Drunk on His Own Whine

DRINKING TOO MUCH OF HIS OWN WHINE

History has a way of auto-romanticizing. It strips itself of the bad smells, obnoxious personality traits and instinctive class distinctions that accompany real life. Today we revere figures like Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Sam Houston or Winston Churchill, to name but a few, however if we’d lived contemporaneously with them or many of their well-known peers we might have had second thoughts about them. Patrick Henry of “give me liberty or give me death” fame fought ratification of the Constitution because it gave the federal government too much power; Franklin was a womanizer who insisted on bringing up that pesky issue of slavery in the 1790’s when most wanted to leave well enough alone; Houston was a drunk who fought against Texas’ secession and lost the vote 171-6; Winston Churchill, often acceptably inebriated, spent more of his days as a back bencher and reject of the British people than he did its leader. All were highly criticized, themselves critical of others, rejected, fought lost causes, had ugly personality traits and one or most probably were the kind of people many readers would not long countenance in personal association.

Institutions and conventions of today exist only after having been forged by the fires of examination and debate. Great projects often were failures in their inception. The first attempt at the Panama Canal resulted in the era’s largest bankruptcy and its present day usefulness does not argue for the fraud and failure of its initial attempts.

The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce President recently published to the local newspaper a rant that surely must have been written while drinking too much his own whine. We suspect that after he sobered from his self-pitying, back-patting stupor he was sorry he wrote it. It was a drawer-letter if ever we’ve read one. He should have written it, put it in a drawer, and left it there having gratified his need to howl at the moon without the indecency of having committed publicus of equus asinus.

The gist of the Chamber leader’s letter, found below, seems to be resentment that the Chamber’s fantasies are questioned. It seems inconceivable to him that there are good citizens who together imagine Lubbock a place of low taxes that is relatively free from the strings attached to federal funds. At the Sandstorm Scholar we’re impressed with some of the Imagine Lubbock Together plans we’ve been shown, even if we could have written most of the conclusions before they went through the theatrics of an 18 month pep rally. So long as they keep their promises to fund their performing arts center privately and to provide an endowment for its operating expenses, we like the idea. No one has discovered “666” marked on the underside of any smart meter and we had to Google “Delphi Method” to recognize the techniques used in almost every professed consensus building exercise we’ve been involved in.

But neither our impressions nor the tender feelings of the Chamber leader negate the validity of the critics or their right to be heard. A bank doesn’t ask a non-equity employee to sign the promissory note for his employer’s loan. Nor do we ask the guarantee of a hireling that “these folks are looking out for Lubbock’s best interests.” He’s signing notes he hasn’t the credit to back when he presupposes to know what are the best interests of Lubbock or the motives of his employers. Give us the pure capitalism of selfish financial motives any day. Those we can understand and trust. When someone’s business prospers others find opportunity in spinoff commerce and competition.

We’re not suspicious of the Chamber. It’s doing what chambers of commerce and their bureaucrats do. It isn’t necessary to demonize the Chamber to debate its proposals nor should our elected officials be neutered of opinions or banned from participation. But when we become so enamored with the idea that we have ideas, or so attached to our ILTs, that our feelings are hurt when we are challenged then it is probably time to regroup and do an attitude check. Conversely, labeling something as being “Agenda 21” is its own tactic of tainting the opponent rather than arguing the merits. If local government approval or public funding are sought for these imaginary projects then debate outside of the strictures of the Chamber ought to be encouraged.

No whining allowed.

—SANDSTORM SCHOLAR

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Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / June 4, 2013

The Imagine Lubbock Together effort during the past 20 months delivered an opportunity for community development our city has not experienced since May 1970 and the tornado that devastated a portion of Lubbock.

The current visioning and planning provides Lubbock citizens the most inclusive planning event in which the community has ever had the chance to participate. Yet there are still those few dissatisfied and disgruntled citizens who see it best to find fault with the process and don’t trust private business leaders who facilitated this planning to help improve Lubbock’s future.

Among the accusations are: UN Agenda 21 sustainable development planning, smart meters, ICLEI, huge tax increases, eminent domain, Delphi techniques, federal funding and only 3,000 Lubbock citizens actually participated — to name but a few.

Using that same openness, I express my thanks to the Imagine Lubbock Together steering committee, volunteers who many have given significant time and money back to this community over the years and are all known as people of integrity who would never intentionally do anything to harm the community.

I guarantee these folks are looking out for Lubbock’s best interests and actively working to do something positive as opposed to those claims.

So, on behalf of those of us who see the positive nature of Imagine Lubbock Together and future growth of our community from this process, thank you to the leaders who are helping make Lubbock a better place to live.

EDDIE MCBRIDE, President/CEO,
Lubbock Chamber of Commerce
Lubbock


RANDY APPROVES NSA SPYING ON CITIZENS

randy_neugebauerWisconsin has Paul Ryan. Kentucky has Rand Paul. West Texas has Randy “Baby Killer” Neugebauer. Is it any wonder we’re disappointed?

Yesterday (June 10) “Randy’s Round-Up” contained this statement on Neugebauer’s position regarding NSA monitoring of American citizens phone use.

“I want to know more about how this data is being collected and used. I also want to be certain our intelligence agencies are confident that they have effective controls in place to ensure data collection on U.S. citizens is not abused and respects Americans’ right to privacy. This is a complex issue, and I think it’s important that we proceed carefully as we learn more. I’ll keep you posted on how this develops, and what comes next.”

What did he say? He licked his finger and stuck it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing; that’s what he did. His position sounds a lot like President Obama’s. And, incidentally, we are told that behind the scenes the Congressman is testing the waters on universal background checks for firearms purchases while he considers crossing over to the dark side on that issue too.

Randy’s problem is that the only stand he cares to make is for principal…not principle. Was that too subtle? Allow us to restate it. We favor the accumulation of wealth; we recommend it highly. We think it’s even better for someone to get rich and then to run for Congress. However, there is something fundamentally wrong with someone running for Congress then enriching himself in office. That’s the bottom line of the Neugebauer legacy.

Yesterday, when we looked to him for assurance that our elected Representative would stand up for our civil liberties Congressman Randy Neugebauer chose to sit.

Randy can’t do any better, but West Texas can and it’s time we did.


RAIDER PRIDE: SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE

raider_baseball Lots has changed with Texas Tech Athletics in the past few years. The chancellor, having put his signal stain of double-dealing on the department, has micromanaged it into a program wide rebuilding mode. Most of the faces are new. Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt has our confidence and goodwill as he gains control of his program and remakes it from the ground up.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the character of the Tech student athlete. These young men and women carry full loads while also working at what is often the equivalent of a full-time job. If there was ever a time when a student athlete could get away with bad behavior that era is gone. They are now under constant scrutiny from their fellow students, teachers, coaches, teammates and the media.

It isn’t unusual for an all-star on the field to also be an all-star off the field. Strong work habits and self-discipline transfer from the ball field to the classroom. It is no accident that that former student athletes are so regularly successful in business. They’ve already learned that hard work produces tangible rewards.

Moreover, student athletes are expected to be role models in giving back. Nothing exemplifies that better than Texas Tech Baseball Coach Tim Tadlock’s players taking time out this week while at the conference tournament in Oklahoma City to work at the Goodwill Center. It’s no publicity stunt nor mere photo op. Those men are the real deal. And they are not unique among student athletes at Texas Tech. Having worked around them for years we are convinced that they are a cut above the average college student in a generation that is itself more service oriented than was our own.

Kudos to the parents, coaches and staff who have influenced these young adults to be givers and to realize there is a bigger world than theirs. They make us proud.


BARNEY’S SIDECAR

wolfforth-tx If you’ve spent much time watching “Andy Griffith Show” reruns you’ll remember the episode in which Deputy Barney Fife bought a motorcycle and sidecar for the department. The presumption being that Mayberry’s sheriff’s department needed a motorcycle to keep up with the times and other departments. Of course, no sooner did they get the motorcycle than did it cause trouble and cost money.

This month the city of Wolfforth proudly unveiled its new (slightly used) five ton mobile command vehicle. Now at first glance, we might ask what business does a west Lubbock County town with a population of 3,670 have buying a mobile command vehicle? There’s no crime wave in Wolfforth requiring a mobile emergency operations center. The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office has a state-of-the-art mobile command vehicle intended to service agencies across the South Plains. To date, busting a teen with a joint in his car has not required calling out the Sheriff’s Office mobile command vehicle. And, we’re thankful to say, that’s about the extent of crime fighting necessary in Wolfforth, America. We’re Mayberry and proud to be so.

The fact is, Mayberry didn’t need a motorcycle with a sidecar and Wolfforth doesn’t need a mobile command vehicle. And if it had purchased one, we’d be highly critical. But this four wheel drive mobile police fantasy was free. Like Barney’s sidecar, it is a piece of military surplus equipment. Obtained as surplus property through Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act, Wolfforth’s five ton mobile command vehicle has only about 1,000 hours and 2,400 miles and came with a new paint job. All it cost the city was the price of the fuel expended to go get it. A bargain at twice the price. At least until it needs new tires at an estimated cost of $15,000. Or until they equip it with radio communications gear that costs tens of thousands of dollars. After all, a mobile command vehicle with only a cellphone is just a high-priced travel trailer. Then it becomes less of a bargain for a town that struggles with basic infrastructure issues such as sewer and water. Are there any military surplus sewer systems in that 1033 program? Probably not.

Anticipated uses are, well….we can’t really anticipate a use because no one can cite anything in the past that required this little burg to have a remote emergency operations center. After all, Wolfforth is only three miles long and, at its widest, two miles across. But fear not citizens, should the need arise, and if the ultra-modern Sheriff’s Office mobile operations center already equipped to serve Lubbock and fourteen other counties is unavailable, then Wolfforth is prepared with its very own military surplus five ton mobile operations vehicle.

We recall as teenagers the admonition our parents gave when we set off in a group: “remember who you are” they said. If there is a cautionary tone in our tale it is here. We see an increasing trend towards the militarization of our police forces. This is due in part to laws that have created a drug war we cannot possibly win; we are out funded and outmanned. Another reason is that when there exist too many law enforcement people with too many toys they find something to do and that’s not always a good thing. The Wolfforth Police Department has long served its citizens well with courtesy and with a knowledge of what it is: a small town police force. Let’s hope they remember who they are.


FOUR CYLINDER ENGINE WITH THREE WORN-OUT SPARK PLUGS

Lubbock County Courthouse A reader’s post regarding his LP&L experience reminds us of our frustration calling into the Lubbock County Courthouse yesterday.

Initially, you receive a 30 second greeting in English, then a redirect to press 1 if you want English. What? I thought we just heard this in English?

After three calls and finally learning to maneuver within the system quickly it still took exactly one minute and thirty seconds for me to hear the # for the extension I wanted to reach (Elections Office). If you try to shortcut the system to an operator by pressing “0” it redirects you to the beginning. “Beam me up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here.”

Now of all of the places to cut the budget, why did the commissioners choose the primary interface the public has with the Courthouse? Possibly because they aren’t inconvenienced by the system themselves since they call on direct lines? Wouldn’t you think they could lend to the taxpayers a live person who at least answers the phone when you press “0”?

The Lubbock County Commissioners Court may not be broken, but it is a 4-cylinder engine limping along on 3 worn out spark plugs and one shiny new one who, we hear, is trying hard to not become co-opted by the system.

We’ve yet to figure out what it takes to get their attention. Complaints about the phone system fall on deaf ears. We’ve tried that.

Where does that leave us?


I NEVER WANTED TO BE A FIREMAN

I went through lots of phases growing up. I wanted to be an FBI man, a Secret Service agent, a defense attorney and even a preacher but I never wanted to be a fireman. I’m not that brave.

Of all of the images of the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11 that haunt me, the one that I cannot shake is the image of a company of firemen preparing to enter the North Tower. One of them, a young man, was visibly pumping himself up, readying himself to go into a situation that logic and experience must have told him he may not survive. But he did anyway. I still wonder what happened to that young man. What I do know is that 343 fire fighters lost their lives that day.

In West, Texas last week, a town just larger than Idalou, ten firemen lost their lives. These men were trained, experienced first responders. They must have known that the fertilizer fire they were fighting was likely to result in an explosion but they stayed, protecting the lives and homes of the people they served. They did their jobs.

What kind of courage is that? It is beyond my comprehension. But I know this, I am thankful for people who do their jobs. It makes me wonder if we don’t need a few fire fighters in public office and if maybe we shouldn’t send a few officeholders to the firehouse to infuse in them a little backbone.

—Sandstorm Scholar


ANOTHER DIVORCE

I’m always the last to find out these things but this week my new doctor broke the news that the Fruit & Vegetable family is no longer together and the separation appears permanent.

I never cared much for Vegetable, he’s been such a tasteless boor, but I’ve always liked his sweet wife, Fruit. Knowing they were together was comforting since I always felt if I got a little Fruit I was covering my dietary bases with the entire family.

Now I have to see them both and, wouldn’t you know, the doctor also told me that Fruit is associated with a bad element these days, the Carbs. I was cautioned to not overdo her.

The good news is that bacon is back. So it looks like it’s time wrap the green beans and okra in bacon and smother them with cheese.

Fat is still the lubricant of life.

—SANDSTORM SCHOLAR


INDECENT HUMOR

Good politics has a lot to do with making people laugh. Some stories are protected under seal for 50 years. Others make headlines.

It wasn’t that long ago in a West Texas city just north northwest of Slaton that two candidates for state rep were locked in a tight battle. They really weren’t, but stories like this start that way.

The Older Dog was wily and way ahead. The Underdog, faithful to his party and cause, worked tirelessly even in neighborhoods where few of his party or ethnicity could be found. One afternoon the Underdog’s determination had outstayed his bladder and, desperate for a place to relieve himself, he sought refuge in the alley.

Now it’s possible that our story might have ended differently had his face blended in but it did not. What’s certain is that he was arrested in that alley for indecent exposure. Great headlines. The Older Dog is winning and the Underdog has charges pending.

But things like this can go either way. Regardless of whether it made him something of a laughingstock for fifteen minutes, no one thought seriously the Underdog had malicious intent. When you gotta’ go…ya’ know?

So rather than leave things to the winds of chance and the sympathy vote, shortly before the election the Older Dog conceives a plan to seal the deal and, we’re told, made a suggestion to the District Attorney who apparently saw it as an expedient way out an uncomfortable situation.

And that’s how it came about that the Underdog found grace but lost the race, because the headlines read:

“Exposure Charges Dropped for Insufficient Evidence.”

—-Sandstorm Scholar


A Tale of Two Coaches

After having steered Texas Tech sports into it’s worst season in a quarter century Team Hance has now maneuvered Texas Tech basketball into a total program fail.

And if Tech fans weren’t already feeling slam dunked, they will when they learn that Coach Kent will continue to pay Tech’s Biggest Loser coach almost $500,000 of public funds to do nothing between now and April according to the Lubbock AJ. It’s Monopoly money to a bureaucrat like Hance who has been spending public funds so long he has forgotten where it comes from.

How did we get here? Why does a lackluster basketball coach who regularly violated NCAA rules and ran off three times as many athletes as he recruited get the golden parachute? And, yes, we’re still asking why did Tech’s winningest football coach get the boot when he is owed over $1 million?

It’s easy. The football coach, a winner, challenged the wrong ego. Men, like the Chancellor, who presume to place their names upon buildings of worship breathe rarified air. St. Peter’s Basilica, a Church of Christ and Hance’s Chapel; you’ve got to admit that’s an exclusive club. His is an ego so large that it believes itself worthy of sovereign immunity. An ego so desperate that when introduced it is compelled to remind the listener that he once defeated George W. Bush in an eighties congressional election.

No, Tech fans, losing isn’t a sin a on Team Hance nor is abusive behavior or NCAA violations. Failing to kiss the ring is the mortal offense. The throne is surrounded with a host of handsomely paid sycophants. Courage gets you canned.

Poor management of athletic programs becomes obvious quickly. But this ego manages an entire university system. Why do we think that dumbing down the ranks, “Hancifying” if you will, to make the Sovereign look good has not been happening all over the university? Texas Tech may be decades undoing academic damage we’ve not even yet considered.

And should any highly paid Team Hance water boy wish to reclaim his manhood, he ought to stand behind the Chancellor tonight as the guns go up and the team takes the field and whisper in his Sovereign’s ear, “Remember Coach Kent, they aren’t saluting you; this is about the University.”