Keeping Both Hands on the Wheel

I’m no fan of our governor, Paul LePage. I guess most of you knew that. My dislike of our perpetually-angry governor is less about his politics (I find them abhorrent), and more about his lack of evolution as a human being.

I can’t recall if I ever shared my “three personal experiences” with Paul LePage story. Here’s one of them.

Back in the day when I was still rolling up my sleeves and doing yeoman’s duty in Maine’s workforce development community, I tried to reach out to the governor (back before he was the governor). He was at Marden’s and I was hoping the company might step-up and support our efforts to improve the skills of Maine’s workforce at the time by lending something tangible to the WorkReady program I was tasked to shepherd along.

Like he’s done countless times since becoming governor, he attacked me (on the phone), literally ranting and raving like a mad man, accusing me of not returning his phone calls. Actually, this was my first phone call to him on the matter at hand—inquiring about getting some Marden’s management and hiring decision-makers to come out and help with mock interviews. Instead, he continued his tirade, with me attempting to get a word in edgewise. Finally, I’d had enough and I said, “will you just shut up for a minute!” That stopped him in his tracks. Word to the wise, when dealing with a bully, you have to mirror their behavior to get noticed. Continue reading

Drinking Dirty Water in Flint

Water is an essential element of life.  We require it for drinking, cooking, and bathing—as well as other household functions common to civilized life in the U.S. Biologically, humans are 60 percent water, including a higher composition in vital organs like the brain, heart, and lungs. So when a major municipality’s water supply is compromised, it becomes a serious issue and even a domestic threat.

In Flint, Michigan, a depressed Midwestern city in the heart of America’s Rust Belt, city officials—in an effort to save money due to a shrinking tax base—switched the source of the city’s water supply in April 2014, from city of Detroit’s, whose source was Lake Huron—to the Flint River. Incidentally, residents of Flint recognized the river as a filthy tributary where a host of industrial chemicals and solvents had been dumped for decades. As soon as the switch was made, residents started complaining that the water looked, smelled and tasted funny. They said it often “looked dirty.”

The Flint River-just one of the sources of the city's water disaster.

The Flint River-just one of the sources of the city’s water disaster.

But it gets worse, for those living in economically-ravaged Flint. The local water treatment plant (with the approval of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) failed to mix chemicals to the river water that would have lowered its corrosive nature. This resulted in lead from the ageing service lines leeching into the water. Lead levels spiked, exposing thousands of children to lead poisoning. Continue reading

Less United

Over the weekend, a group of Texans gathered in Bastrop (outside Austin), concerned about the possibility of the federal government declaring martial law in Texas. This was reported in this morning’s Boston Globe. What’s the basis for this fear?

Apparently media operatives like Alex Jones have been piggybacking on a large scale military operation, called Jade Helm 15, to spread fear via his daily fear-fogger, The Alex Jones Show, a syndicated radio program. Many of those gathered in Bastrop no doubt got their information about this from Jones, and others on the outer fringes of the media.

Alex Jones using the fear-fogger.

Alex Jones using the fear-fogger.

Continue reading

Shutdown Math

Love him, or hate him, Tea-nutter, Ted Cruz.

Love him, or hate him, Tea-nutter, Ted Cruz.

I was never a great math student. Math is too exact for my brain, so take my numbers with a grain of salt.

17

Courtesy of the Congressional Research Service, this is the number of government shutdowns Americans have had to endure since 1977, when the first shutdown occurred. This one is #18. Mike Patton, at Forbes, provides a bit more narrative on the previous 17.

21

The longest prior shutdown was also the most recent: from Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 5, 1996. That’s 21 days for you counters out there. We are currently in day five.

401

This would be the number of national parks that have been forced to close their gates and deny visitors access. This includes Acadia National Park, in Bar Harbor. Continue reading