SocraticGadfly: 11/5/06 - 11/12/06

November 10, 2006

New Houston Elementary

Does it also have classrooms, closets and teacher desks that cannot be locked? Reports of thefts? Anybody know? Anybody know anybody who will talk?

Culinary Arts: Is this a “fully funded” Lancaster High class?

We think not, but we’ll let you decide

Let’s see here:

A $25,000 dishwasher that can’t be used because of inadequate water pressure?

A refrigerator that doesn’t have racks?

A requested commercial mixer that isn’t there? (If it’s not there, at least it can’t be stolen.)

Oh, wait, this is “Children First,” right? I’d love to be able to talk to the Culinary Arts students, away from the eyes and ears of the high school, and get their answers.

Heads up: Open Records request

I e-mailed a detailed and lengthy Open Records request to Teri Wilson just before 5 p.m. Friday.

I have no doubt there will be fallout soon enough.

Wanted: A good union steward at Lancaster High

Think about it, especially anybody on staff that has worked in another district that had a strong union presence.

November 09, 2006

Indonesia, hold on to your wallets, your trees, your environment

Archer Daniel Midland, the “hog trough to U.S. Big Ag congressmen,” wants to ramp up biodiesel from Indonesian palm oil.

Great. Twenty years from now, between logging and monocultural planting, Indonesia will be one giant palm tree. And poorer than today, if it doesn’t watch out

My take on the new Senate committee chairs

The AP reports on the likely Democratic chairmen and chairwomen of Senate committees in the new Congress.

Agriculture … Harkin’s not bad, but needs to a better job of getting farm subsidies to family farmers and away from Big Ag.

Appropriations … Let’s hope Byrd doesn’t decide to exit the Senate in a pork-barrelling blaze of glory, especially if John Murtha knocks off Steny Hoyer for House Majority Leader.

Armed Services … Levin has the opportunity of turning his lawyerly acumen on to the many current problems with the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense. Unfortunately, by wanting to have the current Senate, not the new one, run the confirmation hearings for Robert Gates, he’s already had a misstep.

Banking … Chris Dodd is a Democratic senator.

Budget … Conrad is a sort of finance wonk; could be just right for this position.

Commerce … Inouye has struck me as a squish in the past on some environmental issues; hope this doesn’t carry over to the science part of this committee.

Energy … It’s good to have a New Mexican here, with oil, gas, uranium and atomic labs all in the state, and he’s at least average on renewables, too.

Environment … Hard to think of a better senator for this committee than Boxer.

Finance … Baucus has been worse than a squish on tax cuts for the rich in the past. Not good, unless Reid can sit on him.

Foreign Relations … Yuck. Joe Biden’s probably going to try to kick-start his presidential ambitions from this platform. Plus, he’s too much of a centrist internationalist for my taste in general.

Heath/Education/Labor … Old lion Ted Kennedy gets a last shot. If the Democrats can win the WH in 2008, looking down the road, you know Ted will have a national healthcare bill to report out of committee. Let’s hope he can not only pass a minimum-wage increase bill, but one with automatic COLAs built in.

Homeland Security … Good doorknob. The only worse committee for Lieberman to run would have been Foreign Relations.

Indian Affairs … Dorgan does come from a state with a large American Indian population, BUT… he took a fair chunk of money from Jack Abramoff tribal clients, before eventually returning it. Big question… does he lean on the Interior Department to finally settle the multibillion lawsuit filed by Indian tribes over royalties, assets, etc.?

Judiciary … I’m not as sold on Pat Leahy as some might be. As the story said, his problems with the Patriot Act have been with its administration, not its enactment, which doesn’t thrill me.

Rules … The Peter Principle for Feinstein

Aging … Kohl could push to revamp Medicare Part D, especially in terms of direct drug negotiation. GOP senators in “older” states up for re-election in 2008 would have to go for the ride.

Ethics … Hopefully Tim Johnson has a quiet committee

Intelligence … Jay Rockefeller repeatedly got snowed by Pat Roberts when the Republicans were in control, so much so that I wonder whether he wasn’t being willingly co-opted at times, or at least, whether he has any more backbone than Teddy Roosevelt’s infamous chocolate éclair.

Small Business … John Kerry; See Feinstein, Dianne and Peter Prinicple

Veterans Affairs … Akaka will be a solid choice. Let’s hope he keeps tabs on the VA trying to deny Iraq-related injury claims.

Overall grade? A solid B, I guess.

The Preserve: Just because you talk $1 million homes doesn't mean they'll be built

Sorry, Mr. Hollis, that's one of the concerns with The Preserve — people see no guarantee you'll build any of the bigger houses after you build all the small ones. Hello, Joe Johnson and Jim Landon, are you listening?

If you want to guarantee to build out all price ranges at the same time, you could alleviate these fears.

And the "seniors" apartments — are they age-restricted?

And what guarantees do we have on anything from Steve Topletz? Ask Hank Haney about that, about how Topletz and D.R. Horton pulled the rug out from under him.

Sen. John Cornyn: Passing the buck on Iraq

Cornyn, in Lancaster Thursday to speak to a special joint Lancaster/Best Southwest Chamber of Commerce luncheon, repeated the standard post-election GOP talking points, plus a few more.
1. Iraq is the Democrats’ problem.

2. Nobody is talking about “stay the course” anymore.

3. Iraq part of the “war on terror,” with Cornyn carefully phrasing early comments to allow listeners to infer that he believes Iraq/Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda/Osama bin Laden were connected before Sept. 11, 2001

4. Claiming nobody expected an attack on civilians, conveniently overlooking the infamous Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing, entitled: “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.”

I’m sure most of the audience thought every word he said was gospel truth.

Thefts at Lancaster High School?

I e-mailed Lancaster School District Police Chief Sam Allen, without identifying either what I had heard or how I had heard it. My e-mail subject line: "Theft problems at the new high school??" The only body-copy text was: "I heard some things..."

He said, contact Teri Wilson. I zipped her an e-mail, also without revealing what I've heard. If I don't hear back by tomorrow morning, I'll call.

And, what have I heard?

Classrooms and closets that supposedly won’t lock, among other things.

And that leads to "missing" items. The “missing” items reportedly include food and cooking utensils from the Culinary Arts program, and a couple of pricey musical instruments.

Stay tuned.

Ironic, no?

I find it interesting that the technology services department of the Lancaster School District has no information on its webpage.

November 08, 2006

Biden, Levin already wrong on Gates; Webb right

Sens. Joe Biden and Carl Levin sound like they’re full steam ahead on considering Bob Gates’ nomination to succeed Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense NOW rather than waiting.

Sen.-elect James Webb, who went through Senate confirmation himself as Navy Secretary under Ronald Reagan, has it right:
I believe that the new Senate should be the body that examines Bob Gates' qualifications for confirmation.

It’s not like the lame-duck Congress is going to significantly impact events in Iraq, nor is a new Defense Secretary going to do too much too soon. And, despite President Bush’s fine words at his press conference, it’s not likely he’s going to sign on the Congressional dotted line on Iraq ― whatever that may turn out to be ― anyway.

Let’s wait.

Pombo loses!

The defeat of chief anti-environmentalist Dick Pombo, soon-to-be former chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, was far and away the single biggest individual House race piece of good news to my ears.

“Our long national nightmare has just begun

So says Ted Rall, in his take on the midterm elections, including a bill that Bush signed just a couple of weeks ago, that fully federalizes the National Guard.

Fortunately, Rumsfeld’s not in charge any more to use this law; nonetheless, it’s still on the books.

Rall is right that we’ll be cleaning up after Bush for years to come.

Could Lewis resign?

Note: This is not rumor, it’s speculation. And, as it was speculation by a public person in a public setting, I don’t have any problem posting it here.

Dr. Bill Wells from Cedar Valley College was at the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon today. Today Newspapers’ photo editor was at the same table.

According to him, Wells said he thought Superintendent Larry Lewis might resign at the end of the school year.

Now, I tend to doubt that, on several counts. Lewis has too much invested in International Baccalaureate to walk away. And, especially if he’s personalizing the last two bond elections, he’s likely to fight harder than leave… or, possibly, fight harder on his terms than compromise.

Nonetheless, I found it interesting, at least, that Wells would even broach that idea.

Kenn George, take a look in the mirror

The Dallas County GOP head blames the Democrats’ “poisonous political atmosphere” for the Dallas County tectonic shift.

Rummy reads the tea leaves, resigns

At least SOMEBODY in the current adminstration, albeit one of the biggest fuck-ups, recognizes the depth and seriousness of the voters’ rebuke.

I think Robert Gates, should the Senate approve his nomination, will be a serious and thoughtful Secretary of Defense.

That said, he has to go through confirmation hearings. Will Democrats insist that wait until the new Senate takes power? They should.

Preserve passes P&Z 3-2

Sadly, from the little amount of revision Topletz did to his original plan.

Glad to see both Giles and Shields voted no. Cannot believe Carlton Standish voted yes AFTER ORIGINALLY SAYING THIS COULD BANKRUPT THE CITY.

Let DeSoto have it, if they're threatening to go west. Call the bluff.

Well, maybe 80 percent of landowners will petition against it and force a supermajority three-quarters approval when it comes before the Lancaster City Council.

Apologies to Polly Shields that I initially reported the vote incorrectly.

Bush already trying to bind AND ignore Congressional Democrats

His “work with me” comments indicate that HE STILL DOESN’T GET IT if he thinks he’s the one to be setting the agenda for the next two years.

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Tony Snow (and will the WH press corps finally smack his faux “peaches and cream” demeanor around a bit) was already trying to throw Democrats under the bus.
The president has got a very active agenda for the next two years and you're going to need both parties. There has to be a calculated decision by the Democrats.

Tony, where’s Georgie-Porgie’s commitment to working with the Democrats’ agenda? (Bet nobody in the press corps calls him out on this one.)

Lancaster elections - the aftermath

Obviously, we will have another bond election next May. I will likely be offering some of my suggestions for that in a Nov. 16 editorial. The TIGER PAC has offered its suggestions already.

Given the closeness of the election, and speaking of editorials, I don’t doubt that the Oct. 19 editorial in Lancaster Today may well have been decisive. I don’t gloat in that; I’m not dancing in the streets. It is what is.

The newspaper did (John Kerry? George Bush? ― TWO notable flip-floppers) first speak against, then speak for, the charter, and the charter passed; but, that was due to the beer and wine regulation language, during a beer-wine sales initiative election, not any magical powers of LT. We halfway or more recommended voting for beer and wine, and it failed. So, while the newspaper’s reach might be worth a few percentage points, it isn’t worth that much.

Arguably, our reach is a half a percentage point; in 2004 package beer-wine sales failed 57-43; this time, package beer-wine failed 56.5-43.5. We didn't offer a ringing endorsement on economic grounds, but gave some support on both economic and social libertarian reasons.

And that’s not just us. Newspaper trade journals regularly discuss in pre-election issues just how much, or how little, influence endorsement-type editorials have even when coming from major seven-day daily newspapers like The Dallas Morning News. The consensus of journalism analysts is that the influence level is not huge.

Anyway, I write all that as lead-up to the expectation that school district officials and downtown old-guard types are probably going to want to, or actually, throw me under the bus when they all read the results.

And that’s OK. I can live with that. You have to have, or develop, a fairly thick skin in my business. And it might be thicker than that of some other people.

Now, to any of you teachers/staff/paraprofessionals reading, and posting…

What’s the mood at your school, or at district admin, Wednesday, or Thursday? If you’re at an individual school, are you catching any angle on not just what the mood is at your campus, but what is getting passed down from the top?

And, if anybody hears anything from beer-wine backers, feel free to pass it on, too.

Why can’t we get any opposed constable’s races

That’s besides the issue of why we elect constables and sheriffs as peace officers. All five Dallas County constables were unopposed in the general election.

Maybe if they were opposed, they wouldn’t be writing in-city speeding tickets so often.

Watkins wins Dallas DA

It appears Democrats are expanding their grip on Dallas County if Craig Watkins can beat Toby Shook.

Lancaster elections final

Bond 52-48 no; beer-wine 55-45 no; charter 54-46 yes. I got to hold the front page of my paper late, so there will be a news story this week.

November 07, 2006

Our long national nightmare may not be over, but it may have eased a little bit.

CNN officially calls the House for Democrats, as of 10:15 Central.

It looks like Democrats will take about 30 seats, maybe more, well beyond the 15 needed to take control. I’m guessing the Senate ends at 50-50 (assuming Lieberman is good to his word about caucusing with Democrats).

Lancaster voting update, 10:15

School bond has closed to 51.7-48.3 with 15 of 18 precincts in. Beer and wine down 56-44 and charter up 54-46.

The Glenn Heights vote was misreported earlier by me. The 65-35 was on mixed drinks in restaurants; package liquor trailed 53-47.

Pundits misunderstood Kinky

I’ve read pundits in the last couple of days talking about why Rick Perry was going to be re-elected governor of Texas. In general, they talked about how Kinky Friedman and Carole Strayhorn split the center while Bell did pretty well with the left, or what passes for the left, or is alleged to be the left, here in Tejas.


Obviously, none of these pundits was actually familiar with Friedman supporters.

Many of his backers openly called Perry a RINO ― a Republican In Name Only.

When you have people openly pushing Kinky as being to the right of Perry, he’s not trying to split the middle.

Unfortunately, too many people who WANTED a centrist candidate thought exactly that Kinky, though, proving once again that it’s too bad we can’t give voters an IQ test, or better yet, a PQ (Political Quotient) exam.

It’s also too bad we can’t do that for pundits who pen analysis a mile wide and an inch deep.

Lancaster early voting: Bond, beer down; charter up narrowly

Early voting had the Lancaster School District’s bond election headed to defeat by a fairly wide margin, 57 to 43 percent. Early voting totals showed 1,515 for and 2,015 against.

My personal guess is that, given the relatively heavy early voting and the margin of difference, it will be tough for bond backers to make up 500 votes in day-of-election voting.

Early voting in the election to approve package sales of beer and wine went 54-46 percent against the initiative. Early voting numbers were 1,600 votes for and 1,862 votes against.

One Lancaster election measure was winning in early voting. The city charter amendments referendum was ahead 53-47 percent; early voting numbers were 1,656 for and 1,492 against.

On this, I don't know if Nancy got a lot of people out to vote early or not. I'm guessing it's winning in large part because of people's concerns about beer and wine, as regulation of them was part of the charter amendments.

More Corgan conspiracy?

In addition to Corgan itself not being located in Lancaster, their website for the citizens bond committee is ultimately run out of Australia, according to the Whosis info Jeff Melcher has on his blog.

Jeff, surprised you haven’t played that up more.

We don’t need a Canadian bank OR an Australian website dictating to Lancaster, do we?

Why no bin Laden pre-election tape?

Here’s my speculation.

First, as his 2004 pre-election activity shows, Osama bin Laden is not uninformed about the U.S. electoral process.

So, he must believe he has better reasons to “favor nobody” than to come out with a video that clearly favors Bush. (This is assuming that he either hasn’t seen the Republican National Committee’s bin Laden commercial, or he has and thinks it takes the place of a pro-Bush video by him.)

So, if this is the case, why is Osama playing this election neutral?

First, he knows Bush is a lame duck; nothing he can do there.

Second, and point major, he is hoping that a Democratic House provides enough traction to get us to at least start pulling out of Iraq (which we of course need to do), thereby clearing the playing field for more al Qaeda affiliate activity against Shiites there.

Or, as a variation on that, he understands the U.S. system well enough, and Shrub in particular, to see the gridlock of divided government as a godsend.

So, bin Laden had good reason to do nothing, especially once he saw the surge for Democratic Congressional candidates.

Peak Oil and the American Empire

Just how will the end of easy oil, caused by the looming peak in world oil production, affect the U.S.?

Read this excellent Oil Drum interview with Michael Klare. Klare talks about both the invasion of Iraq and potential military action against Iran in terms of a general militarization of oil politics, among other things.

Where does China fit? Right now, in the arms of Russia, and in part because Beijing feels we drove them there, Klare said.

Lancaster Chamber uses Wyoming for robocalls?

This morning, before I left home, I got one last plea from Lancaster Chamber of Commerce President Joe Johnson to vote yes on the package beer-wine sales initiative.

The robocall had a Wyoming area code on it, on my caller ID.

Doesn’t anybody local do that?

How weak and genuflecting the mainstream establishmentarian media is

This Washington Post story about GOP robocalls, the ones specifically designed to look like Democratic calls so that voters get mad at Democratic candidates, has as much bite as dentures put on a grinding wheel. Here’s Example A of the insipidity:
Whether "robo-calls" are positive or negative, mean-spirited or humorous …

This exemplifies, in one sentence, everything wrong with the Post article.

First, it conflates get-out-the-vote and support-our-candidate, legal, robocalls, with the clearly illegal ones the National Republican Congressional Committee has been running. Second, it treats the whole thing as a big joke, which is just what the NRCC wants.

The New York Times story
Part of the way to handle this? If/when the next Democrat (or Green, or something like that, should we be so lucky), gets elected President, refuse to recognize reporters from papers like the Post at presidential press conferences.

Just a small lie about Nicaragua and Ortega

The AP article talking about Daniel Ortega’s apparent return to power in Nicaragua says this:
He then allied the country with the Soviet Union and U.S. President Ronald Reagan firmly backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua as Central America became a Cold War battleground.

Ortega did no such thing. Now, he aligned himself with the Soviets, that’s certainly arguable. But, that’s different than allying with them

Blogging the Nov. 6 Lancaster School Board meeting

1. Lancaster HS has six assistant principals plus one associate?? If you get rid of about $125,000 in salary plus benefits of two assistants, Orchestra, Culinary Arts and other programs actually could be fully funded, not just what Lewis claims is full funding. My first two years of high school, I was in a high school the same size that had a principal and three, maybe only two, assistants.

2. Why would developers give 10 acres for free? Lewis said City Manager Jim Landon was leaning on developers to try to get them to do that, to get the district free land for additional elementary school sites.

Well, let’s do some math on this issue.

Let’s say you build an average $180,000 house on a third-acre site. On 10 acres, that’s $5.4 million. If the developer clears 10 percent, that’s $540,000. Let’s say the developer has 50 acres of land, besides these 10 acres. He or she will have to make an extra $3,600 per site on those remaining houses to break even. Now, the two dozen or so houses closest to the school should have no problem doing that, or better. But houses three or four blocks away probably will have minimal change in values. Let’s say the 25 closest houses bump $8,000 in value. That’s $200,000. Let’s say the next 50 bump $4,000, for another $200,000. That means the 75 remaining houses have to bump a total of $140,000, or nearly $2,000 per house, for the developer to break even. I don’t think that’s likely. Of course, I’ve never been a homeowner, and I grew up in church-owned housing, so my dad never had to face buying a house while I was around, either.

In any case, is Landon going to guarantee developers they will break even, or the city will make good the difference? I’m sure his good friend Steve Topletz is hip with this idea.

3. Lewis claims the district owns the Ag Barn site on Sunny Meadows, as a possible district-owned location for another northside high school. No, the district doesn’t, unless there’s some reverse deal in which the district did NOT donate that land to the city as swap-out for the new high school land, or the city donated it back. I’m not saying that that wouldn’t be a bad place for another elementary, but…

4. Doing neighborhood walks since Sept. 2003? Yes, but you’ve been selling three bonds as part of that, right?

5. Lewis actually is delaying International Baccalaureate approval for the high school by one year. I agree with delaying it, but I’m shocked that Lewis would actually pause and take stock.

6. Bible-story based leadership training? Can we talk about killing the powers that be with the jawbone of an ass? Or, to quote Romans, as Lewis likes to do, “Bless those who curse you,” if you are indeed being cursed? Of course, even that can be spun, to say, “Look at me, I’m blessing them!”

The above isn’t meant to be snarky, it’s serious.

I’m leery of Success/Prosperty Gospel ideas in general. I’m very leery of them being used as a management “bible” on how to run a business, whether public, a government, or in the private sector.

And, since this is public sector, it’s waving all sorts of First Amendment red flags to me.

7. It’s nice to throw others under the bus while waving your hands in the air and claim you’re not at the wheel.

8. Am I old enough to talk about the “good old days”? I’m glad I wasn’t in schools that had such a blizzard of tests.

9. Talking to the Melchers about getting open records from the district administration. Granted, state rules on financial filings can be convoluted. But, if the district has blown something, just admit it, and say, “let’s work on it.” Say, “let us contact our lawyers, not to stonewall, but to see what we need to do.” I personally don’t believe there’s any criminal intent. Beyond not being fully competent on the issue, I believe Lewis and staff have concerns about loss of face. Hey, it’s not a lost art. I sometimes succumb to that temptation myself. And, I seem to be getting more aware of doing that.

10. Lewis talks about incentive plans for teachers, from private businesses in the area. They sound great, and I don’t mean to deny that teachers shouldn’t be adequately compensated, but I’m sure people in other jobs would like to have that level of effort put out for them. (Don’t shoot me, any teachers who are reading!)

11. Let this not be understood as me doubting Lewis’ sincerity on improving school campuses in general and the scholarship of individual students. But, it gets back to concerns I’ve expressed earlier about perhaps biting off more than he can chew.

Take International Baccalaureate. Do other schools adopt it while trying to get large bond programs passed, then administered, at the same time? Do other schools adopt it while still scrambling to have accredited teachers in all classrooms?

November 06, 2006

Rick Perry says: non-Christians going to hell; I say….

If there really were such a place, it couldn’t be hell for me, with him not being there.

Does the Sierra Club practice what it preaches on global warming?

Every issue of my Sierra magazine has info on Sierra Club vacations.

Now, I’ve never been on one, for two reasons.

One, they cost way more than I can afford on my weekly newspaper editor’s salary. (Anybody who believes conservative myths about the “rich, liberal media” is clueless; the media that’s rich(er) sure isn’t liberal and the media that’s truly liberal generally isn’t rich, or close to it.)

Sierra uses a considerable chunk of the money from these trips as a fundraiser.

Anyway, I can do those trips cheaper myself, and I’ve been to a fair amount of those places in the U.S., outside of Alaska and Hawaii, already anyway.

But, seeing the latest offerings, I got to wondering about an environmental issue.

People — mainly people richer than I am — are flying from all across the country to take these trips. Why isn’t the Sierra Club practicing what it preaches on global warming and charging carbon offset costs for the distances these people travel by plane?

Harassing phone call, or robocall, on your phone?

Don’t delete it — save it on your computer for possible future needs, with GotVoice.

Why save them? Well, maybe you need a backup on your PC of someone violating a restraining order by calling you.

Or you need proof to e-mail to other people about a political robocall.

Well, GotVoice lets you do that.

No, I haven’t tried it yet. But Democratic bloggers trying to fight the GOP fakery in many states of calling under the name of the Democratic congressional candidate — doing 6-7 repeat faked calls to try to get people mad at Democrats — suggest GotVoice is a great way to have proof to e-mail to local newspapers, local TV stations, cable news stations, etc.

Oh, the beta version of GotVoice is free, too.

U.S: Net food importer

Yes, you read right.

Due in part to globalization, I’m sure, and in part to Americans continuing to eat beyond their means, we are a net food importer, as the Sierra Club reports.
Last year, for the first time in U.S. history, we imported more food from other countries than we ate from our own fields, streams, orchards, and bays.

It doesn’t get much more graphic than that, sadly. Unfortunately, most of what we do grow here is flavorless, fiberless, sugar-laden crap forced on the country by Big Ag.

Yes, Texas, there is a better way to elect a governor

We can elect a governor with an absolute majority, but without a cumbersome runoff.

It’s called Instant Runoff Voting, and it’s used elsewhere.

The way it works, in a race involving three or more people, is simple.

You mark your ballot, not just for one choice, but you list your No. 1 preference, then your No. 2, then your No. 3, etc. If no candidate gets an absolute majority, the bottom candidate is stricken from the list. Everybody who voted for that person automatically has their votes assigned to their No. 2 choice, and you recalculate. If still nobody has a majority, you again strike the bottom candidate; everybody who voted him or her No. 2 has their votes assigned to choice No. 3 and everybody who picked this candidate No. 1 gets their votes moved to candidate No. 2.

No “wasted votes.”

No two-party RepubliCrat monopoly using the phrase “wasted votes” as a fear tactic. (Incidentally, The Nation had a good piece on IRV, but the author was focusing on primary races, indicating to me she’s locked into the two-party monopoly.)

November 05, 2006

Election night preview — bit of irony, bit of sarcasm, or bit of both?

While the commercial networks run election coverage Tuesday night, PBS Channel-13 will run the classic movie “The Great Escape.”

The face of the Republican Party, the face of America?

So, by the Dallas County GOP ad in the Nov. 5 Snooze, we’re supposed to imply that Democrats are….

The face of Alberta?

The fact of Albania?


The face of al Qaeda???

Bonus points if you got the correct answer without prompting.

Bear Creek Nature Preserve

If you haven’t been out there yet, you’re missing a great place. Details from the official opening in this week’s newspaper.

School bond: Postal permits vs. small-cap filings

Jeff Melcher worries about school district architect Corgan funding a postal permit to pay for a variety of pro-bond mailings; I may be over-reading him, though, and he’s just being snarky, not worrying in an ethics sense.

Anyway, if Corgan has a single postal permit it has on tap to use not only for Lancaster’s citizens’ bond committee, but those in other school districts such as Frisco’s, I see nothing illegal or unethical as long as it’s properly reported.

And, speaking of reporting …

I found it interesting that Melcher’s TIGER PAC, opposing the bond, is deliberately keeping all contributions below $50, per his instructions. And, no, this is apparently not just a question of people not having more than $50; it’s Melcher’s instruction, so he doesn’t have itemize contributors by name.

That, then, leads to several questions on my part.

1. How many school district employees have contributed?
2. How many total contributors ― not contributions, but contributors ― has he gotten?
3. Would any of those contributors be “surprise” contributors by showing an active opposition to the bond.

Point 1, I can understand the desire for anonymity. And, with the “raise that is not a raise,” many of them might not have more than $50 to give anyway.

Point 2? Jeff, if you’re reading, and want to tell me, I’m listening.

Point 3? That’s the key. It sounds like a few people DO have more than $50 available, but for whatever reasons, Jeff wants to keep them on the QT. It’s legal, ethical and his tactical choice, but I find it interesting.

Beer and wine thoughts

Sorry, Jeff, but I think you’re in the wrong on this issue

Obviously, the bulk of local blogging I’ve done here in the last month has been about the school bond. I have had a post or two about the city charter amendments, and even other things such as The Preserve.

But, prompted by a couple of recent e-mails by Jeff Melcher, I will offer a few more thoughts on this issue.

Melcher thinks that the “yes” side on beer and wine package sales is all wet. (Pun intended.) I respectfully disagree.

As I told him, in previous beer-wine, or liquor, sales elections here, organized opponents have consistently been late in filing campaign finance reports. And, given that a city councilman is part of the organized opposition, and that the opposition is largely made up of ministerial leaders, I find this disquieting.

He also thinks this is an issue of “old aristocracy” vs. newcomers.

Don’t think so. I wouldn’t label either Pat Royder or Norman Whitlow as “old aristocracy.” If anything, opposition leader Clyde Hairston would fit that bill better.

And, rich, organized liquor opponents can pay to have “homey” postcards have that “down home” touch, Jeff.