Kevin R. McCarthy for Jefferson County Commissioner

Port Arthur City Council Has Lost It’s Mind

According to KFDM News, the Port Arthur City Council has decided to beautify the west end with a series of murals on buildings.  They have contracted with a museum in Houston to help with the work and will get schools, churches, etc involved.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a pretty good idea.  Not quite up there with adding 10 more patrol officers to PAPD, but not a terrible plan.  The STUPID part is that they went to Houston for help with the art.  Everything must be better in Houston, because they must not have even checked the Golden Triangle phone book.

Port Arthur has TAMS, the Texas Artist Museum, that monthly features local artists and has dozens of gallery shows.  The director of TAMS is from California and was a MURAL ARTIST for a major motion picture studio.

Nederland has their own art guild.

Beaumont has the Art Studio Inc, the Beaumont Art League and the Art Museum of Southeast Texas.  The BAL and the Art Studio have lists of local artists in a huge variety of mediums and styles.  There are literally hundreds of local artists.  The Art Museum doesn’t do a lot of art, but regularly has exhibitions from famous artists.  Surely, one of these organizations would be willing to work the City of Port Arthur.

Let’s not forget about the dozens of art students and faculty at Lamar University.  Some of the faculty are literally world-renowned artists (Keith Carter for one).

Hey, Port Arthur City Council,  let’s keep things local.  We don’t need Houston for art.

February 27, 2008 Posted by | Jefferson County, Politics, Port Arthur, Texas | 3 Comments

Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity is a group dedicated to keeping government spending reasonable.  “According to Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt local governments increased their property tax levies in excess of 71.5% between 1996 and 2003. During that period, the state’s population and inflation grew only 16%.” **

We know exactly how that is.  Paid taxes (not tax rate, two different things remember) have almost doubled in three years.  Thats a 25% increase PER YEAR for Jefferson County tax payers.

The AFP  has a Candidate Pledge that can voluntarily be signed.  It states in part:

  1. Annual state spending increases should be limited to the rate of state population growth.
  2. Excess revenues should be put into emergency funds and returned to the tax payers.  (Here’s the hint County Court; you shouldn’t budget a 25 million dollar emergency fund.)
  3. Tax and spending increases should be approved by popular vote.

As a Libertarian, I wholeheartedly support each one of those goals, as well as additional goals regarding government spending.  I have signed and mailed in my copy of the Candidate Pledge.

Here’s a another great chance for you Jefferson County.  If you like giving your money away, then don’t worry about it.  If you are concerened about unrestrained government spending, then encourage your incumbents and candidates to sign.

In a time where businesses are cutting way back, the only industry that is actively increasing spending is the government.  It’s up to you to stop them.  Vote for people on this list (at the bottom of the page).   They have signed this pledge.  If they don’t do what it says, then call them a liar to their face and never vote for them again.

BTW: As of this writing (2-24-08) the only local office holder or candidate to sign this is Mike Hamilton.  Good for you.  I’ll be watching.

** From the AFP website,  http://www.americansforprosperity.org/index.php?id=4746&state=tx ;2-24-08

February 25, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Libertarian, Politics, Texas | Leave a comment

Beaumont ISD Bond – Westbrook Science Labs

I haven’t said anything about the Beaumont ISD Bond. I’ve got enough BS to talk about with Port Arthur. But I saw the plans for the science labs at Westbrook today. The blog entry is HERE. The picture of the labs is HERE.

First of all, I’m not some idiot politician who has stick his two cents in. I’m a high school science teacher. I’ve taught in several science lab/classrooms and I’ve read quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t. Out of the schools I’ve seen (Sabine Pass, Memorial, PNG, Westbrook (plans)), by far the best labs were at PNG (at least they were in the late 80s when I was there).

The Westbrook plans are pretty awful. Let me tell you why:

First my assumptions. These will be either Chemistry or Biology labs (maybe both). Most schools require every student to take Chemistry and Biology, and these look to be set up for them. IPC (Physical Science) is another possibility, but just about anything will work for the Physics part of IPC, the Chemistry part… well, see Chemistry.

Storage Rooms

They are VERY narrow. [The scale is useless without the original document.] So, assuming one of the lab desks is six feet wide, then the storage rooms are about eight feet wide. That sounds like a lot, but just looking at the drawing, they look crowded. You must have a prep area (counter about two feet wide). You must have chemical storage. You also have to store glassware and other equipment in that room. Plus have a fume hood, sinks (at least two), it looks like there is a bathroom in there. I don’t see a safety shower though, that is much more important for the prep room than the classroom. After all it’s not (it better not be) the students handling concentrated acids.

There is a VERY specific system for storing chemicals and you ignore that system at your peril. In my lab, for 20 Chemistry students, I have 5 eight foot tall 18in deep shelf units (that are very full), plus a flammables cabinet (locking, metal) and an acids cabinet (locking, wood and polypropylene). I figure the acids cabinet for a high school Westbrook’s size should be able to store 30 Liters of concentrated acids or 120 Liters of prepared acids PER CLASSROOM. So six feet tall, 24 inches deep and at least 36 inches wide with 4 poly lined shelves. Chemical storage should (therefore) take up about 18 feet of wall space. With prep counters and storage, your 8 foot wide room has shrunk to four feet wide.

The Chemistry labs at Memorial High School (Port Arthur ISD) did have that right. There were three and each one was the size of a regular classroom. Trust me, when two teachers are in there prepping Sulfuric Acid, you want as much room as you can get.

Solution: I would suggest moving the two end classrooms, one on top and one below the four closest to the main hall. Then create two large storage/prep rooms that three teachers share. Each one should be at least 24×24. Larger is better.

Lab Tables

If this building is built this way, then in two years, you will have a major fire hazard. We had it at Memorial. What are walls in classrooms used for? Yep, posters, bulletin boards, etc. It looks like there is the teachers desk nearest the hall and a sink/cabinet on the far wall. Since the white board will be next to the teachers desk, you only have a little room for bulletin boards.** So where do the safety posters end up? On the wall over the lab tables. The lab tables that are about to have Bunsen burners and hot acids and bases on them. Time for a fire drill that isn’t a drill.

Also, see how half the tables are on one wall and half the tables are on the other wall. Guess what’s in the middle. Yep, student desks. Probably too many for that space too. But that’s a real problem if the teacher needs to get to the other side of the room in a hurry… like if a poster catches on fire.

Kids being too close together is a major cause of minor accidents.

Solution: Make the classrooms longer rather than more square and put all the lab tables in one area AWAY from the wall. Also, they need to be more spread out.

Classroom

The classroom needs to be larger. The classroom area looks smaller than the neighboring classrooms. Every principle and every school board say that they will reduce class sizes for science. Every year, they can’t. I’ve taught a Chemistry class with 32 students. It literally isn’t possible to do labs with that many kids. It looks like there is one sink in a cabinet at the back. There may be additional sinks between the lab tables, I can’t tell on the drawing. There needs to be though. I have three sinks, not including the ones on the lab tables. I make my students wash up in sinks other than the ones on the lab tables… just in case.

I think those rooms need to examined really closely by the science teachers and see if they will meet there needs. I don’t think that they will work as well as they (whoever they is) thinks that they will.

Final Note: I’ve seen major incidents happen at schools where I was teacher. I’ve seen a kid with chemical burns and a chemical fire at a school. Chemistry isn’t like other subjects. Even with some basic labs, it is possible to have a major injury. If the lab room isn’t safe or even if the teacher feels it isn’t safe, then no labs get done. Those kids might as well be in a regular classroom because the lab portion of that room won’t get used.

Few schools are willing to devote the space needed for a really safe classroom/lab. BISD has a chance to do things right here. You guys in Beaumont need to speak up and make sure they do. Also, make sure the new science classrooms get new science equipment, not the crappy old stuff from 20 years ago.

** Principles want to see bulletin boards and posters in the classroom. They want that stuff (visible evidence of teaching I guess) more than a crack addict wants his next hit.

February 23, 2008 Posted by | Jefferson County | 2 Comments

Democratic Primaries

I just read the Democratic National Platform for 2004.  They are due to produce a new one every four years, so a new one will come (I’m assuming) after the national convention.

 This document is the biggest reason that I can think of to NOT vote Democrat.  Basically, what they say in the document hasn’t been done by Democrats (especially at the local level) and, in my opinion, they have really done more things that are directly opposite their party platform.

 When I saw that Jack Brooks supported Hillary Clinton, I knew that I had to do everything I could to keep her out of the White House.  Again, in my opinion (due to some family history many years ago), Jack Brooks is as crooked a man as has ever come down the Neches.

 Let’s face reality.  The president (or candidate) can say whatever they want about change, real change, or pseudo change.  The president, however, cannot change US policy without the backing of congress.  

 It’s just like the local candidates will be saying.  Please listen very carefully to their articles in the Port Arthur News.  Any of them that say that they will change Jefferson County policy is lying to you.  If they really believe that they can change Jefferson County policy, it’s even worse, they are lying to themselves.

 Remember ladies and gentlemen, whoever is elected to the Precinct 3 slot will be just one new face against four old hands.  Either they follow their party and vote lock step with the current commissioners court (much more likely, remember, it is their party) or they vote against their party and get exactly zero done.

 So ask yourselves a simple question: “What is more likely?”  

A)    The democratic nominee votes against 3 other party members (and one who might as well be) thereby alienating himself (or herself)

B)    He votes with his party members and they continue with their current plan of ignoring the people of Jefferson County.

 

February 21, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Politics, Texas | Leave a comment

Newspapers Against Libertarians and Comments on Hallmark’s Goals

I guess no one expects me to even be in the race in November.  An article by the Beaumont Enterprise mentions the races and even who the winners will likely face in November, except for Jefferson County Commissioner Precinct 3… where no mention is made of the lone Libertarian running.

And people wonder about a biased media…

BTW: I’d like to comment on this quote:

“I was really surprised that this many people would be interested (in running),” said Hallmark, 73, who has been commissioner for 16 years.

Hallmark said he hopes the new commissioner will continue several of the projects he has worked on, including the Keith Lake park, beach maintenance and the rebuilding of Texas 87 along the beach.”

Why would you be surprised that so many self serving people want a piece of your action?

Keith Lake Park

I drive by Keith Lake every day on the way to work.  If there is a park there, then it’s basically a wide spot in the road.  Why isn’t there a sign?  Why isn’t there anything to indicate what is available (besides a locked up boat launch that is)?  What exactly is the purpose of the park?

I think it’s an OK idea, but tell me why.

Beach Maintenance

This one, I agree with.  Beach maintenance is a huge deal along the North Texas Coast, not because the people here are dirty, but because we get all the crap from the Mississippi dumped along our beaches.  They need to be clean.

While we’re talking about the beach, who from the local government is going to Austin and trying to get Sea Rim reopened?  That was one of the nice things about our beaches.  Covered picnic area, concessions, a quaint little museum.  I liked the place.  Why hasn’t it been fixed.

That’s one thing I’m willing to fight for.  I want Sea Rim back.

Highway 87 along the beach…

is as dead as yesterdays catfish lunch.  Any extension of Highway 87 isn’t going to happen.  It’s too much money for minimal result.  Let it go.

February 18, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Libertarian, Politics | 1 Comment

More on the Proposed Football Stadium

A busy day for me. I was planning on reading a new book or playing with my boy, but he crashed about 7:00 after his bath, so I’m catching up.

KFDM has this article about the meeting.

I still don’t see this as a terrible plan. Here’s the deal… we are stuck with Ford Park. We didn’t ask for it, we weren’t asked anything about it, but it was built. Right now, it’s a huge anchor dragging SE Texas down. Name the last show that you heard about at Ford Park… go ahead, think about it, I’ll wait.

Any entertainment facility must make money by being BUSY! That place should have something going on at least every other weekend, preferably every weekend. People in SE Texas who are bored should be able to say, “let’s go see what’s happening at Ford Park, there’s always something going on there.” That’s how these things make money. Ford Park should be a revenue source for the county, not a liability.

Wildcatters – Beaumont Enterprise Article. I’m not a huge hockey fan, but once my son is a little older, we might go to some games. Personally, I’d rather ice skate. Why is the facility not open to the general public for ice skating, I can live with weekends only.

The ‘proposed’ stadium – soccer, football and concerts. Yeah, many major concerts place in football stadiums, why not here? I’d rather sit in bleachers than on the SE Texas mud.

Other Ideas – Let’s go all out and make it an “Entertainment Complex”. Anyone interested in opening a huge miniature golf course? How about a go-kart track? These wouldn’t be county owned and run, but a little rent could go a long way to helping out. Why not put in a GIANT jungle gym (like at Pleasure Island) for the little ones?

SMG – they have to go. No advertising, no events, why are we paying them again? Let’s get someone who will keep FP busy. Why hasn’t a circus come to Ford Park? Other than the YMBL, why hasn’t another carnival come in? Can anyone say ‘renaissance fair’?

If there’s enough going on out there, then some businesses might see a move out there. A McDonalds, a Taco Bell, Jason’s Deli (please), etc.

Before you go poo-pooing my ideas, let me hear all of yours. These are all things, I’m willing to push for if elected.

February 15, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Libertarian, Politics, Texas | Leave a comment

SE Texas Ports Under Attack

Someone, please explain the politics behind this one. One of the largest port complexes in the Southern US has been reduced from a tier 1 port to a tier 2 port** So we’re losing a big chunk of the grants from Homeland Security. SE Texas ports were supposed to have received upwards of $40 million for being a ‘Major Strategic Port’ (i.e. a target). I do not know the status of those funds.

So, now that we will have the largest oil refinery in the US (Motiva) and a major LNG terminal (Golden Pass) and one of the single largest military ports in the world, we get downgraded to Tier 2 status.

I guess with no terrorist threat, we have to get attacked by our own government.

** BTW: according to KFDM, that means that the port authority CANNOT pay for the Jefferson county Navy… which I have christened SONAR (Sheriff’s Office Naval Auxiliary and Reserve)

February 15, 2008 Posted by | Jefferson County, Politics, Texas | Leave a comment

Presidential Candidates in Texas

Here it comes…. weeeee….

1) Now that Texas is important to them, we start to be big advertising bucks being dropped.

2) In a note to a local blogger, who isn’t sure who to vote for, I suggested that McCain is the only choice. I would prefer to vote Libertarian, but that’s a dog that won’t hunt for quite a while and one of the reasons is that I DO NOT want a democrat in the White House. That’s a personal issue (more in a minute). The only way to keep with Hillary or Obama out of the White House is to get McCain in. Talk about the lesser of three evils (well maybe two evils and a really bad guy). Face it, none of our candidates are Lincoln or even Reagan. We, unfortunately don’t have the option of voting ‘none of the above’ and starting over in December. Let’s face it, if Fire Marshall Bill was running as Republican, I’d vote for him as long as it kept the Democrats out.

3) My reason for not liking the Dems can be explained in Hillary’s ad. If you’re local, then you’ve probably seen it. The one where she talks about helping people. It’s all about helping people. Let me explain it this way, forgive me for shouting

It is NOT the government’s job to help people!

Say it with me, “It is not the government’s job to help people.” The government , basically, has three jobs

  1. Provide for the common defense
  2. regulate interstate trade
  3. conduct international dialog (war, alliances, trade negotiations, etc.)

(Preamble to the US Constitution)

Ladies and gentlemen, I encourage you to vote Libertarian for local offices. If we can get some people in office and show that we are serious about reducing taxes and decreasing the giant government that we have, then maybe, in a few decades, we can get someone in the WHite House who remembers what it is like to pay a house note, and pay taxes, and complain about government.

For now, vote McCain… maybe he’ll do something cool and pick Fred Thompson as his VP.

February 15, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Libertarian, Politics | Leave a comment

On Ford Park and Potential Football Stadium

I finally saw something about this on KFDM, but there is no article on their website about it… hmmm…. I was waiting to see something other than unsubstantiated rumor about this proposal. I do remember that no one in the Beaumont ISD has said anything about this being even a possibility though. Here’s an article on KBTV.

My thoughts are that this might not be a terrible thing. Ford Park exists. It’s failing miserably. Let’s be honest, who would willingly go to an outdoor show in SE Texas? Between sudden storms, mosquitoes (thank the county for cutting the mosquito control budget), and blinding heat, why would anyone go to an outdoor show? HS football at least has the advantage of being played at night. And let’s face it, football is waaaaaay more popular in SE Texas than any bands who would willingly play in an outdoor amphitheaters in SE Texas.

With the popularity of soccer and American football, perhaps, this isn’t such a terrible plan. Build a stadium large enough for both soccer and football. Anyone wanting to play can have the field for free, but charge all attendees a $2 fee (free parking) and the concessions going to the county. If it’s a nice enough stadium, many local playoff games might be played there. Surely the Beaumont schools would play there as a ‘neutral ground’. Some of the smaller schools might use it in emergencies (Sabine Pass had to postpone the High Island game after Hurricane Humberto trashed the High Island stadium).

Soccer is huge in SE Texas now. A stadium that includes the ability to play soccer would probably draw quite a crowd.

This is all my thinking on the subject for the last few minutes, but I think that this is the first good idea I’ve heard about what to do with Ford Park. Certainly, few, if any of the people complaining about it have had any useful ideas (yes, that includes me).

BTW: I’m saying that perhaps this project should go forward, even if BISD isn’t involved.  Perhaps the county leadership should meet with all local schools and soccer clubs to see if there is enough interest in this project.  It could really be a top pf the line stadium and yes, it would cost, but if it could make money, then maybe it should be done.

February 9, 2008 Posted by | Jefferson County, Libertarian, Politics | Leave a comment

China and the US Senate vs. the NFL (another 2-fer post)

I was driving to eat tonight (Friday, Feb 1) . I turned on the CBS news, since it’s the only thing worth listening to on local radio these days. I heard two disturbing, but unrelated reports and thought I’d throw my 2 cents in as well.

China Hacks US Networks (link to CBS news article)

First, fact of life, networks are going to be hacked. Especially with Microsoft products being predominant. Get used to it.

Second, China is attacking the US with these attacks. I’d want to see the proof of this. I’m not doubting that China would do this, but to make a claim like this, you should have some serious evidence to support it. There is such a thing as IP spoofing and other highly technical security and counter security programs out there.

Third, as I understand it, during the cold war, we (the US) decided to treat all weapons of mass destruction as equivalent. Mainly because we didn’t use biological or chemical agents. So, in the event of a BC attack, the US was to respond with the N part of NBC… that is nukes.

Fourth, we’re being attacked. These attacks aren’t some little thing like Pearl Harbor*, these are bloody serious and (according to CBS News) with the purpose of damaging the US economy, preventing effective response to attacks, etc.

Using number 2 as evidence and number 4 as the reason, we can respond with number 3. Not with nukes. But we are being attacked, not our troops, but the heart of the US. We should respond in a very no nonsense manner. Does China still have favored nation status? Then revoke it. Attack their currency. Emplace tariffs on Chinese products. Heck, with a little creative thinking, you could almost assume that recent commercial events were orchestrated by a nearly all-powerful Chinese government. Want to hurt the US? Put 1% of the workforce in the hospital with botulism. What to hurt the US? Give 10% of all children in the US lead poisoning.

Bottom line, I’m not much a ‘turn the other cheek’ kind of guy. An accident, sure I can accept that. One mistake by one company, OK everyone makes mistakes. But several accounts of issues with food imports, multiple accounts of toxic toys, thousands of computer attacks daily. Is it just me or is anyone seeing a pattern here?

IMHO, if something isn’t done soon about this, then something will have to be done later. The longer this goes, the more likely it will involve troops. Our military is good, but can they beat a million men, nuclear weapons, and the political will to use them? I hope so…

The US Senate May Investigate an NFL Scandal (CBS News Report)

Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa) is asking about the ‘scandal’ (for lack of a better word) with the Patriots taping coaching signals of the Giants (almost as if they knew who they would be playing in the Superbowl… spooky). So, Specter thinks that because the NFL has a monopoly and is exempt from anti-trust laws, the US senate should (maybe) get involved in this case.

What the hell? Are you so lacking useful things to investigate (like Chinese attacks on US government networks maybe?) that the US Senate needs to get involved in a commercial enterprise?

Look, the NFL isn’t the power company or the local cable company, it’s an entertainment organization. They have many rules, regulations, investigations, fines, penalties, etc. I’m sure the NFL has done their job. If the fans aren’t satisfied, if the teams aren’t satisfied, then they can turn off the games, drop out of the league or sue.

What would the legislative branch of the government do in something like this? You guys are in place to make laws and oversee the executive branch of government not stick your nose in wherever you feel like it.

Instead of the NFL, we have a cable company about to raise rates, how about investigating that? Or maybe get involved in the three murders so far this year here in Port Arthur. But no, the US Senate (or at least Arlen Specter) wants to investigate the NFL. Geez…

Final Notes

Libertarianism is mainly about less government.  Not about the abolition of government, but just less of the stick-your-nose-where-it-doesn’t-belong crap that we all have to put with.  However, if something happens that the government needs to be involved in, then we need a government that can react quickly, with firm action.  We don’t need ‘special investigative committees’ and 90 days of negotiations to determine the shape of the negotiating table.  When we need action, we need to stand up, say ‘Stop doing this or there will be consequences’, then invoke those consequences if necessary.

BTW: Some parts of these articles may seem silly, it’s the way I write. Using humor to make an article entertaining does not invalidate the contents of the article.

* Yes, I know Pearl Harbor was a major battle.  I submit however that the attack did absolutely nothing to the US as a functioning country.  Unlike the continual bombing of industrial targets in Germany by the Eighth Air Force which disrupted the country as a functioning organization.  Pearl Harbor hurt the military, but did nothing to the infrastructure.

February 2, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment