The Road To 100

November 3, 2011

Occupy Responsibility

Filed under: Observation — coachbogey @ 2:21 PM
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I have been following the Occupy (fill in the blank) movement trying to figure out just what exactly the occupiers want.  I have heard and read countless interviews with participants and just can’t seem to place my finger on why they are actually protesting.  College loans?  Lack of opportunities?  Concentration of wealth?  It seems that the answer to all of these is “yes.”  There are other reasons as well but I don’t need to list them all. 

I share some things in common with the people occupying various cities.  First, I am not one of the 1% of the wealthiest Americans.  Second, I…um…I like to go camping.

I look at life through a very different lens than the people involved in the “Occupy” movement.  I believe very strongly in personal accountability.  I am not a rich man.  I have chosen to enter a field that will never make me rich.  As a schoolteacher I work very hard at my job to provide for my family.  I do not look at others with envy but instead am thankful for the many blessings in my life.

I take responsibility for my actions.  I was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to pay for my college education.  I graduated from Assumption College and went to work selling motorhomes and travel trailers for a living.  After twelve years I found myself wanting to change careers and become a teacher.  This, of course, meant going back to college.  This time I had to pay for school myself.  After researching schools, I chose Worcester State College.  Being a state school meant that I could afford the tuition while still receiving a quality education.  I could have gone to a more “prestigious” school, but I didn’t want to put myself deep in debt before going into a modest paying career.

Once out of school, I worked tirelessly at finding work.  I took on substitute teaching jobs and worked part-time when I wasn’t out actively trying to find a job.  I networked with anyone and everyone who was willing to listen to my qualifications.  Eventually, I was able to find a job at the school where I presently work.

Ok, so you are thinking, “Why is this guy spilling out his life story?” 

I have a couple of reasons for sharing my story here.  I can’t relate to the movement sweeping the country because I don’t look for handouts.  Ultimately, that seems to be what the movement is all about.  People who are unhappy with their lot in life are looking for those who have what they want (money) to share it with them.  For a few reasons I can’t relate to their thinking no matter how much I try. 

First, I could have continued in my original sales job, but it didn’t provide for me what I was looking for.  I made more money in sales, in fact, considerably more money.  I also found myself working nights and weekends and often not having the time I desired to spend with my family.  Had money been a major desire of mine, then sacrifices would have had to be made.  This seems like an obvious statement but I believe many people have lost site of this fact.  Riches weren’t going to be magically handed to me overnight.  It was going to take a long time and at a great sacrifice.  Make no mistake, I work very hard now but I also get to enjoy vacations and summers, two things which would have been greatly limited had I stayed in the business world.

Second, when I went back to school I could have gone to a more expensive college.  Bottom line, I didn’t think I could afford that route.  I didn’t want to be saddled with student loans that would have taken years to pay off.  I decided on a less expensive education that more than qualified me for my chosen profession at a price I could afford to pay without taking loans.  It is for this reason I can’t look at a protester holding a sign complaining about student loans with any sympathy.  If you choose to attend the more expensive school, then you need to pay for your choice.  It is a simple concept.  I can’t stand the idea of enjoying the benefits of the loan (your years at school) then protesting your responsibility to pay for your choices.

Finally, I have to assume that most of the protesters are unemployed.  After all, it is difficult to occupy land 24 hours a day and still hold a job.  Shouldn’t these protesters be out looking for work rather than complaining they can’t find any?  How does one complain about not being able to find a job if one is not willing to put forth the effort to look?

I understand these are difficult economic times.  There are people who have lost their jobs and are actively trying to find work.  I know of people who are now working jobs for which they are over qualified because it is better than not working at all.  There are people who legitimately can’t find work in the field for which they prepared (and I don’t mean philosophy or music therapy), but the people legitimately looking for work aren’t camping on Boston Common.

Anyway, in thinking about everything I have taken in about the movement, which I will admit is limited since I have to work everyday, I share with you the video below which was shared with me by a friend.  It just sums up the prevalent attitude that seems to driving much of the craziness around us.

By the way, the Occupy Boston site lists on the November 3 events calendar from 3:00 to 5:00 in the “Sacred Space Tent” Thai Massage with Cee.  Now that is how you change the world.

March 11, 2011

What Would You Do?

Filed under: Observation — coachbogey @ 11:11 PM
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I love my sons.

I have been blessed with two beautiful sons, both of whom I love very much.  As with any caring parent, there are times I worry about them.  Whether they are off with relatives, on a camping trip with the Boy Scouts, or just over a friend’s house, in the back of my mind I can’t help but sometimes worry.  Statistically, crime committed against children is no worse today than when I was growing up.  In fact, according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, homicide against juveniles is at a lower rate today than at any point since 1976. Yet, as safe as I knew they are, I can’t help but worry.

Today I came across a story that got me thinking about what I would do if someone harmed one of my boys.  It made me stop and think about my initial reaction and what the responsible reaction might be.

Jason Foreman

In 1975, five year-old Jason Foreman was having fun up the street from his home in Peace Dale Village located in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.  It was a beautiful spring day as young Jason played in a wooded area with his older brother and three other boys.  A disagreement over a fort led the to the boys throwing rocks at each other prompting Jason to declare, “Im going home.”

On his way home he encountered 16-year old Michael Woodmansee who was sitting on the front steps of his father’s home just up the street from the Foreman’s house.  Woodmansee was a chunky loner who was a junior at South Kingstown High School.  As he watched Jason approach, Woodmansee called out to the boy to help with something inside the house.  Once in the house, he stabbed Jason once in the chest.

“I kept checking to see if he was really dead,” Woodmansee would later tell police.

Once he was sure Jason was dead, Woodmansee intended to bury the body under the foundation, but upon seeing the concrete floor, he wrapped Jason’s body in a rug and stuffed it into a trunk.

Later that day, search parties spread throughout the community looking for the little boy.  Each house on the street was searched from cellar to attic, except the Woodmansee home.  Michael Woodmansee’s father was a police reservist in town and was told to search his own home, which he never did.  Days turned into weeks turned into years without the boy ever being found.  Jason’s mother, Joice, never lost hope.  She would tell people that she believed that Jason had been kidnapped, and until proof of his death was found, she also believed he was still alive.

Then, in 1982, came a break in the case.  A local paperboy escaped the strangle hold of a would be killer and ran home to tell his father what had happened.  The boy reported that a man, Michael Woodmansee, had lured the boy into his home, gave him alcohol until he passed out, then tried to strangle him.  The boy woke up to Woodmansee holding a red bandana around the boy’s neck.  The boy’s father found Woodmansee and punched him in the face.  Woodmansee’s father then went to the police to file a complaint against the man who had punched Michael.  The officer asked Mr. Woodmansee to come to the station with his son.

There, police questioned Michael about the attack on the paperboy.  Soon after, the police began to suspect he may have had something to do with the death of Jason Foreman as well.  On the second day, Michael Woodmansee confessed to the murder of young Jason.

Years later Woodmansee would tell a psychiatrist and police that he just wanted to see what it would be like to kill somebody.  “I just saw him at the wrong time,” Woodmansee would explain.

When the police searched the Woodmansee home, they found shellacked bones that were Jason’s.  Also found was a journal detailing the murder, including how Michael ate the flesh of the little boy.  Michael would later claim that the journal was pure fiction.

Michael was found competent to stand trial.  In order to avoid having the Foreman’s reliving the tragic events of that May afternoon back in 1975, all parties agreed to a plea deal that saw 23 year-old Michael sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder of Jason Foreman.  He also received a sentence for the assault of the paperboy that was to run concurrent with the longer sentence.

Michael Woodmansee is due to be released in August.

Because of Rhode Island law, Michael Woodmansee is set to be released this August after serving just 28 years, his sentence reduced by 12 years for good behavior.

Now the part of the story that has me thinking.

On Monday, March 7, John Foreman, Jason’s father, vowed to kill Michael Woodmansee if he is released this August.

“I do intend, if this man is released anywhere in my vicinity, or if I can find him after the fact, I do intend to kill this man,” stated Mr. Foreman on a local Providence radio show.

My first reaction, which has been echoed by nearly everyone I have heard comment on this case, was, “Man, I’ll pay for the gun!  Kill the S.O.B.  That poor father, I can’t imagine his pain!”

The problem is, my first reaction was wrong for a couple of reasons.

First, John Foreman is a father.  He has another son, John Foreman V.  Yes, the surviving son is an adult now, but as I have learned in my adulthood, your father is always your father.  Think about it.  Young John has already had to deal with the brutal murder of his younger brother.  He has lived his life knowing that other than the monster who killed his brother, he is the last person to have seen Jason alive.  My brother died 31 years ago in a car accident and I still get choked up thinking about him.  I can’t imagine what it must be like for John.  Add to that the fact that young John’s mother died at a relatively young age, just 50 years-old.  Now this man may have to live with the fact that his father killed another human being.  Even if his father doesn’t go to jail, which he should, it is still a traumatic experience which will open old wounds.  Older John should do right by his son and stay with him rather than risk spending the rest of his life in prison.

John Foreman has vowed to kill his son's murderer.

Second, if John Foreman follows through on his threat he should go to jail.  I know, most people believe he shouldn’t and that a jury would never convict this guy, but they are wrong.  We live in a nation of laws, we are expected to follow those laws and not just at certain times.  Once you get into allowing “justified” premeditated murders, where does it stop.  This would be a revenge killing.  Does that mean a relative of Michael Woodmansee would then have the right to kill John Foreman?  I know this man is dealing with unfathomable pain, but killing his son’s killer would not be justified.

The plea bargain agreed to so many years ago, in part to keep the Foreman’s from having to relive the details of their son’s death, is the sentence which Woodmansee has served.  Is it enough?  In my opinion, not even close.  No one expects Jason’s father to forgive Michael Woodmansee but he needs to do the right thing and stay away from his son’s convicted killer.

If I were in John Foreman’s shoes, I do not know what I would do.  Being removed from this case allows me to think rationally, but if I were suddenly thrust into his position, I don’t know, because…

I love my sons.

March 9, 2011

Credibility Issues

Filed under: Observation — coachbogey @ 2:25 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Watch below as Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada protests the draconian cuts proposed by Senate Republicans.

Politicians wonder why the American people have lost faith in government.  Don’t misunderstand me, the Cowboy Poetry Festival may be a wonderful event for the people of Nevada, but to pay for this with federal funds at a time when the federal deficit is greater now than at any other time of our nation’s history is just wrong. 

Come to think of it, the annual senior picnic in our town is coming soon, perhaps Mr. Reid could send some cash our way.

September 2, 2010

The Reminder

Filed under: Observation,Reflections — coachbogey @ 12:13 PM
Tags: , ,

I didn’t want to go.

It was a beautiful Tuesday night.  The temperatures on this last day of August had hit the mid-nineties, and by the time early evening had rolled around the weather was perfect for an evening ride on the motorcycle.  I hadn’t been riding much as of late, so to pass up this evening felt like a crime.  But I had made a committment and I was going to honor it.

Earlier this summer, a church group of which I am a member had decided to spend an evening serving and sharing dinner with the residents at the Dismas Family Farm.  The Dismas Family Farm is a self-supporting, working farm for former prisoners of the Massachusetts’ Penal system trying to transition their way back into society.  Being a working farm, the residents all share the chores that go along with operating the facility.  A stroll through the barn reveals everything from chickens to llama.  Crop production includes fruits, vegetables, and even popcorn.  There is also an extensive woodworking shop that was producing bird feeders at the time of our visit.  The Dismas Family Farm, designed to be a stop on the road to recovery for these nonviolent former prisoners who all seemed to have drug addiction in common in their past, is nationally recognized as one of the top reentry programs in the country.

During a presentation made to our church group earlier this year, we were told by one of the volunteers that a big part of the reentry program is to have groups such as ours come to the farm, prepare a meal to share with the residents, and to spend time getting to know them.  The volunteer brought with him that evening one of the residents who briefly shared his story with us.  He made it clear how important it was that the former prisoners get to spend time with local residents.  He also told us of the importance that these men get the opportunity to see that people do care about them and want to help them succeed.  Only the most selfish of individuals would not want to take part in such a positive program.

Meet Mr. self-centered himself.

Putting aside my selfish feelings, I loaded up the macaroni salad and headed to Oakham.  The trip out was a time for me to study the perfect riding weather while experiencing some trepidation.  How on earth is a salesman like me going to fit in with ex-cons?  I’m not a wimp, but I am certainly not carrying the edge necessary to survive in a Massachusetts’ prison. 

As I made the final left turn onto Lincoln Road I remember thinking how out-of-the-way this place is located.  Seriously, I think this is where crickets go when they need peace and quiet.  The farm was a typical old New England farm.  The farmhouse sat next to the road, complete with farmer’s porch overlooking some of the fields.  Opposite was a red barn that appeared to be well maintained.  The setting immediately began to settle the uneasy feeling lingering in the pit of my stomach.

What nervousness remained was quickly dashed as I began to meet the men who resided at the farm.  They were quick to shake my hand, offer an introduction, and thank me for coming.  They obviously had done this before and knew how to make an uneasy visitor feel welcome.  After helping shuck some corn, I headed out to the porch to mingle.  It was here where God, with a gentle slap to the back of the head, reminded me why He wanted me to put away my needs for the evening.

I met a young man named Brian.  Brian is 26 years-old, although his energy and enthusiasm had me originally thinking he was younger.  Not knowing how to start a conversation with this young man with whom I shared very little, I simply asked, “How long have you been here?”  After informing me he arrived in April, I followed with an inquiry as to how he arrived.  He told me he had been born in Cambridge to parents who were addicts.  A move to Roxbury saw him starting to get into trouble, which didn’t subside following moves to Winchendon and eventually Gardner.  He told me of how he got hooked onto heroine and that he has been trying to get clean since he was 18.  Brian proudly stated that he had gone 11 months without any drugs before a relapse restarted the clock.  You could see in his eyes that he was truly disappointed with himself that he had used again and that he truly wanted to be clean.  Brian spoke of his little daughter with whom he is not very close.

“I need to change that,” he said.  “It is going to take time, but I do want to build a relationship with her.  I am ashamed to say, I sold my daughter for drugs.” 

The fact that he didn’t mean this literally took nothing away from the depth of that statement.  In fact, I think it added to the importance of what he was saying, that the consequences of his actions have broken his heart.  Early on he spoke like he was a victim of his upbringing, but then shifted gears and made it clear he no longer believed this to be true.  He wants to take responsibility for his actions and is working hard to do what is right.

Brian then took me for a tour of the barn.  I commented on how different this must be for him to be around the animals after growing up in the environment of his youth.  He made it clear that this farm was about as far away from that as he could possibly get.  His words were obvious, but watching him around the animals provided a glimpse into the changes taking place while at Dismas.  As he spoke, he petted a couple of the sheep and rams through the fence of their pens.  The animals approached Brian and genuinely seemed to want to be near him.  There was a mutual respect that I couldn’t help but notice. 

Brian continued to give me a tour of the barn, concluding by showing me how to determine if an egg is appropriate to be sold.  What struck me most about my guide was the level of enthusiasm this city kid was displaying for his temporary home.  These men are not forced to be here, and Brian made it clear through his words and his actions that he was thankful for the opportunity to spend healing time as a working resident.  Brian also informed me he worked at one of the local pizza shops.

Over dinner there was friendly banter back-and-forth between the residents and their guests.  I had the opportunity to get to know a couple of the other residents, who were equally as warm and open.  The range of ages struck me as I spoke with young men like Brian as well as men quite a few years my senior.  Their stories were all different, but the results were the same.  I couldn’t help but wonder if I had been born under different circumstances, raised in the tough streets of Southie then ruled by Whitey Bulger as one resident had rather than the quiet ways of Paxton, if I too could have been dining at this table each night sharing my story with visitors? 

Thankfully, I haven’t been put through that test so we will never know.  But I took away from that evening a reminder that there are people who have paid their debt, and with the help of people who care, want to become whole again.  For men like Brian, reaching out for help while helping themselves as well, we owe it not to turn our back on these ex-cons, but to embrace these people fighting for their lives.  The government can’t, and shouldn’t, be responsible for helping those working so hard to pick themselves up.  That responsibility lies with the people who will be sharing their communities with these souls with a troubled past but a bright future.

As I left the farm I reflected on the evening, and the difference between my feelings then as opposed to the feelings I had driving to the Dismas House.  I was truly moved by these men and thankful that, once again, I had been reminded of just how wrong stereotypes can be.  These were men who had stumbled but weren’t looking for a second chance, instead they were men earning a second chance.  Then I thought about how thankful I was that I had been a part of this evening, and how glad I was that I hadn’t decided to ride the motorcycle instead.  Just the thought of my not wanting to go earlier in the evening reminded me of one thing.

No matter how much I try not to be, sometimes I can still be a selfish ass.

August 3, 2010

A Blueprint For Longevity

Filed under: Observation — coachbogey @ 2:37 PM
Tags: , ,

Finally, some advice by which I can live! 

As regular readers of this blog can tell you, I am going to live to at least 100, hence the name “The Road To 100.”  Since making the proclamation of my expected longevity, I have received advice from many people.  The issues I have with the advice I have received thus far are it usually involves a certain lack of fun and always comes from someone who has yet to see the century mark.  It isn’t that my friends and acquaintances don’t mean well, but I have a problem taking advice from someone who, according to the Census Bureau, has little chance of receiving a birthday greeting from Willard Scott.  On the occasions when I do receive unsolicited advice, it usually revolves around eating vegetables and living clean.  Alcohol is of course evil, and with all the calories in beer, forget about it!  

Advice on completing the road to 100 is even available online

Mrs. Agnes Fenton - Photo by Carmine Galasso/staff photographer

Today I found a story about a woman who may as well be speaking right to me.  Meet Agnes Fenton, a beautiful woman living in Englewood, New Jersey who turned 105 on August 1.  Born in 1905 on a farm in rural Mississippi, she moved to Memphis as a teenager where she opened Pal’s Duck Inn, one of the cities first black-owned businesses.  After getting married, she and her new husband moved to New Jersey where she still resides.  At 105 years-young, she remains independent, living alone and cooking for herself everyday.  Despite her advances years, she even says she would like to travel abroad someday. 

So, the question is, what advice can Agnes give to us centenarian wannabes?  First, she takes no medication.  Agnes has a natural remedy for just about everything.  Second, she remains active.  You won’t find Mrs. Fenton sitting on a couch somewhere waiting for others to serve her.  Third, she eats a healthy diet.  As stated, she cooks her own meals which often include chicken and greens for dinner.  Fourth, she has always “made room for God.”  Agnes is a long time member of St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Harlem.

Even with all this, Agnes says she feels lucky to be still alive. 

None of her advice sounds all that out of the ordinary.  Staying active, natural remedies, eating healthy, and serving the Lord are all ingredients for a long life you might hear from anyone.  Certainly quality nuggets I should keep in mind if I wish to be any more than a vegetable when I reach triple digits.  

It is her final piece of advice, however, that I will follow very closely.  From the article, 

But what may surprise most people, Fenton said, is her daily ritual, which she has sworn by since 1943. 

“Three cans of Miller High Life a day and a shot of good booze at 5 p.m.,” Fenton said. 

Her cocktail of choice is Johnnie Walker Blue. 

The Miller High Life beer was recommended to Fenton in 1943 by her doctor, and it didn’t go down easily, she said. 

“I almost cried. I said, ‘But Doctor, I don’t like beer,’ and he said, ‘You will learn to like it’ and I did,” she said.  (emphasis added) 

Bingo!  A daily ritual I look forward to following (maybe Sam Adams i.p.o. Miller) for the rest of my days as I continue on the Road To 100

July 9, 2010

Summer Fun

Filed under: Observation — coachbogey @ 10:06 AM
Tags: , , ,

Summer is here.  Perhaps you are bored with the beach, and let’s face it, the weather makes it too hot for a quality softball game.  What do you do?  Below are a couple of suggestions.

First, I was travelling in Pennsylvania between State College and Altoona when I spotted this sign.  Forget the Big E in Springfield, MA, this is the expo to attend!

If Penn State’s Manure Expo doesn’t appeal to you, how about a little skateboarding to cool off.

Hope you are enjoying your summer!

May 25, 2010

Against People Who Read?

Filed under: Observation — coachbogey @ 2:54 PM
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I don’t hate the library! 

Farmer's market on the town common

I knew it was just a matter of time.  Even in a small town of 4,600 people, decisions are to be made which will please some people and upset others.  I just didn’t think the library budget would be the spark that fires up people.  

I have heard from a number of concerned citizens of Paxton about my calling for a cut in the library’s budget.  My neighbor stopped me in my driveway to express her anger over what the paper had reported about my input on the library budget.  I tried to explain to her why I felt the budget was too high, but she didn’t want any part of it.  Her reaction, along with the phone calls I have received, makes me think I need to explain. 

Budget season in town politics is hectic.  The town is going to raise a limited amount of money which will be divided among the many department budgets.  Each department head submits a requested budget in December to the Town Administrator.  The Town Administrator then compiles the budget proposals into notebooks for each selectman.  Then, one-by-one, each department head comes before the Board, and later the Finance Committee, to defend their proposed budgets. 

There is a lot to learn for a new selectman, but even I know that in a tough economy we can’t afford to give more money to a department than requested.  This is exactly what happened in the case of the library.  Allow me to explain. 

I was elected as a selectman on January 19th.  After attending my first select board meeting, I was told by an experienced selectman that I should attend a Finance Committee meeting to help me get up to speed on the budget process in town.  On February 3rd I attended the scheduled Finance Committee meeting.  Sitting unacknowledged in the back of the room, I watched as the Finance Committee questioned the Council on Aging representative about their budget, then spent time going over the various DPW budgets with the head of the DPW.  The committee ended the interviewing by examining the Tree Warden’s budget.  The Tree Warden worked hard to defend his budget request, stating that with hanging limbs, leaning trees, and many stumps near public roadways, he needed to spend some money to ensure public safety.  The Finance Committee Chairman explained that public safety is very important, but with the budget as tough as it is, a risk/reward approach is needed.  The questioning was quite tough and in depth. 

After the questioning ended, the Finance Committee proceeded to approve the Animal Control budget, the Library budget, and the Historical Commission budget with little discussion.  By the end of the evening I had taken four pages of notes and had learned a lot, leaving while thinking I wish I had been permitted to ask questions. 

OK…OK…What’s the point. 

On February 16th it was the select board’s turn to examine, among others, the library budget.  The library representatives sat before us explaining why they felt a level funded budget of $148,786 was what the library needed.  They explained that at this figure, the library would not meet the MAR (Municipal Appropriation Requirement), but would be able to secure a waiver.  To meet this requirement, a municipality must appropriate 2.5% more than the average of the previous three years’ library budget.  If the town cannot meet this requirement, then the town may apply for a state waiver.  This would allow the library to remain certified which means that Paxton residents would still be permitted to borrow books from other libraries that may not be available in Paxton. 

The library is requesting $148,786, yet at the Finance Committee meeting the committee approved a library budget of $155,420.  I mentioned this to the other board members but was dismissed by the Town Administrator when he asked, “Why would the Finance Committee approve a budget of more than what was requested?”  I stated that I didn’t know, but that is what I had written down.  Anyway, we voted to approve the library’s requested budget of $148,786. 

Fast forward to the reconciliation meeting.  This meeting is a Finance Committee meeting that the selectboard is invited to attend.  The purpose is to reconcile the two budgets so that one town budget will be presented to the town at town meeting.  Things went smoothly until we got to the library budget.  At this point, I mentioned that the library had request a budget of $148,786 and yet the FINCOM had approved a higher number.  With the town looking at taking money from the town’s stabilization fund to balance the budget, the selectmen recommended that the library budget be approved at the requested amount, not the higher FINCOM amount.  At this point the FINCOM chair informed us that a mistake had been made by the library personnel when they met with us and that the FINCOM number was the correct number.  When the selectboard questioned how, the FINCOM argued for the higher number, making it clear that at this time they were not interested in revising their figure.  After some intense discussion, the selectboard reluctantly agreed to accept the FINCOM number with the assurance that if the town budget needed to be adjusted, this was the first budget to be changed. 

Paxton roads the day after the ice storm of 2008.

The April 26th selectboard meeting brought the news that the Finance Committee had further cut the black top item of the DPW budget by another $15,000 so as to reduce the amount of money needed to take from the town’s stabilization fund.  I spoke up and said that it was a good idea to not take too much from stabilization since state experts are predicting the next fiscal year to be much worse than this year.  I then said that the FINCOM should consider reducing the library budget to the amount they had requested.  

Next day, the Worcester Telegram reports I want to cut the library budget.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I just wanted to fund the library budget at the requested amount, not a higher figure.  The Highway Department, which has a direct bearing on public safety, received $169,575 (30%) less than they had requested, but the library budget ultimately received recommended funding of $9,223 (6%) more than requested. 

This didn’t sound right to me, but judging by people’s reaction I must admit…

I was wrong.

May 12, 2010

Defining Leadership

The passage of the new immigration law in Arizona has brought forth two schools of leadership presently guiding cities, states, and yes, even our country.

As anyone not living in a comatose state for the past few weeks has heard, Arizona has passed new immigration legislation.  The law came as a result of kidnappings and home invasions which have become the norm in Arizona for years.  Phoenix is now second in the world for the number of kidnappings for ransom per year, only Mexico City has more.  Last year alone, Phoenix had over 370 reported kidnappings.  Many of the kidnap victims are tortured, returning with missing hands or fingers that have been crushed.  It is hard to imagine a city within the United States being second in the world for such a dangerous and violent crime.

Arizona lawmakers decided that they needed to step up and do something to rein in the rampant crime in their state.  They passed legislation that mirrors the federal immigration laws.  The legislation states that if local authorities detain a person for a crime, and there is a reason to suspect the person may be in the country illegally, then they are to investigate the status of the individual.  The law simply allows the local authorities to enforce the laws that the federal authorities haven’t.

Then came the protests.  It started with Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, in a blog post dated April 18, 2010.  He states,

“The tragedy of the law is its totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources. That is not only false, the premise is nonsense.” 

The only tragedy here is that Cardinal Mahoney doesn’t actually write about what is reflected in the law.  The law is aimed at illegal immigration, not immigrants in general.  Immigration is one of the ingredients that has gone into making the United States a great country.  I hope people aren’t against immigration, my hope is that people will see the value of cracking down on illegal immigration.  The two, legal immigration versus illegal immigration, actually have very little to do with one another.

The Cardinal goes on to write about the new law impeding our ability to fill the labor pool in the United States in the coming years.  One can only assume that the Cardinal is unaware of the 10% unemployment rate among legal residents of our country.  Besides that, and the rant about Arizona “reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation,” which is not anywhere in the legislation, there was a line that struck me.  The Cardinal writes,

 “I have met so many of our immigrant families and I am in awe at their love for our country, their care and concern for their children, and their resourcefulness in helping to improve our communities, our way of life, and our economic future.”

Doesn’t it strike anyone as rather odd that a person with such a deep love for our nation would begin their life in this country be breaking some of its laws?  One would think that a person with such a love for the United States would want to come in legally, proudly, and respecting the laws of the nation for which they proclaim such love.

Since the Cardinal’s blog piece, I have read of protests from coast-to-coast.  Cities from San Diego to Boston have voted to boycott Arizona because of the this new law.  Boston’s mayor went so far as to say,

Mayor Tom Menino: “It is so outrageous at this time in our county’s history.”

Boston Mayor Tom Menino says the city has a million dollar contract with a software company in Arizona called N-Focus. The mayor told NECN that he is drafting a letter to the company to find out if its execs support the new Arizona law.

Mayor Tom Menino: “If they don’t agree with my position, we are gonna have to take some legal action, it is a million dollar contract, it is a great program of tracking our young people, but if this company is going to discriminate against anyone, they are not going to do it on my dime.” (emphasis added)

So, Mr. Mayor, if someone does not agree with your position, then they are not allowed to do business with the City of Boston. 

Of course, the President of the United States has chimed in by saying,

President Obama suggested today that the immigration bill expected to be signed into law in Arizona is a “misguided” piece of legislation that “threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe. “

Ask the people of Phoenix how that is working for them, Mr. President.

Even Mexico is unhappy with the new law in Arizona.  According to the AP,

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said in a statement relayed through Mexico’s U.S. embassy that it viewed the measure with great concern and said it “could have potentially serious effects on the civil rights” of Mexican nationals.

Mexican nationals here legally will be just fine, Mexican nationals here illegally and committing crimes however….

Take a minute and try to come up with the one thing that is missing in all these condemnations of the immigration legislation in Arizona.  Seriously, before you read on, try to figure out what is missing.  Go back and read the links if that will help.

Give up?

The one thing that is missing from the sea of criticism is what is lacking from many of our leaders in America.  None of the above is offering a solution.  Condemn Arizona?  “Absolutely!”  Offer a solution?  “Uh…Well…No, but I think what they are doing is wrong!” 

Isn’t it amazing how people thousands of miles away can turn their backs on the legal citizens of Arizona, in support for illegal aliens, but none have offered to help.  Arizona’s crime rate is through the roof.  Most of us cannot imagine living in or near a city where there is a kidnapping rate greater than one per day!  Most of America has no idea what it’s like to live in a city where it is unsafe to go out, day or night.  These are the things that the people of Arizona deal with each and every day.  Meanwhile, cities across the country line up to boycott the businesses owned by legal residents of the State of Arizona, further hurting fellow Americans who truly do love their country.

Well Cardinal Mahoney, any ideas?  How about you, Mr. Mayor?  Mr. President, what do you suggest?  That’s what I thought, the definition of modern leadership, tear down others’ ideas without bringing anything to the table yourself.  I know very little about the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, but I do know that even with the mountain of criticism facing her, she stepped up and is trying to do something to solve a big problem in her state.  Other leaders would do well to follow her lead in their own jurisdictions.

By the way, as leaders stand back and criticize, almost three-quarters of Americans support the provision of the new Arizona law that requires people to produce documents verifying they are in the U.S. legally.

Madame Governor, your actions are displaying true leadership.

**UPDATE  Further confirmation that the Feds won’t allow the facts get in the way of a good arguement when it comes to the new immigration law in Arizona.  Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, has been very critical of Arizona’s new immigration law, going so far as to state that the United States is considering challenging the new law in court.  There is only one problem with his critique of the legislation, he hasn’t actually read the ten pages that constitute the law yet.  The video below is less than four minutes long but must be seen.

May 7, 2010

Happy Mothers’ Day

Filed under: Observation,Reflections — coachbogey @ 1:21 PM
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For all my readers who are moms, happy Mothers’ Day!  Enjoy!

April 16, 2010

Next On The President’s Agenda…

Filed under: Observation — coachbogey @ 7:25 AM
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The White House announced that on Friday President Obama will discuss a memorandum which the President hopes will reshape the conservation policy of the United States.  He will have four administration officials take charge of the effort to overcome new environmental threats in a time where finding the money to pay for new initiatives is a challenge.

Promises to tackle the jobs issue... As soons as he gets a chance.

Hopefully, after the nuclear weapons summit, the financial reform, and the new environmental initiatives, the President will then get started on the one topic he promised would be priority number one for 2010:  Jobs!

Is unemployment still a crisis in the United States?

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