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Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Miscellaneous Political Thoughts

Recycling in American Fork. The UEA checks its manners at the Capitol door. Who really represents me? An Oscar and a Nobel. And, finally, I manage to work the phrase barking moonbat into a sentence.

Here are some thoughts which have been accumulating.

Recycling Recycling

The DTM recently reported that American Fork City is considering making its recycling program mandatory, because too few residents are participating to make it viable with the current fee structure. I don't think the City is seriously considering a mandatory program at present, despite the editors of the Daily Herald urging exactly that. If the City is tempted to go that way, there's at least one thing they should try first: public information.

When I go to the City's web site, I should be a maximum of two clicks -- maybe even zero clicks -- from good, solid information about recycling (among other things). At the time of this writing, as before, I am unable to find anything at all on the subject. If one had only the City web site for information, one wouldn't even know recycling is available in American Fork. (If you live in American Fork and want in on recycling, call the City at 763-3000.)

At the very least, information about the program -- what it is, how much it costs, what can be recycled, how to sign up -- should be prominent. (Not more than two obvious clicks from the home page, as I said.) Those of us who already participate would benefit by having ready online access to the calendar of pickup days. This being the twenty-first century, I think a household also should be able to sign up to participate in recycling via the City web site.

Beyond that, the same maturing public information sensibilities that excelled in informing voters about November's bond election for secondary irrigation should get busy on a little campaign to educate the American Fork public about the benefits of recycling and how the City's program works. If I were a betting man, I'd bet that a good public information campaign could more than double participation in the City's recycling program in less than six months.

What Goes Around Comes Around

I've been so busy at work and at Church -- after playing around in Chicago last week -- that I haven't caught much news about the final days of the Utah Legislature's 2007 session. I haven't caught it directly, that is. People I know who attend to such things have told me of their surprise at the bitterness of recent Utah Education Association (UEA) statements involving the Legislature.

The UEA manages to be angry at the Legislature a lot, year after year, but this time their vitriol may have reached self-defeating levels. My sources don't recall hearing such widespread legislator anger at the UEA in recent memory. Naturally, the UEA stance is that any legislator who dislikes the UEA or doesn't toe their political line is opposed to children and -- to quote an official UEA legislative bulletin -- "mean-spirited."

The UEA wouldn't like me, either, if I were important enough for them to notice me. I think vouchers are a great idea, because I don't see how insulating my children's schools from accountability is good for my children or their schools. And I don't think the public schools needed or deserved the entire budget surplus. I guess I'm mean-spirited, too, by one definition.

In any case, the degree of bitterness and arrogance in the UEA's response to the public schools' receiving only half a billion extra dollars from the surplus seems to have angered quite a few state legislators to a degree that may come back to haunt the UEA. For example, there are renewed calls for a careful audit over the next several months to determine why previous appropriations to decrease class size . . . didn't decrease class size.

Tell Me Again, Who Represents Me?

The UEA claims to represent administrators, teachers, parents, and students statewide when it does battle against the evil Legislature. This claim is false on its face. It's not that the UEA is less representative of its own members (administrators and teachers) than it claims to be, though that may be true. My point is that the UEA's claim to represent parents and students is absurd.

It's not just that the UEA's positions have little in common with my views. It is that the UEA has no formal claim to represent me. My state legislator, whom I like very much, represents me as a parent, resident, and taxpayer. So does my state senator, whom I've met a few times and who, as far as I can tell, really is not Satan incarnate. The state and district school board members elected from my district also represent me. It's their job.

It's quite presumptuous of the UEA to claim to represent my interests against the very officials who really do represent me. If those officials happen to displease me, that's between me and those officials. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the UEA. All else being equal, in a battle between Representative John Dougall and the state teachers' union, I'll side with Representative Dougall eight or nine times out of ten. (This year, maybe ten or eleven times.)

So much for me as parent. You might wonder, Who represents the students and their interests? I can speak for three of those students, going on four: Their mother and I represent them. Neither they nor we have authorized the UEA to do so.

Next, the Nobel

One of Hollywood's greats has finally received the Oscar he should have won years ago. You might be thinking of Martin Scorcese, but I'm thinking of Al Gore, whose romance with his wife inspired the movie Love Story. (So we heard when he ran for president in 2000.) Actually, his alarmist fantasy An Inconvenient Truth got two Oscars, for Best Documentary and for Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song).

Next, Mr. Gore will probably get the Nobel Prize he should have had before. Then it was for inventing the Internet, you'll recall. This one will be for inventing global warming, a useful weapon in the war against American prosperity. Don't look now; he really has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. At treehugger.com, they're delighted.

Which Is the Story?

One quick, final note. A few days ago the BMA were gleefully reporting that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan had spoken out again opposing the Bush Administration and the war. Funny thing: What he said -- at least the part that was reported -- sounded like a relatively restrained reading of recent Democratic talking points. Has Mr. Farrakhan has gone mainstream? Or have the Democrats gone barking moonbat?

David Rodeback comments (3/7/07):

Here's a link to American Fork's recycling calendar.

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