They didn't wreck my life. They gave me a Reason to fight against Injustice, Greed, and Tyranny.


31 May 2008


Eric Byler of the loveable (insert appropriate adjective here) 9500Liberty has landed himself a fan or two.

There was a neat "Conflict of Interest" tag at the top of his Wikipedia page.

I think this takes care of most of the "Conflict of Interest." Feel free to add to Byler's page as appropriate. :D

23 May 2008

Silly MapQuest

We're headed to Colonial Beach for Memorial Day Weekend. It looks like my folks will be taking the family sailboat down while I stay on Terra Firma and drive the van. How does one get there? Hop on the web and employ the tried-and-(98%)-true method of using MapQuest to chart the journey. They have a nifty feature where the user can route their trip by shortest distance or time.

Maybe I'm reading the directions wrong, but I observed something a bit odd when I switched from "Shortest Time" to "Shortest Distance." (Ctrl+click to enlarge)
"Shortest Time" route

Total Time Estimated: 1 hour, 17 minutes
Total Estimated Distance: 58.62 miles

"Shortest Distance" route

Estimated Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Estimated Distance: 71.03 miles

I think either some labels need to be switched, or just say that time and distance are saved with the top route. Anyhow, I still have the check with the man-'o'-the house for the best way to get to where we need to go.

Drive, swim, teleport, etc. safe this weekend!!! :)

21 May 2008

Passed the boiling point

A Board of Education member for the Greece Central School Disctrict in New York sent a loud and clear message when he resigned from his post a few days ago.
"I no longer wish to be associated with a school board that is politically controlled by its leadership and superintendent and is nonresponsive to the concerns of the community," he said. "The district's reluctance to seek an independent investigation by the proper police agency concerning the allegations of wrongdoing in the comptroller's audit is a prime example of this fact."
While this could very well be seen as a loss for the District, an independent voice of the system from the system may be able to do much more for Greece's constituents. An anonymous letter and a determined advocate for the community may be all that is needed to commence a criminal investigation into the Audits.

$2.5 mil+ was flushed down the crapper ... OOPS

They're playing this loss awful lightly. What happens a couple days later is a bit of a shock.

19 May 2008

If the Prodigal Son went to college

I'm going back to school tomorrow, which should be fun. I'm still in "college mode," and I need something to keep my mind busy.
"What goes up to the dorm must come back."

3 days before launch

T-minus 19 hours

This is why some people need a moving truck when returning home

Here comes the fun part: unpacking!

Two semesters, minus 2 textbooks and a bunch of smaller novels -.-
Total cost: $1032.30

There's been a buzz about keeping the grass cut on foreclosed property in PWC. I have to wonder where they're coming up with the figure of $2 mil to keep the lawns trim... it can't all be blamed on gas prices! Here's a solution: round up a batallion of college students home for the summer and give them a lawn mower and a mutually-agreed salary. Give them a list of properties to mow and plenty of water. The figure goes down significantly, and students' pockets are full at the end of the day. Checkbooks are fattened by the end of the summer in time for the fall semester. It's a win-win situation.

13 May 2008


I checked out Waldo’s Virginia Political Blogroll just to see if any interesting posts had come up since this morning. I was greeted with a rather loud-looking post titled "Corey Stewart is a Big Fat Liar." Curiosity piqued, I couldn't resist checking out the post... yep, same-ol' same ol'. Nothing special or out of the ordinary; just the usual housing freakouts, and the oh-so-famous racial tie to the illegal immigration debate.

I had a couple problems with this post. Assuming that illegal aliens are nothing but a bunch of Latinos is racist in itself. It makes a point in saying "whether legally in the county or not;" however, we read "Latinos fleeing" and "Latino shops." The term "illegal aliens" knows no bounds of race or ethnic group- only law-breakers. Furthermore, the post says that Corey "ran off every Latino/a." I must laugh at this statement because THIS Latina (a native of Panama) keeps returning to Prince William County despite the fact that the Law of Resolution is in order! If it were allegedly true that "every Latino/a" (assuming that a mixed-heritage also counts) was leaving due to the Resolution, then my brother and mother would not be at home. Funny, but every time I need to be picked up from campus (a three-hour drive) it has almost always been my mother. (And she makes bien arroz y pollo. ¡Que rico!) Obviously, there are a couple "Latinos/as" that have NOT left the scene. The race-ranters are the true cause of what they are trying to take down. It makes perfect sense that the law-breakers are fleeing the Resolution.

As to the housing situation, this aspect has been covered ad-freaking-nauseum. Either someone needs to clean their ears out or stop running their pieholes long enough to actually LISTEN to what is going on. And, oh lookie here: if the blogger of the post in question were to search within the same newspaper that they used to grace their posting, they would find that the so-called "housing meltdown" isn't happening in Prince William County.

I was taught that a good letter to the editor does not mention an opponent by name, but includes enough information to have the reader think "Oh yeah, I know who they're talking about." The content of a blog post should be sufficient for a reader to know what, who, etc. are being talked about. "Corey Stewart is a Big Fat Liar" sends out the image of a person who lacks a whole lotta class and creativity. Suggested titles include "Do Pinocchio and the PW BoCS Chairman Share a Common Interest?", "Similarities in Pinocchio and the PW BoCS Chair," and "Link Between Weight Gain and Nose Length."

Haha, I have 6 days off until I start classes again... fun. At least they're only 6-week courses

Obama: "I've been in 57 states."


12 May 2008

Ugh, finals

There's nothing like the sound of 22 scholars happily frantically clacking away at their keyboards as they finish (or start) last-minute assignments at the crack-'o'-dawn. The general consensus is that non-formal-exam assignments (i.e. final papers) are due at the glorious universal deadline of 5:00PM. I've been at the 24-hour lab since prior to 6AM this morning. I have not gotten an ounce of sleep since 2:30PM Sunday afternoon. I'm going to try to hold out until 2:00PM. Cheers to coffee, energy drinks, and cold showers to get us undergraduate students through the last hurdle.

09 May 2008

Audit Wars: Episode II?

One audit looks good on a past record, a second one would make it fashionable.

Democrat and Chronicle
May 7, 2008

GREECE — The Greece school board could soon initiate a detailed forensic audit of a building project the state Comptroller's Office said was rife with financial mismanagement and wasteful spending.

During a meeting Tuesday, the board formed a committee to investigate how much such an audit of the 2001 Capital Improvement Project would cost and what it would cover.

"We need to see what we will gain from a forensic audit," said Roger Boily, board president. "We don't want to pay for it if we get less information than we already have."

Forensic audits are often used to trace fraudulent accounting practices and pinpoint economic crimes.

A recently released Comptroller's Office audit of the Greece Central School District identified more than $2.5 million in excess spending on the building project and determined former district officials deliberately split orders for changes to the project into multiple parts in order to shield some spending from Board of Education review. The audit faulted former boards of education for lax financial oversight.

Also during the meeting, board member Joseph Moscato asked the board to rescind lifetime health care benefits given to former Superintendent Steven L. Walts, who left in 2005 to lead the Prince William County schools in Virginia.

With no concrete evidence of wrongdoing on Walts' part, doing so would be premature and defamatory, said board member Patrick Tydings.

"This calls for action before an investigation is done," he said, voting to defeat the proposal.

Moscato's motion to hire an outside agency to investigate whether the comptroller's findings warranted criminal charges also failed. In other audits, when significant criminal activity was found, the Comptroller's Office has referred the matters to local law enforcement. It made no such referral in Greece.

However, Superintendent Steven Achramovitch has asked the Monroe County District Attorney's Office to review the audit. That review is ongoing.

Pending cost estimates, the board held off authorizing school lawyers to investigate the findings.

The matter could come up again May 13.

The effects of Insomnia are starting to rear their ugly heads. Nap time!

08 May 2008

The answer we've been waiting for

It's funny how 2 states and an eight hour drive can be connected to one person. Here's a three-step formula to getting free healthcare from your place of employment:
  1. Insert nifty clause in contract
  2. Work five years
  3. Retire

It's that simple! Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

How did Walts get his benefits?
Greece Post
Wed May 07, 2008

Greece, N.Y. -

When Steve Walts walked out of Greece Central in 2005, he did so knowing that his former district would foot the bill when it came to his health-care benefits.

A 2004 deal by Walts and former Board of Education members included Greece Central paying for his health care, even if he stopped working in the district. The Board of Education now is looking into whether to end the deal.

Walts, superintendent from 1998 to July 2005, entered into the agreement with the Greece board, led by then President Paul Wawrzyniak, in June 2004. Part of the agreement included the district's coverage of 80 percent of a health insurance plan offered by the district and chosen by him.

But the contract was updated in December of that year and expanded how much Greece would be responsible for regarding his benefits. An addendum passed Dec. 14, 2004, when Walts was 50, said that, if he retired or became disabled, he would be eligible for coverage in any group health insurance program with the district covering 100 percent of its costs.

When Walts left Greece in 2005 for Prince William County School District in Virginia, the benefits kicked in because of this clause: “For the purposes of any retirement benefit ... the Superintendent shall be deemed to have retired from his employment if he has completed at least 5 years of service as Superintendent of the District and there shall have been no finding of guilt on charges brought against the district.” Walts was considered retired from Greece.

Some board members have tried unsuccessfully before to overturn the agreement, but a recent State Comptroller’s audit could open the door, based on the wording at the end of that clause. Board member Joe Moscato made a motion to end the benefits in February, days after a preliminary audit was leaked, but other board members did not support it.

In 2006, then board President Ken Walsh said Walts' coverage cost Greece a little over $1,000 a month but the district would not confirm that, citing privacy reasons. Board member Joe Moscato estimated a few months ago that Greece could save close to $6 million over the next 30 years if it ends Walts' coverage.

Some have criticized the way the addendum was approved. Video of the Dec. 14, 2004, meeting shows the vote took about 15 seconds. No board members asked questions and there was no discussion.

Former board members Bill Grason, George Hubbard and Ken Walsh voted against the addendum. Former board members Karen Hoffman, Bob Mueller, Larry Sweet, Eric Peterson, Bill Russell and then President Gerry Phelan approved it.

School districts paying the bulk of a superintendent's health care isn't unusual. The contract of Walts' short-lived successor, Meg Keller-Cogan, included 90 percent health insurance coverage. If she retired, she was eligible to continue coverage in a district plan, with the district paying 90 percent.

But Keller-Cogan’s contract didn't contain the clause regarding retirement after five years that Walts' did, so she wasn’t eligible to receive the benefits after she left Greece within a year of being appointed to the post.

That Dec. 14, 2004, meeting also left Walts with a longevity clause in his contract. It granted him “$1,000 for each completed year of his tenure: Next July (2005) — the start of his eighth year in office — he will receive a $7,000 bonus; in July 2006, the bonus will increase to $8,000, and so on.”

Grason, Hubbard and Walsh voted against it. Hoffman, Mueller, Sweet, Peterson, Russell and Phelan approved it.
Wow, $6 mil in savings. And that last chunk of the clause is curiously starting to fall away.

Why don't they give the teachers free healthcare?

06 May 2008

For the horse enthusiasts...

A very different change of pace here, but there's something I need to make known. First, I don't keep up with horse sports as much as I used to, especially racing, but I heard about what happened over the weekend. My condolences go out to the owners, trainer, jockey, grooms, and others who were involved with Eight Belles.

I'm guessing PETA has never learned the definition of the word "accident." Instead of calling for the suspension of Gabriel Saez and revocation of the second place prize (which would not change anything at this point), why not commend the equine veterinarian in his decision to quickly end the pain and suffering for the filly by having her humanely euthanized on the track? Does PETA even know what an open fracture is and what that means for a horse? I think a quick death by injection is pretty ethical. PETA, please tell me how that animal was supposed to stand on two rear legs while her front legs healed. Where were their animal cruelty rants when Barbaro's muscles atrophied and his unaffected rear hoof foundered because it had to carry the remaining weight? Saez did everything in his power to try to pull up the horse after he said she "started galloping funny." One has to consider the size of the horse and the speed at which she was coming out of the race. In any case, it's delightfully refreshing to see how PETA jumped at the opportunity for a little publicity. Did they ever consider how the owners, jockey, and trainer must feel now? Didn't think so.

Rest in peace, Eight Belles
You put up a gallant fight and gave the guys a run for their money

Photo courtesty
Photo courtesy

04 May 2008

Even Clorox can't clean a soiled reputation

More news from further up on the Eastern Seaboard:
Greece to discuss audit again
May 3, 2008

Greece, N.Y. -

The Greece Board of Education may look into whether it can end the controversial health-care benefits Greece Central is paying former Superintendent Steve Walts.

The board will have a discussion about the issue at its Tuesday board meeting at Apollo Middle School, 750 Maiden Lane. The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed $194,075,636 budget at 6:30 p.m. May 5.

After that, it will hold a study session on a recently released State Comptroller's audit, which found former Greece board members and administrators mismanaged money during Walts' tenure. There won't be any public comment but there will be board discussion, said board President Roger Boily.

The district held an audit forum about a week ago, which drew about 50 residents, administrators and staff.

Since then, "a number of board members suggested maybe we have a special meeting/study session to discuss the audit and come up with some ideas to look at where we go next," Boily said.

That includes looking at any recourse the district may have in changing or ending Walts' health benefits, which the district is continuing to pay, despite the fact that Walts now heads Prince William County Schools.

A 2004 deal by Walts and former Board of Education members included Greece Central funding his health care, even if he stopped working in the district. The agreement, brokered when Walts was 50, says Greece would pay 80 percent of a health insurance plan chosen by Walts from a selection Greece offered. If he retired or became disabled, Walts could continue the coverage, with the district footing the entire bill.

Walts' short-lived successor, Meg Keller-Cogan, had a similar clause. The district paid 90 percent of her coverage and agreed to pay 90 percent if she retired.

The sticking point, for some, though, is a clause in Walts' contract that says "... the Superintendent shall be deemed to have retired from his employment if he has completed at least 5 years of service as Superintendent of the District and there shall have been no finding of guilt on charges brought against the district."

The end of that clause could offer a chance end Walts' benefits. When he left Greece in 2005, he was considered retired, and the benefits kicked in. In 2006, then-board President Ken Walsh said Walts' coverage cost Greece little over $1,000 a month but the district would not confirm that, citing privacy reasons. Board member Joe Moscato estimated a few months ago that Greece could save close to $6 million over the next 30 years if it ends Walts' coverage.

Moscato made a motion to end the benefits in February, days after a preliminary audit was leaked, but other board members did not support it.

Boily said the best approach, for now, is to have the district's attorneys "take a look at the audit and its implications as far as what we can do as a board to look at the former superintendent's benefits and any other issues that may be oustanding: who got buyouts when they left the district and what we can, as a board, do about that," Boily said.

"But it will be left to the attorneys to do that," he added. "This is not something that the board says we have to cut off benefits or do anything of that nature. We need to have a legal opininion, based on the audit, where do we go from here?"

Some critics have suggested the district and board should pursure criminal charges against Walts and past administrators. But the board "has no indication whatsoever" that the Monroe County District Attorney's office will do so, Boily said.

More often, though, Boily said he fields questions about Walts' benefits.

"And my answer is, 'I never would have voted for something like that.'"

It is unfortunate to think that those who are perpetually blind to the truth are the very same people who call the shots. I hope someone in the Annex is paying attention to this.

02 May 2008

ATTN: Someone on the Hill

Interesting news from the Empire State.
Democrat and Chronicle
April 30, 2008
Greece teacher's bias suit may go to trial

An age discrimination lawsuit filed by a teacher against the Greece Central School District probably will go to trial because the two sides failed to reach a settlement during a conference Tuesday.

Lawyers representing the teacher, Mary Donlon, and the school district met for less than an hour Tuesday during a conference with U.S. District Judge Michael Telesca, said Donlon's lawyer, James Bilik.

Bilik said the case had not been resolved and might go to trial. No trial date has been set, and Bilik said he could not comment further. School district officials said they would not comment because the case involves a personnel matter. They referred calls to lawyer Daniel Moore, who said the same.

Donlon, 57, a second-grade teacher at Autumn Lane School, filed the suit in 2006. She had been removed from her classroom in March 2005 and reassigned as a substitute teacher. District officials had charged her with incompetence, neglect of duty, insubordination and conduct unbecoming a teacher.

Donlon alleged that beginning in January 2002, district leaders used an orchestrated campaign of unfair and inaccurate performance reviews to force her to retire. She contended that continuing bad treatment was retaliation for an age discrimination complaint she filed in 2004 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Three other teachers who sued the Greece district for age discrimination settled their cases in 2006 and received payments ranging from $20,000 to $60,000.

If 60K wasn't agreed upon, I won't be surprised if the amount sought is 100-150K.

This reminds me of a song I heard:

And I ran
I ran so far away
I just ran
I ran all night and day
I couldn't get away

(Yeah, you couldn't get away from your troubles.)

01 May 2008

Déjà Vu: 2008-2006

It's May 1! There were protests last year and the year before. Here's a good one from the Associated Press via the Potomac News:

Associated Press
Published: May 1, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A coalition of immigrant rights’ groups and social justice organizations are marching today in Washington to call for immigration reform.

The groups are demanding that Prince William County, in northern Virginia, rescind its anti-illegal immigration measure. They also want raids and deportations to end, and are calling for worker centers to be established in Washington, Maryland and Virginia.

Activists also plan to deliver a letter to the Republican and Democratic national committees, asking the presidential candidates to enact immigration reform.

The events in Washington are part of rallies and marches planned in cities across the nation.

They are protesting anti-ILLEGAL measures. Just great. Protests like these would make the ICE's job significantly easier; everybody is standing in one place!

Are you thinking about launching a counter-protest? Here's what you can do:

1. Go to Wal*Mart and splurge on that digital camera you've always wanted

2. Get a couple US flags
and some poster boards while you're at it

3. Once you're home, hang one of the US flags proudly on your porch

4. Call a bunch of your anti-illegal and pro-US Citizen friends and tell them to meet you at your house

5. While you wait, exercise your right to free speech at Anti-BVBL
. Fight the slowing economy by ordering a few anti-illegal alien merchandise from

6. When your buddies show up, make patriotic USA posters

7. Fill up your diesel-guzzling truck with a full tank

8. Head to a busy street corner with your posters and flag

9. Launch counter-protest.exe

Congratulations! You are successfully counter-protesting. If anyone starts harassing you, that's where the digital camera comes in. Many have a video camera mode. Faces, clothings, vehicle make and models, and license plate numbers are the best "tags" you can place on a harasser. Human memory fades, but the camera is the best impartial witness you can bring to court should the need arise. Remember, there is safety in numbers. The sight of a gun on a hip may be enough to deter potential trouble. Stay safe, and be proud to be a US Citizen.


After you've voted

After you've voted
They say the taste of Revenge is sweet ^_^