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January 5, 2011     Hays Free Press
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January 5, 2011
 

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THEY REALLY SAID THAT?. "I feel there is much oork still to accomplish." -- Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson in announcing her bid for a full term. She won a special election last February to serve the remainder of an unexpired term. Hays Free Press Januaw5,2011 Page 3A + My dog Lucy is fran- tic for light beams. Shadows, too. In the morning, she patrols the sunlight- splayed kitchen, watching for reflections from a wrist watch, or from a juice glass exiting the cupboard. She will skid across the tiles in pursuit when the refrig- erator door handle flings a reflection across the floor. It used to be that Lucy did this all by her lone- some. Lately, however, her sister Sadie is pay- ing attention to the light beams, and to the shadows cast from Lucy's tail. More curiously, so is Star, one of our cats. Assembled as a gang of three, they watch the floor. What we used to have in the kitchen was one , kooky dog. Now, what we have is a movement. Sad to say, this reminds me of present-day politics. Consider a recent story in The New York Times about the option of end- 8f-life eoun 0ling in effect when the federal health discussion with an expert about end-of-life matters. You'd think those who wrung their hands into powder over the end-of-life saga of Terri Schiavo would want more discussions that make matters clear. But, no, they choose demagogu- ery over this simplest mat- ter: choice. Some people just can't stand that word. A representative of Life- Tree, which describes itself as a "pro-life ministry," told the Times it was concerned that the new policy would "encourage patients to forgo or curtail care, thus hastening death." Well, you know, that's the whole point of a DNR request. Does LifeTree wish to remove that option? what's amazing is that despite the crystal-clear care plan kicks in with the intent of this policy, a Kai- new year. ser Family Foundation poll What got spiked in the legislation as the result of contrived right-wing disinformation - the rabbit scream of "death panels" - has been inserted in the lelgislation by the Obama aaministration. It's as reasonable as could possibly be: Medi- care will pay physicians who advise patients about options for end-of-life care. Those patients may then use that information to draw out "do not resus- citate" orders so as not to extend their suffering needlessly at the end of a feeding tube or ventilator. Now, it's one thing to say Medicare shouldn't reim- burse for a service like this. But to take it and assert that somehow it means Big Brother will be dictating who lives and dies is, well, kooky. Of course,, Sarah Palin and numerous Republicans made swift routes to micro- phones and their Twitter lecterns to shout "death panels." Like the dreaded lights on my kitchen floor, the claim made heads jerk - that is, for that breed of Americans wholly receptive to any sinister inference made about Barack Obama. But, my goodness, what an important thing to promote: clear-headed found that one-third of Americans still believe the whole "death panel" spiel. This is reminiscent of a re- cent Onion headline: "One in five Americans believes Obama to be a cactus." It's also reminiscent of a commentary by Michael Ventura citing a "plague of ignorance" abroad in the country. Let us assign Palin as Patient Zero for this strain, she for whom the toughest question imagin- able from Katie Couric was, "What magazines do you read?" The fact is, like the three animals chasing light beams in my kitchen, you can convene one-third of Americans around just about any notion if it fits into the narratives of Fox News, Glenn Beck and Mi- chelle Bachmann. In 2010 a lot of commen- tators looked at those types and - against a backdrop of apathy and economic malaise - thought they rep- resented a movement that reflected Wnat America was thinking. No they didn't. They were just the most frantic. Longtime Texas newspa- perman john Young lives in Colorado. jyoungcolumn@gmail.com TOUGH CHOICES AHEAD If school districts re- spond to the current state budget deficit with the tax- payer and student in mind we will all benefit. Given the state of the economy, is it all that terrible that school employees may have to forgo a year with- out a pay raise like the rest of the state's employees do all the time? Districts have been spoiled. Bud- gets have swelled far faster than enrollment growth plus inflation for years on end. Do we really need 1,031 school districts? The smallest school district in Texas, Divide ISD in Kerr County, has no school and almost more trustees than students! Over half our school districts are running at a deficit and well over half are losing enrollment. Nevertheless, when the Legislature started fund- ing debt for construction, school district debt rose 90 percent when enrollment increased only I0 percent. This has contributed to structural deficits. When local taxpayers were on the hook for facility funding, school boards were more conservative and frugal. Now, public schools are picking up ever larger per- centages of the total state budget. Central Administration staffing at Hays grew over 700 percent while enroll- ment increased 135 per- cent. What about all these special programs that, academically speaking, are a complete failure or have nothing to do with the pri- mary educational mission of our public schools? Can we afford a 22:1 student to teacher ratio that means, if you have 23 students you are required to hire an- other teacher and provide another classroom? The 2008 bond measure requires interest only pay- ments for 22 years before a penny of principal is retired costing another $65 million in interest! HCISD has still not paid a penny on 60 percent of the princi- pal on the 2001 bond issue. At first, no payments were required at all for 10 years. Then this was refinanced in 2006 for another 25 years with interest only pay- ments for another seven years! Add another $60 mil- lion for excess interest. We're way too comfort- able mortgaging current student's future in the name of education for our selfish overspending indulgences that, so far, have not turned around academic decline. Education is Everybody's Business! Bryce Bales Manchaca I dofft know what day y'all are reading this here column, but it is just past sun-up here on January 1, 2011, and I'm sitting at my_ computer, sipping hot cottee, wondering how other folks celebrated NewYear's Eve last night. I reckon lots of you can't recall much of that night due The last time I saw my clock strike midnight was on my trip back to bed after reliev- ing myself of the beer I drank to too much cheap cham- pagne on top of reaUy cheap tequila. While I'm pecking away with my two fingers on while watching,,"Monday this keyboard, waiting for my Night Football. The only time coffee and Advil to kick in, haft I even drink after midnight is of Hays County is still asleep when I have a slug of Mylanta while some folks are mak- after the chile reUeno I ate for ing resolutions to drink less supper has caught fire in my tequila and champagne, gut. If you are wondering how You know, having to wait I rang in the new year last till midnight to celebrate the night, thinking I was out par- NewYear is discriminating tying ~11 night, full off beer and toward the older generation. mischief, I hate to disappoint It's geared to the younger folks who get up after dawn and can stay up long after dusL NewYear's Eve cdebra- tions aren't for the folks who wake up before sunrise, work hard all day, and then have to pretend they are still young enough to go out to late-night parties. No sir, it's just not fair to us old coots, and I'm not going to take it any longer. Starting on December 31, 2011, I propose that all citi- zeus over 49 years of age can legally celebrate NewYear's you. After spending all day repairing an old screen porch, I took Maw out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and treated her to dessert. Luckily she had room on her tray for that slice of cake. After dinner, we drove back home and settled in front of the TV to watch "Friday Night Lights", but were disappointed that it was bumped from the schedule for some stupid NewYear's Eve special concert. Luckily there was a college bowl game on; I think it was the Slim-Fast Bowl Eve at twelve noon instead of which selects two teams that had lost a lot of games during the regular season. The trophy gthoes to the team that loses is game, too. I lost interest and con- sciousness around 7:45 and ended up in bed before 9 p.m. The hours of physical twelve midnight. That way, we of silver hair and creaky joints can celebrate like We did back when our spines were straight and brains were mold free. By ringing in the New Year at noon, we can put in a good half-day work and still have the energy to party hearty into the wee hours labor and a tray-full of vittles that I had put in during the of the afteriaoon. No need day caught up with me, and I to drink a pot of coffee after slept right through the annual supper to keep us awake till dropping of the ball, although midnight; by noon, we still I did see a wide receiver drop have caffeine left over from one right before I slipped into my coma. I had originally planned on staying up and ringing in the New Year like I did back in the 90s, when I still had energy and good knees. Nowadays, ifI can stay the morning brew. Celebrat- ~a~. NewYear's Eve at noon allow us older guys with deteriorating eyesight to get to and from Party Central in the daylight. No more driving in the dark, straining to see deer and drunks crossing the road. Partying in the !ight of day will awake long enough to see the ten o'clock news, it's a miracle. keep an inebriated husband from having to persuade his angry spouse that it was dark out on that patio and he thought he was kissing his wife. NewYear s Eve parties held in the afternoon would be more tim. Instead of sipping nasty champagne, you can have a delicious frozen marga- rita. In place of a tray of hers d'oeuvres (thank goodness for Spell Check), we'd have a pile of brisket and sausage. No need to get all dressed up for our NewYear's Eve party. Since it only gets cold here after dark, you can wear jeans and your Hawaiian shirt that won't show the mustard stain from your last hotdog. Instead of playing "Auld Lan,,g Syne" at midnight, we 11 have "Its Five O'clock Somewhere" on the jukebox. No more long waits at the restroom door, hoping your bladder isn't as weak as your arthritic knee. In the daylight, you can go out behind a tree without worrying about trip- ping over an armadillo. As for watching fireworks, we can go out back and blow up Aunt Beulah's fruitcake with an M-80, although her latest cake mi t take two or three firecrackers. The best part of celebrating New Year's Eve at noon is after a couple of hours of ingesting barbecue and beer, I can take a nap in the hammock and be rested up to stay awake during the 10 o'clock news. Heck, I might even have the stamina to see the ball in Time's Square drop at midnight, EST. So next year, if you are interested in attending a NewYear's Eve party for old coots, give me a call. I'll throw another link on the grill and have my famous Geritol punch chilling on ice. We'll show those youngsters how to party in style. Clint Younts used to party hardy, but now he goes m sleep early and works at a veterinary. clinic, all the while running cattle on his property. rockytop78640@yahoo.com %, ,, at, one-vote n: ans one year turns into other, this seems a ood time to reflect on the general state and direction of the United States of Cor- porate America. Truth is, I try to think about this country as little as possible, because it is so depressing, to observe what is going on. You see, I grew up in the 1950s. America had just saved the world from Fascism, and would soon save it from Com- munism as well-or at least, so we were all taught to believe. The blessings of liberty and democracy secured for us in the American Revolution had made the U.S. an island of opportunity, prosperity and justice in a dark world of tyr- army, poverty and stagnation. I bought that American civic religion hook, line and sinker. I, along with most of my fellow countrymen, believed that we could liberate the entire wodd with freedom and democrao3 if they would only let us, and usher in a kind of heaven on earth. But that is not the path the U.S. took. Instead, the United States, in country after country all across the globe, thwarted democracy. Usually, it was done in the name of anti-Communism, but always in the name of Freedom and Democracy. in reality, it was just a cruel game of installing and supporting brutal dicta- tors whose chief virtue was that they allowed the U.S. to exploit the natural resources of their country- oil, diamonds, or what have you. These hideous excuses for human beings be- came rich and powerful, whle our own government deceived the American people with talk of Freedom and Democracy. Perhaps I am being a little too harsh here. Russian Communism did need to be stopped, and perhaps to some extent, this suppression of free- dom and democracy in places outside our own shores was just a sad necessity There was certainly a fine line between stopping Communism and s'unply providing a smoke- screen for greed and powerlust. in any case, it is indisputably true that the U.S. brutally stamped out democracy in a number of countries- such as the Congo, Iran, Viet Nam and ',AInerica is a democracy that votes with its pocket book." That's how hopelessly confused many of the American people are. They can't distinguish be- tween a dollar and a vote. They cannot distinguish politically between a human being and his bank account, indeed, our current system of campaign finance could more fairly be characterized as one-dollar- one-vote than one-person- one-vote. Political power and influence is now in direct proportion to the amount of Nicaragua, because the will of money a person has. This is not the people in those countries democracy at all, but plutoc- was just too inconvenient to the aims of our government. R soon became apparent to anyone paying attention that this country may have said it believed in democrac~ but when push came to shove, what it really believed in was capitalism. Jimmy Carter came to office in 1976, promising to make hu- man rights the comerstone of racy. The sad truth is, democracy has been destroyed, right here at home. Never mind the many countries around the world where the O.S. has thwarted or destroyed it. Right here in the land of the still-free-for-a-little- while-longer, we no longer have the democracy that gave birth to our f~eedom, and for which millions of American American foreign policy, but he soldiers have actually sacri- was soon giving a 19-gun salute flced life and limb over the past to the Shah of Iran, while tear 235 years.We have only the gas drifted across theWhite semblance of democrac~ the House lawn from police sup- right to go and vote for the two pression of anti-Shah demon- highly restricted choices the strators just across the way. corporations allow us. Then Ronald Reagan be- And that's only the begin- came president, andsuddenly, ning of our problems as a greed was not only OK, it was nation, if we can even call it cool. Greed was removed from the list of deadly vices, and transferred to the list of virtues. All of American socie~ from top to bottom, soon became saturated with greed. Winning public office became more and more simply a fundrais- ing exercise, as the candidate with the most money won the vast majority of races. Increas- ~e,MPUblic office was up for oney now controls the political process to such an extent that it is impossible to distinguish between a cam- paign contribution and a good old-fashioned bribe. Nobody even seems to care anymore, so fully have we ac- cepted this as the way things are. We even have among us people so foolish as to say, our nation any more. The list of deadly ills goes on for quite a while. Perhaps I will regale you with more in my next article. Won't that be something to look forward to? Meantime, what am I com- plaining about? Compared to the average person on this exploited paradise of a planet, I live in the lap of luxur~ I'm so well-fed, I'm overweight. Dee got ball games and movies on TV, money in the bank, lots of interesting friends, and three - count them- three jobs to keep the bills paid. I'm an extraordi- narily incky man, in a country that just happens to be hurtling toward the edge of a very steep cliff. dlones2032Oauetin.rr.com COMMENTS FROM THE WEBSITE Annexation business definitely gave me yuck mouth. G.fad the dentist is trying to polish it up." ~t=Deksto~tvalidateACC electio# at ha~.~,nN~om No one was bamboozled. It even clearly stated the tax facts on the ballot. This is just some- one that is upset they didn? win trying to take their ball and go home, regen~less of what the majority of the voters want- ed. This will bring tons of busi- nesses and jobs to our town. Is this dentist thinking that the new students that will be living here won't need somewhere to clean their teeth?" - Jmmn on "Kyle danffi#a wlt Neks to invaJdm ACC elec- gon"at~com tO:~ao ~o~l in favor a ~'us wib'lout deing ~lo reseas:~n to flnd oot it wouM cust them exlm in ~. Votars two to Oo mspons~ average of $137 per year is based on a $150,OOO home and l can guwan youp yofhom= this ama em not even worb~ that much -- inclt~ng my own. -- Potential Student on =Kyle dentlatJs ~R seeks to invalidate ACC election" at ~d;om MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. 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Garcia Jr. Hays County Commissioner Jeff Barton is a minority owner of the Hays Free Press Contact Us: HaysFreePreas.com news@haysfreepress.com business@haysfmepress.com BUDA 512-295-9760 KYLE 512-268-7862 METRO AUSTIN 512-262-6397 ~NPM. hsysfreepress, cos