Archive for January, 2009

Contract Dispute

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Wondering just what was behind the JeffCo Commission’s (or at least the majority’s) unseemly rush to approve a lobbying contract with relative unknown Book*Hill Partners?  The Birmingham News reported yesterday that Michael Choy, a partner at Haskell Slaughter, says the whole thing was cooked up by Bill Slaughter (the attorney who advised the county on many of its lousy financial dealings) and Commission President Bettye Fine Collins, with a little help from Commissioner William Bell.

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I really shouldn’t read the Press-Register editorials

Friday, January 30th, 2009

All they do is raise my blood pressure. There was that dandy one last Friday wondering about Obama’s promise of transparency, since he skulked off to the Map Room to re-take the oath of office with “only four print reporters” allowed in. And today, we have what will surely be the first in a series of  gentle reminders that our new President and the Dem-controlled Congress are a bunch of pinko Commies.  Opening sentence: “You know Congress and the White House have shifted too far to the left when a former KGB man scolds them for excessive government interference in the economy.” I guess the editorial writer got all upset when s/he read in yesterday’s paper that Mobile schools (they’re currently broke) stand to rake in a cool $77 million from the stimulus package.

I know this will come as a surprise to you all, but Alabama is one of the states that takes in more federal dollars than it pays in taxes. Here’s the ranking from fiscal year 2005, before the Katrina recovery money kicked in. We got $1.63 for every dollar we paid. Not a bad return!

So, Mobile Press-Register, if you want to recommend we quit sucking on the Federal tit to fund our schools, health care for our poor, and just about everything else that we are unwilling to pay for ourselves, then fine. Until then please STFU.

Bye-Bye, Blago

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

The Illinois Senate voted unanimously today to oust Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office and forbid him from ever holding public office in Illinois again.  Blagojevich still faces federal corruption charges.

I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him; he’ll either write a book, get himself a TV show, or move to another state and run for office again.  Or maybe all three — assuming he’s not in the federal pen.

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Related posts:

The University of South Alabama finally gets football…

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

…and now this. They’re studying the donated brains of dead pro football players, and the findings are “compelling.” Here’s a juicy tidbit:

CSTE studies reveal brown tangles flecked throughout the brain tissue of former NFL players who died young — some as early as their 30s or 40s.

McKee, who also studies Alzheimer’s disease, says the tangles closely resemble what might be found in the brain of an 80-year-old with dementia.

Oh well, I doubt it will even make a dent in American football enthusiasm or revenue. Young men are still boxing, for heaven’s sake.

Once more, I am profoundly thankful that my son has no sports talent whatsoever.

Your County Government at…Work?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Yesterday, the Jefferson County Commission apparently voted to hire a Washington lobbying firm to try to get federal help with the sewer crisis.  I say “apparently” because you’d never know it by watching this video, which shows discussion (I use the word loosely) of the proposal.  The, um, discourse broke down into a mêlée during which a citizen was removed for exercising his right of free speech and — believe it or not — the vote was taken and the meeting quickly adjourned.  It happened so quickly that Commissioner Jim Carns, who opposes the hiring, wasn’t aware of the vote.

I know we’re living in upside-down land when I find myself agreeing with Comm. Carns, who used to be my State Rep. and leans way too far to the (religious) right for my taste.  But I’m with him:

“This is ridiculous.  And I object.”

Me too, Jim.  As do both Artur Davis and Spencer Bachus, who have made it clear that paying a lobbyist is a waste of money.  Of course, that never stopped the Commission before.

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Related posts here.  The video linked above is long, and most of the excitement takes place toward the end.  Well, except for the part where  Shelia Smoot tries to take credit for Artur Davis’ plan to meet with local, state, and federal officials to discuss alternatives.  That’s closer to the middle.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Alabama’s 2009 legislative session begins on Tuesday, February 3.  If you want to give your two cents directly to a legislator who will listen, come to Rep. Patricia Todd’s Town Hall Meeting this Saturday, 10 AM, at the Downtown Public Library (Linn-Henley Auditorium).

Rep. Todd (D-District 54) will discuss poverty, public transportation, constitutional reform, affordable housing, education, and issues that participants bring with them.  This is a great opportunity — don’t miss it!

Learning from My Mistakes

Monday, January 26th, 2009

a/k/a “Week 3 Has Kicked My Ass.”

cartoon_runnerLate last Sunday afternoon, I finished Week 2 (run 3, walk 3, 5 cycles, 30 minutes total).  On Monday at noon, I started Week 3 (run 5, walk 2-1/2, 4 cycles, 30 minutes total).  That was my first mistake.  At my age and level of fitness, less than 24 hours is not sufficient recovery time.

Second mistake?  Trying to break in new shoes at the same time.  No matter how comfortable they are, it takes a while for them to shape themselves to actual feet.  Ouch!

Our office was closed on Tuesday, so I spent the day watching inauguration coverage, cooking, and finding creative ways to get up every time I had to retrieve a pot from the lower cabinets.  My right knee was giving me fits.

All of that and some last minute errands led me to skip Wednesday’s run and wait till Thursday.  I felt pretty good when I got done, which led to the next mistake.  Here’s a clue: if you tell Dr. Renée about your sore knee that was already creaking on the stairs even before you started running and she asks, “Do you think you need a knee sleeve?”, ace-knee-bracedon’t be all brave and say no, hoping for the best.  Just go straight to the Rite-Aid and get one.  Don’t wait three days — and run again — before you succumb to common sense.

Anyway, today I technically finished Week 3, but I think I’ll take advantage of the option to repeat a week.  I’m not quite ready for run 7, walk 3, 3 cycles, 30 minutes total.

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All my whining aside, this is a good program, and I’m amazed at how quickly I’ve been able to increase my running time.  If you’re interested, check it out here (PDF).

Beanie Baby Bonfire – who’s in?

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Okay, this is just gross. The Ty company, with whom we spent hundreds of dollars buying Beanie Babies (and no, not as an investment – the kids played with them constantly) has now launched “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” as part of its TyGirlz collection. They have caramel-colored skin and “real doll hair” (it’s nice and straight!) but:

The Oak Brook-based company chose the dolls’ names because “they are beautiful names,” not because of any resemblance to President Obama’s daughters, said spokeswoman Tania Lundeen.

Um, sure. Needless to say, nobody got permission from the Obama family to make these non-resembling dolls. Michelle ain’t happy.  I guess after the confident smile and kind eyes plate, we could have seen this coming, but still. Those poor kids.

If Jesus played basketball

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Let me tell you a not very politically correct story.  Almost 30 years ago, when I was still living in Baton Rouge, I had a friend who worked on the LSU campus. LSU was proudly hosting the International Special Olympics that year, and staff who spoke a second language were urged to volunteer as translators. My friend was fluent in French, and, eager to miss a morning of Clerk/Typist II drudgery, he dutifully signed up and was assigned to a soccer game. Well, by the luck of whatever, one of the teams – the French one, I think – happened to be mostly young girls, and the other, from a country I can’t recall, was mostly older boys – really, Keith said, men.  So the whistle blew to start the game, and the older boys’ team, God love them, proceeded to literally trample their opponents.  Irate parents rushed down onto the field, screaming things the officials couldn’t understand, and…well. That’s the story. Maybe you had to be there.

I couldn’t help but think of that incident when DH read me this article from the sports page. (more…)

Congratulations, Madam Secretary!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Chill bump inducing all over again.  Hillary Clinton is going to be a marvelous Secretary of State!  How do I know?  If for no other reason, her opposition consisted of David Vitter and Jim DeMint, but if you need more evidence, watch this:

Liss has a transcript of the highlight video at her place, and it begins, “A solid minute of wild applause. Cheers. Shouting. Whistling. Wanton enthusiasm. General revelry.”  Indeed.

If you want to see/read the entire speech, the new SofS website has complete video and transcript. And if you need more reason to be excited, read this from Secretary Clinton’s Senate hearing:

I want to pledge to you that as Secretary of State, I view these issues [of violence against and oppression of women around the world] as central to our foreign policy. Not as adjunct or auxiliary, or in any way lesser than all of the other issues we have to confront. I too have followed the stories that are exemplified by the pictures that you held up. I mean, it is heartbreaking beyond words that, you know, young girls are attacked on their way to school by Taliban sympathizers and members who do not want young women to be educated. It’s not complicated! They want to maintain an attitude that keeps women — as I said in my testimony — unhealthy, unfed, uneducated and this is something that results all too often in violence against these young women, both within their families and from the outside.

This is not culture. This is not custom. This is criminal…

Change we can all believe in. Let’s get to work.