Your Dallas Mavericks may employ the NBA Most Valuable Player, the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, the NBA Coach of the Year and the NBA Executive of the Year. But before any of that is seriously considered, they must win The Game of the Year: Friday night, Mavs at San Antonio. That's discussed in the 'School of Fish' ...
John Sebastian King, 43, was charged with 12 counts of fraud in the theft of someone's Social Security and credit card numbers to buy luggage, furniture, tires and other items. Investigators aren't saying if he obtained the info through his job. (nudge nudge, wink wink)
"...inspectors said they found mycobacteria in four of the salon's 12 whirlpool spa basins on a Jan. 24 inspection. On Feb. 15, MRSA staph was found in a spa chair seat, armrest and on an employee's hand. One week later, MRSA staph was found in an employee's nose." (emphasis and mortification mine)
After the last failed special legislative session Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed an “executive order” requiring that the Texas Education Agency require local school districts to spend “65%” of their revenue on classroom instruction. Many were dubious that the governor had the legal authority to indeed order such as change, but since he appoints the Commissioner of Education it was expected that she would attempt to comply with the order.
Opponents of order attacked it first as an assault on local control of education. It was then attacked as a thinly disguised effort to avoid putting more funding into education by trying to reassure the public that money currently going for other things would henceforth be going to real education. Others noted that many coaches and athletic programs would be in the 35% group as would librarians.
Yesterday, the TEA set forth its proposed rules and there were generally sighs of relief from school Superintendents and teachers. Librarians were included in the 65% but counselors, nurses, bus drivers and similar personnel were placed in the 35% segment. Teacher organization claim that this puts their jobs and various school services at jeopardy. The rule will also be implemented over three school years starting with the 2006 - 2007 year.
Conservatives have generally applauded the move believing that it will force districts to spend tax dollars on what matter most. They also believe it will show just how misplaced school spending priorities and will indeed help hold down additional funding for schools. Educator organization such as the Texas State Teacher Association note that Texas is currently ranked 40th among the 50 states in total per student spending and 33rd in teacher salaries and don’t believe shifting inadequate funds is a “shell game.”
The TEA rules also will require that the contracts of local ISD Superintendents be posted on the Internet, along with reimbursements to school personnel, and a summary of any gifts whose aggregate totals are more than $250.00.
Democratic Candidate for DeLay seat Nick LampsonGov. Perry announced today that he had no plans to call a special election to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The governor noted that it would cost upwards of $500,000 to fill a vacancy with a congressman who would serve only a few months. Rep. DeLay is expected to resign within the next few weeks, but unless he does so by the close of business tomorrow the law will not require a special election. Democratic candidate Nick Lampson responded that the governor would be leaving a district without representation "during hurricane season, during a war, and in the middle of a critical debate over immigration." Other Democrats noted that Perry has generally timed his special elections for partisan advantage and that he would almost certainly not call a special election when the only active campaigner in the district was a Democrat.
Comptroller and gubernatorial Carol Strayhorn today expressed concern that Gov. Perry had provided $35 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund for Vought Aeronautics based on a pledge that the company would create 3000 new jobs in North Texas by 2009. The company yesterday announced that it would be cutting 600 jobs from the area and acknowledged that it would be unlikely to keep its promise.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is basically a slush fund which a governor may use to lure or keep businesses in Texas and assist with expansions. The Texas Enterprise Fund utilizes money from the “Rainy Day” Fund that is itself taken from surplus (unappropriated) funds produced by the tax system. Such funds are often offered to a company to offset upfront capital costs, or to build supporting but state owned infrastructure such as roads. The Legislature requires written agreements between the governor and receiving corporations and regular reports on progress and status.
Strayhorn noted that Lockheed is in such financial straights that its survival is in question and that there is simply no way the state could recover its money or enforce the agreements provisions. Strayhorn called on the governor to have the State Auditor audit all agreements, have the Texas Workforce Commission verify all job and payroll information from any company receiving grant monies, and require quarterly status reports from recipients rather than annual. She called on the governor to ask the legislature to enshrine new safeguards into law in the upcoming special legislative session.
Fidel CastroIn an interview with a Spanish newspaper published last weekend, Fidel Castro announced that he has no intention of stepping down from office. The Communist dictator, who turns 80 this year, has been in power for more than 47 years. There have been numerous questions about Castro’s health in recent years, and the Financial Times reported this week on CIA claims that Castro suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
There is a widespread belief among Cuban exiles that, were Castro to die or become incapacitated, the Communist state would collapse quickly just like the Communist governments in Eastern Europe imploded in the 1980s. Cuba is, for all practical purposes, "an economic basket case’; and Castro no longer has the Soviet Union to prop up his economy. Castro has benefited recently from the low priced oil provided by his fellow Marxist leader, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. But, that doesn’t help address deeper structural problems associated with the centralized economy in Cuba. It is hard to see how his brother Raul and other Communist officials can hold things together once "El Jefe" is gone. Perhaps, that is why Fidel has to keep convincing folks that he will be around for the foreseeable future.
Lewis LibbyMurray Waas of the National Journal is reporting that Lewis Libby (the indicted, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney) is claiming that he was authorized by Vice President Cheney and (indirectly) President Bush to disclose classified information to the media on matters ranging from Saddam Hussein’s "purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons" and on Valerie "Plame’s CIA employment and potential role in her husband’s (Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s) trip" at the behest of the CIA to investigate the WMD issue.
Link here for the complete National Journal story.