Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Friend Dahmer

Paul heads for Ohio this week for the book launch party for this soon-to-be-bestseller by classmate John Backderf about fellow classmate Jeff Dahmer. Like Backderf, Paul was barraged by media after Dahmer's capture and chose to say nothing.

In the wake of another school shooting, this one just an hour away from Revere High School, there's all the more reason for us to try to make sense of the senseless.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Evil Philanthropists

I grow weary of the gas industry's ongoing harangue about the nexus of higher education and philanthropy as it (negatively) affects their ability to drill. They are particularly obnoxious on the topic of the Park Foundation, formerly Roy Park's operation, now run by the kiddies. I assume that they're mostly ticked off at Adelaide, the lefter-leaning Park.

Adelaide's Park Foundation grants are divided, and have been since 2009, among Higher Ed, Media, Environment, Animal Welfare, Community Needs, Sustainable Ithaca, Memberships & Philanthropic Engagement, and Other. Environment + Sustainable Ithaca + Community Needs monies don't even come close to the amount spent on Higher Ed. But Adelaide has been an outspoken anti-fracker, even winning awards for her advocacy.

This has been enough for the gas company's local mouthpiece, EID, to posit a vast conspiracy linking People Who Have Worked for Cornell with People Who Are Spokespeople for Antifracking and tying it all together with a big Park Foundation bow. I think if the author visited, he might understand that people on the legislature are often tied to Cornell—it is, after all, our biggest employer—and that it is possible to be both a horse farmer and a spokesperson. And Ithaca is small enough that for Walter Hang to be found at a dinner feting Adelaide is not only unremarkable, but it would be surprising only if he were NOT there. I think the gas industry needs a better army of reporters from the field, not just a bunch of amateurs sitting in their home offices Googling old issues of the Ithaca Journal.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


She was around my age and did some of the world's most important work—eyewitness reporting from war zones. She's not the first one to die in Syria, and she probably won't be the last, but the fact that we heard her just last night on CNN makes her death even harder to fathom. Marie Colvin, murdered in Homs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dryden Wins Round One

No one believes that this is an end to it, but our little burg just took round one against the Big Bad Anschutz.

Santorum Ignoramus Est

We now face the possibility of electing a President who genuinely shows contempt for gay Americans (10 percent of the population), women (50.8 percent), Muslim Americans (0.8 percent), non Christians (17 percent), African Americans (12.6 percent).... I took down my Bachmann quote banner too soon. Now I'll have to put up a Santorum banner, because he may actually be even more of an idiot.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Who Isn't Running for Congress?

Well, I'm not. But I may be the only one.

Ithaca's congressman, Maurice Hinchey, who is not Dryden's congressman, because that would be too simple, is retiring. His district is likely to be redistricted into oblivion, which could mean any of several scenarios. In one, Ithaca and most of Tompkins end up in a district that extends through Syracuse, the district I think of as Dan Maffei's, despite his 2010 loss to Ann Marie Buerkle. In another, Ithaca and most of Tompkins end up with the Southern Tier—Chemung, Broome, and to the west, part of what now is Tom Reed's district.

Reed and Buerkle are vulnerable, being as they are both idiots. Congress is wildly unpopular, but that doesn't stop people from wanting to be there. Hinchey already had two Republican opponents. As of this morning, there are four Dems just in Tompkins County who may or may not vie for the seat. Each of them brings something to the table. Some are more viable in the first redistricting scenario. Others are more viable in the second redistricting scenario. There is doubtless a third scenario that I haven't even considered. And there are potential candidates in other counties. Plus Dan Maffei, who wants his old seat back....

We may have districts drawn by mid-March. We will certainly have a primary in June. It's pretty clear that this foreshortened calendar favors incumbents, however lousy they might be. In the meantime, there will be a flurry of activity here in Tompkins, some of which may grind to a halt once the districts are approved. It will be an interesting spring.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Required Reading

We've been saying this for a while now, but finally there's a study that backs us up.
"We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race."

Friday, February 10, 2012


Beyond Measure, 2010. Jack is standing above Olivia, on her right in the center of the group.

Required Reading

Confused about who Mitt Romney really is? As Frank Rich suggests, perhaps there just isn't any there there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lobbyist in Chief

I keep getting stuff from our governor recycling his line from the State of the State about his desire to be the state's only "lobbyist for the students" when it comes to education.

I find this irritating. I've served on school boards of one sort or another for eight years. I consider myself a lobbyist for the students, and I consider all other school board members lobbyists for the students, and I consider the New York State School Board Association a useful and powerful lobbyist for the students, and I can think of several other organizations that I think could easily be called lobbyists for the students.

I know what he means. He means that teachers' unions aren't working for students. He suspects that administrative organizations aren't working for students. And he apparently thinks that school boards are working for school boards, and he has the kid-vid to prove it.

It might be time for the governor to get out of the cities where school board service is a paid and partisan job and into the majority of the state where it's unpaid drudgery. If I'm lobbying for myself, what the hell am I getting for my labors?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Other Things That Floor Us

Other things that floor us include our insurance guy, John Bailey, calling at yesterday's school budget meeting for the return of God to the classroom as a means of improving discipline and apparently academics, in the form of an initiative to put a King James Bible in the hand of each student in Dryden, "no matter what the law says." He also recommends teaching creationism, since we're already teaching "the religion of evolution." This is a discussion John and I have had before, but Paul was astonished.

The meeting had already degenerated a lot from actual ideas about how to handle the budget, but this was... something else.

Dead Ere His Prime

Sometimes things happen that stop you in your tracks. Jack was an inspiration to Olivia with his perfect pitch and his charming, hipster ways. His death leaves a hole in our world.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Property Taxes and Landowners

Living in Dryden has a nice piece on high property taxes and local farmers. I have no difficulty at all understanding farmers' eagerness to sell mineral rights in light of an income that keeps going down while taxes on their land keep going up.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Project

Have an extra $50 lying around that you don't know what to do with? Help fund this fascinating project by Drew Harvell and friend-of-Daily-KAZ Dave Brown.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012