Friday, July 18, 2008

"School superintendent files notice of possible lawsuit against board members"

From the Lebanon Express:

Lebanon Community Schools Superintendent Jim Robinson has filed a legal notice of claim with the school district over a possible lawsuit against school board members Rick Alexander, Josh Wineteer and "other persons who may have been complicit for damages sustained by Mr. Robinson as a result of their conduct."

And away we go.... presumably, more on this later. Right now, I'm going to go watch Dark Knight.

Get off my lawn, etc.

Hering really gets his wires crossed with this editorial:

Normally you would think that the government should stay out of deciding what people can eat and drink. But we crossed that bridge long, long ago with generally good results. We rely on the government, for example, to inspect meat and other products to try to make sure they are safe to eat.

Then, we took another step when the people consented to let the government tell citizens about the risks of drinking and smoking tobacco.

From there it is no big departure for the government to go after other substances that are found to be bad for your health.

Today that is trans fats. Tomorrow maybe sugar. After that, what? (hh)

So.... the government regulating food and drink is a good thing, because it keeps us safe. But it's a bad thing because the government shouldn't regulate anything, and who knows what they might decide to regulate next!

Does Hering not realize he's essentially written two wildly conflicting viewpoints into one editorial? Or that he reveals the lack of logic in his belief that any kind of government regulation is bad when he clearly states that certain regulations on food and drink are good things, then immediately drops a warning about the possibility of future regulations with no evidence that said regulations will be anything but good....

I'm so confused. Why is this man allowed to write editorials again?

This is to say nothing, of course, at the stupid rumor-mongering Hering presents when he brings up sugar as something that might be banned. I always understood newspaper editors to be journalists - and that journalists shouldn't be putting things in print that have no source or are merely rumors. But what do I know...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yes Please

Public works floats idea of street ‘rain gardens’

The proposed location is not too far from my house.

Also, if this happens? FRUIT TREES. EDIBLE THINGS. FOOD.

A Brief Thought on Politics and Government

I like the distinction Lebanon Truth makes in this comment thread between politics and government. However, I think Rovian/Bush Republicans don't make that distinction anymore. Government is politics, to a degree never before seen.

Take, for example, any of the following:

- Department of Justice disqualifying anyone who worked for any kind of liberal or liberal cause from being hired under certain programs (google 'Monica Goodling').

- Karl Rove giving presentations to civil service employees regarding how to make sure Republican candidates win elections.

- That the Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control (this was in the NYT recently).

- HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson saying outright that "of course" he would never give contracts to companies who have donated money to Democrats.

- Republican Senators setting records for filibustering once Dems took the Senate in 2006; this after trying to eliminate the filibuster as an option for four years when they had control (the so-called 'nuclear option').

Those are from a few minutes of thinking, and all are focused on those things that, in theory, should be the realm of government and not politics. I've heard dozens, if not hundreds of examples.

When I try to make this point to others, the most common rebuttal I get is that the Democrats are just as guilty, so let me address that now: Of course the Dems are guilty of patronage and bending the rules - but as I mentioned, this is a conflation of politics and government in what is effectively a new way (even if it's really just an old way brought back to life), one that actually threatens the functionality of government. It also shatters the understanding that certain things are best left unpoliticized.

Does this make me naive? Not at all - I am not terribly surprised at the behavior of Karl Rove so much as I am a little surprised the Dems haven't pushed back at all. However, the uneasy consensus that had existed around this distinction is gone, and people's lives are being rather negatively affected by the changes (see, for example, either the refusal to fund anything but abstinence-only overseas or the current housing crisis and the pathetic, ideological response of Ben Bernanke and the Fed). Rather, I'm deploring it not because it's the loss of some ideal state of existence - far from it - but because it's materially hurting people.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008



Monday, July 14, 2008

A Top 50 List

I have never heard of the vast majority of these women. The ones I am most familiar with are political bloggers, and, of course, Dooce.



LT and supporters would just come up with another reason not to be open-minded.

This after claiming the only way to proceed is to get rid of Robinson.

Does IE not realize that claiming there is one course of action and that it's already been decided is the very antithesis of open-minded?

For that matter, I disagree with framing the issue around whether or not Robinson stays as Superintendent. I know that IE has concluded that progress can only happen if Robinson leaves, but there are a lot of us for whom that conclusion has not been reached. Personally, I think the question should not be whether or not Robinson stays, but what the district's students need - and whether or not Robinson can make that happen. Bear in mind that part of doing his job is reaching out to the public and achieving buy-in from all relevant stakeholders. Also bear in mind that as someone with a PhD in Education, he's in a good position to help determine what it is that students need going into the 21st century.

The second problem with framing the issue around Robinson - a person - is that it ignores the process being used to make decisions at the upper levels of the district. For me, that's the pre-eminent issue. While Mr. Alexander has more than convinced me he's not interested in democratic decisionmaking, Robinson is not exactly passing with flying colors on this one either. (Again, convincing the public that decisions are being made well is part of the Superintendent's job - I believe the term is "public relations.") I have yet to hear IE or anyone else defend Mr. Alexander's method of making decisions, and I would love to, as I consider the process that has been used in many cases indefensible.

Also, this:

You know, if I showed up regularly at board meetings, LT and I would still disagree...

Amazingly convenient how that insinuates that there's no point to actually going and seeing what happens in board meetings firsthand, mere days after IE gets flack for not attending. However, if the Zurcher letter proved anything, it's that there's no substitute for first-hand knowledge.

Happy Poster

This poster is on the wall upstairs in the building I work in. I love the implicit rejection of the viewer that can be read in it.

Pro Forma


The case reflects an attitude that the length of prison terms should depend on whether the patient is “getting better.” This perpetuates the idea that crime is the result of illness, which, if true, would undermine the very idea of punishment. How can the system punish somebody for being ill?

1. There are many ways to take "getting better;" not all of them assume that crime is the result of illness, and Hering provides no evidence that his explanation fits the incredibly vague two-word phrase. This is just silly. And, of course, it discounts the fact that some people who commit crimes are ill.

2. ..."would undermine the very idea of punishment." Oh noes! Someone won't get hurt badly enough! Quick! We must find new and creative ways of hurting other human beings, or else we'll.... what, exactly? Last time I checked, the death penalty had been in use throughout just about all of recorded human history, and guess what? People still commit crimes!

Give me a break. Punitive/Retributive justice, at its core, is ineffective and incredibly unethical. I'm sure Hering arrived at his position honestly on this one; I just think it's a morally reprehensible position. (And no, the fact that millions of people agree with Hering does not make it less morally reprehensible.)

Better to think about Restorative Justice, both for practical and ethical reasons.

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