Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Which is just bringing out a different group of people who don't want their street name to change. It promises to be every bit as divisive this go-round.
Last night I heard a great solution to the problem, a way to honor Cesar Chavez for the leader he was. The gentleman who came up with the idea deserves a lot of credit, but he humbly requests anonymity.
The idea? Instead of renaming a street, which causes all sorts of private individuals and businesses to spend their own money and time to change their address listing, letterhead, etc, why not re-name a public institution? That way no private people have to bear any of the cost.
Why not rename Portland State University to "Cesar Chavez College of Portland?"
If you are an advocate for honoring Chavez, wouldn't it be better to have an instution like a college named after him rather than some non-descript street on the east side of Portland?
Plus, think of the warm up jerseys for their basketball team:
As I have chronicled here, the virtual charter school movement in Oregon is doing very well, despite the best efforts of the education establishment to tamp it down. More than 4000 students in Oregon are school VIA one or another on-line charter school organization. The students are doing well compared to the rest of the student population, and the schools cost the taxpayer just about half of what it costs to educate a student in the regular public schools.
Which of course makes them a huge threat to the education establishment - all those alphabet soup groups who believe that the purpose of the public education system is to serve their members.
Seeing the rapid growth and success of this innovative type of schooling, the education bureaucracy and its interest groups want only to kill it. And if they can't kill it, they want to freeze it in its tracks. And while it is frozen, they want to kill it.
At issue currently is SB767, which in its original form was a full frontal assault on virtual charter schools in Oregon. Without going into the gory details, among other things the bill would have simply made it illegal to school elementary aged children on-line, and in doing so would have closed down the largest public elementary school in the state of Oregon.
Yes, Oregon's teacher unions, administrator's association, and the classified employee union had as their express intent closing down the largest public elementary school in the state. It's all about the kids, don't you see.
When they realized their overreach (although they did have a slew of Democrat sponsors for the bill, people such as the senate majority leader Richard Devlin, who apparently will do the bidding of the OEA even if it means shutting the doors on 1500 or so elementary schoolkids all over the state) they backed off a bit, and offered up amendments to their bill.
The amendments passed out of the Senate Education Committee yesterday. The amended bill freezes every virtual charter school in the state at its current enrollment levels, and appoints a committee to consider all sorts of policy issues surrounding virtuals, which will then make a recommendation to the next special session of the legislature.
Of course we have seen these committees before. Who does the amended bill say gets to appoint the committee members? The Democrats. Whose voice do you think might be prevalent on this committee?
So this Democrat appointed committee will supposedly meet over the next few months and figure out some administrative superstructure to oversee virtual schooling in the state of Oregon, and then the special session will take up the issue again.
Meanwhile, every virtual charter school in the state of Oregon operates with a gullotine blade over its neck, because the drop dead date for figuring this stuff out is 6-30-2010. That is the date when every vitual school will be required to comply with the so-called 50% provision, which was enacted by the first OEA attempt to stop virtual schooling, back in 2005.
This bill is a long way from being law, because it looks like it will now go over to another committee, the Rules Committee, for further consideration. It had to get out of the Education Committee because the deadline for bills moving was yesterday. So now it will be in Rules, where guess who is the chair? Senator Dick Devlin.
Here are some questions I wish that legislators who are doing the bidding of the OEA would have to ask: How do you justify freezing enrollment in a legitmate type of public school? How many parents and children are you comfortable turning away from the public school of their choice? Given today's fiscal crisis, why wouldn't you be looking to EXPAND rather than freeze enrollment in lower-cost alternatives to brick and mortar public schools?
These types of questions are never asked. Our legislators never have to justify their actions as part of the public process. They take testimony, sure, but at most they have to sit through some uncomfortable moments as their duplicity is perhaps pointed out. Never do they have to defend their position.
So, hiding behind the gavel, armed with posturing statements on the record that go unchallenged, they quietly do the bidding of those who put them there. If children are hurt? Well, that is just the collateral damage of advancing their political career.
The legislative process is now and always was about who has the most power. Nothing new here, of course. The unions fund Democrat campaigns, and they call the shots when the Democrats are in the majority.
Fine. I get that. But let's not ever let them tell us that they are doing stuff like this for any reason other than that they are told to do it by their masters.
Friday, April 24, 2009
I'll do the "my comments in red" thing to his post, below:
David Appell said...
In other words, the problem is, left to pursuing the way we want to live, we don't choose to live the way he envisions. So he wants us to change our culture. A "cultural revolution, you might say.
What an incredibly arrogant statement.
These writers want to change the world no less than you do. And yet you make fun of them and think that your way is the only possible way for humans to live. Straw man argument. I said nothing about "my way being the only possible way for humans to live." In fact, that is what the people I am criticizing are saying!
It is not. Life is very complex and there are many ways of living it. in 500 years our attitudes about many things will look as foolish as do those who lived circa 1500 AD do today, if not more so. This statement is appropos to nothing.
Today's society has good things about it, and things not so good. To boisterously pretend that today's American lifestyle is the only way for people to possibly live is arrogant, ignorant, short-sighted, and lacking in vision. And insecure. Straw man argument again. I never said anything about the American lifestyle being the only way to live.
There are many things good about today's world, to be sure. There are also many things wrong about it, especially in the realm of sustainability and justice.
To pretend otherwise is a form of hubris befitting an ideologue or talk show host, but no one who really things about things in depth. Straw man argument AGAIN! I never "pretended otherwise" about there not being anything wrong about today's world.
There is not nearly sufficient room here to debate this topic, just to criticize the idea that this way is the only way and all other visions are to be denigrated and laughed at. Straw man YET AGAIN!
Which also indicates a very poor understanding of history. And now the phony lecture starts. You see, he is so much better educated than I am, that when I write stuff I reveal my lack of understanding of the world. Of course his education apparently didn't include training in the definition of logical fallacies. Such as non sequitir. Even if I DID claim that the American way of living (whatever that is) is the only way to live, how does that indicate a poor understanding of history? It doesn't follow.
Perhaps Zerzan is not completely right. Perhaps?! This loon actually said that everyone should live in small, agrarian communities, and Appell says maybe he's not "completely right?" Maybe he's only partially right, or just has one or two good ideas. But I also doubt that Kremer is completely right either. Sorry, David, I am completely right that forcing everyone to live the way Zerzan wants is completely wrong.
Kremer's reaction, in fact, seems mostly to be defensive, as if the world could not possibly be any different than it is today. Wow! He managed to actually combine the logical fallacies of straw man and non sequitir in a single sentence! But science clearly shows that we're on a nonsustainable path, and deep down almost every one us knows now that the 21st century will be one of correcting the previous two centuries and putting the world on a green, clean path. Science "clearly shows" no such thing. What exactly is unsustainable? The left loves to talk about sustainability, but it is never defined. Bottom line, it means: live the way we want you to live." David can you enlighten me about exactly what is unsustainable on the path we are on? Please be specific.
Kremer -- as a blogger or as a talk-show host -- has shown little understanding of the complexities of today's life If I were as intellectual as David, maybe I would be able to comprehend complex stuff. But then maybe I too would be unemployed. and seems mostly interested in honing to an extreme path that gets him the most viewers/readers. This is, sadly, a loss for the entire world.
Later, David had to chime in with this little nugget:
David Appell said...
Rob Kremer wrote: Tort law, for one. However, I support government regulations in the case of negative externalities.... This is a far, far cry from "redesigning our social and economic life." That is totalitarian, pure and simple.
Only a very spoiled, well-fed American could equate today's attempts at regulation with "totalitarianism." Here we go again. Straw man. I didn't equate 'today's attempts at regulation with totalitarianism. I said Beebe's notion that we should "redesign our social and economic life" was totalitarian. And it is.
Even trying to do so indicates a very weak understanding of history. OK now for his history lecture. I wonder if he is aware that "redesigning social and economic life" is PRECISELY what Mao did in the cultural revolution, what Lenin/Stalin did in Russia, and what every single socialist/communist regime had to do to impose the system on their people.
Rob, you might try reading anything Solzhenitsyn, victim of Stalin redesign efforts especially "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" or even "Cancer Ward," or some of Wiesel's victim of Hitler's redesign most famous works. Or simply rent "The Killing Fields" victims of Pol Pot's redesign efforts if reading is too much effort for you. Love the condescension, David. Odd that he is making my argument, isn't it? Then you might see what real totalitarianism is like.
You hideously insult such true survivors by comparing your situation to theirs. Comparing my situation to theirs? What is he talking about? I said nothing about "my situation." I am making the argument that when people want to use government to "redesign society" as Beebe and Zerzan want to do, it is inherently totalitarian. And each of those people he lists were victims of exactly what I am referring to. Can he possibly actually miss that point, and think that I was saying that I am a victim right now of totalitarianism? Does he have a reading comprehension problem?
You should, frankly, be ashamed. Actually I am a bit ashamed.
The funny thing about David is he continues to make stuff up that in his mind he somehow thinks I wrote, and then proceeds to debate it. It's not like it's just one time - he does it again and again. Over and over he argues straw men.
It's like he has these demons he debates in his mind, and he comes on the blog and imagines that I wrote all those things his demons said to him, and he argues it out on the blog!
It is really quite funny.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
On the issue of Cap & Trade, he sees clearly (and criticizes) what others either fail to see, or what they actually see as a benefit.
He spoke to Willamette Week recently, and said this:
"It [Cap & Trade] is just infinitely game-able," he said, relating how Europe is now trading in "carbon futures" that give industries additional emission permits now in exchange for, say, trees that may or may not be planted in the future.
"These financial people, I mean, they are very smart people and they can figure out a way to monetize anything and it would just be nuts to go down that path."
The congressman is absolutely right about the games that would be played with a carbon credit trading system. The rent-seekers would be out in full force, and there would be plenty of opportunity for all of them.
Starting with the original baseline emissions measures, which would form the cap level. You think there might be some shenanigans by all the regulated entities when their reported emissions from some baseline year is used to determine how many carbon credits they receive, some of which will be granted to them rather than auctioned?
You think there might be some games played with the offset market? We ALREADY have ludicrous examples of phony offset schemes, the effect of which are never measured or monitored.
Guess who was the biggest proponent of Cap & Trade back in the 1990's when the Kyoto Protocols were first debated and agreed upon at the UN Climate Conferences?
They KNEW there would be billions to be made by making a market in these credits. They lobbied Clinton hard, spent millions in DC trying to get the treaty signed and a C&T system in place.
Defazio says if we want to reduce CO2, just limit it like we do other pollutants. I disagree with him that it is desireable to limit CO2 in the first place, but he is absolutely correct that establishing a Cap & Trade scheme to reduce CO2 is really just paying off the moneyed interests that have sucked off of government regulatory schemes forever.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
It's a day when the state's newspapers are obligated to pretend that extreme environmental looneys are mainstream, and so we get treated with articles and op-ed contributions that reveal some of their more breathtaking nihilism.
For instance, check out this front-page story in the Oregonian that explains how great our deep recession is for the environment. Landfill garbage is down 16% and air pollution is down too. Turns out if we just produce less and less, there will be less waste product! Why didn't we think of that before?
Answer: the enviro-loons HAD thought of this before. In fact, for some, that is their end game!
From the article:
"The less industrial production, the better for the natural world -- that's quite obvious," says John Zerzan, a Eugene-based writer and activist. "Do we want a big recession? No, we don't. But the whole model is a loser -- a no-win thing to me." Zerzan says it's time for a full retreat from global society to small communities based on an agrarian way of life.
Pick a century - say, the 12th. Is that about the lifestyle you have in mind for us all, Mr. Zerzan? Has he himself "fully retreated" from global society? Or did the Oregonian perhaps talk to him on his cell phone?
Meanwhile, over on the editorial page, we get a fuller explanation of the enviro-designers aims. Some guy named Spencer Beebe, who runs an outfit called "Eco-trust," tells us that the challenge of Earth Day is to "define the operating rules of a new era."
I don't know about you, but my skin crawls when I hear environmentalists say things like this. Scratch a greenie and he bleeds totalitarian. What does he mean?
Luckily, he is more than happy to explain:
"The goal must be to participate -- to innovate, invest and inspire -- in the wholesale redesign of our social and economic life to create resilient regional economies that can compete successfully worldwide."
Wholesale redesign of our social and economic life? Thank you, Mr. Beebe, but I will take a pass on letting you decide how to redesign our society. Apparently the thought never crossed his mind how frightening it would be if ANY entity, government or otherwise, had the power to "redesign" our social and economic life.
He goes on to blather about the usual greenie wish list: a $100 per barrell floor on oil, renewable energy, mass transit, compact cities, etc. Nothing new there.
He concludes with a clarion call that is standard fare for enviroloons. The problem, he says, isn't that we don't know how to achieve his "wholesale redesign." "The challenges are not principally money and technology, but culture."
In other words, the problem is, left to pursuing the way we want to live, we don't choose to live the way he envisions. So he wants us to change our culture. A "cultural revolution, you might say.
How did that work out for Mao?
Monday, April 20, 2009
The reporter is Helen Jung. I dealt with Helen a couple summers ago when I was involved with the Blazer deal, and I found her to be an absolute professional who took pains to get the story right and explain it in a way that was easily understood.
The bottom line: the supposed guarantee the Paulsons have given Portland are sufficient to cover about one-sixth of the bonded indebtedness the city will have to take on for this deal. In addition, the pro-forma financials for the baseball and soccer operations were put together by Ms. Rosy Scenario herself, and the consultant the city paid $39,000 to analyze the deal had rudimentary math errors that materially changed the result.
In other words - a typical Portland deal.
The only think non-typical about the whole thing is that the Oregonian now has a real reporter covering the story, and she has laid bare the elements of this financial farce in a way that I would think could not be ignored.
OK, I admit I was chuckling when I wrote that last part. OF COURSE they will ignore it!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
"This question is about a death penalty of a different sort...
I am interested in the opinion of BlueOregon folks on the attempt by the OEA and the rest of the education establishment to shut down Oregon's virtual charter schools.
The bill is SB 767, sponsored by OEA, COSA, AFT, OSEA and a slew of Democratic legislators. I was hoping at some point BlueOregon would address this issue. There are 4000 students in these public schools right now. I know this is off topic, but do "progressives" support shutting down public schools like these?"
I thought that was pretty darn respectful. I knew it was off topic, so might be deleted. But what I didn't expect was the type of response I got from one of the regular commenters there, who goes by the screen name LT.
LT apparently read something other that what I posted. I'll post some excerpts from his response, along with my comments in red:
"And Rob Kremer, not only are you off topic, but did you really mean to imply that OEA makes decisions for COSA which stands for Confederation of School Administrators?" No, LT, I don't see where you can possibly conclude that from what I wrote. The fact is, OEA and COSA are both sponsors (technically, both requested) the bill. That is what they call a fact. I didn't imply anything about OEA making decisions for COSA. They jointly support lots of bills in the legislature.
"Is COSA allowed to express their concerns or is anyone on the opposite side from you in a debate a dupe of the big bad teachers union?" Again, who said anything about COSA being a dupe? Where did he get this?
"What is it you do for a living these days?" Not sure why this is relevant or what it is intended to imply. "Why should we take your side in a debate if we didn't vote for you when you ran for office? Because you say so?" I never said anyone should take my side in a debate. I simply said I am interested in the opinion of BlueOregon folks! But to answer the question ... why should someone side with me in this debate? Maybe because he agrees with me? Wouldn't that be a good reason? Even if that person voted against me in 2002? Or does LT think that if you voted against someone at some point in time, you are therefore prohibited from ever agreeing with him on anything?
"To say that anyone who supports or even wants an open discussion of SB 767 is doing the bidding of the OEA when COSA is also a sponsor of the bill would strike some people as the same level of intellectual dishonesty as "A truly prolife person believes in the death penalty as well as being an abortion opponent". This is remarkably incoherent. I don't even really know where to start with it. It begins with a premise that I never said, and then lurches into an analogy that makes no sense. Read it again - you have to marvel at the type of mind that could write something like this!
"What we need is an atmosphere (on this issue, Kremer's issue, or any other issue) where people can ask questions and look at facts without being called names." The irony here of course is that I very respectfully did what he suggests - I asked a question! Then LT writes that scathingly incoherent response, followed by a lecture on keeping a respectful atmosphere!
I don't know who this person LT is, but I am guessing that he doesn't like me very much.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I was unable to make either one because of a luncheon commitment for Congressman Greg Walden and a baseball game in the eve. But congrats to my good friends KPAM talk show host Victoria Taft, who got thousands to turn up for the Portland event, and Russ Walker of FreedomWorks, who spearheaded the Salem event.
In The Funny Paper story today, the reporting was more than typical. It was almost a caricature of what we have all come to expect from the paper.
Right off the bat, we were told that the rally wasn't real. Fifth or sixth paragraph, the editorializing began:
"The tea parties were hailed as a grass-roots uprising by their organizers, which included FreedomWorks, a Washington D.C.-based group headed by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Democrats, however, dismissed the grass-roots nature of the rally as AstroTurf."
No, the Tea Parties weren't ACTUAL "grass-roots uprisings," they were just "hailed" by their "organizers" which were "DC-based" organizations led by "Dick Armey."
Hard to imagine more code words packed into a single sentence. Nice job with the neutral reportage, Jeanne Har. Sheesh!
The Funny Paper INSISTS on characterizing the Oregon Chapter of FreedomWorks as a DC-based organization. Is FreedomWorks headquartered in DC? Yes. Does it have an active Oregon chapter, with tens of thousands of members? Obviously.
Is it an "astroturf" organization? This is the term they use anytime they want to deligitimize the authenticity of opposition. An "astroturf" organization is a fake grass roots effort that doesn't really have broad-based support.
In a city the size of Portland, anytime more than a thousand or so people attend a rally or political event, that cannot possibly be an "astroturf" organization BY DEFINITION. So when The Funny Paper takes such pains to point out that "critics" are using the dismissive epithet "astroturf," you can rest assured that you are reading the official position of the newspaper, and not authentic reporting.
To put a finer point on it: I can think of another "DC-based" organization with tens of thousands of Oregon members, but I can't recall ever once The Funny Paper referring to it as an AstroTurf organization: The National Education Association.
The local affiliate, the OEA, is constantly involved in organizing protests and rallies for such things as raising taxes and increasing school funding. Have you ever once read in a single article anything resembling the statement that the OEA is an "astroturf" organization because its national affiliate is in DC?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
It's not as if this is the first time. Oregon was tops in unemployment in the last recession, and was the last state to recover. For aalmost 20 years, from the early 1980s to 2000, the Intel-led boom in Oregon's silicon forest papered over the fact that Oregon government policies have made us uncompetitive.
We destroyed tens of thousands of jobs in natural resource industry. We drove up the cost of energy, one of Oregon's few competitive advantages. We turned a functioning transportation system into a congested nightmare. We taxed business success at the highest rate in the nation. We put in place a land use planning system that put the private sector at the mercy of planning bureaucrats. We grew the least efficient public education system in the country. And we burdened the taxpayer with an unsustainable public pension system that allows 52 year old gym teachers to retire with guaranteed $75,000 a year payments.
And now our economy is in meltdown. Color me shocked.
The government's response? Create the "next big industry" through government-directed subsidies and taxes on energy. Oppose new sources of energy such as LNG. Spend billions on 19th century rail transportation systems. Allow the education establishment to attack the most innovative, efficient new approach to schooling yet devised. Raise taxes on health insurance and hospitals to grow the government-directed health plan. Demand a gross-receipts tax on business that would tax the private sector whether it was profitable or not.
You know what pisses me off more than anything about all this? They have DESTROYED this great state, and my children are not going to have opportunity here. When they are both graduated from college in four years, living here will simply not be an option.
The government class has eradicated opportunity.
Thanks for nothing.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Corbett just happens to be doing quite well. They've developed some innovative programs over the years, and lots of people want to send their kids there - even if they don't live in the Corbett School District.
In Oregon, if you want to send you kid to a school in a district other than the one you live in, you have to go on bended knee to your local school district bureaucrat, who gets to decide on the educational future of your child. They can deny your request for any reason at all. If they say "yes," then the money that would otherwise be allocated to your resident district (about $6,000) goes instead to the district your want you kid to attend.
Corbett School District, according to a story in today's Oregonian, has about 100 students attending on this "inter-district transfer" arrangement.
But in today's difficult fiscal situation, many of the districts who have previously approved these students attending Corbett schools are now saying they will no longer do so. So the parents face the prospect of being forced to move their kids back to their resident school district schools (they do have the option of paying tuition to send their kids to Corbett.)
But Corbett School District pulled a fast one. It realized that if its schools were changed into charter schools, then their students could attend them without needing permission from their local bureaucrats. So that's what they did.
Which has their neighboring school districts pissed off. They don't want to have to compete - they want to be able to trap kids in their schools. And here is Corbett, using a legal loophole to allow them to continue attacting their students! Competing against them!
How unfair is that?
From the story:
"I don't think that was the intent of the charter district law, to circumvent the interdistrict transfer procedure," said Reynolds Superintendent Robert Fisher "I'm really puzzled by it."
Actually, Sup't Fisher, that is the PRECISE reason the charter school law was passed - to put some competition into the public school system. The problem for most school district administrators is that they don't want to compete, and deep down they know their schools CAN'T compete.
As the article pointed out, when the Oregon Trail (Sandy) School District decided last year to stop allowing inter-district transfers, the board chairman at the time said:
"We have a fiduciary duty here. If we let everyone go hither and yon, we're not going to have much of a school district left."
In other words, "So many people think our schools are inferior compared to neighboring schools, that if we allow them all to leave, we'd be out of business. So we HAVE to trap them. It's our duty to the people employed by our district."
This, at its core, is the bottom line argument against school choice of all forms. There's a huge debate right now about virtual charter schools. Those looking to limit the growth of virtuals, or kill them altogether, are essentially making the same argument:
"Please deny kids the education option of their choice, because our interests are threatened by the choices they would make."
Thursday, April 09, 2009
I just can't quite wrap my mind around the fact this young man died last night in a car wreck, murdered, apparently, by a drunk hit-and-run driver. I speak regularly with his step-dad, and we share developments about our sons. For several years I have heard first hand of Nick's progress through Tommy John Elbow surgery, rehab, and rise through the minors and sitting at the cusp of MLB.
Last year they hoped he would stay on the Angels MLB roster. But he was called up early in the year for three starts, then sent back down. And he had a horrrible year at the AAA level last summer.
But they knew he was a top prospect. He had a great spring training this year, and the Angels not only kept him on the opening day roster, but they put him in the starting rotation.
And so his first start was last night. He went six scoreless innings. Hours later, he was dead. Horrible. I cannot imagine what Janet and Duane are going through, and I hope I never learn.
Nick Adenhart, By Jerry Ford
Nick Adenhart was born August 24th, 1986. He left us this morning April 9th, 2009.
The brightest of futures cut short by a reckless driver. One of the best young men we have ever met, a great example for young kids taken from this world at the age of 22.
We loved Nick Adenhart! Our prayers go out to his entire family and the many others who were part of Nick Adenhart’s life.
Looking Back In 2003 we saw a young high school pitcher from Maryland throw in Jupiter, Fla. at the PG WWBA Championship. There had to be more than 100 scouts watching the game which was played on the furthest field in the complex. Nick was pitching for the All Star Baseball Academy against Eric Hurley that day. Two of the top pitching prospects in the country going head to head. Both were in the 2003 Aflac Game for the East team. We went on to rank Nick our #1 prospect in the 2004 class.
Then in the spring high school season of 2004, Nick suffered a serious arm injury shortly before the draft and underwent Tommy John surgery. A sure first round pick before the injury, he ended up going in the 14th round where the Angels selected him. Nick still ended up signing as the Angels paid him according to his skill even though he would have to rehab for the first year. Hurley ended up being drafted by the Royals in the first round.
Nick Adenhart was 94 mph that day in Jupiter and showed three plus pitches with great command. Hurley also threw well topping out at 93 mph. Later Nick played across the street from Perfect Game headquarters with the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Angels A League team). He was on the fast track to the Big Leagues. His dad would stop and visit with us every time he came to town. Nick was a great example of just how talent, persistence and class can be combined in one person.
Of course Nick did end up pitching in the Major Leagues for the Angels. In fact, he pitched his very last game last night. He threw 6 shutout innings against the Oakland A’s. One of the few hits Nick gave up was to Ryan Sweeney who grew up right here at Perfect Game. We were expecting greatness for Nick Adenhart because he was so talented and such a great example for baseball.
Then came the gut wrenching news that Nick Adenhart is no longer with us. He died in a car accident last night. Hit and run broadside! Once again, a stark reminder that there are many more important things than baseball.
It is impossible to type this with dry eyes. It’s a very sad day! Opening night at the ballpark tonight. I’m supposed to throw out the first pitch. The ballpark is now named Perfect Game Field.
Supposed to be a happy occasion. Not now! There are things that are so much more important. Sure there will be a moment of silence. That just doesn’t seem like anywhere near enough. Who cares about baseball at a time like this? Yesterday we lost our battle to try to keep the University of Northern Iowa baseball program from being dropped. That doesn’t seem to be as important today.
Please pray for Nick Adenhart and his family.
His name is Nick Adenhart. I know his mom and dad. Last summer I sat with his mom in PGE park as he pitched a game against the Beavers.
I am so sad about this. Nick was a terrific young man. He was on the cusp of the majors for two years, had three starts for the Angels last season when one of their pitchers was on the DL. He had a great spring training and made the opening day roster, pitching his first start last night where he went 6 full innings with no earned runs.
Hours later he was dead, victim of a hit and run driver who ran a red light.
I can only imagine what his parents, Jan and Duane are going through. They are really wonderful people. They live in the Chicago area. Jan's brother is a HS football coach in the Seattle area.
I am honestly close to tears as I write this.
We especially love government bureaucrats and government programs that flush millions of public funds down the toilet.
Here's the deal, as detailed in today's Portland Tribune article. The Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit program gives tax credits to businesses that invest in various energy saving projects, everything from hybrid vehicles to replacing windows.
Now, this in itself is a waste of money, because if these investments actually paid for themselves in terms of the energy they saved, there wouldn't be a need for a tax incentive to do it. But let's leave that aside for a moment.
The REAL waste of money comes because the program also gives a tax credit to government agencies that make these types of investments. What's that you say? Why would a government agency need a tax credit? They pay no taxes!
Exactly! So what do the agencies do with the credits? They sell them to businesses and individuals who have a tax liability, for a pretty darn steep discount. Tens of millions of dollars in these discounts happen every year as government agencies sell the tax credits granted to them by the same government.
How idiotic! To illustrate, let me use some numbers, hypothetical, but it will illustrate how stupid this is:
- Gov't agency buys 25 hybrid vehicles for its fleet, total cost $1 million.
- Dep't of Energy gives gov't agency $500K in "tax credits."
- Gov't agency sells the credits to US Bank for $350K.
- Loss to state in tax receipts: $150K
Now, if the state of Oregon wants to give incentives for its agencies to make these kind of investments (which are wrongheaded anyway, since they don't save as much money as they cost) it should just give the "credit" of $500K from the general fund straight to the agency's budget.
Then all the state would lose would be the dollars on the bad investment.
As it stands, we don't just spend this money inefficiently by giving these incentives, but we also get a "haircut" on the tax credits that amounts, cumulatively, to tens of millions of dollars in foregone tax receipts.
This could be changed OVERNIGHT by simply replacing the tax credit granted government agencies with a "budget credit" from the general fund. You would think, with all the caterwauling about the budget crisis, that they might want to make this simple change.
So who benefits? It is a giveaway to whoever buys the credits - mostly financial institutions, but the credits can be used by individuals as well. The rate of return on buying these credits at the discount and applying them to your tax liability is in the neighborhood of 20%!
Good job to the Portland Tribune for bringing this up.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Guess who ends up holding a large part of the bag? You and me. The state of Oregon lent the company $20 million, and it got all sorts of tax credits ($13 million) as well as about $30 million in infrastructure improvements around the facility.
Our elected representatives were so sure that biofuels was the next big thing, and Oregon had to take the lead. Sen. Jackie Dingfelder led the charge in the 2007 session to require 10% ethanol in Oregon gasoline, and giving all sorts of incentives for production.
And it took only seven months for the states largest investment ever in ethanol production to completely disappear. Great job.
Has anyone learned a lesson? HA! Remember: this is Oregon, where nothing succeeds like failure. So says the Governor's "expert" on energy:
Dave Van’t Hof, Kulongoski’s point man on energy and environment issues, says the governor believes the subsidies for Cascade and the ethanol mandate were good decisions and he would do nothing differently.
“We’re staying the course,” Van’t Hof says. “We’re not going to win on every investment, but on average we’re going to get a positive return.”
This is what happens when people who have zero understanding of markets and business decide that they are smarter than the markets. We get to pay for their colosssal mistakes. And they declare victory.
Again, Nigel Jaquiss writes the story that the Oregonian failed to write. They must be getting used to it.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
In a hearing this week on SB767, which is the education establishment's attempt to kill virtual schools in Oregon, Laurie Wimmer, the lobbyist for the Oregon Education Association (Oregon's teachers union) made the same argument.
"And, in the case of the state school fund, those funds are allocated by Ways and Means based on an assumption about how many students are coming to the brick and mortar public schools and the state school fund is distributed accordingly and what happens when homeschoolers enroll in one of these programs (and most if not all of them are in fact homeschoolers, some of them come out of public programs,) in effect they are taking money that was allocated to a district for one set of students and re-routing that money for other kids and so that’s what I mean by advantaging some at the expense of the many."
First, she is wrong to say "most if not all of them [virtual charter school students] are homeschoolers." At Connections Academy, fewer than half the enrolled students were previously home schooled.
But it doesn't matter anyway. Is it the OEA's position that parents who currently homeschool their children should NOT have the option to put their kids in a public school? I can't read this statement any other way.
This statement was made in testimony to the Senate Education Committee, so it wasn't just a casual conversation. It represents the OEA's argument for a bill that they requested. Therefore the statement reflects the teachers union's official position.
If not, the OEA is free to correct Ms. Wimmer by repudiating her testimony. Until such time, we can spread the word that the OEA wants to deny tens of thousands of Oregon taxpaying families the option of sending their kids to public schools.
I think we need a new slogan for the OEA. From time to time they run TV ads and buy billboards trying to convince the public that they care about kids. Their tag line is:
"Working wonders for public education."
Any thoughts on what might be a more accurate slogan for them? I'll get the contest started. How about:
"Making sure public education works .... for us."
Your submissions are invited!
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
There is so much in the letter that is just idiotic and inane, I thought the best thing to do was to deconstruct it a bit, and point out the fallacies, non-sequitirs and demagoguery. As you read it, keep in mind that these people represent our TEACHERS. They spend every day with Oregon's kids. Is this an example of the quality of their thinking?
As you enjoy each example of flawed logic and deception, it is obvious that truth means nothing to these folks. It is simply about their own power and control.
My inserted commets will be in RED, just for ease of reading.
Vitual schools oversight
On Sunday, conservative columnist Elizabeth Hovde chided the Oregon Education Association for fighting for accountability, taxpayers and students [Here it begins... The OEA's attempt to shut down the largest elementary school in the state of Oregon is their idea of fighting for students! And fighting for accountability? Are you kidding me? The union stridently oppose ANY attempt to hold teachers accountable for student learning!];
...as opposed to siding with out-of-state corporations who profit off of Oregon's virtual charter schools. [You knew they couldn't wait for the second paragraph to roll out the "for profit out of state" scare card. First, ORCA is not "for profit." It is an Oregon non-profit corporation. Second, I suppose all curriculum companies that sell textbooks to our public schools are in-state non-profits? How about computer equipment companies? Or how about the union dues that get sent to NEA headquarters? Does that money stay in state?] ("Why should successful online public school bow to union?")
Her position lessens public accountability and is not supported by research. [I love it - "not supported by research..." And then she proceeds to discuss exactly zero research! Nor does she explain anything about how ORCA lessens accountability. For the union, accountability means "control by the union."]
Due to the ongoing economic crisis, Oregon public schools are faced with the painful choice of cutting instructional days, laying off teachers or eliminating quality education opportunities. [Interesting, isn't it, that ORCA isn't cutting days or eliminating its programs during this financial crisis. It is far more efficient than the union-run schools. ORCA spends, on average just about half the dollars per-student that the regular public schools spend. One would think if they were really interested in getting the most bang out of the educational dollar in Oregon that they would embrace virtual schooling. But then when did the teachers union ever want bang for the buck?]
The last thing we need is to spend limited taxpayer dollars on virtual programs that do not provide equal access to all students, [Is there any school in the state that provides "equal access" to all students? I am not sure what this means. If anything, virtual schools allow access to a public school option for lots of kids who had no access before. To claim virtuals reduce educational equity is ridiculous.]
...lack accountability for student achievement [ORCA is far, far more accountable for student achievement than any traditional district operated school. And guess what? Its students are succeeding. Latest test scores have ORCA students beating the state averagy by 9 points on reading. And remember - it is doing this with about half the per-student dollars!]
and go unregulated. [Another bald faced lie. Unregulated! This school has more oversight than any public school in the state. An annual audit, an annual third party evaluation, an annual third party parent survey (which shows about 95% satisfaction) and ODE regulators breathing down their backs at every turn. The OEA just says this stuff knowing it is false, but they think it sounds good. Truth is rarely their companion.]
To prevent this, the Oregon Education Association is part of a coalition supporting common-sense regulations [Here is the centerpiece of their "common sense regulation:" Their bill, SB767, would SHUT DOWN the K-6 grades of ORCA, eliminating the largest public elementary school in the state of Oregon. ]
...of for-profit corporations that operate publicly-funded online charter schools in Oregon. [Another lie. There are no for-profit corporations operating online charter schools in Oregon. ORCA is a non-profit corporation. All the teachers and staff are employees of the non-profit. It contracts with the for-profit service provider for curriculum, the learning system, etc. Just like other public schools buy all sorts of stuff from evil for-profit (out of state, even!) textbook publishers. The OEA knows this, but they would rather demagogue and lie to taint ORCA with what they think is the unpopular private sector association.]
The nation has seen what happens when corporations go unregulated. [More demagoguery. ORCA is highly regulated, and is not a for-profit corporation.]
Oregon taxpayers can't afford to be paying bonuses to out-of-state CEOs at the expense of our public schools. [Yet more ridiculous demagoguery, intended of course to impugn ORCA somehow with the bonuses paid to AIG. What bonuses is ORCA paying to out-of-state CEO's? None, of course. I do seem to remember a lot of payouts to various public school district "CEO's" when they get fired. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!]
We believe that charter schools can facilitate new and creative ways of teaching and learning. [Which of course is why they have tried to kill charters every single legislative session since the original bill - which they opposed - passed!]
We do not believe, however, that Oregon should sacrifice equity, accountability and transparency in the process. [In other words, we believe that union dominated traditional public schools, the same for everyone, with no consequences for providing a lackluster product, is the best thing for ... our members.]
The Oregon Legislature should approve Senate Bills 767 and 881 to ensure the educational quality of Oregon's virtual schools [By killing them.]
and to provide the necessary oversight of out-of-state corporations looking to do business. [Can we get the word "corporation" in here one more time?]
Oregon students deserve equal access to [union-controlled] public education and Oregon taxpayers deserve to know that their tax dollars are invested in the [union-controlled] classroom -- virtual or not.
GAIL RASMUSSEN Vice President, Oregon Education Association [The Teachers Union] Southwest Portland