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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Road Apples, #145

Blogging Units...I seem to have more of them these days, well the last few days excluded.  Like most things in life (that matter), energy for pontificating seems to wax and wane over time.  A kind of circadian rhythm if you will for the mock writer.  Anyway, I think it has more to do with that fact that, with my new surroundings and doings, I seem to have found the spaces in time where this kind of endeavor fits.  No complaints.

Scranton School proof positive that some things never, ever change.  Apparently the hiring of temporary maintenance workers still falls under the privilege of Board Directors, or so says an article in yesterday's Sunday Times.  Being elected to the Scranton School Board means that you help run the district; it doesn't mean that you have the power to run an employment agency for your friends and relatives.  Ah, the hiring of relatives, now that is a story in and of itself.  As I have said here time and time again, no relative of a board member or a senior administrator should ever be hired in the Scranton School District, period.  Doing so simply perpetuates an inbred sense of entitlement and embellishes the district's well-earned reputation for graft.  "But what if a relative is the best candidate for a job?" is the cry that is heard by those who benefit from such activities.  My response?  There is no way to actually prove that in a meaningful way, but I can prove that nepotism and cronyism has harmed the district.  As I said, something never change.

Boards and Committees...The Scranton Times is all over newly in office Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright's actions surrounding various boards and committees.  In some instances he has asked sitting board members to resign (they by and large said "no") and in others, he can simply make the change unilaterally.  I'll also note that fellow blogger Tom Borthwick was recently appointed to one of these boards by the Mayor.  Tom's a good guy and I know he will do well, so I don't have an issue with his specific appointment, but I do have an issue with the process as a whole.  Why? Because despite it being 2014, this is still yet another example of political patronage at work.  What was the criteria that the Mayor used to fill these positions, other than that of "political supporter"?  That's a trick question, I know.  This is why many cities are so poorly run.  There is a better way:  how about establishing criteria for board membership, advertising for the openings, and conducting public interviews?  I'm not so foolish as to think that politics can be removed from the process of filling board and committee vacancies, but at least the process can be more transparent.

By the way, if you see a connection between the last two segments, above, then you get a gold star.  There is a common thread:  politicians and their public-sector sense of entitlement.

Anthracite Coal...Having a wood/coal burning stove is proving to be quite the exploration.  Biggest lesson?  Despite it being called "coal", coal does not, in fact, always want to burn.  I think it would actually prefer not to burn, truth be told.  Now when you do get it to burn it's pretty neat (I think the temperature gets close to 900 degrees when it is going good), but getting it to that point?  It's kind of like trying to potty train a toddler.  So far, in maybe three weeks of running the stove, we have had one true, complete burn-down to the point of having to re-fire it.  Two other times it got close to going out, but I was able to salvage the last few embers and get it going again.  Luckily I have about 3/4 of a ton of "nut" coal from which to play with for the balance of the heating season.

Arizona, the post-script...Some talking heads on the political Left are dismissing the veto by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer of the controversial pro-discrimination bill as being nothing more than "business really rules things", as if it actually wasn't much of a victory against discrimination.  I disagree.  Doing the right thing will almost always get you criticized, and no where is that more true than in the world of politics.  The very fact that folks on both the Right and Left fringes were critical of the decision is pretty much proof that Governor Brewer did the right thing.  To imply a motive in this case is simply a waste of time; at best, you can go by what she noted in her signing statement (see HERE), that basically says that this was a bad law that was designed to solve a non-existent problem.  Governor Brewer did the right thing, period.  Everyone needs to move on now.

But I'm not going to move least for a moment.  A letter to the editor writer in a recent edition of the Scranton Times tried to defend the Arizona pro-discrimination bill by making comparisons to NAZI party members asking a Jewish baker to make little swastika cupcakes.  I kid you not.  As if there are hordes of NAZIs just waiting to have a cupcake party near you.  The reality is this:  if you want to do business in the public square, then you have to serve the public, meaning all the public.  Even the public you may find politically offensive.  In the case of the NAZI cupcake party, well as long as Adolf's Admirers were paying good American money for the cupcakes, then I say "have at it Jewish baker!".  That's not to say that I'd do a very good job making the cupcakes.  Oh, and note that a backward swastika is actually an ancient symbol for peace (reference HERE).

Now I'm not going to end this posting on a sour note by talking about NAZIs, so here's a picture of a cat that looks like Adolf Hitler (known as a Kitler).

(Yes, the cat's name is Adolf.  For more cats that look like Hitler visit

1 comment:

Tom Borthwick said...

Hey Steve!

I was running for office while Bill was, so I didn't run around putting up signs or knocking on doors for him. I was an open supporter, but there are a lot of other hard workers out there who haven't been put on boards.

In my case, I feel I was asked because I'm a total geek. For the past two years, I have been e-mailing Bill any kind of research or innovative articles I've found on municipal finance, revenue, and even parking. Jon Geeting over at Keystone Politics has pointed me to a lot of great information over the years.

I honestly believe Bill picked me not because of patronage or quid pro quo, but rather I will work.

Those are just my thoughts. God knows I've been rejected 100 times for other posts! :o)