Friday, June 27, 2003

Listening to talk radio while delivering The Outpost on Thursday, I was struck for the 6,000th time (since I am easily bewildered by the obvious) at how little useful information one hears there. In more than four hours of listening, I heard at least two hours of discussion and at least six news reports about the Supreme Court decision striking down the Texas sodomy law. Scalia's claim that the majority had taken sides in the culture wars was aired a dozen times without any context that would make that statement meaningful. Clarence Thomas' dissent about the absence of a right of privacy in the Constitution got a mention or two. Of the basis for the majority opinion, I got scarcely a whiff. Instead, I learned that the decision was good (O'Reilly) and bad (Hannity) and that anybody who thought otherwise hadn't a clue. Then a couple of dozen leather-headed opinions from people who hadn't read the opinion and didn't really care what it said anyway. What a colossal waste of time! I could have been listening to Herman's Hermits singing "There's a Kind of Hush" for the 8 millionth time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Outpost readers don't seem to think much of the teacher contract settlement. Seventy-eight percent of those who responded to our informal and highly unscientific poll said they thought it was a bad deal for taxpayers.
Not so the teachers. Allen Audet, head of the Billings Education Association, called Tuesday night to say that teachers approved the measure by a vote of 545-10.
"They sent the message that they're ready to move on," he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union is taking a strong interest in the May 30 concert that was canceled at the Eagles Lodge. The concert, intended to raise money to put a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot next year, was canceled by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles board after an agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency warned that the lodge could be fined up to $250,000 under the so-called RAVE Act if any illegal drug use took place.
The cancelation has received lots of attention on the web but not much in the local news. The Nation, Utne Reader and the Austin Chronicle all have done pieces. This apparently is the first test of the new law, which was signed by President Bush on April 30 as part of the Amber Alert bill.
The ACLU's first task: find a plaintiff. The lodge, presumably, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which sponsored the concert, are possibilities. Second task: Find out exactly what the DEA agent said that led to the cancellation.
School District 2 Trustee Conrad Stroebe takes issue with my editorial about the new school teachers contract. What the piece overlooks, he says, are two factors that make more money available than I indicated: The school district will save money each year through attrition, i.e., more expensive experienced teachers who retire will be replaced by new ones. Plus, the Legislature has now created a flex fund that school districts can use as they please.
In fairness to Business Clerk Deborah Long, I should point out that she freely admitted her numbers for the cost of the contract could be high. She was trying to prepare for the worst possible case.
And Mr. Stroebe acknowledges that nobody knows where the money will come from in the third year, which is a legislative session away. But he says that it's no more valid to assume the worst than it is to assume the best about what will happen.
Fair enough.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Did that work?

Monday, June 23, 2003

This is just an experiment to see how well this all works.