Category Archives: politics

Anything having to do with goverment, politics, or the overall state of democracy

You’ve got to be Kulon-joking…

Because free pays my mortgage.  Because free is what everyone is being asked to work for.  Because free in addition to the 3 days of pay I’ve already voluntarily given up…

From the Oregonian:

Kulongoski to teachers: work for free to keep schools open

by Harry Esteve, The Oregonian

Thursday February 19, 2009, 11:51 AM

Gov. Ted Kulongoski said today that teachers should be prepared to work without pay in order to keep schools open.

SALEM — Teachers should work some days without pay this spring to avoid early school closures, Gov. Ted Kulongoski said today as he laid out his plan to get the state solvent in the teeth of one of its worst-ever recessions.

“The only way we’re going to get out of this is if everybody contributes,” Kulongoski said at a morning news conference. As for teachers: “You do it without pay.”

The governor said he would lead by example. He said he will cut his $93,600 annual salary by 5 percent, and send the difference to the state school fund. He plans to take unpaid “furlough” days as well. He also said he would freeze salaries of state agency managers and other non-union workers, and that he would rescind step increases he approved earlier this year.

Those steps would save the current state budget about $6.2 million. If all state workers agreed to the same freeze it would save another $122 million over the next two years. That’s a token amount, given the size of the current state budget deficit, estimated at about $800 million.

But Kulongoski insisted on strict fiscal discipline over the coming months, despite the pain it might cause. He said he is not interested in tapping into the state’s reserve accounts, worth an estimated $800 million, because he expects the state’s financial problem to only worsen next year.

“I will veto any bill that attempts to raid those funds during this legislative session,” Kulongoski said.

Nonetheless, the governor said he thinks schools could stay open the full year with a combination of sacrifices by school employees and with extra money from the federal stimulus package.

While I voted for Ted and appreciate his willingness to hammer out some details in relation to schools and students,  I think this is a ridiculous proposal, if not bordering on illegal.  Are we asking police officers or firefighters to work for free?  People have already been laid off, every single one of the employees of my district have already sacrificed three days of day.  Which we were all happy to do for our district.

I can’t decide what’s worse, proposing that we lose up to 15 days of school (and pay) or being asked to work those days for free.  What do I get in return besides sacrificing days I could be working a second job for an actual paycheck?  Yes, I would be happy that students retain their seat time.  Yes, I would be happy that it would help our district, but at what personal cost to us?

I’m sorry, Teddy.  This is not well thought out. Not at all.

On a serious note…

With the rapid and consistent decline of the economy, the important of education is becoming more apparent… and it’s not looking good.  There is talk of the state denying payment to the school districts for 15 school days or even a whole month.

Getting out of school in May would be a change.  There has been consistent chatter around our school about what would happen if teachers would have to go without pay for a month.  Some are in precarious situations, some of my coworkers are the only working parent in their family and others, like Jess and I, both get our income from the school district.

In our district, we have already given up 3 school days (sadly, they were our snow days) which just from my pay alone, took a $600 pay hit.  I’ll let you plow through the math to see what 15 days or more would look like.

Sometimes it feels as though education is the punching bag sometimes.  The mantra that teachers earn too much, get too much vacation, have a job that is too easy.  All misnomers, I assure you.  But that’s not the worst part, that would be the rampant claims of “Education is important, we have to fund schools!”  I understand we’re taking a hit, but when you drown education, you can’t expect it to reach the already difficult goals (thanks, NCLB).

Ironically, this isn’t a gripe… more of a rant.  It is kind of astounding that there are billions given to business, in turn, these business buy a $87,000 rug which would easily fund two teachers for a year.  Not to mention the $1,400 garbage can that would be a hefty load of text books.  What does a $1,400 garbage can look like anyways?  I’d be afraid to throw stuff away in it.  I bet there is expensive garbage for that can.

Early summer?  Second job?  Keeping our jobs?

Who knows?

Just slightly daugnting.

Happy New President Day

First off, let me acknowledge that I realize that there are people who may read my blog who are not matched up with my politics, as it is their right.  What I post and write here is not meant to be offensive or demeaning just a smattering of myself.  That being said…

WHAT AN ELECTION NIGHT!

I have always hated watching early results of an election, they always start off skewed.  When I watched Kerry/Gore, Kerry would start off with a lead in a state and then it would shift.  Last night was the opposite, thankfully.  Jess and I went over to the house of one of our friends to watch the results and have some good food (of both I did plenty).  The East Coast results were coming in as planned but when I started to be reassured was when Ohio turned blue.  This was reinforced by Pratt’s text message saying that with the 207 electoral votes that Obama had, when the West Coast closes it is over.

And boy-howdy, was it over.  I was surprised how quickly the networks called the election for Obama.  I would have thought that they would string it out some more, lead us on a bit to boost up their ratings and their time to air ads.  I was wrong.  It wasn’t even a minute into eight o’clock that they had put the check mark onto Obama’s picture.  Wow.

After a round of campaign and fireworks, Jess and I went home.  While she got ready for bed I listened to McCain’s concession speech and then Obama’s victory speech.  I thought John McCain was humble and honorable in his speech, even to the point where he was telling his supporters to stop booing at the mention of Obama’s name.  (Thank goodness they didn’t let Palin speak, like she wanted to.)  The thought that got me was that if McCain had run a campaign based on principles like that, I think it would have been a much closer race.  Yet, he took the Roveian path of character assassination, mud-slinging, and avoidance of issues, which I think doomed his push for the White House.

Honestly (and even though I may take some grief for saying so), I don’t believe that the McCain that ran this campaign was the same McCain that ran eight years ago.  The person who I saw running again Bush had more Maverick leanings, was resolute on issues and ran a positive campaign even in the face of the outrageous and horrible things that were said about him.  But McCain sold out, he gave up what he appeared to be eight years ago for something that he thought the Republican base wanted… and he might have been right.  However, that’s not what the country wanted.  As cliche as it has become, the country did want change, almost to the point of a blood lust for change.  After the wrecking ball effect of this current administration, how could most people be happy with where we have ended up?

For me, this has been a remarkable experience.  Not only did I get to vote someone through the primary and then into the election (sorry Gore; sorry Kerry, I didn’t vote for you in the Primaries), but to see them win the presidency was astounding.

This all goes back to when I was a kid.  I remember sitting in the kitchen watching Clinton win, but even more powerful, I remember being seven and my mom taking me to see Dukakis speak in Portland.  I remember her trying to hold me up so I could see but she could only do it for so long, a Dukakis supporter lifted me on to his shoulders.  As well, I have an equally distinct memory of the Bush Sr. supporter who was behind us, smoking his cigarette with anti-Dukakis sign, yelling out during the speech.  It came full circle when I took my mom to the Obama rally on the Waterfront in Portland.  To be a part of the movement, that energy… it is nice to see a dividend.

For me, Obama and his campaign has felt different than any of the others.  Never before have I felt so enthusiastic for a candidate.  As well, I have never been motivated to donate to a candidate, let alone three times.  I hope that Obama can hold up to my feelings and the apparent feelings of those who voted for him.  There is a lot of expectation for the new president and there are a lot of hardships awaiting his swearing in… a lot of things to correct.  I hope that President Obama makes me proud for my vote and disproves all of the slanderous claims he’s had to face, and I hope he continues to do so with class.

I also hope that he survives his stint as President.  I have a firm belief that there are lot of racist wackos and nuts out there who would fondly talk of assassination.  The numbers that scare me too, it only takes one of those wackos.  And this plays into my theory that Obama seems like another Kennedy (yes, I realize I wasn’t around when Kennedy was) in our midst.  His ideas, his way of speaking maybe this could be a Kennedy for my generation… hopefully without the shortened life and womanizing.  Even his wife, strong, well education, holds herself well seems like another Jackie Kennedy.

This is a pivotal point in our history, I’m excited to be firmly seated in front for the view.  What does it say to our nation and to the world that we as a nation can move past our horrid, intolerant, and bloody racial past.  Maybe we can reestablish good standing within the world, it will take time and effort but it could happen.  I hope that we have a movement of young people stirred to action for their country and their world, even if it is for assistance with college tuition, they will go out and work for the nation, doing positive and worthwhile actions.  Maybe we can move on past the harm and the mistrust between the differing cultures of people that live here.

I don’t know.

Maybe I am naive; maybe I’ve been swept up and this is just yet another politician who will turn out to be another form of degenerate human leech to bleed the nation dry for his own political and financial gain.  I sure hope this isn’t the case and I don’t feel that it is… but still, feelings are easily wrong.

I have hope, I pray it materializes quickly.  We’ll see.

ps. Thank you for those of you Oregon voters who voted down both Education based Sizemore ballot measures.  I can’t tell you how scary the Merit pay measure was.  How would that have looked for me, as a special education teacher with students who have a documented disability, who have shown to not do well in relation to their peers… how would I have been handled.   Thanks again.

“My fellow prisoners…”

At least now he’s being honest.

…shudder…

A scary notion:

We’re Famous… if you squint

Apparently, in admist the huddled (and sweaty) masses of Sunday’s speech by Barack Obama in Portland, the Oregonian snapped a picture and placed it on the front page and in that picture are the pixelated faces of our group:

When Obama came to town

Having a hard time finding my money-maker in the crowd, here’s a close-up:

We're famous... if you squint

Pratt is obviously the easiest to make out, then there’s me, I look weird, kind of like a half-mastiff, half-ape, half-three-toed sloth.  Jess is very hard to see, we determined that is her hair standing next to me.  My mom is also hard to make out, not only was she obscured by the hordes of people, but she had her sweater (a sweater in 85 degree weather?!?) draped over her head the entire time.  I’m sure the sweater also made her look unusual, but rest assured, I’m sure the Secret Service had their binoculars on her the whole time.

A quiet Sunday at the park

On Sunday, we had lunch with my sister to celebrate her birthday, then Jess, Pratt, my mom, and myself drove to downtown Portland to see Barack Obama speak.  We were surprised at how realitively easy it was for us to get a decent place to stand for the 3 hours we were there.  After an introduction by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Pratt was hoping for Greg Oden), then the whole Obama family walked on stage: 

The Obama Family at the Waterfront in Portland, Oregon

Barack gave a good speech, covering everything from the war in Iraq to gas prices and increasing teacher pay (score.).  It was interesting how the crowd filled in around us because once we got home, we heard that we had been a part of the 75,000 people who were there.  Also reported was that even though there was a crowd there of 7.5 times Cottage Grove, there wasn’t any garbage left in the entire area: 

Barack Obama Speaks in Portland Oregon (New York Times Photo)

The last two people I saw while they were campaigning for the presidency was John Edwards (well, ok at that time he was Kerry’s VP) and then Dukakis (way back when)… hopefully Obama doesn’t end up as a similar footnote to history.

who needs actions when you’ve got words?

I think it’s true what Mark Twain says: “A lie can travel half-way around the world, while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”

I think a couple of million people just ate a very big hook. line. and sinker.

We’re doomed, Canada–here I come.

there must be some way outta here said the joker to the thief

hmm… well, I don’t know things are different; not always for the best. Good: residents are back, more people to meet, RA job has started. Bad: my friend Geoff got deployed with the Air Force.
I was a little bit nervous about the new group of residents I was about to receive, other than one small incident I am pretty hopeful about this up coming year. This group (sans alcohol) seems more mature and respectful of not only me and my job, but also of each other. It will be interesting to see how this year turns out; for the better I hope. There is a major contrast to this year’s group compared to the group I had last go-around. Last year the residents were, well, to generalize: hippies, or at least of the hippy tendencies. Whereas this year it is more of main-stream almost Greek type of residents. This is neither good nor bad, I just feel that at the beginning I had more of a connection with my group last year, as I am more hippy than I am fratboy. Like I said before, we’ll see.

I like this new group of RAs, they seem more responsible and willing to help. I think that maybe the tragedy we experienced on the 11th, some how bonded us a little bit more closely. New classes also begin in a couple of days, most of my classes I am not worried about; German on the other hand should be a brand new experience for me. Nervous would be a good word to use about how i feel.

Geoff: well, I can’t say that this was unexpected though still unpleasant. I know he won’t be flying fighter jets, but still the chances of violence still makes it an uneasy situation. To round out this update, I’ll say another little piece about what took place in NYC. I keep on hearing about how we are going to rebuild the Trade Center. Yes, I realize that this is a big sign of defiance; but still, wouldn’t it be more of a defiant and humanitarian response to build a massive park there in remembrance of the tragedy and lives lost in the act that took place on Sept. 11th. Maybe a park would help us remember our mistakes in the past and guide us in the future.I hope I’m not drafted.

 

Oz never did give nothing to the tin man he didn’t already have

What a time for a metamorphosis. I am truly amazed at such acts of violence. At times I have to remind myself that: Yes, thousands of people will only exist in remembrance due to one act, but sadly, this is not uncommon. Many people have died at our own government’s hands; the only difference is that it is us that is being struck down and all at once, not one by one like in Chile. This is no way says that what was done to us was being deserved, because it wasn’t; the statement I am trying to convey is that we have just as much blood on our hands as everyone else.

I have always known that us in America have had a vulnerable underbelly, I believe that many people were stricken with the belief that we were unbreakable. Indivisible, I can believe that, but unbreakable: never. We are just as fragile, if not more, than countries that deal with this same horrendous reality everyday, they have one thing that keeps them more prepared than us; they know it can happen, they don’t sit high upon their reverie of invincibility.

Is there a way we could have stopped this before it occurred? I believe so, some would preach carpet bombings, ground assaults, tactical strikes. However, I would preach the tactical policy making. I think it to be undeniable to say that the way we treat our coinhabitants of this planet with utmost disregard. We need to have something a little bit more cheaper, even at the expense of someone else. In a sense it is a global piracy; is this a reason to have thousands die? Of course not. I just believe that should actually initiate what they hold so much stock in. A good portion of this country will say: treat your neighbor as you wish be treated; at times this seems to only apply to our white christian neighbors. We have exploited people. Some people want retribution, sometimes this is as simple as an apology. But we are just as infallible as we are invincible. Now some of these people want blood, our blood, maybe if we had set aside the pain in our being called pride, we could have saved ourselves from our own makings.

I will not say “maybe this was for the better,” NOTHING is worth being better for the death, or even suffering of one person. But I believe this will make us as people a little bit more conscience of how we treat other people. The exploitation maybe useful at one point, can be deadly at another. But do we try to secure such thoughts? No. Our response to being shown our faults is to kill kill kill. The same three words that provided us with a head of concrete and humanity. The American people aren’t shouting out “let us learn from this, let us reform our methods and then our world!” I think we all know what is being said. Here is a question that anyone above the age of three can answer: how do you stop a fist fight? By putting down your fists or going in for another swing.

I have seen buildings crumble to nothing. I have seen our world on its knees. I have seen a person throw themselves to avoid being killed at the hands of someone else, only to cartwheel down to the inevitable; I wonder if it was in defiance of the hate. I have seen humanity at its worst and best; and now see humanity.

My generation is now defined.