Monday, Monday, Monday.

Roy had a post the other day that led to the American Spectator, which led me down a rabbit hole of weirdness and nostalgia. I started reading the Spectator in the ’80s, when I would filch it from the editorial page’s mailbox when I was bored. It was the first magazine I read that made me think, “These folks are not only wrong, but insane.” I think it was the column opposing curb cuts for wheelchairs that did it.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing down the rabbit hole was this entry in the long-running — and apparently endlessly amusing to readers — Ben Stein’s Diary. The rabbit hole has since been gated (maybe it won’t be to you), but there was a jaw-dropping passage in it. In the context of a long rant about the awful Barack Obama, he laments that California is dying of thirst, and how can this be? Michigan has more than enough water; why is there not a great aqueduct running from Michigan to California? Why? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THIS ONCE-GREAT COUNTRY THAT WE CAN’T SEND MICHIGAN’S WATER TO CALIFORNIA?

How is it possible to be this clueless? To answer the question, and with all due respect to our California readers: Because any number of Michigan residents would dynamite an aqueduct to water California’s golf courses, or go anywhere else. You’re welcome, Ben Stein. You putz.

So, what a Monday. Woke up to howling winds, and walked to the bus stop in what seemed like a gale, the sort of wind that makes you lean into it, so you don’t get knocked over. It was coming up from the south, and I calculated that I would be disembarking and walking north to my office. So after the usual rattle-bump ride downtown, I stepped off the bus and turned north. Caught a blast to the face that had grit in it, because this is of course the gritty city.

At least it was warm. Was. The temperature is dropping like a rock, and it is supposed to snow overnight. Snow.

When I got to work, my co-worker said, “Did you see the cloud of grime over the city, coming in?” See it? I tasted it.

And now it’s Monday night, and I survived. Tuesday? We shall see.

With 1.9 more inches of snow, we can break the all-time record. Part of me wants to see it happen. The other part — the biggest part — says fuck that noise.

So, a little bloggage, but not much, because I want to go to bed early.

Tom and Lorenzo on last night’s “Mad Men.” The part about the Helter Skelter coincidence is a little unsettling, but that’s not the first place I heard it. Let’s assume Matthew Weiner will continue to be all obtuse ‘n’ stuff. That’s a little too on the nose.

I’m about halfway through this NYT magazine cover story about two lost artists of early 20th-century blues, and I’m enjoying it very much. It looks like the online presentation is the usual bells-and-whistles stuff. Nice.

Is that my faraway bed calling? I believe it is. See you Tuesday. Oh, it’s Tuesday already? You don’t say.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol', Television |

47 responses to “Monday, Monday, Monday.”

  1. Sherri said on April 15, 2014 at 12:38 am

    We’ve had a couple of sunny days here, and I was hoping to get a glimpse of the lunar eclipse tonight (Monday night, starts at 11 pm PDT), but the sky has clouded up as usual. Really tough to see many astronomical events around here, because it’s cloudy most of the year, and when it’s not, in the summer, daylight lasts too long.

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  2. Dexter said on April 15, 2014 at 4:10 am

    This is the first time I ever strung out tax preparation until April 15. I mailed and dropped off everything at dusk last night, so it will go out in the morning mail of the last day to get-R-done. Then, to celebrate the finality of this the roughest tax season for us, I went all-retro and celebrated by eating a goddam Tootsie Roll. Remember how I was lamenting all the dental work I have had done these past few weeks? Yep. I popped off a dental crown. This, after the dentist had warned me to knock off the damn candy. Now I have to go back for the professional re-cementing. And what do I tell him? “I was eating a small kale salad and…”

    It’s snowing and the temperature dropped 35 degrees in three hours Monday afternoon. My porch steps were icy and treacherous when I walked the dogs. The misty ice-rain-snow at 1:00 AM was pretty in the street lights, all the while it depressed my soul. The dog wouldn’t shit so I returned home with an empty plastic bag. “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

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  3. Snarkworth said on April 15, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Shipping Michigan’s water to California would be easy, because it’s downhill. Just look at a map.

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  4. ROGirl said on April 15, 2014 at 6:37 am

    When I got home from work last night I saw a huge tree in the middle of my neighbor’s back yard that had snapped and fallen toward the street. It bent the fence out and the top of the tree is resting on the sidewalk. That house is on the corner of the next street, so the back of the house faces the side of my property. The tree must have been at least 40 feet high — higher than a 2 story house. I have a lot of trees around my house, but they were all intact. And now there is snow on the ground.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 15, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Snow falling steadily, the ground patchily coated. No blood moon for me in central Ohio.

    Ben Stein had a high point with calling Ferris Bueller’s name that he’s been rolling downhill from ever since.

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  6. David C. said on April 15, 2014 at 6:52 am

    The Aral Sea water projects worked out so well for the Soviets. Of course, we should do it here. Because FREEDOM!

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  7. Connie said on April 15, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Snow. Looks like about three inches. And a new record.

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  8. Deborah said on April 15, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I think it was clear enough here in Santa Fe to see the blood moon but I didn’t see it because of the skunks that come around at night. To be honest we haven’t seen or smelled skunks around for a month or so, hopefully they’ve moved on, but I’m still nervous when I’m outside at night. A while ago Little Bird came home from being out with friends. Just as she was walking from the driveway to our door a skunk ran right up to her and even ran over her foot. She froze, it didn’t spray her or anything, it just turned around and ran off another direction. By the time she got inside she was screaming. We had thought about camping out on our land in Abiquiu last night but it was cold, low was down in the 20s.

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  9. coozledad said on April 15, 2014 at 8:36 am

    That was a lovely piece on Geetchie and Elvie. Now I know there’s a probable lesbian subtext to Last Kind Word Blues, I’ll be listening for other hints in it. I always liked John Jeremiah Sullivan’s piece Unknown Bards in Harpers’, where he talks about deciphering the line

    When you see me comin’ look ‘cross the rich man’s field
    If I don’t bring you flour I’ll bring you bolted meal

    That whole song reminds me of what little there is to love about the rural south, and why that’s bound up in the ghost culture and music of the people who built it.

    What you do to me baby, never gets out of me

    I may not see you after I cross the deep blue sea

    Above every entrance to our house, the beadboard ceilings are painted Gullah blue to keep the folks out in the cemetery from wandering in and stirring up shit. I don’t know if the last white owners painted them that way as an affectation, preserving that tradition for its own sake, or because they knew there are folks out in that cemetery who went decades without so much as a rock over their head because they were malicious bastards. Sinkers.

    When the weather’s warm enough, we sleep out on the enclosed porch with that green/blue ceiling. At one time I thought about painting it a pale metal gray or green gray, but it’s grown on me. If it keeps the ghosts out, it’s a bonus.

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  10. alex said on April 15, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Glad Ben Stein is firewalled. It would be a shame if his noxious gibberish received any wider circulation than among the fools willing to pay for it.

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  11. alex said on April 15, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Cooz, that pastel turquoise color is used on the eaves and porch ceilings of lake cottages and Victorian homes in the north. I had no idea it was a Gullah tradition.

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  12. coozledad said on April 15, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Alex:I always thought the Victorians chose that color because it stood up well against the accumulation of fly shit and mildew, or the pigment was cheap.

    But then a visitor to our house told us about the Gullah connection:
    Most of what we know about Gullah customs and traditions comes from studies done in the 1930s and 1940s before the isolation of the Gullah community began to break down. Some of the customs reported then have, no doubt, disappeared like the ring shout; but others, quite clearly, have not. Visitors to the South Carolina Sea Islands still find the Gullahs’ doors and windows painted blue to ward off witches and evil spirits.

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  13. Peter said on April 15, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I can’t poop too much on Ben because I REALLY loved Win Ben Stein’s Money.

    But, I can’t stop laughing at Ben and his friends who want to drain the Great Lakes so they can water their lawns. As Garrison Keillor, among others, have pointed out, by treaty each of the states and provinces that border the Great Lakes can veto any diversion plan, and Canada has made it plain that they’re never going to approve anything other than the status quo, so it’s so sad too bad for those folks.

    I had two clients who moved away from Marin County; one lived along the lake north of Milwaukee. He said Lake Michigan is no Pacific Ocean, but people in the Midwest have no idea what it is to be without ample potable water.

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  14. brian stouder said on April 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Regarding water and political nostalgia, I will revert to the old Ronald Reagan line, thusly:

    If some folks think their states are too dry, and they’d really prefer having more fresh water, then they can vote with their feet and move right on in to the Midwest.

    Houses are a bargain here, if you move ahead of the wave (so to speak)

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  15. Heather said on April 15, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Cooz, I love that color blue. I remember hearing the explanation during a visit to New Orleans. There’s a house here in Chicago painted that color and I always wonder if the owners know about the tradition. It doesn’t quite fit with the Midwestern landscape and mood, but oh well.

    I could use everyone’s good thoughts today. The vet is coming over this afternoon to put my cat, Angus, to sleep. He’s been getting sicker and sicker over the last couple months and I finally got a diagnosis of FIV last night. He’d been tested for that at the shelter where I got him years ago, but the vet said the results can occasionally be inaccurate. He is only eight or nine. But at least I’m getting to say good-bye.

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  16. Bitter Scribe said on April 15, 2014 at 10:19 am

    I wonder if Ben Stein is still a major lech? Apparently, back in the day he had quite a rep for bothering teenage girls.

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  17. brian stouder said on April 15, 2014 at 10:30 am

    No fun, Heather.

    Thirty + years ago, I took our old family dog Dusty to the vet, and a year or two ago I took our bunny Twilight into that good night – and it was no easier at all.

    I’d buy you an icy cold Diet Pepsi if I was there.

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  18. Sue said on April 15, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Good thoughts to you and Angus now and this afternoon, Heather.

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  19. Deborah said on April 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Conserving water is an art here in NM. We shower every other day and try to take really fast ones when we do (since I’m retired and don’t go to an office everyday I figure it doesn’t matter). We keep a bucket in the shower to catch some of the run off and then either use it to flush the toilet to save water on a couple of flushes during the day, or we take it outside to water plants. Same for in the kitchen sink I keep a bowl for catching water when I’m waiting for it to get either hot or cold. We try to run the dishwasher every other day but that doesn’t always work, since Little Bird likes to cook. And we hold off on laundry until there’s a big pile of it. I don’t do any of that when I’m in Chicago.

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  20. Dorothy said on April 15, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Lots of virtual hugs and comfort being sent to you, Heather. And to Angus. What a great name!

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  21. nancy said on April 15, 2014 at 11:13 am

    When Michiganians are feeling old and broke and past their sell-by date — which is to say, most of the time — someone can always cheer the room up by saying, “Water is the oil of the 21st century, you know.” I believe it is. I also believe that, like oil, we’ll have at least one and maybe more shooting wars over it. In the meantime, I also conserve, although not to the point that a Westerner does, or should. I never water our lawn and try to make common-sense choices in usage, but that goes back to being raised by two people who survived the Depression. The idea of running a washing machine to do two pairs of jeans is anathema to me.

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  22. Judybusy said on April 15, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Heather, I’m sorry you have say good-bye to Angus. Give him lots of kisses and ear rubs.

    I admit to watering the back lawn, but inadvertantly, as I use an overhead sprinkoer to water the flower beds. However, I think I will convert to soaker hoses, and just run the hose to them when I’m ready to water. I already use soaker hoses in other parts. This really makes sense now, because I’m getting a new patio installed, and an overhaul of other beds!!!! (Which means less lawn, anyway.)I’ve wanted a flagstone patio ever since I started drooling over glossy garden design books 25 years ago, and finally have the means to do it. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this project before, but a contractor’s been chosen, and a date set: April 28th. I am beyond thrilled.

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  23. Deborah said on April 15, 2014 at 11:25 am

    So sorry Heather.

    I had never heard of the Gullah culture before today. I love how I often learn new things here.

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  24. BigHank53 said on April 15, 2014 at 11:34 am

    One does wonder if Ben Stein, razor-sharp intellectual that he is, has estimated the price tag of an aqueduct capable of providing, say, 500,000 acre-feet of water a year, which is barely enough to make a dent in California’s water issues. (An acre-foot is one square acre covered in water a foot deep; this is an easier number to deal with than 325,861 gallons.) Given that an acre-foot of water weighs more than two and half million pounds, we’re looking at pumping something like 1.3 trillion pounds of water over the Rockies and then over the Sierra Nevada Range, too. Unless you feel like boring a tunnel under half of Colorado, all of Utah, and half of California, through several fault zones.

    California only needs the water for six months out of the year, too, so you’ll have to build everything twice as big as your first estimate, because you have to move the water twice as fast. The amount of water being moved is literally off the charts for pipe flow, and the amount of wall friction in a thousand miles of pipe is something else you’ll need scientific notation to calculate. Along with the price tag.

    For a smart guy, Mr. Stein is pretty stupid. On the other hand, it’s getting him a check from American Spectator, so what do I know?

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  25. brian stouder said on April 15, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Presumably they will end up doing the desalination thing…unless the Koch-heads don’t want to destroy the salt market

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  26. Charlotte said on April 15, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Gloria Naylor wrote a terrific novel about a woman returning to the Gullah island of her childhood — Mama Day. Can’t say enough good things about it but it’s been probably 15 years since I read it.

    Heather — so so sorry. We’ve lost three pets since New Year’s here, and it’s just heartbreaking. I did get a terrific new kitty at the pound who is keeping me company, thank goodness.

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  27. Julie Robinson said on April 15, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Heather, I’m so sorry to read about Angus, but I hope you will find solace in good memories of him, and the knowledge that you gave him a life he might never have had. Cry some good cleansing tears.

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  28. Sue said on April 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Here in Wisconsin we hear Arizona’s going to be taking our water. I’d like to form a cartel and plot an embargo, but I’m thinking that, once they find a way to get Canada and all that ‘international waters’ stuff out of the way, it will be sold at a ‘reasonable price’ to someone (real person or corporate person) with the correct political philosophy and a lot of cash, not necessarily in that order of importance.
    Milwaukee and Waukesha have been fighting over water for years. Waukesha is all ‘we need it, give it to us’ and Milwaukee is all ‘sorry to hear that, white flight’s a bitch, ain’t it’. Well, not exactly but that is kind of the foundation for this little disagreement. Waukesha is now on its third water issue mayor, having just booted out the most recent one, who promised to bypass Milwaukee and ran straight into a couple of buzz saws called science and policy. All I can say is thank God for Canada’s water rights and the international part of this whole thing. It will be the only thing protecting my lake for the foreseeable future.

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  29. Jolene said on April 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Man, the view out my window looks like November. Gray sky, cold rain falling, tree limbs bent by the wind. Shouldn’t I be looking out at sunshine and daffodils?

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  30. Julie Robinson said on April 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Jolene, we’ve got them, they’re just fighting their way through the snow.

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  31. Sue said on April 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Last year we set up a gravity irrigation system in our garden with the intent of using the water from our rain barrel. Sad to say that no matter how we strained it, the irrigation filter clogged up almost immediately every time.
    I don’t have a dishwasher and wash my dishes with the bare minimum of water: fill the sink 1/3 of the way and start washing dishes, using the rinse water to eventually fill the sink the rest of the way. I despair watching my relatives washing dishes with the faucet running the whole time. They don’t have a water bill so it’s ‘free’.
    This past winter my municipality asked citizens to run their water from one faucet at a trickle overnight because of so many burst underground pipes. Sure enough a few people read it wrong and ran their faucets full bore the whole night for a month and then were somewhat surprised at their bill.

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  32. Dorothy said on April 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    It’s pretty gray here today, too, Jolene. Our daffodils and (about-to-emerge) tulips are shivering I’m sure. I hope it’s only going to be for about 36 hours, this current cold wave.

    We had four trees cut down on our property yesterday, two of them because they were diseased, and the other two because they were too close to the space we had designated for our new garden and beekeeping shed. Mike walked the property with the tree expert last Monday night, and we thought we had it all set. He told the guy where the shed was going according to our city’s ordinances for backyard sheds. Mike was very unhappy when he got home, though, because the tree guys piled all the logs RIGHT IN THE SPACE WHERE THE SHED IS GOING. He called the owner, and got some b.s. story about “I didn’t charge you stack the wood because I thought you wanted it where the current firewood was stacked.” (they are round logs which we need to split – they are NOT ready to be put in the fireplace) Um, no, if you’d taken proper notes when you were here, you goofball, you would have known not to put it there. You were specifically told the shed was going to be built in that area.

    We are so weary of having to hold the hands of contractors who have done work for us – not just here but in several past residences, too. Are we unlucky or just plain dumb when it comes to communicating our instructions to these guys?!

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  33. Kim said on April 15, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Another term for that beadboard ceiling blue is “haint blue.” A friend’s porch ceilings are painted that color, which she (a true, no B.S. southern lady who is one of the best people I know) tells me wards off spiders and bugs by tricking them into thinking it’s the sky. “I don’t give a shit if the science says it’s not possible; it works,” is her report on it. There don’t seem to be any spiders or others taking up residence in the angles, which I clean out regularly on my porches. As soon as the pollen storm concludes I plan to give haint/Gullah blue a whirl. If the evil spirits stay clear, too, bonus.

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  34. Scout said on April 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Heather, all my heartfelt condolences to you today. Angus was a lucky guy. I’ve already sent word to Scout that Angus is on his way to play.

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  35. MichaelG said on April 15, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    My condolences, Heather.

    We may not have any water here in California but we have a consolation prize: a beautiful, sunny 80 degree day.

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  36. MichaelG said on April 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Should that comma between ‘beautiful’ and ‘sunny’ be deleted?

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  37. brian stouder said on April 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I like the comma right where it is (if you’ll forgive me all my parenthesis!)

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  38. Scout said on April 15, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I’m not positive, but I think you can click my professional page even if we are not “friends” on facebook. I posted some pics I took of the Blood Moon Eclipse. It was clear as a bell in Phoenix last night, and I was able to stay up until 1:00 to bask in the red moonlight. Even though these are not NASA quality, I’d love to share what I saw with my midwestern and back east friends. Let me know if the link doesn’t work.

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  39. crinoidgirl said on April 15, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Wow. I wish I could have seen that moon.

    Heather, I’m so sorry.

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  40. Jill said on April 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Thinking of you and Angus, Heather.

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  41. alex said on April 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    You have my sympathies, Heather.

    Cool page, Scout. It was sleeting here last night so if I’d looked at the sky I’d probably have holes in my corneas today.

    I put haint blue on the eaves of my screened porch and it makes the cobwebs stand out even more than they do against the muted khaki color elsewhere. To repel bugs, it needs to be applied as a lime wash, not as an exterior latex.

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  42. alex said on April 15, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I always wondered why CBS’ Sunday Morning show had to be tainted with the musings of Ben Stein (although he usually offers up his most innocuous stuff there; no major network will let him blame Barney Frank and black people for the collapse of the economy in 2008).

    Now ABC is adding token batshits to its lineup to prove its conservative bona fides to loons who most likely won’t be won back from FOX.

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  43. Deborah said on April 15, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Scout, those are great photos, I especially like the one with the long exposure. Cool. I now wish I had braved the possibility of a skunk visit and gone outside to see it.

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  44. Sherri said on April 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    OK, this is a very long article, and may not be interesting to anyone outside of the Bay Area, but if you want to understand the economic history that leads up to the Google Bus protests in San Francisco, this article is the place to go:

    It focuses on SF, but addresses issues on the peninsula, too. The one major omission, which would have made the article about twice as long, is education. School funding in California is arcane but also important to understand in evaluating the actions of politicians. For example, the article faults Mountain View for resisting Google’s attempts to build housing near Google, but doesn’t mention that Google is located in a special tax district and that their property taxes don’t go to local schools. This wasn’t a special deal for Google; that was true of that area long before Google. Until very recently, the school district in Mountain View, despite being in the heart of Silicon Valley, required supplemental funding from the state for schools because the property tax revenue available for schools didn’t meet the minimum funding level.

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  45. brian stouder said on April 15, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Sherri – I’ll have to check out your linked article later, but last week when I sat down with our state representative* and gabbed with him about public schools, he made a point I had not heard before (although subsequent reading shows me that it is a well-established point). He indicated that a major, major problem here in Indiana is the expanding use of TIF districts – TIF being Tax Increment Financing for urban redevelopment.

    I had heard of TIFs – Mitch Harper used to write about them on his blog – and I viewed them as innovative and effective. What they do is dedicate the proceeds of taxes from a specific area for the redevelopment of that area, with the nifty bonus that the redevlopment increases values and therefore the taxes collected. Indeed, they can borrow money against the projected increase in value, to finance the improvements.

    But when they set up the law, they didn’t include any sunset provisions; TIF districts have no defined path back into the general mix! So here in Fort Wayne, 20 or 30 million dollars is sitting in an account, which came from taxes, but which CANNOT be used for schools or infrastructure or streets, or anything else outside the TIF district it came from.

    The representative told me that he’s hoping that they fix that(!) – and that Indianapolis is much further down that road (locked up tax proceeds owing to extensive TIF proliferation) than Fort Wayne is (we have 14 TIFs in the Summit City)

    *we met at Starbucks, which was the first time I set foot in there

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  46. LAMary said on April 16, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Sorry about Angus. You and he were very lucky you found each other and shared his lifetime. All my pets have taught me things I would never have figured out myself and have been nice enough to be good company at the same time.

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  47. Sherri said on April 16, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Brian, that’s very similar to the situation in Mountain View. When I was involved with school funding down there, Mountain View actually had two of those districts: a redevelopment area downtown, and the area around a big park that had been built on top of an old landfill. The area around the park is where Google is. The point of that area was to provide for maintenance of the park (which also has a golf course) and the development of the area around the park. The development around the park, however, has been almost exclusively big office parks for tech companies.

    Jerry Brown managed to sunset RDAs recently, but the arrangement for the park area is technically different, so it didn’t sunset.

    Of course, if Prop 13 hadn’t destroyed property tax revenues, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Mountain View has a lot of rental property, which doesn’t get sold often, and property tax assessment increases are severely limited until a sale resets things. When we sold our house in Mountain View, the new owner’s property tax bill was more than double what ours had been.

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