Thursday, October 28, 2010

Four-Point Program

The Statewide School Finance Consortium has put forth a four-point plan, which they have shared with all candidates for state office:
1. The State must freeze wages for all public school employees when state aid is frozen or reduced. Only the State Government has the power to enact this measure. No individual district can impose a wage freeze.
2. The State must cap the amount a school district can spend on health insurance and require employees to pay a larger share of their health insurance costs. School districts cannot sustain costly contract provisions for salaries and benefits that were negotiated many years before and which they cannot reduce under the provisions of the so-called “Triborough Amendment”.
3. The State must enact a new major pension reform and require public employees to contribute significantly more toward their pensions. The State requires school districts to participate in the Employee and Teachers retirement systems and they have no control over the cost of those benefits.
4. The State must reduce the costs of special education by bringing New York’s regulations into conformance with federal guidelines. These skyrocketing costs are beyond the control of local school districts. Only the State Government has the power to make its requirements more reasonable and realistic.
Passing the burden of the state’s constitutionally-mandated responsibility onto local schools cannot continue. Schools have already cut spending as far as they could in order to keep property taxes from rising during this economic downturn. Local property tax increases will simply be insufficient to meet school districts’ rising costs.
If they cannot provide enough state aid for schools to function, then our elected leaders really have no alternative but to enact substantive cost-saving measures.
New York State can no longer pass the buck.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Required Reading

Early voting actually suppresses the vote.
Early voting also dilutes the intensity of Election Day. When a large share of votes is cast well in advance of the first Tuesday in November, campaigns begin to scale back their late efforts. The parties run fewer ads and shift workers to more competitive states. Get-out-the-vote efforts in particular become much less efficient when so many people have already voted.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn Work

I came home from the Dryden Dems biannual Highway Cleanup to find that Paul had been busy, too. Imagine carving those pumpkins.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Candidate Forum

The candidate forum at Neptune Hose was fairly well attended (though not by Democrats), despite the nasty weather. Sheriff candidate Lansing was unable to be there, so Sheriff Meskill just introduced himself and stuck around for the Assembly candidate discussion. No questions on fracking--questions instead on truck regulations, constituent service, charter schools, spending, the STAR program. Nothing particularly out of left field. Candidate Reynolds seems to believe that we can just sit down and talk with individuals instead of writing regulations. He also believes that we should make school decisions locally but still have state standards. Candidate Lifton talked about "studying" problems and the complexity of the issues a bit too often. The guy handling the camera in front of me shook his head violently at everything Lifton said about charter schools, none of which seemed shake-worthy to me. I couldn't get a handle on the audience--the grange was well-represented, but there were many people I did not know. ICTV showed up but didn't seem very well organized or able to lift their cameras without clunking around. Two or three local papers were also there; I did not see the radio stations.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who's the Craziest Candidate?

Oh, so many to choose from. Let's go with the craziest who's likely to win. That could be Florida Congressional Candidate Allen West, endorsed by Palin and the Tea Party, who's ahead in the polls despite his (1) being forced out of the Army for using abusive interrogation techniques; (2) association with a violent biker gang suspected in cases of arson, drug running, and murder; (3) self-reference as an "intellectual warrior"; (4) suggestion that the Tea Party fight liberals the way the Untouchables did ("they send one of yours to the hospital; you send one of theirs to the morgue"); (5) physical intimidation of Democratic staffers who attempted to attend his speeches and rallies; etc., etc., etc. But he got $11K from Bank of America! and $10K from John Boehner's Freedom Project!

NY Debate

Who says politics is dull? Here we had the legalize-pot-former-madam vs. the Rent Is 2 Damn High party candidate vs. the scary developer from Buffalo vs. the failed HUD secretary. Paladino seemed way over his head; Davis was far better prepared and got off the best zingers, and McMillan was a laff riot.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dissolving a Village

The Village of Candor has been tiptoeing around this issue for some time, and now a committee has conducted a study, with the help of the Center for Governmental Research. A local government efficiency grant paid for the study.

Based on the comment that follows the article, there are at least two sides to the argument. A flowchart on the Candor committee website shows how complicated the process of dissolution may be.

The Village of Candor is 794 residents within a town of 5,138. As a point of comparison, the Village of Freeville has 505 residents, and the Village of Dryden has 1,832, all within a town of 13,532.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Knew She Was Above Average

CNN tells us that the average teen sends 3,339 texts a month. Ha! O's latest monthly score? 19,785.

LATER: My mistake. I misread the printout. This was for a month and a half. More like one every 4 minutes or so.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Baby Peafowl Grow Up

Eiffel ("I'm Blue"), Seneca, and Oneida are now used to the big pen. They do everything together, but Eiffel is a bit braver and more curious than his siblings.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Foundations of Liberty Not for Me

As if NYS weren't plagued with enough home-grown silliness, now we're importing nutballs from Utah to instruct us in re-establishing a government based in natural law.
We want to redefine citizenship and patriotism as helping the nation by creating better marriages and families. We want to communicate that the only way to fix Washington is to admit that we are a part of the problem, to re-evaluate (ReValue) our own selves, marriages, families and communities and make the changes necessary to be better people. This will result in less personal vice and broken marriages, happier and loving families, better neighborhoods, leading to improved communities, superior local leaders and no-nonsense state level leadership and finally, inspiring national leaders.
This libertarian stress on local over federal, family over community, micro over macro, purports to be the absolute purpose of our nation as the founders conceived it, but to me it's a recipe for selfishness and ignorance. Shanon Brooks stresses an American education that focuses on the works of Jefferson (the "real" Jefferson), Washington, and Adams (ditto). At his Monticello College and in his workshops, they read Locke, Marx & Engels, and especially crazy John Bircher Cleon Skousen, whose emphasis on faith-based politics (and argument that slave owners were the main victims of slavery) makes him the fringyest of the fringe philosophers.

And now they're coming to Dryden to enlighten us all. I wish I had the patience to sit for three hours and listen to this blather, but I can think of so many things I'd rather do.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


The rumor flew around Facebook faster than any rumor before--and then it turned out to be true. The middle school has smoke and water damage, and it may or may not reopen Tuesday.

LATER: It reopened on time. A generator shot a rod, essentially backfiring, and flamed out so thoroughly that the roof temperature (on a cool night) got up to 170 degrees. It was a carburetor fire involving natural gas. It melted the emergency shutoff and caused about $250K worth of damage (all covered by insurance).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Required Reading

Frank Rich on how Christine O'Donnell's candidacy is just what the billionaires who fund the "populist" TP movements needed for legitimacy.
By latching on to O’Donnell’s growing presence, the Rove-Boehner-McConnell establishment can claim it represents struggling middle-class Tea Partiers rather than Wall Street potentates and corporate titans. O’Donnell’s value is the same as that other useful idiot, Michael Steele, who remains at the Republican National Committee only because he can wave the banner of “diversity” over a virtually all-white party that alternately demonizes African-Americans, Latinos, gays and Muslims.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Woman's Prerogative

Looks like TP/9-12er Kelly Kheel changed her mind somewhere after 2008, when she gave nearly $800 to Hillary Clinton's campaign.