Monday, November 30, 2009

ACORN from Soup to Nuts

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has been considering changing the label by which the organization is commonly known, "ACORN," to something less tarnished. What to call the group that is self-tasked with reforming the America we know?

Our crack team of Researchers has been toiling through the holiday weekend with a list of possible alternatives--an alphabet soup of acronyms--including:

NUTS: National Union of Transition Society

PECANs: People for the Ethical Conversion of American Norms

CASHEW: Community Association of Home Equity Welfare

GOOBER: Government Organization of Basic Economic Realists

GONADS: General Order of National Advocates for Disentangling Society

Note: None of these suggestions are intended for the "thin-skinned."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anonymous? Not here...

I love to hear from you.
I receive many notes, messages, Tweets, texts, e-mails, and assorted forms of alternative communications in feedback on the show and articles posted here. The input is appreciated.


If you send me a response through this blog, and you send it anonymously, that's as far as it goes.
If you have a good take, I may mention that take.
But if you have a criticism, and you post anonymously, it will never see the light of day.

Firing a shot across my bow without attribution is the quickest way to get no where with me.
You want to respond intelligently and honestly to me--man-up and sign your name at the end.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hit or Miss Policy = Hit and Run Murder

Many questions remain following the tragic death of a 56-year old woman at Meyerland shopping center on Saturday afternoon: Brenda Romano was crushed between her truck and a stolen Range Rover driven by 39-year old George Theobald--who has confessed to killing Romano and breaking the leg of her daughter, Robyn--was on a crime spree that started in October. This piece of human trash has a rap sheet from 1987, and was sentenced as recently as July to a 7-month state prison stay.

So what was Theobald doing running loose in Houston this weekend? Here's a flawed member of society that has been convicted repeatedly for burglary, theft, forgery, and assaults, according to a story in this morning's Houston Chronicle. I'd like to know which judge thought it was a good idea for George Theobald to be released early--or had he escaped? I'd like to know which judge or jury thought that after being a repeat offender since the 80's, a 7-month sentence in July would be just the medicine he needed to turn his life around.

You're going to hear arguments from State Correctional officials, grasping at straws to answer these questions. They're going to tell you that because of prison over crowding, time off for "good behavior" behind bars, and a warped sense of "time credited" from the first day of Theobald's arrest for his latest offense, it seemed only fair to release him back into society.

Those arguments won't wash with Brenda Romano's widower. Those arguments will ring hollow in the ears of Brenda Romano's daughter, who's dealing with a broken leg and a broken heart. Arguments based on credited time and good behavior cannot salve the sadness of Romano's 14-year old grandaughter, who witnessed the entire altercation.

You're going to hear criticisms of Romano for placing more value on her damaged vehicle than on her life, by stepping between the Range Rover and her truck. Such choices should not have to be made; law abiding citizens should not have to worry whether the next person who dings their car in a parking lot is an incurable criminal or just a crummy driver.

Being sent to jail should be a deterrent to crime, and a public safety element that protects the citizenry against scum like Theobald--not a short respite between crime sprees.

Because of lenient state policy, a petty thief was on the loose in Houston this weekend...and a loving wife, mother, and grandmother is dead.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Being a Fly on The Wall in Temple, Texas

I spent most of Friday in Temple, Texas.
While my Bride met with doctors, I sat in the waiting room of a automobile service department as the Clanton Conestoga underwent diagnostics for what would emerge as a dead cell in the battery.

Sitting in the waiting room like some kind of interloper, eavesdropping on the comments and conversations amongst the citizenry as they continued to react and respond to the shootings at nearby Ft. Hood.

We’ve all done this, haven’t we? In a restaurant, unable to ignore the words of the loudmouth in the booth behind you…at a football game, becoming more intrigued by the inebriated goof in the next row than what’s happening on the gridiron.

Friday afternoon was expended watching the cable news fed into the waiting room—some of the live-shots originating a few blocks away, from the front door of Scott & White—and listening to the color-commentary of the locals.

And colorful it was:
“I’d shoot him on the spot,” said one older observer, of the suspected gunman.
“Put him on trial, then shoot him,” echoed another.
Those were the kinder remarks.

A buddy of mine was also at Scott & White on Friday, tending to his ailing mother, and also listening to the pulse of the hospital staff. He posted a message over the weekend: “...having breakfast at Shipleys and it is so quiet. Normally you hear joking and the usual sounds of people eating and conversing. All you hear this morning is the occasional bell ring at the drive-up window. No one talking, just reading the paper and speaking in low voices.”

You’ve already seen examples of the fabric of the Bell County communities that will sustain these people through this tragedy: Love and compassion for one another.
Even the shooter.

I find it amazing that everyone is so amazed at the selfless sacrifices that have already been shown at Ft. Hood and the surrounding communities.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone:
That’s why it’s called “being in The Service.”

Friday, November 06, 2009

Report Cards from The White House

What did/does your father do for a living?
Remember those school visitation days, when your parents would come to see your classroom and meet with your teacher? …and they always talked about You.

If you were a good student—no sweat.
If you had a few challenges, well you probably dreaded those days.

Imagine going to the same school where your parent was a Principal? That was my father’s desire—he was an Assistant Principal at Memorial High school for many years, and to simplify our home schedules, Dad wanted my brothers and sister and I to all attend that school. (He was responsible for many of the extra-curricular activities at Memorial—had to be at the football games, keeping tabs on the thugs, etc.)
That did not sound like a great proposition to me.

Could’ve been worse: Imagine if your Dad was The President of the United States…and you dragged home a D on Test!

According to The Caucus Blog, President Obama marked the first anniversary of his election this week by asking states to toughen education standards – and wound up calling on parents to toughen theirs, too, revealing that one of the First Kids, 11-year-old Malia, recently got a 73 on her science test.

The President wants to retool “No Child Left Behind,’ and promote his own education agenda, “Race to the Top,’’ – a $4.35 billion grant program that requires states to compete for education money.

Towards the end of his speech, the President went off the page from his prepared text to talk about Malia Obama’s experience in school – a rarity for a president who has tried his best to keep his children’s lives a private matter.

Apparently, Malia, who is a sixth-grader, had come home with a 73 on her science test recently. A couple of years ago, she had come home with a grade in the 80s, believing that she had "done pretty well.’’ The POTUS and the FLOTUS corrected the FKOTUS, telling her that their goal was “90 percent and up.’’

According to the Caucus Blog, the President commented, “So here’s the interesting thing: she started internalizing that…’’ and when Malia came home with a 73 on the science test, “she was depressed.’’ When The First Dad asked what happened, the First Kid said the study guide didn’t match up with the test. So she vowed to study harder.

(Note to parents: Malia did indeed hit the books and came home with a grade of 95.)

The President revealed Malia later remarked, “You know , I just like having knowledge.”

The moral of the story, in the president’s view: “Don’t just expect teachers to set a high bar. You’ve got to set a high bar.”

And Mr. Obama is correct.
Yes, we pay taxes to fund schools to provide education for our kids…but their performance in school is most dependant upon our expectations at home, and our suport of those expectations. There is a direct correlation between your involvement in your child’s school and the education they are receiving, and the level of success and achievement that results.

I would hate to be a school-aged kid with a father who happens to be the POTUS. Dates would not be fun. Just a little different pressure there…it was bad enough for my teachers to know my Dad was a high school principal in the same district. But there never was a doubt about what was expected of us in school at home. That’s where education begins, and it’s the anchor your kid must have in order to learn and accel.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Making Amends

It's been a while since I posted here, and much has happened in between:
A daughter's marriage...the birth of a kidney know, life.

Honestly, I've discovered that that stinkin' Facebook sucks up an inordinate amount of time, too. If they'd just leave the silly thing alone so we all don't have to keep relearning where everything is and what everything does every 30-days, that would be a help.
Still, it's no excuse for not keeping this more current...

(The FB page for the Radio Show is one you should stick close to--we're developing some interesting attractions that you will only be able to access through CNN650MorningShow on Facebook, so stay tuned...or, perhaps the more accurate tease should be, "stay logged-on!")

Something happened this evening that I feel compelled to pass along, because it's a good lesson for all of us (not that I expect the true target of my ire to ever see this!) There are lots of businesses being sold and bought as the economy continues to struggle along. If you're finding the timing is right to get out of your business, congratulations on finding a buyer.

If you're purchasing a business, congratulations to you, too, for having the cojones to take on a new project! So--what is the most important element of that operation you just bought?

If you answered "the customer base," you are 1,000% correct, because without them happily continuing to do business with your business, you're screwed. I ran across a business today that may already have a few turns of the screw burrowing into their backside.
Don't make their mistake:

When the company changed hands, there were certain obligations outstanding which the new business owner assumed, including pre-paid gift certificates for services. The agreement was for the new owner to honor the terms of the former owner with regard to redemption of the gift certificates, some of which were purchased by employees of the company at a discount.

My Bride and I were the recipients of one of these gift-certificates--a 90-minute massage package for each of us, purchased at a discount by an employee of the former owner. When we presented the certificate for redemption, we were told it would be honored only for the cash value paid--which essentially worked out to less than half of the intended massage time. A 90-minute massage session became a 30-minute rubdown (which was still nice for the half-hour it lasted...)

The new owner was adamant--only honoring the cash paid.

Here's what happened.
We took the 30-minute massages, and walked out of the business for the last time.
The new owner is clueless.

If they had honored the 90-minute package, we would have likely returned for repeat sessions. We'd likely have told our friends that this is a great place to receive a quality massage at a fair price. We'd likely have bought other gift certificates for our friends.

Not gonna happen now.
By being cheap (and cheating on the terms of the purchase agreement to honor all outstanding obligations), the new owner lost two primary customers, plus the reference power we wield with our friends. The new owner also lost out on additional business opportunities by being unable to book the unused time originally scheduled.

The moral of this tale is a variation on the familiar theme of the customer always being right: Make sure you're making your new/old customers reasonably happy, otherwise they're going to take their business elsewhere.