Sunday, August 23, 2009

This and That: The Weekend Edition, 23 August 2009

Here, for your reading pleasure, amusement, and edification are a collection of odd bits.

The Klash of the K Kouncilors

“Midnight, not a sound from the pavement…..” I never really “got” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, but that memorable passage from perhaps its best song is an apt description of day-to-day Brunswick (except for the DUI’s caught by our trusty police force.)

That said, “sounds from the pavement” should be increasing between now and November, at least in the political sense. Karen Klatt has decided to challenge Joanne King for her at large seat on the Brunswick Council. These two “K-ladies” on our Council will be going at it in a local edition of “Survivor – The Town Council Version.” (By the way….what’s the chances a Town Council of 9 would include 3 ladies whose last name begins with K?)

This should be an interesting “skirmish” and make for great viewing over the next few months. Previews have been running on Cable 3 for the past few years, and unless there’s some gimmick I’m unfamiliar with, the next Council will be absent one of the two, meaning that the run-up to the election will be the finale for the duo’s act.

Maybe someone should hide the catnip.

Bursting My Poor Little Bubble

It’s not as if I didn’t know this would happen. When I wrote here wondering if a change was in the wind, I made an unwarranted excursion on the imaginary axis.

I got over it real quick – as soon as I picked up the next day’s paper, in which the op-ed page read like a triple dose of the usual, as if to atone for the editorial gaffe of the prior day. If you look here before about noon Monday you’ll see what I mean. So much for hope and change, at least as it regards our local opinion page.

I did miss out on a real opportunity when I wrote, however. Ms. Hinton and Mr. Ruppert both exemplify what I had in mind when I began this blog. As such, they are personal heroes to me. They are “Other Siders” in the best tradition.

I’m going to think about an award to give to such rare individuals. I’d be happy to have your suggestions.

30% Deficit Growth; Crank Up The Printing Presses!

A document entitled: “Updated Summary Tables,” issued in May of this year by OMB, provides useful info on the FY 2010 Federal Budget. I reported on this document earlier. You can download the document here.

If you do, be sure to ‘earmark’ the file “for historical reference only.” Table S-1 on Page 3 shows the Federal Deficit over the next ten years totaling $7.1 TRILLION, or $7,100,000,000,000,000,000.00. Give or take.

That figure is already hideously obsolete. We learned on Friday that the deficit total should be revised upward to more than $9 TRILLION.

That’s an increase of 30% in just 3 months! And they say that health insurance premiums are increasing at unaffordable rates???

(As an aside, the US annual GDP is about $14 TRILLION. That's the size of our entire economy, so you get some sense of scale as to what the deficit is.)

If I were you, I wouldn’t take that $9 TRILLION figure too seriously either. It doesn’t include the estimated $1.6 TRILLION cost of the proposed health care reform legislation, and we all know how good the Government is at ‘estimating’ things, especially when they’re selling an idea. It assumes (another favorite) ‘revenues’ in FY 2019 more than double those in FY 2009, which were down by about 15% over the prior year. But hey, as anyone who has been watching the news knows, government revenue is up everywhere. It is, isn’t it?

Why worry. The really fun part about being in Washington is that if there isn’t enough money to do what you want, you can always print more.

Stella, make a note to call my broker tomorrow, and ask her to find out who makes the ink they use to print money. I want in on the action before anyone else finds out.

MEA Scores for Brunswick: Same Old, Same Old

There was an item in this week’s Forecaster that described Maine Educational Assessment results for our local area.

These words about Brunswick’s results caught my attention:

"Our comparison at every grade level, grades three through eight, it's up one point or down one point," Bartlett said. "And so, it's not statistically significant unless you get four, five or six points up or four, five or six points down ... We're at or above the state average. I say that every year, and it doesn't seem to change."

So, while per student costs in Brunswick are up by about 40% in the last four years or so, and teachers’ contracts continue to guarantee generous raises in advance, with no performance or accountability measures, our students continue to tread water in the pool of mediocrity.

Maybe closing two schools, building a new one, and restructuring when and where elementary students move around will prove to be the secret answer for finally improving results.

Yeah, that’s it. It must be. That’s why we’re doing it, right???

Elite Lawyer’s Club

File this one under “I’d like to be a fly on the wall at these meetings!”

One of those little “On the Move” entries in the Sunday Portland Paper included the item below. I suppose the irony might be a bit too obscure for many, but it’s what tickled me.

Terry Garmey, a partner at Smith Elliott Smith & Garmey, was admitted into the Inner Circle of Advocates, an invitation-only group, limited to 100 lawyers of excellent character and integrity. To qualify, members must have tried at least 50 personal-injury jury trials and won at least three verdicts in excess of $1 million or one verdict in excess of $3 million.

And in related thoughts, one wonders whether F. Lee Bailey will stop by on one of his many trips to our area, and recommend that they rename the group “John Edwards Inner Circle.” Maybe he could arrange as well for the Obama administration to send a guest speaker to discuss lowering the cost of health care and how tort reform doesn’t play a part in the discussion.

Follow-up Fiscal Sanity Tour Info

When I wrote here on Wednesday about the event I attended, I promised to provide links to the presentation material once I got them. Ever the faithful correspondent, I am reporting in to do so.

You can find Mr. Bixby’s presentation here.

And Mr. Walker’s presentation here.

I commend both items to you.

Waxman-Markley Cap and Trade Effects

I’m probably wearing out my welcome when it comes to providing detailed information, but for those of you who wonder what the effect of the proposed “Cap and Trade” legislation will be on us, there is some information readily available. The Heritage Foundation has issued a two page summary of the effects specifically for us here in Maine.

It’s only two pages, and you can find it here. Be sure to click on the “print this page” link at the top of the page.

See you soon, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. (At the moment, the creek thing seems pretty iffy, but we'll see.)

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