Wednesday, May 30, 2012

27th Annual Fitz Brewer Duffin' fore the Ducks 2012

On Friday,  The Oregon Club of Southern Oregon will have their annual golf tournament and dinner auction at the Rogue Valley Country Club here in Medford, to raise money for University of Oregon Athletics.

Two years ago  the name of the event was changed to "The Fitz Brewer Duffin fore the Ducks" to honor Fitz who died two years ago and was know as "Mr Duck" in Southern Oregon. As I posted here when he died:


To generations of Southern Oregonians, and particularly many many local media reporters over the years, Fitz was the number one Duck fan in Southern Oregon who was always available for a quote, and often a humorous spiritual message about the importance of being a Duck. If there ever was a Duck 24 / 7, it has been Fitz. He was also a generous supporter of the Duck Athletic fund.....

Fitz has given much to this community, in volunteer time, money, enthusiasm, boosterism, arm twisting, and positive attitude. He has been more than a Tornado and a Duck.

On a personal note the meetings of the Oregon Club of Southern Oregon will be a duller place without his presence. He could light up a room with his stories and enthusiasm for the Ducks.

As a friend wrote in an email  "As Fitz steps inside the gates of Heaven, you can be guaranteed that God will hear about a team other than Notre Dame."


On Friday A bus from Eugene will bring down coaches, including head football coach Chip Kelley  and administrators to golf with Southern Oregon Duck fans. Friday night there will be a  dinner/ auction at the Rogue Valley Country Club. This is the 27th year we have had this event. Go Ducks!

Bring the Ducks & the Pac 12 Network to a TV near you!



The following information will be distributed to all the participants in the 27th Annual Fitz Brewer Duffin for the Ducks Golf Tournament & Benefit Auction at the Rogue Valley Country Club on Friday June 1, 2012
Go to www.pac-12.org/p12n.aspx and send an email to your TV cable or satellite provider and request they carry the Pac 12 Network. Better yet send a formal letter.

Pac-12 Network is the national network in a group of 7 upcoming American sports television networks dedicated to the Pac-12 Conference, scheduled to begin broadcasts in August 2012. The 7 networks, titled Pac-12 Networks, include the national network and 6 regional networks: Pac-12 Oregon (Oregon & Oregon State), Pac-12 Southern California (USC & UCLA), Pac-12 Washington (Washington & Washington State),), Pac-12 Northern California (Stanford & Cal), Pac-12 Arizona (Arizona & Arizona State), and Pac-12 Mountain (Utah & Colorado). The national network is expected to be available to at least 40 million homes at the time of launch but not yet in Southern Oregon. Charter Cable, the Dish & Direct TV have not yet agreed to carry the Pac 12 Network.


Upon launch, the networks will feature 24-hour a day, 7-day a week coverage of classic-to-current Pac-12 sports, including Olympic sports. The network ensures that every football and men's basketball game not selected by national broadcast networks such as ABC, ESPN or FOX SPORTS will be will be televised nationally on the Pac 12 Network. Sports not featured nationally on the national Pac-12 Network will be featured through the regional networks. The Pac-12 Network also has the right of first refusal over ABC, ESPN and FOX for a limited number of games. See the Chip Kelly Highlights Show! To ensure you get all the games & extras contact your carrier to request they offer both the Pac 12 National and your regional Pac 12 Network.
http://www.pac-12.org/p12n.aspx

Some of the above info from wikipedea.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Find Pac-12 Networks On Your TV

Go to Pac 12 Network to see if your cable/satellite provider will carry the Pac 12 Network to your TV

If not then it has a program so you can send a email request to that provider. Let's go Duck fans in
Southern Oregon.  Send an email to Charter Cable.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day 2012




IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


"Lest We Forget"

Friday, May 25, 2012

ABC NEWS:"Obama and His Pot-Smoking ‘Choom Gang"

Link to ABC News report:

A few quotes:

Now a soon-to-be published biography by David Maraniss entitled “Barack Obama: The Story” gives more detail on Obama’s pot-smoking days, complete with testimonials from young Barry Obama’s high school buddies, a group that went by the name “the Choom Gang.” Choom was slang for smoking marijuana.
Maraniss portrays the teenage Obama as not just a pot smoker, but a pot-smoking innovator..........



**********************

Maraniss concludes his chapter on Obama’s high school years by looking at a note Obama had written in his high school yearbook in a section reserved for students to give a line or two giving thanks to those who helped along the way.




Obama had written this: “Thanks Tut [his grandmother], Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.”



Maraniss notes: “Ray was the older guy who hung around the Choom Gang, selling them pot. A hippie drug dealer made his acknowledgements; his mother did not.”



The White House told ABC News that it has no comment.
Cool dude man..................

 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Not Dark Yet"

Happy 71st Birthday Bob Dylan.

One of the best songs ever:

Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day


It’s too hot to sleep, time is running away

Feel like my soul has turned into steel

I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal

There’s not even room enough to be anywhere

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

*****************************

Well, I’ve been to London and I’ve been to gay Paree


I’ve followed the river and I got to the sea

I’ve been down on the bottom of a world full of lies

I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes

Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there


was born here and I’ll die here against my will


I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still

Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
***************

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there


http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/not-dark-yet






Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Charter Cable & the Pac 12 Network

If there is one thing Southern  Oregon Duck fans and Oregon State Beaver fans agree on is the need for Charter Cable to pick up the Pac 12 Network when it starts broadcasting in August of 2012. For years Oregon fans in Southern Oregon have been unable to get the Oregon Sports Network programing because of a dispute over carriage fees to be paid by Charter to the  Comcast Sports Net Northwest who had exclusive rights to many Oregon Duck games and programs.  Oregon fans in Southern Oregon missed out on basketball games, track events, baseball games, coaches shows and pre and post game shows. Now all programing of Pac 12 sports is being taken over by the new Pac 12 Network and we are hoping things will change for the better. However, there has been no word on any agreement between Charter Cable and the Pac 12.  I have been tweeting with a nice representative of Charter Cable but all he can do is forward my request to another department.

Wikipedia has the following information on the new Pac 12 Network:

Pac-12 Network is the national network in a group of 7 upcoming American sports television networks dedicated to the Pac-12 Conference, scheduled to begin broadcasts in August 2012. The 7 networks, titled Pac-12 Networks, include the national network and 6 regional networks: Pac-12 Southern California (USC & UCLA), Pac-12 Washington (Washington & Washington State), Pac-12 Oregon (Oregon & Oregon State), Pac-12 Northern California (Stanford & Cal), Pac-12 Arizona (Arizona & Arizona State), and Pac-12 Mountain (Utah & Colorado).[2] The national network is expected to be available to at least 40 million homes at the time of launch, while the regional networks are expected to be available in every home of their respective region in Pac-12 territory.......

Upon launch, the networks will feature 24-hour a day, 7-day a week coverage of classic-to-current Pac-12 sports, including olympic sports. The contract ensures that every football and men's basketball game will be televised nationally.[4] Sports not featured nationally on the national Pac-12 Network will be featured through the regional networks ....
On July 27, 2011, the Pac-12 Conference announced agreements with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, and Bright House Networks which will place the Pac-12 Networks on cable in nearly every home in Pac-12 territory at launch date, and up to 40 million homes nationally.[6] The agreements compliment a 12-year deal the Pac-12 Conference has entered into with Fox and ESPN beginning in 2012. The network has been in extended negotiations with satellite carriers. Larry Scott stated in an interview (8 May 2012) with Seattle sports radio station KJR that he is "quietly optimistic" that a deal will be done in time for Fall 2012.
Lets hope so!

Charter Cable is the dominate cable provider in Southern Oregon. Other than satellite TV most Oregon and Oregon State fans have no other alternative.  I now have the "Charter Bundle" but will be ready to jump to satellite if either the Dish or Direct TV work out a deal and Charter doesn't.  Its a deal changer for me. Two months and counting! Let's go Ducks.





 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

John Wayne's "Rio Grande" (1950)to Blu-Ray

The second of John  Wayne's and director John Ford's "Calvary Trilogy" is going to be released on blu-ray on August 7, 2012. Can the third "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949) be far behind.  "Fort Apache"(1948) was the first to be released on blu-ray.

 According to Wikipedia:
Rio Grande (Republic, 1950), the third part of the 'Cavalry Trilogy', co-starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, with Wayne's son Patrick Wayne making his screen debut (he appeared in several subsequent Ford pictures including The Searchers). It was made at the insistence of Republic Pictures who demanded a profitable Western as the condition of backing Ford's next project, The Quiet Man. A testament to Ford's legendary efficiency, Rio Grande was shot in just 32 days, with only 352 takes from 335 camera setups, and it was a solid success, grossing $2.25m in its first year.
Director John Ford used the movie try out Wayne and O'Hara together to see if they would work well together and the rest is history. They were magic.



 The plot according to Wikipedia:


Rio Grande, Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke is posted on the Texas frontier to defend settlers against depredations of marauding Apaches. Col. Yorke is under considerable stress between the Apaches using Mexico as a sanctuary from pursuit and by a serious shortage of troops of his command.


Tension is added when Yorke's son (whom he hasn't seen in fifteen years), Trooper Jeff Yorke (Claude Jarman Jr.), is one of 18 recruits sent to the regiment. He has flunked out of West Point and immediately enlisted as a private in the Army. Not wanting to give any impression that he is showing favoritism towards his son, Col. Yorke ends up being harsher dealing with Jeff than the others. By his willingness to undergo any test and trial, Jeff is befriended by a pair of older recruits, Travis Tyree (Ben Johnson) (who is on the run from the law) and "Sandy" Boone (Harry Carey, Jr.), who take him under their wings.

With the arrival of Yorke's estranged wife, Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara), who has come to take the under-age Yorke home with her, further tension is added. During the war, Yorke had been forced by circumstances to burn Bridesdale, his wife's plantation home in the Shenandoah valley. Sgt. Quincannon (Victor McLaglen), who put the torch to Bridesdale, is still with Yorke and provides a constant reminder to Kathleen of the episode. In a showdown with his mother, Jeff refuses her attempt by reminding her that not only the commander's signature is required to discharge him, but his own as well, and he chooses to stay in the Army. The tension brought about in the struggle over their son's future (and possibly the attentions shown to her by Yorke's junior officers) rekindles the romance the couple once felt for each other.


Yorke is visited by his former Civil War commander, Philip Sheridan (J. Carrol Naish), now commanding general of his department. Sheridan has decided to order Yorke to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico in pursuit of the Apaches, an action with serious political implications since it violates the sovereignty of another nation.




The memorable quotes of the movie I love, that has relevance today, is the dialog between Lt. Col. Yorke (Wayne) and his commanding officer Lt. General Philip Sheridan (J Carrol Naish) who is inspecting Wayne's post.


Wayne has just returned to the fort after a difficult battle with the Apaches who escaped by crossing the Rio Grande river into Mexico. Gen. Phil Sheridan is waiting in Wayne's Tent.



Wayne: "Good evening sir."

Sheridan: "Have a cup of your own coffee."

Wayne: "I've been thinking of nothing else for the last two hours."

Sheridan: "Tough ha."

Wayne: "Tough Sir."

Sheridan: "I haven't had a cup of duty coffee with you since we rode down the Shenandoah together. Fifteen yours ago wasn't it?" (directer John Ford was a student of the American Civil War)

Wayne: "Fifteen years, two months and seven days."

Sheridan: "How did you fare on patrol."

Wayne: "Had a running fight for 30-odd miles. We captured Natchez their chief and eight others before the Apaches reached the Rio Grande and crossed into Mexico. Pursuant to orders I halted on our side of the river. Men didn't like it very much."

Sheridan: Neither did you. Neither do I, but that's the policy and soldiers don't make policy they merely carry it out."

Wayne: "The State Department could do something."

Sheridan: Yes, they'll write a sharp note of protest. If you care to read notes of protest."

Wayne: I'll disclaim them over the graves of the troopers who were guarding the water holes. Three of them staked face down on ant hills."

Sheridan: "You've got the dirtiest job in the army no doubt of that."

Wayne: I'm not complaining sir, I get paid for it."

Sheridan: "Maybe you should complain. I'll listen."

Wayne: This coffee isn't as good as it used to be."

Sheridan: "I'll make a note of that. Maybe someday it'll get better and stronger."

Wayne: "I'll drink to that sir... Stronger."


********************


Folks, this is not "Dances with Wolves"


********************


Later in the movie there is another conversation between Wayne (Yorke) and Gen. Sheridan after the Apache Indians raid the army post and kidnap a wagon full of children from the post and escape across the Rio Grande River into Mexico.


Sheridan: "Now I'll probably ruin your army career. I'm going to issue an order and give it to you personally. I want you to cross the Rio Grande. Hit the Apache and burn them out. I'm tired of hit and run. I'm sick of diplomatic hide and seek. .... be prepared to remain all winter. All next winter if necessary.

Wayne: I've waited a long time for that order sir. Which, of course I didn't hear."

Sheridan: Of course you-didn't hear. I assure you if you fail the members of your court marshal will be the men who rode with us down the Shenandoah. I'll hand pick them my self."

Wayne: "Shenandoah"

Sheridan: "I wonder what history will say about Shenandoah?"

Wayne: "How about a cup of coffee? You'll find it stronger!"


******************


Having grown up watching this movie and having loved this dialog I was not shocked about Lt Col. Oliver North and Iran/Contra or George W. Bush and waterboarding. What will history say about Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush! Our coffee was much stronger then.

Did this movie make me a "Hawk" ?



Former Portland TV reporter Robin Chapman has a post on her blog about a day she escaped into the Ford/Wayne west to watch this move. It is quite good.
http://robinchapmannews.blogspot.com/2009/05/lost-in-west-with-john-wayne.html

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Obama’s mask continues to slip"


:

The Obama administration is going crazy over a new CBS/ New York Times poll that the Times hid inside their newspaper on page A17. I wonder why? The poll shows that 67 percent of American people think President Obama's change of position  on same-sex marriage was done mostly for political reasons rather than principle.

Peter Wehner of Commentary Magazine:

my hunch is that what’s really driving the president crazy is that 67 percent of Americans think Obama’s stand on same-sex marriage was done mostly for political reasons rather than principled ones.... (CBS/New York Times poll)

Obama’s mask continues to slip. He is nothing like the image he created (post-ideological, non-partisan, high-minded, inspirational, unifying). He is, it turns out, a very liberal, rather ruthless, and deeply cynical politician. The fact that he is these things doesn’t bother him in the least. But the fact that more and more Americans are aware he’s these things bothers him quite a lot.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/05/15/obama-mask-slips-in-poll/

Here's Johnny

Last night I watched the two hour PBS program American Masters about Johnny Carson. In a Jay Leno world I sure miss him. From 1962 until 1992 he was how I went to sleep each night.  He was like a warm blanket. In law school I would study till 11 pm and then relax watching Johnny and The Tonight Show before I went to sleep.   No matter how upsetting or hectic or boring  the day had been I always looked forward to a few minuets escape from the cares of the day while I watched his opening monologue.
I remember  Steve Allen the first host of the show and loved Jack Parr who followed.  Parr was very volatile  and you never knew what he was going to do. Maybe not the best way to end the day.  But Johnny was different.  You wanted to be like him.  He was cool and funny. I remember a day I damaged my car and it was very emotional but at the end of the day it was OK because I could watch Johnny and he was always there, except when he had a guest host, which was always a disappointment.

I loved his skits and his many characters, I loved Ed, and Doc. I loved what he did when a joke fell flat and his doing his golf swing. I loved it when the show was in New York and when he would take the show to California for a week before he moved the show there permanently.  In the late 1970's my wife and I went on a NBC tour of the Burbank Studios ("Beautiful downtown Burbank":)) and was so disappointed when I saw how small and cheap the set looked in real life. I loved it when Bill Buckley  and Truman Capote were guests.

Carson told political jokes but was balanced and fair and it was difficult to determine what his political views were. But, it wasn't about politics it was about the fact all of America was there each night for a little fun. All good things come to an end.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Movie: "We Bought a Zoo (2011) ****




Yesterday my wife and I watched in "the man cave" this movie in Blu-ray from our Netflix account. The Director is Cameron Crowe who is one of my favorites of the current directors.  He has made such movies as "Elizabethtown," "Jerry Maguire," and his semi autobiographic "Almost Famous." According to Wikipedia:
We Bought a Zoo is a 2011 comedy-drama film based on the 2008 memoir of the same name by Benjamin Mee. The film is directed by Cameron Crowe, and stars Matt Damon as the lead character....
Recently widowed Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon), still grieving his loss, starts life over by buying a large house with a zoo in the back. Although reluctant to take on a zoo and all of its animals, he decides to give it a try, delighting his 7-year-old daughter, Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), but causing his 14-year-old son, Dylan (Colin Ford), to unhappily retreat into his artwork. The zoo staff, led by head keeper, Kelly (Scarlett Johansson), help....
As would be expected in a Crow directed movie the soundtrack is wonderful.  It has both original music and a compilation of soft rock/folk tunes by a large number of artist including Randy Newman, Dylan and Tom Petty. Unfortunately, only the original music, which is still quite good,  made the released CD of the soundtrack.

The little girl,(Maggie Jones) is very good .

The movie is a little "darker" than I expected as a great deal of time is spent on how the main characters deal with the loss of their mom/wife. Before I saw the movie I was afraid it would be just another comedy like say "The Money Pit" but this is much deeper.

I am not a big fan of Scarlett Johansson but she was fine in her part. Matt Damon is quite good as the father.

I hid my eyes during the "snake scene."

This is a good movie for families, but at the same time is an adult movie that teaches important values about family and loss. .  I liked it a lot.





Sunday, May 13, 2012

“One hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” bribe offered

When sermons of Obama’s Chicago pastor, Jeremiah Wright, surfaced during the Iowa primaries, it threatened to derail Obama’s campaign. ABC aired one where Wright screamed, “Goddamn America!” Edward Klein interviewed Wright, who told him Obama’s team tried to buy his silence.
Barack said, ‘I’m sorry you don’t see it the way I do. Do you know what your problem is?’ And I (Rev Wright) said, ‘No, what’s my problem?’ And he(Obama) said, ‘You have to tell the truth.’ I said, ‘That’s a good problem to have. That’s a good problem for all preachers to have. That’s why I could never be a politician.’

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/the_bribe_to_silence_wright_io9jneobl3fUF0cb7LpcNM#ixzz1ulmD6fS8





Saturday, May 12, 2012

Still getting my kicks on Route 66!


In downtown Medford on Saturday at the "Art in Bloom" festival. Bought a smaller version of the picture for my 50's area of my "man cave."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

So You Want To Talk About High School!


In his book "Dreams from my Father", Barack Obama spoke about his alcohol and drug use in high school and noted that he "drank heavily, (and) tried drugs enthusiastically."
I spent the last two years of high school in a daze, locking away the questions that life seemed insistent on imposing. I kept playing basketball, attended classed sparingly, drank beer heavily, and tried drugs enthusiastically. I discovered that it didn't make any difference if you smoked reefer in the white class mates sparkling new van, or in the dorm room with some brother you'd met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl. 

On the Street Where You Live

On the way to work this morning, as I stopped for the stop sign at the entrance to our circle,  the Google Maps car turned in front of me going into the circle taking photos for the "street view" feature of Google Maps..  I started laughing and the Google driver gave me a big smile.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Bill Byrne Leaves Texas A&M AD




in 1989 the Oregon Ducks had not been to a college football bowl game in 26 years. Then that year Oregon Athletic Director, Bill Byrne, agreed to buy 14,000 tickets to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport Louisiana in return for a bowl invitation. It was a bold move and a gamble. My 6 year old son and I attended our first bowl game. Bill was a big dreamer and took Oregon to the next level and we are now in the "golden age" of Duck football. Later, I got to know his son, Greg, when he was the Duck Athletic Fund Representative in Southern Oregon. He is now the Athletic Director at Arizona. He is the "gold standard" by how we judge every DAF rep since. Bill Byrne is a great man and there is a warm spot for him in the heart of every old Duck fan.

Eagle Point Teachers Strike

This morning the Medford Mail Tribune newspaper reported the Eagle Point School teachers union are on strike. The national unemployment is 8.2%. It is 11.7% here in Jackson County, Oregon.  The Teachers union is greedy and stupid!

The following is a newsletter I received Friday from  Oregon State Representative Dennis Richardson:

I cannot remain silent when surrogates for a teachers’ union encourage 100 Eagle Point High School (EPHS) students to break school rules, march off campus and stage a protest to “respect the teachers.” Such a stunt, implicitly intended to pressure the school district to accept the union’s final offer and avoid the strike that the union called, is despicable. Notwithstanding the misinformation given to the students, the impasse in collective bargaining has everything to do with money and power, and nothing to do with respecting the good teachers of EPHS.


Eagle Point, a southern Oregon community of 8500, has become the most recent community facing the battle between public unions and public school districts. The dispute is over how limited tax resources should be spent, and after a year of collective bargaining negotiations, the teachers and classified workers at Eagle Point School District 9 are scheduled to walk out of the E.P. schools and strike.

To the best of my understanding, here’s a summary of the school district and the union’s positions:

The school district’s final offer to the union includes the following key provisions:

The annual average payroll package for teachers will total $92,000 by the third year of the proposed labor contract. The $92,000 cost for each teacher position is for 190 days work. [To be specific, 190 days at 7.5 hours per day = 1425 hours per year or $64.82 per hour.]

The compensation package includes:

an average salary of $58,000; [$58,000 divided by 1425 hrs = $41 per hour.]

a signing bonus ($400);

1% pay increase in 2013-14;

provisions for 15 “step” increases in pay;

increase in payment (phased from $978 mo. to $998 mo.) toward employee and family’s group medical, dental, vision, life insurance;

100% of Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) retirement benefits payments—including both the employer’s and the employees’ contributions to the PERS retirement plan for full-time employees.

The main areas of contention are two concessions sought by the school district:

1. Payment of employee benefits should be based on the number of hours worked (currently the District pays $978 every month toward the cost of health benefits for bus drivers who are on-the-job as little as 4-5 hours per day and the District wants part-time employees to start paying a portion of their benefit costs); and

2. The District reserves the right to subcontract for support services when doing so would free up money needed in the classrooms.
The union’s final offer to the school district includes the following key provisions:

No subcontracting of support service positions regardless of potential savings for the District and regardless of any financial benefit that would result for the students and classrooms.

The District shall continue paying all costs for health care benefits (approx. $12,000 per year, per employee) for all employees and their families--full-time and part-time.

The District is to continue paying full benefit costs for both spouses in a family who both work for the District ($24,000 per year), even though the cost for one employee could be saved by listing him or her as a family member.

If one spouse agrees to “participate in the Opt Out Program,” the District will be required to pay $5,000 per year to that spouse’s Section 125 “cafeteria” account.

Compensation for teachers shall increase by 1% for 2012-13, in addition to the “step” pay increases, longevity increases and special duty pay for which teachers may currently qualify.

Here’s my analysis: Since the existing union/school district contract was the starting point of the failed negotiations, I started my research by reading it. The 2008-11 collective bargaining agreement contains the following provisions for Eagle Point teachers:

1. Maximum work year of 190 days (38 weeks on the job; 14 weeks off);

2. No more than 176 “pupil contact” days (35.2 weeks of actual teaching);

3. Not more than 7 ½ hours of work per day—lunch break not included.

4. All negotiated pay increases;

5. Additional automatic “step” pay increases available: 3.4% each year (15 steps in the first 15 years of employment), compounded annually;

6. Additional 3.4% of base pay available in every year when 15 credit hours of education is completed;

7. Additional 3% of base pay each year after 14 years;

8. Additional 2% of base pay each year after 18 years;

9. District pays $978 per month toward cafeteria plan of health benefits for the entire family;

10. Full District pays 100% PERS benefits, including both the employer’s and employees’ portions.

11. District pays health benefits after retirement at the rate paid on date of retirement and continuing until retiree reaches age 65 (some reductions forthcoming).

I have spoken to representatives for Eagle Point School District 9. The District has spent more than $1 million in the past year from its reserves. Thus, it is already spending at an unsustainable rate. By June 30, 2012, the District will have just over $3.7 million remaining in its Reserve Fund. To finance the District’s final offer will cost the District an additional $500,000 from its reserves by June 30, 2013. If the District were to accept the union’s final offer, it would cost the District an additional $1 million and leave its Reserve Fund with only $2.7 million remaining by June 30, 2013.

I chided the District for spending down its reserves when there is no economic recovery on the horizon and the high cost of Oregon’s social programs is likely to cause further flat-lining of state support for K-12 education. The District expressed pride in its teachers, its students and the progress being made in the quality of student achievement. Unfortunately, to balance its budget, even without additional costs, the District must either continue spending its reserves, cut teachers or cut the number of school days in the school year. Students cannot be taught if their school is closed. So far, the decision has been to spend down reserves, and everyone agrees this is a temporary solution to a long-term problem. The District is convinced it is doing everything possible to reach an agreement with the union while staying true to the District’s primary mission of providing the best education possible for Eagle Point students within the financial resources the State and taxpayers have provided to it.

The union, on the other hand, is working for its members and not the students. This is what unions do. One official involved with the negotiations recalled that when an issue came up that would have cost $100,000, the District said there was no money to pay for it. The union representative’s response was the District could just lay off a teacher. Once again union representatives take the position, if you have to lay off teachers and cut school days to get the public to raise taxes and spend more money on education, then that is what you should do.

For decades the public unions have held the power in collective bargaining negotiations. They repeatedly have gotten their demands by threatening to walk off the job and strike. Now the money has run out and further tax increases are “off the table.” There is no longer an alternative. Public agencies and school districts are being forced to stand firm.

In response, the unions call for a strike and focus on generating propaganda to coerce public agencies to cave under misinformed pressure from the media and public—even using children for union purposes. I’ve seen this done at the Capitol when young children were brought in to beg legislators to vote for higher allocations to the State K-12 Budget. Now we are seeing Eagle Point High School students being used as pawns for the teachers’ union.

It is time for such antics to stop. The unions are all about maintaining power and getting concessions for their members—I understand that. Nevertheless, public agencies and school districts cannot just raise the price of their products or move production off-shore like businesses would to deal with escalating labor costs.

The Eagle Point School District has limited financial resources. It relies on taxpayers to provide its funding and must live within its means.

It is my opinion that the citizens should stand with their School District and resist the union’s threats and bluster. If the teachers believe a $92,000 annual pay package for 38 weeks of work is too low, let them walk off the school grounds and strike. But, they should not be surprised or complain when the School District hires new teachers, who would be happy to have the pay and benefits the union members disparage.

The public employee unions have extorted too much from the taxpayers for too long. The cost of salaries, 100% payment of Benefits and 100% payment of PERS costs is running Eagle Point School District’s well dry. If the public employee unions refuse to acknowledge the economic realities being faced daily by the average taxpayer and refuse to cooperate with our public servants who must live within their budgets, their union members will have to live with the consequences.

The focus should be on the best interests of the students, their classrooms and their teachers, and balancing these needs with the resources available to the School District. I believe the Eagle Point School District is attempting to do this, and I, for one, will stand with them. If a strike results, so be it.

Sincerely,

Dennis Richardson

State Representative



Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Milbank:"President Obama, campaigner in chief"

Even liberal Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, has noticed that President Obama campaigns 24/7. A few quotes from his column:

In a political culture that long ago surrendered to the permanent campaign, Obama has managed to take things to a whole new level. ....

for total first-term fundraisers — 191 — and that’s only through March 6. Measured in terms of events that benefit his reelection bid, Obama’s total (inflated in part by relaxed fundraising rules) exceeds the combined total of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.....

To a greater extent than his predecessors, Obama has used the trappings of his office to promote his reelection prospects even while handling taxpayer-funded business.

Still, Obama’s acquiescence to an intolerable status quo raises a question: Shouldn’t presidential leadership be about setting an example?

Instead, he is erasing the already blurred lines between campaigning and governing.
Entire column here