Taxpayers Thrown Under The Bus

When Covid first hit and normal life shut down, I found myself with more time to take daily walks.  When life slows you notice things, like the full-sized empty county buses running their complete, normal schedules with only a masked driver and rarely any passengers.  At first I thought this was an anomaly, soon to bounce back post Covid-panic-mode but over time, nothing much has changed.  I began to more carefully observe daily bus traffic.

Video taken over several months monitoring the 40 Route which traverses the length of Chenango Street in Binghamton saw an average of less than 3 passengers in each bus, hour after hour, day after day, month after month no matter what time of day.  Many times the buses were completely empty.  Ninety percent of the time, you could service the 40 Route with a motorcycle and a side-car.

Thinking this might be anomalistic to this route, I expanded my observations to the various other.  Same thing; buses routinely empty everywhere.  You can see this for yourself, just look inside these diesel-guzzling, forty-foot hulks of machinery, capable of seating 60 people, half the time empty, the other half with passengers that would easily fit into a Prius In a privately run business, it would take less than 24-hours for management to make the changes needed in order to shrink-to-fit.  That rapid reaction would be compelled by the reality of severely declining revenue and operational costs far exceeding income.

No such concern rests on the management team of a governmental agency.  In the case of Broome Transit, two-thirds of their income is subsidized via the taxpayers.  Those who ride the buses pay less than 6% of the actual costs.  Last years fare budget was off by more than 50% so what did they do this year?  Double that number.

In the real world of private enterprise, buses would be replaced with passenger vans to address the dwindling demand and to save fuel and maintenance costs.  In government, strong unions prohibit drivers from switching to the vans and routes are determined and unalterable without bargaining agreements.  No fewer than 16 of those vans sit quietly in the lot of Broome Transit.

When there is no competition and no profit incentive, there is no motivation to be efficient because the inefficiency has no direct bearing on the workers or the management.  What this situation models is little more than a make-work-program for the 100 plus employees that soldier on, even when the work is pointless with no passengers.

With alternatives like Uber, Lyft, and work-from-home situations becoming the norm, none of these realities seem to influence the we’ve-always-done-it-this-way mindset of an organization that faces no reason to be better.  Instead, we celebrate when Senator Schumer announces a $1.9M infusion of electric buses into the fleet so we can continue to move empty 40-foot buses silently down the road.

Not only are the taxpayers thrown under the bus, ironically they also pay for the privilege.

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Now..

Various versions of a letter about growing old are making the rounds of FB, prefacing the topic as, “the 4th quarter”, or, “Then it is winter.” Or some other such poetic nonsense.

This 69 year-old has a slightly different take.

Time does seem to accelerate as we progress in our life’s journey.  And it is true, as a younger man, my thoughts were not on aging or changing, but in living in the moment.  If you truly concentrate on the here-and-now, you will mercifully be spared the contemplation of a completed lifetime.  Only in retrospect can one understand the concept of the quickening of human maturity.  Other “mature” sages try and share that wisdom with the young.  I say, leave them in their current bliss.  Their day will come, not by our suggestions, but because of their own singular paths and experiences.  I choose to leave it unsaid as a surprise for them to be enjoyed later, at the right time.  Another Birthday present.

While some wonder where their years went, I know where mine went; into my collective self today.  I am the sum of my experience.  Nothing has left me.  While my memory may fail the recall, my spirit collected all of it and stored it in me.  My eyes still look outward and my vision is the same today as in my youth, not as measured by acuity, but as in really “seeing.”  I see the world the same way, then and now, outward looking, avoiding the gaze into the mirror that reminds me of the changes in me, not because I’m ashamed, but because I need to overcome the physical by strengthening the certainty of my psyche.

Others bemoan tasks like showers, mandatory naps, aches, pains, loss of strength and the ability to “do things.”  I reject all such talk.  I may not shower every day, not because it’s a hassle, but because I don’t want or need to.  I nap if I want, but don’t need it.  Aches, pains, strength, I deal with it as I’ve always done.  Maybe the pains last longer, maybe the strength is not as it once was, but I make allowances and I power on.

As for regrets, the contemplation is a fool’s errand.  Any single change would have rippled across the consequences of all other choices and outcomes all would be forever altered, beyond who I am today.  I would not only take no such risk, but the thought of doing so is impossible.  I live in the here-and-now, not in the fantasy world of wish-I-did-something-different.

Last summer I rode my motorcycle out to Sturgis, South Dakota for the annual rally in the Black Mountains.  Afterwards I rode to Denver to see my kids.  I play squash, I ride my bicycle, I play tennis, (usually spotting my opponents 20 years) and still prevailing.  I kayak, fly-fish, deer-hunt and work full-time, enjoying a full social life and writing about life.

So please, don’t tell me about “old” cars “old” movies, “old” age, “old” friends I don’t want to hear it.  Today is now, right now for all of us.  Yesterday has expired and tomorrow can only be prepared for not lived in or experienced until hatched.  That leaves us with the here and now; the only time we actually control is this very this moment, nothing before and no guarantees for the next second.

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How to Tell a Conservative from a Liberal

 Credit where credit is due.  Liberals give no such sway.  To liberals, conservatives are evil and wrong all the time every time.  It is a take-it-or-leave-it philosophy seemingly incapable of the parsing of ideas or the nuances of opinion.  The baby goes out with the bathwater in the black-and-white thinking of the modern liberal mind.

Conservatives, (for the most part) may intently dislike liberal ideas, but separate those ideas from the persona of the person espousing them.  In other words, you can hate the idea and love the person if you’re a conservative, but no such allowance is made when liberals assess the musings of conservatives.

The best example I can give today is the war raging in the Ukraine.  At the time of this writing, the invasion from Russia to their neighbor is into the 4th week and so far President Biden has handled the situation pretty well.  While we haven’t done nothing, we have given military munitions, (short of aircraft), needing to assist a democratic ally, yet appropriately temper our involvement and navigate a very treacherous landscape that I believe has been handled appropriately, given the gravity of the situation and the very real possibility of starting a World War.  For this, I will give the Biden administration kudos for a job, so far, well done in a very tricky and dangerous situation.

No one ever in the liberal wing of the political spectrum has ever, ever, ever given any acknowledgment to anything former President Trump has ever done, even when the doing was good, appropriate and clearly in the best interest of the country.

Clear thinking and level-headed conservative thinkers can see through the dense cloud of smoke that billows from the brains of liberals suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, that same smoke that boggles their minds and poisons the well of logic and common-sense in those liberals so affected.

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At What Cost?

If Donald Trump was president today, Ukraine would not have been invaded, gas would be $2.50 a gallon, inflation would be negligible and no American’s would have been left behind in Afghanistan.  On Biden’s watch, the Taliban had a parade of terrorists wearing US fatigues armed with US rifles, loaded with US ammo and sporting US night-vision goggles.

Considering the trends when Trump was president, it is likely the stock market would be up, (like it was) unemployment would be at record lows, (like it was), and we would be a net exporter of fossil fuels not beholding to our enemies, (like we were.)

God bless President Biden, but he is barely functional.  Any rational observer can see his infirmities.  Trump Derangement Syndrome blinds the Biden sycophants to his obvious-to-everyone-else decline.  Comparing the unscripted Trump to the unscripted Biden is an embarrassing debacle.  Biden’s frailty and stumbling has emboldened our enemies while weakening our nation.

The blood of the 12 American soldiers killed during the haphazard desertion of Afghanistan as well as the hundreds and counting of dead Ukrainian civilians is rightfully a stain on the hands of America’s weakest and worst president in my lifetime, Joe Biden.

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Getting Things Done

(In a previous article about squash and the Olympics, Bob Kingsley outlined the inner workings of relationship building and importance of making back-channel alliances in order to curry favor with the powers-that-be.  In this article, he explains in detail, one example of how it goes sometimes in the nuts-and-bolts of deal-making.)

After an abundance of political and relationship work done in the late 1980’s involving amongst many things the USSRA, (now US Squash) gaining membership in the USOC, (United State Olympic Committee), US Squash was providing leadership to the Pan American region and the squash communities that made up that large family of nations by creating and then organizing the Federacion Pan America de Squash.  This amalgam of the 28 countries throughout the region that had squash federations lent legitimacy to our efforts to push for the inclusion of squash further into the Olympic family of sports.

What resulted was the success of squash being deemed as a sport eligible to be contested in the Pan American games!  The key word here is “eligible” as distinguished from “on the roster” of permanently included sports.  It is up to the various sports organizations themselves to lobby the host country in order to gain access to that stage.  In most instances, about half a dozen sports are in that “eligible” bubble, competing with each other for their shot at participating as “demonstration sports.”  For the 1995 Pan American Games, squash was one of six sports looking for that chance.

It was my job to see to it that squash was that sport. 

Once a sport is actually contested in a big regional games venue like the Pan American Games, then the decision makers at the highest levels can observe, assess and better understand whether or not that sport has the necessary ingredients to become a part of the events on the larger stage of the Olympic Games themselves.

In order to make that case to the organizers of the upcoming 1995 Pan American Games that were announced as being hosted by the Argentinean city of Mar del Plata, it was determined that a visit to the host city and meeting face-to-face with the games organizers in Mar del Plata made the most sense.  In the spring of 1990, I flew into the Buenos Aires international airport with the goal of meeting the host organizers and making a deal for the inclusion of squash in the upcoming Pan American Games.

Before leaving the states, I had to have a clear understanding from US Squash leadership as to what the parameters were regarding my deal-making abilities.  As we hashed out ideas and suggestions, it was determined that we would offer to bring a state-of-the-art glass squash court to the venue, at our expense, and if need be, make a financial contribution to the organizational committee of up to $10,000.00.

  At the time, the portable, glass-paneled squash courts were scarce and expensive.  If it was absolutely necessary in order to make the deal, I was authorized to gift the court itself to the squash federation of Argentina, but only as a last ditch measure.   Obviously, if I could somehow accomplish what we needed to do with less cash and less commitment, then all the better.

I landed in Buenos Aires on the 2nd of April and was due to return home on Easter Sunday, April 15, 1990.  In planning this trip, I had been stymied in securing a connecting flight to Mar del Plata due to the flights being sold out.  I had not considered that in South America, the seasons are more-or-less reversed from ours, and this was the end-of-the-summer holiday season where everyone was returning from vacations and the domestic air traffic was impossibly busy.  Being the adventurous, world-traveler that I was, I decided to rent a car in Buenos Aires and drive to Mar del Plata, a route along the eastern shore of the country, some 250 plus miles to the South.

At the time in Argentina, many police sub-stations were located adjacent to roadway round-abouts throughout the cities and even throughout the countryside.  In those days, the police would often times simply send uniformed men outside and into the near-by streets to conduct random traffic stops.  The 2nd day of April, 1990 was my lucky day in experiencing the inner-workings of the Argentinean police apparatus, in this case specifically the Buenos Aires sub-station.  As I waited in the line of cars, I thought this would be a routine examination of paperwork and I would quickly be on my way.  When the officer questioned the legality of my drivers license, he instructed me to pull into the police parking lot and go inside to deal with his Sergeant.

My Spanish is really limited, but I tried to explain to the Sergeant that my license was indeed sufficient and that my car was legally rented.  Unfortunately, the Sergeant’s English was no better than my Spanish, and as we struggled to communicate, he took my English-Spanish language translation booklet from my hands and looked directly at me and said, in English:  “Pay cash.”

I told the Sergeant that he was making a big mistake.  As I explained to him the nature of my visit, and how I was representing the United States of America in dealings with his own country, I offered to him a letter I had that was from the President of the US Olympic Committee addressed to the President of the Argentinean Olympic Committee.  He handed it back dismissively and repeated his only well-spoken English phrase, “Pay cash.”  I knew if I protested much more, I would end up in jail and all of my money would be gone, so I relented and after some additional back-and-forth negotiations, left the clutches of the Buenos Aires police sub-station $300.00 poorer and much the wiser.

Six or so hours later, driving on one of the most dangerous roads I have ever been on, (and that is saying something), I reached my hotel in Mar del Plata and got good nights sleep.

 Then next morning, I arrived at the local mayor’s office in the municipal building where I was to conference with the games organizers.  I was provided an interpreter and as her and I chatted, I told her what had happened back in Buenos Aires.  As she translated my comments to the assembled group of various officials assembled for the meeting, I could see the blood run out of the faces of those listening.  All hell broke loose as the local police chief was hastily summoned to take my statement.  He arrived carrying an old-school typewriter and he painstakingly took my statement.  Quick to follow the chief came the Chief Justice of the Argentinean Supreme Court.  This man spoke English and we had a very nice conversation about what had happened.  He asked me if I would recognize those men again if I saw them and I assured him that I would.

The next day, the headline in the national newspaper of Argentina was:  American Olympic official extorted by Buenos Aires Police.  My hotel phone began to ring.  First a request for a radio show interview locally, (which I did.)  Second, a call from a radio show producer in Havana wanting my comments, which I gave, and finally, as I left my hotel, the throng of reporters and news people haranguing me with questions.  This went on for a few days and as some began to doubt my rendition of what happened, a local citizen that had happened to be in the same line of cars in back of me at the police station corroborated my story because he too was extorted by the same Sergeant and he had overheard our conversation.

Later that week as things settled a bit, I had a dinner meeting with the organization President and Vice President.  They were profoundly embarrassed by what had happened.  They told me that they were going to secure my rental car, make arrangements to have it returned to Buenos Aires, and take charge of my return transportation.  I believe they were afraid it might happen again.  I told them flat out, no, I drove here and I would drive back.  I wouldn’t be cowed into submission by some thug cop or a corrupt system.  I could see the panic in my host’s eyes.  As the meal progressed, I told them that it would be a shame if news of my extortion became widely known outside of Argentina.  That could have a devastating effect on attendance.  The bargaining negotiations had begun in earnest.

Squash was indeed contested in the 1995 Pan American Games, beating out at least four other sports for that opportunity.  US Squash ended up supplying the glass court because it made the venue so much better for spectators and it also allowed for choosing almost anyplace to stage it.  We did not however leave it for the host country, nor did we make any financial contributions.  My $300.00 payment to the Buenos Aires police benevolent association proved to be payment enough.

My flight back to the states was scheduled for the evening of April 15th, 1990, Easter Sunday.  After determining to drive myself back to Buenos Aires, my hosts were so worried about my well-being, that they fashioned a rolling caravan of vehicles around me as we formed a cong-line north to the capitol.

 As we approached center-city Buenos Aires, our caravan pulled into that police sub-station at the round-about and stopped.  I looked outside the station and saw scores of uniformed policemen standing in formation at attention.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that had interviewed me earlier escorted me along the lines of the assembled policemen and asked me to point out the two men.  I first spotted the officer I encountered in the street and as I indicated to the judge his identity, I asked him to please consider that he was only doing his basic job and that he did nothing to me other than to follow his orders.  I really didn’t want anything to happen to him.

The sergeant however was another story.  I had warned him.  As I proceeded along the lines, I spotted my Sergeant.  I walked up to him and I got out my English-Spanish translation booklet and I said, in my bad Spanish, Te dije que estabas cometiendo un error, or in English:  I told you you were making a mistake.”

With that done, I told my hosts I was perilously close to missing my flight and the judge said to me, “No worries, I’ll have you taken from here to the airport, we’ll take care of the rental car and you’ll make your flight, I promise.”  As I said my goodbyes and grabbed my bags, I got into the back seat of a Buenos Aires police car and as we pulled out into traffic, siren wailing and lights flashing, I had the terrifying thought that this all could have been a set-up and I could be taking my last ride.  As we raced up a main street in Buenos Aires, we were easily going 60 plus miles per hour and as I looked out to see how in God’s name we could be accomplishing this in the middle of a metro area with some 13 million people, I saw that every cross street we were passing had policemen stopping traffic so we could make our run to the airport without any interference.

Once at the airport, the driver of the police car handed me off to another cop that took me, without stopping and without any questions or examination, directly onto the jet way to the aircraft that was already loaded and waiting on me.  As I made my way down the planes main isle, every eye was on me as responsible for the 20-minute delay.  I was never so happy to leave a place as I was on that Easter Sunday in 1990 and that $300.00 was undoubtedly the best investment US Squash ever made.

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Making The Case for Jesus Without Turning you Off

You’ve probably been attacked by one kind or another of a “holy roller”, babbling something about being “born again”, warning you about the depths of hell while touting the wonders of heaven, all while waving a bible in your face.

Sometimes, it simply takes someone else to tell you something you have heard a million times, but say it in a different way, and that makes all of the difference in your understanding.

I hope this explanation of Christianity makes that connection for you.

It’s really just this simple:

  1. Accept and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the son of God.
  2. Accept and acknowledge that Jesus Christ died and suffered so that you might live and be forgiven for your sins.
  3. Accept and acknowledge that only through the grace of God does anyone find forgiveness.
  4. Ask Jesus Christ to become your savior.

Items 1 and 4 are pretty easily understood, even if you have little background or knowledge about the bible or Christian history.  Even item 2 is pretty clear, as most have heard the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, (even if they lack the understanding of what that event signified.)  Item 3 is the most potentially confusing because we fail to understand what is meant by the word “grace.”

Many believe that through good deeds alone they can find a path to heaven.  The bible tells us otherwise.  Grace, as used in the bible, means that God nullifies our sins, erases them, not because we are good or worthy, but because we believe and have faith in Him.  The grace of God isn’t able to be earned; it is only achieved with your faith.

That’s it, that is all there is to it, it really is just that simple.  You can accomplish this all by yourself with a simple prayer that might sound something like this.

Dear God:

I believe that Jesus is the son of God and I accept Him as my savior.  Thank you for your grace, please fill me with your spirit.  Amen.

I hope this helps you and I wish you nothing but the best.

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The Big Lie

Although it is common parlance today that there is a “war on cops”, in the broader sense, the essence of the war is to facilitate the breakdown of societal norms and induce anarchy.  By the very nature of their job, cops operate in an inherently dangerous and unsafe environment, but in today’s increasingly violent and liberal world, that job has been made purposefully intolerable by evil-doers like the leadership of black lives matter and their adherents.

When felon-folk-hero George Floyd died because he was resisting arrest while under the influence of a lethal amount of drugs in the commission of yet another felony to add to his long rap sheet, the event gave rise to race-baiting-pimps inciting a race war.

The problem is the big lie:  George Floyd didn’t die because he was black; he died because he was a non-compliant, career criminal drug-abusing felony-committing scum bag.

To those willing to hitch their wagon to embarrassing failures like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, George Floyd and black lives matter, frankly they’re too intellectually deficient to undertake meaningful debate.  Their lot is cast, their fate sealed in the ignorance and debasement of the common fool.  Wasting ones voice on the unsalvageable serves no purpose.

Good and decent people need to awaken and rid the world of this garbage before it piles up and rots the entirety of our beloved country.   

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Cover of Darkness..

Under cover of a dark, cold and rainy Monday night between Christmas and New Year, Town of Vestal “leadership” picked the pockets of Vestal taxpayers to the tune of over a quarter of a million dollars.

Village officials denied citizen’s entry to the special meeting, made them wait outside in the freezing rain, and then arbitrarily declared that only four people could attend.  So much for open and honest governance.

This special meeting had one agenda item; authorizing Town of Vestal Supervisor John Schaffer to sign an Employment Separation Agreement with Vestal police Chief John Butler that includes a payout of well over a quarter of a million dollars when factoring in cash and future insurance payments.

Before the meeting started, those taxpayers in attendance were making it clear that they wanted answers about this unprecedented payment while Schaffer nervously checked and rechecked his watch, oblivious to questions, insisting that the meeting had to start before he or any elected official would make any utterance.  When asked why the meeting was not at least available on Zoom, Schaffer’s incredible response was that…” the Zoom lady wasn’t available.”  So much for Open Meeting Law.

Supervisor Schaffer

So even though the meeting was open to the public, and the public had many questions, Schaffer refused to entertain any input prior to proceeding to make a motion that he be authorized to sign this agreement.  The four council-persons in unison muttered their Pavlovian-like approval and with that the meeting was over, the deal was done, zero public input.

Only after the authorization had been made was the public even able to speak.  During that brief and rigidly policed exchange, Schaffer stated that the financial payouts were simply monies owed Butler for sick leave, accrued vacation, etc.  If that is true, why not simply pay those amounts to Butler, why the need for a special agreement that included a non-disclosure clause?

Bulter retired from the Binghamton police department years ago and collects a NYS pension of more than $43,000.00.  His Binghamton benefits include medical insurance coverage so why has Vestal agreed to pay his and his wife’s medical insurance premiums for life?  How much additionally was Butler’s payout beyond what was contractually required?  What was the extra payout for?  If Butler is due most of this money from contractual obligations, why is the payout spread over two years?  We’ll never know because the agreement includes a non-disclosure agreement making the deal totally unaccountable.

This kind of secretive, inside dealing, keeping the public in the dark, special-meeting culture is exactly the kind of governance Citizens for a Better Broome cautions taxpayers about.  When only a handful of people show up for a meeting that allows a quarter of a million dollars to float out the window, perhaps Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, “the government you elect is the government you deserve.”

Chairman Schaffer and the council-persons that authorized this outrageous payday for Butler ought to be ashamed, but their consciences are likely are shielded by non-disclosure agreements.

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September 30, 2021, New York Times news story.

Perspectives from the INTJ angle

Emperor Andrew the Adroit announced today the opening of the sixth re-education camp in Newer York. Christened Camp Covid, this facility joins the other five camps spread throughout the Adirondack region, Camp Compliance, Camp Corona, The Masked Retreat, Camp Ventilator and The Muzzled Inn.

“I am happy to tell you, the calm and compliant, that those barbarians who keep babbling about individual rights, freedoms, the Constitution, and all of that other ancestral nonsense are being aggressively re-programmed to understand the greater good of assimilating into a nice, homogenized group and letting go of those archaic notions of self.”

“Yesterdays drone spottings and satellite images were very disappointing,” declared the Emperor. “We continue to see evidence of clear-headed thinking and skepticism in many of our non-compliant neighbors. The reward monies for reporting individuals exercising their freedoms are now being boosted to $100.00 for any call resulting in the arrest and relocation…

View original post 73 more words

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The Apology We’ll Never Get

Here is a nice apology script for all of the race-baiting antagonists that were so quick to embrace the myth of systemic racism completely unchallenged, only because it came from the mouth of an affirmative-action created B-actor that checked off all of the oppressed boxes of race and homosexuality.

All Talking Heads that jumped to conclusion about Smollett’s false assertions because it fed their implicit bias, read this the next time you’re in front of a camera:

In 2019 when we were covering the story of Jessie Smollett’s alleged attack and assault, I was quick to assert his authenticity and truthfulness before I had any fact-based information on which to base that conclusion.  By doing so, I demonstrated my implicit bias because the story played into my own version of how I see the world.  I was wrong.  I want to apologize to all of the decent White people that I smeared by implication with my rush to judgment.  My actions and those of Smollett created accusations of racism and homophobia where none existed outside of the confines of our own false narratives.

Again, I was wrong and I apologize.  Smollett is a liar, a race-baiting hate-monger and now, a convicted felon that will hopefully receive jail time.  Going forward, I will make my best effort to report the news honestly, objectively and fairly, and check my own sorted baggage of jaded thoughts before I make stupid comments and accusations that are wrong.   

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