Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Stars Will Align, Eventually

At some key point...between now and November of 2012....the network news organizations and public news media....will come upon some magical point of existence. It'll be two factors that create this moment.

First, the numbers game for the big-name network news organizations is slipping....in a fairly noticeable way. If the trend were to continue for three more years....none of the big names can come up and ask for a upgraded contract or better money. In fact, they just might have to accept a 10 percent pay cut. This even includes the production staff and the players out in the field.

Imagine yourself Katie Couric....contract to end in the fall of 2011. How could CBS ever pay you even half of the current salary....based on the viewer audience? Public perception is lousy. CBS and its members are all suffering in some fashion.

Second, the number of odd-ball questions over President Obama have never decreased. In some ways, I find this fascinating. Between the birth certificate, the possible Indonesian citizenship, the health report that won't be shown, and a dozen other unknown episodes that continue to exist. And no, that 276-word summary by the doctor didn't really say the same as the entire record, as various presidents and candidates have laid out over the past twenty years.

Public perception is mostly standing behind the President. The curious thing is that each week....someone finds some other minor detail which fits into the overall puzzle. And it drags another 100,000 citizens into this "question-the-President" routine.

So at some key junction....some guy from MSNBC or ABC or CBS or NBC.....will likely jump ship and began to ask stupid questions. He or she will be the individual that takes a bit off the Fox success and improves his chances for a payraise.

So you will be sitting there one night....with your non-Fox network on, and suddenly grasp that this guy has filled in an entire square on the mystery business. He'll even be smiling as he tells you the story. Tomorrow night....you'll come back to that network and expect more. He'll give you a spoonfull of additional information....just enough to make you happy and less appreciative of Fox News.

It's an event that has to occur. If Fox News continues its spiral upward.....and no one shifts from the spiral downward.....then every big-name guy on Fox News gets a new speedboat and a fancy $100k car. Surely, you guys at MSNBC will work hard to prevent that?

A Billion Dollar Flush, in Bama

Ninety-nine percent of Bama counties tend to function in a fairly decent manner. It is a amateur affair for the most part. We aren't like California with $150k a year administrators who run operations for the tag department at some county...with $60k a year clerks who back them up. The guys who do the regular day-to-day work (the "grunts")...are all decent people who rely upon the leadership and competence at the top of the food chain (the county commission).

In the midst of Bama, there is Jefferson county...which is the exception.

This Monday, folks will wake up to a new way of doing business...in a sense...a idea that Republican would dream up...less government. In this case....less employees.

Almost a quarter of the employees in Jefferson county will begin a unpaid leave period on Monday...with a number of offices closed for now or at least cutting back the hours of operation.

Jefferson county is a sizeable county....640,000 residents....maybe 500,000 dogs....and maybe 1,000 illegals.

The guys in Jefferson basically got way over their head...at the county commission level....and bought into this contract for waste & sewers...that was designed for a town a fair bit bigger. The numbers thrown around....are different....depending on which paper you read or which political figure you listen to. But they basically went after a huge system which they probably only needed one of half or three-quarters that size.

It is around $4 billion that the county owes...and the bond deal that they devised...is mostly a failure. The county had hoped that the DC crowd could somehow pull this money out of a magic hat. But we have to be honest...they might toss $200 million into this hat...which does nothing really.

So the county worked up a occupational tax...to bring in additional funds and help to at least get by. Then someone woke up and said that was illegal. The courts agreed. So the little bit of money which they had collected...which might have been marginally helpful....is supposed to be returned to the citizens.

Based on varying news reports....if you were in a mood to get a new tag or pay your property taxes....you might be spending up to six hours starting Monday....at the courthouse or satellite offices.

Folks in Bama have taken some of this in stride...bringing lawn chairs. I'm expecting alot of tea and coffee to be sipped. There might be some great discussions on fence repair, septic tank replacement or hunting experiences in the Ozarks.

Yes, there some folks a bit upset about this. Folks are used to walking in and paying their car tag fees in less than thirty minutes. We could be talking about two hours now....maybe longer.

Luckily, we do have a governor...capable of being compassionate and grasping of the situation....Bob Riley. Course, Bob did say no to the idea of an emergency declaration sought by County Commission President. I'm of the mind that once you start issuing emergency declarations...then they start coming weekly...and frankly, you can't run a government this way. But Bob did say that if those kind folks in Jefferson can just write up a fine bill....he'd call for a special session in August and have the state legislature stamp it (hoping that they don't ask how folks got into this situation in the first place).

About six years ago....I went to Bama on vacation and my dad took my to the county court house to renew his vehicle tag. The building was state of the art in 1966 when it opened. Except for the bathrooms....the place hasn't been updated since then. Lot of marble floors. It at least looks historical.

We stood there....second in line...at the tag point. It took almost ten minutes for the first guy to get served. What I noticed was....almost no use of computers. It surprised me. They still had a couple of typewriters. There might have been two computers in the whole revenue department. The ladies were friendly....although you had to make this real simple or face the consequences.

This is a function of government that folks tend to pay little attention to.

It's funny....you don't care about this business until some crappy things occur....then it becomes a mess you have to have patience with.

My guess is that Bob and the legislature will do their magic, and somehow give them a slight bit of hope. For the leadership or county commission guys in Jefferson....it's a marginal thing that you are getting. You might want to find a new occupation and move on. And for you folks in the county.....feel good and happy when you flush that toilet, because you've got a billion-dollar system to handle what you flushed.