Recently retired Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was paid $250,000.00 this past week for a single speech at a secret dinner meeting for the partners and special clients of Wall St. investment banking firm, Lehman Brothers. (Obviously, the meeting didn't stay secret for long.) Reports from numerous media sources suggest that Greenspan gave the audience information about what he anticipated would be continued interest rate increases from the Fed going forward. One of the major criticisms of Greenspan during his tenure as Chairman of the Fed was that he kept interest rates artificially low, thus fueling the housing bubble in the United States. Now, he faces additional criticism for a possible violation of the central bank's rules with regard to any public discussion of the Fed's private meetings. Economists are still divided over Greenspan's record as Chairman. The ultimate answer may come with whether the U.S. economy can manage a soft landing (as opposed to facing a severe recession), given the heavy levels of debt accumulated by individuals, corporations, and the federal government in recent years.
The New York Times reported this week that as many as 900,000 of the 2.5 million applications for individual assistance in the wake of the Katrina disaster may have been fradulent claims that cost the government tens of millions of dollars. An audit of the expedited assistance program of FEMA determined, according to the Times, that the "controls were so lax that auditors were able to secure their own $2,000 relief check by using 'falsified identities, bogus addresses and fabricated disaster stories' and then simply waiting for the money to arrive in the mail, says the report for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee." That's the problem with people spending other peoples (we, the taxpayers) money.
Peter Baker of the Washington Post reported this week that the National Guard Association "unveiled a bust of young Lt. George W. Bush" this week at its headquarters. The Post reporter referred to the President as "perhaps its (the National Guard's) most famous alumnus around today."
The President had little to say about the bust other than to make a comment about Charles Parks, the man who sculpted the bust, according to the Post: " 'Charles caught me before my hair went grey,' Bush said."
It seems that our regular Dallas Blogger and occasional guest commentator Sandy McDonough wasn't the only one upset about what Sandy characterized as the "politicalization" of the Coretta Scott King funeral. Former President George H.W. Bush was so upset by the critical remarks made about his son by some speakers at Mrs. King's funeral that he made the following statement to CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer: "In terms of the political shots at the president who was sitting there with his wife, I didn't like it and I thought it was kind of ugly frankly. Anybody that shoots at the president of the United States at a funeral. I just didn't appreciate that." The former President apparently was unhappy with critical remarks made by former President Carter and the Rev. Joseph Lowery about his son.
Margaret Baillargeon and Joe May died this past weekend. Margaret had been sick for a long time while Joe's death was sudden and unexpected. I had just talked to Joe a little more than a week ago, and we had planned to get together soon to discuss the situation at DISD. All of a sudden, Joe May is dead, an apparent victim of a heart attack at the age of 61. It makes us all appreciate how precious life is and how quickly it can be snuffed out. Both Margaret Baillergeon and Joe May were advocates for those who did not have a voice. Margaret was part of a small contingent of young housewives in the late 1970s who (along with Paulette Standefer, Sheila Higgins, Louise Gee, and others) organized a very effective pro-life movement in the Dallas area. She and her husband of 43 years, Bob Baillargeon, ran a successful automobile dealership while raising a family and contributing their time and resources to many, worthwhile charitable causes. But, the pro-life movement was the major focus of her volunteer activities.
Joe May and I are fellow Vietnam Vets, and we got to know one another many years ago. A career employee at the Small Business Administration, Joe May was the man the Hispanic community turned to on redistricting matters. Until recent years, Joe had preferred to remain a behind the scenes activist trying to help others get elected. He was his own man, not afraid to be critical of those within his own community whom he thought were using Hispanics to advance their own personal interests or political agenda. As a member of the DISD School Board, he received a lot of publicity for some of his more provocative proposals such as the recent suggestion that the District hire illegal aliens to teach bi-lingual education. But, Joe was better known to some of us as a watchdog on the Board, trying to make sure that the money spent on public education was used for its intended purposes and not diverted into the hands of outside vendors or corrupt administrators.
Margaret Baillargeon and Joe May volunteered for different causes, but their motivation was inspired by a desire to do the right thing. There were no "hidden agendas" with either individual. You knew where they stood. They were people of principle, and those who crossed their paths over the years will sorely miss them. May their souls rest in peace.
A responder to our recent piece on the Pete Sessions-Will Pryor congressional race suggested Pryor might even the race if he vows to work to repeal the Wright Amendment. Is Sessions reading our blog? According to a business story in the ayem paper, the Republican congressman is exploring options for settling the debate over long-haul flights at Dallas Love Field, including legislation that would create a regional airport authority for North Texas. Read it here.
Joe MayDallas school trustee Joe May, who last week made a controversial proposal that the district look into hiring illegal immigrants, has died, according to the daily's website. Mr. May, 61, was declared dead Friday evening at 11:28 p.m. at Baylor University Medical Center.
The cause of death has not been released.
Mr. May made headlines last week with his proposal to hire illegal immigrants, and was the proponent of the hotly contested decision to require some principals to become bilingual. Whatever his stand on issues, he was known as a good man among the editors at DallasBlog, and he was respected in the community.
May had a long history of community activism at City Hall and with the schools before he was elected to the school board -- going from a vocal outsider to an inside participant in local government. While his recent proposal created a firestorm, some community members, such as a letter writer in this Saturday's DMN, applauded him for thinking outside the box. May's leadership will be missed by the Hispanic community as well as the Dallas School Board.
DallasBlog will be sitting down with Mayor Laura Miller next week for a depth interview on her ideas and agenda for the coming year, her plans for the 2007 election and other issues on the plate for the city.
We'd like to know what you want to know from Mayor Miller. Submit your questions in the comments section below, and the best questions will be posed to her honor in our interview. We will post audio of the interview in its full, unredacted form here on the website.
After that, we plan to line up each of the council members, department heads and other city leaders for the same treatment. Get involved now and get answers.
Carolyn BartaThis year’s 32nd congressional district campaign likely won’t reach the cost or national attention of the Pete Sessions-Martin Frost contest in 2004, but Republican Sessions nonetheless could have a fight with Will Pryor as the Democratic candidate. Pryor doesn’t have Frost’s negatives and given this year’s political climate, voters might take a serious look at the newcomer, a mediation lawyer. Given a stroke of luck – or maybe a stroke of lightning – Pryor has a shot.