Tuesday, July 31, 2012

LMT, Help Us Out- Pie Chart the City Budget

Chart the Budget
Laredo Morning Times, how about a little help for the people who pay for the city to operate, the taxpayers.

Show us a pie chart of the proposed city budget similar to the one I have put up to the left.  Show us what percentage of the city budget goes to which departments, so we can see where our money is going.

Note:  my chart to the left has each department allocated equal portions of the budget, which I know are not true, nor are they realistic expectations.  What will be interesting is just how much goes to police and fire (when all costs including retirement/insurance) are added in.  We, the taxpayers, need to know just how, to borrow a phrase from my environmental friends, "sustainable" our city budget is.

In fact, if the LMT really wants to show "sustainability", they would chart the last 10 years of city budgets and show just where the money is going.

However, my bets are on receiving a newspaper article reporting only what the city says and presents on its own, which will be of little value to the taxpayers.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Just Teenagers Ringing Doorbells - Me Thinks NOT....

Last week there was a group of "teenagers" roaming the streets in Winfield ringing doorbells at 3 a.m. in the morning.  At least that what the police reported to the local media.

However, the truth is these "teenagers" were in their twenties, and had gang style tattoos and were wearing dark hoodies and carrying baseball bats.  Yet, the police released them with no charges filed.  The police department spokesman said that the "Winfield Home Owners Association" had worked out a deal and that was that.

Now, I believe I read there have been some other home invasions in north Laredo over the last couple of weeks.

What I cannot believe is that there was no action taken by the police in regards to these "kids."  At a minimum, disturbing the peace comes to mind.

What say you?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ban the Assault Rifle???? Why Not Knives?????

In the rush to ban "assault rifles" people seem to forget about a weapon that is responsible for 5 times more murders.

In a data check of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting System, I found the following data:

Rifles used in 348 murders
Shotguns used in 418 murders
Knives used in 1,825 murders

Rifles used in 358 murders
Shotguns used in 373 murders
Knives used in 1,704 murders

You are 5 times more likely to be killed by a knife than a rifle.  That is a fact.  So, where is the outrage?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gun Control

Assault Rifle
Now that there has been another mass shooting, the national news media and others are pushing for a "gun control debate."  Well, not really a debate, but a call for stricter gun control.

The problem they have by using this incident, is that there is very little that any law short of banning guns could have done to prevent this shooting.  Even the banning of guns would not stop the guy from buying a gun on the black market (See Mexican Gun Laws for details.)

You have a person with no criminal record, no record of mental health issues (although those will come to light later, as it is inconceivable that a person can shoot that many people in this scenario without being mentally damaged), who bought guns and ammunition in a legal way.

Of course there are a couple of talking points (and my quick answers) the anti-gunners will try to use:

1.  If the assault rifle ban was still in effect, he would not have had a rifle to shoot with.   Answer:  wrong, semi-automatic weapons are readily available and could inflict the same damage.  In fact, we will soon find that the majority of the victims in the Colorado shooting we hit with buckshot from the shotgun he fired in the opening moments of the attack.  Shotguns have never been mentioned as needing to be banned.

2.  He had over 6,000 rounds of ammunition.   That should be illegal or at least trigger an investigation of the person.  Answer:  Most people have no idea of how much ammunition is purchased and shot by regular gun sport enthusiast.  I can probably name 20 to 30 people in Laredo, and they are not gun store owners, who have much more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition at home.  This type of regulation would swamp the feds, or whomever was designated to investigate such things.

These are just a couple of things being tossed about by the anti-gunners.  There will be much more heard on this issue in the next few weeks as more facts surface.

Even Mexican President Calderon thinks we should abolish the Second Amendment.  He has a great knowledge of just how great strict gun control laws work.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bag Ban Survey

The Rio Grande International Study Center is going to survey the people (800 or so) of Laredo to see if they really want a ban on single use plastic bags.

The RGISC called for volunteers to show up at the public library yesterday evening.  The volunteers would go out into the community and knock on doors and complete the survey.

Well, I wonder just how accurate a survey can be when the people taking the survey obviously are intent on banning plastic bags at any cost to the community.  The volunteers are obviously in favor of the ban, or they would not show up to volunteer.  And being an un-scientific survey, what value is it really to the community or the city council who will be voting on the ordinance, if it gets that far?

If the all the survey questions have not been completed, I propose a couple of questions for the citizens:

1.  Are you willing to support a ban on single use plastic bags, knowing that you will now be paying for any bags that you will need to use to carry your purchased products home from the store?  And knowing that the retailers will be making additional money on your purchase by selling you bags?

2.  Are you willing to support a ban on other items that litter our community, like tires, construction materials, food wrappers, plastic bottles, cans, newspapers, or anything that the public might discard into the environment?

We'll see just how above board this survey is soon enough I am sure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A "MUST" Read on Education in America

This is North Kansas City High School.  Note, no fences, more on that
at a latter dateThis school originated in 1917, and the above building
 was opened in 1925.  It is stlla high school serving 1,700 students
 yearly.  It just goes to show that kids do not needbrand new buildings to learn.
NKC High School Info
School Performance Data
Note:  Laredo could use a website like the one on school performance.
I know many of you will disagree with the attached article, but the facts are that our kids are not being educated to the level required to maintain our workforce or global competitiveness.

Post your thoughts after reading a few clips:

.For full story click here.

(From the Wall Street Journal  July 9, 2012)

My comments in yellow.

America Has Too Many Teachers
Public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while student enrollment has increased by only 8.5%—and academic results have stagnated.
"Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers' aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs."
Or would they? Stanford economist Eric Hanushek has shown that better-educated students contribute substantially to economic growth. If U.S. students could catch up to the mathematics performance of their Canadian counterparts, he has found, it would add roughly $70 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 80 years. So if the additional three million public-school employees we've hired have helped students learn, the nation may be better off economically.
To find out if that's true, we can look at the "long-term trends" of 17-year-olds on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress. These tests, first administered four decades ago, show stagnation in reading and math and a decline in science. Scores for black and Hispanic students have improved somewhat, but the scores of white students (still the majority) are flat overall, and large demographic gaps persist. Graduation rates have also stagnated or fallen. So a doubling in staff size and more than a doubling in cost have done little to improve academic outcomes.
Nor can the explosive growth in public-school hiring be attributed to federal spending on special education. According to the latest Census Bureau data, special ed teachers make up barely 5% of the K-12 work force.
Again, more proof that money is not the answer to the education problems we are facing today.
While America may have too many teachers, the greater problem is that our state schools have squandered their talents on a mass scale. The good news is that a solution is taking root in many states.
Every time I read the first line in this paragraph, I go back to watching LISD scool board meeting with all the petty complaining and childish politics.  Our parents and school administrators are lacking in commitment and imagination.  If it only takes a couple of hundred out of thousands of voters to elect a school board member, we are doomed, and NO amount of money can fix it.
Mr. Coulson directs the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom and is author of "Market Education: The Unknown History" (Transaction, 1999).