Friday, November 30, 2007
Teaching children such information is not just a ploy to get them to study. People do differ in intelligence, talent and ability. And yet research is converging on the conclusion that great accomplishment, and even what we call genius, is typically the result of years of passion and dedication and not something that flows naturally from a gift. Mozart, Edison, Curie, Darwin and Cézanne were not simply born with talent; they cultivated it through tremendous and sustained effort. Similarly, hard work and discipline contribute much more to school achievement than IQ does.
Such lessons apply to almost every human endeavor. For instance, many young athletes value talent more than hard work and have consequently become unteachable. Similarly, many people accomplish little in their jobs without constant praise and encouragement to maintain their motivation. If we foster a growth mind-set in our homes and schools, however, we will give our children the tools to succeed in their pursuits and to become responsible employees and citizens.
The real problem.....Politicians actually believe they can convince us that THEY are responsible for all things good and wonderful. They stand there at the grand opening photo/op and tell us how THEY created jobs.........NOPE, the only thing they did was to take money from us taxpayers and hand it over to these companies.
Its time for us ordinary taxpayers to get a piece of this extortion action....I therefore repeat my proposal that some enterprising member of the General Assembly propose a law authorizing local governments to give tax abatements to anyone who builds a new home. THEN....anybody wanting to build a new home can shop their proposal around to several county mayors....get them to start bidding against each other and HEY, you may be able to build a new house tax free......let everyone in on this extortion game.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
This whole project is a huge boondoggle that nobody wants. We have plenty of existing venues where the Governor can milk the lobbyist cows.
The state attorney general's office says plans to build an entertainment hall at the governor's mansion do not have to be approved by the city of Oak Hill.
The state replied to a letter by Oak Hill City Attorney Robert Notestine III asking that the Tennessee Residence Foundation Board present its plans to the Oak Hill City Commission for approval.
1- support fans, 50-60% of whom don't even live in Davidson County
2- subsidize millionaires who stand to make millions from owning a hockey team but, like the former owner, will not share any of the profits from the sale of the team with taxpayers if they ever sell it.
3- subsidize fans who won't even attend in numbers large enough to keep the team here
Alderman Mitchell doesn't want to cut the growth of government spending so he is proposing to force Spring Hill families to cut their family budgets by raising their taxes. This is a Pandora's box that taxpayers DO NOT want to open.
HERE is contact information for the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
Alderman Eliot Mitchell, also a member of the Finance Committee, said if the city's finances continue to decline, city officials may begin discussing reinstating a property tax.
"If we're in this position in March and we start looking at our budget, I think we're going to have to be reasonable and talk about looking at a property tax," he said.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
(WBZ) BOSTON The men and women who monitor the state's roadways, issuing hundreds of thousands of tickets to motorists annually, have caused nearly 500 crashes in their own cruisers in the past seven years, internal state police data show.
And despite their advanced roadway training, scores of troopers are repeat crashers demonstrating the same poor driving habits they are citing the ordinary motorist for - like inattention, speeding and following cars too closely, an I-Team analysis of over 2600 cruiser accidents shows.
Nearly 120 troopers have had four or more crashes in the past seven years, the data indicates.
"It's certainly a problem we need to address," said State Police Col. Mark F. Delaney of the I-Team's findings.
Delaney did not defend the number of crashes, but pointed out that state police log 54 million miles a year in hazardous weather and driving conditions.
But the agency's own data indicates the overwhelming majority of crashes occur on dry roadways with clear skies and while state police are either commuting from home, working a detail or on a regular police patrol. In only 16 percent of the accidents was a trooper in pursuit of a suspect or responding to an emergency, the data indicates.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Deep in Richard Nixon's White House files sit letters from a long-forgotten lobbying campaign to make Mark Felt head of the FBI. Instead, Felt became Deep Throat.
The National Archives released more than 10,000 pages of documents from the Nixon presidency on Wednesday and among them are the urgings of past and present FBI agents and other interested citizens to appoint Felt, then the No. 2 FBI official, as director. Associates described his "outstanding loyalty."
Nixon did not take the advice.
SortPrice.com, a shopping search engine that compares product prices from thousands of online retailers, released its list of 2007 Holiday Shopping Trends. So what's everyone searching the Web for this holiday? Here's the list and my opinions of each product search:
1. Canon PowerShot SD1000 - This doesn't surprise me. This model is a PCMag Editors' Choice, with a rating of 4.5 out of 5. A handful of our staff already bought or plans to buy this camera (including me).
2. Xbox 360 - It's cheaper than PS3 and is the only console that offers Halo.
3. iPod touch - My teenage cousin hopes to get this for Christmas. It's definitely one of the most sought after MP3 players of the season.
4. LG Prada Cell Phone - Either people have a lot of money to spend this holiday for this high-priced, fashionable phone, or they just want to read about it and drool.
5. Transformers - The movie may have tanked, but kids still love anything Transformers-related.
6. Women's Handbags - I'm sure this is searched for on the Web all year round!
7. Men's Watches - With so many options these days, including LED and solar, watches are definitely hot this year.
8. Digital Picture Frame - Digital frames have been popular for the last year or so, but only recently have they come down in price. They're still pretty expensive for the extras such as Wi-Fi, and I have yet to review a photo frame that offers all the features that it should. Still, Pandigital and Kodak come the closest for me.
9. Coffee makers - Now that coffee makers do more than just make coffee ( they can forecast the weather!), it's a popular gift every year.
But is this a surprise? When New York City first instituted a similar ban, cell-phone use by drivers dropped by 50 percent. But the numbers steadily increased after that, even as the number of citations increased as well. Same thing apparently happened in D.C. -- an initial falloff, but then a return to pre-ban levels of cell usage.
A quick look around the Interwebs shows similar experiences in Connecticut, New Jersey, and elsewhere. Should cities and states drop these laws that aren't being enforced or followed? Or should they, for example, increase fines to make this a more serious offense?
The panel agreed to drop the cap down to three, then attempted to hash out language clarifying just what those groups may do. It set out to bar serial meetings, in which one group of three, then another, and so on meet privately until a majority have essentially deliberated together behind closed doors. And it debated what types of communication should be allowed. The committee finished for the day without reaching a decision on those matters or voting at all on open meetings recommendations. It will gather again tomorrow morning to continue its deliberations.
Students may receive free meals if their families receive food stamps or Families First benefits; the household income is at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level; or they are in foster care.
Students may receive reduced-price meals if their household income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
Any child meeting the guidelines, regardless of United States citizenship, is eligible for the USDA's meals program. Families with multiple children need only submit one application.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
November is a very significant month for me as it was three years ago in November 2004 when I started on my journey of enforcing the Tennessee open records laws on a reluctant group of local government institutions and quasi government bodies. I started with the City of Memphis by requesting from Sara Hall the information about how much had Allan Wade and his law firm been paid by the City and by the City Council during the years 2003 and 2004.
Sara acknowledged my open records request promptly and then never responded further until I filed suit in Chancery Court in February of 2005. Only then did I get the information.Allan Wade has the best of both worlds. He is a part time employee of the City Council as their part time attorney and received at that time a salary of $58,000 per year plus of course the roll-up cost that all city employees receive. Also he is on the City pension system and has health insurance with the City paying 70% of the cost. His salary then was increased from $58,000 to $80,000 per year and in addition to that, he was paid $250,913.75 for legal fees in 2004 and had received $165,446.93 in 2005 up to March of that year.
NEW YORK (AP) — The American Red Cross ousted its president, Mark Everson, on Tuesday after learning that he had engaged in a "personal relationship" with a subordinate employee.
Everson, the former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, took the Red Cross job last May as the charity sought to restructure itself after sharp criticism of its response to Hurricane Katrina.
In a statement, the Red Cross said asked for and received Everson's resignation, effective immediately, after learning of the relationship.
"It concluded that the situation reflected poor judgment on Mr. Everson's part and diminished his ability to lead the organization in the future," the statement said. It did not identify the other employee.
Soldiers in Iraq began reporting "crotch durability problems" with their combat uniforms in July 2005, according to the Army. Jumping into Humvees, hopping from helicopters and scrambling after insurgents have popped inseams on the baggy pants.
Rougher terrain in Afghanistan prompted complaints this past August from soldiers who said their uniforms gave out quickly.
"This is a result of soldiers working in steep and harsh terrain and literally sliding down steep hills and mountains," Army spokesman Sheldon Smith said in an e-mail.
Single-stitching has caused most of the blown-out inseams, said Erin Thomas, an Army spokeswoman. The new trousers are more durable, she said.
Most people intuitively understand that wealth is created by private businesses competing for customers — not by the government. Could a presidential candidate win in 2008 by demonstrating a genuine commitment to competition and consumer choice?
That candidate could explain how economic progress is the result of firms responding to or creating new customer needs by combining resources and talent in innovative ways. The companies that do this best have figured out how to adapt to the global competitive environment. The long-term track records of companies provide ample evidence that customers, employees, and shareholders alike have mutual, long-term interests. And those interests are served by continually redirecting resources to their best use.
The San Diego district attorney adopted a policy in 1997 under which applicants for welfare benefits must agree to a "walk through" of their residence while they are present. The inspectors check on whether the applicant has an eligible dependent child and has the amount of assets claimed. They also check on whether a supposedly "absent" parent lives at the residence. If residents refuse to permit a home visit, they can lose their benefits.
Knox County Commissioner Mike Hammond is proposing a ban prohibiting county employees from serving on the County Commission.
The plan is now before the county Ethics Committee and will be reworked at the committee's December meeting. It should come before the full commission for approval in January.
"I just feel like the citizens want an opportunity to vote as to whether county employees can serve on County Commission," Hammond said. "This is an opportunity for them to vote."
Monday, November 26, 2007
Nov. 26, 2007 · In less than a year, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) appears to be fulfilling his campaign promises to champion the cause of open government throughout state agencies.
Immediately after taking office he established a state office for training state agencies and ensuring agency compliance with public records laws. Then in June, Crist created a nine-member commission made up of media representatives, open government advocates, state legislators and law enforcement agents to review and evaluate Florida's public records and open meetings laws.
Now Crist has taken recommendations put forward by the open government commission and signed into law a first-of-its kind "Open Government Bill of Rights."
The declaration of rights directs state agencies to treat the public with respect and professionalism; obviates written records requests unless specifically required by law; assures requests receive prompt attention; enumerates the public's right to itemized records fees; and, reiterates state constitutional rights to public records and open meetings.
So what is the question? Are the fires in our homes bad because they add to global warming? Release carbon dioxide into the air? Pollute the atmosphere with soot and particulate matter? All of the above?
Where is the research? The Chronicle reported that "government studies" indicate that 33 percent of all "particulate matter" comes from your fireplace and mine. With all the industry and all the cars in the Bay Area, does anyone actually believe that?
Shouldn't we be given more quantitative information such has, "How many fireplaces are there in the nine counties? How many are used each night? How many hours is each fireplace used? How much "particulate matter" is expelled from each fire? How many parts per million are in the air? How much dissipates into the atmosphere?"
Is this decision truly about air quality or global warming?
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Construction began Friday on an auto assembly plant in central Mexico that will create thousands of jobs and be the country's first to produce Chinese cars.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon led groundbreaking ceremonies for the factory, which will be financed by an arm of Mexican conglomerate Grupo Salinas and China's state-owned FAW Group Corp., one of the nation's largest automakers.
"Most of the world's investments used to go to China, and today China has come to invest in our country because it recognizes an enormous opportunity in Mexico thanks to its domestic market" and proximity to the U.S. and Latin America, Calderon said.
Due to open by 2010 in Michoacan state, the plant is expected to churn out 100,000 cars a year for sale in Mexico and Central America, according to a statement from Grupo Elektra, Grupo Salinas's electronic goods and consumer financing unit.
Inside those budget numbers, Tennessee's tobacco tax collections burned Farr and the governor again. For the third straight month, tobacco taxes did not meet projections. In August, tobacco taxes were $14.1 million under budget. In September, smokin', chewin' and dippin' produced $9.6 million less in taxes than Bredesen hoped. For October, citizens sinned with tobacco $6.1 million less than the state anticipated.
Though the deficit has improved each month and Nashville may someday make its tobacco numbers, Tennessee has taken in only $61.5 million from tobacco taxes against a budget of $91.3 million. The $29.8 million shortfall is almost 33 percent below projections.
What happens if the economy and F&E collections continue to droop? What if too many people quit smoking and tobacco taxes never cough up enough to pay for Bredesen's school plan? There's always casinos. Or a state income tax.
Whoa! Anybody got a light?
Not until the 16th century did European states begin to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices. In part, this was an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed their match.
The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. By the later part of that century, however, the United States began to nullify common-law marriages and exert more control over who was allowed to marry.
The shift from a tenured faculty results from financial pressures, administrators' desire for more flexibility in hiring, firing and changing course offerings, and the growth of community colleges and regional public universities focused on teaching basics and preparing students for jobs.
It has become so extreme, however, that some universities are pulling back, concerned about the effect on educational quality. Rutgers University agreed in a labor settlement in August to add 100 tenure or tenure-track positions. Across the country, faculty unions are organizing part-timers. And the American Federation of Teachers is pushing legislation in 11 states to mandate that 75 percent of classes be taught by tenured or tenure-track teachers.
As the world's largest private employer, Wal-Mart is used to being greeted by large numbers of applicants almost every time it opens a new store.
But the 6,000-plus people who applied for jobs at the new Supercenter in Cleveland's Steelyard Commons took everyone, even Wal-Mart, by surprise.
"We had to recount [the applications] three times," said Mia Masten, Wal-Mart's director of corporate affairs, Midwest division.
[...]Those 6,000 people were competing for some 300 positions. That means for every one person hired, 19 people walked away empty-handed.
While the 2008 presidential candidates are camped out almost full time in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, their campaign strategists are quietly zeroing in on a huge treasure trove of votes: the ever-growing roster of Californians who cast their ballots by mail.
By the November 2006 election, nearly 4 million California voters had signed up to be "permanent absentee voters" – meaning they automatically receive a ballot in the mail.
That exceeds all the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire combined by more than 1 million.
"It's not lost on us how many of these people are going to cast ballots before these other elections even happen," said Mike DuHaime, national campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York.
Two other points. Divided government--Congress controlled by one party, the White House by the other--is a boon to limiting spending. Going back a half century, a study by William Niskanen of the Cato Institute found that "the only two long periods of fiscal restraint were the Eisenhower and Clinton administration, during both of which the opposition party controlled Congress."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
But consider the No Child Left Behind Act. The politicians want to look like they're doing something about educational difficulties; the politicians have to look busy to voters this year, not fifteen years later when the kids are looking for jobs. The politicians are not the consumers of education. The bureaucrats have to show progress, which means that they're only interested in progress that can be measured this year. They aren't the ones who'll end up ignorant of science. The publishers who commission textbooks, and the committees that purchase textbooks, don't sit in the classrooms bored out of their skulls.
The actual consumers of knowledge are the children - who can't pay, can't vote, can't sit on the committees. Their parents care for them, but don't sit in the classes themselves; they can only hold politicians responsible according to surface images of "tough on education". Politicians are too busy being re-elected to study all the data themselves; they have to rely on surface images of bureaucrats being busy and commissioning studies - it may not work to help any children, but it works to let politicians appear caring. Bureaucrats don't expect to use textbooks themselves, so they don't care if the textbooks are hideous to read, so long as the process by which they are purchased looks good on the surface. The textbook publishers have no motive to produce bad textbooks, but they know that the textbook purchasing committee will be comparing textbooks based on how many different subjects they cover, and that the fourth-grade purchasing committee isn't coordinated with the third-grade purchasing committee, so they cram as many subjects into one textbook as possible. Teachers won't get through a fourth of the textbook before the end of the year, and then the next year's teacher will start over. Teachers might complain, but they aren't the decision-makers, and ultimately, it's not their future on the line, which puts sharp bounds on how much effort they'll spend on unpaid altruism...
It's amazing, when you look at it that way - consider at all the lost information and lost incentives - that anything at all remains of the original purpose, the gain of knowledge. Though many educational systems seem to be currently in the process of collapsing into a state not much better than nothing.
Want to see the problem really solved? Make the politicians go to school.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The lines for basic foods at subsidized prices are paradoxical for an oil-rich nation that in many ways is a land of plenty. Shopping malls are bustling, new car sales are booming and privately owned supermarkets are stocked with American potato chips, French wines and Swiss Gruyere cheese.
Yet other foods covered by price controls — eggs, chicken — periodically are hard to find in supermarkets. Fresh milk has become a luxury, and even baby formula is scarcer nowadays.
The fastest-growing Congressional Districts between 2000 and 2005, with change percentage:
1. Arizona 06 -- Flake (+36.3%)
2. Arizona 02 -- Franks (+34%)
3. Nevada 03 -- Porter (+32.1%)
4. Florida 05 -- Brown-Waite (+26.9%)
5. California 44 -- Calvert (+23.8%)
6. Texas 10 -- McCaul (+23.4%)
7. Texas 22 -- Lampson (+22.6%)
8. Texas 03 -- Sam Johnson (+22.4%)
9. Florida 14 -- Mack (+21.6%)
10. California 45 -- Bono (+21.6%)
The ten fastest-shrinking districts, with percentage of population lost between 2000 and 2005:
1. Ohio 11 -- Jones (-9.1%)
2. Michigan 13 -- Kilpatrick (-7.9%)
3. Illinois 09 -- Schakowsky (-7.9%)
4. Pennsylvania 02 -- Fattah (-7.4%)
5. Pennsylvania 14 -- Doyle (-7.4%)
6. New York 28 -- Slaughter (-7.1%)
7. Michigan 14 -- Conyers (-6.7%)
8. Illinois 05 -- Emanuel (-5.1%)
9. California 08 -- Pelosi (-5.1%)
10. Indiana 07 -- Carson (-5.0%)
Toronto, ON – According to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of RBC, while a slim majority (56%) of individuals approaching retirement believe that their quality of life will get better once they retire, eight in ten (79%) current retirees indicate their quality of life was improved once they retired. These findings suggest that retired life is even better than individuals might have originally predicted.
One of the many perks of being retired is, in many cases, freedom from the alarm clock. Fully two thirds (66%) of retired Canadians say that they have freed themselves from the shackles of the morning buzzer, indicating that they never use an alarm clock to wake up. But this doesn't mean that these individuals are slowing down in retirement; rather, two thirds (67%) of retired Canadians indicate that they are continuing to live their lives at the same pace as they were before retiring.
As boomers begin to approach the golden years of retirement, it appears that they are starting to appreciate the health and wellness of their own bodies and minds. In fact, almost all (90%) boomers in the retirement window say that they are becoming more aware of the need for wellness and personal care. Furthermore, two thirds (67%) of retirees suggest that they spend more time looking after themselves than they used to, which contrasts with just six in ten (59%) pre-retired boomers who indicate that they are able to do the same thing.
Support for a tax increase is coming from one of Mr. Spitzer's firmest backers, the Working Families Party, a grassroots operation financed by a coalition of labor unions and community groups. Mr. Spitzer, whom the party cross-endorsed, received 155,000 votes on its ballot line in the general election.
The party, which Mr. Spitzer has hailed as a "major force in state politics," is preparing to roll out a lobbying campaign to urge Mr. Spitzer and lawmakers to close the gap by drawing more revenue from wealthier residents rather than squeezing the budgets of Medicaid and public education.
The plan is likely to call for using a portion of the new revenue to pay for additional property tax cuts for middle-class residents, a shift party activists say would insulate the governor from criticism by allowing him to label the move as a tax shift.
Every parent in the country (Britain) has been put at risk of fraud and identity theft after the Government lost 25 million personal records in Britain's worst ever data protection breach.
Two compact discs containing bank details and addresses of 9.5 million parents and the names, dates of birth and National Insurance numbers of all 15.5 million children in the country went missing after a junior employee of HM Revenue and Customs put them in the post, unrecorded and unregistered.
KINGSPORT — Eastman Chemical Co. will receive a multimillion dollar tax break for its $1.3 billion reinvestment project the company plans to undertake over the next five years. The tax break, however, did not come with the full support of the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Over the next five years, Eastman plans to invest more than $1.3 billion in its Kingsport headquarters operation. The company plans to modernize the plant, investing about $265 million every year at the Kingsport site through 2012.
Eastman requested an in-lieu-of-tax agreement with Kingsport where the company would pay the city $6.6 million over 14 years instead of an estimated $28 million in property taxes. The $6.6 million is money Eastman would pay to Kingsport instead of the taxes assessed on the increased value of property.
And Gov Sundquist thinks former Governors have "earned" their free ride...what a CROCK!!!!.
"Whatever he needs, I'm for him. I think he's earned it," Sundquist said of McWherter, his immediate predecessor as the state's chief executive. "When I was in office, if he needed a car … I had no problem sending a car for him."
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Morristown Mayor Sami Barile held up a jar she said contained $100 in quarters.
"If you spend this $100, this is how much more you'll pay with the sales tax increase," she told Hamblen County commissioners. "One quarter more."
The commission voted unanimously to hold a countywide referendum on raising the sales tax one-fourth of 1 cent. The tax increase will be on the ballot for the presidential primary Feb. 5.
More data from the American Housing Survey. In the last 20 years, the proportion of households with income below the poverty line with the following amenities has increased as follows:
Dishwasher 16% 37%
Washing Machine 56% 64%
Dryer 35% 57%
Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip J. Shepherd ordered the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet to give Stephen Malmer e-mails written between his wife, Bobbie Malmer, and former state employee David Moss from Nov. 1, 2005, to June 1, 2006.
Stephen Malmer of Frankfort requested the e-mails in June 2006, saying they were public records covered by the Open Records Act.
Malmer said last night he wanted the e-mails because he suspected his wife was having an affair. Although his wife has since confessed to the affair, Stephen Malmer said, he still has questions and wants to see the case through for closure.
"It's been such a nightmare," Stephen Malmer said. "I was horrified by the amount of opposition I ran up against."
Malmer said his wife has been supportive in his fight for the e-mails. He said she no longer has access to the e-mails and can't provide them herself.
Wary of terrorists, state lawmakers closed government meetings previously open to the public, denied residents access to disaster-response plans and concealed documents on mass-transit systems, energy companies and research laboratories, according to the findings.
Nationwide, states have enacted scores of restrictions since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the congressionally funded study, "State Open Government Law and Practice in a Post 9/11 World," formally released Thursday (Nov. 15) by the Center for Terrorism Law based at St. Mary's University in Texas.
Most of the restrictions cover information on critical infrastructure and cyber security, while as few as half the states have restricted access to documents relating to public health and terror investigations.
I charted the BLS numbers, and calculated the change in real compensation for the six years from Q4 1999 to Q4 2005. A pleasant surprise: real compensation per hour has been the opposite of "stagnant"; in fact, it grew by 6.7% in the 2000-2005 interval. That's better growth than any six-year period in the last twenty years, including 1995-2000.
2- City and county officials don't want to lose "their" franchise fees.
3- ATT wants access to new customers
4- Lobbyists want more money
5- Politicians want more contributions
$11 million was spent last year on lobbying for the cable vs ATT bill last year.
This is a great resource for finding when and where people are willing to put their money where their mouth is, like stock markets for predictions.
HERE is a search for Rudy Giuliani for example.
"The turkeys, as well as other animals, like beer," says owner Joe Morette. "I'm one of them."
He goes through between 50 to 60 cans a day for the nearly 300 birds on his farm.
"It slows them down a little. They're enjoying their life," says Morette.
At least until Thanksgiving.
Monday, November 19, 2007
From Chatsworth to El Segundo, private schools are spending an estimated $600 million in a building boom that reflects the strong demand for their services and the intense competition among their ranks.
Brentwood School is building an aquatics center that looks like a modern equivalent of the Greco-Roman baths of ancient Alexandria. Windward School, also on the Westside, is completing a new library with digital media studios and an indoor-outdoor reading area with a fireplace. Loyola High School near downtown recently opened a new science hall equipped with the most advanced instruments, and, across the new commons, it is restoring its historic brick Jesuit residence hall.
The building frenzy is being driven by aging facilities, new teaching models that call for informal classroom settings, space for group projects and hands-on activities, and the need for new technology. It also is aimed, of course, at keeping these schools competitive.
As lottery executives go, few can claim her knack for seizing the spotlight. No matter the occasion, Ms. Hargrove, a former Indiana beauty queen turned Powerball potentate, has proved especially gifted at navigating — some say plowing — her way onto center stage. Often, there is a Salem Menthol 100 or a Diet Coke in her hand. Always, issued in her trademark husky voice, is a less-than-subtle play for a few of your hard-earned dollars.
“Anytime you buy gas, I want you to spend the change on a lottery ticket,” says Ms. Hargrove, the president and chief executive of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. “That’s what I do. I raise the money, and the state spends it.”
Sunday, November 18, 2007
For some time, Republicans have been criticized for losing their way on core, defining values of limited government and fiscal restraint. Public opinion polls reinforce this criticism – indicating that Republicans have lost their historical advantage on the issue of whom you trust to control wasteful spending and limit government.
While our record as a majority on these issues could have been better, Republicans were able to achieve some marked successes. A GOP Congress enacted legislation in 2005 to reduce mandatory spending by $40 billion, the first such bill in almost a decade – and also successfully froze non-security
discretionary spending. Over time, however, our efforts to rein in government failed to produce the results we and our supporters wanted to see.
This is in part a function of the fact that, as a whole, Republicans stopped making the case about the need to eliminate wasteful spending and reduce the size and reach of the federal government. We no longer spoke up about why limited government is important to the long-term well being of America. As a result, we left the impression that we were no longer committed to pursuing smaller government.
Today, he's the mayor-elect of the nation's 13th-largest city, a tax opponent held up for admiration by President Bush, and a lesson to political incumbents everywhere of what can happen if they don't mind the mood of the voters.
Ballard overcame little name recognition, a sizable mid-September polling deficit and a more than 12-1 fundraising disadvantage to pull off one of the biggest upsets in modern Indiana election history. He beat Democrat Bart Peterson 51 percent to 47 percent to become the first challenger in 40 years to unseat an Indianapolis mayor.
The 52-year-old retired Marine Corps officer never doubted himself.
A couple years ago, the state's top alcohol regulator was in a tough spot. A proposed bill in the legislature would have clipped one of her agency's key duties, regulating liquor and wine commercials.
But Alcoholic Beverage Commission Director Danielle Elks didn't turn for help to her local representative, or even the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Goodlettsville. She handled it with the state's restaurant lobby.
In a May 2005 letter, she proposed dropping enforcement of certain rules if the lobby would withdraw the bill. Six days later, Haynes dropped the bill, which was written in the first place by a restaurant lobbyist.
The deal between regulator and regulated — the second uncovered at the commission in two weeks — offers a glimpse of the give-and-take involved in policing a highly influential industry.
And it shows a Capitol culture that puts legislative pens and power in the hands of lobbyists, who outnumber lawmakers' staffs more than two to one.
But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace.
They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea and possibly the world, to be cured.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
"We knew this day was coming; it's here," Mr. Goetz said. "We've been preparing for this for the better part of five years. We're ready to manage our way through it."
Friday, November 16, 2007
ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) - GPS tracking devices installed on government-issue vehicles are helping communities around the country reduce waste and abuse, in part by catching employees shopping, working out at the gym or otherwise loafing while on the clock.
The use of GPS has led to firings, stoking complaints from employees and unions that the devices are intrusive, Big Brother technology. But city officials say that monitoring employees' movements has deterred abuses, saving the taxpayers money in gasoline and lost productivity.
"We can't have public resources being used on private activities. That's Management 101," Phil Nolan, supervisor of the Long Island town of Islip.
Islip saved nearly 14,000 gallons of gas over a three-month period from the previous year after GPS devices were installed. Nolan said that shows that employees know they are being watched and are no longer using Islip's 614 official vehicles for personal business.
Since 1920, the Clerk of the House has collected and published the official vote counts for federal elections from the official sources among the various states and territories. These documents, out of print for many years, have been collected and scanned in a format to make them once again available to researchers and students.
Via Depth Reporting
Nearly a million teachers at 7,500 schools are listed on the site, with staff given an "overall quality" rating based on their popularity, clarity and helpfulness.
While most comments are positive, some random negative views include: "An irritating harlot"; "She should be locked up in Belmarsh (prison)" and "Nice bloke, can't teach."
The site's founder Michael Husey said 70 percent of the comments were positive and teachers find the feedback useful.
All postings are read before being published. Any that break the site's rules, which include restrictions on bad language, appearance or sexuality, are deleted.
"I know it helps teachers," he said. "We get emails back all the time from teachers ... who are using the Web site to bring them closer to their students and create mutual respect.
"They (unions) are attacking things that undermine their power structure. They aren't adjusting too well to the information age."
New York City's quintessential A-list superstar, Yankees captain Derek Jeter, is in trouble with the taxman for claiming he resided in Florida during some of the biggest years of his Big Apple career.
New York state tax officials want Jeter to fork over what could be hundreds of thousands — even millions of dollars— in back taxes and interest for the years 2001 to 2003, when the baseball shortstop claimed residency in Florida, despite his high-profile presence in New York's sports and gossip pages during that time.
Lawyers for Jeter, who has an off-season home in Tampa, Fla., dispute the claims that Jeter "immersed himself in the New York community" and made "numerous statements professing his love for New York" during the disputed period, according to documents published this week on a state Web site monitored by FOXNews.com. The posting came in the form of an administrative judge's rulings on a number of seemingly mundane issues related to the ongoing case.
One of the great ironies of public policy in the past few years was that the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003, that created the "Part D" prescription drug benefit, also created Health Savings Accounts for everyone in the United States – except those on Medicare. The law did, however, reauthorize the old "Medical Savings Accounts" (MSA) provision that was passed as part of the Balanced Budget Act in 1997 but never implemented.
There were many reasons the original MSAs in Medicare never came about. The plan was time limited and restricted to no more than 300,000 beneficiaries. It was unlikely that any private insurer would invest significant Research and Development funds in a program that was so tentative – and none did.
Today conditions have changed. The idea of consumer driven health care is now widely accepted as a major addition to the offerings in the private benefits market. Over ten million people are currently covered by some sort of "account-based" health plan (HSA or HRA), and virtually every insurance company is offering a version of the approach. Banks and information services companies see consumer driven care as an unprecedented opportunity to reform the health care system and open up new markets. And the MMA law removed most of the restrictions that made Medicare MSAs unattractive to vendors.
So, now we have a world in which the vendors are adept at marketing and managing account-based plans, citizens are increasingly accustomed to the approach, and Congress removed the most onerous restrictions to providing MSAs in the Medicare program.
While I ( and Martin Kennedy) applaud my Representative Mike Turner for his desire to return to neighborhood schools in Davidson County, I seriously doubt that simply passing a State law with a mandate for the local school board will fix anything. Mike will probably not like this analogy but President Bush's No Child Left Behind was a result of his (and Senator Kennedy at the time) effort to force a mandate on local schools. While NCLB has resulted in some amount of positive movement. It too does not address the REAL underlying problem:
Parents have far too little power.
The school board has power, the teachers' union has power, the Congress and the State legislature have power and all of these entities have seized power from the one group that should be in charge, THE PARENTS....and the result of taking power away from parents is a mediocre at best, bureaucratic laden, school system with which that NO one is happy.
The solution is less government power over education and more power in the hands of parents. Mike is a parent of Metro school students. HE should have the power to determine where his children attend...NOT Pedro Garcia or the School Board or Karl Dean or the TN Dept of Education or the TN General Assembly or President Bush or the US Congress. The parents should have the POWER.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
"Airdropping" is a way of adding earmarks to a bill during the conference report process at the last possible minute, effectively shielding the earmarks from reproach due to the lack of time for review before a vote on the floor. Many times, these reports are hundreds of pages in length and Members simply cannot thoroughly examine every page in less than 24 hours. This is a deliberate tactic to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money with complete anonymity and zero accountability. I have vocally opposed this practice as have many of my colleagues on both the House and Senate side.
However, despite the outcry from House Members and Senators, 54 earmarks worth $85 million have been added to conference reports for the three spending bills I listed above. Out of those 54 earmarks, 12 were sponsored by Freshman House Members or Senators in their first terms and 9 were requested and signed off by Senators up for re-election this year.
Transit officials turned up the heat on feuding lawmakers today with the threat of union walkouts that would shut down buses and trains next year if taxes aren't raised.
"We are about at wits' end," said Rick Harris, head of the CTA's rail union, at a morning press conference in Chicago. "Maybe we have to show you exactly what a doomsday looks like. Maybe that is the signal that needs to be sent."
- The purpose of this resolution is to:
- (1) Modernize the operations of the House of Representatives using information technology that has transformed and increased the efficiency of many aspects of American society such as financial services and markets, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and commerce with consumers and businesses.
- (2) Slow the explosive growth of the $8,000,000,000,000 national debt of the United States, reduce excessive annual budget deficits, and control the size and scope of government by ensuring that there is adequate scrutiny of proposals for new and amended laws, taxes, and expenditures.
- (3) Enhance public participation in American democracy and improve the quality of proposed legislation by allowing the opportunity for its review by State and local government officials, small business owners, large business leaders, journalists, scientists, academics, labor leaders, nonprofit organization leaders, authors of weblogs, and interested citizens.
- (4) Help restore public trust in government and enhance respect for the House of Representatives and the Congress by ensuring that their operations are conducted with the openness, order, and dignity befitting the world's oldest democracy.
According to this web site: www.RonPaulGraphs.com,
Approx 150 people per hour contribute
Average contribution size is below $100.
Today they will raise approx 40k or more
He ran for the Shelby County Board of Commissioners five years ago on the slogan "It's time for government to mean business." And Bruce Thompson's campaign literature pledged, "I believe public officials should use their position to save money for the taxpayers, not make money for themselves."
It was a not-so-subtle reminder that the Democratic nominee he was running against, former County Commissioner Joe Cooper, had gone to prison in the 1970s on a federal bank fraud charge.
Thompson, the Republican nominee, won the 2002 general election for County Commission District 5 and served one four-year term.
The indictment alleges that Thompson used his position on the commission to extort a total of $270,750 from H&M Construction Co. Inc. and Salton-Fox Construction Co. LLC Joint Venture.
The companies had joined together starting in late 2004 seeking the contract to build three new Memphis city schools. They hired Thompson as a consultant for that effort. They got the contract worth nearly $47 million.
The indictment alleges that Thompson "would falsely represent to representatives of the joint venture ... that by reason of his position as a Shelby County commissioner, he had the ability to control the votes of members of the Memphis City School Board, in connection with the awarding of" the contract for the three schools. Thompson also, according to the indictment, "would falsely represent ... that he had made commitments to give campaign contributions to certain members of the Memphis City School Board."
The alleged use of Thompson's public office is critical in the charge, which means it is a violation of the federal Hobbs Act.
So what's going on today? We have a president with a near record-low job performance rating – 24 percent. (The record lows were Harry Truman after he fired Douglas MacArthur, and Richard Nixon the day before he resigned. Both were at 23 percent.)
But the Democrats who run Congress have an 11 percent job approval rating. Let's just note that in my polling in 1995, O.J. Simpson was at 16 percent.
A dramatic reporting mistake in the number of Metro Nashville students receiving free and reduced-price lunches is forcing the school district to repay the federal government money it shouldn't have received, state officials said Wednesday.
Districts report that figure and other statistics to the state, and the data is used to allocate federal funds and compile the state report card. Metro reported 81.4 percent in the lunch program last school year — an unprecedented jump — when the correct number was 71.8 percent, up from 69.6 percent the year before.[...]
Connie Smith, executive director of accountability for the state Department of Education, called the amount paid to Metro in error "pretty big money."
"This is very, very high-risk because funds are attached to those numbers," she said. "… The numbers don't come from the state, they come from the system. Internal communication issues, this goes directly to that."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
According to Kevin Colson, President of the Johnson County (Mountain City, TN) Firefighter's Association, their organization plans to request the county commissioners to enact the Tennessee fire tax that the state already has in place.
Currently, the eight volunteer fire departments receive $16,250 annually from the county's general fund. With each department's operating budget running approximately $30,000 to $45,000, they are drastically under funded. Aging equipment, including fire trucks, needs repair, and in many cases, outright replacement. "Sending our firefighters out with faulty gear and equipment is a safety hazard," says Colson. "We're facing increased training requirements, which are necessary but time consuming, leaving us very little time for fund-raising." The county fire department members logged over 5,000 training hours in 2006.
On Tuesday, the panel decided to rescind the change. Instead, it voted 5-4 to recommend that up to four members of a panel could meet in private as long as they did not make up a majority of their panel.
It's a compromise of sorts, but it may not satisfy some.
Then opportunity for Hilton's "global elephant campaign" knocked last month when six parched pachyderms broke into a farm in the state of Meghalaya and guzzled farmers' homemade rice beer. The elephants went on a rampage, then uprooted an electricity pole and were jolted to death.
"There would have been more casualties if the villagers hadn't chased them away. And four elephants died in a similar way three years ago. It is just so sad," Hilton was quoted as saying in last week in Tokyo, where she was judging a beauty contest.
Sangeeta Goswami, head of animal rights group People for Animals, told The Associated Press: "I am indeed happy Hilton has taken note of recent incidents of wild elephants in northeast India going berserk."
Of those 39 people opposing pet licensing fees, 25 of them were in favor of licensing breeders and kennels.
Reasons for opposition to the pet licenses included:
First and foremost, the Republican brand as effective stewards of the taxpayer dollar is in tatters, and the shredding doesn't look to stop any time soon. Just last week, 138 House Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to override the president's veto of a wasteful and pork-ridden Water Resources bill. That vote was a shameful display of personal politics over the national interest, and it contains the seeds of destruction of whatever conservative principles remain in the Republican party.
The callow accommodation to big-spending Democrats in Congress is one of the ways the Republican party will return itself to the days of serving as a compliant, permanent minority. Happy for table scraps, elected Republicans will simply abandon the ideas of their party in order to "get along".
No wonder Americans prefer Democrats on the economy, taxes, and spending issues, according to recent polling data. When the choice is between Democrats, and the Democrat-lite ideas the GOP has become so comfortable offering, the Democrats will win every time.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
HERE is an ad that will run in USAToday paid for by a single wealthy supporter unrelated to the campaign.
Love him or dismiss him, you have to admit that what we are seeing is extraordinary and very probably a model for future campaigns.
The effort to acquire that property officially began last summer when the city council and the Putnam County Commission jointly agreed to purchase more than 350 acres west of Cookeville for approximately $4.8 million for the purpose of developing a business park.
But commissioners and city council members later became aware that one of the five heirs to part of that property, Faye Lynch of Nashville, had declined to sell, leaving the county and the city holding an 80-percent interest in the property, while Lynch continued to hold a 20-percent interest in the property.
An effort was made to condemn that property earlier this year, but a majority of Putnam County commissioners declined to do so after pleas from Lynch's daughter, Linda Owens, that Lynch never agreed to sell the property or to have another heir negotiate on her behalf.
Owens told commissioners that neither she nor her mother had knowledge of the property sale.
The indictments allege Thompson extorted money from H&M and a minority partner company by saying he had the ability to control votes of Members of the Memphis City School Board in connection to awarding the contract.
H&M paid Thompson over $270,000 for help with landing a contract to build three city schools.
"By reason of his position as a Shelby County Commissioner, he had the capacity to control the votes of the members of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education," Kustoff said.
The scale of the exodus is shown for the first time in statistics indicating that many families outside the traditional fee-paying heartland of the South East are shunning comprehensives in favour of private schools.
In almost a third of towns and cities - including Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Reading, Blackburn and Brighton, which have some of the most deprived neighbourhoods - more than one child in 10 attends a private school.
In parts of inner London the figures are even more stark, fuelling fears of an emerging educational "apartheid" in the biggest cities.
Meanwhile, Democrats keep telling the bottom 95% of taxpayers that all of America's problems will be solved if only the rich people would pay "their fair share" of income taxes. Not only is this patently untrue and a siren song toward a welfare state, it amounts to covetousness as fiscal policy.
I don't know what the best tax rates are, for rich or poor.
But I'm pretty sure that it's unhealthy for a democracy when the majority of citizens don't see government as a service they're reluctantly paying for but as an extortionist that cuts them in for a share of the loot.
The Austin American Statesman in Texas reported that a candy ban in public schools turned Austin High School into an underground candy market that resembles "Willy-Wonka-meets-Casablanca."
"Soon after candy was removed from vending machines, enterprising students armed with gym bags full of M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers and Twix became roving vendors, serving classmates in need of an in-school sugar fix," the newspaper reported. "Regular-size candy bars like the ones sold in vending machines routinely sold in the halls for $1.50."
As students gathered around a car in the parking lot outside of Fairview High School last week, one boy asked the dealer: "Do you have Red Vines?"
"Nope. Twizzlers," the dealer said.
"Sweet," said the customer, pulling out his wallet.
Why don't they do this with 4 year colleges? Probably has something to do with the gusher of lottery money.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission is recommending a tuition freeze for the state's community colleges and technology centers for the 2008-09 academic year.
The zero tuition increase is necessary because tuition at Tennessee's two-year colleges is above the regional average among the 16 states tracked by the Southern Regional Education Board, according to THEC's proposal.
"In order to encourage enrollment growth at this sector, to increase access, and to reduce the tuition burden for students at community colleges, it is the staff recommendation that there be no tuition increases at community colleges for 2008-09," the proposal states.
THEC is recommending a 7 percent to 9 percent tuition increase for the University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis. A 5 percent to 7 percent increase is recommended for all other state universities.
If you've been listening to Mike Huckabee or John Edwards on the Presidential trail, you may have heard that the U.S. is becoming a nation of rising inequality and shrinking opportunity. We'd refer those campaigns to a new study of income mobility by the Treasury Department that exposes those claims as so much populist hokum.
OK, "hokum" is our word. The study, to be released today, is a careful, detailed piece of research by professional economists that avoids political judgments. But what it does do is show beyond doubt that the U.S. remains a dynamic society marked by rapid and mostly upward income mobility. Much as they always have, Americans on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder continue to climb into the middle and sometimes upper classes in remarkably short periods of time.
So it was noteworthy last week that Cassidy & Associates, one of D.C.'s biggest lobbying firms, resigned from its just-signed $1.2 million-a-year lobbying contract with the government of Pakistan.
Cassidy dropped the engagement, it said, because the military crackdown by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had rendered its efforts to generate good will useless. "We thought it best to withdraw from the account as the dramatic changes in Pakistan impeded our effectiveness on their behalf," said Tom Alexander, Cassidy's spokesman.
A statement by the Pakistani Embassy, however, raises the prospect that the decision was more mutual. "The contract for one year was still at the trial phase when, during the course of the first month of association, both the Embassy of Pakistan and Cassidy & Associates came to the conclusion that the latter could not effectively implement the contract as lobbyist," an embassy spokesman said in a statement. "As a result, Cassidy & Associates asked for withdrawal from the contract that the Embassy has accepted."
Turnout dynamics are different in every state, of course, which is why Montana's experience last week is telling. Some jurisdictions in Montana, such as Helena, voted by mail for the first time, while others, such as Great Falls, stuck with traditional polling places. In Helena, 61.5 percent of registered voters cast ballots, compared to only 28 percent in Great Falls.
Monday, November 12, 2007
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Shelby County officials spent months developing tougher regulations for sexually oriented businesses.
But the city of Memphis is trying to fast-track its own, less-restrictive, regulations that would supersede the county's work.
City Council Chairman Tom Marshall said the city's law might allow beer sales, outlawed by the county law that is set to go into effect on January 1.Marshall said several council members expressed concerns about the loss of city tax revenues if the clubs were to go dry, because alcohol sales generate about $2 million each year.
Our elected representatives should be doing something about this but they DO NOTHING.
City records show that this year, the number of cars failing emissions tests jumped from 1 percent to 8 percent by the time the company Systech was hired in July. Systech brought in new testing software and the failure rate came down, but it is still higher than before at 4 percent.
The figure means that about 20,000 cars in Davidson County are failing the tests, according to I-Team calculations.
Metro Councilman Charlie Tygard said he got a surprise failure because of his gas cap."I think it's really strange to go from 1 percent to 8 percent to 4 percent within the space of four months. I think we need to get a handle on that,” said Tygard.
Just wondering... if the Clintons are so concerned about excessive CEO pay, why is Bill Clinton charging $174,000 per hour to give speeches, in addition to receiving an annual pension of $186,000 from the government? Or if Clinton is just charging "whatever the market will bear" for his speaking services, how is that different than highly-skilled managers charging "whatever the market will bear" for their managerial services?
Bush celebrated the grand reopening of his presidential museum yesterday with a surprise jump.
It was his sixth and the first since he celebrated his 80th birthday with a jump in 2004. As in that one, Bush was strapped to an expert from the Army Golden Knights parachute team.
His first parachute jump was in 1944 when his plane was shot down over the Pacific island of Chi Chi Jima.
Drugs given to thousands of hyperactive children have no long-term benefits and could in fact be stunting their development, a major study has said.
The study of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) found that, while powerful drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta resulted in short-term behavioural improvements, after three years those benefits had disappeared.
Children who took the drugs for the full three years were also found to have stunted growth, according to the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA).
It did not, of course. Since breaking into public view a year ago when federal agents raided lawmakers' offices and homes -- finding $32,200 neatly stacked in a closet of Kott's condo -- the federal probe has produced four indictments, three convictions, three guilty pleas and a rapt audience keen to see how high into Alaska's political hierarchy the rot reaches.
Officially, the scandal has remained confined to Juneau, where Alaska lawmakers had grown so accustomed to operating under the presumption of impropriety that several of them embroidered ball caps with the letters CBC, for "Corrupt Bastards Club." (An Anchorage coffeehouse now offers Corrupt Bastards Brew.) But with signs that the investigation is brushing against Alaska's lone congressman, Don Young (R), and its longtime and venerated senator Ted Stevens (R), residents of the Last Frontier are experiencing a rare spasm of soul-searching.