Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Robbinsdale School Buses

The time is drawing near for a decision. (next Monday)  Here are some links for your curiosity.  This is one of the many times that I am thankful that I am not on the school board !!!

Please reply here with your thoughts or contact your board member, whichever side you are on.  You can be guaranteed that the Union, employees and some "nervous" parents are...  Only ~5 days and counting.

Board Contact Info
TC Daily Planet  Nearing Vote
CBS Parents Fight Privatization
Channel 12 Vote on March 5th
Sun Sailor Save $2.4 million in first yr
Sun Sailor Take a close look at figures
Sun Sailor Keep current system
Star Tribune Green Up Buses

Monday, February 27, 2012

MN Right to Work Amendement?

Being a somewhat independent minded capitalist, I really need some of my more progressive socialistic readers to help me understand why anyone except the Union management would be against a Right to Work amendment. The idea that one has to pay Union dues in order to work at an employer seems so anti-American that I don't understand it.

I am more than happy to write out a check to any group that is providing value for me. However the idea of being forced to write a check just to get a job would send me looking for another career or employer. What am I missing here?

Star Tribune GOP Weighs Cost of Union Battle
MN Post Right to Work

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Voter Photo Identification

Oh no, I apparently share a common opinion with Gov Walker of Wisconsin.  Maybe I am slipping off my fence toward the Conservative side.
"Walker’s spokesman Cullen Werwie said, “Requiring photo identification to vote is common sense – we require it to get a library card, cold medicine, and public assistance. Gov. Walker will continue to implement common sense reforms that protect the electoral process and increases citizens’ confidence in the results of our elections.”"

Now I understand that the Liberals fear that some small portion of the population that is so far removed from the norm will not have a photo ID.  And due to this they will not be able to vote if these laws pass.

How can someone not have a photo ID and function in this society?  Do we really think these off the grid folks would stand in line to vote?  Do we really want someone that off the grid voting?  What is your rationale for thinking that flashing a photo ID is so wrong? (and no...  "It is a Republican conspiracy" is not a rational argument)
I linked to the MN Publius sight where I particpated in the comment section.

MSNBC Courts will be Busy
MNPublius Woman does not have Right

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our Immense Achievement Gap

Well J thinks this document is important, so let's give it a prime time spot.  I have not read the 128 pages yet...  However I will peruse it when I get a moment .

In the mean time, J please tell us your interpretation of the document.

American Experiment: Our Immense Achievement Gap

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Judges, Politics, Boards and Licenses

I found this an interesting article given our past discussions regarding "abortion" and "Patient/Doctor" rights.  And our discussions regarding tort reform and unqualified people making decisions.  Should a law judge be making this call? What do you think is really happening here?  Justice, politics, something else?

MSNBC Kansas Dr to Lose License?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

MN HF1858 Levy on Even Years

The Republicans are apparently confusing me again.  Often they say they want control kept at the local level...  Yet here some State yahoos wants to tell the locals when they can hold their local levy votes...  Thoughts?

Parents United: HF1858 Alert 
Parents United: At the Capitol

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Oops, Learning, Word of Link

So I lost a long comment I was writing when the public wireless I was using apparently timed out or something.  I hit publish and the comment went POOF...  After cursing silently I went frantically to my Blogger account in hopes that somehow it had been saved.  Unfortunately it was GONE.

However as I incessantly tell my girls, every mistake may be a learning opportunity.  If one wastes the opportunity, then it is just a waste/error that is likely to be repeated.  You can be assured they roll their eyes at that one.

In this case I learned 2 excellent lessons.  First, make sure I have an internet connection before I hit publish.  And if not, I need to copy it off to a document file for later posting. Secondly, during the comment search and thanks to a new comment layout in the software, I learned that I have a "SPAM" folder in their system.  Apparently it would put the suspect comments into the folder and send me a notification email only sometimes.

And the winner for the most suspect comments that were being held for my review is ...  "Laurie"  In fact, they even went back to the days when she was known as Nokomis...  There were also a few for J.  Well, I marked the non-spam comments as such and deleted the rest.  Also, I will start checking the folder every so often to ensure no more go to that black hole. (Sorry Laurie... By the way, how did you get on the naughty list???)

Finally, as I ask every so often.  When you are interested in sharing G2A or one of our dialogues, please take advantage of the new buttons under the posts to place a link on your Facebook or Twitter account.  I have been using the Facebook button and it works great.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why are Poor People Poor?

 Awhile back we had a discussion regarding what is poor? And why are poor people poor? G2A American Poverty ?  A couple of proposed definitions for poor included:
"Income so low that you have a hard time providing for basic needs. (ie food, clothing, shelter, utilities, school supplies, etc) For a family of 4: shelter could be a two bedroom apartment." G2A 
"The poor are those without wealth. Wealth is the ability to provide things to people, including food, clothing and shelter, but also things like recreation, religious experience and education." J.
Now I think we understand that bad luck or acts of God can leave almost anyone destitute. (ie long term disability, sudden death, mental illness, etc)  Assuming these were not to be included, since we were looking primarily for individual related causes. (ie something within peoples control)  Here were some of the ideas that were generated:
  • bad choices / irresponsible behaviors
  • divorce / single parent household
  • having more children than they afford
  • limited education
  • government incentives
Please note that race, nationality, sex, religion, starting point, etc are not included here.  This is because even though they may unfortunately impact employment and income in some cases, there are plenty of people from all of these categories that seem to be doing very well for themselves.  So even though it may be harder for some folks, there are plenty of folks that have worked, saved, invested, educated, etc their way out of poverty.  (and some "well to do's" that have lost it all)

This topic is important to me because the academic gap between poor kids and non-poor kids is huge.  Also, I am tired of Race being the typical excuse?  I work with people from many countries, economic classes and nationalities, this is not the cause. However I keep thinking that the above reasons certainly wouldn't make a very good resume if someone was applying for the job of Parent. 

So if this the case...  I am not sure how "society" can compensate for these factors, or if we want to.  Here we go again.  Thoughts?

By the way, you will find the Hennepin County household income distribution graph in the What is Middle Class link. In case you were curious how many households live on <$??K.

G2A Poor Kids: Stupid or Unlucky?
G2A Ready for Kindergarten?
G2A That Stubborn Achievement Gap
G2A What is the Middle Class
G2A Teachers Grade Parents
G2A Conservatives Stumped ?
G2A Blame vs Contributions

Monday, February 13, 2012

Childcare Union Dues News

Here is one of those common sense bills that should not be needed, yet it might be needed.

Star Tribune MN House Prohibits Dues Deduction
Sessions Daily House Passes...

The idea of Unionizing this group of Private Business Owners to lobby for bigger State subsidies seems strange enough as is.  Then the point that surely someone will request that the Union gets their cut directly from the State goes into the Twilight zone level.

If these business owners value the Union, I am sure they will happily write them a check...  maybe...

And if you did not know another Union was mobilizing to help raise your tax bill.  Here are some links.
MN Childcare Union Site
Childcare Freedom Act
AFSCME Childcare
MPR Childcare Freedom Misleads

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Democrats Block Tort Reform

So much for lower cost healthcare in MN, Gov Dayton apparently is anti-Tort reform.  The most interesting thing I found in his strange ranting comments was that he seems to truly believe that Tort reform efforts are there only to "protect company profits".

Maybe this is a key difference between Democrats and Republicans.  The Republicans realize that companies do not pay for frivolous lawsuits or excessive settlements, we the customers do.

The actuaries and accountants of insurance and other companies determine the probable costs / risks of doing business, and set their prices and premiums appropriately. (ie within market range) Therefore flood insurance premiums are higher in flood plains and malpractice insurance is higher where the settlements are likely larger or more prevalent.  And since every company has to account for the risk, they all raise their rates.

Ironically people like myself have no problem paying the extra 10, 20, 30+% on our insurance premiums.  It is the poor folks that the Democrats claim to defend that are most hurt by failing to pass Tort reform.

The link to ALEC is below, though I do not know if the GOP bills were aligned with ALEC or not.  Nor do I know if ALEC's agenda is good, bad or indifferent.  I just know that if you want costs to drop significantly, we need serious TORT reform in the USA.


KARE11 - MN Gov Dayton Vetoes Tort Reform
MinnPost - Dayton Veto / Stinging Criticism
ALEC Tort Reform Boot Camp
State Lawsuit Climates

Thursday, February 9, 2012

NCLB Waivers

In case you missed it, apparently President Obama and his Administration have decided that No Child Left Behind is just too lofty of a goal.  And it is putting too much stress on their friends in the Teacher's Unions.  And they think they know better than Congress and the current law that is in force.  I wonder if this will go to court?

A simple test to determine if this is a good thing....  Does the Teacher Union support it?  If so, it bodes good for poor Teachers and terrible for unlucky Students...  This Ed MN statement almost made me ill... "Minnesota is already well on its way to implementing the goals of the waiver program: rigorous academic standards, high-quality teacher evaluations and extra support for the schools where students are struggling the most."  I've seen the results of the "high quality teacher evaluations" first hand and am not impressed...

How can an evaluation be useful in any way if the Principal can not discipline or fire the poor performers? Or reward the best performers?

Past G2A NCLB Posts
MN Dept Ed: NCLB Waiver Workgroup
MN Dept of Ed: Q&A
Education MN Statement
MPR Concerns and Praise
CNN 10 States Freed from some NCLB Reqts
FoxNews NCLB waivers let Team Obama Seize Control
FoxNews States should Do More
HP NCLB: 10 States Receive Waivers

RAS Bus Drivers & Outsourcing

Thought you may find this opinion piece and these other links interesting.  It looks like Howard may have worked as a service employee for the district, which may explain his viewpoints somewhat.

I am empathetic to Howard's opinion, however I am hard pressed to see Transportation as a required core competency of RAS.  By this I mean, an "expertise" that RAS needs to keep inside and hone to accomplish their mission.  Where as Administrators, Counselors and Teachers are more likely to fit that role.

I would guess that Transportation, Food service, Janitorial, Grounds maintenance, Human Resources, Information Technology and any other positions that do not directly interact with the Students and Parents would be potential candidates for Privatization.  In fact they probably should be outsourced, often they are in private businesses.

On further consideration, I wonder if the RAS Board could get another District's Administration to take on our RAS Administration's duties in addition to their own?  Just think we could pay the other District some, and move even more money to the classroom and out of the ESC.  What an interesting thought?  Maybe Wayzata, Hopkins, other?

Sun Sailor: Howard's Opinion
MN Fair Economy Rally
Facebook Say NO site
RAS Retiree List

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

China Factories, Foxconn & Apple

Per our previous discussions...  What would you do for a raise?

Also, note that Foxconn is apparently a Taiwanese owned company.  Apparently using the cheap labor in China.  Interesting...

FoxNews Suicide over Compensation Dispute
CNN Foxconn Video Report
CNN Foxconn Secrecy
Wiki Foxconn Suicides
Foxconn Web Site

Obama: Hypocrite, Realist or Other?

I am short on time, so I'll ask what are your thoughts regarding Obama's most recent reversal.  Is he learning as he goes and adjusting?  Or is he just wishy washy?  Or something else?

I thought of the Untouchables movie as a I considered any Politician turning down all that funding when their opponents are accessing and using it...  Apparently both sides are willing to have the special interests drive our society.

HP Obama Reversal
Reuters In shift, Obama
WP Obama Broken Promise
Untouchables: Knife to a Gun Fight

Friday, February 3, 2012

RAS Transportation and More

Well folks I skipped by the RAS stuff so fast, I am going to touch on it again. RAS Info 30Jan12  Especially since it looks like more interesting stuff is happening.  (Thank you lit'l birdie)

This Sun Sailor Transportion article was written by Jeff Priess. (RAS Executive Director of Business Services)  Now that is quite a title... May need 2 busn cards or some small print. (hahaha)

Now here is the link to Monday's 5:30 PM Busn Mtg Packet.  And here is the link to the 6 PM Board Work Session Packet.  Finally, here is the link to the Transportation costs analysis.   Approx $10,250,357 in reduced Expense and Capital over 4 years !!!!  I may have to make some time to stop by and listen in at ~7:15 PM Monday night....  This could be a very interesting mtg.  And they will even top it off with a STEAM update at ~8 PM.

So my questions are:
  • Should our bus drivers be applying for jobs at First Student or will the Board find some way to justify keeping Transportation in house?
  • Where are the additional savings from selling off the bus garage property? (and maybe ESC) Or did I miss them?
  • Was anyone surprised that the RAS transportation costs were historically more than the state avg?  Remember that I used to have 6 buses passing in front of my house each day.  Thankfully that has been reduced to 4 now. (ie RSI and the normal 3)
  • Finally, has anyone heard if RSI and STEAM are going to share a bus route or if gain one more bus next year?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

American Healthcare Cost Dirvers

Well that last blog must have been too long for people to read, so let's simplify it.  American heathcare is incredibly expensive, for many people the access is pretty weak and quality varies.  J. believes that government is a key cost driver and I disagree as often is the case.  Here are some causes we discussed previously (blue) and some new ones.  Thoughts?  What am I missing?
Short enough?