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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
June 16, 2010     Hays Free Press
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June 16, 2010

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THEY REALLY SAID THAT? =There has been some chatter out there that suggests that the board wants to kee things the vay they used to be. I don't have that sense at all We've crossed that river now where the board agrees, old and new members, that we are an open, transparent organization." -PEC Board president Larry Landaker Free Press June 16, 2010 Page 3A EDITORIAL He did make progress o matter what is being said about Pedemal- es Electric Cooperatives general manager Juan Garza, you have to say that he worked through some incredibly horrific problems at the nation's largest co-op. The PEC board of directors fired Garza on Monday in a 5-2 vote, with little transparency of the process and little information about why. Two members of the board, Patrick Cox and Kathryn Scanlon, voted against the firing. Board President Lany Landaker told the press that he felt there was a difference in philosophy between Garza and the board. Still, to fire a man just days before the vote at the annual meeting puts two new directors on the board, lust seems wrong. Two of the "old guard", who were on the board when all of the shenanigans were going on with alleged payouts and misman- agement, are stepping down. TWo new voices will be on the board. But their voices certainly won't be heard in time when it comes to the firing of Juan Garza. Garza brought a lot of change to PEC, trying to build trust among employees while much needed management corrections were implemented. Nec- essary management and fiscal improvements were brought to light by the 2008 Navigant, Inc, audit, and it appeared that Garza was implementing a lot of new policies. Maybe he just didn't make them fast enough to satisfy most of the board of directors. It took decades to get the cooperative in the dis- gusting place it was in. There were accusations of fraud, a membership lawsuit, dropping employee morale, management practices in place that didn't allow any transparency, elections held whereby members could barely have their voices heard. Garza, on the other hand, held the position for a little more than two years. He made a lot of improvements during that time. The next general manager needs to grab this bull and get it under control. PEC certainly doesn't need any more accusa- tions of wrong-doing. It needs a strong leader who will satisfy the board, bring about even more fiscal checks and balances, build employee morale, and have the staying power to hold the reins during these tumultuous times. Thomas was a truth advocate ..... IN, ere goes the store. Helen Thomas is gone from eWashington Press Corps, that sancfimo- ous, lilly-livered group that asks easy ques- tions with pre-ordained answers. Helen Thomas had a mission to fulfill the purpose ofjoumalism. Get the facts. Get them right. But above all, find out why. We have all known Helen for so many years we are not surprised she let her feelings and opin- ions be known, not exactly a requirement of her job. For that she recently felt forced to resign, or was quietly fired. When you reach her age and years of experience you don't have much pa- tience left for the kind of squirreUy answers you get to intelligent questions. I believe, in this instance, it was her insistence on having an answer to her questions about the motivation of terrorists, to which various answers were: hating the United States for our culture, the terrorists' perversion of the Koran, our lack of communication of our noble aims, and other equally vapid reasons. What Helen was reaching for was information about U.S. policy which has been justified as rep- resenting justice and progress. In answer to why we have not convinced the terrorists of this, she heard, "better communication." Helen asks what, specifically, will we be communicating. Justice and progress are meaningless words without context. If we had honest communication, I think people in the United States would understand why otherwise decent, law-abiding people are becoming more willing to strap on a bomb and kill themselves and others in a foolhardy attempt to prove why they feel so Intensely, something the press has not yet been willing to do. Helen is not only willing but able and that is why she is gone. Helen Thomas received numerous honors and was the only woman print reporter to go with Nixon on his historic trip to China. Of special delight to many women, she was the only reporter to have her own seat reserved in press conferences at the White House and to be asked to speak first. The reporter who went to the big time in Washington D.C. never let her light go out. She was filled with the highest ambition, to be a jour- nalist who would dig out the reasons as well as the facts. Anyone else would have been forgiven for a lapse in temper but she made the mistake of telling why the terrorists hate us. Not only because we have killed and displaced thousands of civilians, used torture, and favored their hated enemy Israel, but because this kind of truth- telling is always punished by society. Yes, she had it coming, because that is the way of the world, but we will miss her more and more. She had become an institution we trusted. GOUTH AFRICAN WORLP CUP 2010 tNP THE NOI.E OF "THE PLtrlC TRtJhtPET, VUVUZELP . . . Longer school year? Try wasting fewer school days e children are out, frolick- g in the green- summer tched before them like the promise of youth. And some people want to shut them indoors again, want to batten the hatches, pass out more sheets with bubbles, return them to their crouches. Those people would include the nation's top dog on education matters, and any number of policy makers who just can't keep their grubby hands off our schools. In this case, they call for a longer school year. "Summer learning loss" is the problem, and it's "devastating," says U.S. Secretary of Education Ame Duncan, making it sound like polio or tuberculosis. I'm thinking a young man named Kerry Martin would begto differ. I bet he'd say the loss of summer vacation would be far more devastating. I'm only guessing what Martin would say, because we haven't met. I've only read a great piece of com- mentary he wrote in the Denver Post about insanely test-heavy school policies. He's a student at Cherry Creek High School. His complaint was about resources and energies squandered. "Colorado education struggles to pay for the bare necessities and must choose some necessities over others... The whole time, the mas- sively wasteful CSAPs still drown out everythingthat is actually edu- cationalin schools: science, history, art, sports teams, teachers." CSAP is the state standardized test, Colorado's end-all, be-all, a condition sadly replicated across the country in the cult ritual called school "accountability." The young man's point was that for good stu- dents like him, and even for average students, it's a waste of time. No one ever thinks about how standardized testing is a lead weight around the ankles of students, particularly those already at or above grade level, those who could and would use their brain power and time better in becoming the scholars and leaders we need to thumb-wres- tle with China in the global economy. Tragically, much of these bright students' time, and that of their teachers, is spent on state tests that are really motivated and engineered to assess those below grade level, as is all of the emotional energy behind the school "accountability" movement. How much time, are we talking about? A master teacher in a Texas grade school complained to me that 16 full days of instruction time were lost to standardized testing and benchmark testing (school district tests to see if the teachers keep up with the state's essential elements). A comparable drain is experi- enced in every state, thanks to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Some people like Ame Duncan wax poetic in praising standardized test- ing. People like that master teacher and a great student ke r, erry Martin call it the worst thing that ever hap- pened to education. I'm with them. If anyone would listen, they'd un- derstand how standardized testing is a drag- not just the boring sort, but the sort that drags students down, causing them to shoot low, or at least for the mean- passing- rather than shoodng high, as their creative ener- gies take wing in vibrant classrooms. Kerry Martin knows the state test isn't there to help him learn more. It's there to put the hammer to teachers and administrators and to bring the bottom quartile of his classmates up to someone's idea of competence. Those who talk about "global competitiveness," if they think today's "accountability" is their principal weapon, don't know what they're talking about. Standardiza- tion isn't education. Competence isn't excellence. And today's state tests can demonstrate nothing more. By definition, they're for everyone, and not everyone is Kerry Martin. Without question, some children need extra schooling after it gets green. Summer school is a valid concept for those with special needs. But... Kerry Martin might, as would I, consent to a longer school year if it actually meant real education, rather than more time for testing and test prepping. As it is, the school year is obviously long enough, because states find so much time to stop just about every- thing to tell children to hunch over their desks and fill in bubbles. Take away the promise of summer for that? John Young un'ites for Cox News- papers. n@gmail.eom Greens become pawns in political ruse ettre I get out of life, ess of where I am in the scanning the daily papers each morning. Being a cynic by nature, dawn has always afforded me the briefopportunityto give each day a new chance. I've wept. Ik, e laughed out loud reading Ken Herman. I've disgustedly tossed the whole lot in the recycling bin and flopped face first back into bed, hoping for a better day tomorrow. So, it actually didn even cause a hiccup when I read about the Green Party of Texas receiving a $200,000 windfall and double the numir of petition signatures needed to put them on the November ballot. Good, I thought, those guys have busted ass and certainlyTexas needs diversity in its campaigns. Bring on the Hbertarians as An these folks have valid points and keep us in check. Texas' political table is large and there is ample room for us all. Then I tried to sleep on it. Visions of the 2008 Kinky-and-CarolKeeton- StrayhomBylander-Show danced in my head and ushered in the night- mare of those egotistical charmers torpedoing the last gubematorial election. It struck me in the middle of the night and I sat bolt up-right, in a cold sweat. Oh. My. God. What cloaked connivers are trying to fracture the Democratic vote in the November election? My heart sankwhen it came to glllat that the Green Party was, in pmbabili fallingprey to the shadowy underbelly of the infamous secret money machine of Texas politics. Good god, is nothing sacred? I've worked on plenty of grassroots campaigns and the stress-relieving celebration upon receiving a fat dona- tion does wonders for the campaign's morale and offers a public affirma- tion to a private conviction. Although Texas law clearly states that it is illegal for a corporation to bankroll a peti- tion drive, the Green Party is claim- ing the petitions were a"gift' and is protesting indignantly the notion that they are being used as pawns by cow- ardly out-of state-finanders trying to influence the upcoming November election. So, it is not without trepida- tion that I must contend: Ifit seems too good to be tree... This is what I've gleaned, but I will paraphrase because there is the rogue possibility that your head will begin to spin and you will run screaming into the woods (I'm actu- ally tethered to this desk chair as I write). Seems a Missouri-based non- profit called "Take Initiative Ameri- ca" paid a company in lllinois called "Free and Equal, Inc." to collect signatures from registered voters in Texas who had not voted in the last primary. Consequently, the Green Party of Texas was bestowed an esti- mated $200,000 cash and petitions with 92,000 voter signatures which enabled them to miraculously secure a place on the November ballot. You still with me? Seems Re- publican consultant Tim Moody of Arizona, who contracted the group "Take Initiative America" to secure !. the current atures, also worked with Rick Py's top political advisor, Dave Carne and the group "Choic- es for America" in 2004, to splinter the Democratic vote by securing signatures which miraculously put Independent Ralph Nadar on that ballot. Ah, but there's more: Both of these benevolent shell groups are registered to a Missouri Republican named Charles Hurth l]I (who once grabbed headlines when he was sued for biting a woman on the butt in a bar, but I digress) who inexpli- cably is said to have no ties to Texas politics or the Green Party. I'm actu- ally hoping that this one comes back and bites him in the butt. Unfortunately for us all, this isn't just some conspiracy theory. It was an unoriginal political strategy that, had it been executed accuratel would have flown under our radar. I can understand why Perry and his cronies are in such a panic that they feel the need to attempt to buy this election. And the political rise of the Green Party could have been legitimate. Those guys work tirelessly for an absolutely altruistic cause which benefits us all. They am worthy of respect and deserve every break that can be afforded them. I can see why people support them. Hell, I support them- with time, and words and twenty-five dollar checks. But when a whopping 200 thou crosses your desk, you'd think it would make you stop and wonder. And from my southern roots, every fiber in my being would scream the simple question: To whom do I write the dang thank you note? mmat6immeom POLL QUESTION THIS WEEK'S POLL QUESTION Do you agree with the move of the PEC board of directors to fire General Manager Juan Garza? A. Yes. He wasn't making reforms fast enough. B. Maybe, but they should have waited until after the new board members were elected this weekend. C. No. He was a good leader and his loss will hurt the co-op. LAST WEEK'S POLL QUESTION Do you support the city of Kyle's proposed recycling program, which would add larger recycling bins and a separate compost collecUon? A. Yes. It's good for the envi- ronment and it prolongs the life "of the landfill, saving money in the long run. 88% B. Maybe. It seems like it would take a lot of work on my part. 0% C. No. It's not worth the cost. 12" TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WEEKLY POLL GO TO WWW.HAYSFREEPRESS.COM 00.00js_00rrr00rrss MANAGEMENT Barton Publications, Inc. CO-PUBLISHERS Bob Barton and Cyndy SIovak-Barton OFFICE MANAGER Connie Brewer NEWSROOM Managing Editor Jen Biundo STAFF REPORTERS Sean Kirnmons Brad Rollins School Reporter Jim Cullen Community Reporters Sandra Grizzle Myrtle Heidernan Pauline Tom Brenda Stewart Sports Editor Jason Gordon Sports Reporter Mark Caul COLUMNISTS Bob Barton Bartee Halle Phil Jones Svea Sauer Clint Younts Donn Brooks John Young Brenda Stewart PROOFREADERS Jane Kirkham Brenda Stewart ADVERTISING Tracy Mack tracy@haysfreepress,com CIRCULATION Circulation Mgr Suzanne Hallam CLASSIFIEDS Suzanne Hallam DISTRIBUTION Gigi Hayes Carolyn Harkins Pete Sizemore PRODUCTION Production Mgr David White Assistant Designer do rge J. Garcia Jr. Hays County Commissioner Jeff Barton is a minority owner of the Hays Free Press CONTACT US: BUDA 512-295-9760 KYLE 512-268-7862 METRO AUSTIN 512-262-6397