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Community Comment

Archive for March 2010

A Great Teacher dies…

Good morning, Netizens…

FILE - This March 9, 1988 file provided by Warner Bros., shows actor Edward James Olmos, left, comparing notes with high school teacher Jaime Escalante during the filming of the Warner Bros. film ‘Stand And Deliver,’ in Los Angeles. Escalante died Tuesday March 30, 2010 in Reno, Nev. He was 79. (AP Photo/Warner Bros., By RAQUEL MARIA DILLON, Associated Press Writer Raquel Maria Dillon, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES – Jaime Escalante transformed a tough East Los Angeles high school by motivating struggling inner-city students to master advanced math, became one of America’s most famous teachers and inspired the movie “Stand and Deliver.”

He died Tuesday at age 79 after battling cancer for several years, family friend Keith Miller said. Escalante used his outsized personality to goad his working-class, Mexican-American students to succeed, said Elsa Bolado, 45, one of his former pupils.

Bolado, now an elementary school teacher and trainer, remembers Escalante’s charisma, the way he built her confidence with long hours of solving problems and how he inspired her career choice with his unorthodox approach to learning.

“Teaching is an art form. There’s a lot of practicioners and very few artists. He was a master artist,” she said.

An immigrant from Bolivia, he overhauled Garfield High School’s math curriculum and pushed his students to do their best until the school had more advanced placement calculus students than all but four other public high schools in the country.

Edward James Olmos played Escalante in the 1988 film based on his story.

“Jaime exposed one of the most dangerous myths of our time — that inner city students can’t be expected to perform at the highest levels,” Olmos said. “Because of him, that destructive idea has been shattered forever.”

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said Escalante “shared in my belief that anything is possible in California.”

“He put everything he had into becoming an inspirational teacher whose passion, commitment and belief that all students can achieve excellence set an example for us all,” Schwarzenegger said. “His talent, hard work and dedication in the classroom changed the lives of countless students.”

Escalante was a teacher in La Paz before he emigrated to the U.S. He had to study English at night for years to get his California teaching credentials and return to the classroom.

At first he was discouraged by Garfield’s “culture of low expectations, gang activity and administrative apathy,” Miller said. Gradually his long hours in the classroom paid off and dozens of his students passed the test year after year.

Bolado took the Aadvanced Placement calculus test in 1982, the year that testing officials made some Garfield students retake it because they were suspicious that so many of Escalante’s students had passed. She said 14 students were asked to take the test again months later and all 12 who did passed.

“To this day, I still think of the example he set — the study skills, how not to give up,” said Bolado, 45. “I revert back to that every time things get rough.”

Escalante left Garfield in 1991, taught at schools in Sacramento and retired to Bolivia in 2001.

The cast of “Stand and Deliver” recently appealed for donations to help Escalante pay for his alternative cancer treatments.

He is survived by his wife, two sons, and six grandchildren.


The modern-day militia?

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Here we have an AP picture of eight of the nine members of the Hutaree Militia who were arrested by the FBI and charged with various and assorted crimes. Since this is well outside the Spokane area, I originally read the article(s) involved with their alleged plans and after a small bit of research into what the news media are calling Christian Warriors, an old memory came swirling out of my past to me unexpectedly, hailing back to December of 1984 on Whidbey Island.

Since I hold a certain fondness for the place, I was on Whidbey Island that fateful day having just completed a business venture in Seattle and having a peaceful breakfast at a small cafe on the Island, reading the morning paper and mentally preparing myself for the long trip home. Suddenly, there were heavily-armed federal agents down the road, road blockades were in place and within an hour or so a house was afire, and the man the FBI had sought, Robert J. Matthews, died in the conflagration.

I never forgot the members of The Order, nor the people they killed in the name of their whacked-out religious beliefs. In fact, I have come to increasingly expect that other similar groups based upon the Christian Identity or militia movements would strike again.

I know very little about the Hutaree Militia, save for the fact they targeted police officers who they believed were “foot soldiers” of law enforcement, federal law enforcement agencies and anyone who opposes the Hutaree Militia viewpoint. They ostensibly planned to kill at least one police officer and then when hundreds of other officers showed up to attend the funeral, have a killing field.

This is not the work of Jesus Christ. In fact, the only civilized aspect of this macabre situation is that police were quickly able to make the arrests without anyone being injured or killed.


Happy Bloodletting

Celebrating Six

Six months ago today, I started dialysis.  What I once thought about with dread has turned out to be a really simple ordinary routine that I go through three mornings a week.  No fuss.  No muss.  I simply go to MY chair and sit and relax and leave the driving to the other guy.  I watch TV.  Read books.  Nap (a lot).  And generally I actually enjoy my little spa-like rest.  I leave rejuvenated and, as I am doing now, I do something that has nothing whatsoever to do with dialysis.  I’m doing the laundry and have access to my laptop.  Here I go!

I can check my email.  Go to Facebook and see how many more gazillion friends I have made.  It’s exciting!  I can eat munchies – yes – there are some munchies that are not on the “Forbidden Fruits”.  (Yeah, fruit is on that list – strawberries, melons, cantaloupe.  Heavy sigh)

Next up for me is to make a decision for a permanent access site for dialysis.  I am hoping that this will go like starting dialysis did – piece of cake.  Hopefully.

I have two choices.  One is to have a fistula surgically made in my arm that “cures” for six months (so I have to decide this pretty darn quick because my temporary site could poop out on me, although so far it’s working great!).  This procedure enables the techs to insert very, very large needles in your arm, one for the blood to go out into the dialysis machine and get cleaned and filtered and fluffed, the other needle is for the polished blood to return to your body.  (I have watched it leave my body, go through all the hoops and loops and return in about 60 seconds!!).  I’m not really keen on needles, especially 14 gauge ones.

The other choice is to do peritoneal dialysis (called PD).  This involves a surgically inserted tube in my stomach, into the peritoneum cavity.  The membrane is porous and works great as a filter and does the same thing hemodialysis does (hemo meaning blood).  But a lot more gentle and at my own schedule.  The downside is that it is every day, four times a day (20 minutes).  I can travel, go on car trips, go garage sailing to the hinterlands, and bring a bag or two of dialycate with me.  

The other downside is that I have to give myself epogyn shots (for anemia) about once a week.  Ok, all my brave, strong diabetic friends do this without batting an eye, every day, sometimes twice.  So I can’t snivel and whine here.  But at least it is a ‘fine” needle – not some dagger like they use at the dialysis center.  I can see those suckers from 20 feet away.  No Thank You.

So, anyway, I wanted to keep you posted.  I am so healthy it’s absolutely silly!!!  It’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling.  Happy Blood Letting to Me!!  Here’s to another 60 6-month anniversaries.   (I’ll be 90)


A possible solution to ongoing pedophile priests…

Good evening, Netizens…

In this picture, Swiss President and Economy Minister Doris Leuthard gestures during a news conference in Bern March 25, 2010. Leuthard called on Sunday for a central register of pedophile priests, to prevent them from having further contact with children. (REUTERS/Michael Buholzer)

Today is Palm Sunday, traditionally viewed as the day Jesus triumphantly entered into Jerusalem and is the first day of Holy Week, which includes Good Friday and Easter. This, of course, could normally create controversies depending upon ones liturgical point of view, but this year we are seeing the entire Catholic Church, beginning with the Holy Pontiff down the chain of command, under close public scrutiny.

Pope Benedict XVI, facing one of the gravest crises of his reign as Pontiff of the Catholic Church as a sexual abuse scandal sweeps the Church, indicated on Sunday that his faith would give him the courage not to be intimidated by critics. The Vatican has gone on the offensive in a few instances, attacking the news media for what it called an “ignoble attempt” to smear Pope Benedict and his top advisers “at any cost.

I believe the Swiss government are looking down the right path with their registry of pedophile priests. According to the various news wire services, there are simply put, too many pedophile priests active in the clergy to turn a blind eye to their ongoing activities.


Calling on the Democrats…

Good evening, Netizens…

Cartoonist David Horsey calls it “The brave new voice of patriotism”, but I suspect he has his tongue firmly glued to the deepest corners of his cheek when he wrote that line. In my opinion, this guy making the phone calls to Democratic Party members is a few cards short of a deck of cards upstairs.

However, once I back off my personal beliefs about the Tea Party members, I am still left with the bad taste that comes from listening to someone who thinks they are quite brilliant, acutely aware of all the issues and has a good command of the King’s English. Of course I might burn for this, but one person who quickly comes to mind is Sarah Palin who is making yet another run for public office without really coming out and saying so. She uses innuendo like a sharpened scimitar to lop off the ears of anyone who disagrees with her particular point of view sometimes.

Besides, anyone who consorts with a cross-eyed adder is questionable in certain ways, in my opinion.

Kudos to David Horsey for a good image of the Extreme Right Wingnuts, all done with just one cartoon panel. I’m glad to have him back once again.


Thank goodness it’s Friday!

Good evening, Netizens…

As I hold the prism of history to my jaded eyes, I realize almost with a state of shock that it is once again Friday. As I have spent most of the week under the weather in ways far too gruesome to discuss, even in this example of free speech, I missed most of the cry and fury taking place. Well, I can say I missed it, but I have a yellow legal pad filled with sporadic notes that indicates how, I occasionally sat up took notice of things erupting around me.

Perhaps the most difficult part of this week’s events for me to comprehend is the near warfare over the passage of Health Care Bill including all the various components which have been added since the passage of the primary bill and signed into law by President Obama. It is not the confusion nor even the lack of factual information regarding the contents of the Health Bill.

Rather it is the hatred and extreme behavior on the part of those who claim they resent the passage of the bill and/or its contents.

Some Wingnut Democrats are already alleging that the various hate messages, e-mail and faxes sent to various Democrats responsible for the Health Care Bill’s passage are the doing of various Republicans.

Some Democrats charged Republican Sarah Palin with throwing gas on the flames. Palin tweeted her followers, saying: “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don’t Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!’”

Palin also used her Web site to target 20 House Democrats who voted yes on health care. There was a map with gunsights on the districts.

“When Sarah Palin uses gun analogies and gun imagery when she makes her political point, she may believe that she’s engaging in metaphor. But there are too many people who have twisted minds who might think that she’s being literal,” said Democratic Representative from New York Anthony Weiner. “What might seem as an obvious metaphor for some people may seem like an invitation for someone else.”

I used to believe that threatening elected public officials was terrorism. Perhaps I need to reexamine how we define terrorism.


Out for recovery…

Good evening, Netizens…

I have truly fallen off the apple cart, what with an ugly recurring fever and sinus congestion for nearly two days now. I have occasionally crawled out of bed, with rheumy eyes, to contemplate the evils of the Republicans versus the Democrats, and each time retching in frustration. What most has haunted my between-times thoughts is that the Republican Right Wingnuts all predicted that they were going to defeat Obama Health Care, but they did not.

More wretched little pills and drink lots of fluids. Hopefully I’ll return to the fray tomorrow, reconstituted and ready for the coming battles.


Health Care Bill is Passed…

Good morning, Netizens…

The document is ready for President Obama’s signature upon whereupon it becomes law. Ostensibly it will provide medical health care coverage for approximately 98% of Americans. It will prohibit health insurers from some of the nasty tricks they have played in the past, including prohibiting coverage because of pre-existing conditions or canceling service when someone gets sick.

A partial list of other benefits can be read at but that is not all.

It does expand Medicaid and appears to improve prescription drug coverage.

However, any additional benefits of the health insurance bill are or appear to be purely speculative until such time as the final bill is passed. At present there is no full copy of the bill available for us to read, which is where I have a few problems.

Before I can jump for joy with the passage of this bill, I will need to know all the various complexities and riders on this bill, and fully understand how it will impact us all.

What are your thoughts on the passage of this bill?


A Woird A Day — cloud-cuckoo-land

with Anu Garg

Languages freely borrow words from one another. Often a borrowed word becomes so assimilated we don’t realize its exotic provenance. If you speak English, you know parts of at least a hundred different languages. Besides the usual sources — Latin, Greek, German, French, etc. — English has words borrowed from languages as diverse as Tongan (taboo), Hindi (cot), Hungarian (coach), among others.

Sometimes languages borrow only the idea from a language and translate a word literally. English skyscraper becomes rascacielos (literally scrape-skies) in Spanish, gratte-ciel in French, Wolkenkratzer in German, and so on. This process of borrowing is called loan translation or calque (from French calquer: to trace or copy).

German Gedankenexperiment becomes “thought experiment” in English through loan translation. French marché aux puces gets translated as flea market. The term loan translation itself is a loan translation of German Lehnübersetzung.

This week in AWAD we’ll see five loan translations that have taken root in English, from Greek, Spanish, Latin, German, and Chinese.

cloud-cuckoo-land or cloud cuckoo land


noun: An idealized, unrealistic state; a place out of touch with reality.

Loan translation of Greek Nephelokokkugia, from nephele (cloud) + kokkux (cuckoo). The word was coined in The Birds, a comedy by Athenian playwright Aristophanes (c. 450-388 BCE). Nephelokokkugia was the name of a city in the sky, built by the birds in collaboration with some Athenians.

“‘Retirement at 58 is cloud cuckoo land for most private sector workers, many of whom find their pension savings shot to pieces,’ said Lord Oakeshott.”
Holly Watt; The Million Pound Pension Pots of the Mandarins; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jan 1, 2010.

Explore “cloud-cuckoo-land” in the Visual Thesaurus.

One cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Poor Bernie…

Good morning, Netizens…

Source: CBS/AP

Will all of you seriously wishing you could be the first person to take a punch at Bernie Madoff please sit down and stop clamoring for an opportunity? Someone ostensibly beat you to it, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to one of the sources, Madoff was treated for a broken nose, fractured ribs and cuts to his face and head last December. Poor baby.

The 71 year-old Madoff is currently serving a 150-year sentence at a North Carolina federal prison after admitting his multi-decade pyramid scheme cost hundreds of thousands of investors billions of dollars.

It adds some purpose to the old adage, “you can run but you cannot hide”, doesn’t it?


Remembering poor Otto Zehm…

Good morning, Netizens…

Photo Credit: Dr. John Olsen

Of the forty to sixty people present yesterday at the Zip Trip where Spokane Police Department killed Otto Zehm, less than a handful of those present actually knew the former janitor in life. In the four years and one day that have expired since that fateful day, despite representatives from both sides having retained legal counsel and clammed up, very little but the semantics has changed.

Some call the incident an altercation; others call it a confrontation. On the face of it, based upon the damning bit of videotape from the Zip Trip Store’s security cameras, Otto Zehm, who was armed only with a 1 liter plastic bottle of soda, never stood a chance of winning any confrontation with the Spokane Police Department that night. No, beaten to the floor into submission, and repeatedly beaten and tasered time after time on-camera and eventually choking to death on an anti-spit mask, he was apparently murdered by the very police force sworn to protect and serve him. That, too, is semantically a slip.

None of the linguistics, however, will ever change the fact that Otto Zehm died, an innocent in the face of unspeakable brutality, sloppy communication and poor administrative policies by the police.

What is the greater tragedy is that after four years and change, only a handful of Spokane citizens, for the most part strangers to Otto Zehm, showed up to remember his pitifully-short run at life. In an altruistically-perfect world, thousands of angry citizens should have showed up and clamored in one voice, demanding that this ugly affair be brought to closure, that the guilty parties in the murder of Otto Zehm be brought to trial, but that didn’t happen. The City of Spokane, that sweet-smelling unmalodorous piece of democratic justice in action, should be standing at our side demanding justice for Otto Zehm, but that has not happened either.

Liz Riley for the Peace, Justice and Action League (PJALS), for all her vast capabilities and administrative improvements, still has yet to learn that in order to hold a public demonstration, that she needs to inform the public well in advance, not just the same predictable members of PJALS.

In the Bible it states that Jesus wept. In Community Comment let history show that Dave stood and bawled his eyes out because only forty people showed up to protest the unwarranted death of an innocent man. Never forget Otto.


Poor Pitiful City Wants MORE of your Money!

In this morning’s paper, there is a little article entitled, “City fees jump for trash, other code violations,” by Jonathan Brunt.  It can also be found at 


City Council, Monday night, passed a series of ordinances that essentially impede on your privacy and on your constitutional rights.  All car hobbiest take note!  The City is going to play on your hobby so they can make money.

Another change will force owners of cars the city labels as “junk vehicles” to pay $200 if they want to appeal the city’s decision. The new code also allows the city to issue a $513 ticket for owners who do not abide by junk car rulings, something it couldn’t do before.


Currently, appeals of junk car violations with the city’s hearing examiner are automatic and free.


“We would be holding a lot of hearings that nobody showed up to,” Mallahan said.


It is illegal to store cars outside enclosed structures when most of the following conditions exist: they are inoperable, more than 3 years old, substantially damaged or have a value equal to or less than its scrap value.

 The fees?  $200 if you want to appeal.  $513 if you do not “abide.”


I know several car buffs that have two or three cars they are working on - and usually two of those cars are parts for the third.  And they might all be “damaged” and surely are older than three years, and a couple of them might be missing a motor, which now resides in the third.


This activity is usually done in the back yard and/or garage.  It is private property.  It is fenced in.  It is not viewable from the street.  It is neither a hazard nor a nuisance, nor is it debris.


Other ordinances were passed Monday night that will cost you!  Say you are a poor law student, studying all your waking hours at the library, and you leave a couple bags of your garbage out for a while and even though you’ve got Uncle Teddy volunteering to drive up and help you take it to the dump - o no!!!  The city won’t let you do that.  They will come in and haul it off for you and charge you for the cost.  $284.


It’s all about money.  “The increased charges are expected to generate about $100,000 for the city this year, about double what the city otherwise would have collected.” (from Brunt article)

This will have a huge impact on low income families, on the elderly, on renters (AND their landlords).  It is an invasion of our personal rights to live on our property and have possessions that we value.  Pretty soon, that 60-year old rusted out Schwinn bike you are using as an art decoration is going to be “defined by City Code” as unsightly debris.   It boils down to whose definition of “junk” are we going to use.   

Even though Bob Apple made several very pertinent and to the point objections to these ordinances and said he wanted no part of it, the ordinances were passed without a blink by the other four members present.  It’s all about money.

Think Big Brother isn’t watching you?  Think again.  The Gestapo-disguised city employees will be having cameras around their necks, ready to climb the neighbor fence in order to capture your “debris” in your fenced in back yard.  


A commemoration of the death of Otto Zehm…

Good morning, Netizens…

Lest anyone forget today is the fourth anniversary of the Otto Zehm murder at the hand of the Spokane Police Department, a date that not even the Spokesman-Review’s own Doug Clark could not willfully overlook here:

PJALS has sent out the following invitation to attend a demonstration which states, in part, Don’t forget about the vigil for Otto Zehm, Thursday, March 18 at 12:00 noon in front of the Zip Trip/Cenex at N. 1712 Division (just south of the White elephant).

Due to my “real day job” and the short notice given of this public event, unfortunately I will be unable to attend this important event.

Perhaps someone can sit down and write a cogent explanation of why Otto Zehm was killed. Thus far, in my opinion, all the information we have received from Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks simply does not hold up well to public scrutiny, and the Office of the Police Ombudsman lacks the proper authority to prosecute those involved.

I have been told that John Olsen will attend this event and perhaps get some pictures which will be uploaded as quickly as they arrive.


Gay marriage in politics…

Good morning Netizens…

This cartoon was simply too good to pass up:

If that doesn’t wake everyone up, I’ll have to slink back into my corner.


A bogus announcement at Wal-Mart…

Good morning, Netizens…

You are vapidly cruising down the aisles of Wal-Mart doing a little shopping when an authoritative voice echoes over the public address system that states, “Attention Wal-Mart customers: All black people leave the store now.”

An unknown man used the public-address system at the Route 42 store in Washington Township New Jersey Sunday night to make that announcement, and nobody in store management seems to have an inkling how the event took place.

Washington Township police and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating the incident as a possible bias crime. A bias crime? That sounds to me more like a hate crime, but I could be wrong.

To be more equitable about it, rather than issue the various apologies and disclaimers that everyone at the Wal-Mart store have issued since this ugly event took place, I believe the store should issue a statement over the same public address system that says, “Attention Wal-Mart customers: All white people leave the store now.”

At least Wal-Mart’s apparent bigotry would be more on an equal plane. I’ll admit it wouldn’t solve the problem, but it would be an interesting first step.


C.I. Shenanigans sold to Public Facilities District…

Good morning Netizens…

The Spokane Public Facilities District has purchased the C.I. Shenanigan’s restaurant. Oh?

Shenanigan’s is sited about 25 feet northeast of the convention center. That would make it a big target in the eyes of the the Facilities District, that has consistently buying up land adjacent to the convention center. Facilities District Executive Director Kevin Twohig said buying the restaurant, at 332 N. Spokane Falls Court, will allow for convention center expansion.

However, the district will not set up a plan nor take a proposal to the voters yet, according to Twohig.

The City of Spokane is broke, deeply in debt, but it just keeps spending money as if there was no limit. The Facilities District members are not elected into office, nor do the voters have any say over how they spend their money, yet the taxpayers are on the hook for every penny they spend. How does this work?

Doesn’t this have the aroma of the River Park Square funding all over again? I’m truly perplexed over how the voters are sitting by and allowing this to happen, over and over again without saying, “Stop the spending now!”

The Public Facilities District is taking a fine eatery and good employer off the tax bases and replacing it with an unknown plan, with no apparent proposal in mind. Someone needs to stop the runaway horse cart.


Peter Graves dies in Los Angeles…

Good morning, Netizens…

Actor Peter Graves passed away yesterday of a probable heart attack, a few days before his 84th birthday in Los Angeles.

Did you know that actor Peter Graves, star of movies Mission Impossible, Stalag 17 and Airplane (and its sequel) was the brother of another famous star, James Arness, the star of Gunsmoke? You can see the familial resemblance in the schnoz I am told.

Before Graves long and illustrious career in television and movies, he was a champion hurdler in high school in Minnesota, as well as a clarinet player in dance bands and a radio announcer. After two years in the Air Force, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota as a drama major and worked in summer stock before following his older brother west to Hollywood.

Graves had a 60-plus year marriage to his childhood sweetheart, and had three daughters — Kelly Jean, Claudia King and Amanda Lee — and six grandchildren.

Somehow it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Rest in Peace.


Not in my school you don’t? You should!

Good morning, Netizens…

When I read the piece on the AP wire earlier this week about the young woman, an avowed lesbian, who wanted to take her girlfriend to her senior prom and they canceled the prom I sat upright in my chair. Then I learned she had lawyered up and sued to force her Mississippi School District to reinstate the dance. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi on Thursday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oxford on behalf of 18-year-old Constance McMillen, who said she faced some unhappy classmates after the Itawamba County School District said it wouldn’t host the April 2 prom.

“Somebody said, ‘Thanks for ruining my senior year,’” McMillen said of her reluctant return Thursday to Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton.

The lawsuit seeks a court order for the school to hold the prom. It also asks that McMillen be allowed to escort her girlfriend, who is a fellow student, and wear a tuxedo, which the school said also violated policy. Oh? I thought wearing a tux to the prom was purportedly a cool thing to do.

The district’s decision Wednesday came after the ACLU demanded that officials change a policy banning same-sex prom dates because it said it violated students’ rights. The ACLU said the district violated McMillen’s free expression rights by not letting her wear a tux.

McMillen said she didn’t want to go back to the high school in Fulton the morning after the decision, but her father told her she needed to face her classmates.

“My daddy told me that I needed to show them that I’m still proud of who I am,” McMillen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “The fact that this will help people later on, that’s what’s helping me to go on.”

McMillen says she hopes her fight will make it easier for gay students at other schools facing discrimination.

Southside Baptist Church Pastor Bobby Crenshaw said he’s seen the South portrayed as “backwards” on Web sites discussing the issue, “but a lot more people here have biblically based values.”

Itawamba County is a rural area of about 23,000 people in north Mississippi near the Alabama state line. It’s near Pontotoc County, Miss., where more than a decade ago school officials were sued in federal court over their practice of student-led intercom prayer and Bible classes.

Now the hard questions. If you were the parent(s) of a young woman who announced she wanted to attend her Senior Prom in a tux with her significant other would you have the courage to support her, as did McMillen’s father? Do student rights include same-sex prom dates?

I submit times are changing/have changed. I’d wager the courts will support McMillen, as well they should.


Here come the leprechauns!

 Good morning, Netizens…

Aren’t you glad yesterday was FRIDAY? Today is the Saint Patty’s Day Parade which weaves its way through downtown Spokane while the Irish and temporarily-Irish drink green beer and make promises they may or may not keep. Of course St. Patty’s Day doesn’t actually come until later next week, but I guess that means everyone can say they are Irish and get stinko on green beer until then.

Of course if everyone is plotzed to the gills on cheap green beer, nobody will notice how County Commissioner Mark Richard wrote a glow-in-the-dark summation of our fine county’s accomplishments, neatly overlooking the debacle of Spokane’s Raceway Park, which we aren’t through paying for yet. Of course we aren’t finished spending money we don’t have in-pocket by a long shot. There is the thoroughly madhouse way we have been trading on our good looks (since there is a huge deficit in the County Budget) to parlay the YMCA building into something profitable.

Oh, I get it. All the county officials are hoping we can ignore the smell that emanates out of the Office of the County Assessor’s Office. You did see Assessor Ralph Baker’s explanatory ad in yesterday’s Good Paper, didn’t you? Didn’t that explain all the issues that KREM-2’s Randy Shaw brought to the surface about the shambles in the Assessor’s Office?

Baker’s bright, shiny teeth, which is about all he shows when he senses he is trapped, much like how he lawyers up with smooth ease on-camera is the best smile that tax payers money can buy. Try calling Baker’s office and see what you get. He only returns phone calls when he wants to.

Just do not cross Assessor Ralph Baker. In addition to having a glittering smile upon demand, like a true Irish leprechaun, he can make public records disappear. Poof! Just like that, and he’ll make it sound like you were responsible all along. Put a little green leprechaun hat on Ralph Baker and put him in the St. Patty’s Day Parade, remembering, of course, to keep a smiling face where he can see it.


International Women’s History Month…

Good morning, Netizens…

March 8th, in honor of International Women’s History Month, a special ceremony was held at the White House which was attended by a stellar collection of women crossing all demographic and geographic positions. You may, of course, view the entire program here:

There is also access to the text of the entire program on the above link, which is full of enlightening and often candid statements about women in life throughout the world.

President Barak Obama, in his opening remarks, perhaps stated the facts which some may dispute, but that speak to the history of women.

“But even as we reflect on the hope of our history, we must also face squarely the reality of the present -– a reality marked by unfairness, marked by hardship for too many women in America. The statistics of inequality are all too familiar to us — how women just earn 77 cents for every dollar men make; how one in four women is the victim of domestic violence at some point in her life; how women are more than half the population, but make up only 17 percent of the seats in Congress, and less than 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.” President Barak Obama

What others in the Blog community have reflected on, rather than the content of the program is that President and Mrs. Obama appear to flirt prior to and during the program. The picture, which accompanies this piece, from Huffington Post, shows a radiant First Lady and her husband, as they departed from the program on International Women’s Month. I personally think the offhand flirting between the Obamas is healthy and only adds to their personal charisma.

Sitting atop the sum of 40 years of observing the rising role of women in government and corporate affairs, I cannot help but state, yes, women’s rights around the world are getting better than they were in my younger years, but they are far from the type of equality that our President alluded to in his comments; I agree with his sentiments that women still have a lot of Glass Ceilings that need breaking, that the battle for equality is not over.

It is perhaps very easy for many in public and private life to overlook, if not dismiss entirely, the many accomplishments of women throughout history. It is even more simple to ignore the absolute demands that women must increasingly train their daughters and granddaughters to rise to the challenges that still remain.

Most of all, we need to train our sons and grandsons to accept the wisdom of wise women, wherever and however they may find them.


The aftermath…

Good morning, Netizens…

As a former storm chaser, the most-difficult part, once you actually found a supercell capable of generating a funnel cloud was dealing with the incredible damage done where the tornado met humanity. While I realize most people reading this blog have little to no interest nor experience in dealing with tornadoes, as we generally do not frequently see them in Spokane. However, when and where they strike are still matters of personal interest.

The sleepy town of Hammon, Oklahoma had warning, and according to the news wires, no one was killed, despite some of the hysteria in the voices of the young storm chasers who videotaped the multi-funnel tornadoes yesterday. You can, of course, find their offerings on, as there are several different versions of how the tornado developed.

Here, then, is the video of the damage of the F2 tornado in Hammon, Oklahoma.


Gonzaga goes down in flames…

Good morning, Netizens…

Last evening St. Mary’s upset favored Gonzaga from the opening tip-off. Although the final score was 81-62, Gonzaga only held a narrow lead for a short time, toward the end of the second half then St. Mary’s lead began increasing steadily.

I’ll leave it to the sports analysts to tell us why the Zags lost this game so vital to winning the title. I’m sure they will have a cogent reason for what originally seemed like a nearly sure-fire chance for Gonzaga to attend the “big dance” this year, a chance that petered out by the middle of the second quarter of the game.

I can only imagine the trip home from Las Vegas will be somber, subdued and very reflective of a long exciting season that went down in smoke.


Big mess in County Assessor’s Office…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

(Portions of this story by KREM-TV and Randy Shaw)

It originally struck me as a bit odd that the Spokesman had not picked up the news story by KREM-2’s Randy Shaw involving Spokane County Assessor Ralph Baker, which is extensively documented here:

As I later found out, generally speaking news agencies seldom “grab” investigative news stories which are broken by other news sources. It is a matter of protocol, an unspoken agreement if you will, and since it has been decades since I last worked as a journalist in a Big City environment, this came as no surprise to me. Things change over time.

This story begins with a whistle-blower complaint of possible criminal fraud filed by Debi Mason, a former Spokane County Assessor who once worked for Ralph Baker. When KREM’s Randy Shaw investigated her whistle-blower complaint he discovered there were at least 20 million dollars worth of properties missing from the County tax rolls. Some of the property owners admitted to Randy Shaw they knew they owed Spokane County back taxes, but despite email and phone call contacts were unable to get anyone from the Spokane County Assessors’ office to come out and settle the evaluations.

At the end of Randy Shaw’s written report regarding the “Mess in the Assessors Office” there is an ominous note. The Assessor’s Office has pulled all of the records on any properties or homes Randy Shaw owns in Spokane County. Despite repeatedly calling the Assessor’s Office and specifically Assessor Baker to find out why they’ve pulled his personal property records, so far no one has called him nor myself back with why they did that.

I spoke with a handful of property appraisers this afternoon who routinely deal with assessments at the Assessor’s Office and they all agree, such behavior is both highly questionable, if not illegal. I also spoke with Randy Shaw by phone and verified the information presented herein.

On a brighter note, County Assessor Ralph Baker is up for re-election this year. 

I cannot help but wonder if Ralph Baker will clean up the mess in the County Assessor’s Office before the ballots hit the box?


Another view of Democracy…

Good morning, Netizens…

Ah, Democracy, at least as practiced by the American people. Cartoonist David Horsey gives us an irreverent glimpse of Democracy as viewed by the people of Afghanistan, perhaps one that we cannot admit to ourselves. All we have to do is watch the Senate and House voting on Health Care legislation closely and we can see how our Democracy is fragile and subject to breakage.

David Horsey has it correct, I think. One vote can put an end to a bill, and with it, Democracy quickly goes downhill.

Now if Americans truly understood the principal of representative democracy, perhaps half the people in the House and Senate would already be out of a job and we might have our jobs back and perhaps even a health care bill we need.


Those feathers, they give it away…

Good morning, Netizens…

Spokane attorney Mike Ormsby was nominated Wednesday to be the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington. Ormby, is a partner in the K & L Gates LLP legal firm that specializes in working with local governments and public entities on municipal finance matters.

Patti Murray, a senior senator, has already praised the Ormsby selection, uttering the usual collection of inanities one hears from her office, including that he is “well-qualified for the job.”

However, several others have asserted that putting Ormsby in as US Attorney is tantamount to hiring a smooth-talking fox in a three-piece suit to guard the chicken house because of his involvement in the River Park Square Development project. Furthermore, there is a wealth of evidence which suggests they might be right.

His fingerprints are all over the history of River Park Square Development. If you look really closely though, you can see the chicken feathers in the corner of his mouth from having already raided the chicken coop a time or two already.

The only statement Ormsby needs to make is explaining the approximate $87 million dollar bill for River Park Square Development, all of which the taxpayers are going to pay. Explain that and the chicken feathers in the corners of his mouth and I might support him. Of course, maybe not.


For Dave O, a new picture…

Good morning, Netizens…

Several weeks ago Dave Oliveria suggested I get rid of my “Christmas” photo and come up with something more in keeping with what I do. Well, here tis. Now let’s see if everything works as planned.


New cast of Dancing With The Stars…

Good morning, Netizens…

Dancing With The Stars new cast of dancing competitors has been decided, host Tom Bergeron announced Monday. It includes Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, reality star Kate Goslin, Jake Pavelka, figure skater Evan Lysacek, sportscaster Erin Andrews, singer Nicole Scherzinger, football star Chad Ochocinco and actors Shannen Doherty, Aiden Turner and Niecy Nash.

It’s time to take out those dancing shoes again and see if I can remember how to waltz.

Dancing With The Stars returns to television on March 22.


How far can we go?

Good morning, Netizens…

Two days in and we are just now learning of the massive damage caused by the Chilean earthquake and tsunami waves. We should not be surprised given the similar damages in Port au Prince, Haiti, but the damages caused by the tsunami were more massive than we were originally told. It has taken that long for word to get out.

Photo: A local circus that was destroyed by the tsunami waves generated by a major earthquake is seen in the coastal town of Iloca, Chile on March 1, 2010.

REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez

What makes this unique is that only days before the 8.8 earthquake hit, Chilean rescue workers were in Haiti, still helping clean up the damages there. Although mention of this has been made in several news wires, no one has mentioned whether Haiti rescue workers have returned the favor.

This brings to mind the question if we had a major disaster of this scope in the United States, would the nations of South America likewise render aid to us?

Another question is since the United States is currently deployed in Haiti rendering aid, and it appears that American aid is being sought by Chile, what would our nation do if yet another massive disaster struck in another country? Just how deep are our pockets?


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