Its time to slap up another open thread.  Several people had a couple of remarks up.  I will leave the pin in until around noon in case people want to cut and past remarks to the new post. 

Every time I turn on the TV I heard about terror alerts in various countries.  What is causing this?  (I know, terrorists.)  Is all the problem in Europe or is it here too?  Who knows what or who thinks what?

The Unknowns behind the Terror Alerts

David Ignatius

100 Thoughts to “Open Thread Thursday, October 7, 2010”

  1. Mom

    Let’s add a few other “don’t needs”
    1. New IT systems to replace working ones so the employees feel better about themselves (DRIVE)
    2. New systems to replace functional county mapper systems wherein the new system is more unwieldy than the old one. (BTW, it gripes my cookies that you can’t print the map on that system. Our taxes paid for the system so why can’t we use it and print from it, Lubely sure can why can’t I)
    3. Supervisor’s discretionary funds that are used to fund everything from bake sales to Little League functions to azalea bushes.
    4. Overpaid talking heads like the head of economic development.
    5. PD command vehicles and special response vehicles that already exist regionally for the regions use.
    6. Go-fast boats for a jurisdiction that consists almost entirely of a no wake zone.
    7. At least half of the committees formed and supported by the BOCS.
    8. Subsidies for dance companies and favored patrons of the arts.
    9. Whiteboards in every classroom, I lernt jes fine wit a piece o chalk
    10. At least a quarter of the vice-principals, guidance and school psychologist staffing, particularly below the high school level.
    11. At least half of the electives at the high school level, Photography doesn’t help Johnny (or his future employers) if he can’t read, write or use fractions.
    12. The Office of Long Range Planning, why pay for something that doesn’t work.
    13. The Park Authority Board and the Parks Director, roll them into a county agency and offices.

    Popular ideas, ones likely to get you elected, ones that will generate thousands of campaign contributions, Hell no, but they would demonstrate responsible governance and management of the public trust and tax dollars.

    1. White boards are great. Just out of curiosity, how did that chalk board fit into the computer so little Johnny who was out sick for a week could get his assignments? His mother works 3 jobs and couldn’t come up to that thar school house to pick them up.

      We have a high enough drop out rate. For God sake someone teach something that isn’t tested on sols. Plenty of people earn a living with photography. More importantly, lots of people earn money being able to do things with imaging on a computer. All sorts of jobs from marketing to real estate to advertising require photography knowledge.

      Who really needs to add fractions. Get a calculator.

      i would say stop spending years teaching kids to do things that we had to do in school like adding fractions and long division when any fool can go buy a 5 dollar calculator to do it for them. Column addition would be another thing I would do away with.

  2. Rez

    Don’t know much about local budget, but most well run organizations have shared resources like accounting, logistics, IT etc. Sometimes the individual budgets reflect a cost reimbursement to the central overhead office for these shared resources.

    I noticed in the school budget that they have costs for these items as though they have their own accounting, IT, etc. Is this true and if they have their own, would it not be better to combine all of the county into central office for overhead?

    1. In a perfect world, yes. However, the school system is so massive and uniquely educational, it is probably best to keep things separate.

      However, that’s just my opinion. If that was going to happen, it would have happened long ago before school boards were elected.

  3. Mom

    Exactly, similarly why do we have separate maintenance and garage facilities for the county and the schools, why do they have separate planning staffs, why don’t they both use the county attorney’s office for boilerplate issues rather than the schools paying private counsel by the hour.

    1. Because their money is separate? I like them separate. I would be less uncomfortable with garage facilities merging than i wold be with planning staffs merging.

      Attorneys? Can I just roll my eyes?

  4. Rez

    It can still be separate. If the county set it up properly, the schools would pay from their budgets for the resources they use without having to have separate offices. I don’t know if I would want planning combined since I do see a uniqueness about the planning elements for education. But paying bills and providing computer support is pretty standard stuff.

    My biggest budget issues with the schools was that there was a time that they were trying to beef up the central office (almost like empire building) with tons of assistant superintendents and the like which took resources away from the individual schools in order to pay for them.

    So I don’t know if it would have happened long ago.

  5. I don’t disagree about the beefing up of area assistants. Also many people I know resent the good ole boys being brought in.

    A new deputy post was added fairly recently. I think that is where the buck stops. I have never heard a parent say they have ever gotten to speak to the Walts god. I think he is unattainable and that is why all the assistant thises and thats. Of course, I am gossiping. I don’t know first hand.

    Has anyone out there with kids every talked to the super?

  6. Pat.Herve

    All the cards need to go on the table – something that is hard to do.

    I have said it many times – SS, Medicare, Tax code, Healthcare (nearing 20% of GDP before Obama got into office) – it all needs to be reformed.

    We need to get rid of the fraud, reduce spending, raise taxes (ooch, I will explain) and become realistic that Government is not there to do everything for us, but is there to do some things for us.

    Our income tax code needs to be revamped – it would raise taxes on some, and reduce taxes on others, but our tax system is so overly complicated that no one really understands it – why do I need a CPA to file my returns? Why does a hedge fund manager have his income taxed at the Long Term Capital Gains Rate – ? AMT was brought in because in the past, the high earners did not pay taxes, but now it hits the middle class, and no one wants to fix it. The Bush tax cuts were part of his stimulus package – and I guess they worked, but did they also partially cause our near economic collapse is a question that the historians will answer in a few years from now. Give a tax cut to the wealthy, and they largely save the money, give it to a person of median income, and they will spend it. Putting more money in people’s pocket has only gotten them to spend more of what they do not have – inflated prices for housing, etc. I know people of moderate means who thought they could afford second homes – they are crying like a river now – and the funny thing is that they have the same job they had then, with the same salary.

    The sound bites must stop – Tort Reform – I have been hearing of Tort Reform for over 20 years – but have seen no real legislation or effort on anyone’s part to do anything about it.
    Out problems did not start on a particular day, but just like in the UK and other parts of Europe, we need to work on reducing our deficit, something which can be painful to some.

    Our first Secretary of the Treasury had created a National Bank – – gasp, the Founding Fathers setting up a largely Government owned entity, I wonder if that was constitutional?

  7. Good coverage Pat.

    I would raise that ss tax ceiling. I have said it a million times. I have no problem with making it flat once it hits a certain point, but it needs to crawl on up there.

    Agreed also with making taxes so a normal person can understand them. I shouldn’t have to have a cpa either. hedge fund managers have always had it cushy. Not sure why they are sacred cows.

    I have heard all the whining on TV because Bloomberg wants to take soda off of the food stamp list. He should. Soda isn’t a food. Milk is a food. Why should be be paying for poor people to drink soda? I am far from being a health food nut– but that is just common sense. Food stamps should only be for real food– not junk food.

  8. Mom

    “If the county set it up properly, the schools would pay from their budgets for the resources they use without having to have separate offices.”

    My point exactly, why pay a high hourly rate for private counsel to handle things like FOIA requests (and handle them improperly so as to gin up billable hours) when those could easily be handled by the County Attorney’s office more efficientlly, cost effectively and by legal professional who ostensibly know the intracicies of the FOIA statutes and exemptions.

    “Who really needs to add fractions. Get a calculator.”

    I don’t usually have one when I’m at Lowes trying to figure out how many tiles I need to cover the square footage of my kitchen. If they don’t understand the concepts, all the calculators or cash registers with pictures of hamburgers or chicken nuggets in the world won’t help Johnny be any less of functional idiot. Whiteboards also come with additional support costs (substantially higher than the cost of box of chalk), need frequent replacement and don’t work when the power is out.

    “For God sake someone teach something that isn’t tested on sols.”

    I wholeheartedly agree but most school divisions have eliminated most if not all vocational training, that should clue you in as to why your mechanic and bricklayer may not speak English.

    “I do see a uniqueness about the planning elements for education.”

    I don’t disagree regarding curriculum, etc. but planning for school sites, constructions, etc., that staff is largely redundant if not at odds/out of synch with the County staff leading to even more expense.

    “Has anyone out there with kids every talked to the super?”

    Bwahahaha, I can’t even get my School Board Rep to talk to me unless I corner him in public.

  9. Our first Secretary of the Treasury had created a National Bank – – gasp, the Founding Fathers setting up a largely Government owned entity, I wonder if that was constitutional?

    Well, according to the Wiki, no it wasn’t. But, even then, Congress was willing to “go around” the Constitution for something that sounded good.

    That was probably the first step in a long journey to where Congress is now.

  10. Mom, please don’t take this the wrong way, re school board member…do you blame him? [throat clearing here]

    Calculators do fractions now.

    I am all in favor of vocational education. In my opinion, not having it is the biggest failure of our educational system.

  11. Mom

    Moon, when one gets my vote (as he has in the past) it does not come without some expectations, principal among which is that I will not be lied to, particularly to my face, and read the truth the following day in the newspaper.

    Rule No. 1 for all candidates, do not lie to your constituents

    Corollary to Rule No. 1, all candidates should purchase a pair of asbestos undershorts for those occasions when they violate Rule No. 1

  12. Reading all of this about the schools makes me appreciate my kid’s school. So far, no problems.

  13. Jurturna

    I would begin with sharing land – co-locating public libraries with public schools, police stations with fire stations things like that could be looked at. Combining resources or centralization is a good idea but it would work better if done strategically. For example, smaller agencies with would greatly benefit from combined payroll, purchasing and such. Other agencies with specialized missions, Public Works, Public Safety would be better off independently run yet frequently audited. Technology might also be better served if those with critical needs – tax collection, public safety communications had some control over the processes.

    Fleet – I am not rational about public school transportation so I won’t go there.

    I do know that Fairfax outsourced their fleet once – buses were in bad shape and public safety vechicles were of concern – they did stop the outsourcing.

    1. @Juturna

      I wouldn’t mind a higher tax rate for better services. hell you get to take it off your federal and state income tax don’t you? A few cents aren’t going to make or break most of us.

  14. Just asking…..

    Corollaries are good.

  15. Rez

    Moon-howler :
    I wouldn’t mind a higher tax rate for better services. hell you get to take it off your federal and state income tax don’t you? A few cents aren’t going to make or break most of us.

    But, if you could accomplish the same thing with more efficiency, why wouldn’t you do that first?

  16. Juturna

    I’m not so sure that a higher tax rate is needed. According to the presentation the other day the cops have lost 16 or 18 people. That seems like a lot to me. Has any other county department lost that many – other than the fee supported services?

    BOS gave raises and let’s not forget our local $$$$ going to roads while VDOT hoards cash??? Build the roads more cars, more traffic, fewer cops – doesn’t make sense to me. Roads or cops and firefighters. Heck, I’d rather have another library than my local tax money going to roads. It’s a bottomless pit.

  17. I am not sure it is possible. When was the last time county employees had a raise?

    What does the tax rate have to be to bring conditions back to 2007 conditions?

    How long are people waiting in traffic? How much commutor time is spent at a stand still?

    How large are classes in schools?

    Frankly, I don’t want the school system and the county to merge services. I have been around a long time and I know what happens when the ‘county’ wants to make its point to the school system.

  18. Cato the Elder

    Moon-howler :Where is Cato this morning?
    Ford is still hanging in there. That did you predict was its ceiling?

    Yep. It overshot where I thought it would go by about .15, and it looks like there’s more to be had. I’d still be lightening up here FWIW. Meaning that if I had a 50% profit I’d take half off and let the rest run playing with house money.

    Still love the company, love the management and bullish on long term prospects but it’s had a heckofva run and with the price sitting on 3 + standard deviation don’t be surprised if it does some backing and filling pretty soon.

  19. Big Dog

    $250 fine for distracted drivers in Virginia –
    (In fact, most say they would be happy getting half that much)

    County exec facing new sex charges –
    (Thought he was “all paid up” with hooker)

    WaPo Style Invitational (10-9-2010) – a must read every Sat..

  20. Religion:

    How much do you know?

    Also, coming up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: God in America on PBS

    I was setting my DVR and realized I had a lot of time conflicts, what with the new season. So rather than viewing on channel 26, I went to channel 22. I was able to see the show from 1 am to 3 am after all the prime time stuff was over. 2 parts are shown each night.

  21. @Cato the Elder

    I will keep a close eye. I have some long and some short. I need to figure out who to specify what I sell.

  22. Morris Davis

    Big Dog — Of all the things I’ve gotten into print over the years I am most proud of the 2 kitchen magnets I got from the Empress for things she deemed worth to publish in the Style Invitational. I was looking forward to meeting her and some of the other “Losers” at a Style Invitational party last year … just happened to be the day of the first major blizzard of the season and the party was canned.

  23. Clarence Thomas’s wife is becoming quite the darling of the Teajadists.

    Question, when does her activism start becoming a conflict of interest? Isn’t it the responsibility of a spouse to take a back seat when a their significant other holds such a prominent role?

    I am concerned because Justices are supposed to be removed from party politics, in theory.

  24. Another story about Kent State that I’ve never heard:

    CLEVELAND – A tape recording of the 1970 shooting deaths of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen reveals the sound of pistol shots 70 seconds earlier, a newspaper reported Friday citing the work of a forensic audio expert.

    Fascinating. Possible cover up too. We’ll never know.

  25. @Moon-howler
    100 percent right! Am I ordained now?

  26. I guess you are. Ordained and knighted.

    So did you go or stick to your original plans?

    Where has Bently been lately? I am going mental. I miss Rick.

  27. Cargo, there is a lot out of about 2 decades we will never know. Popular opinion out there amongst the NON anti war crowd was, if you don’t want to get shot, don’t get in crowds where you have no behavior over what others do. We were also told that the guardsmen had dog crap and broken glass thrown at them?

    Was it true? I have no clue.

    I have to say this though. I have changed my mind alot about the politics of the day over the years. However, ever time I watch film footage of the era, I STILL don’t like a lot of what I see. And I don’t like the people who were my peers. Nothing has changed and I thought it might. It didn’t.

    I have probably already said many times, I went to college at a school that dated the military: ie: quantico, Belvoir, Ft. Meyer, Annapolis etc. Many of the students were from military families. I had a long term relationship with a vet who had been a marine. Do these things color your thinking? I am sure they do. My parents had also told me early on if I got mixed up in any thing that even remotely looked like a demonstration that all college funding as over and done with.

  28. @Cargo,

    You are right. He said/they said. We will never know.

    Something went wrong that day for sure. I had never heard that one either.

    I guess my feeling for the past 30 years or so has been that everything from then was a big cover up. Kennedy? cover up. Nixon? cover up. MLK? cover up/

    That’s one reason I don’t take little sh!t a$$es like Ayers very seriously. Everyone was a cover up. Whatever he did wrong, someone else out there being ‘official’ was just as big of one as he was.

  29. Nope, stayed home. No $. And had too much to do at home. The Tea Party convention had to succeed without me. Hard to believe, I know….

  30. From

    The Tea Party convention included speeches by some of the biggest names in politics: Former Clinton White House strategist, Bill Morris; Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli; former CNN host Lou Dobbs; and former Sen. George Allen


    So…other than some obscure Clinton retiree, it sounds like a Republican party. Same old Same old. Why would I want to join the Tea Party? Why not just become a Republican?
    (and hear the chain saw cranking up to saw my wrists.)

  31. Juturna

    Whoever promises not to bring up abortion and/or gay marriage as defining platform issues will get my attention. I’ll go from there.

  32. Morris Davis

    “That’s not how God created us,” Paladino said, reading from a prepared address. “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.” And then, to applause from the group at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “I didn’t march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did and that’s not the example we should be showing our children.”

    A little light-hearted racist email banter and a beastiality picture or two among friends … hey, he’s in the construction business.

    Inciting the homophobes and fanning fear of Muslim-Americans … hey, he’s a tea party darling.

    So much for that “we’re a big tent” junk.

  33. Juturna, good luck on that one.

  34. Not so sure about that beastiality stuff there Moe. He sounds sort of like an average Joe to me. [sarcasm button on]

    I can’t tell the difference in the Republicans and the Tea Party People. The TPP must have something the R’s want. They are all at their convention.

  35. George S. Harris

    “Moon, can I be as nasty to Pat Herve as George Harris is to me?”

    “I recently went through an experience on here where I didn’t say anything nasty but was harangued pretty badly.”

    As Ronald Reagan once said, “There you go again.”

    I guess “nasty” is like pornography–hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

  36. George S. Harris

    Pat, why is it that only people who retire from a public job and take another public job are “double dippers”? Why isn’t a person who retires from a private job and takes another private job not a “double dipper”? If a person retires from a public job and takes a private job, is that person a “double dipper”? Or what if a person retires from a private job and then takes a public job? Is that person a “double dipper”?

    Do you suppose there are “triple dippers”?

    I do have a problem who retires on disability from either a public job or a private job and then gets another job while drawing disability. This seems to be common among police officers and firefighters. I realize that statement is a generalization, but ????

    BTW–getting Social Security Disability is not as easy as one might think. You don’t have enough quarters–too bad.

    And eveyone should remember that chances are you will receive more fromSocial Security than you ever paid in–unless you drop dead after your first check. 😉

  37. Lafayette

    George, I’ve known a couple of “triple dippers”. They were first retired from the military, then retired from the Feds, and then retired from Arlington county. They are out there, but they are working well into their 80’s. I’m not sure I want to be working another 40 years.

  38. I have a problem with someone pulling a disability check and still working. Either you are disabled or you aren’t. However, the dippers are fair game. If you are military, retire, and then work a job where you qualify for SS, go for it.

    George makes a good point…that it isn’t just …now I am getting confused…what George said. Different counties have different plans.

    Lafayette, I wish I could do all three. I think it might be possible to do all three without working until 80.

  39. Krystal Ball will be on MSNBC today at 4 pm.

  40. marinm

    Unacceptable. The guy may be a tool but he’s still the POTUS and NO ONE should throw anything at the man — the crowd should’ve stomped on the person’s apples for doing so.

  41. George S. Harris

    I agree about Joey Bye Bye–he is the guy who lives next door. It is great that someone can show him to be the person he really is–the guy you want to know and do business with. Thanks Moe for putting up the link.

    As to Kindle v. nook (small n on purpose)–I have a nook and love it, plus the choice of reading material is unlimited as a result of the formats the nook will accept. Plus the nook has the capability of using a mini-SD card, which gives you unlimited possibilities as to what you can carry around. I can listen to music while I read and can download many pix as screen savers and wallpaper. 😎

  42. George S. Harris

    I guess I qualify as a “triple dipper”–39 years in the military and retired. Then worked as a Schedule A federal employ and “retired” at 65. And now I draw Social Security–mostly basedon my military service but my seven years in the Federal government boosted my earnings level.

    Different places do have different standards and so “disabled” employees are able to go work elsewhere doing very similar work. I do have a real problem with that.

  43. Juturna

    Went to an author presentation yesterday – I got my book signed. Suggested to my friend with the kindle she could have her kindle signed?!

  44. @marinm
    Totally agree, not that Obama is a tool but that NO ONE has the right to throw anything at any President of the United States. I felt the same way about President Bush. How dare they! He was very magnanimous about it though.

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