Thursday, August 21, 2008

here's the answer

Supposedly, our community in the middle of Wisconsin has a (gasp) DEER PROBLEM!

Yesir We've got trouble
Right here in (no) River City
Trouble with a capital "T"
and that rhymes with "D"

and "D" Stands for Deer.

But I think I've found the perfect solution....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another week...another WTF!

Last year I worked on a really good sub-committee on governmental-to-public communications. We talked about various communications models that could be implemented to improve the two-way communications between government and its different audiences. It was a good experience but the recommendations almost completely we prepared another one of "those reports" You know what I'm talking about...a report written by 20 and read by 3....a report that gathers dust on the shelf, and (this is my favorite) is referenced to justify a political position one way or another regardless of whether the position was supported by "the report of the committee on communications"

So a new "strategic planning initiative" takes place and lo and behold, they decide that "communications" is our problem...or at least one of them.

So they form a sub-committee (again)
Hold a meeting

Here are the solutions to our "communications problem":

" Picnic in the Park with the Mayor;

Posters in the downtown area with pictures and testimonials about “why I’m in XXXXX from area businesses;

"great way to dress up vacant buildings etc".(sic)

Discussion also followed on the idea of “Branding” our community and its inclusion as an objective that should be considered in the prioritization process. A contest could be conducted to involve the citizens and create excitement. This will be further explored at the next meeting.

I think I've finally figured it out....we're practicing GOVERNMENT BY GIMMICK...

Yeah...that's the ticket...give the public enough gimmicks and they'll ignore that you're f-ing up....royally...


Thursday, August 14, 2008

1st Amendment

I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert on First Amendment Rights but I'm going to comment anyway....and invite real experts to join in (If any of my four regular readers are experts))

The subject is the killing of a Democratic Party Worker in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Obviously, our heart goes out to the family of the victim. That should almost go without saying.

The motivation for the killing is still under investigation and yet a few of our friends have already written screeds to the likes of Michele Malkin, Sean Hannity, and maybe a few other of the more virulent Conservative bloggers to blame them for inciting the shooting through their writings which seem to encourage such violence against "liberals".

I've personally thought of freedom of speech as a pass/fail situation. That is, either you believe in it completely, or you don't. However, I am beginning to suspect that there is some kind of line which can be crossed from actually practicing free speech to committing or inciting to commit a crime.

It goes beyond the famous (alleged) Ann Coulter quote about the Arab States, "We should kick their ass and take their gas!" That's a pretty generalized threat. What I think crosses the line is when followers of particular writers or political figures are told specifically to target individuals; as Michele Malkin did by publishing the names, addresses and phone numbers of liberals she savaged in her blog and invited her readers to "contact" them. The "contacts" were, quite naturally, death threats. Did she cross the line by publishing the personal information? Or, is it still "freedom of speech"?

Concerning the Little Rock situation, I'm not as quick to jump on the Conservative punditariat as some of my colleagues might be. I don't think there was any commandment from them to go kill a specific individual in Little Rock, Arkansas. I do believe there was, and continues to be, an attempt to whip people into a frenzy of hatred against "liberals" in general and that attempt itself may eventually spawn more violence like we saw in Little Rock...and I believe there was another incident where a crazy gunman said he was told (by _od?) to "kill Liberals"....

It's got to stop somewhere and if it doesn't then I am afraid that Congress will yield to the old "necessity if the mother of intervention" routine and enact a piece of really bad legislation over this issue.

Really bad idea

I don't know who came up with this idea, but I can't think it's a good one.....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bipartisanship = Date rape

That's what Conservative guru Newt Gingrich was alleged to have said in the early days of the great "Conservative Revolution" of 1994. It is easy to believe the phrase to be the hallmark of the conservative efforts of those days because it was truly a "take no prisoners" situation. Conservatives believed the battle against William Jefferson Clinton was truly an existential battle. As far as they were concerned, the very soul of the nation was at stake.

So consider this proposition:

14 years later, George W. Bush has left the nation in shambles economically, militarily and diplomatically. It would seem incumbent on the remaining few avowed conservatives out there to start pleading for bipartisan collegiality in both houses of congress (just like the crocodile tears they shed after the Democratic victories in 2006?) in order to preserve some remnants of their precious "Conservative Revolution".

But they aren't....via our friend Digby

She cites that Obama is actually practicing "post-partsianship" as opposed to just speaking about it. She claims that Obama needs the good will of the right/conservatives/Republicans in order to straighten out the mess they have created over the past seven (going on eight) years.

The mess is outlined starkly in Thomas Franks's a snippet via Digby

Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we have seen is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepreneurship not merely in commerce but in politics; and the inevitable results of its ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, all that follows: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we’ve come to expect from Washington. …

… The conservatism that speaks to us through its actions in Washington is institutionally opposed to those baseline good intentions we learned about in elementary school.

Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against bringing top-notch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers. They have made a cult of outsourcing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately piled up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been thorough; it has been a professional job. Repairing it will require years of political action.

Get that? It will require years of political action...but Digby points out:

That's not going to happen through compromise because they don't want it repaired and will do everything in their power to stop it. The nature of the opposition makes compromise and consensus impossible, even if it were desirable, which I submit that it is not since the amount of repair that must be done is so enormous that there literally isn't time to play these games.


By the time these guys are done, the only acceptable bipartisanship will be the Republican kind --- the kind that results in more wars and tax cuts and deregulation. The "compromise" is that we might not have quite as many as we have under a Republican.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

And now for something completely different......

Sorry about the ripoff of the Monty Python line but I'm going to depart from my customary curmudgeon-ness to riff on another of my favorite topics...

the media...

all of the mf-ers.....

What set this off was just a few, short minutes of viewing the two premier Sunday morning talk shows: Meet the Press and This Week with George Stephanopolus.

The pundit class has their narrative and they will not deviate from it no matter what the truth happens to be. In this case, the pundits have two narratives they want to play out over and over again.

First, Barak Obama is an elitist. I mean he MUST be because St John McCain says so all the time and did you know that McCain is a war hero (he was shot down and held captive so that makes him a hero AND imminently qualified to be commander-in-chief) and if he says so, then it is certainly true.

Which one of the two candidates owns nine houses and flies around in his wife's private jet?

Which one was a "legacy" appointment to Annapolis and which one had to fight his way into Harvard?

Second Narrative: Obama is only 5% ahead of McCain. He should be ahead by 20%. Run for the Hills! The Obama Campaign is in BIG TROUBLE.

Never mind the state-by-state which show Obama winning by good margins in even the so-called "Red States". Never mind the internals showing that Obama is ahead or tied in all the GOPs best demographics.

No never mind....just TRUST the Punditry....Obama is in trouble.

But even with these two narratives playing out, there are some signs that the public is not listening. I think the media might have lost its credibility with people. People are tired of being told what to think...what narrative to believe...they seem to be taking their cues from the quality of life happening around them and that seems to tell them that conservative leadership has failed.

They don't want any more of it.

I am disturbed because I had an encounter Friday with two people whom I consider to be quite intelligent but who are, in fact, conservatives who told me how Obama was a "Muslim sympathizer"

I can't believe this crap is still going down...

Tomorrow...or maybe the next day....I'll write about what I think is going to happen next in my little 'berg'.....

Working title:

We've Got Trouble
We've Got Trouble right here in River (less) City

And it starts with T

And it rhymes with D

And D stands for DEER!


Oh fercryinoutloud..........

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I can't even begin....

I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out why, oh why, anybody would pass such a stupid ordinance. .....but there's a lot of history to let's review....

First, this post from November of last year...during the budget fight er, ah, "debate"....

The battle calmed down until about February of this year when one of the main characters in the budget debate, (who's husband incidentally, was one of the city employees eliminated) proposed that before the next budget cycle and presumably before each budget cycle the council conduct a "staffing plan" and that plan would preclude elimination of staff positions during the budget cycle. The sub-committee looking at it decided that it was impossible for the council to conduct a staffing needs analysis without assistance from a consultant. The council didn't want to engage a consultant. Further, there was concern expressed (by me) that relying on "staff" to justify reducing "staff" wasn't a good idea and so the subject was dropped.

Or so we thought

Late in May, a new aldperperson, the one who took the place of the one suggesting the staffing plan, introduced an ordinance to force any personnel decision to go to the finance, budget and personnel committee before for recommendation before the council could act on it. An alderperson suggesting a personnel cut would have to submit justification and data supporting that justification and defend it before the committee and the City Administrator would provide the "counterpoint" to the recommendation.

In addition, the ordinance was written so that the "justification" had to be submitted to the City Administrator first but there wasn't any time limit on when or how or even "if" the City administrator had to present it to the Committee.

In other words, it would be impossible for the common council to eliminate positions or even order a staff reduction in the budget process.

It's the slickest bureaucracy protection scheme I've ever seen.

I wasn't worried about the ordinance at all. I couldn't imagine that any of my friends on the council would vote for it so I expected it to fail and didn't pay much attention to it.

But somebody got "flipped" and the vote came out 5-5. The Mayor "proudly" voted AYE and this piece of excrement passed.

With over 64% of the budget involving "personal services" that means that if the costs increase to the point where we are forced to either layoff individuals or raise taxes, the option to layoff is taken away. It's an automatic tax increase proposal and gives the city administrator, an unelected official, almost carte blanch control over the budget.

A good friend of mine told me over coffee the morning after that he thought the whole executive floor had been drinking out of the stupid fountain.

I think he's right.

Who in the right mind would even propose taking away the discretion of the elected officials. Some alder persons think they were elected to represent only the interests of the city staff....they are mistaken.