By Doug Porter
For the twelve days of Christmas I give you: The madness of 2013, one month at a time-A month by month recap of stories that appeared in the Starting Line over the past year.
#1 Rick “Tex” Perry Rides into Town
Texas Gov. Rick Perry quietly came to San Diego last week to lure biotech companies seeking to escape from higher income taxes under Proposition 30 to the Lone Star State.
Further down in the article we learn via [the late] Duane Roth, CEO of Connect, a San Diego-based non-profit that promotes technology entrepreneurship, the Texas Governor (currently sinking badly with 31% support in the polls) has a vacation home here:
He’s going to spend time trying to recruit industry to locate or expand in his state. We (California) are of course the No. 1 target, because we’re so innovative and come up with these new ideas. Also, our business-friendly score versus Texas would not be high. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s been very successful.”
However, Texas lacks the California culture that creates the biotech companies Perry wants, Roth said.
“When you talk to people who’ve been in both places, (they say) the culture here and in Silicon Valley is far different from Texas. The ability to do the things we do here, because of the talent pool and because of the infrastructure, is still the best in the world.”
The key word here is “infrastructure”, and guess how that’s paid for? If you guessed “taxes”, give yourself a pat on the back.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to say there are no negatives about California, at least we don’t have schools being required to use text books that whitewash the McCarthy era and fail to mention the slave trade.
#2 Obama Gets a Gun, Tin Foil Hats Start Spinning
The President made a passing statement last week about shooting skeet out at Camp David, sending the tinfoil hats subset amongst gun rights advocates into a frenzy. It wasn’t the first time Obama has talked about shooting guns (He talked skeet shooting with the Women’s US Olympic Team several years back), but given the current hysteria about the ‘government coming to seize yer guns’, any gun talk was newsworthy. From Forbes:
Naturally, there will be no shortage of Republicans in the House of Representatives—or as I like to call it, junior high school—who will take to skeet shooting trutherism like Donald Trump takes to pretending that he would ever actually be allowed to purchase The New York Times.
Already, Tennessee Republican Congresswoman, Marcia Blackburn, has accused the president of bending the truth about his participating in the gun sport, telling Erin Burnett on CNN—
“If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos? Why has he not referenced it at any point in time as we have had this gun debate that is ongoing?”
Now that the White House has released a photo, this new class of trutherists is scrambling to get up to speed. You see, it’s all part of the grand Obama conspiracy. I forgot where I lifted this comment from, but it gives you the gist of what’s going on with the tin foil hat set:
Forget the timestamp crap. It is photoshopped. A)He’s not holding the gun right. B)If he’s shooting skeet, chances are he wouldn’t be shooting horizontally. C)Smoke doesn’t come out of shotguns like that. Obama held the gun (probably the first time he’s ever held one), had Souza take the photo, and photoshop did the rest.
#3 Is Higher Education a Path To Nowhere?
There are lots of folks warning that the next “bubble” to bust in our economy will be indebtedness resulting from college loans. Nationally we owe nearly $1 trillion in student loans, an amount more than credit card or auto loan debt. And it’s getting harder to pay these loans off all the time, as people are graduating from institutions of higher learning only to discover their education isn’t the asset they thought it would be.
Paul Campos at Salon.com has a compelling article up about the myth that more education is the cure for economic inequality.
The extent of this myth is highlighted by a new report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, which indicates that nearly half of all employed college graduates have jobs that require less than a four-year college education.
Despite such sobering statistics, the higher-education complex remains remarkably successful at ensuring that American taxpayers fund the acquisition of educational credentials that, in many cases, leave the people who obtain them worse off than they were before they enrolled.
Far from being “priceless,” as the promoters of ever-more spending on higher education would have Americans believe, both undergraduate and post-graduate education is turning out to be a catastrophic investment for many young and not-so-young adults.
#4 Issa Zones Out for the Gipper
Yesterday (Feb. 6) would have been former President Ronald Reagan’s 102nd birthday, and Congressman Darrell Issa honored the occasion by introducing legislation that would name 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean after the Gipper.
Issa’s bill would rename the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which generally extends from three miles to 200 miles offshore, as the Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone. This area, spanning more than 13,000 miles of coastline and containing 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean is larger than the combined land area of all 50 states and includes waters off other areas such as Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.
President Reagan established the EEZ with a 1983 presidential proclamation that declared the nation’s sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting and conserving offshore resources, including energy. (h/t The Hill)
#5 The First Holocaust Reference of the Year
Appearing before the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities on Tuesday, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who leads the subcommittee on higher education, used a Holocaust reference to suggest that private college leaders should have stood up to the Obama administration’s regulation of for-profit colleges.
Her declaration, an adaptation of the famous statement from the German theologian Martin Niemöller on Germans who ignored Nazi persecution (“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.”), was made as private college leaders expressed concerns that the Education Department and Congress would apply their regulatory approach to for-profit colleges to all of higher education, including private nonprofit colleges.
Congresswoman Foxx has used her committee assignment as an effective fundraising tool, accumulating over $61,000 in donations during the 2011-2012 cycle from educational institution and individuals employed by those concerns. San Diego based Bridgepoint Education donated to her campaign $9000 in the latest election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org..
This isn’t the first time Foxx has attracted media attention for controversial statements.
During the 2009 House of Representatives debates on expansion of hate crimes legislation, she took the floor and claimed that those who said Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming for being gay were perpetrating a “hoax” on the American people.
For those of you who may have forgotten about Shepard, here’s the background, courtesy of Huffington Post:
The New York Times reported in 1998: “According to the local police and prosecutors, the two men lured Mr. Shepard out of a bar by saying they were gay. Then, the Laramie police say, the pair kidnapped Mr. Shepard, pistol-whipped him with a .357 Magnum, and left him tied to a ranch fence for 18 hours until a passing bicyclist spotted Mr. Shepard, who was unconscious.”
Shepard’s mother happened to be in the Congressional gallery when Rep. Foxx made her speech.
#6 The History of Wingnuttia (Revised)
Here’s a truly amazing story that surfaced yesterday, one not likely to get much local coverage: The Tea Party grew out of groups set up by the tobacco industry to defend “smokers rights”. From Raw Story:
A study published Friday in the scientific journal Tobacco Control unearthed documents that reveal the tobacco industry’s desire to fund a new “tea party” to advance their anti-regulation objectives years before the tea party, as it is known today, got its start. The same documents show that the two organizations most identified with the modern tea party, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWo
Those two groups participated in the first round of tea party protests that captured national media attention in 2009, but they were not originally created under those names. As researchers Amanda Fallin, Rachel Grana and Stanton Glantz noted, they were were originally a single entity called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), an organization co-founded in the 1980s by billionaire industrialist David Koch to oppose regulation of tobacco and other air pollutants. Tobacco companies gave the organization millions of dollars to help fund efforts to engineer and organize “grassroots” advocates to speak against everything from federal tobacco regulation to smoking bans.
“The main point that we make is that tobacco companies worked with both the smokers’ rights groups that they created, and Citizens for a Sound Economy in the ’80s and ’90s,” Fallin told Raw Story. “Then Citizens for a Sound Economy went on to become FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, which are national tea party organizing entities. Also, leadership and messaging from the smokers’ rights groups have carried on to tea party organizations.”
#7 Papa’ s Not Buying the LA Times: Media Megalomaniac Misunderstood
You can forget about the story that appeared here yesterday about the publisher of UT-San Diego wanting to buy the Los Angeles Times. It was all a misunderstanding.
So says the U-T San Diego’s CEO John Lynch in a late night email to the La Jolla Patch, which broke the story.
Late Monday night, U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch told Patch that publisher Doug Manchester, “who had just returned from traveling, misunderstood [a question from the audience] and indicated the U-T was interested in the Tribune.”
Manchester, 70, had been asked a question regarding the Tribune Co. and the U-T’s interest in acquiring it, Lynch said via email
The Patch based its story on three witnesses from a luncheon meeting of the San Diego County Federation of Republican Women, all of whom reportedly heard Manchester say “We’re trying to make this deal happen.” (h/t Ken Stone)
#8 Private Security Fails at Public Safety
The folks at KPBS and inewsource Investigations Desk have done a terrific story about just how untrained and unprepared the private security forces that patrol San Diego’s trolleys and trains are. Public safety for these transportation systems owned by San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System and the North County Transit District, is contracted out to a company called Universal Protection Service. Money quote:
According to these contracts, all officers are required to pass basic and advanced training curriculums, be licensed in first aid and CPR, able to conduct bomb searches and building evacuations, and prepared to act as primary responders to terrorism threats.
For more than $9 million a year, the districts hired officers to respond to fatality scenes involving train vs. pedestrian accidents, suicides, and automobile collisions; to react to calls for fainting, shortness of breath, heart attacks and seizures; and to assist in collision investigations, help during power outages and maintain crowd control when needed.
Yet multiple interviews have revealed that much of the contractually-obligated training — which would enable them to do all of those jobs — hasn’t happened for at least the past five years.
Now we know why Carl DeMaio would never take the trolley to work.
#9 Getting Down on Hillary
We know those folks have problems with things like “facts” and “spelling”, but this item about FreedomWorks, the DC based group credited with launching and supporting the Tea Party movement, sorta takes the cake. From Mother Jones:
An internal investigation of FreedomWorks—the prominent conservative advocacy group and super-PAC—has focused on president Matt Kibbe’s management of the organization, his use of its resources, and a controversial book deal he signed, according to former FreedomWorks officials who have met with the private lawyers conducting the probe.
One potential topic for the inquiry is a promotional video produced last year under the supervision of Adam Brandon, executive vice president of the group and a Kibbe loyalist. The video included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton. [Author’s note: The previous sentence contains no typos.]
The video was quashed just days before it was supposed to be shown at “FreePAC, a FreedomWorks conference held on July 26, 2012, where thousands of conservative grassroots activists nearly filled the American Airlines Center in Dallas to hear from tea party favorites, including Glenn Beck and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). The short film hailing FreedomWorks was intended to play on the large video screens inside the arena.”
#10 Christianists Declare Legal War on the Lotus Position
The theocrats of the North County have parents whipped into a frenzy over a deal in the Encinitas School District whereby Yoga instruction has been, via private financing, replacing traditional physical education activities in schools.
Represented by the Escondido-based National
“This is a civil rights action seeking relief against EUSD …for depriving petitioners and Plaintiffs J.S. and F.S. of establishedCalifornia
Included among the heinous crimes involved in the school district’s brainwashing of children is teaching them the Lotus position “often used in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain meditation”.
This lawsuit is about more than a group of Christianist parents fighting against infidels. Indeed, as scholar Natalia Mehlman Petrzela points out in a recent essay, this isn’t simply a matter of the wrong deity; it’s part of an argument on the whole idea of wellness instruction.
As outside groups step in to fill curricular gaps and districts have fewer resources to shape these interventions, wellness programs are likely the next theater of battle in our ongoing but evolving educational culture wars…
Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, although the ultimate goal here seems to be dragging us back to the days when men were men and sheep were afraid.
#11 (February 25th) Filner Will Be Impeached-He Just Doesn’t Know It Yet
Nothing will be decided at today’s hearing before the San Diego City Council (2pm) about the Tourism Marketing District funding. And that’s somehow appropriate; given that the whole battle over Mayor Bob Filner’s refusal to sign off on authorization of a 39 year deal is really nothing more than a proxy battle for a much bigger conflict.
At the bottom of all this is the inability of the city’s ‘downtown crowd’ to live with last fall’s election of Filner, who’s proven true to his word thus far about not continuing to do business as usual in San Diego.
A highly placed source in the local political scene told me yesterday, “The decision has already been made. There will be a recall election in 2014.” As much as I’d like to characterize this as a partisan row, I can’t ignore the signs that this is more about economics than party loyalty.
Leading the charge in the war against Filner, however, are the hyper-partisan advocates of economics interests over democracy at the UT-San Diego. In the slightly less than three months since inauguration day, that’s paper’s editorial board has penned no less than a dozen missives aimed at the Mayor, ranging from flippant to outraged in tenor.
This week’s addition to their arsenal is a much ballyhooed poll commissioned by their ‘news partners’ over Survey USA/Channel 10 claiming that 47 percent of the 500 adults polled said they disapprove of Filner’s performance thus far, while 40 percent approve. The survey was taken one day after a confrontation between the Mayor and City Attorney generated sensational news coverage more focused on the drama than the substance of the situation.
In the week following the dust-up between then-candidate Filner and challenger Carl DeMaio last August following acts of vandalism in Balboa Park a similar poll by the same outfit was reported by the paper, claiming that “Fifteen percent of respondents said they are switching their vote from Filner to City Councilman Carl DeMaio”. Later in the campaign, the paper went so far as to commission a poll (excluding City employees) that asserted DeMaio had a huge lead in the race for Mayor.
…Wait! There’s More!…
It would appear as though not even a majority of the hoteliers support the 2% tax-that’s-not-a-tax. Reporter Dorian Hargrove at the SD Reader waded through 84 of the 87 pages in a document from the City Clerk’s office to discover that a majority of San Diego’s hotel operators voted against the fee:
According to a document from the City Clerk’s office, out of the 1,379 ballots sent out, only 355 were returned. Of those 355, 127 approved the two percent assessment on hotel guests while 218 voted against it. The contract was approved due to the fact that the vote is weighted by the size of the hotels. By that math, the vote passed 94 percent to six percent.
That’s the Golden Rule for you, isn’t it? As in ‘them that owns the gold makes the rule.
#12 Brilliant! Cindy Marten to Lead San Diego Schools
The grapevine was humming yesterday as word seeped out that San Diego Unified would make an early evening ‘major announcement’ following news of current Superintendent Bill Kowba’s resignation on Tuesday. Many folks, including KPBS news, thought the Board of Trustees would simply be announcing their selection process. Or naming the high priced consulting firm to sort through resumes and vet the next candidate for the job.
The announcement that Principal Cindy Marten had already been unanimously nominated by the school board as the next leader for SD Unified was indeed a shocker. A figurative “gasp” went up from many members the news media, who’ve spent the last few years crafting a narrative about the dysfunctionality of the elected Board of Trustees.
This is simply a brilliant decision. I speak from personal knowledge, having worked with Ms. Marten on education issues through my association with the parent-centric Educate for the Future. Her personal mantra (and the slogan for her school): “Work Hard. Be Kind. Dream Big. No Excuses.”
The story of her success with Central Elementary, an under-achieving school in a dirt poor, language-challenged neighborhood (New York Times story here), where caring for the whole child and not just their test scores is just the tip of the iceberg. Cindy has also gone through simply incredible personal struggles and sacrifice even as she’s gained eminence as an educator.
I’ll respect her privacy and spare the details for now. But I bring this up to make a point. Cindy Marten is tough. Unlike some ‘reformers’, she didn’t make it up the ladder of success in the field of education by disparaging others. She’s played the hand that was dealt her using determination, high standards and an inspiring work ethic to turn challenges into accomplishments.
The nay-sayers have already started. (“How could the trustees make such a rapid decision?…What about candidates from out of town?..”) Yada-yada. The UT-San Diego’s from page today has a subhead on the story about Marten that says “Superintendent selected without community input”, along with an editorial reminding the public about how irresponsible the school board is.
I’ll venture to say that they’re in for a surprise.
Somebody from the community that understands the district’s problems, who has succeed in raising the bar for both students and parents despite those problems, has been selected to lead our schools. What a great move.
Tomorrow: March’s Greatest Hits from The Starting Line
On This Day: 1963 – Capitol Records released the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” backed with “I Saw Her Standing There.” 1982 – The Man of the Year in Time magazine was a computer. It was the first time a non-human received the honors. 1991 – The Soviet Union’s parliament formally voted the country out of existence.
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