Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Freestyle

OK, I am overly fond of alliteration, but I wanted something distinct from the Sunday Ramble. I hope by now we have all talked to Dad. Of trivia interest, Father's Day was not invented by Hallmark Cards. In fact, there is lively debate amongst grammarians whether the correct term is "Fathers' Day" (plural possessive) or the common Father's Day. I am old enough, old-fashioned enough, to have had my knuckles smacked by obsessive grammar teachers, but I obviously hold with the singular possessive. To my mind, this is my Father's day, as it is also that of yours.

Best I can find, Father's Day was originally put forth by Mrs. John Dodd, a widowed single parent before single parents were cool, in 1909 in Washington state. A tribute to little people having big ideas, Spokane, Wa. is the first officially declared Father's Day I find, June 19, 1910. Calvin Cooolidge was the first President to propose it in 1924. By my time, Hallmark et al was already selling cards, but it was not until a Presidential Executive Order in 1966 by LBJ that Father's Day was federally official.

Last week I mentioned stormwater regulation hearings. My mistake, I thought they were last week, but that was capital improvements presentations. This week there will be three public meetings. June 17 at TxDot HQ on Knickerbocker, just south of the Loop 306 bridge, Wed at Station 618, 618 S. Chadbourne, and Thurs. at North Side Rec. Center on N. Magdalen; all at 7:00 PM. Again, this is a poster child for unfunded mandates. City has no realistic choice but to comply, question is how to do so and how to pay for it. Last week had a lot of paving days for me, I'm hoping I can make at least one of these. This will be a good chance to see our city people at work one on one. It might surprise one how competent they really are nowadays.

The same edition of S-T with the "anonymity" letter I responded to had a submission by Susan Cole advocating San Angelo becoming a "smoke-free" city. I was there the last time this came up. Essentially, San Angelo Council came down on the side of property owners' rights. As it stands, smoking is banned in ALL gov't sites, jail included. Nearly all shopping venues, even convenience stores, ban smoking. I am a smoker, trying to cut down, but I no longer request smoking section in a restaurant, one of the few retail establishments to allow smoking at all, I can last that long.

This has become a "holy war" without recognition of reality. I quote Peter Viereck, " Reality is that which, when you don't believe in it, doesn't go away". The general pop demographic has smokers as roughly 25%. My "barkeep" handle is not by accident, I've tended bar for many years, and I tell you, that demographic reverses in beer-joints. If Ms. Cole really thinks going smoke-free in a bar will increase trade, jump right in. Buy one, pay for the license, payroll, taxes (and you ain't seen taxes 'till you've run a bar), light up the sign, hire the band and wait for the flood of appreciative customers. And wait, and wait, and wonder "what have I done wrong?" I have yet to see a smoke-free bar make the "nut" absent a local ordinance forcing its competition to go "smoke-free" by law.

Yes, I know quitting would be good for my health, but when did this become the job of the "Nanny-state"? Are we next going to require customers to step on a scale before ordering a double cheeseburger? Risk assessment is something America is doing a poor job of. I am healthier than I have any right to be at 55, I eat too much salt (BP 117/73), I smoke but ask Joey G. if I can put my head in a bucket of water for 3 minutes, cost him $50 to discover that. Point is, risks which are individual ought be left to individuals. I promise you, there are enough greedy entrepreneurs out there, if a smoke-free bar were a profitable venture, some greed-head would open one. I add, if said greed-head booked a really good band, I'd pay the cover and go, taking breaks outside as my addiction demanded. Fair's fair.

I am home this weekend for the first time since 1994. Every other two years, I have been at the State Republican Convention. Last two, I was Sd 28 Rules Committee representative. I mention this in connection with one of those state issues with local implications, namely the Trans-Texas Corridor. The state GOP let Gov. (39%) Perry open with a "Let's come together in November" speech, but the Platform Committee spanked him thoroughly over the TTC issue at the Houston Convention.

For those unfamiliar, TTC would be a toll replacement of I-35 and Southeast Texas highways. Without going into details available on a Google search, it would have sold taxpayers a "details are secret" contract with a Spanish company to replace I-35, would have led to unprecedented use of eminent domain takings, and among other things, would have cost travelers about $60 to go from Austin to Dallas, truckers more, and guess who would have eaten the truckers' costs?

Now I have made the point that without a similar commitment to a West Texas N/S highway, this TTC benefits no one west of Austin. San Antonio Express-News June 5, Texas Atty Gen GregAbbott ruled that the TX-DOT/TTC people actually had to reveal to Texas voters the contract.

Lots more to that shabby story, but it can be found by Googling "TTC", I leave that to the reader. Point is, the Express-News is opining that TX DOT has lost "trust" with the voters by spending $9 million of tax money to promote the secret contract. Now in TX DOT terms, $9 mil ain't much, about what Sherwood Way will cost. For comparison, the latest MetroPlex Mixmaster interchange was $256 million. The point is, Sherwood Way or the Mixmaster was spent on concrete and asphalt the public might benefit from. The $9 million was tax funded lobbying for a private firm that will net 10, not nine, but 10 figures left of the decimal point over a 50 year contract. If Cintas wanted to spend $9 million promoting it, OK, but not my tax money.

It is very possible that this TTC is dead. It will not be because "money buys politics", if that were the case East Texas farmers would be moving already and paving contracts let for bid. Little people, lots and lots of little people, killed this monster.

Point is, "trust" is essential to good gov't. Translated locally, City Council is doing a B+, A- job of explaining things to voters. Capital improvements meetings, the upcoming stormwater meetings, if you go to the trouble of showing up, they will try to explain the details. Capital improvements came in a little later than planned, but this is the first time since the Charter election, I give credit for being thorough and making good effort.

School Board, not so much. A new bond is truly needed. The new bond, at least Prop One, has a new direction from the one we blew off 2 to 1 a year back, but SAISD is doing a poor job in hard times of selling the bond. Once more with the "vision" thing. The existing Cental campus, honest to God, influenced high school architecture nationwide for thirty years. It was sold to a skeptical, drought-ridden, penny-pinching electorate. Where is the effort on this one? Folks, you need to get out front. You chose an "interesting" Presidential race to compete with. If you wait for a last minute surge, you find out how George McGovern felt on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November, 1972.

All sorts of things have interfered in the normal selling of a school bond. We had a six-way race for police chief, then an FLDS custody case that set records for international press coverage, the longest running Presidential Party Primary season since primaries took the place of "smoke-filled rooms", gas prices over the moon. Voters will parse out the property tax bill and find the SAISD component of that bill to be the biggest part. You are not going to sell this on a basis of "trust us, we will spend it well".

That's a shame, because SAISD has listenened to voters. Maintenance has been much improved, less than where we want to go, but still being improved. I believe that message has been heard, and I believe staff is working hard on it. Problem is, you don't have to convince me, you have to convince about 6,500 voters. Git'er done. Lose this bond and we have real problems right here in River City.


  1. I am afraid the Trans-Texas Corridor (aka NAFTA superhighway) is far from dead. The president was just in New Orleans In April pushing things forward. This is out of the encyclopedia ..

    "April 21 - April 22, 2008 - New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
    In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush announced a summit on the SPP will be held from April 21 - April 22, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to the White House, the summit will focus on improving the SPP initiatives and "to discuss hemispheric and global issues of importance to North America".[10]

    CNN anchor Lou Dobbs argues that the SPP is part of a plan to merge the United States, Canada, and Mexico in a North American Union similar to the European Union,[11] which has been referred to in other news reports as "mythical" and a "conspiracy theory".[1] Dobbs claims that US President Bush who has 6 months left in office, will bypass Congress and create a Union based on a Texas highway corridor."

  2. anon; I should have specified, the TTC "as originally proposed" is near dead. Gov. Perry did some artful veto work last session, but it seems to finally dawn on him if he really wants to set records for holding the Gov's chair, he best "modify" the vision.

    The southern, east-west coastal portion has just been reconfigured to limit itself to existing highway corridors. The original quarter mile wide, multi-use rail, pipeline truck/passemger vehicle landscape-eating monstrosity, complete with non-compete provisions guaranteed to allow existing I-35 to crumble; THAT is almost certainly politically dead.

    One of its drivers, Ric Williamson, was a visionary force over his career, but on this he went "a vision too far".

  3. Obviously you have no idea what father’s day means. You have no wife and children. You can claim to be a son but not a father.


  4. I did not mean my remark to be that bitting. Sorry if I was too rude.