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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Road Apples, #157

Rob Lowe's DirectTV Commercials...are actually really well done, at least as far as commercials are concerned.  Here's "scrawny arms Rob Lowe"...

I do have a suggestion:  Hippster Rob Lowe.  It could go something like this..."Hi, I'm Hippster Rob Lowe, and I only watch the television on this retro black-n-white set from 1976.  I also only get three channels, sometimes."  Hippster Rob Lowe could have an iconic beard, black glasses and of course be wearing a sweater vest.  Think Mumford and Son, or the guy half of Pomplamoose.

Reason #126 Why Planning a Wedding When You Are Older is Complicated...Attempting to explain why you don't want your DJ to use props and a disco ball, this despite the fact that virtually all the videos he shows you feature, you guessed it, props and a disco ball.  No props.  No disco ball.  No chicken dance.  No funny hats.  Just good music.  Now I may give, just a little, and allow the electric slide (if, for no other reason than the fact that I can actually do it).  But that's it.  Maybe.

Bloggers:  Want to dramatically increase your number of hits?...Just mention a local politician in your posting titles.  Trust me, it actually works.  I have metrics to prove it.

Lackawanna County Commissioners Race...As best I can tell, my Facebook friend Kevin Haggerty is no longer running for county commissioner, a fact (well at least I think it's a fact) that is somewhat disheartening.  As I've note before in this space, Kevin is genuinely crazy, and I mean that is the best of ways...I really do.  He's not the the typical political hack that you get in these parts, as he speaks his mind even when it involves being critical of his own party.   The current two majority county commissioners?  They look like walking billboards for everything that's wrong about local governance.  One need only look at the utter bashing each gave the other...when they were running as opponents...that magically turned into a love fest the moment they became a "team".  Sincerity anyone?  I guess all those old campaign flyers were just lies.  Anyway, and not to belabor the point, but I do hope that Kevin returns to elected office one day, as the area need more leaders like him (and less like the current country crew).

Speaking of Political Insincerity...we have the concessions offered by the Scranton Fraternal Order of Police, as negotiated by a Scranton Mayor well known for being a pal of the police union, Bill Courtright.  Now I don't blame the police union for negotiating a good deal for their members, as that's what they do.  However, I do blame the Mayor for pushing an agreement that is actually pretty far from being full of concessions.  Sure, the union did give on some points, but they also "got" on several others.  Funny, but I'm thinking that the nature of these negotiations, what with Scranton being distressed for longer than Justin Bieber has been alive*, was for one party to just "give".   My favorite anti-concession?  Allowing a police department leader to spend a day a week, on the taxpayer's dime, to conduct union business.  Smooth Mayor Courtright, smooth.   At best this agreement will forestall the inevitable even further, a trick which Scranton's political leaders are (in)famous for doing time and time again.  This agreement will not significantly sure up the police pension fund, which is so dramatically under-funded that it is practically insolvent.  As I have said time and time again Scranton is already bankrupt; all that's missing is the formal, legal designation.  Oh, and let's see what the true NET savings are for this agreement, as well as what the city gets from the infamously hard-nosed firefighter's union.

Speaking of Unions...I read recently in the Scranton Times that two local teacher's unions are involved labor disputes.  Another sad state of affairs, with well represented public employees who enjoy better-than-average (for NEPA) wages and benefits facing off against ambitious but mostly incompetent local politicos and their connected lawyer friends.  No wonder the unions win more than they loose.  It's also, by the way, the only reason why I can understand the need of teachers to be in a union, namely because in the absence of that kind of power they would subject to all manner shenanigans by elected school board members and their relative administrators.

Anyway, what's the solution?  I have one:  A single master contract for teachers, negotiated at a state level with the union(s) that sets wages and benefits for all teachers in Pennsylvania.  This kind of agreement would then have built-in geographic distinctions for salary so that teachers working in high cost of living areas would automatically make more than those in low cost of living areas.  Simple, huh?  Here are two reasons why it won't happen:

  1. Union leadership would balk at the prospect of the best contracts having to make concessions in order to meet the requirements of the new state-wide master contract.
  2. Local lawyers and politicians, now out of the labor negotiating picture (something for which they seem ill-equipped for anyway), would fight their loss of power.
Just an idea.

(*) "The Biebs" was born on March 1, 1994; Scranton was declared a distressed municipality on January 10, 1992 (citation HERE).


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