Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Invitation to film debut - "A Watershed Mentality"

I received an announcement about the premiere of “A Watershed Mentality.”

From the announcement:

It is a PBS TV documentary about the problems of sediment and erosion in the Maumee River Basin. This project was undertaken by the Fort Wayne City Utilities, the Allen County (IN) Partnership for Water Quality, and WFWA PBS TV-39. This was partly funded through a grant from the Great Lakes Commission and the USDA.

The Maumee River is the largest tributary and watershed in the Great Lakes and deposits millions of cubic yards of sediment into Lake Erie yearly.

Sedimentation and erosion are not unique to the Maumee River; it plagues most all of the tributaries of the Great Lakes. The nature of sedimentation in our waterways impacts the lives of many people within and beyond any given watershed. The overhead of remediation and cleanup of the sediment alone is quite costly.

The combination of various non-point source pollutants bond to the soil and exacerbate the already vexing problem of cleanup. These contaminants lead to other water quality issues such as: algal blooms; expensive dredging; loss of habitat and added treatment of drinking water.

On behalf of the other agencies and myself, I invite you to join us for the premiere of this documentary at the following venues:

May 31, 2007 – Cinema Center Tech theater at Indiana Tech , 1600 E. Washington Blvd., Ft. Wayne, IN. Meet and greet at 6:00p.m.; 1st showing at 6:30p.m.

June 14, 2007 – Univ. of Toledo/Lake Erie Center, 6200 Bayshore Road, Oregon, OH. Meet and greet at 7:00p.m.; 1st showing at 7:30p.m.

Please feel free to invite your neighbors, co-workers and friends about this event. The premieres are free and open to the general public. Seating and refreshments are limited, so plan accordingly.

For more information, please contact: Matt Jones at 260/484-5848 x 111 or email at We hope to see you there!

City Spending Updated

Well, at least the vote was 7-5 instead of unanimous for spending more of our tax dollars unnecessarily....

City Council approved $75,000 for Citifest, a non-profit organization that provides entertainment (festivals, concerts and parades) in downtown Toledo. Citifest is a good organization, but City Council said they had no where else to cut in the budget before imposing a garbage tax of $5.50.

Turns out, they did have places to cut and while they were willing to knock off $25,000 from the mayor's request of $100,000, this is still $75,000 that didn't need to be spent.

So, having the extra money from the garbage tax, they've now spent the first month's collection. Stay tuned - I'm sure this isn't the last update to our city spending.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Special Memorial Day Thank-You

Yesterday morning we woke to find that some kind person had put a small flag in every yard on our street.

The flags are on our street only and there isn't a note or indication of who provided them for us.

So, to our kind neighbor who took this action to help us pay tribute to those who've guaranteed the freedom to such a thing, many thanks!

And Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day

Please join in honoring Memorial Day across our great nation on Monday by observing a minute of silence at 1500 local time for remembrance and prayer. Flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, local time.

"[G]ather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime.... [L]et us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." --General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868

A overhead photo of graves from Arlington National Cemetary

"But fame is theirs - and future days
On pillar'd brass shall tell their praise;
Shall tell - when cold neglect is dead -
"These for their country fought and bled."

~Philip Freneau

General George Patton insisted, "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."

Founding Patriot John Adams said: "I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means...."

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost." - Arthur Ashe

"For love of country they accepted death..." ~James A. Garfield

"Decoration Day is the most beautiful of our national holidays.... The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms." ~Thomas Bailey Aldrich

"I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did." ~Benjamin Harrison

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reparations to Japanese victims in Guam

While this is covered in the comments under my 'random thoughts' post, I thought it important enough to move it to it's own post...

The House approved the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act 288-133. A link to the bill is here. The purpose of the bill is as follows:

The purposes of this Act are to—
(1) acknowledge the suffering of the residents of Guam as a result of the occupation of Guam in World War II by Imperial Japanese military forces;
(2) acknowledge the steadfast loyalty to the United States of the residents of Guam as a result of the occupation of Guam in World War II by Imperial Japanese military forces;
(3) compensate surviving relatives for the deaths of residents of Guam as a result of the occupation of Guam in World War II by Imperial Japanese military forces;
(4) compensate persons who themselves suffered personal injury (including rape and malnutrition), forced labor, forced march, or internment as a result of the occupation of Guam in World War II by Imperial Japanese military forces; and
(5) establish a trust fund to sponsor research and educational activities regarding the wartime occupation and liberation of Guam, scholarships, medical facilities, and other benefits for the people of Guam.

If you'd like to know who voted for/against this bill, you can check here.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that our congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur, voted to support this bill. What may surprise people is that Paul Gillmor also voted in favor. Other Ohio representatives who voted yes are: Stephanie Jones, Dennis Kucinich, Tim Ryan, Zachary Space, Betty Sutton, and Charles Wilson.

Those who voted no are: John Boehner, Steve Chabot, David Hobson, Jim Jordan, Steven LaTourette, Deborah Pryce, Ralph Regula, Jean Schmidt, Pat Tiberi, and Michael Turner.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will cost $130 million during the 2008-2012 budget cycle.

Isn't there a better way to spend tax dollars from U.S. citizens? And, if reparations need to be paid, why aren't our representatives telling the Japanese government to take responsibility for this?

I think this is atrocious!

We have guests!

Earlier this spring, a pair of ducks built a nest in the rocks on our shoreline of the Maumee Bay. This thrilled my husband, who loves all things in nature, especially creatures (except groundhogs - lol). However, it was clear that they'd abandoned their nest a couple of weeks ago, even though they were still hanging around. Hubby had hoped that they'd found a safer place to build a nest and lay their eggs - and it turns out, he was right.

As we looked through our vegetable garden last night, we discovered their 'safer place' was under our sage plant in the corner of our garden. The nest is situated between the sage and the chicken wire we put up to keep our recycled leaves inside the garden. There are eight eggs in the nest - and this pretty much explains why we kept seeing the papa duck waddling around inside the garden.

Of course, this does present a problem for us because there's no way to plant our squash, tomatoes or broccoli without seriously disturbing this nest or causing it to be abandoned. If you look closely at this second photo, you can see the white of the eggs near the bottom center of the garden. I don't think we'd even be able to pull out the chicken wire without disturbing the nest. So it appears that we're either going to find a new place for our tomatoes this year, foregoing all the other veggies - or forego our own garden entirely. But this seems a small price to pay for the pleasure of having baby ducks and watching them grow.

You don't think they'll come back next year, do you?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Random Thoughts

* There's been a lot of talk about the growing disparity between the rich and the poor...but I haven't seen anyone analyze the impact an aging population has on this 'disparity.' Older people tend to have more 'wealth' than younger ones - and with an aging population, it seems logical to have such disparity. Is it possible that no one has examined this because it wouldn't fit into a political agenda?

* When I attended college, the emphasis was on getting a job to help pay for my tuition, books, etc. Today, it seems like the emphasis is on getting college loans so you don't have to work while going to school. If this is really the case, are we doing a disservice to our students?

* Congress has passed a $2.9 TRILLION budget that they say does NOT include any tax hikes. But, if you let tax cuts expire, you're still raising taxes - how is that NOT a tax hike? And, by bringing forth the immigration/amnesty bill, they've actually relegated their budget to the back pages...

* The House approved the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act 288-133. The Act not only recognizes the suffering and loyalty of Guam during World War II, but it authorizes reparations for the descendants of those killed by the Japanese. Why are United States citizens, through their tax dollars, paying for people killed by the Japanese????

* Congrats to Kansas, the first state in the nation to adopt a “Google Government” database that will allow citizens to see all state expenditures. “Show Me the Spending” organization, consisting of 19 groups who lobby for such searchable archives in all states, is mostly responsible for pushing for this. Maybe we need a chapter here?

* A recent post on Toledo Talk about an upcoming Young Republican meeting along with Thomas Sowell's column on "The Anger of the Left" has really caused me to think about the future of political discourse. It's easy to understand that emotions can run high when people are passionate about issues...but the intense hatred toward people because they have a different opinion is something that I just don't understand. If you do, please let me know.

* Memorial Day is coming up - a day that we honor those who've died in the service of our country. Will you do anything in tribute to those who've guaranteed your freedoms?

Students protest because they failed test

Some of our high schools seniors protested in front of the administration building of the Toledo Public Schools yesterday - because they failed one portion of the Ohio Graduation Test and won't be able to graduate.

According to the article in The Blade, some of the students and their parents tried applying pressure yesterday to force the district to let seniors who failed the required exam walk across the stage.

According to the paper, 10% of the graduating students did not pass - which means that 90% did pass and can graduate. Of the 1,486 graduating seniors, only 295 took part of the test in March, which means that all the others had passed all portions of the test previously. The district says it will follow the rules, and not make an exception for these students, but some may be eligible for a waiver and, if so, can still graduate.

This article raises quite a few questions. What's the purpose of setting a graduation test and making passage required for graduation if you're also going to set up a waiver system to get around the test?

One of the protesters attends Scott High school and has a 4.0 gpa. Scott is one of the schools with 'honors' classes where you get an extra point for each grade (A=5 pts, not 4 and on down the line). So I wondered if this student with a 4.0 had taken honors classes - and, if so, why couldn't she pass her exam? If you're capable of earning a 4.0, do you just not take exams well or did you think that because you've got a 4.0 you didn't have study for the OGT?

And then I read, too, farther down the article that this is the third year these students have had to pass the exam - and I wondered what their scores were on the previous tests - were they showing improvements in their scores?

And then I worry about 'teaching to the test' - which is something I don't think should be done.

But I don't know that protesting their inability to walk across the stage was the right thing to do - those are the rules and they've been in place long enough for all the students to know about them. One student said, "“I didn’t pass the science part by seven points. I feel that it’s wrong."

Are these students and their parents suggesting that we ignore the rules because it makes them unhappy or prevents them from doing something that they want to do? Well - welcome to the real world where this kind of thing happens on a regular basis...perhaps this is good training for after graduation.

If there are problems with the tests - the administration or the preparation, etc. - then let's address them. But let's also instill in our students some personal responsibility for their own behavior along the way.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Interesting column from Ron Paul

Congressman Ron Paul does a weekly column on various topics of interest. I thought this week's column, primarily a response to the criticism of his statements during the South Carolina debate, to be quite interesting.

He lays out his belief that Congress abdicated its responsibility to declare war and that the U.S. should have never gone to war to enforce U.N. resolutions.

He also says:

"This week I plan to introduce legislation that will add a sunset clause to the original authorization (Public Law 107-243) six months after passage. This is designed to give Congress ample time between passage and enactment to craft another authorization or to update the existing one. With the original objectives fulfilled, Congress has a legal obligation to do so. Congress also has a moral obligation to our troops to provide relevant and coherent policy objectives in Iraq .

Unlike other proposals, this bill does not criticize the president’s handling of the war. This bill does not cut off funds for the troops. This bill does not set a timetable for withdrawal. Instead, it recognizes that our military has achieved the objectives as they were spelled out in law and demands that Congress live up to its constitutional obligation to provide oversight. I am hopeful that this legislation will enjoy broad support among those who favor continuing or expanding the war as well as those who favor ending the war. We need to consider anew the authority for Iraq and we need to do it sooner rather than later."

I do not yet know if I support his position - but I cannot fault his emphasis on abiding by the Constitution...if you'd like to read the full article, click here.

International Baccalaureates

Perhaps they're more common than we realize...

And you're wondering just where it is you've heard this term before? Well, Dr. Harner - who was being considered for the position of Superintendent of Toledo Public Schools - has a daughter enrolled in the IB program and wanted her to be able to continue her studies if they moved to this area. But the only IB program offered was in a Sylvania high school. TPS eventually decided to hire acting superintendent John Foley for the position.

According to a Wall Street Journal article (subscription may be required) public and charter schools are increasingly using IB programs as a way to challenge students and pull up test scores.

"Since 2000, ... growth in the number of high schools offering the program has been brisk, reaching 758 high schools this past academic year."

Private schools have used this program, which is more stringent than Advanced Placement courses, for years. However, most schools offering the program do not offer it to all students without some sort of placement or admission standards. In fact, according to WSJ, there are only two schools in the U.S. that teach IB to students of any level, but those students are selected by lottery.

The Journal says that the main obstacle to such offering is the cost - usually around $8,000 per year, along with payments for the exams and teacher training.

I'm not saying that TPS should immediately start such a program, but I do believe our school board should consider such programs as part of their educational programming.

There was even a school board in Pennsylvania that voted to end their IB program. Parents rallied to have it restored and won a pro-baccalaureate majority in a school board election last Tuesday. I can only wonder if there are lessons we could learn from them...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Armed Forces Day

Taken from an old Presidential proclamation, in honor of Armed Forces Day, traditionally celebrated the third Saturday in May:

The words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower written in 1953 remain true today: "It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world." On Armed Forces Day, our grateful Nation salutes the brave men and women who protect our country, defend freedom, and help make our world a better place.

During these extraordinary times, we are reminded that our achievements in peace and war stand upon the service and sacrifice of those in uniform. These brave men and women follow in the footsteps of previous generations who, since our Nation's founding, have stepped forward to defend our homeland and secure liberty for our country and our friends and allies. The members of our military exemplify the true spirit of patriotism -- a love of country expressed through a commitment to serve our Nation and defend our freedom. Their selfless dedication and determination are an inspiration to every American.

In difficult times, America has called on members of our Armed Forces to protect the democratic ideals on which our country was founded, and they have never let our country down.

Thank you to all those who serve - and to the families who support them!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

“The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.”

— Alexander Hamilton

Hat tip to The Patriot Post which also contains an interesting column, "The GOP - A Party in Distress."

Just a Thought or Two...

I can't help but wonder if any of our representatives in Congress bothered to think past the next election cycle when it comes to the fiscal impact of adding 12 million people to our social security/medicare system? (re: proposed agreement on illegal immigration)

Nope - probably not, as that would require logic, reason and common sense - all of which seem to be severely lacking in the realm of politics.


And what was Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis thinking when he said he will circulate a petition among Republican National Committee members to ban Cong. Ron Paul from more debates? Since when did the Republican Party become the party of censorship? Perhaps this is just another demonstration of how far party leaders have come from the core principles of our party.

If you don't like his positions, don't vote for him. But we defend a person's right to speak - especially when we disagree with them. Shame on you, Mr. Anuzis.

Love-Hate Relationship with Sweeps Weeks

Usually, I look forward to May and the sweeps - ratings periods for tv shows. All the favorite shows I like to watch do their season finales - some two-parters which give you something to look forward to in the fall. The shows tend to tie up any loose ends while interjecting a new twist for the next season. It's enjoyable and can certainly provide for an entertaining distraction from everyday work and obligations. This is the 'love' portion of the relationship.

As for the 'hate''s developed this year as a result of the local news shows which have sent me over the edge. I have yet to sit through a prime time show without doom and gloom coming up at 11.

If you actually paid attention, you'd find your children aren't safe, seniors aren't safe, YOU aren't safe...deep baritone voices using alliteration to scare you and hope that you're worried enough to tune in...

And then you couple that with the normal gloom and doom - if it bleeds it leads - approach to the regular news cast...and you'd think the world was about to end.

I quit watching the news casts quite some time ago because of this, but you can't avoid it during sweeps....which is too bad.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Quote of the Day

Warning or prediction?

“No free Government can stand without virtue in the people, and a lofty spirit of patriotism; and if the sordid feelings of mere selfishness shall usurp the place which ought to be filled by public spirit, the legislation of Congress will soon be converted into a scramble for personal and sectional advantages.” —President Andrew Jackson

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More frivolous spending - secret shoppers?

Well, according to many news reports today, our Mayor decided to spend $2,250 on secret shoppers to go into our city hotels and critique them. Of course, he chose a firm OUTSIDE the city to actually perform this service...

And he's using these secret shopper reports to issue citations from the Department of Neighborhoods.

But Carty didn't just hire secret shoppers and use their reports for citations - of course not. He personally delivered the citation to the hotel and then held a press conference.

Many people will praise his actions to 'clean up the city.' But many business people and others will see a mayor more interested in grandstanding. And then they wonder why people are leaving our city....

(BTW - I've updated my 'Tracking Spending' column to include this latest example of our mayor's lack of fiscal prudence.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spend, Spend, Spend

Well, what did you expect. If a politician or political body has money - they spend it.

Last night, Toledo City Council voted to spend $39,900 on flowers for the 'gateways.' Interestingly enough, Point Place, which is the major north-south gateway into the city from Michigan and my home neighborhood, doesn't have any special type of entranceway or beautification project. However, the Anthony Wayne Trail does and so do Cherry and Summit Streets downtown. So even if beautifying the city's entranceways is a good idea, the major entrances to the city seem to be neglected. If this money is truely to provide a pleasant view for people entering the city, perhaps the locations of planting should be revised.

Then there is the Labor-Management-Citizens Center which got another $42,886 for a total of $113,314. Now, the LMC is a really great organization and, when I was the Clerk of Court, I took advantage of their services. Both my unions and I were very pleased with the assistance they provided. But the idea that the city just budgets money for an organization has got to end. L-M-C provides a service, but it's a service that other entities can also provide. The city needs to issue an RFP and then enter into a contract with a firm or organization to provide such services. By just listing L-M-C as an item in the budget, the city avoids the need to bid out such services and get the best price for the citizens who are footing the bill.

Finally, there is Sister Cities. I appreciate the work that Sister Cities does. They help to foster good relationships and better understanding, especially in a growing global economy. But they are not a necessity when it comes to the duties and responsibilities of a city. I believe they deserve individual support from citizens and businesses, but not our tax dollars - especially if it means that we need to pay an additional tax (garbage tax) so they can have funding. They got $50,000, but council was told there was a small carryover from 2006 and that was the source of the funds.

Total for the night? $132,786!

It's evident that none of our administrators and elected officials are thinking ahead. They had a small carryover from 2006 of $334,000 and they're going to collect one more month of garbage tax than they originally estimated which is going to generate $364,500. So, obviously, they have money to spend - right? WRONG!

According to earlier estimates, city staff is projecting the 2008 budget deficit to be around $18 million. Wouldn't it make more sense to NOT spend money and set aside any "additional" funds to help cover the deficit for next year?

Ah - but that's not how you buy votes....
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