Pre-Beach Report

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) monitors water quality from 25 sites at Alabama beaches.   According to the ADEM Coastal Alabama Beach Monitoring Program,  -all- of the most recent samples are below the enterococci threshold concentration (104 colonies per 100 ml of water).  Enterococci is an “indicator bacteria” that is not harmful to humans but may indicate the presence of “potential human pathogens”.  To aid in my understanding, I just call it poo.

The Cotton Bayou Beach monitoring site is of immediate interest to me.  The enterococci level is less than 1 colony per 100 ml of water.  No poo!  However, the Fairhope Public Beach has been closed several times over the past few years because of high levels.  I’m digging into that issue…

UPDATE:  I spoke with a nice person from ADEM – the beach monitoring program is funded by the EPA and the funds cover monitoring, not source tracking.  ADEM has applied for EPA microbial source tracking grant funding which might identify the source of the poo, but no luck so far.  Source Molecular offers microbial source tracking for human, cattle, swine, bird, chicken, dog, deer, and horse fecal contamination.  Looking at their price list,  this seems like an affordable option that doesn’t need to wait on a federal grant.  Most beach monitoring sites have no poo issues, so identifying the source (even just human or not) on an as needed basis could give some insight into the problem.  

ADEM said that stormwater runoff sometimes contributed to higher than desired enterococci levels, but Baldwin County is in a drought.  Fairhope has a sewage treatment plant nearby, but the effluent of the plant is monitored so it may not be the source.  It’s a mystery…

Sharks!

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Bentley to keep another promise

Governor Robert Bentley “said he intends to sign” the Brewery Modernization Act (SB192 – sponsored by our own Bill Holtzclaw R-2), according to Michael Tomberlin of The Birmingham News who wrote “Alabama Governor Bentley plans to sign beer bill into law”:

“When I represented my local community, I voted against Sunday alcohol sales and things of that nature,” Bentley said in an interview. “As governor, it’s a little bit different. I don’t feel I should impose my views on everybody in the state. The Legislature has had a chance to look at it and passed it. I’m sure I will sign it.”

The law will allow breweries to have taprooms and relax restrictions on brewpubs.  Our local brewers say:

“A tap room is already in the works,” said Dan Perry, one of the founders and brewers of Straight to Ale. “We haven’t nailed down the rest of our plans yet.”

Mike Spratley, brewer and owner of Huntsville’s Blue Pants Brewery, said the new law creates an avenue for growth for upstart breweries like Blue Pants.

“We’re putting together a scheme for the next phase of our growth,” he said. “Things like tours and a tap room will likely be in the plans going forward. We see that as a great way to grow the business.”

Free the Hops Vice President and political genius Dan Roberts said:

“That’s what it’s all about — enabling Alabama businesses to grow”

Governor Bentley is keeping a promise made during an interview on WVNN (Flashpoint on the radio):

Dr. Bentley opposed Free the Hops in the legislature (he says he consistently opposes alcohol and gambling); but I asked if as Governor he would sign the Gourmet Beer Bill – with some nuance, he said he would (since it would have passed the legislature). 

Thank you Dr. Love.

Fanniegate

Walter Russell Mead wrote “Fanniegate: Gamechanger for the GOP?” reviewing a new book (tip to Instapundit):

Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. By Gretchen Morgenson, one of America’s best business journalists who is currently at The New York Times, and noted financial analyst Joshua Rosner…

We’ve known about corruption at the government-backed mortgage corporation Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Corporation), such as Democrat fatcat Franklin Raines doctoring the books to increase his bonus or Democrat Congressman Barney Frank getting a job for his partner (and then defending Fannie Mae in Congressional hearings) or Democrat Jamie Gorelick (who helped bring on 9/11 and the housing crisis) ‘earning’ $26 million for bundling subprime loans into securitized financial instruments.   As bad as we thought the scandals at Fannie Mae were, nobody went to jail (not even the ‘Friends of Angelo’) and the fines imposed on the corruptocrats (if at all) were a small fraction of the amount looted from the American people.

“Reckless Endangerment” provides more insight into the Democratic Party’s culture of corruption.

The villains?  An unholy alliance between Wall Street, the Democratic establishment, community organizing groups like ACORN and La Raza, and politicians like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cisneros…

…the American dream didn’t die of old age; it was murdered and most of the fingerprints on the corpse come from Democratic insiders.  Democratic power brokers stoked the housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the increasingly rampant corruption and incompetence at Fannie Mae and the associated predatory lenders who sheltered under its umbrella; core Democratic ideas may well be at fault.

…Big government, affirmative action and influence peddling among Democratic insiders came within inches of smashing the US economy.

…The story illustrates everything the Tea Party thinks about the corrupt Washington establishment and the evils of big government.  It demonstrates the limits on the ability of government programs to help the poor.  It converts a complicated economic story into a simple morality play — with Dems as the villain.  It allows Republicans to capitalize on public fury at the country’s economic problems.  It links the Democrats to Wall Street — the one part of the private sector that the Republican base loathes.  It exposes that mix of incompetence and arrogance that is the hallmark of the modern American liberal establishment and links this condescending cluelessness to the real problems of real American families.  It links President Obama (through appointments, associations and friendships) with the worst elements of the Clinton legacy and it blunts some key Democratic talking points.

Read the whole thing.

Casey is OUR Superintendent

Three of the five members of the Huntsville City School Board voted for Casey Wardynski to be OUR school Superintendent,

Retired Army Colonel Wardysnki (who prefers to be called Casey) developed the America’s Army video game for the US Army, taught at West Point for 15 years, improved Army personnel policy, and learned about education at the Broad Academy (which is the premier education policy center in the US).

Casey speaks in terms of “feasibility and efficacy” and also gets glowing comments from those who’ve worked with him.  Several people have told me that you will work your butt off to please him, because he inspires that level of commitment.  Having known leaders like Casey, I’m excited for our schools.

***

The school board meeting was held at City Hall in (correct) anticipation of a large crowd.  As a prelude to the selection of our new superintendent, the demographer hired by the city gave his report.  Quick look (with more after I review the full report):

High School:
1.  Close Butler High School
Middle School:
Either 1a)  combine Davis Hills, Ed White, and Westlawn into middle school at Butler, or 1b)  close Davis Hills MS to Ed White and Chapman
Either 2a) close Whitesburg MS to Mountain Gap and Challenger or 2b) close Mountain Gap MS to Whitesburg and Challenger
Elementary School:
1)  close Monte Sano to Blossomwood
Either 2a) close Whitesburg ES to Chaffee, Weatherly, and Jones Valley or 2b)  close Mountain Gap
3) close West Mastin Lake ES
4) close Montview ES

Non-zone:
Move New Century to the new Lee High School

Celebrate Success!  The rate of 9th graders advancing to 10th grade (which is a critical transition) improved from 78% to 91% in the past five years.  That is huge.  Why? How? Who?

Kudos to the City of Huntsville for funding the demographer Dr. Steve Salmon.  The report should be available on the HCS website soon.  Public meetings will be held very soon (like starting next week) for comments.

My first guess is that Salmon didn’t look outside current school zones for consolidation; in fact, one of his recommendations was for the school system to establish a student GIS.  This recommendation complements the databases proposed by all three candidates for superintendent.  Note that one of my concerns is that members of one of the most partisan and hateful (and cheatful) political organizations would have access to any school database developed by the school system.  Privacy should be a fundamental concern for administrators – we’ve already seen Huntsville schools punish parents for speaking out – what could they do with more data?

***

Kudos to Topper Birney for running a good selection process.  My only complaint (shared with The Huntsville Times) is that the board went into closed executive session to talk about “the good name and character” of the candidates.  If “good name and character” was still an issue after downselecting to the top three candidates, then the process was flawed (were any of the three candidates bad characters?). 

IMO the board went into special session to try to get a 5-0 vote (which didn’t happen).  Casey was supported by David Blair and Jennie Robinson (and all right-thinking people), while Dr. Dan Brigman was supported by Alta Morrison and Laurie McCauley (and the AEA).  Morrison mis-remembered Casey’s interview to criticize him while McCauley was just plain “unfair” (saying that Casey wouldn’t relate to inarticulate people).   Birney was the swing vote. 

More later.  For now, congratulations to Huntsville.