Blog Transfer

The long coming transfer from Brian to me is in process.  The transfer may take a couple of days (transferring files and databases &c); don’t be alarmed if we mess something up but if things go well you won’t notice.

Campaigns – Isackson

The election season will be heating up pretty soon, people are thinking about becoming candidates, and candidates are thinking about campaigning.

Adam Isackson is writing a book about local political campaign management and posted some of his thoughts at REDSTATE.  So far, Isackson has posted two articles:  “Things to consider before running for public office” and  “Precinct analysis and canvassing strategy”.   Anyone interested in the subject should read the articles.

Here are some of the questions Isackson suggests that one considers before running for public office:

Are you willing and able to commit the time necessary?
Are you financially stable?
What effects will running have on your finances?
Are you the best candidate for the job?
Are you willing to have your baggage aired out in public?
Do you have strong interpersonal skills?
Can you ask people for money?
Would you likely face primary opposition?
Are you electable?
Can you build a strong campaign infrastructure?

Isackson’s precinct analysis and canvassing strategy article is very detailed.  Here are some snippets to pique your interest:

Local campaigns in particular are largely about meeting more voters then your opponent. You can only meet a small percentage of likely voters by attending community functions and meetings. To reach the rest of them you need to go door to door. In a local campaign where you face any, even minor opposition this shouldn’t be a matter of debate. Going door to door should be a, if not the central aspect of your campaign for public office.

…Good maps will save you a TON of time out in the field.

…First and foremost you’re going to want to look at the most relevant recent elections data and look at the precinct by precinct results.

…Another thing you want to consider before you start pounding the pavement is the use of walking lists. If you’re running for partisan office you’re going to want to get a hold of your state or local political party and find out what resources they have available.

I’ll be on the lookout for more from Isackson…

Poo at Fairhope Public Beach

Poo!

I wrote earlier this summer about poo at the Fairhope Beach;  what I didn’t know is that the City of Fairhope started source tracking testing about the same time (after waiting on the State for seven years).  I like that the City stopped waiting and funded the testing themselves, after all, it is their poo and their park. 

 

Enterococcus faecalis

Enterococcus faecalis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russ Henderson at the Mobile Press-Register wrote “Swimming advisory again issued for Fairhope public beach”:

The Baldwin County Health Department issued a public swimming advisory on Tuesday for the waters of Mobile Bay at the Fairhope Public Beach.

It is the sixth time this year that such an advisory has been issued for the Fairhope beach. Their cause is unclear.

The city has been conducting weekly tests of local waterways this summer in an effort to find out — after many years of speculation — what causes the periodic high bacterial readings found at the municipal park’s beach and duck pond.

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MCGOP – 20 August 2011

After missing the past couple of Madison County Republican breakfasts because of travel, I attended Judgefest yesterday. 

MCGOP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently appointed Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Chuck Malone was the featured speaker.  Attendees included: Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Liles Burke and Mike Joiner; Circuit Court Judges Dennis O’Dell, Alan Mann, and Ruth Ann Hall; District Court Judges Dick Richardson and Alison Austin, Madison County Circuit Court Clerk Jane Smith;  prospective District Court Judge appointees Jonathan Pippin and Robert Rodgers; plus District Judge candidates Chris Messervy and Don Rizzardi

I listed the judges to illustrate how completely the people of Alabama have entrusted the judiciary to Republicans.  Consider that before 1994, no Republican held a statewide judicial seat (since Civil War Reconstruction).  Now every statewide judge is a Republican, furthermore, every State office is held by Republicans except Public Service Commission President Lucy Baxley (D).   The Republican Revolution is transforming the State at the County office level too.  Madison County Republicans won every office on the ballot in 2010.  Their rejection at the polls helps explain why Democrats push for unelected judicial selection instead of election by citizens.

More notes from the meeting…

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The amazing bus race!

Man triumphs over Machine once again…

WVNN Talk Radio Superstar Dale Jackson and I beat the bus!   We walked about 3 miles in 45 minutes, edging out Jason Marks (on the Huntsville Shuttle bus) by seven minutes.  Even though walking was faster, I was a hot mess when we arrived at the VBCC while Jason was air-conditioned and fresh.

Jason had to transfer buses once, but note that he saw a total of 11 people riding both buses (during evening rush hour).  The first bus was about 10 minutes late and Jason had to wait about 10 minutes for the transfer bus (route 9 to route 5).  Overall, Jason seemed to have an okay experience riding the bus, however, no one who has a car would trade the 10 minute drive for an hour on the bus.  Jason loves his Jeep even more now…

The Amazing Dale Jackson Beats the Bus

The Amazing Dale Jackson Beats the Bus

My interest in The Amazing Bus Race was to investigate Huntsville sidewalks.  Sidewalks are the fundamental basis of public transportation and it is silly to spend money on buses (or rail) without first having a good sidewalk system.  The rule of thumb is that people will walk about 1/4 mile to ride a bus or 1/3 mile to ride a train.  I took some pictures of the sidewalks (/light sarcasm) encountered during the race.  This is on Pulaski Pike south of Oakwood:

"Sidewalk" on Pulaski Pike

"Sidewalk" on Pulaski Pike

This is downtown on Holmes:

"Sidewalk" on Holmes Avenue

"Sidewalk" on Holmes Avenue

The City budgets about $300,000 per year for sidewalks (which doesn’t include the Federal stimulus money spent on new bus shelters).   Huntsville is paying $71,000 for a transportation consultant to “to recommend new routes and other improvements”.   If the consultant doesn’t recommend sidewalk improvements I’ll just consider it more money wasted on useless consultants.  The City would’ve been better off hiring someone to walk around the City listing sidewalk improvements.

The highly touted and totally stupid (for Huntsville)  Google Transit  was an epic FAIL.  Dale Jackson has more on that – I’ll just add that the people who ride the bus don’t have iPhones, and that people who have iPhones don’t (and will not) ride the bus.

Old and busted

Lack of planning by Huntsville City Schools…

Poorly sited trees at Merts

Poorly sited trees at Merts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New hotness – making informed decisions based on a long range vision…

I attended the HCS Board of Education meeting at noon today – which illustrates the sense of urgency that I believe Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski brings to the schools.  The Board has been meeting fairly often and on fairly short notice to make decisions, and I commend them for taking prompt action.  My Board member David Blair ‘attended’ the meeting via telecom – which is a welcome use of time and technology.

The School Board approved:

1) a Human Resources report hiring 18 people, mostly for replacements.  The schools still need to hire another 15 or so people to be approved at the next Board meeting.  Note that no classes are unsupervised and that substitute teachers are filling in for now.

2) Temporary agreements for 11 nurses through October.  The plan is for the State to train some nurses to cover multiple venues and then re-evaluate / rightsize the agreements for the next fiscal year.

3) a new job description for the Director of Community Engagement and Partnership Development.  This position seems to roll three current (but unfilled?)  positions into one job - replacing Public Relations, Grants, and Partnership positions.  The position was recommended by The Schools Foundation Speak Up program. 

IMO, Speak Up seems like a feel good PR program – nice website but not much substance; for example, Speak Up posted their Huntsville City Data Results on July 14, 2011, but the data ‘presented’ was from the ‘community engagement initiative’ of 2006 and 2007.  The presentation consisted of four PDF files (92 page, 41 page, 29 page, 41 page) listing ideas gathered at the meetings.  My guess is that the meetings covered more than education – comments about getting a Macy’s department store and more restaurants seem more appropriate for the Mayor’s business initiative.  There may be some nuggets in the files but there are no results.

Wardynski spoke about the University Place Elementary student who got onto the wrong bus Wednesday.  The child was expected to be on an after school bus but didn’t have the parental note – Casey said that the principal resolved that issue and that the bus procedures were “fine”.  The schools are looking at setting up a swipe card system to track students, in addition to the GPS and video on board the buses.

However, this afternoon a second child got on the wrong bus at Morris Elementary

The procedures may be “fine” but it seems like a mishap reduction stand down may be necessary.

***

Special education parent Russ Winn attended the meeting.  Winn posted ‘Perturbed by Change’ in which he includes this quote from Wardysnki:

The interests of the kids will always come first. I do have resource constraints… We’ve attempted here to make sure we have a plan that we can live with. That they won’t be perturbed by change.

Casey was answering a question about the special ed consolidation using the Providence to Williams move as an example:  minimizing disruptions to kid’s educations through planning.  Let’s hope Casey comes up with a good plan that satisfies the needs of the kids and the taxpayers.

Winn also wrote:

…there was a time not too long ago when I thought that fighting the central office decisions concerning my son’s education was not terribly wise. I was concerned about retaliation and becoming known as Dr. Moore put it once, one of those “confrontational” parents.

Casey assured us that people won’t be punished for speaking up (remember C.J. Grisham), however while Dr. Moore may be ‘gone’, many of the people involved in retaliating against a parent for speaking up at a PTA meeting are still employed by the school system.  Winn’s concern is authentic and valid.  IMO until those involved are held publicly accountable the public cannot really trust the school system.

***

The dead trees at the Merts Center were planted in the wrong place – whoever planted them didn’t have a good long term plan for growth. That’s old and busted – let’s hope the schools have the new hotness.

Alabama Sharks

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Drymon of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab published “Distributions of Sharks across a Continental Shelf in the Northern Gulf of Mexico” (11 page PDF – pretty fascinating reading), which found that the most abundant taxa are the Atlantic Sharpnose Shark Rhizoprionodon terraenovae, Blacknose shark Carcharhinus acronotus, and Blacktip Shark C. limbatus.  By my rough calculations based on their data, these three species accounted for more than 75% of the 22 species of sharks identified in the study. 

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New school CFO and IRL

This afternoon, the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education approved the hiring of Frank Spinelli as Chief Financial Officer. Crystal Bonvillian of The Huntsville Times wrote “Huntsville school board hires new CFO during special meeting”:

…Spinelli, a certified public accountant and certified internal auditor, served as a manager for BDO Seidman in New York, which today is part of the fifth largest international accounting and consulting network in the world. He also spent time at Reichmann International, a real estate holding company with headquarters in Toronto.

Board member Jennie Robinson said Spinelli has a strong background in finance, but also in project management and strategic planning.

As an employee of the board, Spinelli will have dual accountability, Wardynski said. He will report directly to the superintendent on a day-to-day basis but will also report to the board.

The school board meeting was focused and over quickly; in addition to hiring Spinelli, the Board authorized the rehiring of several teachers, including three special education teachers.  The board also voted to approve some temporary agreements which exposed the need to improve financial processes.  Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski noted “workflow issues” and commented that the system is “currently on paper and needs to be electronic”.  Casey also observed that funds need to be available before being obligated.

In real life…

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We can lose battles and it only makes us mad

The First Battle of Bull Run was fought 150 years ago today by the Union Army of Northern Virginia under Irvin McDowell and Confederate forces under Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (Army of the Potomac) and Joseph Johnston (Army of the Shenandoah).

The excellent Bull Runnings blog posted a letter written by Colonel John Ellis and published in the San Francisco Bulletin:

Col. John S. Ellis of the 1st Regiment of California State Militia, and Sheriff elect of San Francisco – who is now on a visit to the East – served as a volunteer (attached, for the [ponce?], to the 71st New York Regiment) during the battle of Bull Run…

I was all through the battle of Bull Run as a volunteer, attached to the 71st Regiment, armed with a rifle and sabre-bayonet. All my brothers were there also – five of us. We started at 2 o’clock on Sunday morning; marched none hours without resting three minutes at a time, and having in that period traversed about 15 miles, went right into action without breakfast; fought until 6 o’clock Sunday night; then retreated, marched all night and did not reach our camp till 9 o’clock Monday morning – all without anything for food except a hard, dry cracker, which I could not eat…

I then went back to the fight and rejoined Gus, who was doing fearful execution with his 12 pounder howitzers. The 71st drove back the enemy three times, and completely cut up the Alabama regiment; and Sherman’s battery on our right silenced one of the enemy’s batteries until they got out of ammunition. We did our share; we drove back the enemy whenever he showed his face, and for a long time thought we had gained the victory. But alas! how much were we mistaken! Other regiments were ordered to charge into the woods and were met by masked batteries which poured into their bosoms the most terrific fire…

Through the effects of this battle we have lost much of our prestige, but I think it is a lesson we my profit by. It has wonderfully raised the spirits of the Rebels, and men say they are preparing for an attack on Washington. If they should, and are repulsed, they would find it difficult to recover. We can lose battles and it only makes us mad – they cannot afford reverses.

The “Alabama regiment” mentioned in Colonel Ellis’ letter was the 4th Alabama Regiment led by Colonel Egbert Jones, part of the Third Brigade commanded by Barnard Bee in the Army of the Shenandoah:

After that struggle, if there was one man idolized by the 4th Alabama, it was Egbert Jones. Amid the shock and surge of the conflict, he sat with his leg carelessly thrown across the pommel of his saddle, and gave his orders with perfect composure. The 4th Alabama never forgot that immobile figure.

Jones was an Athens lawyer and State Representative who moved to Huntsville in 1853.  Jones was elected Captain of the Huntsville Guards company which was one of the ten companies that formed the 4th Alabama Regiment; Jones was elected Colonel of the 4th Alabama when it formed. 

Jones died as a result of his wounds received at Bull Run and is buried at Maple Hill Cemetary.