I cover the waterfront. Recommended reading, links galore, plentiful screenshots, occasional commentary, line and column graphs, photographs, and color-coordinated PowerPoint slides. Not to mention Update City.
As of 2010, municipalities each year must spend for emergency services funded from shared revenue payments, no less than the amount they spent in 2009, not counting capital expenditures and one-time expenses.
If a municipality fails to comply with the maintenance of effort requirement, DOR can reduce its shared revenue payment as a penalty. LRB-0619 is a redraft of Rep. Gottlieb’s 2009 AB 661, and will repeal this mandate which was passed as part of the 2009-11 State Budget (Act 28).
This is a decision that local government officials can make better on their own without interference from Madison. It's a clear example of an unnecessary, unfunded mandate which should be repealed. The State Legislature should provide local governments with more flexibility, not less, in how they deliver public services.
Please note that any action to repeal the library maintenance of effort as an element of public library system membership will require separate legislation.
Link to the Wisconsin Library Association's position paper on maintenance of effort, "A Fair Share and a Choice".
Link to January 8 Los Angeles Times op-ed piece by Tim Rutten, "'Huck' and 'Rent' done wrong".
Excerpt: Nationally, more than a few jaws dropped over Auburn University professor Alan Gribben's plans to publish new editions of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" with the words "nigger" and "Injun" excised from the texts so as not to offend readers.
The offensive idiocy of vandalism masquerading as sensitivity need not be belabored here. Suffice to say that this is one of those ideas so utterly and breathtakingly off the mark that it isn't even wrong. What's extraordinary — and extraordinarily dispiriting — is that Gribben's destructive presumption is supported by more than a few of his academic colleagues. Twain scholar Judith Lee, for example, said this week that she found nothing objectionable about Gribben's redactions. She argued that Twain's use of racial epithets was meant to be read ironically but that an appreciation of irony was an "advanced interpretive skill." For a "general audience," Lee said, a bowdlerized version will do.
Link to January7 Indianapolis Star article, "Done deal for township libraries comes undone".
Excerpt:Wayne Township's proposal to pay to restore longer hours at four nearby library branches, which seemed like a done deal, is going back to the drawing board.
New Wayne Township Trustee Andy Harris' decision this week not to release about $200,000 in surplus funds for that purpose means the proposal will have to be reviewed again by the Township Board at its Feb. 10 meeting, even though it had approved the deal last month.
Also, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library board is planning to re-examine the situation to decide what they might do if they do not get the money that had been offered by David Baird, the former trustee.
"Our board had approved (the interlocal agreement), and their board had as well," said Laura Bramble, the library's chief executive officer, on Thursday. "We need to talk things out."
The Wayne Township Board voted 6-1 on Dec. 9 to approve the interlocal agreement to make the payment, out of surplus funds, to help restore reduced hours at the Wayne, Eagle, Haughville and West Indianapolis branches, which are popular with township residents. Operating hours and some staff for those branches and others systemwide were cut back in October to help balance the library system's budget.
Link to January 4 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, "Gwinnett trims spending, but deficit looms".
Excerpt: The Gwinnett County Commission approved a 2011 budget Tuesday that cuts funding for libraries and social services but still doesn’t balance spending with declining revenue.
The county will cut library spending by $2.8 million -- or 15 percent -- under the new budget. It will cut subsidies for some social service agencies in half and plans to eliminate them altogether next year.
Advocates say important services will be reduced or eliminated.
“There will be a reduction in service, but in which areas and to what degree is yet to be determined,” said Nancy Stanbery-Kellam, executive director of the Gwinnett County Public Library.
Commissioners say more cuts are coming. Despite those approved Tuesday, the county’s $448.6 million general fund budget begins the year $18 million in the hole.
Link to January 6 AP story in the Charlotte Observer, "Historic reading of Constitution sees House tussle".
Excerpt:Republicans made history Thursday by staging the first-ever reading of the entire Constitution on the House floor. But that record may come with an asterisk: Democrats asked why original sections that later were amended, including references to slaves, were left out of the recital, and lawmakers initially did not catch that a couple of key paragraphs were omitted when two pages got stuck together.
Jesus' advice on how to pray seems appropriate to a reading of the Constitution.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 5: 5-6.)
Link to January 7 San Jose Mercury News column by Mike Cassidy, "Tech revolution changing our world view".
Excerpt: If you've read anything out of this week's Consumer Electronics Show (and face it, you can't avoid it), you've heard how the tablets and smartphones are coming or are here or have taken over the world. Forrester Research says 82 million Americans will be staring at tablet screens by 2015. Smartphone sales will grow to 72 million phones this year, up 31 percent, the Consumer Electronics Association says.
Of course, information has never been perfect, no matter how it's been delivered. It is provided by imperfect people and is open to vagueness and imprecision. And as we hurtle deeper into an era of fast-twitch data bombarding us 24/7, the trend will be for information to become less perfect just as the time for consumers to evaluate and analyze it further deteriorates.
Between the 1960 and 2009 bookend years, Forest County doesn't fit the generally established pattern. As a point of comparison, the 1999 circulation is 31,563 and 2001 circulation is 32,137 -- still a significant dip from 1990 in both cases.
As David Brooks notes in "Buckle Up for Round 2" (New York Times, 1/7/2011), Right now about 53 percent of Americans oppose the health care law and 43 percent support it, according to an average of the recent polls. Complaints are especially high among doctors. According to a survey by the Physicians Foundation, 60 percent of private practice doctors say the law will force them to close their practices or to restrict them to certain categories of patients.
Let's take a look at the bigger picture.
This train left the station at least 9 years ago.
The number of doctors in private practice has declined from 70% in 2002 to 47% in 2008, all while George Bush was still President. And the trend has accelerated since 2005.
David, don't you read your own newspaper?
"More Doctors Giving Up Private Practice", New York Times, 3/25/2010.
Excerpt:A quiet revolution is transforming how medical care is delivered in this country, and it has very little to do with the sweeping health care legislation that President Obama just signed into law.
The standard disclaimer for this type of comparison. The city/county division of per capita circulation figures should be taken with a grain of salt. In 2009, the Fond du Lac Public Library reported 302,167 nonresident circulations out of a total of 835,282, or 36% of the total.