Friday, October 30, 2015

Trust Navigator: May we connect some dots?

Ever since the University of Akron whipped up an  $840,00 contract in June  for an inexperienced start-up company named  Trust Navigator, the question remained about how UA President Scott Scarborough and the Board of Trustees could have so hastily signed on with the Cleveland area company. To many, it just didn't make  academic or business  sense.

As we have recently learned,  the owner's other company, an investment firm,  is being investigated by  the Ohio Department of Commerce  for alleged  fraud and  insolvency.

Trust Navigator, on the other hand, was formed a few days before  the ink dried on its contract with UA. Its mission was to serve as "success coaches"   for  freshmen students to ease their  way through the classroom. A TN officer said  his new company had no experience in success coaching and would rely on UA for guidance.

UA officials said a second company , Inside Track, of San Francisco had entered a bid 0f  $1.3 million for the plan..  The Beacon Journal reported that both companies were interviewed by phone.  Oh?

Still, the question:  How did it all happen so fast for Thomas Roulston III, the owner of Trust Navigator whose family has a long history of financial investment work ?

One theory is that it was an inside job.    If you're one to connect dots, try this one;  Richard Pogue, an influential  and well-connected Clevelander and  former UA Board of Trustees chairman, sits on the board of Thomas Roulston III's sister's investment company,  WealthTrust Fairport, LLC,  where she - Heather Roulston Ettinger - is listed by Bloomberg Business  as a managing partner.

At the same time, Sandra Pianalto, former chairman and CEO of the Federal  Reserve Bank of Cleveland, is an advisory trustee of the UA board and a board member of WealthTrust.

That's a mighty one-two punch  for a guy like Roulston.  You might recall that Roulston  said at the time of the UA announcement that his new company had no experience in the success coach field.  Was he looking for a clubby way to get his investment company out of debt?

So may we conclude that it was a done deal?   That would explain everything, right?

P.S.  In  response to a media request  for UA's reaction to the Ohio Commerce Department probe, UA spokesperson Wayne Hill was authorized to merely say that the infant program was working well. That,  of course, was not what the question was about.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The GOP spare parts assembled on CNBC stage

The Republican presidential debate was hustled by the national media as an event that would clearly define some of the candidates for the long trail ahead.

Would, for example, Jeb Bush finally launch his campaign on the CNBC stage? (We did find out about his fantasy football passion.)

Would Donald Trump, the comic relief, level Ben Carson once and for all?

Would Carson tell us what the hell his  tax plan of tithing is really all about?

Closer to home, would John Kasich stop being Mr. Nice Guy (a loosely defined notion for a guy with a history of brutishness) and hype his new image  with a terrorizing assault on the other nine?

Alas,  the answer was none of the above.

Instead the group turned out to be a bunch of Republican spare parts, full of figures and worn statements that made life meaningful for fact-checkers.

About Kasich, who is still bottom feeding in the national  polls:   He continued to jitterbug behind his podium while raising  his hand for attention like a school kid who wanted to go to the bathroom.  New York Magazine  described  his performance as that of a "fidgety neurotic".    And an MSNBC analyst said our governor simply disappeared. In house-hunting  terms, no matter how hard he tries, Kasich doesn't have curb appeal.

The pundits  raced to determine who won the debate, I can save them a lot of time with one word: NOBODY.

Still, in watching the 10 little stray Indians, I guess I would have to share the fears of other witnesses that we might be viewing someone on the stage  who could be president someday.

UA fund-raising takes major hit

A dagger to the heart of the University of Akron's donor  operations?  .

How else would you describe Eileen Burg's angry letter to the editor of the BJ declaring the family of the late H. Peter Burg's estate would suspend further grants to the school "until  the current  issues are resolved."

The issues, of course, are the badly managed rollout of debt-cutting efforts by the
Scarborough Regime that have created such chaos on the campus. (Crain's Cleveland Business  took up the matter of President Scott Scarborough's credentials by describing him as a "rookie president" .)

Pete Burg was the iconic philanthropist who  had been president and CEO of FirstEnergy in Akron .  The Burg name is well estsblished at the University of Akron with an endowed scholarship as well as other donor venues, including  the honoring of LeBron James with the annual H. Peter Burg Akron Chamber  Leadership Award for the superb athlete's  own generosity.

Scarborough & Co. has been trying to ignore the resistance movement with Lawrence Burns, vice president of advancement, attributing the decline  in contributions as no more than a matter of "timing".

Thank you,  Mr. Burns,  you couldn't have put it in a more offending way for  a widely respected titan in the ranks of the contributors. For a salary of $285,000 shouldn't we expect a bit more from management?

Eileen Burg's open dissent has been shared in other quarters with ties to the school.  It has  left UA with a besieged president with few defenders except for the trustees and the BJ's editorial page, which, oddly enough,  referred to some of the complaints as "petty".

But Scarborough may have finally decided to listen. I've been told by two sources that he has tried to meet with Eileen Burg, who literally told him not to bother.

He also  is having a sitdown Friday morning in a session sought by Akron Mayor Jeff Fusco at City Hall.  Fusco will be joined by city planning director Marco Sommerville and a few others on his staff while Scarborough will be joined by three UA trustees.

The mayor's chief of staff, Ellen Lander Nischt,  said Fusco is trying to  get everybody together on the  issues.

We can hope.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kasich moves daringly to lift himself from 'The Others'

Gov. Kasich, who has been relegated to "The Others" category  as a presidential candidate, has decided to reinvent  his crustier self to become relevant among his peers.  He teed off on all of the other Republicans,  raging that he's "fed up" and "sick and tired"  of the crazy campaign.

The governor has been boasting that he's a blue-collar kid whose father was a mailman.  He also is proud to remind his audiences that he was reelected in a landslide without saying his phantom Democratic opponent  had virtually dropped out of the race long before the polls opened.

To demonstrate that he is the only candidate on an enlightened  path  to the White House he took the daring step of being the first Republican to file his candidacy in Alaska.  Cool - but a lot colder in winter.

Monday, October 26, 2015

UA 'white noise' not going away

In his State of the University address UA President Scott Scarborough told us that people who don't understand something tend to be against it.  In embracing the Scarborough Era,  the BJ's Mike Douglas told us that he was struck by signs of "group think"  from those  "cudgeling Scarborough at almost every turn, even in the pettiest ways." That was a takeoff of an earlier column by former UA trustee and common pleas judge Jane Bond, who rightly wrote that the Board of Trustees  were victims of their own "group think".

And as one who has written a column or two to protest the playbook of the folks so smugly  running the university these days, I happily accept the BJ's editorial page editor's reference to the unforgiving petty critics like myself,  one of the perps.

So allow me  to respond pettishly with the Scarborough manuevers since he brought his caravan of friends to the downtown  campus from Toledo University with the full approval of the screening committee and then the Board of Trustees, a near-anonymous group  even for people who have been following this travesty.

May I begin  with the the fat salaries of  the new Scarborough team
despite the alarm bells of a $60 million school debt (with salaries of predecssors in parentheses):
Todd Rickel, vice provost, and former White Hat Management player), $295,000 ($119,579).
Lawrence Burns, vice president advancement, $285,000. ($121,400).
Godfrey Ovwigho, chief information officer, $226,000 ($100,000).
Lateesha Ransom, Honors dean, $266,000 ($97,880).

And more pettiness:

A new Corp of Cadets  stressing discipline  and obedience, even though UA has an ROTC program.  As a former ROTC student at the University of Illinois, I  recall the same behaviorial goals were in force right down to spit-polished shoes and starchy shirts. At UA, it's a  $100,000 salary for the Corps leader

And more pettiness:

The hiring of Trust Navigator, which was born without prior experience three days before  its $840,000 UA contract to serve as a student success coach, which UA already had before it got rid of 54 jobs in the UA Division of Student Success.

And more pettiness:

The dismantling of the school's baseball team to "save" $700,000 - while adding more than $650,000 for new athletic scholarships.

Finally, more pettiness:

The chaotic handling of the E.J. Thomas Hall improvisation... Etc. Etc Etc Etc.Etc.

Scarborough reportedly is telling friends that the boos are nothing more than "white noise" - that strange ever-present nearly-silent sound  that has also come to mean a distraction in whatever the moment.

So Mike, if all of the above is petty, make the most of it. It appears that white noise, or not, it's going to be around for while for those who are paying close attention.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

From New Hampshire to UA: What can we believe?

From the weekend wash:

The spinmeisters for  UA's Team Scarborough's  were forced to their limit in Saturday's ABJ report that the University  had taken a heavy hit in contributions over the current "rebranding" plan that is only making things worse on the campus.

Confronted with figures that show a 42 pct. decline ($1.34 million) from s similar July-August period last year, UA vice president of advancement Lawrence Burns shrugged off the numbers  as a matter of timing and don't   reflect donor unhappiness with how  things are going at the downtown school.

His lack of higher education in arithmetic, however, ignores such major donors as the UA Women's Committee, whose president Louise Harvey has already said it  is suspending further gifts.

But it has been common for President Scarborough and his Knights of the Roundtable  to smugly dismiss bad news.  As  he declared in his State of the University address, when people don't understand something they resist.

So it doesn't seem unfair to apply the same yardstick to Lawrence Burns.

* * * * *

The Columbus Dispatch,  the cornucopia from whom all Kasich blessings flow, has cast its lot with the governor's  bid to be  the top blue-collar guy in the country.  The paper's latest report from New Hampshire told the readers of "frequent applause" at Kasich's town hall in Hanover, and that GOP activist Betty Maiola praised him  as the "best speaker she has heard so far...I agreed with everything he said." She added  he could be a "very good president".

You may remember that the Big D, as the paper is known in Middle Ohio, spent a lot of presidential  coverage in 2012 clapping hands for Mitt Romney  with Sen Rob Portman tagging along at his side.   Let political historians report that Barack Obama won Franklin County , the primary readership area of the Small D.

* * * * *
Kasich did appear on Morning Joe Scarborough's show where he was met  head-on by Steve Rattner, the guy who led the auto-industry bailout under President Obama.  Does Obama deserve any credit for Ohio's economic recovery,  which was greatly nourished by Obama's bailout and stimulus? Kasich was asked.

You'll love this:  "OK, he did well on that," Kasich replied, "but he still didn't fix the economy."  For historical context,  it should be noted that Kasich opposed the bailout and the stimulus.

* * * * *

Finally, shouldn't we all feel some sympathy for Trey Gowdy, the leader of the brutal attacks on Hillary Clinton. The Benghazi committee chairman told Politico that he is trying to make it through some of the "worst weeks of my life. Attacks on your character, attacks on your motives are 1,000 times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically - at least it is for me."

That's it!  Gowdy just earned the coveted Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award in a highly competitive field of lunatics.


Friday, October 23, 2015

On Benghazi, don't bet a trey against an ace

The most that any loyal Republican could have hoped for in the ashes of the Benghazi hearing  was that nobody watched it.  It was an episode of Our  Gang Comedy played by Zombies that left committee chairman Trey Gowdy and his six GOP compatriots reeling in the face of a powerfully  cool and collected woman  who is likely to be the Democrats' presidential nominee.

As we tuned in to the telecast for short bursts of the 8-hour and 20-minute  interrogation of the former secretary of state, we could only wonder  why the accusers didn't  once realize how much more they were adding to their awful image as jackasses on the loose.  And for Hillary Clinton it was a triumph over mostly white guys whose testosterone was working overtime - a clear victory for the ascendancy of women in politics.

Even the party conservatives were astonished by the Republican panel's inept stagecraft.
Red  State blogger Erick Erickson huffed that it was a "political spectacle and a bust".  John Dean, Nixon's man, thought it was "embarrassing".  Others used words like "disaster"  to vivify the work of the modern Inquisition.

Not the least of the panel's toilers was Ohio's very own  Rep. Jim Jordan, a former Ohio State University wrestling coach known mostly as the chairman of the  ultra-right-wing Freedom Caucus.  His maddening rush at Clinton with debunked Benghazi tales earned him the honor of being first among the "obnoxious" panelists (He would be wise at this point to turn down any challenge  to engage in Indian wrestling with Clinton.)

After awhile Fox News,  which had been primed to bury Clinton with this event, apparently shrunk from the idea as the testimony worked to Hillary's favor.  Fox  began cutting away for  commentary from its stable of carefully chosen "experts".

To Trey Gowdy who says he ain't going to stop the $4.5 million hounding of Hillary,  I can only remind him that in poker,  "an ace always beats a trey".

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Were you able to follow the State of the University address?

That was quite a performance by UA President Scott Scarborough on his long state of the university address to counter his critics who have cast him as the bull in the China shop. It went on for nearly 90 minutes with a dizzying barrage of PowerPoint figures, a new video of a supportive LeBron James, historical readings (!), warm  greetings to politicians among the swollen audience of hundreds in E. J. Thomas Hall, cherry-picked quotes from projections by experts on the fate of universities, and a requisite introduction of his wife. E.J. Thomas Hall, for Heaven's sake, an oddly  reborn edfice that had  fallen from Team Scarborough's grace.

He even went so far as to tell the protesting scholars in the audience that when people don't understand something they resist it - a careless  putdown of the confused college graduates who are not on his side. An extraordinairily self-confiident preachy man at 52 with a slight Texan tilt in his voice, he has managed to remain standing  through four universities, sort of.  In mission and tone, think of Dr. Phil.

His mighty verbal sword  failed to cut away his repetitious narrative, and  he went on with  his rebranding plan to make the University of Akron "great" with an outreach to students to God knows where. The rebranding would include such  New Age identity as "polytechnic" that would even remove the "A" (for Akron) from the band uniforms and cripple some of the school's departments to bruise a  $60 million debt.

What he didn't say is that a debt-ridden school can't afford, as others have complained, to   create a Corps of Cadets  and more student coaches. But these things are his way of assuring  everyone  that he's a man of  the moment  in higher education.

And he didn't mention that his predecessor , Luis Proenza, drove up the debt  as the trustees stepped aside without demanding accountability. As we've  written before, if they aren't the gatekeepers, what good are they? (The trustees sat in their normal sphynx-like posture  in a row near the stage and it's doubtful whether they or anybody else fully grasped what all of those fleeting charts were all about.)

Scarborough spoke on the day that a new print voice, the Devil Strip (local bimonthly),  had published some troubling benchmarks on his   days as a young politician in Texas.  He was  the  Travis County, Tx.,  Republican chairman and even ran for state rep  - and lost  the primary.  Still his trademark was stamped clearly:  politically and religiously  conservative,  damning homosexuality and other social "evils".  The Austin  newspaper  noted:
      "Travis County GOP Chairman Scott Scarborough , whose term is expiring , told delgates they should "lift up King Jesus through their work as Republican activists."  

So how did he make it from his days in Texas to the stage of E.J.Thomas Hall, which had been on his hit list?

Well, you may wonder how the trustees let so much bad ink pass. You my also know that the Republicans hold a 6-2 majority on the board with two Democrats merely along for the ride. That's not all. Trustees chairman Jonathan Pavloff had been chairman of the Summit county Republican executive committee.

You won't need  PowerPoint to follow this:  The six Republicans, including Pavloff,  owe their seats to Summit County GOP party chairman Alex Arshinkoff. who,  we're sure,  was quite impressed to know that Scarborough was a bird of the feather. Everything else fell neatly into place.

Thank you, Alex. You  should have been there Tuesday to take a bow.  .

P.S.  When Scarborough , borrowing from Donald Trump,says he wants to make UA great, it extends the overused adjective which has little meaning because of its abuse.  It is regularly applied beyond precise meaning to everything from hamburgers and dandelion killers to depressions and wars. Great Scott! Just being good is good enough for most of us.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Scarborough speech: Let the spin begin

We're not imaginative enough to predict how University of Akron President Scott Scarborough will try to  spin gold in his State of the University address on Tuesday in E..J. Thomas Hall.

Maybe he will tell his sour  campus community that all change is mighty difficult, particularly when you must  hire so many outstanding  executives at salaries befitting their responsibilities while at the same time promising to cut expenses.

But keep in mind that he set out  more than a year ago telling us the same thing about the difficulty of desperately needed change to shrink  multimillion dollar debt.

Or he might explain his New Age theory of why the school needs a polytechnic rebranding in reaching out to prospective  students in Dubuque who had anticipated studying Shakespeare and Faulkner and were being recruited by Harvard.

Or he might report that the campus appears to be a tad tidier since he demanded that professors pick up trash if they are to be respected.

Or he might defend the creation of a cadet corps as symbols of  fastidious  behavior even though it might encroach on the campus ROTC mission.

Or he might insist that a living and breathing Board of Trustees actually exists, a notion  that would be a stretch greater than the alleged  trustees'  necks in nodding their approval of his every whim.

The dissenters like the AAUP and other groups will be there to protest Team Scarborough's  bizarre academic stagecraft.   His power base is taking some serious hits on the campus and around town.  But will they be enough?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Trump to come to Cleveland with his own hotel

I have not yet confirmed it, but  a possible impeachable Repubican source tells me that Donald Trump will have his own exclusive  hotel at the party's convention in
Cleveland next year.

"He's considering a couple of doable options" the source said.   Reviving Ralph Perk's old plan, The Donald would dock a cruise liner,  as big as the Queen Mary and aglow with more than a thousand flambeaux,  on Lake Erie. He would have enough space for  all of the creature comforts  that he feels he would need to station his team of minor advisors, publicists and hair stylists." It would then remain in port to accommodate his inaugural ball.

Another option is that he would buy one of  Cleveland's toniest  hotels  like the Ritz-Carlton and install  round the clock TV facilities for uninterrupted commercial-free coverage of the historic moment when he would set out to make America  great.

The latter figures to be his best bet  because a cruise ship might be grounded in the St. . Lawrence River. Besides, nobody ever took Mayor Perk's idea seriously and the presidential convention went someplace else while Perk's wife went bowling.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sippien: How to be a Republican

The one line that I took away from Tuesday's Akron mayoral debate came from Republican candidate Eddie Sippien, the lawyer opposing Democrat Daniel Horrigan.

At one point he volunteered vital information about his membership in the GOP:

"I am a Republican because of my way of helping people."

Hmmm...And in what Republican way is that?

That was it for me for a debate without  any other surprises.    Although the  paper reported it was a "feisty" debate,    in my line of sight I noted four guests nodding off.  

Jim Jordan, local GOP favorite with party near death

As the Republican Party slams its internecine combat into finding somebody silly enough to take the job that John Boehner is leaving behind,  among the leaders of the fringe's weapons of mass destruction is Rep. Jim Jordan,  the chairman of the  House Freedom Caucus.  We need not mention that any time you see "freedom" in  a group's  title, you can be sure that it is conveniently rooted in  some crazy interplanetary cult that  has taken over the Republican Party.

It's also an element of Jordan's political profile that he is from southwestern Ohio and had a leading hand in hounding Boehner,  his Ohio neighbor,  into impending retirement.

It wasn't that long ago  - March 28, to be precise - that Jordan was hailed as the featured speaker in a party invitation to the Summit County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner, an annual event celebrating identity theft.  Signed by Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff and his likely successor, Bryan  C. Williams, Jordan  was praised with breathless text.

It noted that Jordan, a former OSU wrestling coach who is said to live on a farm,  is "second to none"  as an outspoken watchdog and "a consistent and a straightforward  critic of the Obamacare trainwreck" as well as other things.  If you wanted to hear the rest of it from the party throne, it would have  cost you $50 a ticket to get into the room for dinner.The letter didn't mention that Jordan was also in the upper tier of those who preferred a government shutdown as a measure to overturn Obamacare.

Superlatives have never been Arshinkoff's weakest oratorical skill but it does seem odd that he would have chosen a hard right party-dissembler  to entertain  his people in a night out.  Even Ray Bliss would have been condemned by the Jordans now running the party.

So I'll let some counter-point slip in from David Brooks, a conservative columnist who is having none of Arshinkoff's version of what's shining so brightly in the upheaval.
Brooks writes that the "new Republican faction regards the messy  business of politics as soiled and impure.  Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are refarded as aliens.  Political identitity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal."

Or as Gene Lyons, National Memo columnist put it:  "The 'Freedom caucus' not only can't govern, they don't appear to believe in governance.  Hence the 58 futile show votes to repeal Obamacare, which accomplished absolutely nothing in real political terms."

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Taylor-Seitz ticket in 2018?

I normally don't spend much time on things that could happen.   There's too much already happening for me to handle.  So here's a quick report from  a valued source from Columbus informing me that Mary Taylor  - you know, the very conservative Republican  lieutenant governor - is alive and ready to run for governor in  2018.

That's a long time from now, I know. But here's what my source told me:   Taylor, a northern Ohioan from Green,  has already nailed down her running mate, State Sen. Bill Seitz, from the Cincinnati area., asking him to grace her ticket.  He agreed.

Seitz is said to have strong conservative credentials and even thinks as a libertarian at times.  Columbus Magazine once  took a poll and described him as the "best speechmaker and funniest"  legislator in the business.  With super-serious Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine still hanging around to succeed Gov. Kasich, Lord knows the GOP  campaign  would at least benefit from one "funniest" guy on the ticket.

UA has its very own Dr. Pangloss

When University of Akron President Scott Scarborough announced his plan in July to  trim the school's debt while  cutting 213 jobs, he wanted the cast-aside people that he was not a mean-spirited man.  He said the cuts were "painful"  but he did want to   thank   the severed victims while promising them counseling "to show them the respect and courtesy they deserve." Cool.

He also explained the mid-summer move to the Beacon Journal by saying that he wanted to put the "painful"   upheaval  behind the school before the fall semester. Cool, again.

As shown  in other wobbly steps taken by Scarborough, it revealed his knack for miscalculation in the  moves that have so troubled the campus ever since. Like burning post-shingles itch, they're not going away. (Trust me on this one!)

Nothing that occurred in July and later was "put behind".

 Two scheduled campus protests are on the calendar - the first at the UA Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, from 9 to noon, in the Student Union.  The Akron Chapter of the American Association of University Professors reported  that a "coalition of groups representing students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community"  will be face to face with the dormant trustees who have  been conspicuously silent  (except on occasion by the chairman) throughout the nightmare.  Isn't it fair to ask whether UA really needs a board?

The second protest, courtesy of the Akron AAUP,  will attend Scarborough's State of the University address  on Oct 20 in, of all places, E.J. Thomas Hall, the site of  Team Scarborough's wrecking crew. (Time: 1:30)

For this one, I can only imagine that Scarborough's recitation of the goodness of his administration will be inspired by Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss, who found good in everything, no matter what.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Anybody for a career opportunity?

WANTED: Servile but reasonably presentable  person to serve as presumptive House Speaker.  Excellent pay, extraordinary medical benefits, personal chauffeur,  free for golf and private interpersonal romps on holidays and weekends.   Experience with gavels preferred.  Need not have congressional experience nor college degree.    Will be expected to travel to Tea Party conventions and other impure Republican  venues. Knowledge of money an absolute priority.  Bibles available upon request.  Must be able to recite Pledge of Allegiance  without prompting.  Working  knowledge of governmental and Planned  Parenthood shutdowns desirable.  Other life skills, including typing  and a preference for bourbon over Scotch, not required. In all Fox News appearances must scorn  Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, gays, welfare queens, illegal immigrants and  Barack Obama. Must be able to identify  Kenya on map.   Applications available through House Freedom Caucus. Supply limited.

Friday, October 9, 2015

One pylon is worth a million words

For those of  us who may long for a few moments enjoying the simple pleasures of life, there are always some things that won't go away, like campus  shootings, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie.  As President Obama prepared to visit Oregon in a tinder-sensitive environment, Chris Christie had already accused him of "obscene" comments  about guns.  But the embattled New Jersey governor and presidential candidate to nowhere won't take sanity for an answer, as this pointed depiction shows.

Round and round the GOP goes

They appear to be human life forms.  The men wear dark suits, white shirts and ties; the women, fashionably correct apparel.   But if you linger at the sight, it turns out these are illusions.  They are bloody anarchists, hard right Republicans who don't like anybody, or anything,  that doesn't  entirely agree with their  passionate  goals of shutting down an evil government that pays their wages of sin.

The TV scenes reporting Kevin McCarthy's withdrawal as the possible successor as speaker revealed a virtual Republican Party on a clanking merry-go-round with headless horsemen. These are dangerous creatures.  Even more so, however, because they are morons isolated from reality.

As the party shatters, the calliope is deafening.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Would be Mary Taylor could be governor

Gov. Kasich's two-year active political campaign emerging from recycled presidential ambition is apparently having little useful effect in impressing a national audience.  He is hardly an asterisk in the national polls.  Maybe it's something about his curb appeal.

It's largely a media-driven campaign with the national pundits making scant  effort to scratch below the surface of the boastful blue-collar kid whose father, we are forever told,  was a mailman.

Questions arise.  Is he a RINO?  A born-again, will he run out of Biblical references  before he runs out of money.  Did he really  balance a federal budget that was zillions  in the red when he was in Congress?  Is he,  as he told folks in New Hampshire, "not at war with organized labor"? .  This is from the same fellow who collaborated with fallen presidential candidate Scott Walker to restrict public unions.  His Ohio gambit perished at the ballot box by a million votes.

And will he find a way to escape the  charter school scandal in Ohio that he helped create with his disgraced cronies and increased funding? The epic mess is being reported across the land.

Still,  in all of those days when  Ohio State's football team isn't on the field,   will he manage to convince the voter next door that he is really a compassionate Mr. Goodwrench, prayers and all.

It's an environment in which Ohio political writers are reaching for a "what if"  tale of a politcal legacy leading to his princess-in-waiting, Lt.. Gov. Mary Taylor.  I mean, one published report began so speculatively  with, "It's a minor change.  But it could be the first tangible move in what could be a crowded Republican race for governor in 2018. (Italics added)

Two "could be's"  in a single sentence  is  enough evidence of desperate  analysis of "stuff" happening.  We move on with the media speculation:

If Kasich is elected president, or could be not, Taylor has given strong notice that she will not only succeed him to fill out his term, but she also is set on running for the full-term job. She says she's "giving the idea serious serious consideration". But you know how that goes.

Next: That  would be true if Kasich is given a big job in a new Republican administration.

Taylor  says she's a great big Kasich fan and, "I think what's happening here in Ohio can be directly  attributed to him and his leadership.

Obviously she didn't have the charter school stuff in mind at the moment.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fiorina, once namely Sneed

As some of you may already know, I've long been a student of the Italian language.  Its melodic beauty (except at times in some visits to Sicily)  is seductive.    There are quarter-notes and trilled "r's"  rollng out of every expression.  "You must make it sound musical," an Italian  language teacher often corrected me in his class..

My  savoring of rhythmic Italian syllables  may have had its roots in my dreams as a young man of being a professional musician.

So you can imagine my distress when  I discovered that Carly Fiorina's birth name was
Cara Carleton Sneed,  entirely without the flowery essence of Fiorina.  She  now engages you with the name of her second husband.

Fiorina had a natural glow that was quite preferable to, say, Trump (hurrumph!)  or Bush (evocative of Tush!).

I know something about names.  Mine  gave everyone problems.  There was even  disagreement, and contention,  in my family on how to pronounce it, with my grandmother making it sound French.

Politicians can't afford to extend such impurities.  The late  Akron Sen. Oliver Ocasek's name was tossed about with hard and soft "a's" while his Irish friends could never understand why there wasn't an apostrophe between the "o" and "c".  He couldn't have cared less.  An expansive speaker and tireless worker on education issues, Ollie would be in the thick of assailing the charter school scandal today - with or without the apostrophe.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Text here, text there - soon an odd Q&A

The University of Akron's leadership team has previewed and withdrawn so many options in its rebranding exercises that even stillborn ideas gravitate to front-page media coverage these days.

Take, for example, the Beacon Journal report on the a bizarre tightly controlled student government forum with President Scott Scarborough  in the Gardner Theatre.  Students were required to text  their questions to a  couple of student leaders who were seated aside Scarborough.  The questions were then forwarded to the boss. That doesn't  even happen at the White House press conferences!

The topic that quickly gained traction was a mere mention by Scarborough that  UA was looking at establishing a K-12 school,  like, say, the University of Chicago's.  But it got no farther.  Scarborough said later the UA College of Education  is  merely exploring the idea  but it  might never happen.

Still, Tuesday's BJ reader saw a commanding Page One headline that said:    UA considers own K-12 school.  

And we're sure that's how Scarborough, a man of action,  would like us to remember another exciting foray by his regime.

About the Chicago plan, which has been operating for nearly two decades.  It's called the  UChicago Charter School and is one of the four integrated units in the Urban Education Institute.  It serves 1900 students as a "pre-K-12th pathway to college"  .

I asked about the cost in a call to the school and was told it was "funded like public schools".

Are you listening David Brennan?

Please.  No more of this talk. Certainly not when charter is part of the conversation.  It could get quite expensive for UA, which already is claiming poverty.  And based on Scarborough's remarks, it's a bridge to nowhere for UA. I would text him about this but I don't know how to do it.  I've never fully caught up with the digital age.

How to destroy a hamburger

Holy Wimpy! Do you see what awful things are  happening to hamburgers these days?

The TV ads hype the  primal sandwich doused with whatever and a mile-high topping of French fries, bacon, avocados, cheese, pasta,  sweet onions, tomatoes and chips.  It is sometimes fitted with seedy grains, veggies, quinoa and I don't know what else.

I grew up with a steady Sunday diet  of raw kibbee,   ground meat patties that my mother proudly served with olive oil and onions. It was a prized entree that some queesy witnesses warned would lead to death from tapeworms by age 25.  Still,  I can't stomach the commercial trickery that buries the pretentious burgers of today.

So I must live with my memory of lunches at Ray's  modest grill in La Porte, Ind.  I worked there in my first   newspaper job.  Ray's hamburgers were pressed on a sizzling (greasy?) grill that formed a crispy coat on both sides.  For that exquisite treat plus a large soda and Ray's boysenberry pie, the tab was less than a dollar, which is all I had in my  pocket anyway. And I could fully savor  the meat  with every bite.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Charters: Shouldn't Angelic Kasich look homeward?

When Gov. Kasich finally settles down in  Ohio from his adopted residence in New Hampshire  - political decency will require it, folks - he will be forced to face an unspeakable charter school scandal with Team Kasich's fingerprints all over it.

The latest ugly chapter was well recorded  by reporter Doug Livingston in today's Beacon Journal. It was prompted by a  $71 million U.S. Department of Education grant to the failed Ohio charter school system. But it now appears the reviews of such national grants were submitted by the very same  school choice hucksters who have a reputation of eliminating poor  scores from the charter test grades to raise the average of their performances.

We're speaking, of course, of David Hansen, the charter-friendly operative at the Ohio Board of Education who resigned after being outed as the guy who wielded the eraser.
Not only that.  Hansen's wife is Beth Hansen, Kasich's former chief of staff who is now his presidential campaign manager.

As Livingston reported,  both Hansens met with Kasich and others  to advance their plans to  entirely convert the Youngstown public schools into a charter system,  a delicate subject in a hot political season.  Beth Hansen told the Plain Dealer that she would rather not discuss it. Nor might  Kasich, a reverential supporter of charters.

For a long time, it hasn't been a secret that the entire charter system is well protected  by the state's two top managers, David Brennan's White Hat Management and Bill Lager's Altair Learning based in Columbus.

Together,  they have been enriched with $1 billion in taxpayer money.  That arrives via their control over their "investments" in Republican  politicians  who form the pro-charter chorus in the legislature without much prodding.    Brennan, well known for his Koch-like financial contributions to sustaining his GOP causes,  once even wrote to lawmakers to remind them of his purse.

Other recipients include Columbus Republican Congressman Pat Tiberi, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman , both of whom also endorsed the federal  grant to the Ohio system.  As usual,  Portman toyed with semantics.  His spokesperson told the Beacon Journal that the senator didn't really endorse the grant  application but  merely asked that it be "considered".  Go figure.

So Hooray for Congressman Tim, Ryan, the Youngstown  Democrat, for raising hell about the grant system's careless approval of porous applications, saying he was suspicious of what came down at the federal level.  .

But Kasich campaign spokesman Rob Nichols circled the wagons  around the Hansens, contending he could explain everything about the Youngstown meeting.  "They [Hansens]  try to leave work at the office," he said.  "So it would be unlikely that it came up."

For that nugget  of wisdom,  I cannot resist recognizing Nichols for the coveted  Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy Award.  (GALL).

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wordsmith McCarthy's untrustable dictionary

It was not a good week for words in the political arena.   Let me show you:

Kevin McCarthy, a minor league prospect to succeed Speaker John Boehner, described Hillary Clinton as "untrustable".   Even if you grant the  guy from California some rein as a wordsmith,  it may not guarantee him that he will be promoted. Indeed, some of his colleagues in the House prefer to call him a pleasant "hack".

Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson, a soft- voiced hard rightest,  warned New Hampshire voters that America is heading toward Nazi control in the highest places. "If you go back and look at the  history of the world, tyranny and despotism and how it starts,it has a lot to do with control of thought and control of speech," he said.  But he controlled  his own thoughts when he only implied that President Obama was  the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. "I'm not going to go into that," he said. "I think that example is pretty clear."

Jeb! Bush disappointed those who believed he had a chance to be the only sane candidate in the GOP field  because of his dynastic genes, skipped a definitive response on gun control in the wake of the Oregon massacre  by saying, '"We're in difficult times in our country ... Stuff happens".   Jeb!  is new at the presidential campaign game and needs a lot more work on bumper sticker neologisms.

John Kasich, soldiering on and on for an American Miracle  despite his two pct. approval rating in the national polls, mixed his own brand of hard-shell conservatism  with cautious pragmatism as a gun-rights advocate by dodging the issue of gun control:  "Stripping law-abiding citizens of their guns, I just don't know.  I don't believe it would get the job done.  I just don't."  As a Plunderbund writer reported, guv, "Never mind that nobody serious on this issue is suggesting we strip law-abiding citizens of their guns."    Time for Kasich to get back, in his prosaic words,  to "leading America back to prosperity".

Finally, can't ignore the wisdom of Plain Dealer columnist  Kevin O'Brien, a guardian of the Chicken Coop Fringe, who believes the GOP needs to pursue its destiny with a kick -ass conservative to succeed Boehner,  who got too little "rope"  in  defining the GOP's  pit bull playbook.

O'Brien's soaring  recommendations included devout conservative  Rep. Jim Jordan,  the Ohio farm resident who now leads the untrustable GOP's Freedom Caucus - another neologism that connects a pair of mutually exclusive words on Capitol Hill,where dictionaries  are seldom found open..  .