Monday, July 30, 2007

Another Item (15) of interest on the July 30, 2007 Springfield City Council Agenda: Bill 2007-238

I don't mean to be nitpicky (well, maybe I do) but Brenda Cirtin, City Clerk, and Bob Cumley, City Manager, have respectively submitted and approved Council Bill 2007-238. The City then placed Gary Deaver's name on the bill and slapped it on the agenda for tonight.

In part the "resolution authorizes the City of Springfield to contribute $2,500 and staff time from the Public Information Office toward" making an Artrain stop at the Jefferson Footbridge possible. Artrain is a five car train that is a moving art exhibit. The exhibit would arrive in November.

I like art but I like our police and firefighters better. I think this would be a nice project if the City hadn't underfunded the police and firefighters' pension funds and if the Council wasn't going to be voting on a restructuring of the police department made necessary due to budgetary restraints at tonight's council meeting.

When I'm pinching pennies because my budget is short at home I don't usually go to dinner at Steak and Ale on Friday night before I pay my mortgage payment. But that's just me.

All together, various entities in Springfield, including the City's Parks Department and City Utilities, will be contributing $24,000 to bringing the Artrain to Springfield.

I wish we saw this sort of coming together of contributors to the cause of funding the police and firefighters' pension plans. Instead of our City's departments using discretionary money for the pension plan they like these other frivolous events. Just think if the police and fire department were more of a priority to our City's benevolent contributors than the parks and art exhibits.

Who wouldn't rather to go to Steak and Ale for a nice steak dinner than make their mortgage payment?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Item of interest: City Council Bill 2007-241, Item 29 on the July 30, 2007 City Council Agenda

According to the background on this ordinance it was first adopted in 1991 but has to be re-adopted every other year by the City Council.

It concerns who is required to report:

"...any business transaction with a political subdivision if the transaction is more than $500 per year for such person and with any member of their immediate family. The chief administrative law officer and the purchasing officer must disclose the names and addresses of anybody else with whom they are employed and the names of the businesses they own."

Dan Wichmer, City Attorney, and Bob Cumley, City Manager, question who is covered under the ordinance and write that the Attorney General would have to interpret the phrase before they can determine it's scope.

Here's the phrase they question:

"Candidates for City Council, the Mayor and Members of the City Council, the City Manager, the Purchasing Agent, the City Attorney and ALL officials and employees who are authorized by the governing body to promulgate rules and regulations within the force of law OR to vote on the adoption of rules and regulation with the force of law." (emphasis mine)

I'm not sure why they need the Attorney General to interpret it for them. It seems pretty plain to me.

The reports (disclosures) are to be filed with the State Ethics Commission and the Springfield City Clerk.

Definition of promulgate - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

1 : to make (as a doctrine) known by open declaration : PROCLAIM
2 a : to make known or public the terms of (a proposed law) b : to put (a law) into action or force

Friday, July 27, 2007

$1 million? "Miniscule."

An anonymous columnist at the News-Leader wrote in today's (July 27,2007) Our Voice column:

"Bateman, the former accounting services representative who embezzled cash payments to the municipal court for a decade, has pleaded guilty to one count of theft of $25,000 or more. In reality, the damage Bateman did to the city's budget was minimal. The city never knew the money was missing, and $1 million, while significant in some ways, is a miniscule percentage of the entire city's budget."

Dear, accountable, responsible, respectable anonymous editorial writer, this is the mentality which the taxpayers disapprove.

$1 million may seem like a small amount of money to a Springfield News-Leader Editorial Page Editor, his assistant and collegues at the News-Leader. $1 million dollars may seem like a small amount of money to a big wheeler dealer real estate developer who happens to sit on Springfield's City Council and who regularly assists in the process of tweaking building codes, but in view of the Police and Firefighters' pension fund shortfall and the recent restructuring proposal offered by Police Chief Lynn Rowe to cut a division, do away with a Major and a Captain position at the police department to allow two new Lieutenant positions (meaning two more officers working the streets of Springfield) and a savings of $2500 in their personnel budget, I'd have to wonder if the Police and Firefighters would think it was a "minimal" amount in regards to the budget?

This year Cindy Rushefsky brought an amendment to the City of Springfield's budget for 2007-2008 to provide that HALF that amount, all that could be afforded, go into the Police, Fire Pension Fund. To think, and the estimates I have heard are $1.3 - $1.6 million that was stolen from municipal court funds, that amount of money could have gone into the pension plan or the police department's budget could have been increased that amount. Ah, but it's a "miniscule" amount.

Ask the police department and the fire department if they'd have rather had a half a million added to their pension plan or upwards of $2 million added to their pension plan and see if they agree with your definition of "miniscule." Ask Police Chief Lynn Rowe what he could have done with an additional $1.3 - $1.6 million in the police department's budget.

When our finances are lacking in our households we watch every penny. The government of the City of Springfield is responsibile for watching every penny of the taxpayers' money. Springfield is their "house."

Why try to minimize the amount of money stolen in perpetration of the crime and then out of the other side of your mouth seek to throw the book at Bateman?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Campaign for Desdinova, 2007

In his blog entry The News Leader Is Back On to This Again, Desdinova - Super Villain of the Ozarks wrote...:

"When I worked for a local newspaper, I asked if I could write my own column. I was told by the managing editor that nobody wanted to hear what I had to say."

Maybe I can be a spring board for the hiring of Desdinova at the News-Leader?

Please, Tony, pleeeeeeeease. Hire Desdinova - Super Villain of the Ozarks to write a regular column in the editorial section of the paper.

Oh, and another thing, you and Brian should stop targeting him because he has an anonymous blog, you big bullies! Shame on you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Recommended Reading 7

Tech Trends » Springfield News-Leader Blasphemy

Jericho tries to "nip it in the bud"

Disclaimer: I should have written this is why I think VDJ might be asking for calls made to certain Council members. Naturally, I cannot speak for HIS reasons. This is my idea of why it is important to call. I have not spoken to Jericho and have no inside information as to why he is charging Springfield citizens with calling these Council members that extends beyond any other listener. ~ Jacke

What is Vincent David Jericho talking about when he asks that citizens of Springfield contact certain City Council members about the City "powers that be" not meeting in secret meetings regarding the negotiating of the development of the property adjacent to the Expo Center?

Let's see if we can get there from here:

I understand that there are some things that went down concerning the Heers Building in the past.

I understand that today, to hear most of the City Council members who were around during early Heers negotiations discuss the history of the Heers Building that it will be said that the developer, Vaughn Prost, couldn't get financing. That Vaughn Prost went broke, though Prost Builders, Inc seems to be continuing in business. It is implied that the Council had no choice but to purchase the Heers Building though I have already posted here that according to this October 16, 2006 City Council meeting... :

"Prost claimed he had two letters of commitment from Bank of America which implies he could have soon paid off the loan. He couldn't have paid off the loan that night but surely he would be able to shortly, that is, if the letters of commitment from Bank of America were reliable. Prost even gave a copy of one of the letters of commitment to the City Clerk that night."

...but at the June 18, 2007 Council meeting (see Heers Building)

"Ralph Manley commented that the City reacquired the property out of necessity to avoid a foreclosure....."

"...Doug Burlison stated that he was not indicating that he was in opposition of the proposed; however, was concerned with the amount of funds that would be expended by the City for interest and other expenses."

Mayor Carlson remarked on the history of the project and stated that the issue had been openly discussed in numerous meetings.

Denny Whayne stated that there was a misconception regarding what was being spent in the downtown area. Mr. Whayne stated that much of the funds were coming from grants and matching funds. Mr. Whayne extended appreciation to the legislators for their assistance."

Though this was all of Whayne's comments included in the June 18 meeting minutes, in fact, Whayne didn't stop there. The City's meeting minutes that are approved don't provide everything that goes on at a meeting, they are summarized. You can watch the Council meeting here by following the archive link to that meeting.

Whayne said:

"...We had a situation that we couldn't control, at the outset. We had a developer we thought was ready to go but couldn't quite get the financing so we almost went into foreclosure so we had to fall in the tub...if we hadn't have purchased the building....When you're dealing with those kind of restoration people we owed them and everything works out but sometimes it doesn't so, you know, we have to try to do the next best thing and I think that's what's happening here..."

Carlson said:

" Denny said, the investor that did it went broke and so that the task for this community was to set there and let that thing stop any further development or take a calculated risk that we could lose some money and it was done in open meetings, lots of discussion and we made a calculated risk and there we were, and maybe we need to go back and say, "well, we shoulda left it like it was..."

The only problem Councilman Whayne and Mayor Carlson is that Vaughn Prost had been approved by Great Southern Bank for a loan extension. Bank of America had issued two letters of commitment to Vaughn Prost. At least one of those letters of commitment was for nearly $20 million. The Great Southern Bank loan extension was contingent upon the City of Springfield's approval. The City refused to approve it.

So, why am I going into all of this re-hash of the Heers Building in response to the question of why Vincent David Jericho is asking people to call certain Council members and express that they would like the Council to act in PUBLIC meetings regarding consideration of who will develop the property adjacent to the Expo Center? Here's your answer:

Today there are questions about how we ended up, as Cindy Rushefsky recently put it, "over a barrel" in how the City is able to negotiate the sale of the Heers Building with McGowan-Walsh and the City never mentions their refusal to approve the loan extension that Great Southern Bank had approved contingent upon the City's approval, in fact, in the retelling it seems they try to rewrite history, certain members want citizens to believe that the City had no other choice but to dismiss Vaughn Prost and take over the Heers Building.

Will they, years from now, rewrite history on how the developer was chosen to build on the property adjacent to the Expo Center?

Only if the citizens allow it, only if the citizens don't research it.

So, the answer to "what is Vincent David Jericho talking about when he tells us to contact certain Council members and request these meetings be made in the open?

I think he's trying to solve the next mystery before it becomes the next mystery.

So, Tom Carlson, at the June 18, 2007 meeting you said:

"...but I think, you know, if we're gonna make allegations that things are being mismanaged, uh, then you really need to say "are they?" and if they are we need to know about it...."

Okay, I'll take that challenge.

One of the things I gleaned from the July 2, 2007 City Council meeting was that the City, after they had already climbed between the sheets with Vaughn Prost, realized they didn't have a very good deal (mismanagement) and so they took an opportunity to bail out on that deal when they had the opportunity. They did this by not approving the approved loan extention for Vaughn Prost with Great Southern Bank which would have been covered by the Bank of America loan(s) for which Prost had received letters of committment, then they breathed what they thought was a sigh of relief and pretended that they had no other option because Prost couldn't get the financing for the loan.

When Mary Lilly Smith spoke on the night of July 2, 2007 she referenced the fact that under the Vaughn Prost deal the City had authorized access to more parking spaces in the Heers parking garage than they actually could afford to commit. She compared the deal the City had with Vaughn Prost to the deal the City is negotiating with McGowan-Walsh. Lilly Smith seemed to be trying to make the case that they are negotiating a much better deal with McGowan-Walsh than they had with Vaughn Prost.

Vince is asking you to call certain Council members so that we don't have to look back at the negotiations on the property adjacent to the Expo Center in the future and try to figure out how we got there from here and why.

Is there something wrong with asking that the City Managers and the negotiators fully inform the Council as to how they have made decisions about the "winner" of this prime site?

If YOU are interested in contacting a Council member the numbers are listed at Jericho's Journal

To quote a very famous and transparent City employee:

"Nip it in the bud." ~ Barney Fife, Mayberry.

P.S. The News-Leader does NOT have my permission to publish excerpts of this posting.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Carlson Gardner in the news again

Carlson Gardner made the news again on Sunday. This time in the St. Joseph News-Press.

In Downtown developers cash in, City Government reporter, Joe Blumberg, exposes among other things:

On two apartment developments, the San Regis and the Pioneer Building, two different developers may profit up to 17 percent on the projects before the apartments are even rented. One of those developers is Carlson Gardner of Springfield, the other is Jeffrey E. Smith, of Columbia.

The upfront profit is made possible by the selling of tax credits awarded to the developers for the projects.

Developers compete for the award of tax credits each fall.

Mr. Blumberg also reported that both Carlson Gardner and Smith own companies involved in every phase of a project. Each of those companies, in turn, bill the respective developer at every phase.

In the fall of 2002 one of Mr. Smith's projects was denied in favor of a Carlson Gardner project. St. Joe endorsed Carlson Gardner on projects three times between 2002 and 2005.

The Mayor, David Jones, was up for re-election in 2005. That year seven different Carlson Gardner companies contributed the maximum legal amount to his campaign. Jones lost the election that year.

Read the original article for more details.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

City Government Growing, Police Department Faces Consolidation

Regarding City Council Bill 2007-225, written about here.

For clarification, Police Chief Lynn Rowe intimated at the last Council meeting (view here) that this was a change he had been contemplating and that with the loss of two Majors recently at the Police Department the consolidation of two divisions, in essence, puts two more officers on the streets of Springfield.

It's good management on the Chief's part.

My complaint is that it was necessary.

My complaint is that our community is in the position of losing officers and having to combine divisions to spread the resources of the department to better serve our community.

The Community Free Press - Midweek (CFP), July 4 issue, quotes Rowe as saying,

"“We may potentially be down 40 to 45 officers over the next six months or so.”" (Read here, page 4, CFP Midweek - Archive Issues)

In the same issue of CFP, Rowe is quoted as saying:

“I can’t say we haven’t had officers leaving our force and going there (St. Louis and Kansas City), because, typically, they pay more.”


“We lose so many to other departments, the Highway Patrol, and federal agencies. Perhaps it would have made a difference were we able to pay them more.”

There is a reason we are losing officers and Rowe has been put in the position of needing to streamline the Springfield Police Department in an effort to reduce the Department's Personnel budget.

It just seems to me that we should be getting to the root of this problem. The City should remedy it before we find Rowe's department down another 40-45 officers six months from now.

If the City doesn't act soon I wonder which divisions will be consolidated next?

In 2006, City Manager Bob Cumley was paid $181,201.

Assistant City Manager, Evelyn Honea was paid $137,947.

Recently, though at least one council member questioned the necessity, another Assistant City Manager was added to the City's payroll.

Our City's governmental body seems to keep growing while our City's Police Department is facing reduction.

That's just something to think about. Isn't it?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Poem inspired by a blogger

Lights out and fly?


I'd rather walk, feet feeling the rubble of the road
in Arkansas, the red clay dust clinging to white sneakers
the bridge
over the creek

remember that sunny Thanksgiving Day?

it must have been 70 degrees and the stepmother's family ignoring me and you?

the creek called that day and when I sat at the bank, that warm sun shining on the top of my young head, grateful to be away from that dreadful house, that dreadful step grandmother who bought me socks at Christmas

the creek, the sun, the breeze
no one else around

it was


Thursday, July 12, 2007

City Council Agenda, item of interest

Council Bill 2007-225

Submitted by Police Chief Lynn Rowe, approved for Council action by Assistant City Manager Evelyn Honea (some paraphrasing):

Proposal to:

Section 1:

...delete one full time equivalent position of Police Major, LES-15; delete one full time equivalent position of Police Captain, LES-13, and add two full time equivalent positions of Police Lieutenant, LES-12.

Section 2:

...delete one full time equivalent position of Administrative Assistant, PAT-4, add one full time equivalent position of Office Administrator, PAT-5; delete one part time equivalent position of Office Specialist, PAT-4, add one full time equivalent position of Office Specialist, PAT, PAT-4.

Purpose: improve efficiency in the Police Department.

Remarks: better utilize budgeted salary resources, the Police Department is proposing to eliminate a Police Captain and a Police Major position and re-structure so that there will be three opperating divisions instead of four.

Those salary savings will fund two additional Lieutenant positions to be used ot provide additional field supervision. It will also allow an upgrade for one part time Office Specialist to a full time position...and upgrade one Administrative Assistant position to an Office Administrator position. Both of these non-sworn support positions will help the operation of the new Division that will be created as a result of the merge of the Administrative and Support Services Divisions.

These changes will result in a small savings in the Personnel Budget and can be accomplished within the Police Department Budget for fiscal year 2007-2008.

Okay, so the Chief of Police is proposing to consolidate and merge Administrative and Support Services Divisions so that a division can be cut and a small savings gained to stretch the Police Department's budget for the year.

What I find disturbing is that the Chief of Police is forced to juggle and eliminate a division, consolidating others, to save money in the Police Department's Personnel budget AFTER the City Manager's office insisted it had to fill another Assistant City Manager position when the budget for Springfield was being debated.

Meanwhile, Conrad Griggs wrote an editorial column for the Springfield News-Leader championing a 1% sales tax for funding a police/fire pension fund that he thinks should be discontinued after supporting it throughout his years on Council by voting it into its current underfunded condition.

AND, Vincent David Jericho is reporting this morning (July 12, 2007, KSGF Podcasts > ) that the City runs the garage responsible for police cruiser repairs and upkeep, collects a better than market price for providing the service to the police department and the revenue they make from the auto shop goes right back into Springfield's general revenue.

Wouldn't it be nice if the City of Springfield got its priorities straight?

Wouldn't it be nice if City Managers were as willing to tighten their belts and ferret out savings, making sacrifice if necessary as is the Chief of Police?

I don't know how Chief Rowe continues to manage such loyalty to a City which CLEARLY doesn't regard his department as a priority.

It isn't enough that the City failed the police and fire fighters by not funding their pensions, and I don't care how complicated the issue is, bottom line, we have a police department that ranks among the lowest in the nation on pay and benefits, has sacrificed raises to see the police/fire pension fund be funded and then it isn't funded anyway, THEN we find they are having to sacrifice a division at the department to make ends meet.

Oh, and of course, city staff recommends approval .

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The account of a citizen at the front lines of the immigration (non) debate

My friend, Tish, sent me this account of what happened when she and three of her friends who have been on the front lines in the immigration (non) debate called on their Senators prior to the cloture vote. She was afraid she'd "bore" me. I was far from bored, in fact I found it fascinating to see what she and her friends went through that day.

I'll not make any comments. Readers can form their own opinions and I recognize that it is only one citizens account, the other side of the story was not sought. ~ Jacke M.

Tish wrote:

The four of us met outside Lugar’s and Bayh’s offices at around 9 a.m. Our plan was to go into each Senator’s office and register our opposition to SB 1639, the Grand Amnesty, and to formally request that each Senator vote against cloture on that bill later that morning.

I expected to have the same experiences I’ve had in the past: a staffer takes notes of our points, our suggestions, and our requests, followed by a shaking of hands all around and a quick exit from the office; nothing but a semi-friendly exchange of time and pleasantries for all. That is not what happened at all.

The meeting in Lugar’s office, which was conducted with two Lugar staffers, Lane Ralph, Deputy State Director, and Bob Healey, Staff Assistant, started out with Cheree giving points of why we were against the bill. They listened politely – at first.

When I suggested that it was “sheer lunacy” (my words exactly) for our Senators to even be debating amnesty for 12 to 20 million illegals and doubling legal immigration at a time when our system couldn’t even keep up with our current immigration, Lane Ralph said that was my “philosophy” and dismissed me with a wave of his hand. He said, none too friendly, he wasn’t here to discuss philosophical issues. I said it was “reality,” not merely my philosophy and that the people of Indiana agreed with me. I said 90% of the people in Indiana are against amnesty and want our borders secured. He yelled – yelled – “80% of the people in Indiana want change!” He shook his head in a cocky sort of way as he said it. I came back with, “EXACTLY! Giving amnesty is what has always been done. It’s maintaining the status quo.” His intellectual response was, “No it isn’t.” “Sure it is!” I said. He then leaned toward me (he was sitting directly to my right) and condescendingly “explained” what status quo meant, as if to suggest I was too stupid to understand the term. He said it very slowly, as if he was speaking to a mentally impaired person, “Status quo means ‘no change’.” “Yes,” I said, “this will be the 8th amnesty in 20 years. The change people want is for current laws to be enforced.” How the idiot could even suggest with a straight face that giving amnesty is not the same ol’, same ol’ is beyond me!

At this point, rather than discussing something substantive, or doing his job which was to take notes so he could give our message to the Senator, he was more comfortable with insulting me yet again, as if pretending my comments were nothing more than the “philosophical” rantings of an ignorant, mentally impaired woman weren’t enough of an insult. He said, “That is an emotional issue! This shouldn’t be an emotional issue!” I said, “Excuse me, but it is an emotional issue for many and,” kind of laughingly, I said, “I’m not a robot; if you rouse my emotions, you’re gonna see them.” He said, “Well, perhaps you’d be better off discussing this some other place then.” Cheree said, “Oh? Where should we be discussing this issue?” He responded, “Emotional counseling.” I looked at Cheree with a “WTF?!” look on my face because I could not believe what I was hearing. The cat had my tongue! I was so shocked that I couldn’t respond.

Helen spoke at length about various things and the entire time she spoke, he would shout over her, as though he was trying to “out” her as ignorant or something. He would aggressively shout over her, throw out demanding questions as if trying to get her to reveal that she didn’t really know what she was talking about. I watched him as he did this, half thinking of striking him, and I noticed his hands were shaking as he yelled. I started wondering if he was, perhaps, a bit unstable because of the amount of outpouring from the public over this issue. Poor staffer, made to deal with the unruly, uneducated, unwashed pestilence called the “American people.” As the meeting progressed, he made it abundantly clear that was HIS philosophy!

When Cheree made the comment about the unusual process the Senate was taking in their attempts to shove amnesty down our throats, Lane Ralph practically jumped out of his chair and, condescendingly, shouted, “You’re wrong! That’s the system. That’s the way the system works! Republicans do it to Democrats when they’re in charge and Democrats do it to Republicans when they’re in charge! That’s our system and it happens all the time!” From all of us came the question, “Senators vote on laws they don’t read all the time?!” He continued yelling “No, they don’t read every word of every bill, but someone does! Senators read summaries of the bills.” He then went into a missive about how our government works. How amendments are made to make bills better or fix them when they’re bad, etc. Cheree said that Senators weren’t being allowed to offer amendments, that they were cherry picked by a select few. Again, he yelled “That’s how it works!”

At this point, Cheree, being every bit as upset as I was, grabbed the picture of her son and said that if that was the system, it was WRONG. She held up the picture. For a moment, I thought she was going to start crying. Bless her heart, she let them have it! “This is my son. He has served and bled for this country, and he’s still being treated at Walter Reed for injuries received in Iraq. He has to fight to get anything from the government. He was just turned down by our government for vocational rehabilitation. His chosen career was law enforcement, but now he’s blind in one eye because of his service to the country. The government is denying him help, but is trying to give rights to people who have broken our laws! Don’t you tell me what’s going on is “right”!" She slid the picture across the table and she was angry as hell. The only one who bothered to pick up Troy’s picture was Bob Healey. He asked a few questions about him, like how old he was, and laid the picture down. If my memory serves me correctly, Lane Ralph never glanced at the picture. He wasn’t there for anything but a fight, it seemed. I know I most likely have Cheree’s comments botched, but that was the gist of them. I felt like standing up and applauding when she was done!

I think it was at this time that Tina said that Senator Lugar should listen to and respect the wishes of his constituents. Lane Ralph began yelling something at her again, something about “hundreds of years ago when this government was formed, Senators were sent to do what they felt was best for their constituents.” I smarted off, “Oh oh, that’s a philosophical issue,” but he apparently didn’t hear me because he kept ranting. I interrupted and said things aren’t like they were 100 years ago and that Senators have the ability to learn how their constituents feel. I said a law should be introduced where issues have to be put before the people of the states and that Senators should be forced to vote according to the majority of their constituents. He whipped his head around to look at me, and demanded, “Oh! Like the 55 mph laws?!” Not sure what he was trying to get at, I said yes, maybe “sure”, I don’t really remember. He snorted, like he had “caught” me being stupid or something and yelled, “Oh yeah! People really follow THAT law, don’t they?” and turned away. Again I looked at Cheree and said quietly, “I’m ready to go. This isn’t getting anywhere.”

I didn’t get up to leave because I didn’t want to be rude or leave my group. I can’t remember much of what was said after that, except those times I smartassishly piped in, “And yet ANOTHER philosophical issue!” or “Oh, that’s your philosophy.” I remember I said that when he felt it necessary to give us uneducated four a history lesson in government and immigration, particularly at those points when he said everyone who had ever come to America was an “illegal,” that “we are all immigrants,” and that we didn’t know who the indigenous peoples of this land were, that it might even be the Hispanics who are coming here illegally. The man wasn’t there to discuss philosophies – except his own.

The point was made again that the Senator wasn’t listening to Hoosiers on this issue, as evidenced by his votes, and he blew his lid. He was glaring at Tina, I believe, and shouting, “Don’t we take your names, addresses and numbers when you contact us?! We don’t do it because WE want to, we do it BECAUSE THE SENATOR REQUESTS THAT INFORMATION!!! The Senator gets a list every day of those who contact us and why they contacted us!!!!” He was slamming the tip of his finger on the notepad in front of him as he yelled.

I finally had enough of his shouting, arguing, condescension and outright contempt towards us. I said, “That’s it!” and jumped up to leave. I knocked the chair over backwards. I said, “Sorry about the chair,” none too friendly, as I picked it up. I think I told Cheree I was going to the restroom, I don’t really remember. I just had to get away from that condescending, shouting maniac before I did something to land myself in jail. I stormed out, closing the door without taking any precautions to make sure it shut quietly. I found the restroom and my husband called seconds after I walked in it. As soon as I heard his voice, I started bawling. I hate getting that angry. And then when it makes me cry, which it always does, I get even angrier for not being strong enough not to cry. I hollered, vented really, in hubby’s ears for a couple of minutes and started working on calming down. I washed my hands, wiped the tears away, and left the restroom to walk around and compose myself. Once that was done, I headed back up to Lugar’s office. I walked in and went straight to the conference room. When I walked through the door, the shouting maniac, Lane Ralph, was standing there as the meeting was coming to an end. He said, “Oh, hey, I’m sorry.” It didn’t seem genuine in the least. I responded through clenched lips which had begun quivering again, threatening tears because I was so angry, “I didn’t come here for a civics lesson. I didn’t come here for a history lesson and I didn’t come here for condescension.” He turned around and walked away. I turned and shook Bob Healey’s hand and said, as Lane Ralph stood on the far side of the conference table, “It was a pleasure meeting YOU,” and thanked him for his time. The next time I looked over, I saw Lane Ralph leaving the conference room through a back door. Good. Prick.

The whole experience was a negative, infuriating one. It left me drained and shaking. I’m shaking now, just typing this brief and remembering.

While Mr. Healey was much more friendly and affable than Lane Ralph, he still approached us from the perspective that we were really just too stupid to understand how things really work. He went through a rather lengthy explanation of how the contacts to the Senator’s office are logged and sent to the Senator at one point in the discussion. What they refuse to understand is that no one cares HOW it’s done! If the Senator is going to ignore what the large majority of his constituents want anyway, it makes no difference HOW it’s done or even IF it is done!

None of us deserved the treatment Mr. Ralph unleashed on us that day. We did not go to our Senator’s office to argue, to receive a history lesson, a civics lesson, or to be dismissed as irrelevant and ignorant. Thanks to Lane Ralph, that is precisely what happened.

It was quite clear that these staffers were more interested in telling us HOW to think and intimidating us into adopting their stance rather than listening to anything we had to say. And when we said things they didn’t like or with which they disagreed, the tactic of the day was to shout us down and insult us.

When we left the office, we met outside to kind of gather ourselves and calm down before going to Bayh's office. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. I went to put some change in the parking meter because I had only filled up 40 minutes’ worth at around 9 a.m. The meter showed that my time ran out 59 minutes before. We had been in there for approximately an hour and a half.

I don’t know if Lane Ralph was merely at his breaking point because of the stress of his duties and the pressure from the public or not. I’m inclined to think his treatment of us is merely an extension of his boss’ view towards us, “Those pesky Americans! Why can’t they sit down, shut up and leave us smart people alone so we can do our job?!” They don’t realize that WE are their employers. I hope Hoosiers join me in reminding them at every opportunity that they WORK FOR US and WE PAY THEM. We aren’t their “subjects,” though it’s very clear that is how they would prefer it to be.

Shout out to Katherine Yurica: We must stop them Progressive Christian Dominionists!

Momma Twoop sent me an email the other day. Seems those danged Progressive Christian Dominionists are at it again! :-o

Them Pergressive Dominionists simply will not leave well enough alone until they set up a theocracy here in these United States!

I'm glad John Stone (Curbstone Critic) is not here tew witness it. He would have been so very upset. Sigh.

Read all about it here.

To think they are advertising this event right here on the 4th of July, no less. Appalling, simply appalling!

KatherineYurica of the Yurica Report will likely start connecting the dots on this very soon. Very, very soon.

These here relijous zeelots must be stopt!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Something ventured, nothing gained: Status quo returns to Washington

In Congressional passion gives hope, Springfield News-Leader's Tony Messenger wrote:

"For true change to occur on the state and national level on key issues, it takes Republicans and Democrats working together, not simply using the various issues as great dividers that build one party up while leaving the other in the dust.

Frankly, my hope was that the debate over illegal immigration would lead to the sort of grand compromise that would stand as a testament to our ability to reach across party aisles and work together on complicated issues. That didn't happen, but the fact that the issue, and not the party, was the driving force in this debate is still worth a nugget of hope."

I would argue that true change did occur on a key issue. I would argue that Republicans and Democrats did work together and they worked together all across the country. I would argue that the true hope that was discovered was that the people, as a whole, set aside partisan politics and reached across party aisles to effect the outcome of policy. I would argue that Tony, in his wish to see comprehensive immigration reform passed, failed to see what he wished come to full realization.

People stood up for America rather than political parties! People stood up for what they believed, and stood up passionately, and stood up because they did know what was in the bill, not because (as the News-Leader has implied in the past) they are ignorant, emotional, racist, bigoted, xenophobes! People knew better than the politicians in Washington what was good for the country and could not be denied their voice and when their voices were heard in such large numbers their "representatives" were forced to listen.

We could have a celebration in watching the system work as it should, in true representative fashion, but for the fact that in the end, after the dust has settled the proponents of immigration reform lost and the proponents of border security and law enforcement lost.

When we ask the questions, "What's next? Securing the border so that the American people will be more receptive to the idea of immigration reform in the future?"

We'd be logical to think that securing the border would be next, but that isn't going to happen. That isn't going to happen because just as the American people suspected all along, politicians were just trying to appease us and get us to shut up long enough to pass this legislation.

Nothing much was being done to enforce our immigration laws until the proponents wanted to pass this comprehesive immigration reform bill. Wasn't it convenient that, all of a sudden, when there was the hope of passing this legislation, that there were numerous ICE raids of businesses employing illegal aliens across the country, that there was all this "tough" talk about securing our borders, that there was all this talk about pouring billions of dollars into homeland security coffers to take care of the illegal immigrant problem?

So, you'd think that if border security was so important in the lead up to the debate on comprehensive immigration reform that it would be that important today, right? Uh huh.

President Bush Disappointed by Congress's Failure to Act on Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

Congress really needs to prove to the American people that it can come together on hard issues. The Congress needs to work on comprehensive energy policy and good health care; make sure health care is affordable without inviting the federal government to run the health care system. We've got to work together to make sure we can balance this federal budget, and not overspend or raise taxes on the American people. We've got a lot of work to do.

When they come back from the summer -- from the July recess, before the summer break begins, we'll be focusing on the appropriations process. And I look forward to working with Congress to balance our budgets and to be wise about how we spend the people's money.

Bush is ready to move on. No more talk about how important it is to secure our borders in the interest of national security.

On FOX News Sunday, July 1, Chris Wallace interviewed Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and I think this excerpt of that interview is telling:

WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, we have about a minute left. Clearly, what came out of this debate and the failure of immigration reform is that a lot of people in this country don't trust you, don't trust the government, to enforce the border.

So why not take the lesson from this failure and go for enforcement first, resubmit the president's agreement to spend $4.4 billion on new enforcement?

You say you don't have some tools when it comes to employer verification. Why not resubmit all of those and challenge the Democrats on enforcement first?

CHERTOFF: Well, Chris, first of all, anybody who says we haven't been enforcing is woefully blind to the facts. We have done more in terms -- and unfortunately, it's been some painful stuff in terms of arrests, 700 criminal cases against employers, raids involving thousands of people, unfortunate pictures of crying children. ...

WALLACE: But, Mr. Secretary, we're running out of...

CHERTOFF:... whose mothers are being...

WALLACE:I don't mean to interrupt you. I mean, are you going to submit the $4.4 billion? Are you going to resubmit the tamper- proof card? Are you going to resubmit the employer verification or not?

CHERTOFF: I think we're going to say to the members of Congress who think they have a better way that they should produce legislation and pass legislation, which they have not done for the past two years.

They've tried enforcement only. That didn't pass. We've tried comprehensive. That stalled. I think it's now time for Congress, which has the power to legislate, to make a determination about how it wants to help us solve this problem.

WALLACE: But the government, the president, is not going to submit his own plan.

CHERTOFF: Well, we've submitted a budget. We submitted a comprehensive immigration plan. We agreed on $4.4 billion which was going to be secured by the payments made by the illegals so it would not bust the budget.

In the absence of that plan, I think now those who have a better way ought to come forward with that better way. We're still going to work on our part to enforce the border using the tools that we have. (emphasis mine)

We will see just how diligent you will remain, Secretary Chertoff, now that you aren't trying to convince the American people that securing the border is important to you in order to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

The sad thing is that even though the American people were heard loud and clear, nothing tangible will be done to secure our borders. Those who supported the comprehensive immigration reform will say it is the fault of those who opposed that legislation.

Those who opposed it because they wanted to see if the government could enforce the laws it already has on the books before considering another amnesty will be validated by the continued lack of effort on the part of our federal government to secure our borders and enforce those existing laws.

Our representatives will return to status quo.

Nothing substantial will be done to enforce our laws because the carrot that was being held out in the form of comprehensive immigration reform has been put back in the bushel basket and there's no longer any need to prove to the American people that the federal government takes it job to secure our borders seriously.

To those representatives:

Don't blame the opponents of the bill, do your job of securing our borders and then come back to us in a couple of years. The "ball's" still in your court and the "carrot" can be replaced but not unless you prove you are willing to do your job and do it consistently and do it long term.

Author's note: This post has been edited for content and the title changed.