Civic life.

Jeez, what a long day. Out of the house at 6:30 a.m., back up the driveway at 6 p.m. It would have been 5:40, but two wrecks on the freeway necessitated a detour. A quick break to water the drooping plants, change clothes, throw together an entirely improvised pasta — fresh mooz, cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic — then back out the door for a town hall in my very own.

There’s a tax increase on the fall ballot, split into two parts. I was undecided going into the meeting, but the city made a pretty good case. As you might imagine, there is fierce opposition, not all of which is hysterical and tea party-ish. So this is how the meeting ran: The city manager stood up and gave a little welcome, then introduced the comptroller, who ran through the PowerPoint. Then he introduced all the city department heads, the mayor and council, directing them to seats at tables that ran along the perimeter of the room.

“Feel free to ask any questions of these people, and we’ll stay until we’re all done. Just approach whoever you like,” he said.

An old man sitting in front of me stood up and bellowed, WE WANT OUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED!

“Ask whatever questions you like,” the manager said. “That’s what these people are here for — the mayor, the council. Go ahead.”

But of course the old man — and many others — didn’t want questions answered, they wanted to stand behind a microphone and yell. One passed out a flyer demanding CUT THE FAT in all caps. A woman walked to the front of the room and started screeching about duplicate services and so forth. The more she screeched, the more people left.

As crowd control goes, it was a stroke of genius. You can tell the city manager has a background in law enforcement.

The thing is, the opposition has a point: There is a certain amount of fat in the budget, if you consider $150 to buy pizza for poll workers on election days fat. But even if you make them brown-bag it, and sweep up a few thousand more here and there, it’s not going to be enough to make the nut. I walked in undecided, left decided. The yelling didn’t help.

So, on the verge of collapse, I will say this: I watched “Treme,” and lo, it was good. For more, I’m sure Back of Town can catch you up. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, Prospero, read this. (Link is fixed.)

Posted at 12:45 am in Same ol' same ol', Television |

61 responses to “Civic life.”

  1. Dexter said on September 25, 2012 at 1:27 am

    “Treme” is great, and I love to see all the characters but Sonny, who I just can’t stand. I’ve noticed when reading the Back of Town posts that the locals see much more than we mere voyeurs; those people have invested much of their post-Katrina lives into doing all they possibly can to make their city a livable, viable place. I follow Wendell Pierce (Antoine Batiste) on Facebook and just two days ago he was lambasting Mayor Mitch Landrieu for cracking down on Second Lines and also the fact that seven years post-Katrina, no New Orleans hospital.
    I enjoy reading Back of Town and if you love the TV show “Treme”, you should check out Back of Town.

    My brother from Waterloo works for a sorting company for a very low hourly wage and a feast-or-famine work schedule. He inherited the house and he owns his older model car, so there’s that, but money is tight, and his work is sometimes very dangerous, sometimes boring as can be, and sometimes extremely physically challenging—then there is no work at all for two or three weeks…a helluva way to try to stick to a budget. But…he’s happy he at least has that.

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  2. Vince said on September 25, 2012 at 1:30 am

    I’m hearing of this divide-and-conquer-the-crowd method of public meetings more often. It deprives critics of their speechmaking and generally keeps the civic temperature at a civil level.

    However, it also can prevent any good, deep follow-up questioning if the group can’t hear all the questions or answers. Nance, I’d be curious if you felt you lost out on hearing or learning anything when each person only got to hear a narrow slice of all the conversations in the room.

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  3. MarkH said on September 25, 2012 at 1:35 am

    At the end of Friday’s thread is another post directed at Prospero from nn.c friend Laura Lippman. Polite, but very much to the point. Just posted this evening.

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  4. Jolene said on September 25, 2012 at 1:58 am

    MarkH, in speaking to Propero at the end of the post above, I think Nancy may have meant to link to Friday’s thread rather than Monday’s thread. Makes more sense to me anyway.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 25, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Oh, I think the yelling helped. That, or I’m misreading the choice you made.

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  6. Bob (not Greene) said on September 25, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I’ve gone to so many of those kinds of meetings that I view them as set pieces. The overwhelming impression I leave with is always the same: I can’t believe how many people have exactly no idea how local government functions, what it costs to provide services and how little “extra” there is these days in many, especially smaller, municipalities.

    This is not to say that there hasn’t been waste or there aren’t some things that can be trimmed a bit. There always are, but it usually doesn’t amount to much. If you’ve got a big deficit in the operating fund, the only way to do it is slash people or raise taxes. That’s it.

    Of course, the same people screaming about cutting the fat now couldn’t be bothered to pay attention when some mendacious elected official was ripping them off during the good times, or the local government was subsidizing their water bills or garbage pickup, and the impact of their greed could be camouflaged by awesome sales tax revenues or some such. The elders loved ’em some sugar daddy government when they were getting free rides to the doctor and their lawns cut by some city-provided handyman service. Yeah, they want answers. The trouble is they have no idea what questions to ask.

    Mostly, these days it comes down to resentment of public employees and how much money they make. People actually call for 20 percent across-the-board pay cuts and think that’s reasonable. They also think that such cuts will balance the budget, which it usually won’t. Twenty percent doesn’t get you to the black; 100 percent does. And when officials say, “OK, you want cuts? We’re getting rid of two cops and two firefighters and we’re going to stop sweeping the streets,” they go bonkers.

    The only way to make real spending cuts in a municipality is to cut people, because that’s where all the money is. Cutting people means cutting services.

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  7. Pam said on September 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I’m happy to report that the slugs who tried to get the Westerville schools tax increase repealed were defeated. Here’s what Ron O’Brien was quoted in the Dispatch, “Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, who represented the elections board in the case, argued that keeping the repeal on the ballot would create “chaos with well-organized minorities being able to constantly challenge election results.” Bill and I were really tired of scowling at them every time we went into the library. And Bill wouldn’t let me say anything mean to them. I’m just really tired of people who think that paying taxes is morally wrong. Or who think they shouldn’t pay because they don’t have any children in the system (like they never did!). Move to the country where there are very low taxes and no services and see how you like it. Just get out of my way in front of the library. Maybe we should close the Library. That would save some money and then they would have no place to stand (and nothing to read since the free books would be gone). I HATE Fox News (So what is Rupert Murdoch’s end game?). They caused all this foaming at the mouth stuff. It’s not like people in this community are poor and starving, they just don’t want to pay their fair share. And as someone mentioned, they have no idea how much it takes to run the city and the schools.

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  8. Dorothy said on September 25, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I wasn’t around a computer much yesterday so I’m late to post this for JWfromNJ – you were excited to see Prez from The Wire on Treme this past Sunday night. Did you also spot James Ransome, who played Ziggy on The Wire? He’s a chef named Nick on Treme.

    Even when I don’t have a chance to post I’m usually absorbed by Nancy’s words and the subsequent comments from you entertaining people. Kept me occupied in the waiting room for awhile yesterday when my husband had oral surgery. Glad to report that he’s feeling so okay this morning that he went to work. The doc had said he’d probably be off through Wednesday. The day is young, though… he could still bail out around lunch time today.

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  9. Prospero said on September 25, 2012 at 9:53 am

    This isn’t to quarrel with an opinion, just a plea that personal preferences be stated as such. (“I have always preferred chocolate cake to hot fudge sundaes.”) Or that assertions be framed in some larger context, such as the (very critical) article about Treme published over the weekend in the LA Review of Books. You like “Homicide” better than “The Wire” or “Treme”? Fine. But if you’re going to say it’s better, then say why.

    It has always seemed to me that, when I type something or say something, it’s relatively obvious it’s my personal opinion. I’ll admit that can be somewhat contratian. I believe homicide had a superior cast, more intense dramatic situations (The Araber in the box with Bayliss and Pembleton, the entire Luther Mahoney and his evil sister storyline) and had better written dialogue. Anyway, people that introduce comments by always informing the reader IMHO, I think they needlessly wast printer ink, when that stated was pretty obvious from the getgo. I mean, where is the room for doubt? In a way, this reminds me of people that make a habit of starting sentences with “frankly”. Whew, I was figuring you were going to lie to me.

    The bellowing old man had every intention of bellowing before he left home for that Town Meeting. And I’m sure he’s decided to vote for RMoney who wants to get rid of some of those venal leech first responders and evil money-sucking teachers aides. This is the attitude of people that believe their prop taxes should be cut because their offspring left school years ago and they no longer receive a benefit they choose to recognize from the public school system.

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  10. Prospero said on September 25, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Those schools are keeping kids off your lawn you old fart.

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  11. del said on September 25, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Squelching public dissent at the Grosse Pointe Woods council meeting? Very disappointing. I’m with Vince as to the divide-and-conquer-the-crowd method of holding public meetings (nice phrase, BTW). Something may be gained by it (not much), but something is definitely lost.

    A public official, whether a councilperson or judge, has a duty to let the public speak in the town square or in court. Sure, some people will say ridiculous things, so what? Public officials should listen (or at least pretend to listen), then decide. It’s their job. It’s really that simple. After all, they alone have the power to rule their charges regardless of what anybody says. How they wield that power, however, speaks volumes about the esteem in which they should (or should not) be held.

    Allowing public dissent only stands to improve a decision maker’s analysis (provided the decision maker can discount crazies’ views). That’s partly why our courts view “political speech” as deserving the strongest constitutional protection (there’s also the concern with that pesky tyranny of the majority stuff).

    On a human level, allowing people whose lives you control in some measure to speak first before you mete out your justice upon them is a basic sign of respect and giving people dignity.

    The Woods proposed tax increase is a complicated issue. One side of it was publicly disseminated in a (presumably televised) council meeting. The other side, well, it was not publicly presented at all (or was “presented” by its opponents).

    There’s a reason why courts require false statements to be retracted with statements of “equal dignity.” Countervailing policy arguments deserve equal dignity in the public square too.

    I’ve litigated cases against local governments that have manipulated processes to squelch public dissent. It is profoundly easy to do. There are so many, many ways of doing it. No genius is required, just a willingness to take the low road.

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  12. John C said on September 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

    You put me in mind of the days when I covered meetings like that all the time. “How was it?” the night editor might ask as I settled into the seat in the phone booth, ready to dictate. “Fine. Fifty or so IRs.” Or, if it were a zoning issue: “Room full of NIMBYs. No vote yet.” (The latter, of course, stood for “not in my backyard.” The former? Irate residents!)

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  13. MarkH said on September 25, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Jolene — Yes, I think you’re correct, and Nancy had the wrong link. Couldn’t figure out what Pros needed to see in the original. Corrected now, makes sense, yes.

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  14. Sue said on September 25, 2012 at 10:53 am

    That explosion you heard last night was Wisconsin reacting to the Packer loss.
    And apparently Governor Walker has suddenly become pro-union.

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  15. del said on September 25, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I first heard the expression NIMBY in reference to a relative of my wife who’s now in her 90’s, a city council meeting regular she was (and may still be).

    Once I mentioned to her that a law school classmate of mine had been newly elected to her exurban Detroit community’s planning commission. She abruptly turned 180 degrees and marched away from me for about 10 steps then made an about face and marched back to me and ranted, “That no good such and such!” It was like the Three Stooges Susquehanna Hat Company schtick. I was dismissive of her as a NIMBY, but it turned out she that she was onto something. I later learned that the guy I knew did legal work for a major developer and had run for office to help smooth his client’s zoning issues. (Democracy in action.) Then, the first order of business for him and other commissioners was to increase their pay from a per-attended-meeting sum (with a low potential maximum) to annual salaries to be paid regardless of the number of meetings attended — at twice the old maximum.

    I looked into what city officials are paid and concluded that there are few such abuses in older more mature communities like the Grosse Pointes than in the exurban cities.

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  16. alex said on September 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

    And apparently Governor Walker has suddenly become pro-union.

    And here in Indiana, Richard Mourdock suddenly loves working with Democrats and thinks Social Security is the eighth wonder of the world — because his parents live on it, natch.

    So I guess Romney isn’t the only Republican who thinks he can fool all of the people all of the time.

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  17. brian stouder said on September 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Pop Quiz!

    How many people died in Chinese coal mining operations last year?

    a. 37
    b. 392
    c. 812
    d. 1,973

    if you guessed “d”, you’re correct!

    And remember, we don’t need no stinkin’ commie job killin’ OSHA or MSHA – we need a free and unfettered market to compete in the world. And indeed, if we kill enough workers instead of jobs, then that’ll cut into our unemployment AND our healthcare costs! A “win/win”, eh?

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  18. Connie said on September 25, 2012 at 11:17 am

    As a long time public official of sorts and a resident of ex urban Detroit I have an interesting view point.

    What get’s me right now is that no one is noticing what is happening with Downtown Development Authorities right now. During the boom times they incurred large bond debt for large projects, expecting to pay that bond with huge TIF profits from the assessment growth spurred by those projects. Money has been spent, profits are not happening.

    The Troy DDA is about to default on major debt payments. In my township the Charter Township backed the DDA bonds with its “full faith and credit.” This year that meant covering 1.8 million of DDA bond debt payments from the township operating funds. More than half the township employees were laid off a couple of years ago to cover this.

    I suspect this is going on all over the metro area. We’ve not yet seen any signs of recovery in property value assessments.

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  19. mark said on September 25, 2012 at 11:29 am


    TIFs have been misused by public officials all over the country. Fort Wayne has been quick to put almost all new developments in a TIF district, segregating the tax dollars for decades and using them for “development” plans, whle depriving the schools, libraries and others of their ordinary share of the property taxes.

    Good news for Chinese miners- they don’t have Michelle Obama dictating their lunch menu. Determining what kids eat in schools is, obviously, an essential function of the federal government. Don’t know how we survived the first 200+ years without Uncle Sam’s oversight.

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  20. Prospero said on September 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Five richest and five poorest states: and those rich states are lined up for the President, while the poor states will be in the RMoney column.

    Actual poor people. Pretending that living on government assistance is somehow a sinecure is obnoxious bullshit from assholes like Willard Ananais RMoney.

    John C. Phone booth? Pls explain. We recently switched cell service to escape AT&T and the company’s revolting financial support of ALEC and the NRA, and because the service was execrable. Oh, and because, when I signed a contract, my monthly fees were laid out for me at $70 per, and began arriving more along the lines of $125/mo. Tried for months to get an explanation. Seems I was paying data charges for text messages AT&T was sending me. Anyway, we decided on using Community Cellular with my brand new AARP discount. Much to my chagrin, I found there are no payphones any more, so calling the company to activate the phone was a problem. Eventually, the folks that run the courtesy counter at our grocery said go ahead and use their phone.

    del, did you run into sovereign immunity issues? Or just open meeting laws violations? I’ got involved in an open meeting laws scuffle when I was in JSchool, over some court records. Athens police followed my car around for months.

    Sue@14. Let me guess. Walker thinks the Packers lost because of the scab refs. Considering the Seahwks receiver that got the catch was ND alum Golden Tate, so maybe TD Jesus was behind it. One way or another, the ref’s call was pure D bullshit. I’ve despised the Packers for almost 60 years, so I thought it was pretty hilarious.

    Brian, I think in China, they mine the old-fashioned way, underground. Mountaintopping is not so dangerous, unless you consider trying to live on the Eastern Seaboard of the US when there is no clean aquifer left to draw drinking water from.

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  21. Deborah said on September 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Oh for crying out loud Mark, your last paragraph #19. Really? What a crock.

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  22. DellaDash said on September 25, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Lord knows, your opinion is never humble, Prospero.

    Because I’ve become such a fan of all things bearing the David Simon footprint, I’ve been barreling (will refrain from saying ‘Netflixing’) through all the seasons of ‘Homicide’. First 2 discs of season 6 should arrive today.

    Looks like the Simon toe first stuck in for a few episodes in season 4, then a few more in season 5 when his signature was starting to become identifiable.

    “There’s my boy,” I cried when he cropped up in the riveting ‘Page One – Inside the New York Times’ documentary my roommate brought home from the library. David Simon simply doesn’t fit into the boy slot, but “That’s my man” too viscerally belongs to Laura.

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  23. Jolene said on September 25, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Last chance this campaign season to win a dinner w/ the Prez. Here’s your chance to go direct to The Man with your ideas about how to run the country.

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  24. alex said on September 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Good news for Chinese miners — they don’t have Nancy Reagan telling them to just say no to drugs and sex or Barbara Bush telling them to learn how to read.

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  25. alex said on September 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    And they don’t have Lady Bird Johnson telling them to quit throwing trash on the ground.

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  26. coozledad said on September 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Don’t know how we survived the first 200+ years without Uncle Sam’s oversight.
    With milk sick, warbles, trichinosis, pellagra, tuberculosis, typhus, typhoid fever, diptheria, aflatoxemia, campylobacters, salmonella, escheria coli…
    And those little rows of short graves out in every nineteenth century churchyard? The marketplace of ideas weeded the little fuckers out.

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  27. del said on September 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Connie, I didn’t know anything about TIFs or Tax Increment Financing Authorities but I checked out Nancy’s link to the Bridge article by Rick Haglund. It ends with the quote from an observer:

    “TIFAs are a second or third wave away from elected officials,” he said. “It raises questions about accountability and the democratic process.”

    Sounds ominous. It’ll be interesting to see how all this financial stuff unfolds.

    And Pros, no governmental immunity involved.

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  28. coozledad said on September 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    You know what else that federal government does? It makes doctors wash their hands before they stick them in your fucking guts.
    So kiss puerperal fever goodbye, and that brand new teenage wife you’ve had your eye on since the old lady started to droop a little.

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  29. Bitter Scribe said on September 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I’m having a hard time seeing these “town hall meetings” as anything but an excuse for a bunch of soreheads to show up and yell their heads off. It’s democracy on some level, I suppose, but what is it supposed to accomplish?

    Oh my God, schoolkids are being offered fruit and vegetables at lunch! Is there no end to Obama’s tyranny?

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  30. Sue said on September 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Bossy first ladies are fun, mark. I can’t wait to see how Ann Romney’s First Ladyship goes. It’ll be all “you people” this and “you people” that.
    She’ll have us shaped up in no time. You don’t raise five boys in several houses with no help without knowing how to turn the tyrant on.

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  31. Sherri said on September 25, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I’m absolutely delighted at the blown call at the end of the Seahawks game last night. It’s exactly what the NFL deserved. They’ve been degrading their product over a pittance in a fight they picked for no obvious reason other than they thought they could win. Given how many bad and just plain inexplicable calls have been made so far this season, it was inevitable that one would eventually happen at the end of a close game on a deciding play.

    That the Seahawks won is just icing on the cake for me…

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  32. Sue said on September 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Sherri, I’ve been surprised that in all the fuss over this in the last few months, very few commentators have pointed out what seems obvious to me – this is a normal, just more obvious, result of our new national mindset.
    ‘You don’t like what I’m paying you? Take a hike, there are a million people willing to do your job for my pay.’
    Slot ’em in, they’ll pick it up as they go along. Greedy, greedy workers need to be shoved to the side of the road, teach them a lesson for thinking they have worth. It’s the new American Way.
    I did notice a weird arc. First everyone was mad at the incompetent refs. It took awhile to get mad at the NFL/owners, and seemingly only when people were inconvenienced.

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  33. Bitter Scribe said on September 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    WTF is Godell’s problem? The NFL has a license to print money, and he’s jeopardizing the season, if not the entire league, because he thinks the only officials in major pro sports who have to work for a living don’t deserve a few more nickels. Is he insane?

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  34. JWfromNJ said on September 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I didn’t spot “Ziggy”. And I didn’t realize James True-Frost (Pryz) was on in previous seasons. wondering what is up with Clarke Peter’s big chief Albert’s cough. That’s surely foreshadowing something bad.

    Lucia Micarelli ranks among my “most beautiful women on TV list,” but so does Olivia Munn (Sloan sabbith on the Newsroom) so apparently I have a thing for half-asian women. who knew? I’m not as down on Sonny as I was becuase he’s been working hard for at least two years and I was surprised that he only has dated Lin for 4 months.

    On the local news front – Florida’s efforts to limit poll access have been given the nod by a federal judge. Our 14 days of early voting just got cut to 8. I’m localizing that story for this week, but in my county is always was 8, and we have an outstanding supervisor of elections (a Republican) that puts poll access before politics. She has held many voter registration drives in the black and latino enclaves, she had her staff ride the free county buses for a month before the primary, and this week she and the crew are hitting the high schools. Our numbers are way up where other counties are dropping off.

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  35. basset said on September 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Another acronym to go with the IRs and NIMBYs… BANANAs, “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.”

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  36. Sherri said on September 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I can’t explain Goodell and the NFL owners other than arrogance. They’re used to getting their way. After all, they once put replacement players out on the field and played games (and successfully broke the players union.) They’ve generally been successful in getting what they want from the players union because until recently, the players union had weak leadership that wasn’t able to hold the players together once they started missing paychecks.

    With the referees, though, it’s a different story. Yes, the referees are missing paychecks that aren’t insubstantial, but refereeing in the NFL is a part-time job; most of them have other jobs. It will be a while before financial hardship forces them to fold.

    Plus, guess what the part-time jobs of some of the refs are? Directors of officials of the major college football conferences! They were able to discourage their employees from taking scab jobs from the NFL, so the replacement refs you’re seeing are from very low level college leagues or Arena football or lower. The retired refs who normally train refs for the NFL refused to train these refs, so the NFL fired those guys.

    So, the NFL made a gamble that they could take people with no experience in officiating at a high level, train them with trainers who had no experience, and then put them out there to learn on the job in front of 60000 screaming fans. People have learned on the job, all right; the players have learned that the refs don’t know what they’re doing, so they are pushing the boundaries harder each week. The end of the game last night wasn’t an isolated incident, just the most obvious of many.

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  37. Prospero said on September 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Sherri, I wouldn’t make too much of it, but NFL owners are the sorts of people that believe they should get welfare in the form of stately pleasure dome stadia, while they pervert American government by making obscenely gigantic out of state political contributions of free speech…er…cash to anti-union aholes like Scott Walker. This is likely a manifestation of GOPer anti-union solidarity. The NFL has more money than Moroni, Joe Smith and Willard Ananais do together. One f the players tweeted about somebody getting hurt because of the incompetent refs. I’d be willing to bet when the inevitable occurs, it has to do with shady El Vegas gambling interests, and not some dumbass official damaging a player’s eyesight with a vicious beanbag assault. One of these calls is going to cause a massive upheaval in the sports book world. Like the time the plane went down in Flushing Bay and the Daily News photo the next day clearly showed an ID number on the plane that showed as “the number” the next day.

    I thought ist was wonderful when Ladybird told us all it was a patriotic duty to sow wildflower seeds. And i find it mystifying that the Ketchup is a veable party really wants to incite a pissing match about the idea of making school lunches more nutritious. When I taught HS, I knew there were kids getting no nutrition elsewhere than the meager fare in the cafe. Which for me, as someone that takes Jesus’ ideas seriously, was a heartbreaking recognition, back before I knew the kids and their families were just a buncha losers. I can assure anybody that never taught school, it was a great relief to the faculty to see kids come in for breakfast of real food and put down the Little Debbies and the two-liter Mt. Dews. Now, it seems to me that Rush Pindick and GOPers so offended by Mrs. Obama’s ideas on kids eating better are ignorant of realities of American life, overcaffeinated teenagers, and, most of all, their own self-interest. If your taxes pay for school meals, shouldn’t a fiscally responsible GOPer want the most bang for the buck?

    Sue, all the notorious labor actions in the history of American professional sports have been illegal lockouts, not strikes, with the full backing of the US Congress. Professional sports leagues in the USA operate as monopolies that would clearly be illegal in any other but the power industry.

    Della, I’ve never seen the point of humble opinions unless the opiner knows for a fact he’s clueless about a subject. And the H in the ubiquitous IMHO is rarely sincerely humble.

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  38. Prospero said on September 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Another theory on why Willard Ananais is so willing to take so much grief about his tax returns: illegal investments in Iran.

    Actually, there are NFL refs, or have been in the past, that were CEOs of oil field service companies and various oddjobs like that. And gutdom, the “real”refs certainly screw up games bigtime, pretty frequently.I’m thinking about a Dallas Minnesota playoff game in a year the ‘Boys wo a SuperBowl, where the winning TD waas scored when Drew Pearson picked up the much smaller DB Nate Wright and threw him to the ground. Incredibly bogus call, enshrined in NFL history as the Hail Mary. Then there was the famous Immaculate Reception, Where the football was obviously touched by Frenchy Fuqua befor being scooped by Franco Harris. Those wer playoff games, so Packers, quit whining, you have almost a whole season to go. Think about the fact that SI proved the game watches ran slow giving Bart Starr a chance to score on the Frozen Tundra when time should have expired. Still, this one last night is hilarious, because the league always has particular teams in more favor than others, and currently, it’s undoubtedly the Packers.

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  39. beb said on September 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    what Bob (not Greene) @6 said. re fat in gov’t budgets and deficits.

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  40. Connie said on September 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the referral to the Bridge article on TIF districts and DDA debt. The library community in general is opposed to TIF districts due to their impact on all local government budgets. In Indiana every time there was a new TIF district proposed I would get paperwork telling me it would have no financial impact on my budget. And yes, technically, OK my revenue will not go down. But neither will it go up for years and years.

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  41. Sherri said on September 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Pros, no question the regular refs get calls wrong (Seahawks fans are still bitter over the 2006 Super Bowl), but the replacement refs are an absolute joke. I found last night’s ending hilarious, but what I’m not finding funny at all is the blatant head-hunting that’s going on. The NFL had really cracked down on helmet-to-helmet shots in the last couple of years, but the replacement refs don’t seem to be able to see them. Darius Heyward-Bey had to be carted off the field on Sunday and taken to the hospital after a vicious shot to the head that wasn’t penalized. I’m sure the offending player will be fined, but a fine after the fact isn’t good enough. There’s too much advantage during the game if those shots aren’t going to be penalized.

    Hayward-Bey’s wasn’t the only egregious helmet-to-helmet shot that was missed, just the most serious. He’s got a concussion and is expected to make a full recovery, but the NFL owners are playing with fire. They’ve already got a massive lawsuit over concussions, and if the replacement refs’ inability to maintain control over the game results in a player being paralyzed, the beating the NFL is taking in the press today will be like nothing.

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  42. MarkH said on September 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    What bothers me from last night’s shamefest in Seattle is this: reviewing a play (and there is some discussion as to whether this play WAS reviewable as per the rules) gives even the biggest imbecile ref a clear do-over. How many time would you have to look at that play to see, if nothing else, it was NOT A RECEPTION, therefore not a TD. Otherwise I am in agreement with the anger vented here. Regardless of who the officials on the field actually are, isn’t there a management oversight for the officials at each game?

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  43. Prospero said on September 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Mark, the league has real refs supervising at every game. This one last night was so egregious you could see the interception in a still photo. I quit watching the NFL religiously years ago, and the one thing that can geet me to tune in a game is a UGA player, like Stafford or AJ, but I also enjoy seeing less celebrated players like Danny Ware (Giants), or my favorite current player Tim Jennings at about 5-8, buck sixty soaking wet. The League these days is Behemoth, Leviathan, biblically, Lovecraftian evil, Thoth, and it really did become the No Fun League a while ago. For me things began to get entirely too corporate when Goodell introduced the Uniform Police. WTF? Jim McMahon mooning the leagues chopper was a great moment in NFL history. The League legal types should be worried, since the lawsuit by Orlando Brown provides ample precedent for the League’s responsibility for the injuries that might result from officious ahole ref misconduct.

    Watched Belichik (rat bastard) grab the ref running off after that debacle. In the postgame interview, the arrogant shit flat out said he did not expect a fine for accosting the ref. What sort of merde is that?

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  44. Joe K said on September 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Won’t have to worry about u.s. miners,after the Obama energy plans finish,their won’t be any coal miners employed.
    He is not very popular in coal country.
    Pilot Joe

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  45. Prospero said on September 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    For all those GOPers that like to talk about teleprompters and Obama’s alleged lack of intelligence, read ’em and weep:

    Ananais, struck dead for lying to the Apostle Peter:

    Joe, the American coal industry deserves to go out of existence for decades of criminal behavior, and the entire idea of coal companies taking off the top 1000ft. of mountains to get at coal veins with the fewest miners possible while despoiling the creeks and hollers that feed the east coast watershed is criminal, and people will pay the price. US miners have been more ill-used by their employers than any other American workers. I lived there as a child and my dad practiced pediatrics at a hospital financed by the Kaiser Permanente Foundation, without which, all those people in Appalachia would have had no health care access whatsoever. Ending production of coal in the US would affect extremely few jobs, and as for companies like Massey, fuck ’em. There are ways of mining and of burning coal that are current proven technology that these bastards refuse to acknowledge. Cap and trade, as a public policy would not cost a single job except when the “energy” companies pulled their typical vindictive shit of putting people out of work. Coal mining companies have been putting miners out of work since the 50s, and killing miners much longer than that.

    The same people that make these claims about Obama and the coal industry claim also that Administration policies have prevented oil reseve recovery in the US, when the incontrovertible fact is that the US produces more petroleum now, by a huge amount, than at any time in US history. All the proponents of Arctic drilling found out recently they were industry dupes when the oil companies got permits and then were not remotely ready to use them.

    Oh, and Rmoney was fer cap and trade before he was agin’ it.

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  46. Deborah said on September 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Actually Joe, Obama has been disappointing to me in his acceptance of big coal. He was a state rep for awhile there and had to make peace with downstate Illinois which is big on coal. I wish you were right about Obama and coal, but you’re not. He may not be popular in those areas, but it’s not because of his real stand on coal.

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  47. Deborah said on September 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Coal and Obama

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  48. MarkH said on September 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Pros, I’m with you on both Jim McMahon and Belichik. As great a story he was in his heyday with the Bears, attitude and all, McMahon is now one of the saddest NFL stories. I can’t link to it here at work due to our filters, but go to Sports for an excellent story on his battle with early-onset dementia.

    Belichik, well, I respect any successful coach, but Sunday’s ref-grabbing and his response to NFL’s possible action revealed how full of himslef he is.

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  49. Prospero said on September 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Very cool National Park Service apps available on iTunes:

    Scrubber and baghouse technologies for burning coal fairly cleanly enough to prevent environmental degradation has been around since the early 70s. Problem is power companies are willing only to pay for 98% or so efficiency and 99% is the minimum efficiency to protect public health and prevent horrible shit like acid rain. Thing is, increasing efficiency of scrubbers and physical filters the extra 1% nearly doubles the cost. Power production for a country as huge as the US should be nationalized to be made effective and preclude the sort of vile business practices Shrub and Dickless’ cronies at Enron pulled in the late 90s and the 00s. Of course, I must be a Godless Socialiss Commoniss to think that, and theere is no chance it will happen, but nationalization of the power industry would be immensely and immediately beneficial to American citizens.

    Here are some miner’s that weren’t enthralled with Willlad’s Mom jeans:

    As for the President, He may not be popular in those areas, but it’s not because of his real stand on coal.

    It’s actually because of the same reason they wouldn’t let Jack Johnson aboard the US Titanic. People in coal country are poor and get a bundle in fed aid, which makes them easy targets for the latest iteration of the Southren Strategy.

    And WaPo’s Sally Jenkins has an excellent piece on the ref debacle:

    Great sportswriter, IMO.

    And G’mar Hatimah Tovah on Yom Kippur to any of y’all that are Jewish.

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  50. brian stouder said on September 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Today was out of hand, but let me just add – regarding John Q Public folks going to public meetings:

    I love attending FWCS board meetings, and especially their Work Sessions. You can learn a lot, once you learn the language.

    Our school board allows public comment*, but they adjourn the meeting first, and then throw it open to the public. This ends the TV feed, and discourages most of the gadflies; although if the real media is there, then they still have a chance of getting their two cents onto the airwaves.

    And indeed, we only have a few crazy people who show up, and they’re still going on about the closing of a high school several years ago…and they invariably complain about the adjournment/end of cable TV feed.

    *one aim I always have is: don’t appear to be a nut (Pam will tell you that I AM a nut nevertheless, but still – I don’t have to look like one!). This consists mainly in wearing shoes and socks (rather than flip flops) and office casual rather than sweat-pants; and never making public comments!

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  51. JWfromNJ said on September 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    The difference between the smoothly managed local government meetings that last about an hour and those that are marathon sessions up to EIGHT hours long has always been whether or not the meeting is on television. I can say that based on observations in NJ,Ind., and Florida. Our county commission meetings can last eight hours – and as a freelancer I dread those because it reduces my hourly wage to sub McDonalds rates.
    My current publication allows us to report from home on televised meetings. In NJ I used to have one town like that on my beat and I’d leave at the mid-meeting recess, drive home, and watch the gadflies from the comfort of my boxer shorts.

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  52. Bitter Scribe said on September 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    the league has real refs supervising at every game


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  53. Deborah said on September 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Totally off topic but a great video, Stephen Colbert interviews Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The actual interview starts about 6:30 in, otherwise you have to sit through introductions of people you’ve never heard of. Good stuff. I love the part where Tyson gets super passionate that we have the stuff of the universe in us.

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  54. Sherri said on September 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Bacon shortage looms!,0,5901787.story

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  55. Joe K said on September 25, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Just a quick question, if we kill the coal industry where are we going to get our electricity? And what do we do with thousand of laid off miners?
    Pilot Joe

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  56. Little Bird said on September 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I just read that eight solar energy facilities in Germany met nearly half of the country’s mid-day needs. And that there are plans for nine more facilities. They’re apparently phasing out their nuclear facilities in the wake of the disaster during the tsunami in Japan. If Germany can create that much electricity, using solar power, why can’t we figure it out?

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  57. Deborah said on September 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Joe, we’re going to get our electricity from wind and solar. Renewable and clean. It will take awhile to figure this out as to exactly how. Have some patience.

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  58. Joe Kobiela said on September 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I&m has already told the city and manufacturing facilities. To expect their bills to double in the next year. What about the miners.
    Pilot Joe

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  59. brian stouder said on September 25, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Whoa there, Joe. Here’s what I&M says to Mitch and the state of Indiana: (with emphasis added)

    I&M Key Case Overview

    Three pending cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) could have a significant, cumulative impact on Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) customers.

    The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents consumer interests in all cases before the IURC.

    Base Rate Case (IURC Cause No. 44075)

    I&M’s pending base rate request would increase the utility’s annual operating revenues by $170.1 million, a 13.2 percent increase over the amount the utility is currently allowed to earn from Indiana ratepayers.

    The request would affect various customer classes (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) differently.

    The OUCC filed testimony on April 27, 2012 recommending that I&M receive only a portion of its requested increase. A number of additional parties formally intervened in the rate case and also filed testimony on April 27. In its August 17 proposed order, the OUCC recommends limiting the proposed increase to $30.7 million.

    I&M’s current base rates – which cover operating, maintenance and capital costs – were approved in March 2009.

    The IURC held public field hearings in the rate case during the week of April 23 in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Muncie. All hearings and filings are complete, with this case pending before the IURC.

    And, not to give drop a lump of coal in your stocking, but here’s a breakdown of where I&M’s power generation comes from: (with emphasis added)

    We draw power from a variety of industry-favorable energy resources, including …

    Coal (3,595 MW capacity)
    Nuclear (2,160 MW capacity)
    Wind (150 MW capacity)
    Hydro (22.4 MW capacity)

    So first, yes, coal is crucial to I&M. It’s what – 3/5 of their fuel?

    Anyway – electric bills aren’t “doubling”. Even if I&M gets everything they want – and that’s very far from a likely outcome – they’re after a 25% increase, so as to increase their return on investment to 11%. The state will would agree with a 4% rate increase for a 9% ROI.

    OK? ‘Salright.

    And, g’night

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  60. MarkH said on September 26, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Wind and solar, Deborah? In how many lifetimes? Gridwise, that is. Most of us are of a certain age. Think any of us will see that takeover? Take a look at Brian’s power breakdown. That’s representative of the rest of the nation. It will take a long time to replace the carbon-based fuel cog in the economy. Solar and wind are on the way for sure, especially wind power throughout the west. But until then, your wind and solar will be what you set up at your new home in New Mexico, off the grid.

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