I Have a Gripe

December 17, 2016

Education, Not Politics

“The classroom should be apolitical.”

I’ve heard this quote several times over the years from an educator I highly respect. And I agree with this statement completely. This does not mean we should not teach civics, history, or other potentially complicated topics. What this means is that the politics of the day should be checked at the door when you walk into a classroom to teach impressionable children. The opinions of the teachers should not enter the lesson plan. I believe this for both sides of the aisle.

So why do I bring this up?

A high school friend sent me an article that sent me flying.

inaugralparade

Now regular readers of my blog know I am a huge advocate of music in public schools. My time in marching band were some of the best of my life. I had the opportunity to march at Epcot and DC. I never had the opportunity march in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an Inaugural Parade, or even Giants Stadium like other friends. But I still loved every minute of it and I cherish the memories I have.

Many schools are opting out of the opportunity to march in the Inaugural Parade. While some are citing budget restraints or other issues, some are saying, quietly, that it is related to politics.

I think this is deplorable.

Now I understand first-hand what band directors are facing today when it comes to tight budgets, time constrains, and all the other challenges that face music programs in public schools today. This is not what I am discussing here.

The chance to march in an Inaugural Parade is an opportunity few students get to experience. These teachers should not allow their personal opinions related to the election to have anything to do with denying their students this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

To the band directors who are letting their sore feelings over the election prevent these kids the chance to be part of a small very club, I say shame on you.

Advertisements

June 18, 2016

My Take on the Gun Debate

An Orlando club was attacked this week by another radical Islamic terrorist. He gunned down 49 patrons at a gay club before the police shot and killed him. It was a terrible tragedy that has brought the country together to grieve and pray for the victims and their families.

It has also kicked up the gun debate and what should be done to curb violent acts in this country. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what should be done and they vary widely. Well, of course I felt the need to add my two cents. Here is my solution for federal gun legislation.

  1. No fly, no buy: If someone is on the terror watch list (no fly list), then you shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a gun of any kind. If someone is on the no fly list and it is incorrect, they need to follow up with the FBI to resolve the issue.
  2. Required training: When applying for a permit to purchase a weapon, the applicant should be required to complete a safety course. Gun ownership is serious and should be treated as such.
  3. Safety lock with every weapon purchase: When a weapon is purchased, the purchaser also needs to buy an appropriate gun lock at the same time. Before they leave the store, the gun lock must be in place.
  4. Waiting period: Some people want to make a gun purchase out of fear or anger. Maybe they were attacked and are scared. Maybe they are angry and want revenge. Whatever the reason, there should be a three-day waiting period between the time that a purchase is made and when the weapon is picked up.
  5. Background check: This point goes hand-in-hand with my previous suggestion. During the three-day waiting period, the gun shop can complete a background check on the person. This gives them enough time to collect any necessary information to make an informed decision as to whether or not an individual should own a gun.
  6. Mental-health assessment: This is a touchy one. Everything else so far has been based on “hard data.” This definitely falls under “soft data.”  I would never want a government bureaucrat to make a decision about someone’s mental health and if they are able to understand the seriousness of owning a gun and how to properly store and use it. I believe there should be some kind of check as to mental competence, but it needs to be in line with HIPPA law and not further stigmatizing “mental illness.”
  7. Ban the sale of “auto” kits: Many Americans are not aware that it is already illegal to ar-15own an automatic (“full auto”) weapon. In 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, making it illegal for Americans to manufacture fully automatic weapons for personal use. In 1986, it became illegal for civilians to own newly made machine guns. When the media shows a weapon, such as an AR-15, after one of these horrible events there is an insinuation that it is an automatic weapon. It isn’t. And I think it is inflammatory for the media to do so. What needs to be outlawed are kits that allow someone to make their weapon an automatic weapon.
  8. Knowledge sharing: Every time one of these horrific acts takes place, I always hear from at least one professional, “if I had seen xyz information from such-and-such organization (FBI, local police, etc.), I wouldn’t have sold him the gun.” There needs to be better sharing of information between businesses and the government.

Obviously this is just the beginning of a larger issue, but when it comes to complex issues with high-charged emotions, it is easy to muddy the waters. My suggestion to politicians has always the same: take big issues bit-by-bit. Don’t handle a huge issue all at once. Let your constituents see you working and gain their trust. As you continue to move forward, cooperation will continue as long as everyone checks their ego at the door. By taking a common-sense approach to big issues, we can start to move forward.

April 24, 2016

The Absurdity of Eminent Domain

I hate eminent domain.

There, I said it. In my opinion, eminent domain is the exact opposite of what this country means. Shockingly, this is part of the Fifth Amendment which gives the state of federal government or by delegation to third parties to take control of private property, who will devote it to public or civic use with “just” compensation. While Thomas Jefferson rejected its inclusion completely, James Madison included a compromise of the idea.

The concept of eminent domain is actually a “carry over” from Jolly old England. Eminent domain is a younger ancestor of English property law. As a result, Madison chose instead to require compensation explicitly, and he used the term public use rather than public purpose, interest, benefit, or some other term in an effort to establish a narrower and more objective requirement than such alternative terms might require (Jones 2000, 290). This is a very different approach from the original English concept.

Still, I think it is, to use a generally English term, bloody rubbish.

I understand the importance of sacrificing for “the greater good.” However, the concept that a government can take someone’s property just makes my blood boil.

This affects people – individuals who have no way to fight the government.

Years ago I saw a film “Greetings from Asbury Park,” highlighting Angie Hampilos’ fight to keep her home of 50 years safe from waterfront re-developer Asbury Partners. She should’ve been living out her final years enjoying her life tending to her garden. Instead she and her niece fought against her home being bulldozed. Due to health reasons, Mrs. Hampilos sold her  beloved home to the city of Asbury Park in 2014. She passed away in June of 2015. This is not how her life should’ve ended. She should’ve been able to live out her years in the home she loved and leave that house to her family.

Currently, residents of Clifton and Little Falls, New jersey are fighting against an expansion of Rt. 46. The Genardi Family is losing part of their yard and pool to eminent domain. These life-long residents of Clifton have invested thousands to improve their home. Now, the second phase of the highway improvement project includes plans for a 12-foot sound wall that will cut out 21 feet of their property line and run straight through the center of their pool.

According to the plans, about 1,900 square feet of yard will be taken from the property’s 7,800-square-foot lot.

An independent appraisal of homes on Normandy Road that are being affected determined that none of the property owners would experience enough “damage” following the project’s completion to warrant the purchase of the homes themselves. NJDOT officials confirmed the majority of the Genardi’s back yard was acquired in 2012 and that the homeowner was compensated $175,000 for land required for construction purposes.

Not enough “damage?” Really?

So living 11 feet from a sound wall isn’t damaging? Forget that they had no choice about losing their property. The property they have invested in and have been raising their children. Yes, they were “compensated,” but who will ever want to buy a house that close to a sound barrier? Given the choice, I am sure they would prefer to have their home in tact than offered money for part of their property.

The Great Notch Inn of Little Falls, NJ has been affected by this project as well. A Jersey landmark, the business has lost approximately one-third of its property under eminent domain.

Is this America?

How can people fight this level of government control?

There are organizations that support those in the eminent domain fight. But it will take a thorough understanding of the law and lots of support.

If you are fighting against eminent domain, God’s speed.

October 6, 2013

The Capitol Shooting & Deadly Force

This week there was an incident with a woman who was shot and killed by law enforcement after ramming the White House gates with her car and hitting a Secret Service officer.

After the fact of course, all the second guessing began. Did law enforcement need to fire on the vehicle? Did they know there was an infant in the car? If they did feel the need to fire, why didn’t they shoot out the tires?

The family of the woman came out and said that she was suffering from postpartum psychosis and they felt law enforcement didn’t have to shoot.

As always, there are three sides to every story; one side, the other side, and the truth.

While I am sorry this woman had mental and emotional issues, I must stand  behind law enforcement. These men and women put their lives on the line every day. Law enforcement in DC have an even more difficult job as they not only have to protect civilians, but Capitol landmarks, politicians, and more. They need to make split second decisions. This woman had already crashed a White House gate and rammed into a Secret Service officer, sending him onto her windshield. Another police officer was injured during a chase down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. While she did not have a firearm, her car at that point was a deadly weapon. Did they know there was an infant in the vehicle? I don’t know. But she put her child in that vehicle and drove from Connecticut to DC that day.

I have never had a child and never suffered from postpartum psychosis. I am obviously not a doctor, so I really don’t understand all that encompasses this condition. I understand the woman’s family defending her situation and feeling the police should’ve done more to preserve her life. And I am sorry this woman lost her life.

I have many friends and family members in law enforcement and I can say with confidence that police do not use their weapons lightly. It is not something they look forward to doing and understand the ramifications of using their weapon. Did they know she didn’t have a weapon? No idea, but I doubt it. Again, the moment she sent a Secret Service officer flying, she used her car as a deadly weapon.

I will always give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt. Period.

I ask the questions to those second-guessing law enforcement, did you know if that woman had firearms in that vehicle? Did you know if her car was loaded with explosives and could’ve been a terrorist attempting to take advantage of the government shutdown? What would you have done if you had a weapon and had a car coming towards you at full speed?

It is important that law enforcement review every situation and determine if anything could be learned from the response. However, when an officer is put in that situation, all their training kicks in and they will do what they feel is the right thing to keep the area safe and protected.

Just like no one knew what was going through that woman’s mind, no one knew what was going through the minds of law enforcement on a second-by-second basis in a fluid situation in one of the toughest places to protect in the country.

October 26, 2011

OWS: Open the Way to Socialism

Filed under: Economy,government,Politics — alvb1227 @ 11:28 pm
Tags: , , ,

When I watch the coverage of Occupy Wall Street (also know as OWS), I hear things like “it isn’t fair.” “I am the 99 percent.” “Share the wealth.” OK, I’ve had it with OWS.

First, let’s all face it – life isn’t fair. Is it fair my mother-in-law died from breast cancer in her 50’s after leading a clean life? Is it fair my beloved Uncle Sonny died before he got to retire? Is it fair that people with zero scruples get ahead? No, of course not. Does it bug the bejesus out of me? Absolutely. But life isn’t fair. The sooner you learn that the better of you are.

Second, learn to rely on yourself. If you don’t think you can handle the bills of a fancy private college, then DON’T GO TO THAT COLLEGE. Don’t wait for someone (or the government) to rescue you. Do you know when I finished paying off my college loans? After I was married 10 years. I  moved home with my parents after I graduated college and left a year and a half later when I got married.

Don’t make your happiness reliant on someone’s else punishment or misery. The OWS crew wants to “punish” the “rich” because the protesters have it tough. If all you are doing is waiting for karma to come around to your satisfaction, you’ll be waiting a long damn time. Let’s think about this. They want to punish the rich and the wealthy and redistribute those funds to others. So why would someone want to succeed if all that will happen is the federal government will take that money and give it to someone they feel is more deserving? This will do nothing but create a sea of mediocrity. This is the very definition of socialism.

Finally, yes, the economy is different. Yes, you have to think out of the box. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Wozniak, and the beloved late Steve Jobs everyone is praising as of late all made their own way. They weren’t born into wealth. They were creative. They looked for opportunities. They are examples of the greatness American can provide, regardless of their background.

OWS is really Open the Way to Socialism if you ask me.

September 8, 2011

American Atheists and the World Trade Center Cross

As we move closer to the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history, the organization American Atheists have filed a lawsuit to exclude what has become known as the “World Trade Center Cross” from the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, claiming separation of church and state.

I had an opportunity to review the American Atheists’ website and they are what I call an “equal opportunity offender.” They have quite a high opinion of themselves and belittle those of any faith – Christian, Judaism, Muslims (or as they refer to Muslims as “Mohammedans”), Mormonism – the list goes on and on.

According to an article about the lawsuit on their site, the buildings of the World Trade Center were made of steel girders, so it would make sense that “in the rubble some Christians found a pair of girders still welded that closely (not exactly, but closely enough) resemble a Christian Roman Cross.”

They continue to say that this Cross had been blessed several times by “so-called Holy Men” and “presented as a reminder that God, in his infinite power of goodness, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists, or stop the fire, or hold up the buildings to stop 3000 people from being crushed, cared enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. Ridiculous.”

Now, I don’t begrudge anyone who has a belief in anything – Jew, Pagan, Christian, or Muslim. As long as your belief is pure and not “warped” (a.k.a. terrorists), that is fine with me. But for these people to not only belittle someone else’s belief system, but claim separation of church and state on this issue is shameful and plain wrong.

Over time, the concept of separation of church and state has been molded into whatever a specific group is trying to push; when in reality, it is not what our founding fathers had intended. The original plan of separation of church and state was based on a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist organization in Danbury, CT in 1802 (from which the First Amendment was based). The letter notes the government shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

In the instance of the World Trade Center Cross, the government is not creating a law or prohibiting the exercise of religion. Therefore, their lawsuit is unfounded.

Ultimately, the World Trade Center Cross is more than a cross; it is a symbol – an artifact from a horrible day that brought comfort to many who toiled on that pile of rubble for months on end to try and bring some closure to the families that lost a loved on that day we will never forget. It is that reason alone why it should be included. It is more about  hope than a specific faith.

August 6, 2011

POTUS, Congress and the S&P

It was announced last night after the markets closed that the S&P downgraded America’s “AAA” rating to “AA+,” claiming a variety of issues, including the political tone in D.C. and lack of specific plans to reduce the nation’s debt, to name a few. There was push back from the Obama administration, citing a potential “math mistake” in S&P’s calculations, however, the rating agency still moved ahead with the downgrade.

Now, in my opinion, there is plenty of blame to go around. You have the Congress, which is about as organized as a kindergarten class; you have our “Deflector in Chief,” who is the champ when it comes to blaming and delegating to everyone else; and finally, you have the S&P, who didn’t see the recent recession coming and thought all the questionable mortgages that got us in trouble was a great idea.

Here’s the best part of the whole mess – China took full advantage of this opportunity to lecture us on how we manage our bills. We are borrowing from our enemies and giving money to countries that hate us. Does anyone else see an issue with this?

What we should really do is take a hard look at where our funds are going and make a conscious decision to help our citizens FIRST. We also really need to look at the tax code and both really have everyone “pay their fair share,” to steal a phrase from our President. Right now, 51 percent of all citizens do not pay income taxes of any kind. So, our country is expecting 49 percent of the citizens to carry the load for everyone. This is an impossible task. By moving to a flax tax, everyone is truly part of the solution.

We also need to really address and develop a real immigration policy. Illegal immigration is a huge suck on the economy that is unnecessary.

So, where is everyone right now who should be handling this issue? Well, President Obama is at Camp David and Congress is on summer break. Awesome. Here’s an idea – how about you all come back to work, check your egos at the door and do your job!

July 15, 2011

The National Debt and Common Sense Solutions

OK, it is time for all the boys in D.C. to put their big boy pants on and use the common sense God gave them to resolve this budget issue. I have some suggestions; some are easy, some may take a bit of a spine, but they ultimately make sense.

First the easy ones…

The politicians keep talking about not being able to “cut checks.” I realized that they aren’t just using this figuratively. They are LITERALLY cutting checks! Who still does this? Transition over payments like Social Security and the like over to direct deposit.  How much could that save just in paper, printing and postage? If someone insists on getting a physical check, charge a $10 fee.

I mentioned previously about using technologies like secure Sharepoint instead of (again) wasteful spending, such as printing out the budget.

Now some tougher, but still common sense solutions…

First, MOVE TO THE FLAT TAX. Approximately 45% of the American population do not pay any taxes. That same 45% also utilize the largest majority of government resources. Everyone should pay something in taxes. While we are a very compassionate country, we need to switch from giving a handout to giving a hand up. By simply handing out money and/or services without actually helping to acquire something, those individuals are doomed to staying on the bread line. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Social Security needs help…a LOT of help. If you are under the age of 40, you should have the opportunity to opt out. Additionally, if you are under the age of 40, raise the retirement age to 67. When you reach your retirement age, you should get only what you pay into Social Security. If you didn’t work or pay into the system, then you get nothing. Period.

Take a hard look at “pet projects” to see which are working and which are not. Every project has its own set of fans, so some will be tougher to cut than others, but again, people must start to use the common sense God gave them.

Again, these are just a few places to start. Look at some of my other national debt common sense solutions to learn more.

What would you do?

July 6, 2011

Casey Anthony Not Guilty…Seriously?

“Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”
~English jurist William Blackstone

Well, one of those 10 guilty persons definitely escaped today when the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of the most serious charges against her.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect her to be found guilty of first degree murder, but I did expect her to be found guilty of all other charges. Like millions of Americans, I am stunned. I definitely have a gripe.

First, I’m sorry, she killed that poor little girl. Caylee definitely deserved a better mother. If you have a child, your partying days should be over. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in that house for the next Thanksgiving dinner.

Second, if that first police officer had thoroughly checked out the report of remains in a swamp, they might have been able to collect DNA or other evidence that could’ve helped to convict her. That was definitely a lost opportunity.

Third, I absolutely have a beef with the jury. I think part of it might have been that they wanted their lives back. They were tired of being away from their families, their jobs and their homes. When I heard they were back already, I was sure they were going to convict. I almost fell off my chair when I heard “not guilty.” Do you all think that a mother doesn’t report their child as missing for a month while she goes out partying, gets a tattoo, and lies to the police is normal? I’m not surprised that you didn’t want to talk to the press. Did you leave your common sense at home? Shame on you all.

I am disgusted with Casey Anthony’s legal team for their celebrating and Cheney Mason’s lecturing after the verdict. I know many attorneys and respect their work. There are many good lawyers and unfortunately, many ambulance chasers. As I joke often, “So tell me, when you are a defense attorney, do you go straight to Hell? Or do you have to change flights in Albuquerque?”

Finally, I weep for this poor little child who was tossed in a swamp like a common piece of garbage. Caylee Anthony certainly deserved a better mother and better protection. She did not receive justice. This was not some terminally ill child that a mother made an impossible, heart-wrenching decision to end that child’s suffering. She just wanted to party, plain and simple.

The saddest part is that there are children and innocent people killed every day that do not get the attention of this trial, which is just plain sad. It is just a reminder to all of us if you see something, say something. Be part of the solution. Stand up for what is right.

I do believe in Karma and it will definitely be a bitch when it comes around on Casey Anthony. This woman is a sociopath and will certainly do something again that will end her up in jail. I just hope that she only hurts herself and not anyone else. OJ Simpson is a perfect example.

Some day Casey Anthony will meet her Maker and I honestly believe she will need to answer for her sins. And for that she will rot in Hell.

June 17, 2011

Christie and Sweeney: Shame on You Both

As Governor Christie and NJ State Senator Sweeney made a deal with the Devil, I submitted yet another letter to both of them. I wanted to share it with my readers…

June 16, 2011

In regards to: Subject: Teacher’s Pension & Health Benefit Legislation

Governor Chris Christie

State Senate President Sweeney

Gentlemen:

I have contacted your office via email and phone several times in the past to express my frustration regarding this constant assault on teachers and their pension and health benefits. I am writing again to voice my outrage.

I am the proud wife of a 24-year band director. He became a teacher for all the right reasons – to give back, to influence the lives of youngsters, and to share his love of music with others. He has successfully taught thousands of students not just how to play an instrument and appreciate music, but what it takes to be a good citizen and adult. It is also worth noting he is not one of those “80K a year teachers” you hear about on the news.

This constant barrage “on union leadership” as I often hear you say Governor, has certainly trickled down and has turned into an “us vs. them” argument. Many people already have a negative opinion of teachers. You have certainly added to that negativity. And for the record, I voted for you. I believed you when I thought you were going to make positive changes on the state’s school system. In my opinion, your changes are far from positive. You should really try reading the bully legislation you signed into law, because that is exactly what you have become.

Today, teachers are much more than teachers. They are counselors, pastors, and sadly, all too often, parents. Add to that list since Columbine, police, hostage negotiators, and body guards. When I was a child, I was told the three safest places I could be were home, school and church. Now, that is far from reality.

You want the best and brightest to be teachers in order to continue the high performance of New Jersey’s students. With your constant barrage, why would anyone want to become a teacher? Being a teacher is not the easy job many believe it is. The teachers I know spend a sizable amount of their own money on school supplies, endless hours preparing lessons, tutoring students and being active participants in their communities. This battle of yours has put neighbor against neighbor.

What I would like to see is the state government acknowledge that the reason the pension system is having financial trouble is because politicians have been using that system as their own personal piggy bank. That would be a good place to start. Next, I would like to see those politicians fix this without hurting those who had nothing to do with the problem being affected.

I would also like to know why there is such outrage about limiting healthcare options on the federal level through “Obamacare” by the GOP (my party, by the way), when you, Governor Christie, are trying to do the exact same thing to teachers? According to what I have read, there is even a limitation in the proposed legislation that you will limit the ability to seek medical treatment outside New Jersey. We live across the river from some of the finest medical institutions in the world and we wouldn’t be able to do whatever would be necessary if my husband or I was ill? I wonder how Senator Lautenberg would feel about that, given his insistence on going to New York for his cancer treatment.

I would like to know if either of you have ever gone to a school and watched first-hand what teachers do everyday. No cameras, no entourage, nothing. Just you, teachers and students. I would like to see you really understand what a teacher does on a day-to-day basis. My hope is that you would have more respect for what they do and change this from an assault to a conversation.

Shame on you both.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: