I'm going to wander all over the place today; forgive me, but 2011 has been too interesting to fit in a standard recap/prognosticate model. Besides, I seem to have lost that Karnak Turban, so I'm just winging it.
Hope all of you have a good supply of 100 watt light bulbs, they just turned illegal. Nope, wasn't some socialist conspriracy, this act of Congress was signed by Bush. I'm of an age, I don't personally worry about the gov't in my bedroom, not much of interest happening there anyway, BUT between low-flow toilets, low-flow showerheads and low-light pigtail lights...
In my declining years I have come to cherish certain facts of life. A warm, comfortable well lighted place to read a magazine while I take a crap rates really high on my list.
Remember when Derek Jeter hit a home run for his 3,000th hit; a fan, Christian Lopez caught the ball. Then against all good sense, Lopez gave the ball (retail value about$5) to Jeter. Auction houses have guessed the value of that ball might have been as high as $250,000, but Lopez thought Jeter deserved it on his trophy shelf.
Jeter and the Yankees were so shocked they gave Mr. Lopez season ticket box seats, some autographed bats and other memorabilia along with his 15 minutes of fame. Now enter the IRS. Being all full of the charitable spirit of Christmas the IRS does not want Lopez to pay tax on the putative value of the ball itself, no taxable sale involved: but they toted up a 6 figure sum for the freebies he got, that is income, and could he please send the check in the next thirty days to avoid late payment and interest fees? As I hear late Friday, a corporate sponsor has stepped up to pay the "taxes" owed, but that is just Mr. Lopez's good luck. The IRS ain't backing up at all; WE ARE THE GOV'T and we want a cut of everything anyone does.
Shifting to the positive, we saw the new Library open. It is indeed going to be the jewel-in-the-crown of downtown development, I've toured it, it's wonderful from kid-caves in the basement to Westlaw access I'd have had to pay $500/yr for on the 2nd floor. No two ways, I love it! Naming it after Stephens is entirely appropriate, far the largest donor. BTW, this is one project that cost the taxpayer roughly nothing in the long term. My only beef here, I'm fine with the name, The Kelton statue in the lobby is beautiful and also well-deserved, But somewhere in this splendid site I want to see a plaque, a banner, something recognizing Ralph Hoelshcer, without whom this thing would never have come together.
I was there; a rare City/County joint meeting. Ralph engineered that just so that "resolutions" or some such didn't become so many horse-apples. Both governments same room, same time, decision had the force of law. Presented with the case, neither City or County wanted to stand opposed, but they pretty much threw it to Ralph: "OK, here's the building, now go find about $20 million to make it happen." Not naming names, but there were people who were confident Ralph would fail in spectacular fashion and leave downtown development to the pros (whose track record has been ever so much better).
As Gomer Pyle told Sgt. Carter, "Surprise, surprise, surprise Sgt. Carter". I've known Ralph for over twenty years; no he is not a good public speaker, some people just aren't. I tell you this: underestimate Ralph at your own risk. Hoelscher ran a totally hopeless campaign for Railroad Commission before a lot of voters were born. Yep, he lost big-time: BUT he used that platform to bring up the question of improperly capped or just simply abandoned oil wells that were leaking really nasty stuff into your backyard well or aquifer. Let me tell you folks, and I've been in the business; Still work to be done, but Ralph's "hopeless" campaign for RRC probably improved rural water quality for two generations by 100%.
Remember the Kelo Eminent domain case? Out of New London, Conn. My goodness, New London is trying for an Oscar as to idiot cases. That they keep winning in Court says a lot about the Federal Circuit Courts. Seems one Robert Jordan applied to be a police officer; great resume, maxed out scores on the written test, Oops so sorry Mr Jordan, you are too intelligent. I am NOT making this up! Jordan's IQ of 125 scared the HR (Human Resources; we used to call it the hiring dept or just drop off our resume with the sec. at the desk..)
Oh my, maybe he will want to leave for a better job down the road.
Well DUH! that's life; maybe he will, we used to call this climbing the ladder of success, your top people moved on, HR is there for intake and given a 9% unemployment rate that should be a cushy job.
Any rate, Jordan's appeal to the Fed 2nd Circuit was denied; New London is free to sift for stupid cops just as they were free to steal property and give it to another corporation. (which BTW has backed out of the deal, sorry Ms. Kelo, too bad you had to move from your Grandfather's house which is still standing). Puts me in a strange position, the result being idiotic, I have to back the 2nd Circuit: If a local gov't elects to hire numbskulls and avoid hiring anyone with two brain cells to rub against one another, that is the business of New London and its voters, not a federal Court's.
Speaking of voters, I spent New Year's Eve trolling through statute and Court rules, just for fun you know. Here is our timeline as close as I can resolve it on 2012 elections after the City Council meeting of Dec. 6
Primary elections will be April 3, not "second Tuesday in March". That election, county voters will go to the usual 26 voting sites. Then, come the "second Saturday in May" or May 12, we will have City Council, Police Chief and SAISD elections. For this election, voters will have to find their way to one of the 8 voting sites we are paying $100,000 extra for. Then comes the inevitable Primary runoff, voters will go back to the 26 sites they are used to, unless it is such a minor runoff we collapse precincts to save money.
Meantime, Gods forbid, we have a city runoff. Date uncertain, by Sec 2.025 election code between 20 to 45 days after May 12, date set by the homerule city. Voters in such a runoff will be going back to the 8 sites Council has approved for local elections. Then we get to the "Real Meal Deal" the November elections for such inconsequential offices as President, a US Senator,etc the poor voter has to find his (maybe her, but I don't follow "political correctness" guidelines. Got my own copy of AP Stylebook, a reporter's Gideon Bible, but since I'm not paid to do this I usually ignore it and attend to Shertzer's "Rules of Grammar") back to the poor voter who has to find his way to the usual voting site.
My point is, and I have worked nearly every election since '92; we should strive to make voting a simple, easy thing. God knows we have a dismal turnout at best, why we want to make this exercize of civic duty more difficult escapes me. Unless it is intentional, but I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories. If I were, I have to say our current Council couldn't successfuly conspire to overcook a rhubarb pie without burning the house down
Enough for now; I need to eat before I watch the Cowboys lose another crucial game