Saturday, 22 March 2008

Hot Times in Tampa

This week....Mary Jo Spack....met up with two local Freedom High School students and engaged in a witful conversation over at the local liquor store. The best we can figure....from cop reports....the guys....age 17 and 18.....helped the teacher from their local school pick the right choice of alcohol.

Afterwards.....Mary Jo.....an honors English teacher at Freedom High school....drove with the male students over to the HoJo (Bama chat for Howard Johnson motel) and drank booze together. In Bama...we wouldn't have this problem because we'd have a dry county and none of this teacher-student stuff or teacher foreplay or disgusting behavior. But this is Florida....the sin capital of America (after New Orleans, New York City, Las Vegas, Portland, Austin, Del Rio, Mobile, Memphis, St Louis, Boise, the whole state of Rhode Island, Philly, Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, and Dayton).

At some point in this meeting at the Hojo....the two guys wanted to let their friends know of their meeting place....and were were texting some friends that they were going to have a party at this motel. You know guys....they gotta brag about booze or women. So at some point....three other students joined them in the motel room.

At some point here....with the booze flowing, the rock & roll music playing.....a 17-year-old apparently had close physical contact with Mary Jo in the shower. The door was closed....so none of the other four guys in the other room saw anything....and it might have been bogus....but who knows?

Apparently....Mary Jo.....45.....of Wesley Chapel....got arrested Thursday at Freedom High. She is charged with one count of unlawful sex with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor....this kinda stems from giving booze to a punk kid....seventeen years old.

How does this get out and get reported? Well...some teacher sat there in the school and heard a student tell the entire story......and reported it to Freedom's administration. The good news about all of this....Mary Jo wasn't the student's teacher....she was actually the honor's English teacher and usually only hung out with the geeky folks who were destined for university....and not the football squad dopes who don't get scholarships offered and end up working at Wal-Mart restocking the shelves.

What happens now? Well....right away....Mary Jo will let every know that she is a nice person and simply a out-of-control alcoholic....and needs rehab....which the teacher's health care program will pay for. The school will investigate...but to be truthful....its a seventeen year old guy and he won't cooperate in court for the government. Her teaching certificate will be dissolved and I'm guessing at best...30 to 60 days in jail....and thats it. She will be selling real estate within twelve months and probably married to the seventeen year old guy.....and in five years....he'll dump her for a younger gal. Such is the state of the Republic tonight. Oh, and the icing on this cake....she's the second teacher of the year in this county arrested for stuff like this.

Teaching Your Way Out of Paper Bag

This week...we had a kinda funny episode develop in California. Governor Arnie....is walking in the footsteps of Governor Davis....and is now repeating most of the errors. Apparently...Arnie woke up with the rest of the state in the past two months....to face a $16 billion state budget shortfall. Normally...folks would question where the shortfall came from and is a indicator of bad government or bad economics or just plain unhappy companies packing up and leaving the state (most likely answer).


Governor Arnie has now proposed a $4.8 billion in school-funding cuts, or 10 percent of education spending. So you sit there and ponder this...wondering....this is pretty much the entire budget of the state of Alabama for school funding. To be honest...the current Bama governor is proposing a $400 million dollar cut in Bama...which most locals deem as "crazy"...so apparently....the Bama locals ain't been to California and seen a $4.8 billion cut.

So this past week....some administrative folks were busy....mailing out 20,000 "warning" pink slips....teachers and administrators state wide. Some folks are thinking this is merely the first round and at least 87,000 more might have to go but Governor Arnie is hoping to find enough money to retain that group. With a current 350,000 teacher inventory....20,000 isn't a massive deal....but another 87,000 would kinda change things. How many students in a classroom in California for next school year? I'm betting around 28 kids per room....and maybe up to 38 if things go badly. Improvement of education? Nope....thats the least of your hopes now.

So why would I move to California? Well....its primarily to be in the hopes of meeting Britney and having a carbon credit-friendly government. Not really much else. In fact...on my list of places to move....with Louisiana hovering at number one and Florida at a strong number two....California is likely number three as the places least likely that I'd move to.

A Garden Party in Kaiserslautern and the Parking Lot

So this is a tale of woe....in my local town of Kaiserslautern....here in Germany.

Several years ago....before the World Cup matches here....the political dimwits in the state of Rheinland Pfalz pushed and got Kaiserslautern one of the venues of the Cup games. The local stadium was adequate although not 4-star in nature. So the talk came around to money to "puff-up" the character of Kaiserslautern and fix things. It was a long discussion. By the end....the Federal government and the state government had determined that the stadium needed a make-over, that a huge parking lot in the area had to be built for excess cars and the city needed massive road fixes. Oh.....and the city needed to improve its image.

So this is the tale of woe and how things came to be.

The parking that the folks dreamed about....was a 50-acre monster parking lot....next to the autobahn. They found this heavily forested area on the outskirts of town....and cut down 500 trees. They hired a local company and began this 12-month project to pave and chirt-rock this massive parking lot. To be truthful....there were days when there were only two guys out there working. Near the end....they had maybe two dozen guys working.

The parking lot was easily capable of handling 1,000 cars and even had a bus stop built with a professional overhand and it was a decent looking parking lot. They used it for the World Cup games (all three)....and while the local football team was in the top league....and folks came to watch games....it was used over and over....for a year. Then the local team fell to the second league....and the paying crowd stayed home. Today....for the past year....except for a dozen guys who park there and catch a work-bus to their company...no one parks there.

No one talks about the cost....but I'd reckon at least five million was spent in cutting down the trees and paving this lot. In the past three years....its basically stood there with no one using it. Its so far out of town....that you can't even sell the property for some mall structure. So it was money tossed to the wind.

So we come now to the garden park of Kaiserslautern. As part of this hocus-pocus effort....the city took almost fifty acres spread around the "dead zone" of Kaiserslautern....the old sheep trimming and sheep butcher zone.....and converted this all to a garden-park. The idea was...to commercially hand money to some organization....with a repay deal attached.....build this garden structure...where you'd charge folks to come in and walk around.

Now....if you were from Ripley or Bama.....you'd scratch your head and wonder....what idiot would pay to walk in a garden park? They tore up a huge section of this area...laid out several million in landscaping....put up 30 plastic dinosaurs....yep....actual life-sized plastic dinosaurs....with probably a million spent on flowers and shrubs and a walking trail. They have two entry posts manned by old retirees....who I guess get paid minimum wage...and they charge around $3 a person to enter. You can buy a yearly ticket....which apparently some city folks prefer that....and pay around $25 for a individual year ticket.

Ifing you want to pay an extra 75 cents....you can wander over to the Japanese Gardens.....where more money is spent each year to enlarge this special gardens area....but to be truthful....no one really cares.

The organization that got stuck into this commercial loan deal with the state? Well....they've used the old sheep buildings and rented some out....and did the best possible under the situation....but its a money-losing situation. It can't even pay the monthly mortgage back to the folks who arranged the loan. Last year....they made a special effort to rent out more buildings and have summer fests....to increase attendance and get something going. The city doesn't like to talk about this....because they kinda arranged all of this and help in this mess.....and it just won't turn a profit of any sort.

So there is this point where local politicians and state dudes....will have to step in....and basically pay off the loan....with state money....and just say enough. No one wants to do this in a election year or the year prior....and to be the guy who votes for this waste of funding....is just another slap against you.

My guess? This might be the last year where they attempt to get by on this mess...and by summer of next year....I'm betting they give up and get the state to fund the pay-off. As for the park....the dinosaurs are losing their color.....and I'm waiting for the first good windstorm to toss two or three over. The city will have to pay to tear down the fencing and just make it another city-run park.....with alot less funding. It was a novel effort....but basically over $10 million flushed down the toilet.....for nothing.

Another Woeful Sorry?

As a class project up on Connecticut, some woman helped her daughter do research all the way back for the family tree. There came up this unique problem. The daughter was the eighth generation great granddaughter of Mary Sanford....who died in 1692. The thing about Mary....is that she didn't die of a honest death...she was convicted of witchcraft.

Apparently....up until 1692....Mary was a wife (assuming faithful), and the mother of five youngens. Things around Connecticut were fairly boring in those days of the 1680s and 1690s....and folks were fairly desperate for gossip and Britney Spears. So...with religion in full bloom and some imagination.....the folks up around this region decided that they had too many witches and warlocks around....so something had to be done. Course, we can sit and pause here to think about this.

Put yourself in 1680 Connecticut....a log cabin amongst 40 other cabins. All of the guys are required to put in six days of work out in the field....from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun. The wives are supposed to mind the kids...clean the cabin....cook up vittles.....and keep their sanity. There was no fitness club or movie theater or bar or front porch to escape to. Your life was a six-day affair....then you had all day for Sunday church affairs. Most would meet and atone for their sins....listen to some guy read the Bible for the 144th time....and then talk about the weather or crops. So they were desperate for a "fire" or a "911" or a Cheney-shotgun accident.

So around 1690....Mary was in this group of two men and nine women.....who got picked up by the authorities for witchcraft. You have to wonder how the two guys got into this mess...but I'm guessing they were a bit close and maybe engaged in activities that were beyond the imagination of the locals but very much in line with stuff you'd see in San Fransisco today. There were actually a whole bunch of these folks who got into the Connecticut group of freaking witches....but strangely enough....they were mostly brought into a churchhouse....sentenced as quickly as possible to be banished (they had to go to Rhode Island or worse) or they simply figured this game was pretty much spent....so they ran off before the offical ceremony.

So these eleven folks remained and got the 4-star treatment. By the end....some guy with a good religious background had decided that there were two methods of fixing the situation. You could dunk the person long enough to get the devil out of them....although experience with this tended to show that you drowned them 99 percent of the time. The second method was to hang them. So Mary was brought up and hanged in this period. Apparently, her husband had charges brought up against him....but he managed to beat the charges and appears to have left the area later.

So this woman and her daughter....want the state to express an apology. State Rep Micheal Lander (D)....has kinda indicated that this apology isn't in the top 100 items of discussion with the assembly of the state. I'm thinking these two ought to approach the Republican folks who'd like a major platform to connect to the kind folks of the state and maybe to previous or current witches....and just get a short 3-line statement that Connecticut made a mistake and were "damn" sorry. I don't think the mother and daughter team is expecting any money out of this but if you Connecticut Republicans were really nice about this...you'd authorize $250,000 for the two and help make things right. Maybe after the apology and woeful talk....all you fellows could come out of the statehouse after the sun sets and we can set up a nice bonfire in the front yard and dance in the full moon to some chants and Hip-hop music....sip some wine....and maybe.....oh.....well....this might go off and become another witchcraft incident and I wouldn't want you Republicans in more trouble.

The Adios of "Doc" Foglesong at Mississippi State

"Doc" is packing up and finally leaving. I mentioned this episode last week. There truly are no shocks here....even when the guy wrote his "good-bye" piece for the university this week....it was pure "Doc".

He wrote what he considered the most outstanding accomplishments:

- To recruit and retain quality students.

- To recruit and retain a quality faculty.

- To increase research and contributions to economic development.

- To "recapture our pride."

"No doubt there is more to do," "Doc" wrote. "But it's time for someone else to move us forward. Remember, if you are not moving forward, you're probably moving backwards."

Then "Doc" said that he really accomplished four years of work....in two. It was absolutely pure "Doc" when he said that part.

A brief analysis of "Doc" at USAFE and Mississippi State. There is no satisfactory stopping point on "Doc's" radar....he is moving in some direction even when you think he has accomplished all of the intended goals. The guy can't envision a perfect picture....because in his mind....it doesn't exist. "Doc" views the world as less than perfect and needs his eye and imagination to change. The last quote in his accomplishment column....."recapture pride"....is really a mystery word that "Doc" will use over and over. Wherever he goes next....it'll be the base of his entire operation. The guy can't imagine a place that has pride already and is doing quiet well.....so "Doc" sees himself as the guy who must remake a situation.

Am I anti-"Doc"? In all these years....I've only seen two guys who should never have risen to even 1-star general. Both made it to four-star....both were a train-wreck in motion....both felt the need to fix the unbroke or charm everyone with their "recapture pride" statement. Little was said after both left, and few remember the real lasting accomplishments of the guy today. "Doc" actually needed a war to keep his mind busy and out of trouble when he was at Ramstein....but sadly....we just couldn't start up a war after finishing three or four in a row.

Mississippi State? Well....they will likely sit around on hot summer afternoons.....sipping ice tea.....and telling story after story of "Doc" and what he did or tried to do. Most will be humorous and fairly sarcastic. I doubt that "Doc" will ever be much of a long-term memory. Other than these blogs and some newspaper clippings....thats the end of the legacy. So it is in America tonight.