager Jim Landon to say:
The state's laws regarding open records and open meetings have changed over the years. Lancaster has always followed state law, but now the charter will specifically say state law in these matters will be followed.

As for keeping beer and wine out of residential neighborhoods, such the package sales initiative pass (which I don’t think it will), that can be done by ordinance.

It’s also interesting that the one-year residency issue is being played up all of a sudden, when no elected officials or city staff even mentioned it two months ago. And, I personally can’t remember a time since I’ve been here when it’s been an issue. On the contrary, for example, failed mayoral candidate Morris Mosley has lived in the city for years.

Of course, by now, I’m just a “naysayer” or “aginner,” so take my words with a grain of salt.

I voted — or, at least I think I did

Since Texas voting machines don’t print out paper receipts, I did vote but don’t know if my vote was recorded. (Of course, a hacker could get voting machines to print out a receipt that accurately reflected your vote, while not actually recording it, I’m sure. That, in turn, makes the argument for doing things the old-fashioned way, or the new-fangled Western European way: paper ballots.)

I didn’t vote for any of the family law judges, since Texas law restricts how much judges can say about positions they would take on specific issues. (By the way, where similar laws have been challenged in other states, they have invariably been ruled unconstitutional, and rightly so.)

I want to know how either an incumbent, or a challenger, feels about specific things such as divorce, or removal of children from a family. If I can’t know that for sure, I’m not voting in that election.

Beer and wine election questions

Will the spot on the general election ballot boost the issue, drawing the attention of casual voters? Or will it be the reverse, that pro-package sales activists are more likely to be sure to turn out on a special election date? Or, would that instead apply to anti-beer and wine activists?

Another concern about two high schools in Lancaster

Did Larry Lewis ever ask Bev Humphrey how she felt about the idea of splitting up her track athletes, depending on exactly how high school attendance boundaries were drawn?

November 01, 2006

Australian obfuscation on global warming

Australian Prime Minister John Howard continues to reject the Kyoto accord. Why? Well, as George W. Bush laments, so does he, that it doesn’t include developing, indeed rapidly developing, nations such as India and China.

And — here’s a new wrinkle — he’s also upset because it doesn’t include the U.S.

Geez, why hasn’t Bush thought of this one? We obviously can’t join Kyoto because it doesn’t include India, China and — Australia.

Sheer brilliance, and sheer chutzpah, Mr. PM.

October 31, 2006

Classes being cancelled at junior high

Supposedly, the latest cancellation is a Spanish class, with affected students moved to a non-foreign language class.

Now, I don’t know if this happens regularly, either at Lancaster schools in the past, or other schools around the area. So, I don’t know what significance to attach to it, if any.

Supposedly, the teachers who are on the receiving end of the students being moved are being told their teaching area is not a “dumping ground.” I think the only reason an administrator says that is because that’s an impression that’s clearly being generated.

LISD teachers: Insubordinate to talk to school board?

That’s the word we hear. And, repeat, that’s the WORD we hear, not the rumor. Admittedly, the person involved didn’t say whether he/she had been told that directly, or heard from somebody (else) who (might) work for the district, but, we repeat, it’s the WORD we’ve heard.

Supposedly, it’s insubordinate enough to be grounds for dismissal for teachers to talk to board members about concerns about what’s happening at their schools.

Update, from a comment left via Blogger's comment system (which still lets people link to it, somehow:
It is just not the word, it is the Gospel truth. I thought it was against the law for school districts to allow bullying, especially from superintendents. What does administration or Dr. larry lewis have to hide? We have a new state of the art high school, with STATE OF THE ART EQUIPMENT MISSING FROM THE CLASSROOMS!!! Who cares if we can not talk to board members about schools.....I DO.

Sounds like this is coming from someone on the inside. Would that someone of you could find a way to step up to talking to school board members, or to going on the record with me.

News circulation cratering, despite Belo’s spin

Belo reports that the circulation at the News is off about 13 percent for daily and 12 percent for Sunday, as compared to six months ago, as noted in a
company press release.

Of course, the News’ own reporting on this, as part of circ numbers at major newspapers around the country, “massages” the message.
The company attributed the steep drop in part to two deliberate policy changes, which account for about seven points of the daily decline and eight points on Sunday. On April 1, it ceased including third-party barter circulation in reported figures. It also ceased distributing to areas approximately 200 miles or more outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

OK, let’s take Belo’s estimates at face value. That still leaves a 6 percent drop on daily and 4 percent on Sunday circ numbers.

Yes, other major dailies continue to drop, but not at that rate. The Los Angeles Times, which is cratering in part due to corporate-imposed staff-whacking as serious as anything Belo has done here, is the only big-sized daily to have a greater rate of circulation decline.

The story then goes on to spin towards Bob Mong and Bob Dechard’s Net-oriented vision for the future:
Newspaper owners have bolstered their Web sites to attract online readers and advertisers, helping to make up for the loss of readers, the association said. It said newspaper Web sites serving the 100 largest markets reported an average 8 percent growth in their online audiences.

Strange, though. Belo doesn’t release numbers for those sites, or say how much it has grown over the survey time period. Maybe there’s nothing to massage there.

(Cross-posted on BeloBlog)

October 29, 2006

Red (Auerbach) is dead

I know the NBA won’t seem the same without Red Auerbach, though it’s been well over a decade since he was involved to any great degree with the Celtics.

But, he was so iconic in a way that nobody, at least in our generation or the one or two past, was in any other of America’s professional sports, that you couldn’t help but think of him as relevant in some way, shape or form even today.

He did many things as a coach and general manager in the NBA. Much of that was on the front of racial progress, not only having the first all-black starting five but naming Bill Russell the first black head coach in any professional sport.

There’s one other thing he did that is highly relevant today. He largely invented, then popularized and developed, the concept of a sixth man and the use of actual players for that position.

The NBA ought to immediately honor Red Auerbach by renaming its Sixth Man Award for him.