Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The EPA has a problem: employees are shitting in the hallways

If there was no other reason than this, it should be enough.  Just shut them down already.
Environmental Protection Agency workers have done some odd things recently. Contractors built secret man caves in an EPA warehouse, an employee pretended to work for the CIA to get unlimited vacations and one worker even spent most of his time on the clock looking at pornography. It appears, however, that a regional office has reached a new low: Management for Region 8 in Denver, Colo., wrote an email earlier this year to all staff in the area pleading with them to stop inappropriate bathroom behavior, including defecating in the hallway.
This rampant decadence reminds me of the drugs and sex scandal that rocked the Minerals Management Service before it was shut down and it's directives rolled into other departments.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

150,000 Detroit residents delinquent on their water bills

Detroit Water & Sewage is threatening to cut off the water to one hundred and fifty thousand dead-beat customers.  I say it's about damned time!  On average these customers owe about $800 for water they've already used.  That comes out to 10 months for me, and I live in Texas!

Of course, the local politicians are decrying the move as a human rights violation and asking the United Nations (!!!!!!) to intervene.  Can you believe that? 
A coalition of activist groups took the rare step Monday and appealed to the United Nations over reports that cash-strapped residents in Detroit are being left without access to water. 
The appeal to the U.N.’s special rapporteur comes after reports that nearly half of the Detroit Water and Sewerage customers are delinquent on their bills and owe the department about $118 million. The department has reportedly started shutting off water to these delinquent customers.
It's clear that some people want services for nothing.  They want to make virtual slaves out of working folk. I hope honest folk don't put up with it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

They want this woman to be President

In Hillary Clinton's own words, the family arrived at the White House without a cent to their name, and left it with $12 million in debt.  Factoring in Bill's $200,000/yr ($100k after taxes, approximately) salary, the Clintons spent nearly $13 million in just 8 years.  That's a hell of a lot of spending.  Even more so when your recall that their primary and secondary residences are paid for by us, as is all of their transportation, security, food, utilities, phone bills, etc.. I'd be willing to bet their vacations were all on the tax-payer's time as well.

Just how many mansions and Prada purses did Mrs. Clinton buy?
As I recall, we were something like $12 million in debt. 
We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.
And they want her to be President?  When she outspends her household income by almost 1600%?   Will she propose a $40 trillion budget for FY 2017?

California Teacher Tenure Found to Violate Student Rights

First shall issue, and now this.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu sided with students in finding that tenure is unconstitutional.
California's teacher tenure statutes are unconstitutional and shouldn't be enforced, a judge said in handing a victory to a group of students in the broadest legal challenge to date against laws that guarantee public school teachers' jobs.  
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu, who heard two months of evidence, agreed in a tentative ruling today with the nine students who brought the lawsuit that the statutes violate their right to equal educational opportunity under the California constitution.
The ruling, when final, will prohibit the state from enforcing a law that gives teachers permanent employment after less than two years on the job, as well as laws that the students say make it too expensive and too time-consuming to dismiss ineffective teachers. Treu put the order on hold until any possible appeals are resolved.  
"Both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily, and for no legally cognizable reason, let alone a compelling one, disadvantaged by the current permanent employment statute," the judge said.  
Perhaps this will open the door to some serious reform, such as I discussed two years ago in my San Diego school post. Lord knows California needs it! If we ever want a good and efficient school system, free market ideas, such as performance based hiring and advancement, must be allowed to permeate through them.
Here is how I would change the school system in order to evaluate instructors' abilities:
  1. K-12 changes to year round quarter system with no elevator (Students must take a comprehensive test to pass each grade).
  2. Test the students at the start of the quarter. No curves.
  3. Test the students at the end of the quarter. No curves.
  4. Evaluate their degree of improvement.
  5. Rank instructors from A to F.
  6. Send D instructors to retrain for a weekend every month of the quarter.
  7. Send F instructors to retrain for an entire quarter.
  8. Fire FF (2 Fs in a row) instructors. (No more tenure.)
  9. Send DF (D followed by F) instructors to retrain for an entire quarter.
  10. Rotate classes so all instructors are tested with all students.
  11. Repeat.
1 would prevent students who didn't know earlier material from being pushed into material they won't understand. 2 gets a baseline for every student. 3 establishes their new level of knowledge, and 4 documents their improvement during their studies. 5 ranks the net improvement of each instructor's students against the other instructor's statistics, while 6 & 7 try to salvage failing instructors. 8 eliminates bad instructors and 9 gives failing instructors one last chance to be salvaged. 10 and 11 ensure "good instructors" won't be "stuck with crap students." 
You could also sweeten the deal by giving bonuses to AA instructors. This would take time, but continual review on a quarterly basis like this might work.
I'll bet the Captain will be ecstatic; I know I am.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

There is no logic, there is only magic

This is, without doubt, the most apt description of the taker mindset to have ever come from the mouth of a taker.  Read it all.
"I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore."

- Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who is unable to afford her property taxes.
And here's one of the things drives me crazy with these people:
A key problem, critics say, is that the current system has shifted a disproportionate share of the burden of paying for schools and local services on homeowners, in favor of commercial and corporate interests who can afford to appeal their values and win big reductions year after year. The share of property taxes from homeowners to support public schools grew from 45 percent to 54 percent over a 12-year period, while commercial and industrial owners’ share has declined to less than 20 percent. (Other sectors, from oil and gas to personal property, make up the rest.)
A "key problem"? It's a problem that homeowners are paying for more of the services they demand, such as the education of their children? No! If there's any problem it is that businesses are taxed at all for the public education system. In fact, I think only homeowners who have children should be taxed for public education, and they should bear 100% of that cost. If anyone else, individual or business, wants to contribute, it should be through voluntary donations.

I'd love it if businesses offered on the job training and mentoring, and I think it is in their best interest to do so. And even though I think that it is in their best interest to support the education of the public, I don't think it's right that a small group of legislators appease homeowners by making the businesses pay for more parks, libraries, and light rail.

I think public works should be paid for by donations. Put it out there - "We want to build a park, please donate online, or put in a little extra in your property taxes with a note for the purpose.  Construction will begin when the funds are available!" No need for bonds or higher taxes. Hell, businesses will win approval of the public by donating to such things. Voluntarism goes a long way.

09rubicon on Calguns had this to say:
Here's a novel idea. Tie tax votes (tax votes only) to SSN. If you voted for it you pay it, if you voted against it you don't.

I know it would never work, but it would be fun to see all the liberals bay 3-4 times more taxes than others.
In the same vein of thought, one could tie student enrollment to parents' social security numbers, and tax the parents directly for their children's education.  Make it a local tax withholding. That would work for me!  I am certain, absolutely certain, most single men and women would appreciate the burden of paying for other people's babysitters be borne by those who need them. Perhaps we can make a campaign issue out of this?