Friday, February 27, 2009

Nashville Tea Party 2009-02-27

Two of the children and I attended the Tea Party at the state capitol today at noon. They announced the crowd as being 600. Being as short as I am and being on the Plaza I didn't have the vantage point of being able to confirm that but the crowd was very good for such short notice on a drizzly day.

I always get a kick out of observing the media at these events. It's not unusual for them to be completely unaware that they're being rude by pushing through the crowd to get the spot they 'need' for their shots and being unaware of the fact that some of us are shorter than they are.

Not surprisingly, Ben Cunningham got the biggest applause. He understands and clearly articulates the fact that the power of the US government is via the people and we need to make Congress sit up and take notice. They do need to 'fight for us'.

Some of the speechifying came from folks who are obviously quite willing to use support for the Obama administration's outrageous money and power grab in their own upcoming bids to replace those legislators who voted yes on TARP, Stimulus, budget...

Our state GOP leader, Robin Smith did a fine job herself in ensuring that folks understand that the GOP is going to fight this 'change'. She even gave props to Gov. Bredesen for taking a moment to look at whether Tennessee should commit to accepting all the available money.

GOP Spokesman Bill Hobbs had a pile of the TN GOP's newest bumper stickers: "Honk if you're paying my mortgage". A couple of us agreed that in some neighborhoods it wouldn't be safe to put this on your car so we declined the offer.

The only legislators in attendance seemed to be Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) and Rep. Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville). Some sent their regrets. Since all this came together in less than a week it's understandable that some couldn't make it. It was announced that Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Murfreesboro) was off in Europe. A crowd of folks walked the two blocks down the hill to Rep. Jim Cooper's (D-Nashville) office in the library building. Last I saw them they had gathered in the park opposite his office.

I fully expect that those in attendance are not done yet. I believe they intend to demand legislation dismantling the Porkulus Bill (and its squealing siblings) and will not forget come election time.

Just so's ya know....

It's winter.
Winter in the Nashville area is often hard to recognize. Our snowfall is rare and minimal for the most part. Thankfully, the good folks in Brentwood have a city government that ensures the season doesn't pass unnoticed.

Of course, I might not have even noticed the sign if the traffic hadn't been bumper to bumper and crawling along at a snail's pace.

Monday, February 23, 2009

2009-03-1 Education Roundup

Former Granberry PTA treasurer will do more time. Julie Buchanan has only done 2 years out of a 15 year sentence for " theft, money laundering and forgery" involving some $150,000 according to this Tennessean article. Part of that money was raised to benefit a child who has since passed on. Buchanan's actions harmed more than that child. She made fundraising and PTA activities across the state more difficult as systems overreacted to a simple lack of accountability over these finances. I'm glad Buchanan's doing well in prison. School volunteers and their students are still suffering as a result of her actions.

CitizenNetMom thinks spending 'stimulus' money on personnel might be acceptable this time around. "Thus, it seems to me that the most appropriate use would be to use those funds to continue programs like extended contracts, where teachers are paid a small stipend to do extra things like before- or after-school tutoring (of particular benefit to special ed or economically disadvantaged students)."

Will Frist SCORE? Not if he keeps moving the same pieces around the same game board. It's going to take some real backbone, some willingness to offend the status quo and its keepers and some dollars to get the message out to the public in order to obtain their backing. Without that backing the progressives will win the day and we'll be a full step behind where we are now.

This from the SCORE website

"SCORE will achieve this goal by (1) developing a strategic plan for K-12 education reform in Tennessee via a statewide Steering Committee of key stakeholders (2) launching a number of Project Teams to initiate both statewide and local education projects and (3) running a grassroots campaign to promote the state's new standards, identify education activists across the state, and create conversations among local community leaders about how each community can improve its local schools."
Sounds like the same old same old to me.

Martin Kennedy has other thoughts:
"Don't even begin to tell me about programs that have "worked" elsewhere in terms of graduation rates or test scores until you make clear that a fundamental goal of reform is to expand parental choice. Those who believe in the power of programs miss the point. It is the power of a system that is important. On the one hand you have a thriving market system that serves affluent consumers and on the other a public monopoly system that enjoys a captive market, those who can't afford the market system."
Sarah Moore opines about our coddling of students. Here's a snip:
"Students should not get an “A” just because they really, really tried. You might study for hours every day for your organic chemistry and never understand some of the tougher concepts. So, you earn a “C” in the course. Sounds fair to me. A graduate school or employer who looks at your transcript and sees an “A” should be able to assume that you actually understand the content, not that you just read the book."
Along that same train of thinking:
The Rev. Enoch Fuzz sees big problems when students earning A’s and B’s in their Metro high school classes cannot earn high scores on the nationally standardized ACT test.

“These are children who study, and get good grades, and aren’t disciplinary problems,” Fuzz said Monday. “Someone should offer a type of relief, or apology, to some of these families.” City Paper 2/17/09
I don't think I'll ever forget a call I got from a woman whose child had received excellent grades in MNPS schools and suddenly crashed into reality at MTSU. She felt betrayed and cheated. She and her child had been lead to believe things were fine when they were far from it.

Adult literacy spurs confusion. Yes. I'm confused about how these adults lived under the compulsory attendance laws and yet still didn't master this basic skill. I'm not happy at having to pay twice for these people to obtain these skills. I think it's a shame that our public education system failed them in this essential skill. Regarding the other classes--I do have a problem with taxpayers providing yoga, basket weaving, swimming and cake decorating classes for the highly discounted rate of $20 or so. Click here for the latest class list and fee schedule. The fees should accurately reflect the cost of facilities and advertising and support. Then we can talk about finding scholarships to make them affordable.

Ed Kindall should resign

Why has MNPS BOE member Ed Kindall's (District 7-Downtown-Glencliff) mess not gotten more notice? Channel 4's Dennis Ferrier reported on January 30, 2009 that Attorney Ed Kindall had to be sued by an estate he was handling. To start with Kindall's check written in August for $38,800 bounced! He failed to provide any accounting of where the estate's money went/is to Probate Judge Randy Kennedy despite being granted and extension and has promised to provide a full accounting and the funds by March 6. That means this family has been denied their inheritance for some 10 months. A man with 30 years of lawyering and 24 years on the school board who cannot monitor his own small office's handling of just under $60,000, by his statement, of his client's money is pretty much getting a free pass and is being allowed to oversee some $600 million in taxpayer dollars.

Why does Kindall get away with not providing an accounting to the Judge on January 30? Why does he get another 5 weeks? How is it his office needs an additional 5 weeks to provided a clear accounting of the funds? What other accounts are wrong? Where is the money during all this time? Ferrier says that the attorney for the estate thinks the widow and her three children are owed $121,500. Are criminal charges being considered? How much more of this might be coming now that the community has been given this heads up about Kindall's office practices?

This report from Dennis Ferrier does identify Kindall's attorney as George Thompson but it fails to point out Thompson is a former BOE member. Thompson decided not to run for reelection last August. He and Kindall have worked on the BOE and in the same building for quite some time.

The Tennessean has a few more details. Apparently, Papa Kindall is blaming his daughter Marjorie Tansil (a paralegal per this document). According to the Tennessean she's got other legal issues also.

Oddly, the MNPS BOE Code of Conduct fails to mention any sort of criminal behavior. As close as it comes is this paragraph [emphsis added]:

The Board commits itself and its members to ethical, businesslike and lawful conduct, including proper use of authority and appropriate decorum when acting as Board members.
Maybe this would fall under the conflict of interest clause since both the deceased and his widow formerly worked for MNPS. According to the BOE rules the most they could do is censure him.

Kendall obviously has some personal family and business issues that need his attention and the children of this district, the parents, the taxpayers do not have the time to wait in line during this vital transition time for Kindall to get his personal life in order. If Kindall cannot keep track of his own affairs and cannot fulfill his fiduciary responsibilities as a lawyer, how can we trust him to monitor a budget of $600 million?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama's Billions

I'm tired of life imitating art. This stimulus plan is looking like a terrifying remake of "Brewster's Millions". Only in Hollywood (and DC) can anyone think this could end well.

If you spend $1,000,000 a day for 2,000 years that's about $730,000,000,000. You'll need to keep going for another 128 years before you run out of spending a million a day since Jesus was born and equal the indebtedness Obama and Congress have shackled us with. If you wanted to do it in one lifetime of 75 years you'd have to spend $28.7 million a day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Chamber speaks and says nothing

For 16 years the Nashville Chamber of Commerce has been creating report cards for the Metro Nashville Public Schools. You'll have to take our word on that as they do not have 16 years worth of report cards on their website. That's probably because they do not want folks grading them on their report cards over that time and their lack of impact on the system. It's great PR to rent space, call a meeting, alert the press and pass out slick looking brochures (or promise their mailing at a later date) but it's another thing to actually have a cumulative record of how many of those 16 years they've said nearly the same thing about MNPS.

And not one of those report cards includes an apology for helping hire Pedro Garcia or elect BOE members that have enabled the system to be exactly where it is...on the cusp of being taken over by the State of Tennessee with an embarrassing graduation rate and a system that is losing its middle class base and no longer reflects our city on the whole.

Today's article in the Tennessean could have been written with just a few tweaks nearly every one of the past 16 years.

The article in the Tennessean ends with what is supposed to be the very good news of a miserly pilot program involving 40 out of 75,000 students that will teach them "about career tracks, resumes, fundraising, and job shadowing". According to the City Paper "The kids involved — 20 from each school — will meet two days each week to help kids internalize the reality of life after high school." Seriously, how hard is that to incorporate into every high school and how completely inadequate is this effort? The reality of life is that this is too small an effort to make any real difference to the students at MNPS and really only provides a photo op and line for his upcoming gubernatorial bio for the Superintendent of Schools Mayor Karl Dean.

Again, from the Tennessean article:

"Among other things, the report would like to see comparison data so Nashville could compare its school performance with other American cities;"
The Chamber doesn't have to wish for this, it already exists and if they'd been paying attention to more than their own agenda they'd have encouraged its use. Much of that data was provided by the Save Our Students folks the past several years or can be found at the excellent Education Consumers Foundation here:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Respect is too expensive

On my regular weekly shopping rounds I stop for gas and can see the three large flags regularly flown by a local car dealer. Maybe it's my military service that makes me notice flags, their condition and whether they're being flown correctly. When I looked up while waiting for my gas tank to fill I noticed that one flag looked brand new while the other two were obviously sun faded. But then I noticed further that two weren't shaped right.

The first shot is of the three flags regularly flown. The second is a close up of the second and third flags in that first shot. You can clearly see that the second flag is nearly square and obviously not the full size of the third brand new flag. The first flag is also shorter but not nearly.

I understand that three of these enormous flags are very expensive but no one requires this dealer to actually fly three flags. I know times are tough for auto sellers now days but are they really so hard up that they've got to resort to cutting off the frayed ends of the US Flag and sending the rehemmed remains back up the flag pole?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cooper votes yes

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) voted for a bill he could not possibly have read according to the NY Times.

Not one Republican House member voted for it. Not one Tennessee Democrat voted against it. It's a mess the Democrats created and one we and our children and their children will have to clean up. It's up to the Senate to stop it now.

Price is right

Hat tip :Michelle Malkin

We want to see it too, Nancy

While I'm thankful for the no votes on the 'Stimulus Bill' from Alexander, Corker and Cooper, and I dearly hope they will continue to vote no, I am absolutely livid that no one really knows what's in this monstrosity. As near as anyone can tell we've got spending out the wazoo and no idea where this money is going to come from. DEBT is not the answer to our being in debt! Good grief, have these people lost their minds? WHERE is this money going to come from?????????????? Seriously, folks where?

This from US News and World Report:

Congressional Offices Don't Have the Stimulus Bill, Lobbyists Do

February 12, 2009 04:14 PM ET

By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

We're receiving E-mails from Capitol Hill staffers expressing frustration that they can't get a copy of the stimulus bill agreed to last night at a price of $789 billion. What's more, staffers are complaining about who does have a copy: K Street lobbyists. E-mails one key Democratic staffer: "K Street has the bill, or chunks of it, already, and the congressional offices don't. So, the Hill is getting calls from the press (because it's leaking out) asking us to confirm or talk about what we know—but we can't do that because we haven't seen the bill. Anyway, peeps up here are sort of a combo of confused and like, 'Is this really happening?'" Reporters pressing for details, meanwhile, are getting different numbers from different offices, especially when seeking the details of specific programs.

Worse, there seem to be several different versions of what was agreed upon, with some officials circulating older versions of the package that seems to still be developing. Leadership aides said that it will work out later today and promised that lawmakers will get time to review the bill before Friday's vote.

Note, he's published this on Friday before dawn, he's been told legislators will get to review it on Friday...that's just not possible. According to this legislaton is over 1,400 pages! You'd do well to read and comprehend half of it in a weekend...but in just hours before the vote? This from the ReadTheStimulus folks
The total size of the four major files is over 100MB, and consists of 1419 pages. Three of the four files are huge "scanned" PDFs, meaning they were created by printing the original document and then scanning it in again --- and therefore contain no real "text" that can be easily searched. This will make our parsing process difficult and more time consuming, so we most likely won't have our versions ready until midday tomorrow. But we'll see...
That's a cleaver trick....not giving anyone time to actually read it and then not giving them the tools to actually search it either. They quote Speaker Pelosi:
"Around here language means a lot. Words weigh a ton and one person's understanding of a spoken description might vary from another's. We wanted to see it. And not only just I had to see it I had to show it to my colleagues and my caucus. We wanted to take all the time that was necessary to make sure it was right."
Her colleagues. Her caucus. What about the rest of us, Speaker? Is there no legislator out there willing to demand the time to actually read and understand this before it's put to a vote or are you ALL going to enable this nail in the US coffin? We are not being allowed to read it because it would fail if America had half a chance to really know what's in it. What is in there they do NOT want us to see? THAT may be more scary than the trillon dollars in debt that will shackle the US for--only God knows how long. It's time to stand up on the House and Senate floors and start reading this bill from beginning to end and expose it to the light of day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Relief is on the way, again

Filed yesterday by Rep. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) and Sen. Dewayne Bunch (R-Cleveland) is a bill to overturn the arbitrary pronouncement by DOE employee Cindy Benefield that Category IV diplomas (received by many homeschoolers) aren't worth the paper they were printed on. Completely ignoring their acceptance by colleges and universities across the nation as well as military recruiters and technical schools she decided to declare that these diplomas were unsuitable for peace officers and day care workers as she made her rounds across the state and when asked during regular inspection of records. The difference this year is the House Education Committee and House Calendar and Rules Committees lean Republican.

HB0432 / SB0483

by Rep. Mike
Bell (R-Riceville)
Sen. Dewayne Bunch (R-Cleveland)

Legislative summary: Schools, Home - As introduced, clarifies that a diploma awarded to a graduate from a home school is acceptable for all purposes of licensure and certification by state and local governmental entities. - Amends TCA Title 1, Chapter 3 and Title 49, Chapter 6.


By Bell

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 1, Chapter 3 and Title 49, Chapter 1, relative to recognition of certain educational accomplishments.


SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 1, Chapter 3,
Part 1, is amended by adding a new section thereto, as follows:

Section 1-3-1__. Notwithstanding any rule, regulation, or other provision of law to the contrary, a high school diploma awarded by any legal form of education in this state shall be considered by all departments, agencies, commissions or other such entities of state and local government as having all the rights and privileges of a high school diploma awarded by a public school system. This section shall not apply to state lottery proceeds as provided in title 49, chapter 4, part 9.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

See TnHomeEd's HB1652-SB1827 page for details of the two year's of hassle and battle to restore sanity to this issue.

Do away with grades

An idea long used by homeschoolers is now being considered by the Adams County school district near Denver, CO. For K-8 students they're dumping grade levels and moving children through based on their actual progress in mastering the subject instead. They call it a Standards Based Educational Model.

The change that's getting by far the most attention is the decision to do away with traditional grade levels – for kids younger than eighth grade, this first year, though the district plans to phase in the reform through high school a year at a time. Ultimately, there will be 10 multiage levels, rather than 12 grades, and students might be in different levels depending on the subject. They'll move up only as they demonstrate mastery of the material.

But Dr. Selleck and others are quick to emphasize that that's only one piece of a radically different, more student-centered, approach to learning – and that it's not the same as tracking, the currently out-of-favor system of grouping students by ability.


Selleck says most parents she talks to are enthusiastic, and the district is doing an enormous amount of outreach and education to explain the changes to them. (She often uses a video game analogy: Students are engaged, take as much or as little time as they need to at each level, and can't move on to the next level until they've mastered the one before it). Christian Science Monitor

We've got to acknowledge that the goal of education is actual mastery, not time in seat. As a taxpayer that's what I intend my taxes to be paying for--children able to read & write, do sums and understand their responsibilities and rights and citizens. I'm completely convinced that this system will result in children who are more willing to expend the effort necessary to make progress. When we give them a clear goal to work toward and reward them with moving on they will. Balance this with emphasizing that all people learn at a different pace, none of which is necessarily wrong or bad, and we'll have freed these students up to concentrate on following the educational path that is best for them...not the system.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

He left the party

For years people have been complaining that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Now, when the Tennessee Republican Party is trying to demonstrate that there will be, people are complaining that they've done a foolish thing in kicking
Speaker of the House Rep. Kent Williams (R I -Elizabethton)
out of the party. They fear we'll lose our 'majority' or being out gamed. In a world that doesn't like black and white and excuses everything by pleading for fairness, compromise and begs us to consider extenuating circumstances the man with the backbone in the debate who will stand on principle is a woman named Robin Smith, TN GOP Chairman.

The bottom line here is that a political party is a team. The team depends upon people agreeing to certain principles that define the mission of the team. Part of being a team is working with your teammates to accomplish the goal. Trust in your team members to do their jobs and not be 'ball hogs' is essential. Trusting the team captain to call the plays and your fellow team members to execute those plays is what makes a successful team. On what planet should someone who is not a team player expect to stay on the team? It wasn't rogue players like Williams that got Pat Summit 1000 wins.

From my point of view Speaker Williams crossed the line when promised to vote for a Republican Speaker and Speaker Pro Tempore and did not. No one had a gun to his head. No one was threatening his family. He signed that pledge, gave his word, and now we know what his word is worth....nothing. No man who is a proven liar should be running the Tennessee House. Period. Why can't that be agreed upon? Because we expect politicians to lie? We shouldn't.

In her statement announcing that Williams will no longer be considered a Bona Fide Republican Smith lists a good number of things that demonstrate clearly to me, and every other frustrated Republican in this state, that there was more than ample reason to tell Williams he's off the team. What team member treats his teammates this way? He gave the other team significant power over legislation which will hobble the mission of the team. He gave the bigger offices and salaries to the other team. He IS dragging down the good name of the rest of the team. Frankly, I believe Smith's only acknowledging the fact that Williams has already left the team.

Obviously, the man is an island unto himself. Big snort comes when you know what shenanigans he's being playing out and then read this:

"I am a yes man for the people of Carter County and now that I am speaker I am a yes man for the people of Tennessee. They are my boss.” Kingsport TimesNews
And I should believe anything that comes out of the mouth of Speaker Williams? Your bosses, Speaker Williams, voted for a Republican majority. You gave us the back of your hand.

Having demonstrated that he is untrustworthy the Republicans have done exactly the right thing in cutting Williams from the team and moving on with team members that can be trusted and will work for the party goals. So here's your dimes worth of difference between the parties. The Republicans won't give safe haven to dishonorable men.

UPDATE: Here's the video of Robin Smith's 9:00 minute statement via Truman Bean. Two points jumped out at me.
  1. Kent Williams hadn't met his party chairman until December 15, 2008 when she introduced herself to him. He's been in office 2 years already. How is it that they hadn't met before then? How involved in your party are you if you haven't even met the Chairman? (Minute 3:01 in the video below.)
  2. Smith points out the absolute truth that Williams was elected Speaker of the House by the Democrats and himself. He is clearly the Democrat's Speaker, not the Republican's.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Define entertaiment

Bumped into these on my Internet travels this morning. Looks like WZTV (Ch. 17) is looking for an evening news anchor, an entertainment reporter and an executive news producer.

Does commenting on the legislative circus count as entertainment reporting?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Still trying to nail that coffin shut

Instead of expending ink on real news like what's actually in the stimulus package, the circus that is Obama's cabinet appointments or Washington's response to the serious situation in Kentucky due to weather the Tennessean has decided to try and close Councilman Eric Crafton's political coffin--again.

Tucked in between the opinions of Crafton's missteps and demise by familiar political names is this comment from one the one lone citizen interviewed:

Gordon Patchell, an Inglewood resident who is retired from the aerospace industry, said he appreciated Crafton's efforts to make English the city's official language.

"I don't know a thing about him," Patchell said. "But I did like what he was doing. He was doing what he thought was the right thing for his country." Tennessean

I don't know Mr. Patchell but those who so desperately want Crafton out of the picture need to remember that point of view. If Crafton decides to run for anything again, I'll be happy to remind folks that he took on the political progressives with every tool he had available to ensure that the citizens of Davidson County had a right to vote on the issue. Let me repeat that---to ensure that the citizens of Davidson county were allowed to vote on the issue.

Similarly, political liberals in this town used every tool at their disposal. They happily used the Democrat controlled Election Commission, a judge, Mayor Karl Dean and one of his top aids, immigrant 'advocates', immigrant employers, every Vandy employee available, their co-workers at the Tennessean and unfounded accusations of hate and xenophobia to ensure that they won.

I'll also be willing to point out that it was within the power of those that currently run this city to avoid the special election and its cost by allowing it on the ballot with the already scheduled presidential election but that the anti-English folks deliberatly kept it off and away from voters by hook and by crook. To include the unprecedented tactic of having only one early voting location downtown nearer the lib voters.

Sadly, the Tennessean didn't examine why the anti-English folks lumped together both amendments. The truth is they wanted to ensure the amendment process remained the same because at some point they're going to be thrilled to only have to gather a couple of thousand signatures instead of 10 times that number to amend the charter. They're going to be only too happy to require a special election when the time comes.

And the time will come. All those new downtown condo residents will likely lean left and the folks in Bellevue, Donelson and Goodlettsville will find their influence in Council matters getting smaller and smaller. Suddenly we'll have a major change to the charter on the ballot via a couple of thousand signatures gathered by community organizers in this city that didn't grow up here, don't know anyone who did, think Nashville's history began at the lunch counters, and don't have real jobs to keep them honestly occupied with a balanced perspective of life. They only know what kind of world they want and will stop at nothing to ensure what they call peace and justice. It won't matter to them if voters didn't get justice. The end justifies the means.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Parochial Political Agendas

My US Congressman Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) responded to my call last week asking him to vote against the 'stimulus package'. His response came in the mail today:

"Unfortunately, some longtime House members saw the recovery plan as an opportunity to advance parochial political agendas. Some of these may have been good ideas, some may have been bad ideas--but we didn't get a chance to discuss them, and they weren't designed to help our economy recover in the short term. (Many of them contained new, long-term commitments.) President Obama delivered a bipartisan, win-win proposal, and congress turned it into the rare lose-lose; a plan that may fail to stimulate the economy while saddling our children and grandchildren with unprecedented debt."
We don't often agree, Rep. Cooper and I, and we still don't agree on Obama's plan being 'win-win' or that Congress's lose-lose legislation is rare, but Cooper voted no on this bloated and badly thought out plan and I'm thankful he did. Now if both of my senators would vote no I'll feel like someone's actually listening to the folks back home.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Thankful for Joe Rodgers

It'd be nearly impossible to be politically active in Tennessee without knowing who Joe Rodgers was but my thin connection with him wasn't political, it was charitable.

About 18 years ago our small church decided to sponsor a older Ukrainian couple immigrate to Nashville. Since I was a stay-at-home mom of one (with one on the way) I had some time to help out. This was a delightful couple and I still have a warm spot in my heart for them despite not having seen them since they moved to another state. There were, obviously, a lot of things that needed to be done to make their transition to the US successful. There were appointments with the Social Security Administration, the Health Department, dentist, English lessons, shopping at Kroger training and obtaining employment to mention a few.

Obtaining a job was an essential component of their being able to stay in America--something they very much wanted to do. Joe Rodgers and his wife agreed to have this couple come into their home and work for them. I'm still amazed at the generosity of that act. Complete strangers, from another culture, not knowing the language, not knowing so many things that seem common to us about how to run a home with all the modern conveniences yet they took on this enormous task of transitioning them from one culture to another. I can't say for sure how well that situation worked out for the Rodgers but I do know that this immigrant couple were always thankful for the helping hand the Rodgers' extended to them during this major life change. Mention the Rodgers and you could tell immediately that this couple was appreciative of their help. So what I will read about the life of Joe Rodgers in the papers or will see on the broadcasts in the next few days will be seen through the grateful eyes of Leonid and Tatayana. Joe may have walked with presidents but he also walked with the humble who only wanted the freedom America is famous for.

Which language didn't make the cut?

From tonight's Metro Nashville Council agenda we learn they'll be voting on accepting a grant from Homeland Security:

" establish a fire prevention and awareness program to reduce injuries and fatalities." RS2009-624
Sounds reasonable, however, it isn't until you read the analysis that we learn:
"RESOLUTION NO. RS2009-624 (CM Jim Forkum (District 9-Madison) ) – This resolution approves an amendment to a grant in the amount of $128,132 from the U.S. department of homeland security to the Metropolitan Nashville fire department for the fire prevention and awareness program. These funds are used to teach the fire department personnel about the various cultures in Nashville and their fire prevention knowledge, as well as to promote the fire safety campaign in the 22 predominant languages in Nashville. There is a required local match of $32,033 to be provided through the fire department’s operating budget.(emphasis added)

This resolution approves an amendment to the scope of work for the grant to allow for the use of an outside agency to meet the objectives of the multicultural educational training program. "

22 predominant languages! I'm sure our current progressive Metro Council will say it's essential to the core mission of saving lives that these fire fighters learn about other cultures and translate their safety materials into 22 languages. On the heels of the English First legislation this Metro Council will happily prove their ability to welcome a diverse population and vote yes. Not one of them will endanger a penny of Federal money by daring to question the need for all 22 languages, ask exactly how many speakers in each language there are, question the actual fire danger or loss of life there has been in these language groups and what the real rate of return on these dollars and manpower hours there will be.

What I know about Federal grant 'carrots' is that once the program is begun the Feds will drop the funding AND people will still demand that the service remain meaning the locals will have to pick up the funding in it's entirety in no time at all.

Steele answers

Thanks to the Tennessee Eagle Forum for posting some great resources about the new RNC Chair Michael Steele. I'm not very confident that having a black man as national chair will make any serious dent in the assumption by so many that the Democrat party is the only place for blacks. For years we've pointed to black, Hispanic, and women appointees who are actually qualified and working in Republican administrations and the evidence falls on numbed brains. There are still too many who are distracted by shallow rhetoric and seem unable to recognize walking the talk. So now we have at the top of both the Democrat party and the Republican party two articulate, 'clean' and passionate black men. Maybe that's exactly what it will take to finally take race off of the table. From Steele:

"One way we can regain credibility is to break down the negative stereotypes. We must demonstrate that we're not a party for the white, rich and the powerful. We must hold up the GOP mirror and let them see message of our party reflected in their lives." --Steele
Some other snips from Steele's answers:
"Key to our Republican ideals is the notion of fiscal restraint and limited government. In recent years, however, Republicans in leadership have violated these principals. Unless we restore our credibility as the Party best equipped to reduce spending, constrain government growth, and cut taxes, we will continue to lose elections.

Some have claimed it's not the role of the RNC to determine the Republican policy message. They say such things are better left to Republican leaders in Congress. I disagree."
So do I. We have a PARTY platform that should be our rudder. I'm hoping he weeds out the squishy and the RINO's. I'm tired of the Olympia Snowe's and the Kent Williams' sitting in Republican seats to the detriment of conservatives. There are a couple of Tennessee Senators that need to get the word too.
"I have always been, and will always be, pro-life. I oppose abortion, period. I defended that position as Lieutenant Governor and as a candidate for the United States Senate in Maryland in 2006. I support the pro-life position in the platform and am committed to keeping it. "
Questions #8 contrasted the liberal view of two current votes. If 52% was a 'mandate' for Obama why is that same 52% in California's Proposition 8 then described as a squeaker that can be overcome? The truth is neither is a mandate. They're both squeakers.
"The College Republican National Committee is a vast and un-tapped resource. Sadly, they are used for Volunteer Deployment and not much more. This must change. Not only are CR's the future of our party, they are the current foot-soldiers and leaders of our Party and we must keep them mobilized and engaged."
This has got to be welcome news to some hard working young folks who have expended so much effort against huge liberal forces on our college campuses.
"First Message: We are the Conservative Party. Traditional Republican principles provide a popular perspective for policy engagement.

For example, I coined the phrase "Drill, baby drill" at the RNC convention in 2008, not as the entire solution to our energy problem but to get people listening to a clear example of how Republicans should be distinguished from Democrats on one important aspect of the energy issue
But energy is only one example. On any issue -- healthcare, education, infrastructure improvement, economic growth and new job creation, small business growth, urban development and renewal, tax fairness and simplification, and every other issue -- Republicans can beat Democrats simply by articulating innovative policy proposals based on time-tested, free-market, pro-family Republican principals."
He's got a point. People have short attention spans now days. For all the talk in education circles for years about ensuring children learn critical thinking skills it's absolutely clear that too many made it out of school without them. American voters don't have the patience for much more than a slogan. That's a sad commentary on their condition but it's obviously a fact. You start sounding like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon after about two minutes. They've already tuned you out. So, for a season, catchy phrases are going to be necessary.
"In a post-election survey I asked the Tarrance Group to conduct on GOPAC's behalf, we found some interesting things. 69% of Americans consider themselves fiscal conservatives; 53%, social conservatives; and, 55% of Americans still perceive Ronald Reagan as best example of Republican principles at work. And, yet, a majority of Americans don't feel the Republican Party has been standing up for its ideals."
And so we're back to holding up that mirror and showing them that the GOP is very much like average Americans. Every time Republican congressmen compromise the party platform that mirror gets foggy and American's don't see themselves and their conservative beliefs, financial supporters close their wallets and usually reliable Republican voters stay home. Here's hoping Steele succeeds.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Registering your opinion

From MNPS:

Dr. Register to Hold Community Meetings
The first week of February, Dr. Register will begin a series of community meetings which will allow him to meet with parents and community members and gather valuable input regarding the district’s schools. In conjunction with the community meetings, Dr. Register and the Metro School Board representative from each school board district will visit schools within the designated district and hold staff meetings. The meetings currently scheduled are:
Feb. 3 -- Antioch Middle, 7 p.m., District 6, Board member Karen Johnson
Feb. 4 -- Hillsboro High, 6 p.m., District 8, Board chair David Fox
Feb. 5 -- Hunters Lane High, 6 p.m., District 3, Board member Mark North
Feb. 9 -- Hillwood High, 6 p.m., District 9, Board member Alan Coverstone
Feb. 25 -- Overton High, 6 p.m., District 2, Board member Jo Ann Brannon
Feb. 26 -- McGavock High, 6 p.m., District 4, Board member Steve Glover
The other meetings are currently being scheduled.

I don't see MNPS BOE member Gracie Porter's (District 5-East Nashville) scheduled. Also missing are Sharon Gentry (District 1) and Ed Kindall's (District 7-Downtown-Glencliff).

Education Nashville

A new email list for folks interested in education issues in Nashville has been formed at Google Groups. After the abrupt shut down of the NashvillePTOTalk list at Yahoo a couple of weeks ago this is good news.

Already they've been talking about the IT issues at Metro, Standard School Attire and alternative schools. Let's hope this new list is more welcoming of diverse opinions and answers to problems with MNPS.

The list's description:

"A place for people to come to: learn about education (public and private) in Nashville; share ideas, thoughts, articles, etc about educational issues in Nashville, the US and the world; and offer suggestions on how to improve the public schools in Nashville. Together we can make a difference."
Here's the web page to join:

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Regards, IRS

I get a LOT of spam. I ignore most of it but I had to laugh when I got this one. Obama actually IS creating jobs with his stimulus plan.

From: "Internal Revenue Service"
Subject: Economic Stimulus Payment online form [ID: SP-603.9731]
Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2009 12:22:04 -0600

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that
you are eligible to receive a Stimulus Payment.
Please submit the Stimulus Payment Online Form in order to process it.

A Stimulus Payment can be delayed for a variety of reasons.
For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To submit your Stimulus Payment form, please download the attached document.

Note: If filing or preparation fees were deducted from your 2007 Refund or you
received a refund anticipation loan, you will be receiving a check instead of a
direct deposit.

Internal Revenue Service
If my Spidey senses hadn't already gone off by the mere receipt of an email from the IRS, the 'regards, IRS' would have tripped the alarm for sure. I didn't download the email, let alone open the attachment.

Sabbath sunshine savings

Last month's NES bill: $310.00.

Another form of sincere worship of the Creator on this Sabbath--five loads of sunshine, breeze, 60 degrees and electric bill savings. He is good.