Thank you Moldova

With the help of Moldova I managed to break just about every statistical record for visits to my website this last month. I have no idea if it is actual people visiting Lincolndemocrat or not. It might be bots or spiders. It doesn’t seem to be actual humans because the number of actual “individual visitors” is only up a little, perhaps no more than 100 additional visitors.

No one from Moldova took me up a couple days ago when I invited someone to explain what was going on.

I’ve enjoyed watching bandwidth, visits per person, etc. skyrocket. It even prompted me to spend more time posting than I’ve done in quite a while just to keep the stats growing. My efforts on this score will begin to diminish. I keep mentioning that I’ve got a book to work on. Every hour blogging about the stupidity of people supporting the Red Plan or GOP fantisists keeps me from this work. So, dear readers, I can’t offer you a bonanza of vitriol or scorn any time soon.

Oh, I’ll keep posting but not with such mania. Thanks Moldova for reminding me how time consuming blogging can be.

The Walker Experiment vs. Democracy

Of all the news in the Trib today I think this was the most important to educators. (Once again, its not on the DNT’s website. Maybe they are charged to put AP stories in their own site)

What’s happening in Wisconsin is a grand experiment in control of public sector unions. The law which the 19th century leaning Republicans passed is a “Right to Work” lobbyist’s dream and a pretty wet one at that. In one fell swoop Republicans have eviscerated public employee union’s political power.

Before the law passed, WEAC had about 98,000 members and was one of the most powerful unions in the state, contributing millions to Democratic causes. Lobbying reports show the union spent $2.5 million lobbying lawmakers in 2009 and 2010, more money than any other group.

This summer, the union reported spending $500,000 in support of Democratic candidates in recall elections, and in August announced 42 workers had been laid off as a result of the law. Earlier this month, unions representing about 50,000 public workers opted not to go through with recertification, citing the fees and the lack of bargaining power beyond wages even if the elections succeeded.

My gut instinct tells me that this is overreach Continue reading

Material Party

In light of my post whining about having been a pawn as a school board member comes this post from Sullivan. This quote perfectly captures the problem with what has become GOP dogma – that people are solely motivated by rewards and punishment. If you tie salaries to hoop jumping they will jump through your hoops. If you pass a law against something people will stop doing it. Yup, just teach abstinence and kids won’t have sex.

When a remote authority sets incentives, people respond by manipulating the system. This fact is poorly understood by education reformers who are fond of pay-for-performance and national standards, by health care reformers who are fond of paying for quality, and by financial regulators. … The Hayekian story here is that effective compensation practices require local knowledge and tacit knowledge.

Rich republicans just hire lobbyists to get special tax breaks written into law. Taxes are bad you know.

The Republican Party may be the most Christian Party in US history but it deeply believes in property rights and other material things. This is at variance with Jesus who commands people not only to surrender everything they own but to turn their backs on their family rather than turn from Jesus. Its the kind of message deprogrammers have been fighting for decades. This later my simply be standard Hebrew exaggeration to make a point found in the New Testament period “If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out.” Nonetheless, anyone who doesn’t heed the eye of a needle parable is either an uninformed Christian or a heretic.

Rich Republicans just hire lobbyists to get special tax breaks written into law so they can take their camels to heaven with them.

God forbid that anyone criticize the School Board

The objection of the previously mentioned letter writer to Loren Martell is that he criticized the School Board.

“…Martell stepped up to the microphone to deride members of the board. He seemed to feel that by saying the same thing over and over each month he’d convince everyone that what he was saying was true.”

The writer doesn’t state the criticism but it is this: Mr. Martell discovered that the Board was routinely hiding and perhaps not reading, mail sent to it that the Superintendent didn’t want to make public. By the way, that violated the law on public data.

I bet that if the Duluth News Tribune chose to censure letters like her’s she’d complain about it too. Or maybe she would conclude that the editors had the best interests of the community at heart by ignoring her.

Stealing lawnsigns

I read this letter in the Trib today.

I remember when one of my predecessors on the School Board told me how the writer got dressed in black pajamas and went out in the dark of night with one of her children to steal yard signs from people who’s signs asked people to vote “no” on a school building referendum.

The story was that one of the victims heard some rustling out front and saw the pair stealing her sign and either called the police or hopped in her car and gave chase. The culprits were caught according to the story teller. Whether they were chastened or not I don’t know. I do recall that everyone knew the writer was hell bent to run for the School Board after the referendum but unexpectedly decided not to file when the next election rolled around.

That was the early 1990’s and I was very much in favor of the Bond referendum. The fact that it failed was the primary justification behind not letting Duluth vote on the Red Plan. Some people will always find a way of stealing things and coming up with good justifications for having done so.

No Child left falling between the cracks of Outcome Based Education

I experienced very little “local control” when I served on the Duluth School Board except from my fellow school board members. As George Balach said of me when I was elected to be the Board Chair in 1998 I was only one of nine members. As Chairman I was pretty much the prisoner of all the other school board members. Before that I had been one of two newly elected board members and the seven longer serving members took little notice of me.

The year I was elected Chair I leveraged the support of four newly elected School Board members who did not trust me or the other four incumbent Board members. They had all run elections based on the theme that the incumbents were bums for bringing the Edison Schools to Duluth. The four remaining incumbents, including me, had all voted to bring Edison in and to add insult just after the newcomers were elected we voted to protect Edison from the possibility that the new Board could prematurely scuttle the Edison experiment. Because I got the anti-Edison newcomers to vote for me with my vote providing the five-vote-majority on our 9 member board my old colleagues didn’t trust me either.

It was all very humorous for about a week Continue reading

Just when you think utopian Christians…

will never get a clue by deluding themselves that they can cure homosexuality.

Others are opening their eyes and seeing that their strident call for chastity is not very practical:

80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex – slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults…the article also asks a question that rarely comes up in discussions about abstinence movement. Relevant notes that in biblical times, people married earlier. The average age for marriage has been increasing in the U.S for the last 40 years. Today, it’s not unusual to meet a Christian who is single at 30 – or 40 or 50, for that matter. So what do you tell them? Keep waiting?

While Duluth’s public school enrollment declines college enrollment grows

The DNT did include a graphic from today’s newsprint story on the increase in enrollment numbers at local colleges. Its funny but when the Trib reported on this year’s public school enrollment they trumpeted a growth in public school students when there was really a small decrease. But this graphic does seem to show that there has been another increase in enrollment in our three Duluth colleges up to 20,326. If the graphic is right then last year’s enrollment for UMD, LSC and Scholastica was 20,052. Granted this is only an increase of 274 students but the headline is sure a lot more restrained than the one about the public school enrollment: “Area colleges show little change in student numbers.” The Trib could honestly written a headline more like: “Despite tough economy area colleges see enrollment growth.”

Its not clear to me from the story or the graphic if all the students listed are students living in Duluth or all students including disembodied online students. It would make a big difference for Duluth because higher education continues to be a major if not the major cause of growth in our area. 20,000 students. Heck that would be one in five Duluthians if they lived in the City. They may live cheap, ten to a rental, but they are pouring money into Duluth. Sure, they party on nice weekends around my neighborhood, curse them, but their spending powers Duluth.

Duluth’s school levy referendum

I wish the DNT had included its little graphic that went with the newsprint version of this story today on one-third of Minnesota School Districts going for levy referendum increases.

The law that permits levy referendums has changed over time since the Duluth School District first offered such a levy in 1993. When Duluth first offered a levy the District raised (If I remember correctly) something like 1 million a year over 5 years with voter approval. The State then gave matching money each year to Duluth of 3 million a year. The Duluth School Board did not actually have to levy the taxes that voters approved. This, however, did not cancel out the matching $3 million from the state. By OKaying $1 million in local spending – that was never levied – Duluth’s schools still got $3 million extra from the State. Pretty Sweet.

In the table, that I can’t show you, 8 neighboring school district’s levy referendum basics are compared. Mesabi East is asking local property taxpayers to pony up an additional $700 per student. That’s the biggest. Three Districts, Hermantown, Proctor and Virginia are asking for $0 dollar (not a typo ) levy renewals which will result in remarkably different levels of per pupil spending increases. Hermantown and Proctor will get $1 per pupil spending increases if their levies pass. Virginia will get $800 per pupil if their $0 tax levy increase goes into effect. Don’t look at me for an answer to this. I’d love the Trib to do a follow-up explaining how this can be so. Couldn’t just be a typo could it?

The information on the graphic that surprised me, but shouldn’t have, was that all three levels being offered to Duluth voters will increase taxes by some level raising either $98 or $122 or $246 per pupil for Duluth Students from local property taxpayers. The highest level, if approved will generate even more money per student. It won’t just increase per pupil spending by $246 per pupil. As in the 1993 levy I described the state must be obligated to match local spending which would push the per pupil money from the locally generated $246 up to $404 to $650 per pupil. Why there is a range of spending per pupil is lost on me but then Minnesota State school financing has always been described as the most complicated tax law in the world. In either case passing the highest level of levying would be a very good financial gain for our schools. Its a pity that Dr. Dixon left such a legacy of deceit and mistrust behind him that we will be lucky to pass any levy this year.

Oh, and that wasn’t what surprised me about the graphic. I was surprised that every level of the levy authorizations would lead to a tax increase. I was thinking that the first, and lowest, level of proposed increase would be a simple renewal of the existing local levy which would lead to no increase at all. Silly me. We did that two years ago and that levy is still in effect. I’m not sure how long it continues on, perhaps three years. So, any level of increase this year granted by Duluth taxpayers will mean an increase in local spending.

I resent what appears to me to be the DNT’s attempt to jolly Duluth into being happy about our new schools in order to get some level of increase passed this November. That crappy headline suggesting our students are coming back is just the latest sample of their sweet talk. I got enough sweet talk and lies from Dr. Dixon to last a lifetime. I don’t want my local paper to engage in it too. Its bad enough that the Trib swallowed his bullshit over and over again for six years. Very tasty!

Here’s my simple calculus. We’ve got wonderful (I hope and pray) new schools that were far more costly than we needed for a first class education. We’ve got an escalating problem of too few teachers and too many kids and too many school building bonds to be paid off. If voters don’t pony up even more just because they’ve been lied to for years, our schools will hobble along at far less than cruising speed. I will vote for the highest level of school spending. It will force the state to match some of our local taxes. I’d prefer it if we could somehow put the lion’s share of this taxing on the richest Duluthians but the law won’t allow that.

If I was an editor at the Trib who really wanted that level of spending to pass I’d fess up and tell its readers: “You’ve been right about the Red Plan all along. We’ve been handing out uncritical nonsense about our schools from a pathological liar to keep you voters sedated about being cheated to build these new schools. We’re sorry. That doesn’t change the fact that our classrooms need more money. You could punish us, the Chamber of Commerce, the public employee unions and myopic parents for our negligence but in doing so you will also be punishing our children and the future of Duluth. No one could blame you if you did do that but please don’t. We supporters of the Red Plan don’t deserve your forgiveness but punishing us, however gratifying, will punish you as well if you truly believe our community’s schools need more than brick and mortar. You were right about this all along.

Publishing a confession like this would be a classic case of eating crow. Only saints eat crow. To bad the Trib’s editors aren’t saints.

Michelle Bachman wins Christian votes by lying

The Story in the DNT’s paper version was more stark regarding Bachmann’s lying but its not on their website. The story in the Minneapolis Trib softens the message saying that Bachmann merely alledged that Obama’s Obamacare was the first time in US History that the Federal government began paying for abortions. Sounds like a lie to me but perhaps that’s excusable if its for Jesus:

She skewered Obama’s health care overhaul as his most “egregious” intrusion on personal freedom, alleging that it represents “the first time in the history of our nation that we have taxpayer-subsidized abortion.” She made no reference to federal law and language added to the landmark health care legislation that backers say expressly forbids federal money from being used to fund abortions.

I guess this helps explain why Michelle is the top choice among students at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty College for the Republican Presidential nomination.

Occam’s Razor meets ISD 709’s enrollment data

I think I’ve made the story about the Duluth School District’s enrollment data far too complicated. Let’s simplify.

The District says it arbitrarily subtracted 300 students from last year’s enrollment to project this fall’s enrollment. This year’s projection was 8,429 so when you add back the arbitrarily 300 subtracted students it must mean that last year’s enrollment was 8,729.

The District says that this year’s enrollment is 8,711 which is 18 students fewer than last year’s enrollment. That’s the change. There is no increase of 282 students. There is only a further decrease of 18 students.

That’s better than the 300 students lost annually in recent years but its hardly a reason to reelect incumbent school board members.

Heck, they should all be fired for submitting such a poor example of math homework to the public. I sure hope its not the DNT that hands out their grades.

Even when I was 20 I was embarassed by 20-something certainty

Now that I’m 60 I still feel the same way. Of course 60-something certainty can be even worse. Witness the Tea Party!

My Buddy sent me a link to the youtube “confrontation” between a somewhat ill spoken fan of Huey Newton challenging a wannabee Andrew Breitbart who was passing out U.S. Constitutions up at UMD.

Both kids (I think that’s the operative description here) say things that are twisted out of context by the other. What do they think they are doing? Running for President.

The Newton lover gets the worst of it because he’s doing the most talking. Its a good reminder of the adage: It is better to remain silent and have people think you a fool than to open it and prove it.

The Cain Mutiny

My Buddy sent me this tiny comment on Herman Cain’s winning 37% of 3,000 some straw vote from conservative activists in a state with 10 million voters.

An early response to the Florida poll results came from a friend, historian Alan C. Kors, who observed in mock puzzlement: “So, the ‘Tea Party racists’ in a Republican straw poll chose the self-made black Herman Cain — mathematician and successful businessman — son of a cleaning woman and a janitor, as their choice of nominee for the presidency of the United States. Well! What a bigoted group, what a caste society!”

Well, I should accord this a great deal of respect because it was published in the Wall Street Journal, Right?

Herman Cain is as appealing to me as Jesse – milk white guilt – Jackson. I’ve posted about the unreconstructed anti-miscegenationists in the GOP. There is no doubt that they exist. But even at the height of the Civil Rights struggle you could find plenty of whites who wanted to make nice with blacks just so long as they stayed on their side of town and in their own schools.

Herman Cain is like a cross held up by superstitious Republicans to ward off a vampire only in this case the vampires are “libruls” who suspect the Cain supporters of being closet racists. Hell, even the Ku Klux Klan gave money to Marcus Garvey.

The more Cain beats up Obama the closer these Republicans will clutch Herman to their breast…..until a Great White Hope, like Governor Christie, emerges to save them from Obama.

As for Herman, the source of his disatisfaction with Obama isn’t that hard to divine. Fact is Barack isn’t a real “Negroe.” His father came from Kenya as a free man long after the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The President ain’t got no slave blood in him.

Pizza anyone?

The momentum is building

An email from a hopeful to replace CCC – Congressman Chip Cravack.:

Jeff Anderson for Minnesota I see the next generation of Northern Minnesota prosperity on the horizon. September 28 Building Real Momentum Dear Welty,
Campaigns are about momentum. They really are – and I am happy to report we have it. This morning Iron Range leaders Jerry Janezich and Ron Dicklich added their names as supporters of our campaign to go along with current Iron Range Representative Carly Melin and Duluth Senator Roger Reinert.

With this group of leaders all backing our campaign we are on track to take back this seat from Tea Party Representative Chip Cravaack. But it is going to take more than those four. It is going to take grassroots activists like yourself supporting my campaign.