Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Text here, text there - soon an odd Q&A

The University of Akron's leadership team has previewed and withdrawn so many options in its rebranding exercises that even stillborn ideas gravitate to front-page media coverage these days.

Take, for example, the Beacon Journal report on the a bizarre tightly controlled student government forum with President Scott Scarborough  in the Gardner Theatre.  Students were required to text  their questions to a  couple of student leaders who were seated aside Scarborough.  The questions were then forwarded to the boss. That doesn't  even happen at the White House press conferences!

The topic that quickly gained traction was a mere mention by Scarborough that  UA was looking at establishing a K-12 school,  like, say, the University of Chicago's.  But it got no farther.  Scarborough said later the UA College of Education  is  merely exploring the idea  but it  might never happen.

Still, Tuesday's BJ reader saw a commanding Page One headline that said:    UA considers own K-12 school.  

And we're sure that's how Scarborough, a man of action,  would like us to remember another exciting foray by his regime.

About the Chicago plan, which has been operating for nearly two decades.  It's called the  UChicago Charter School and is one of the four integrated units in the Urban Education Institute.  It serves 1900 students as a "pre-K-12th pathway to college"  .

I asked about the cost in a call to the school and was told it was "funded like public schools".

Are you listening David Brennan?

Please.  No more of this talk. Certainly not when charter is part of the conversation.  It could get quite expensive for UA, which already is claiming poverty.  And based on Scarborough's remarks, it's a bridge to nowhere for UA. I would text him about this but I don't know how to do it.  I've never fully caught up with the digital age.

How to destroy a hamburger

Holy Wimpy! Do you see what awful things are  happening to hamburgers these days?

The TV ads hype the  primal sandwich doused with whatever and a mile-high topping of French fries, bacon, avocados, cheese, pasta,  sweet onions, tomatoes and chips.  It is sometimes fitted with seedy grains, veggies, quinoa and I don't know what else.

I grew up with a steady Sunday diet  of raw kibbee,   ground meat patties that my mother proudly served with olive oil and onions. It was a prized entree that some queesy witnesses warned would lead to death from tapeworms by age 25.  Still,  I can't stomach the commercial trickery that buries the pretentious burgers of today.

So I must live with my memory of lunches at Ray's  modest grill in La Porte, Ind.  I worked there in my first   newspaper job.  Ray's hamburgers were pressed on a sizzling (greasy?) grill that formed a crispy coat on both sides.  For that exquisite treat plus a large soda and Ray's boysenberry pie, the tab was less than a dollar, which is all I had in my  pocket anyway. And I could fully savor  the meat  with every bite.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Charters: Shouldn't Angelic Kasich look homeward?

When Gov. Kasich finally settles down in  Ohio from his adopted residence in New Hampshire  - political decency will require it, folks - he will be forced to face an unspeakable charter school scandal with Team Kasich's fingerprints all over it.

The latest ugly chapter was well recorded  by reporter Doug Livingston in today's Beacon Journal. It was prompted by a  $71 million U.S. Department of Education grant to the failed Ohio charter school system. But it now appears the reviews of such national grants were submitted by the very same  school choice hucksters who have a reputation of eliminating poor  scores from the charter test grades to raise the average of their performances.

We're speaking, of course, of David Hansen, the charter-friendly operative at the Ohio Board of Education who resigned after being outed as the guy who wielded the eraser.
Not only that.  Hansen's wife is Beth Hansen, Kasich's former chief of staff who is now his presidential campaign manager.

As Livingston reported,  both Hansens met with Kasich and others  to advance their plans to  entirely convert the Youngstown public schools into a charter system,  a delicate subject in a hot political season.  Beth Hansen told the Plain Dealer that she would rather not discuss it. Nor might  Kasich, a reverential supporter of charters.

For a long time, it hasn't been a secret that the entire charter system is well protected  by the state's two top managers, David Brennan's White Hat Management and Bill Lager's Altair Learning based in Columbus.

Together,  they have been enriched with $1 billion in taxpayer money.  That arrives via their control over their "investments" in Republican  politicians  who form the pro-charter chorus in the legislature without much prodding.    Brennan, well known for his Koch-like financial contributions to sustaining his GOP causes,  once even wrote to lawmakers to remind them of his purse.

Other recipients include Columbus Republican Congressman Pat Tiberi, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman , both of whom also endorsed the federal  grant to the Ohio system.  As usual,  Portman toyed with semantics.  His spokesperson told the Beacon Journal that the senator didn't really endorse the grant  application but  merely asked that it be "considered".  Go figure.

So Hooray for Congressman Tim, Ryan, the Youngstown  Democrat, for raising hell about the grant system's careless approval of porous applications, saying he was suspicious of what came down at the federal level.  .

But Kasich campaign spokesman Rob Nichols circled the wagons  around the Hansens, contending he could explain everything about the Youngstown meeting.  "They [Hansens]  try to leave work at the office," he said.  "So it would be unlikely that it came up."

For that nugget  of wisdom,  I cannot resist recognizing Nichols for the coveted  Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy Award.  (GALL).

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wordsmith McCarthy's untrustable dictionary

It was not a good week for words in the political arena.   Let me show you:

Kevin McCarthy, a minor league prospect to succeed Speaker John Boehner, described Hillary Clinton as "untrustable".   Even if you grant the  guy from California some rein as a wordsmith,  it may not guarantee him that he will be promoted. Indeed, some of his colleagues in the House prefer to call him a pleasant "hack".

Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson, a soft- voiced hard rightest,  warned New Hampshire voters that America is heading toward Nazi control in the highest places. "If you go back and look at the  history of the world, tyranny and despotism and how it starts,it has a lot to do with control of thought and control of speech," he said.  But he controlled  his own thoughts when he only implied that President Obama was  the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. "I'm not going to go into that," he said. "I think that example is pretty clear."

Jeb! Bush disappointed those who believed he had a chance to be the only sane candidate in the GOP field  because of his dynastic genes, skipped a definitive response on gun control in the wake of the Oregon massacre  by saying, '"We're in difficult times in our country ... Stuff happens".   Jeb!  is new at the presidential campaign game and needs a lot more work on bumper sticker neologisms.

John Kasich, soldiering on and on for an American Miracle  despite his two pct. approval rating in the national polls, mixed his own brand of hard-shell conservatism  with cautious pragmatism as a gun-rights advocate by dodging the issue of gun control:  "Stripping law-abiding citizens of their guns, I just don't know.  I don't believe it would get the job done.  I just don't."  As a Plunderbund writer reported, guv, "Never mind that nobody serious on this issue is suggesting we strip law-abiding citizens of their guns."    Time for Kasich to get back, in his prosaic words,  to "leading America back to prosperity".

Finally, can't ignore the wisdom of Plain Dealer columnist  Kevin O'Brien, a guardian of the Chicken Coop Fringe, who believes the GOP needs to pursue its destiny with a kick -ass conservative to succeed Boehner,  who got too little "rope"  in  defining the GOP's  pit bull playbook.

O'Brien's soaring  recommendations included devout conservative  Rep. Jim Jordan,  the Ohio farm resident who now leads the untrustable GOP's Freedom Caucus - another neologism that connects a pair of mutually exclusive words on Capitol Hill,where dictionaries  are seldom found open..  .

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Report from our digital world

(From New Yorker)

Renacci keynoter : GOP prototype for women

ATTN: LADIES: In Rep. Jim Renacci's effort to extend the Republicans' outreach to women voters, he is sponsoring an event on Oct. 20 at the Strongsville Holiday Inn that will introduce you to a successful woman with a winning  career in the competitive  fast track modern world.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem is coming all the way from South Dakota to be the keynote speaker with lustrous credentials that Renacci believes no ambitious woman can afford to ignore.

I never heard of her, either.  But her bio is quite fetching for the women of northern Ohio.    She's a farm mom who says  one of her joys as a mother is  to help her son engage in rodeos. More exciting is her opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control and other hot  issues as a social conservative.  And, yep, she's a climate-change denier,too. No surprises there.

Indeed, Renacci, of Wadsworth,  tightly belongs to a party that also  is in denial about social change and Kristi Noem will be on hand to prove it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is Scarborough opting for martyrdom?

Does it seem to you that University of Akron President Scott Scarborough is rebranding himself into a martyr?

As he's responded to bad news in the past, he reacted to the campus survey that his approval rating is awful by shrugging that  change is "difficult".   In other words, a guy who is paid upward of $600,000 and royal perks to resolve the school's debt and cast it as  a polytechnic enterprise is faced with a daunting task.

But did the rollout have to be so amateurishly clumsy?  And if there is such a role as "sub-martyr",   we might include the Board of Trustees, a feckless group that offered no sign of being moving parts in the slide.

President Scarborough will learn that martyrdom  doesn't include a fat paycheck and personal prestige, which seems to be what this nightmare is all about.  

P.S.  Scarborough left the University of Toledo with poor grades from the faculty, too.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Survey reveals bad news for Team Scarborough

The latest chapter in what the University of Akron's leadership did last summer (and is still doing)  confirms the fallout from the hasty worst-laid plans that are going awry.     It is contained  in the campus survey of faculty and students by  the Akron- American Association of University Professors (AAUP)  that reveals widespread discontent on the downtown campus for the ongoing efforts by the new UA regime's scheme to rebrand the school into a polytechnic institution.

The survey results were released via email Monday by Sociology  Professor John Zipp,  president of the Akron chapter of AAUP.  Around town, the numbers can't be reassuring since UA President Scott Scarborough and the Board of Trustees have plunging confidence of a majority of those who responded to the survey.

Asked whether Scarborough is leading the school in a "positive direction, 72.2 pct. said no.

To the question of whether the Board of Trustees has been upholding its responsibilities, 78.1 pct responded no.

And 73.1 pct. said  UA is worse off today than a year ago.

The negative effects are already taking hold with various UA financial   support groups.

So much chaos has come out of this...and  one can only wonder when Team Scarborough will face up honestly to the serious damage to the school's internal morale and its wider  reputation.  So far, Scarborough seems hell-bent on plowing forward.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

With Boehner out, the crazies will romp even more

A moment of silence for John Boehner, please.  The dour weepy House speaker, I mean.  Remember?

A square peg in a deep round hole dug by the beastly carnivores in the Republican caucus who , of all things,  considered him too liberal  for their suicidal quest to rule anybody who wasn't as certifiably crazy.  His efforts to please often led him at times to be certifiably crazy , too.  The more than 50 failed attempts to kill Obamacare in the House.    The loopy invitation to Bibi Netanyahu to be his guest to kill the Iran deal.

Folks, don't let them fool you.  With Boehner's opponents, it has nothing to do with ideology.  Instead, it springs from idiot-ology.  They would shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, for God's sake?

We normally would say history won't be kind for such servility by the speaker in the face of his Potomac enemies.  In this instance, Boehner fell  on his sword, saying enough is enough as he made instant history to save future historians the trouble of panning him. .

Among the Ohioan's more toxic Republican tormentors was his fellow Buckeye  from a farm in southwestern Ohio, Rep. Jim Jordan, a possessed  hoofbeater who heads the congressional Freedom Caucus  and is regarded around Capitol Hill as in the arch-conservative crazy class.

Summit County Republicans may know him as a featured guest at one of the local party's
 (i.e., Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's) glistening dinners.  On other festive occasions as the locals moved farther to the right, Alex also enjoyed the camaraderie on the dinner dais  of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum in their Sunday clothes. Nothing reslly worked as the chairman continued to  raise money for local candidates who didn't win, including former Republican mainstay, failed former Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart.

I wasn't among Boehner's fans, but when the wild bunch now shaping the party
talked of impeaching the speaker (Jordan thought it might be nice if a strong
Tea Partier challenged the speaker in his own district) I at least had a shiver over how far the GOP has fallen. And will continue to fall.

Am I right, Sen.McConnell?  You could be next.  It would be ironic, I'd think, that as the one who dedicated himself to the instant demise of President Obama, you might be gone before the president.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Good dog

Snoopy:  When the Pope says sit, you must sit: