Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No Time to Blog

. . .But I wanted to post something in honor of the day, tho' it's sure to convince some Drydenites that I'm a witch. Oh, right, some already think so, and I have the letter from Williamson, Clune & Stevens to prove it.
Tonight we're trick-or-treating, singing at the Community Cafe, and returning next door for a party. I'll have to tell my neighbor that the guy whose sign they posted is threatening me with a lawsuit.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I've had a love-hate relationship with NYC for some time, and it was magnified this weekend. I love seeing the spires rise out of the fog as I drive in; I hate the looming blankness where the twin towers once stood. I have no problem navigating the crowded streets and can even calmly maneuver along the unmarked lanes and pitted pavement of the Cross-Bronx after nightfall, as I did to reach PZ's and Lisa's place on City Island, where I spent Thursday and Friday nights. However, I hate navigating the crowded sidewalks, and I hate the cabbies who always manage to hit the nearest puddle with a WHOOOSH just as I enter the crosswalk, and I hate the van that rear-ended me not two minutes after I exited the tunnel and turned up 8th Avenue. I love being able to view the Dutch Masters, as DZ, Phil, and I did Friday night after having a glass of wine in the balcony of the Met. I hate that the Met now suggests a $20 donation and charges close to double digits for a glass of wine, and that you have to be strip searched just to enter the building. I love grabbing pastrami on rye at the Stage Deli (tho' no one could eat the whole thing alone), or a knish across the street at Lindy's (where a nice woman from Houston asked, "What is that?" and then was so grateful that I took the time to talk to her), and having Turkish meze split three ways on the Upper East Side or cute ravioli stuffed with acorn squash in brown butter at Gabriel's on West 61st. I hate that people who can't possibly live anywhere nearby shop in the ridiculous bigger-than-Wegman's Whole Foods below the new hideous capitalist-pigs-on-display Time Warner building that practically encloses Columbus Circle and is guarded by a phalanx of police.

DZ wondered if I ever want to move back--she thinks about it with fondness from time to time. I don't.

I'll blog a bit about the convention later.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bright Lights, Big City

I'm off to NYC for the NYSSBA Convention. Back Saturday late, and it's back to the campaign.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Watch It Burn

Here's a remarkable Google map (I can't post it, unfortunately) that shows hour by hour what's up in the area right around the Big Zs' place in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The new fire in Fairbanks Ranch is just about 9 miles from them.

Politics, Dryden Style. Not.

Last night's meet-the-candidates event disintegrated into the ugliest display of mindless partisanship I've seen since I was slammed for staring at my fingernails as people lamely rambled on and on about Freeville School at a BOE meeting back in 2001. GOP veterans planted in the audience blathered about the POW/MIA flag (the issue is more clearly explained on Simon's blog), and John Bailey called Mary Ann's faith into question, based on comments she'd written in the past on her own blog. Since John and I have gotten down and dirty over evolution (he once told me that perhaps I had emerged from primordial ooze, but he was the product of a loving God), that didn't surprise me. But I am seriously considering moving our business elsewhere. I mean, I'm godless, so surely my money is, too.SmileyCentral.comAlthough I mentioned both red-baiting and swift-boating in my response on radio and TV, the WHCU webpage just mentions my pleasure at getting a female supervisor. I should have been more specific. Although I admire her ability to spin and be glib, I think Cheryl Nelson would make a fairly terrible representative of our town.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Under Fire

Here's the latest fire map of San Diego County. The heavily populated section around the bay is the city. The bump above it is La Jolla. The Big Zs are in that strip of land along the ocean just west of the purple section above that. Stan writes (yesterday): "We sit here with the windows closed, 80° outside, sky invisible from smoke, watching TV, a voluntary evacuation of Solana Beach in effect and unable to guess where we could go if we have to evacuate. I-5 traffic going north is blocked by traffic; nothing moves. If it gets worse we may drive down to the ocean and just sit neck-deep therein."

Meanwhile, PZ says things are very calm and rather dull in Kabul.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Forum Tomorrow, BOE Tonight

SmileyCentral.comThe Dryden candidates will hold their final forum tomorrow at the Varna CC, 7 PM. Extra points if you can identify the sleeping candidate in this smiley!

Tonight at Freeville Elementary, our BOE will hold its first meeting under the guidance of our new interim superintendent, Jim Lee.

From Lame to Lamer

I think the winner in 2008 has to be the person who publishes From Power to Purpose to Promise to Power. Let's get crackin', ghost writers!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007


O took this picture of a slightly
unwilling Alex dressed for tonight's game.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

One Said He'd Stay in Kansas; Then There Were Seven

Brownback's out.

Signs of the Season

A leafy patchwork,

Cornell apples,

and the new generator.


Next Thursday I travel to the NYSSBA Convention in NYC. One of the parts I look forward to is a meeting with the Commission on Local Government & Competitiveness. Many of my fellow Dems may disagree, but I strongly believe in this group's mission, though I suspect they face an uphill battle. Whether we think it can work or not, it's a conversation we must have.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Passing the Bucks

I worry that we're all so busy nowadays that we're passing off the chores that are rightfully ours. Time was, the main three jobs of a school board member were (1) making policy, (2) approving a budget, and (3) hiring a superintendent. Today, all three chores are increasingly handed over to subcommittees or private agencies. The result is less local control, which, as someone who believes in national standards, I can't entirely consider a bad thing. But another result is irrelevance. If all NYS school boards start to follow this pattern, as so many are, why have a board at all? Surely not to vote "aye" on a bunch of stuff board members have not even overseen. Or perhaps rubber stamping is the point.

I always have to ask: Cui bono? Once again, not the people.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tribe Time

Always liked him.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Micromanagement by Court Decision

TIME has an important article this week on the way in which the Roberts Court has provided the final descent from decisions that affect enormous numbers of the general population (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Roe v. Wade) to decisions that affect 100 citizens, or 10, or 1. Along with the decrease in importance of cases comes a vast increase in rhetoric--opinions that are hundreds of pages v. the 14 pages needed for Brown. The reasons for this are eye-opening; the author (David Von Drehle) posits that this is the most homogeneous court ever--they're all intellectuals from the federal court of appeals.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chief Wahoo Wins

The Indians won in the 11th, long after I had given up and gone to bed. Meanwhile, Vernon Bellecourt, longtime opponent of the dysphemistic Cleveland Indian mascot, died of pneumonia.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

All Sports, All the Time

We are hosting Bill and Lela and George and Isabella plus Andy and Michelle. This morning, Michelle ran a 5K at the Plantations (she came in third) while the rest of us watched O play soccer in 40-degree weather (her team lost). Then we went to CU homecoming vs. Colgate, but mostly we ate at the free Hotel School tailgating tents and didn't sit in the stands past halftime (CU went on to win). Tonight we're watching the second game in the Indians/Red Sox series (Cleveland is ahead, but who knows how long that will last.) Tomorrow the guests leave; Monday Paul drives to Cleveland to watch two playoff games in a row.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobel Oblige

The Peace Prize to Al Gore? Genius. And a hearty Norwegian fokka du to GWB.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Required Reading

Gail Collins on the irrelevancy of Fred Thompson. LOL.
He persuaded people that his opponent was wrong when he claimed Thompson was nothing but a “Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, Perrier-drinking, Grey Poupon-spreading millionaire Washington special interest lobbyist.” Of course, that was some time ago, and things have changed. Thompson is now a Gucci-wearing, Lincoln-driving, Perrier-drinking, Grey Poupon-spreading millionaire Washington special interest lobbyist and actor.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Signs of the Season

Ahhhhh. Sitting at dusk on the soccer fields, with the odor of fresh manure and maybe a faraway leaf bonfire, watching local geese wheel overhead on their way to the ponds to the north as the sun plummets down behind Tom Miller's fields. Like wobbly strings tethered to invisible kites, five strands of migrating geese barrel due south, toward the cornfields of Harford and Richford and points far far beyond.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Required Reading

SmileyCentral.comBob Herbert on testing and how it tells us not a damn thing about real achievement.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Media Responsibility

Simon asks sensibly what we can do to interest the Ithaca Journal in covering our town. It seems that I'm often arguing with them about their role. For a long time, they would not cover any event they considered strictly partisan, which extended to failing to cover our requests for candidates. Now, under a new editor, they've backed off that somewhat. They will mention a call for candidates, and they will talk about things that have already happened; for example, our recent TCDC meeting where we re-elected the executive committee. They will list meet-the-candidates events as long as they seem open to the public, which I think is fair. They will publish letters to the editor even when the number seems lopsided in favor of one candidate.

But they have nearly stopped covering the hinterlands, except via their "towns" freelance reporters, who tend to cover the social or religious rather than the political or legislative. It's a serious problem, although it may be worse for other towns than for ours. We still have two weeklies, and we have the Cortland Standard. However, the Standard won't deliver to us, because we're outside their delivery radius. All I can do is to keep an eye on their fairly poor website, which includes the top three or four stories in each edition, or to pick up papers at Eckerd/Rite Aid in the village (which, luckily for me, often holds up to a weeks' worth).

LATER: Well, this isn't likely to help one single bit.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Required Reading

Thomas Friedman on the absurdity of trying to run a half-a-trillion-dollar war without raising taxes. Debt will bring down our empire faster than terrorists will.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Thank Goodness We Have Ida

It's quite amazing how Dryden has fallen off the map as far as the Ithaca Journal is concerned. They don't have enough staff to cover the town, so they just ignore the 13,000+ of us entirely.

So you'll have to read about our new interim superintendent in the Cortland Standard. As Andy says, we're very happy with the choice.

Big Red Football

CU was handing out tickets like candy at the various schools around town, trying to get a decent-sized crowd to attend the Harvard game. So we went, along with O's two pals, on a day that felt more like summer. We baked in the stands; the girls went back and forth to the concession stands three times; CU looked kinda pitiful at first; one of the cheerleaders fell down. We left at halftime, when it looked like CU was mounting a comeback, but Harvard went on to win 32-15. Truth to tell, they looked better from the start.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Not Getting It

Jim Crawford is chair of the GOP in Dryden. Here he writes the most hypocritical screed I've seen in a while.

LATER: Below is the guest editorial I wrote in response. It turns out that the IJ only wants one from our Chair, so I don't get to publish mine, although I still might send it elsewhere. They seem to think this is about Ithaca, when the not-so-subtle subtext is our upcoming race in Dryden. Simon has posted on the issue as well.
Election reform is not a partisan issue

In 2001, then-Attorney General Elliot Spitzer recommended changes in New York State’s petitioning requirements that would have extended petitioning time periods, reduced the numbers of signatures required, and eliminated many of the more arcane rules, allowing candidates time to correct errors and even enabling citizens to sign more than one petition. He may have been spurred to this recommendation by his own electoral history: In 1998, although he won by 26,000 votes, Spitzer was challenged by the Republican incumbent, Dennis Vacco, who conceded in December only after a protracted court battle in which Vacco challenged minority ballots and tried to enlist police to help him do a house-to-house search to locate “illegal” voters.

In other words, it is not just Republicans who consider New York’s petitioning laws in need of reform, and it is not just Democrats who mount legal challenges. The op-ed piece of October 5 (“Democrats show hypocrisy on core principles”) wildly misstates the issue, and by “proposing a truce over the small stuff,” indicates a complete misunderstanding of the reasons for election law; namely, to prevent the kind of fraud and corruption on both sides that made New York such a hotbed of electoral malfeasance in the 19th century.

However, I am sure that the writer is just being disingenuous, since I well remember his own successful challenge to a Democratic absentee ballot in the recent Dryden Village election. His suggestion that Martha Robertson “cynically” pursued a challenge to independent petitions before giving up in defeat ignores the rule he knows well that gives citizens a mere three days to mount a challenge and then several more to see whether a challenge is warranted. His statement that Democrats in Dryden “did not even make the effort” to get an independent line on the ballot ignores the fact that his Party is only doing this as part of a (quite sensible) national effort to distance themselves from the national GOP. We Dryden Democrats don’t feel that need; we know that our slate will appeal to members of all parties. And his suggestion that only Democrats want to “win at all costs” belies his support of a candidate for Dryden Town Justice who daily opposes his own heartfelt belief in the value of Drug Court.

It would be time better spent if all of the Republicans who claim to be appalled at Democrat Cathy Valentino’s loss of the independent line wrote to their new Governor to remind him of his 2001 proposal, which sank without a trace under the leadership of Republican George Pataki.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Blog

Here's Simon's new blog, including a couple of posts from me. It's not quite science fiction, not quite Jeanne Dixon--just a trepidatious tiptoe into the future of Central New York, sometimes a positive vision, more often not.


SmileyCentral.comAll of this stuff that's coming out about our mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan is just sick-making. Recipe for disaster: Take kids raised on Stallone and Tom Cruise movies, pay them a lot, and send them into a war zone with loads of firepower but little training.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fun Quiz!

Who needs the NYT or CNN debates? Now you can take a simple 11-question quiz that decides for you whom to elect as your next president. Paul and I both had Kucinich coming in first, followed by Richardson. Tom Tancredo and Fred Thompson came in dead last on my list, while Duncan Hunter, Fred, and Mike Huckabee tied for last place on Paul's.

Seriously, it's pretty interesting. Try it!

Money Money

SmileyCentral.comNow we wait to find out which candidates have pulled in more than the Gross Domestic Product of Kiribati ($71 million) with their influx this quarter. How obscene does this look to the rest of the world, I wonder?

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Tax Cycle

SmileyCentral.comAs I prepare to pay my school taxes today ($8655!), I'm thinking about our responsibility as BOE members to keep costs down (and I've written about how complaining about unfunded mandates no longer cuts any ice with me), but I'm also thinking about the responsibility the town board has to create an environment that is conducive to attracting business to the town--business that will alleviate some of the tax burden on residents. Of course, it's a vicious cycle, since what business in its right mind wants to come to a place where the school tax rate is $24+/1000, but I am so mindful that having an activist town board instead of the do-nothing town board we're used to has the potential to make a significant difference.