The corruption of public officials in Bell, California is staggering. No, that’ s not my opinion; it’s fact. Five former city council members are now convicted felons due to their misdeeds. Another official, Robert Rizzo, will face a courtroom soon.
The Bell scandal broke after The Times revealed Rizzo’s outsized salary of nearly $800,000, which experts said almost certainly dwarfed that of any other municipal administrator in the country. Rizzo’s salary financed a lifestyle that included thoroughbred horses. He owned a gelding named Dependserdel’argent — French for “spend money.” Many of the city’s other administrators also drew hefty salaries.
And now, the city’s finances have been so mishandled that there may be no reimbursement of taxpayers.
Bell still owes more than $3 million in refunds to property and business owners, including more than $800,000 that the city overcharged residents for sanitation services. City leaders told the controller’s office it didn’t have the money to make refunds.
Unchecked power is an invitation to steal. And those who aren’t grounded in ethics and morality will accept the invitation, no matter who they hurt.
For the second week in a row, 30% of Likely U.S. Voters say the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken the week ending Sunday, May 19.
The latest findings are almost identical to those a year ago and in line with voter attitudes since early March after President Obama and Congress failed to agree on a budget cutting plan and the so-called sequester cuts kicked in. Confidence in the country’s direction jumped into the low 40s last November and remained in the mid- to high 30s through February.
ESPN gets it — competition improves performance. The network has announced layoffs as it seeks to streamline operations and do a better job of delivering sports content and entertainment. It is no coincidence that the effort comes as competition looms.
ESPN, which held its annual upfront presentation for ad buyers in New York last week, faces a new competitor in the fall with the August launch of Fox Sports 1 in 81 million homes. ESPN presidentJohn Skipper addressed the new rival, noting that he’s already fending off poaching efforts.
“We at ESPN like competition,” said Skipper. “It makes us better. It makes us sharper.”
I patiently await to see if, or when, the anti-school choice crowd will acknowledge what ESPN knows.
The Durham GOP is sponsoring an event celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation on Sunday, June 2, in Raleigh. The event will be held at 2 p.m. at the NC Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St.
Speakers include NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby and the Rev. Fozard of Mt. Zion Christian Church, who will speak about Republican leadership in the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Prior to the event, attendees may view the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on display at the museum. This was the document that gave the Confederate states 100 days to lay down their arms and rejoin the Union, or else their slaves would be declared free.
Tickets are free, and may be obtained here.
Go here to obtain a full-size PDF of the above flyer.
Jane Shaw of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy has written a very interesting column about an online college course on government taught here in North Carolina. Her analysis shows a clear leftist bias in the material. Here is an example of what she found.
Week 7, Public Opinion and Participation, included three websites under the category “Politics in Action.” One was Democracy North Carolina, which promotes public finance of electoral campaigns. What about the argument against public financing? Not here.
Another was MoveOn.Org the organization created by billionaire George Soros that uses political action to counter “a political process where big money and corporate lobbyists wield far too much influence.” The third was an article from the Progressive magazine, “Bullies at the Voting Booth, 2004.” The instructor’s description of this article was “Republican dirty tricks,” and, indeed, the article warned that “Republicans may use a variety of tactics to suppress the vote of racial minorities in swing states.”
The academic reading for the week, which had been presented at the 2013 meeting of the International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining, was not partisan, although of dubious value. The paper studied whether the “Twitter political chatter” surrounding the 2011 Republican primary debates reflected national polling data (it didn’t).
“Online readings are selected to provoke discussion. I find most of the discussion from students tends to be from a conservative direction, not that [that] should be of your concern. I think students have the intellectual capacity to make their own analyses. To avoid biasing online discussion, I do not make online comments for this very reason and discussion from students is broad-ranging from all points of view, though I do think conservative comments predominate. I have used explicitly conservative sources, such as Cato Institute, in the past, though I do not select extra readings on that basis. I have not had students comment on bias in the past many years of my teaching this course.”
I take the professor at his word. There are many reasons a student would not comment to a professor who fails to offer a broad range of perspectives for discussion and analysis.
Of equal concern to me are parents. A university professor once told me he is amazed that the vast majority of parents of college kids simply, as he put it, drop their kids off at the beginning of freshman year and then pick them up at graduation, and rarely ask questions or inquire about anything other than where to send the tuition check.
There is much more to Jane’s piece, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. If we expect students to engage in critical thinking skills, we must also expect that universities function as marketplaces of ideas.
The Washington Examiner notes the incredible ObamaCare bureaucracy created within the IRS to enforce ObamaCare.
They are led by a steering committee that coordinates Obamacare implementation across the IRS. It is led by the agency’s deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, the office linked to the IRS scandal. Ousted acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller recently had that job.
Other branches include three program management offices, four services and enforcement offices, and services and enforcement exchange working teams.
We’re the IRS, and our eight special ObamaCare offices are here to help you.
The legislative effort to provide parents with education choices continues.
Sizzling oratory and stubborn statistics clashed as opponents of a tax-funded voucher bill for private schools squared off against advocates of the opportunity scholarship grants Tuesday morning in the House Education Committee.
House Bill 944 has engendered bipartisan support from black and white lawmakers from rural and urban districts with markedly different political philosophies. It drew a large audience on Tuesday, but will not be voted on for another week.
“Talents are universal, but opportunities are not,” said state Rep. Ed Hanes, D-Forsyth, a recent convert to the voucher system.
“As I thought about where we stand today I came to a simple conclusion, and that is all of our students in public schools do not have equal opportunity at a sound and basic education,” Hanes said. “I firmly believe that it is perhaps the No. 1 civil rights issue of our day, education.”
Thank goodness we have the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to ensure that these outrageous infringements on the right to free speech on college campuses are not left unchallenged.
The University of Central Florida (UCF) has reinstated Professor Hyung-il Jung three weeks after unconstitutionally suspending him on the basis of an in-class joke. FIRE wrote to UCF President John C. Hitt in April, urging this result and reminding UCF of its First Amendment obligations.
On April 23, Jung, a lecturer in UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, was leading an exam review session with roughly 25 students in an accounting course when, according to the Orlando Sentinel, he stated: “This question is very difficult. It looks like you guys are being slowly suffocated by these questions. Am I on a killing spree or what?” A student in the review session reported the joke to the UCF administration, which issued Jung a reprimand letter on April 24, suspending him from “all … university duties,” barring him from the Rosen College campus, and prohibiting “contact of any nature, with any students, for any reason.” UCF additionally demanded that Jung undergo a “thorough mental health evaluation” and obtain written certification from a medical professional that he was “not a threat to [himself] or to the university community.”
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening – or why she didn’t reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd.
Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight committee Wednesday.
“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif. The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.
This is going to get very interesting as the search for the truth continues into who gave the order to target groups aligned with the Tea Party movement and a belief in limited, constitutional government.
Parents and other proponents of education reform have long urged lawmakers to enact tax credits or other means of financial assistance for parents who send their children to nonpublic schools. This session, North Carolina lawmakers are considering House Bill 944 which would create Opportunity Scholarships to help empower parents to chose the school that will best meet the needs of their children. While HB944 is still in committee, opponents are claiming, rather inaccurately, that the scholarship program violates the First Amendment. Critics of such reforms, like the proposed opportunity scholarship program, condemn them as voucher programs; many maintain scholarship and tax credit programs violate the First Amendment because students often use the funds to attend religious schools.
Doran’s paper refutes the critics’ claim.
JLF’s Director of Education Studies, Terry Stoops, refutes other claims by critics of school choice here. Among them:
3. “Currently, North Carolina spends about $8,400 per student in public schools, which ranks us 48 nationally in per-pupil spending. Now the proponents of this bill are saying our kids can be educated for half that amount?”
Well, it is not quite “half that amount,” but it is still a fraction of the public school average. Indeed, the average private school in North Carolina spends considerably less than the state average expenditure to educate our children.
Recently, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina surveyed (PDF) 700 private schools in North Carolina. PEFNC concluded, “When looking at average tuition rates for North Carolina’s private schools, including the aforementioned higher-priced schools, the average tuition is $6,235 a year. When excluding the top 10 percent of highest-priced tuition schools, the average tuition is $4,901 – a figure that is more reflective of the majority of North Carolina’s private schools.”