Tin Shop Tartan - Randolph County Alabama's Own Snarky and Surly Scot Gets All Native

Blogging from the suburbs of the Tin Shop community, Captain Plaid brings Progressivism, and a share of Quixotic angst, to the ridges and hollows of Randolph County, Alabama. Hardly a booster yet rooted here enough to fight, Plaidsters can perhaps find like cause in trying to build local solutions to global concerns. Education, environment, economy, entertainment, engagement ... Trust the Tartan!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tip of the Tam to Roanoke's First Baptist Church (Main Street) for Doing Job of The City!

Only here in Roanoke could an old evangelical church be where modernity, or what passes for the same in this locale, is carried out. With no building codes and lacking the political will and courage to enforce the mild nuisance ordinances that seem to take forever to work, the community finally gets in gear via First Baptist Church, the story being reported by Penny Pool of The Randolph Leader. While I surely don't want to see historical quality buildings torn down and do even like the idea of rehabilitating even the less that historical when possible, I think the story being reported is a good start. With a few exceptions, downtown is a disaster and an eyesore that reflects exactly where our community is seemingly headed. Why our "leadership" hasn't rose to the challenges is beyond me yet I do feel positive toward FBC, the church I grew up in. I'm still a recovering Southern Baptist and think Richard Land is an idiot so doubt I'll be darkening the doors. However, even to this eclectically wired spirit, "The Lord moves in mysterious ways!" might hold some truth. Peace ... or War!

Monday, May 29, 2006

It is Easy to Love Lucy Baxley

Lucy Baxley visited The HUB and Roanoke City Hall today. Nothing substantive yet she is really easy to love, and I admittedly like that in a woman. There's something about her that I do find attractive as far as voting for her. Who knows? Visit her site and find as much substance as she can give you. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Anniston Star looks at our Senate 13th

Today's Anniston Star gives us Primary sources: Candidate Q&As with our Kim Benefield and Dino Dial duking it out in the 13th featured first. Kim S. covers the bases, although she sounded a little too conservative for my lefty tastes, and says the right thing with the 1901 Constitution. I think Dino is a bit chapped that his "good name" is being run down. "Facts are stubborn things!" is what that darned Reagan claimed so I'm sure Dino has heard that one before from his Gooper cronies. Here's their language:

State Senate, District 13 Democratic primary

Gerald Dial (incumbent)
Age: 68
Experience: five terms (20 years) in state Senate

Kim Benefield
Age: 49
Experience: Randolph County circuit clerk since 1988

Do you favor letting citizens vote on whether to hold a convention to draft a new Constitution for the state of Alabama?

Dial: While I would support a referendum to allow citizens to vote on having a convention to draft a new Constitution for Alabama, I won’t do so if that means opportunities to raise taxes on working families. Any rewrite of our Constitution needs to be strictly for updating it for the 21st century, not a backdoor attempt to raise revenue on the backs of working families.

Benefield: I believe strongly in allowing the people of Alabama the right to vote on important issues that would include writing a new Constitution. The 1901 Constitution is racist and puts almost total political power in Montgomery, which blocks the people’s ability to make needed changes on the local level. As senator, I will be a strong advocate for improving the Constitution and giving local people the right to make local decisions.

Would you support a bill requiring groups that lobby the Legislature to reveal the sources of their funding?

Dial: People should know the influence that special interests exert on members of the Legislature. Groups should have to reveal where they get their funding, the same way members of the Senate should come clean when they spend $5,000 of the public’s money on shoe shines. I’ve always been honest and up-front as a legislator, and it’s time others were just as accountable.

Benefield: Special-interest funding of campaigns is one of the great problems we face in Alabama because after the election is over too many of the politicians are loyal to the special interests. As the old saying goes, "They dance with those who brung them." I am going to represent the people’s interests, not the special interests. That is one of the great differences between my opponent and me. After 32 years, Gerald Dial has become a part of the Montgomery system and is beholden to the special interests.

Would you support legislation outlawing PAC-to-PAC transfers?

Dial: Regulating PAC-to-PAC transfers would be a solid first step toward making Montgomery open and transparent. My opponent, for example, reported taking 100 percent of her funding from trial lawyers. But we might never know who is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into my district to run down my name.

Benefield: PAC-to-PAC transfers should be banned because it is a process that blocks the voters from knowing where contributions come from. I would also support limiting the amount a person can receive from PACs. Again, we need to return the system to where it represents the people and not the PACs and special interests.

If the economy takes a downturn and revenues fall substantially, what budget cuts would you make first?

Dial: There is only one thing I am focused on cutting in the Legislature, and that is taxes on working families. I think we are seeing the effects of what happens when Montgomery does the right thing and returns excess revenue to the people. If the economy takes a downturn, I’ll work to do what’s necessary. Right now, though, I’m going to fight to lower taxes for the people of my district.

Benefield: Government has gotten too big and taxes have gotten too high. There are few agencies that I believe could not afford some restructuring to save tax dollars. However, I want to be clear that I would never support diverting tax dollars earmarked for education to be used for other purposes. The money set aside for our schools should go to our schools and nowhere else.

What can be done to promote economic development in rural Alabama?

Dial: Infrastructure and job training are crucial to economic development in our rural communities. That’s why I’ve helped bring home $77 million for worker training in the past four years. We also need to continue to build new roads and improve existing roads. Under my watch, my district has received more than $40 million for new roads and bridges. Job training and better transportation are the most important things we can do to build the future of east Alabama.

Benefield: The first bill I will sponsor will be to create the Center for Rural Alabama, which Sen. Dial killed this year. This bill was approved in the House unanimously and would have passed the Senate if Sen. Dial had not killed it to pay back some of his political associates. Sen. Dial’s action was wrong, and it really hurt efforts to support rural economic development.

Well done Kim Possible, dare I write "Probable" given the people I talk with all figuring this one ought to be a cake walk. Admittedly all the folks I'm talking with a Kim fans in that they know her and worked with her yet I think this thing can and will work out for her/us once people learn of this ReThuglican Lite's record and position. Dino's been down there since I was a mere stripling and I think we've had about all we can stand of his efforts.

Finally, Kim looks thirty when she's nearly reached a half century yet The Clay Combover is only 68? It matters not since we figure to put him out to pasture soon. Peace ... or War

The Mobile Press-Register Covers Our Kim S.

I know this Snarkasaurus is far too cute and classic for Gerald Dial yet I'm thinking he really needs a mascot. Might compensate for that dreadful combover! Voters in the 13th need to give old Gerald the Sabertooth treatment like the cat gave Fred every night.

Sallie Owen of The Mobile Press-Register gives us "Barron targeting party dissidents?" that gives us a look into Kim Benefield's race against Dino Dial for the 13th. Good read on how politics at this level works. It is soft of like seeing sausage made in that some folks might just not want to know the process. I'm certainly not a huge fan of Lowell Barron yet if he's helping get rid of this bunch then he's doing good. Big Mules are likely involved on both sides yet we know our gal and the fact that she will work for the Branchheads.

Kim S. Benefield is simply one of the finest and most competent people I've known and worked with over my years. I expect nearly everybody in this county to vote for her. We need to contact people we know in the 13th and ask them to help her out as well. There are lots of votes down in that edge of Lee County and I want them all. I'll plan on devoting time for her over these next few days and please join me is so inclined. If you want more details on why Kim Possible is the right call then please ask me or probably anybody that knows her. I can perhaps tell you more policy and voting records or connections of the Dino than some yet I still think plenty of locals know that he's done little for our county/district.

As for Dino Dial, I met one of his "friends" the other day as I entered First Bank in Roanoke. Cute little brunette that I ought to have handled with a little less grumpy Scot. She tried to hand me literature but when I found out it was from Dino Dial I refused. Ought to have taken it and asked for a bunch for my friends/volunteer fire department/church and then asked her if she wanted to go rest in the cool inside Hardees to discuss how I could help. (I'll never get a date this way! Too young for me besides. Plus I was covered with dirt and hay from The Ponderosa.)

I engaged her on the issues and she really wasn't aware of them enough to even respond beyond "He's done a lot for our schools!" and that sort of thing. I asked where she lived in the 13th but she fessed up that she lived in Auburn. How she knew Dino was "as a friend" yet got no further than that. Likely a mercenary and I'm fine with that, especially if they are easy on the eyes. And Dino likes that I hear. I've always understood that trait was why Dino was asked to help educate our young people outside of "direct contact in the classroom". Or maybe it was in the coatroom that was a staple of schoolrooms "back in the day". Wonder if that concern might have been handled a little differently today? Also, can you imagine what Dino looked like sans combover? I'd have also enjoyed seeing Faye's reaction, if in fact she ever heard the allegations.

Again, Dino has been feeding up on Goat Hill for years. Time to send Dino back to Clay County and put a real Alabama Democrat down there to represent rural Alabama. Peace ... or War!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Not that anybody would miss the Captain but ...

I regret going silent these last few days. Grumpy gut and closing down the classroom and summoned to the hayfields and … I’ll be back in the saddle surely this evening. Hope to even get something up on Marque Stuart given my labors about the property. Give me some comments, suggestions, challenges, … on any of my five blogs listed below. Peace … or War!
Captain Plaid - Progressive Scot
Captain Bama - Southern Scot
Tin Shop Tartan - Localism
Captain Jimi - Culture Warrior
Marque Stuart - Home & Garden

Monday, May 22, 2006

Scots Up on Local Bu$hCo True Believer

I started this fracas with my "Letter to the Editor" in The Randolph Leader that I'm linking to here. I got a response here that I'm copying in that I expect The Leader will drop off their site.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 10:02 AM CDT

Dear Senators Shelby and Sessions,

I have never contacted your offices asking you to support, or at least consider, bowing down to the partisan politics of those who would sell their soul for a few votes. I am not now. What I would ask is that you consider sponsoring a bill that would praise our president for his actions in carrying out his presidential duty of protecting our nation and its citizens. He has done so in a prayerful and dignified manner. Not wavering despite the harsh criticism of these who've flip-flopped so many times that they are more confused than a bumble bee in a yo-yo.Those who mistakenly believe the steps our president has taken to protect us are a radical departure from our laws and traditions, do not know their history.

Another of our great presidents, Abraham Lincoln, radically departed from our laws and traditions in doing what he thought necessary to preserve the Union. He spied upon and illegally detained thousands of Northerners against the war and fought an illegal war against constitutionally guaranteed states rights. That war would have been avoided, millions of dollars saved, tens of thousands of lives spared, the South left somewhat prosperous instead of ravaged for decades, and the slaves could still have been freed.I'm not berating President Lincoln and I'm certainly not trying to fight the Civil War again. It has been said that "the one thing that history has taught us is that history has never taught us anything." President Lincoln, like our President Bush, had to put up with bickering politicians and a public that supported or did not support the war in accordance with the days' news. I'm thankful that I'm not the man having to make difficult decisions in these trying times.

President Lincoln took the drastic steps that he thought necessary during an era of much slower communication and transportation systems. President Bush has taken necessary steps during this high-tech age of fast moving communication and transportation systems, where our lives can be affected quickly from far away and our world changed in an instant.

Senators, I am now and have been from the beginning on board with the war against terrorism and I will remain so until it is won. As a part of this bill honoring our president, I would ask that you also sponsor bills declaring "George W. Bush" a national holiday and also begin construction of his monument on Mount Rushmore.

Thank you, senators, for realizing that we face an enemy that seeks to destroy our nation and our way of life. I pray that you would continue to stand strong in your support of our commander-in-chief. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

Steve Williams, P.O. Box 654, Roanoke Alabama 36274

Here's an initial response, albeit far shorter than I've had preferred. Some links and I'll drop more and expand as able.
In reply to Steve Williams urging our Senators to “Sponsor a bill praising the president”, I’ll first suggest his "The one thing that history has taught us is that history has never taught us anything." might have “been said” yet seemingly not placed on “the internets”, as Dubyah might mangle pronouncing. Steve’s neo-confederate views are revealing, although wanting Bu$h on Mount Rushmore offers more. Declaring the man himself (not perhaps when Florida was told to stop counting votes or his “Mission Accomplished” moment some three years ago) as a holiday likewise shows his devotion.

Article 1 § 9 of our Constitution reads “… Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” Indeed Lincoln did temporarily suspend habeas corpus yet I understand that in every case he fully informed Congress. Apparently Congress authorized the actions of the Executive although the Judicial Branch, led by Maryland’s Chief Justice Taney, hardly blessed.

My Wisconsin Progressive has never “flip flopped”. Don’t recycle GOP/Faux News “talking points”! Russ Feingold, along with 22 other Senators and 133 House members voted against the AUMF in the fall of 2002. Senate Joint Resolution #9 in the 108th Session lays out his concerns. Only “true believers” can dismiss his foresight. Feingold, and now clearly many that were ignored or silenced, feared the folly that likely awaited this misadventure. Censure for the Iraq mess, however justifiable, is not sought.

President Bu$h authorized at least one illegal wiretapping program and repeatedly mislead the country about its existence and legality. We now know of a massive NSA database of our private phone records, likely obtained for “data mining”. This administration has resisted oversight despite the “Rubber Stamp Congress” covering or ignoring abuses. FISA was passed in 1978 and has been amended six times, even under Bu$h. Dubyah never complained about FISA when touting the radical “Patriot Act”. The laws are clear and Bu$hCo is caught. None of their justifications withstand scrutiny. Feingold seeks his censure. Simply examining his Resolution is a mere start toward rolling back this radical expansion of Executive power.

Steve wrote of “days’ news”. Is this the 1700+ days since 9-11 with Osama still loose? Afghanistan is now a narco-state and it is clear we pulled resources too soon. Iraq is a disaster. The good will of the world toward our nation accumulated after 9-11 has been squandered daily by your “prayerful and dignified” President. “Fuzzy math” deficits now made all the worse with Iraq costs. Many days’ taxes loom. The worst numbers are the 2454 KIA and 17,869 wounded among just US forces. Thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed and wounded. Run the math to get your own “days’ news”!

Perhaps Bu$h should have done less praying and a lot more pondering and then planning? As for threats to “our way of life” from “an enemy”, I worry more about pseudo-fascist belief in a man’s “goodness” and “faith” rather than devotion to our laws and traditions.
Peace ... or War!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Is "Civilization" Coming to Randolph County?

Saturday morning had both the Randolph County Animal Shelter book sale at Chris Mitchum's warehouse and also the Randolph County Historical Museum opening. I attended both and dropped $50.00 for each, all the time wishing I could do more. Not a great crowd at the museum yet a promising start. I had great memories of that old building from the old man's labors for Uncle Sam being where I started and ended many days. Seemed like good turnout for the book sale. Went to Annie L. Awbrey library for a bit and then had a blazing afternoon watching the boy's Little League team being crushed at the recreational facilities. At times I do wonder if Roanoke could move forward and become a neat little village. Hope spring eternal. Peace ... or War!

Roy Johnson Tribe Books Half Million per Year!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chris, Vickie, Wyner, ... Good Folks Doing Good!

Penny Pool of The Randolph Leader reports "Animal shelter book sale, museum open this Saturday", which makes for a great morning for Roanoke and Randolph County. So many of the folks involved in this effort are dear to me so that makes it even more special. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Chancellor Roy Johnson and "Family Values"

I've previously posted on Roy Johnson hiring Susan Salatto as the new President of Southern Union as perhaps showing his political nature rather than a desire to have the best person in place. I wonder if this most recent reporting indicates Mr. Johnson's desire to have "his kind of people" in place in these JuCos? Brett Blackledge of The B'ham News has been a bulldog on this issue with today's reporting indicating " In-law of official paid by 3 colleges". The article is very damning I think yet I'll just give you portions.

Three of the state's community colleges each gave $2,000-a-month contracts to the son-in-law of system Chancellor Roy Johnson, state records show.

Gregory Morgan, an Opelika lawyer married to Johnson's daughter, received a total of $6,000 a month under contracts for legal services with the colleges - Snead State Community College in Boaz, Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City and Southern Union Community College in Opelika, system finance records show.

State records show Morgan has received more than $144,000 from the colleges since 2003. Most of those fees were not reported by system officials when a 2005 report was produced showing legal fees paid by the state's community colleges, records show. ...

Morgan is married to Johnson's daughter, Malinda, who works in Morgan's Opelika law office. A woman who answered the phone at the law office Tuesday said Malinda Morgan was working but she was not able to come to the phone.

Malinda Morgan is paid more than $21,000 a year as a curriculum specialist by the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa under a contract that also provides her state health insurance and retirement benefits. ...

Central Alabama Community College listed Morgan's Opelika law practice, Morgan Associates, as one of its contract lawyers in fiscal 2004 and 2005. The college reported paying Morgan $24,000 from October 2003 to September 2004 and another $24,000 from October 2004 to September 2005.

Central Alabama reported the payments in a systemwide survey of legal fees produced last year by the postsecondary department. But Snead State did not report its payments to Morgan in the survey that was submitted to State Board of Education members.

Southern Union reported paying Morgan only $87.94 in the systemwide survey. Finance records show the college, which Johnson led as president before becoming chancellor in 2002, began paying Morgan $2,000 a month in January 2004 and continued until at least September.

Efforts failed Tuesday to reach Southern Union officials.

Johnson said Tuesday he does not require his college presidents to report their legal contracts to him. He said he also doesn't discuss his son-in-law's law practice with him.

"And I do not arrange contracts for him, if that's what you're asking," Johnson said. "The fact that he's related to me shouldn't prevent him from earning a living."

"Earning a living" indeed! "Where's there's smoke there's fire." is often true and this one is boiling smoke. While I know playing lawyer is hardly all profit this arrangement hardly seems like much more than a way to feather the nest. With benefits and the like this couple has made way more than the average teacher has made in the same period. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Local Candidates on Constitutional Reform

Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform has dropped a questionairre on various candidates yet I'm disappointed in the lack of response from our local candidates. Even my Senate Candidate Kim S. Benefield failed to respond. I know DINO Dial has indicated he'll want the Big Mules protected based on his twenty years of "service". Here are the responses for the 13th Senate District:
Ms. Kim S. Benefield
Did not respond
1. Alabama’s 1901 Constitution should be rewritten.
Did not respond
2. A state constitution should provide a basic framework of government, not a detailed code of law.
Did not respond
3. As a general rule, issues that effect only one county or one city should be decided by the people in those communities, not by the legislature.
Did not respond
4. The best way to replace the 1901 Constitution is by a constitutional convention of elected delegates.
Did not respond
5. Since creating a constitution is such a momentous task, strong campaign finance restrictions and lobbying rules should be included in the enabling legislation for anyone who runs for or serves as a constitutional convention delegate.
Did not respond
6. The legislature should approve legislation to allow the people to vote on the question of holding a constitutional convention.

Additional Comments:

Honorable Gerald Dial
Did not respond
1. Alabama’s 1901 Constitution should be rewritten.
Did not respond
2. A state constitution should provide a basic framework of government, not a detailed code of law.
Did not respond
3. As a general rule, issues that effect only one county or one city should be decided by the people in those communities, not by the legislature.
Did not respond
4. The best way to replace the 1901 Constitution is by a constitutional convention of elected delegates.
Did not respond
5. Since creating a constitution is such a momentous task, strong campaign finance restrictions and lobbying rules should be included in the enabling legislation for anyone who runs for or serves as a constitutional convention delegate.
Did not respond
6. The legislature should approve legislation to allow the people to vote on the question of holding a constitutional convention.

Additional Comments:

Mr. Jim C Ingram
1. Alabama’s 1901 Constitution should be rewritten.
2. A state constitution should provide a basic framework of government, not a detailed code of law.
3. As a general rule, issues that effect only one county or one city should be decided by the people in those communities, not by the legislature.
Did not respond
4. The best way to replace the 1901 Constitution is by a constitutional convention of elected delegates.
5. Since creating a constitution is such a momentous task, strong campaign finance restrictions and lobbying rules should be included in the enabling legislation for anyone who runs for or serves as a constitutional convention delegate.
6. The legislature should approve legislation to allow the people to vote on the question of holding a constitutional convention.
Here is our "Representative" response as to the 37th District in the House:

Honorable Richard Laird
1. Alabama’s 1901 Constitution should be rewritten.
2. A state constitution should provide a basic framework of government, not a detailed code of law.
3. As a general rule, issues that effect only one county or one city should be decided by the people in those communities, not by the legislature.
4. The best way to replace the 1901 Constitution is by a constitutional convention of elected delegates.
5. Since creating a constitution is such a momentous task, strong campaign finance restrictions and lobbying rules should be included in the enabling legislation for anyone who runs for or serves as a constitutional convention delegate.
6. The legislature should approve legislation to allow the people to vote on the question of holding a constitutional convention.

Additional Comments: Constitution should be rewritten one (1) or two (2) article at time.

Mr. Pete Ward
1. Alabama’s 1901 Constitution should be rewritten.
2. A state constitution should provide a basic framework of government, not a detailed code of law.
Did not respond
3. As a general rule, issues that effect only one county or one city should be decided by the people in those communities, not by the legislature.
4. The best way to replace the 1901 Constitution is by a constitutional convention of elected delegates.
5. Since creating a constitution is such a momentous task, strong campaign finance restrictions and lobbying rules should be included in the enabling legislation for anyone who runs for or serves as a constitutional convention delegate.
6. The legislature should approve legislation to allow the people to vote on the question of holding a constitutional convention.

Additional Comments:

I appreciate Representative Laird answering the questions yet I do not accept the idea that one or two articles at a time is wise policy. It should be a basic document. Simple and short like nearly every other state. Put the Big Mules out to pasture. Constitutional Reform is a foundational approach! Peace ... or War!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

SIFAT's Kathy Bryson Stands Up for Mothers!

Kathy C. Bryson, International Health and Training director for Servants in Faith and Technology. SIFAT is of course just around the corner from Captain Plaid's maternal manse in Ophelia. Todya, in The Anniston Star, she gives us, "Stand up for the world’s mothers" that gives us plenty to think about from an international perspective. Peace ... or War!

Friday, May 12, 2006

For Randolph County, Two out of Three Ain't Bad!

In this week's The Randolph Leader we get a Progressive Lefty take on an issue and I did not even write the thing. Amen!

U of A Law Professor Susan Pace Hamill reminds us "Alabama is a long way from being truly pro-life" in tackling the efforts of certain wingnuts and/or pandering politicians to ban essentailly every form of abortion in our fair state. "Birth 'em and then abandon 'em! could be on their campaign literature! A sharp lady over in T-Town that is talking and writing the walk! Here's a portion of Professor Hamill's work:

The latest statistics show that in 2004 there were just over 11,000 abortions in Alabama. Credible studies also indicate that poverty substantially contributes to the number of abortions. All Alabamians of faith should find this a disturbing tragedy.But is it enough to merely support legislation banning abortion? Does this satisfy our moral obligation to fully embrace the dignity of life?

In writing of a “seamless garment of love”, the late Cardinal Bernardin defined pro-life as meaning much more than restricting abortion. To him, genuinely pro-life communities support pre- and post-natal care of mother and child through healthcare and subsistence safety nets, as well as access to decent housing, education and job training.

Even a cursory snapshot of our state reveals we are a long way from truly embracing the dignity of life. Alabama has among the highest rates of poverty, especially children living in poverty. Over a quarter of our people do not get primary healthcare with too many Alabama mothers, especially in the rural areas, receiving inadequate pre-natal care. Our education funding is grossly inadequate and child advocates complain that our foster care support is less than what it costs to board a dog in a kennel.

Especially since poor women resort to abortion in far greater numbers, why are we not aggressively fighting poverty? Why do we not guarantee all pregnant women access to adequate pre-natal care, nutrition, drug and alcohol treatment, and job training? Why is our public support of most other life-affirming areas so pitifully low?

The reason is those of us at higher levels of income and wealth are unwilling to bear the cost of a truly pro-life community. We are unwilling to accept the high-sacrifice of state and local taxes which raise sufficient revenues needed to support such an endeavor. Instead we fool ourselves into thinking that merely supporting anti-abortion legislation is all that it takes to be pro-life.

The truth is being genuinely pro-life requires embracing Judeo-Christian guided tax policy.

Yet we also get Christian pre-school "K-3 teacher" Brenda Overton responding to Paul Huey's latest missive, not as dreadfully bizarre as his global warming denial, with "Three-year-old schooling is better than alternative". Some of what neighbor Paul wrote made some sense in the idea that the adult(s) at home are what counts. I see Paul playing with his kids and expect he's a good Dad yet leave education policy alone please. Europe and much of Asia is killing us at the middle and high school levels yet our efforts at "educating" even the less academically inclined child gets much of the blame. And Paul, the SAT is likely rarely taken by students in other countries. Returning to Ms. Overton, it is obvious her faith means much and yet I'd expect that kids that have been with her, if in fact this is an alternative to public schools, would be performing better if they'd been in the average public setting. Not a knock on Ms. Overton really, even though her writing seems a bit scattered, but rather the statistics seems to show this when we adjust for poverty.

Finally Steve Williams (might have not made the print edition yet but he did make it online this week) responds to my scolding of Shelby and Sessions for not handling Dubyah with "Sponsor a bill praising the president". I'll be responding to his "logic" and "historical insights" soon I expect. "A position not founded on reason cannot be swayed by argument."yet tackling the errors in his work might flip a few folks back from the Dark Side of the Force. Even in Randolph County maybe?

The point is that we've gotten a little lefty thought going into the paper and darned if I'm not pleased. I expect Johnny and a few folks up at The Leader would write a little more left if the traffic would allow yet I know they've got to sell ads and keep customers. Small town papers are really in an awkward place at times yet The Leader has often stepped up and written what needs telling. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In '04 Gerald "DINO" Dial Pondered Jump to GOP

The Cleburne News gives us the dirt. What I noted in the reporting was,

Dial, who often votes with Republicans in the Senate, said he also is meeting with constituents to see if they feel he should switch parties.“If the people I represent feel like I can better represent them as a Republican, then that’s a step I’ll consider,” Dial said.

But Dial, who once won election to the Senate as an independent, said performance is what counts most in his district.“You know my district is pretty independent, and I think the people appreciate what I do,” Dial said. He said he does not agree with the policies of national Democrats.

“I’ve handled the Ten Commandments bill. I’m a better conservative than some of the Republicans up there,” Dial said. ...

Rep. Richard Laird, D-Roanoke, represents a rural district on the Alabama-Georgia line and often votes with Republicans in the Legislature, particularly on social issues. He said he expects to remain a Democrat. He described voters in his district as “conservative, old-line Democrats.”

“They know I’m conservative and that I vote conservative,” Laird said.

I expect if DINO had not been surprised by Kim Benefield he would have bolted. And you are next Richard. Time for you DINOs to take it to the house. Peace ... or War!

Gerald "DINO" Dial Push Polls Tin Shop Tartan

The call came from 571-522-6585 in Braddock Virginia that was once registered to Verizon. Just outside of Alexandria so a hired gun I'm sure. Something like "Kim Benefield is funded by liberal trial lawyers and wants to raise your taxes" was the gist of the push poll. For those unaware of what a "push poll" is I'll send you to Wikipedia. I wonder who is funding the DINO? Peace ... or War!

Forty Applicants but "Roy" hires "Local Gal"

George Wallace created the Alabama Junior College system so close where you can still essentially throw a rock anywhere in Alabama and hit a JuCo. Great political network all across the state that could be rolled into action rather easily. And who knows politics better than Roy Johnson and Susan Whaley Salatto.

Brett Pritchard of The Randolph Leader reports "Salatto named president of Southern Union". The report includes,

Susan Salatto has been named president of Southern Union State Community College.

The Alabama Board of Education unanimously approved Salatto as president of SUSCC in a meeting on Thursday, April 27, after an intensive search process that drew 40 applicants from across the country. Roy Johnson, chancellor of Alabama's two-year college system, recommended Salatto for the position."

Susan Salatto has the experience, she has the skills and she has the vision to grow Southern Union," Johnson said. He said Central Alabama Community College had prospered under Salatto's leadership and he expected the same at Southern Union.

"Susan has had a long history with the two-year college system," said Rep. Betty Carol Graham, D-Alexander City, vice-president for CACC. "She's been in the college system for 30 years and has worked in every area. It's been a natural progression to the presidency for her."

Chancellor Johnson has been in the news recently with two of his children being given rather sweet jobs with the State Fire College. Another B'ham News report by Brett Blackledge indicates,
"Langston gave Johnson's two adult children jobs at the fire college. He hired Johnson's daughter on a $21,424-a-year contract to work from her Opelika home, more than 175 miles from the Tuscaloosa campus. The job, which she still holds, also provides her benefits from the teachers retirement system and the state's health insurance program, records show."

Plus Johnson had a close friend given a consulting contract to boot. Interesting "mistake" with that $300,000.00 made by Johnson's "staff". Roy Johnson certainly knows Alabama politics with his rapid rise to the top of the two year food chain.

That Mr. Johnson, holding I think a Master's Degree, selects Ms. Salatto, likewise papered, over forty candidates with likely much higher levels of education might be a question I'd like answered. That Dr. Joanne Jordan will hold another position seems likewise interesting. While I know degrees don't always indicate capacity and leadership I do think they are highly relevant and would require substantial reasons before being dismissed as indicative of potential performance.

I've spent time around both Mr. Johnson and Ms. Salatto so I am hardly thrilled with either being in such high leadership positions. I imagine the pay 'aint bad and the benefits will be even better. George would be proud that his political machine lives on yet I'm more interested in our two year colleges being education machines. Peace ... or War!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Gerald Dial Doesn't Care about Rural Alabama!

I'd previously posted at Captain Bama on "Gerald Dial Single-handedly Talks Alabama Center for Rural Development to Death" yet The Mobile Register now gives us an insiders perspective on the legislation that DINO Dial killed. Larry Lee gives us " Requiem for rural Alabama center" where he contrasts the efforts of numerous citizens to get this legislation passed with the bizarre "logic" of DINO Dial. The opinion writing includes,

... support from such groups as the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Economic Development Association of Alabama, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Alabama Association of Regional Councils, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, VOICES for Alabama Children and so many, many more.
About how the Senate version of the bill was co-sponsored by 16 senators from across the state, both Democrats and Republicans.

Finally, HB 358 was called. Under the rules of the Senate that day, it had 10 minutes in which to pass.

But Sen. Gerald Dial of rural Clay County had a different idea: He held the floor for 10 minutes, and HB 358 was history.

All the miles, all the meetings, all the work, all the support -- everything went down the drain in 10 minutes, killed by a senator from one of the state's most rural counties, where median family income ranks 47 out of 67 counties.

Sen. Dial later put out a news release trying to defend his action. He implied that HB 358 would've hampered how local communities interact with the Alabama Development Office.

You have to wonder if he ever read the bill. The ADO wasn't even mentioned in it.
Maybe if he had done what other legislators did and attended one of the meetings, Sen. Dial would have understood what HB 358 was all about.

Now we're again back to talking about rural Alabama -- rather than doing something meaningful.

About "doing something meaningful" a good start would be to send Gerald Dial home. Kim Benefield will listen, work hard, and look out for rural Alabamians. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

HMS School Uniforms - Window Dressing at Best

Penny Pool of The Randolph Leader reports "School uniforms being discussed for Handley Middle School" with research and anecdotal claims presented to support the decision. While I could care less, the research is hardly conclusive. This applies to safety, academics, "self esteem", and certainly being "tardy". Studies are limited, flawed, over variabled, etc. Might not hurt yet I'd be much more interested in real reforms and focus. That we are seeing so much concern over this minor factor is disconcerting. I'll not bother dropping in links to studies or even offering what might really create change yet if somebody requests the same I'll surely share. I've spent four years in a Middle School and would like to think I'm qualified to offer a reasoned opinion. Since the boy attends HMS I'm interested. However, I know plenty of other factors are in play. We will adapt to whatever they want to have him wear but ultimately his learning is not going to be related to "fabric". Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Anniston Star Recalls Basic Civics Lessons

The Anniston Star made in to NPR as posted at Captain Bama. Today I've noted The Randolph Leader gave me ink in scolding Senators Shelby and Sessions yet The Anniston Star also wrote on "He’s the decider, not the law abider". The Star opined,

... American schoolchildren are all taught civics. They study about the three branches of government and about checks and balances. Congress writes a law. The chief executive can either sign it or veto it. The courts ensure the law lines up with the Constitution and legal precedent.

As those students — well, at least the ones who paid attention — can tell you, nowhere does it say that the president retains the right to selectively obey laws he signs. To do so is a massive overreach — one that ought to inspire citizens to rise up and demand accountability. And our members of Congress ought to use the check granted to them by the Constitution to put a stop to the president’s usurping of power.

In the parlance of grade school, the president can’t sign a law and later claim it doesn’t count because he had his fingers crossed.

I rest my case! Senator Shelby and Sessions, are you listening? Glenn Greenwald also weighs in today with a reminder that the Bu$h White House will not even reveal what Congresspersons have been briefed on the illegal warrantless wiretapping program operated by The NSA. The President does this because the other kewl kids in the GOP know their house of cards would come tumbling down where they'd be run out of town on a rail if the truth were told. Worst administration ever! Peace ... or War

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

It's the model plus the funding and trash/ash!

Jim Wooten of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a favorite target of Captain Bama. He's really easy to ridicule and I find it shocking that he gets ink. I refer to him as a conservative tool and a shill rather often. His rants are often about school vouchers saving public education. While I don't outright reject some market forces as having merit, Jim's approach is often flawed in that he twists with "research" supplied by various right wing "think tanks". Getting to the point, today "The Tool" gives us some blunt language that I thought I'd share. The conclusion is wrong of course but here is today's writing, scattered and sorted, that the AJC provides,

With public school funding, no amount is ever enough.

The problem is twofold. One is funding formulas. The other is that the ash and trash of society's failings — to marry, to parent, to discipline, to socialize, to learn to speak English — are pushed to the classroom, where they are mixed and sorted, mainstreamed, in agglomerations that try the skills and patience of even the best teachers. ...

Across the state, school systems should be reconfiguring to serve children based on the needs.

It could mean, for example, that in some schools children wear uniforms, or attend year round, or are in classes six days a week, or are heavily tutored, or go afternoons and evenings, or have classes with all-male faculty or are highly structured.

Some may have certified instructors; some not. Some may be technology-heavy; some not. Some may have structured after-school activities; some not.

The key is to inform parents of what's happening in their child's school and then give them options based on their child's particular needs.

The carping by local school officials over funding formulas, and the temptation to sue for more money by those who are failing in their education responsibilities, are symptoms of a system so badly broken that it can never be fixed.

It can't be fixed because, as with global warming, projected outcomes are based on models that include thousands of assumptions and inputs. Class size, teacher quality, structure, curriculum, textbooks, instruction, home life, values, parental involvement and support, external distractions, attention span. Thousands.

So 72 percent of new money goes to adjust inputs. The reaction? It's not enough. And it comes with too many strings. ...

The goal is to inform policy-makers what it should cost per child to produce the outcome parents want and how the tab should be split.

The current system is broken beyond repair: No money will ever be enough. Failure is somebody else's fault.

That's the model we have to change.

Where to begin? First of all, Jim is correct that educators have many variables that they have no way to adjust. "Ash and trash" seems harsh yet I hear you. I'd still enjoy having you come into a classroom for a few days and then play bureaucrat to boot in seeking solutions. Jim's beloved conservatism (admittedly libertarian slanted when it works for The Tool) has taken a standards based, testing heavy emphasis and ran wild with this model. No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which I like to refer to as "No Data Obsessed Bureaucrat Left Behind", is just the latest of this trend. Flexibility has become even more limited under the Bu$h approach yet Dubyah and his "Texas Miracle", more accurately the "Texas Smoke and Mirrors", has made that less possible. Plus, all the money leftists thought would flow has been pulled now. Heck of a job Bushie!

Roanoke and Randolph County systems would have to demonstrate remarkable courage to go their own way yet smaller systems have an advantage as to change. Still, old school teachers and certainly administrators and board members that have risen during these conservative times aren't likely to want to change horses. For many it is far easier to ride this one out to retirement. Change is hard, hard work. Plus, explaining this to our local "thinkers" could be a hard sale.

And Jim, global warming denial is really out of fashion. Are you fully on the payroll where even Big Oil has a hold on your leash? You really could win the sychronized shilling gold!

I'll offer that my solutions are radical to many. One thing is that we can't do this on the cheap. We also can't create real change with canned curriculums. We attempt to educate using a hundred year old model with the idea of getting a diverse society ready for an industrial economy. Few kids of today respond to being thrown in a cement block room and "taught" via transmission approaches to learning. Constructivist models are hard to carry out in that the average kid is not prepared for "thinking" in that they've been "stimulated" to the point to where they can't do this for themselves. "Content" reading? Forget about it!

Elitist perhaps to a point but the European and Asian models know you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Or continuing with the hog theme I can close with "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." Peace ... or War!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Down with Downtown But Don't Thank "Leaders"

Spies report that a decent section of downtown Roanoke on the side of Church Street will be torn down for First Baptist Church to build a "Family Life Center". A new road will allegedly be built through the old Snax Deli. I've been told a few well heeled and connected concerned citizens are prepared to use the courts to insist that Roanoke enforce their own ordinances. We'll see? Peace ... or War!