H/t to Brian at Recycled Christianity for linking to this. Note: Contains strong language.
Related: William McDonough: The Wisdom of Designing Cradle to Cradle
H/t to Brian at Recycled Christianity for linking to this. Note: Contains strong language.
Related: William McDonough: The Wisdom of Designing Cradle to Cradle
(Again, I do not speak for anyone other than myself).
A couple of years ago, I wrote a lot about the need for active revitalization in Alexandria, and frequently, people would respond with legitimate questions and criticisms:
“We’ve been spending millions of dollars in Downtown already,” they would say, “and what do we have to show for it?”
“The ‘free market’ is headed down 28 West; that is where we should spend money.”
“It’s a lost cause. We shouldn’t spend a dime in ‘dead’ areas of town.”
Although I disagreed and continue to disagree with those criticisms, I can certainly appreciate and understand them.
However, as I mentioned in Part One, those critics never seemed to appreciate the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of taxpayer dollars that subsidized the very developments they championed as the “free market.” They would criticize the public’s investment in Downtown infrastructure, yet, in the same breath, they’d point to the $15+ million Versailles Boulevard Extension as a prime example of a market-driven investment. Don’t get me wrong: I think the Versailles Boulevard Extension is an incredibly important project that will create enormous private-sector opportunities and better connect the City. But there’s a cognitive dissonance here: a failure to properly acknowledge the role of taxpayer dollars in creating those opportunities and a failure to recognize that spending $15+ million public dollars to pave a road on farmland means 15+ million fewer dollars for infrastructure in areas where citizens actually live.
As someone born and raised in a family of Alexandria real estate developers, I say this with the utmost respect for the profession and the people: It’s time to fess up. Alexandria’s geographic size did not triple in forty years because its population tripled; it tripled in geographic size because developers, with significant financial assistance from the government, pushed the expansion. I’m not pointing any fingers or casting any specific blame; for more than a generation, this was the reigning economic paradigm, and obviously, the demand was there (even if that demand cannibalized from Alexandria’s historic core).
At the time, Alexandria’s expansion may have appeared to be a reflection of its prosperity, and no doubt, some people prospered from this expansion. But on the whole, this expansion masked some unfortunate truths: Our median household income is abysmal, hovering around $32,000 a year, which is nearly $20,000 less than the national median household income; our per capita crime rate is alarmingly high; entire neighborhoods have fallen into blight and disrepair; and our workforce is rapidly approaching retirement. This expansion also served to excerbate divisions along class, social, and racial lines, divisions that undermine our ability to work together as a community and foster destructive fragmentation and fear.
There is a reason for action in Alexandria.
I know there are some people who believe that reinvesting in our inner-core amounts to socialism. They are wrong. They are ignorant. And they completely misunderstand the project and the purpose.
There are others who may say that such a reinvestment is “speculative.” A few months ago, I met a real estate developer from Florida who told me that she did not “speculate,” and she was serious. If you are in the real estate development business and you do not believe in speculation, you are in the wrong business.
More importantly, if you are in the real estate development business and you don’t recognize the explosive potential of following the public’s investment in infrastructure, you are, most certainly, in the wrong business.
And perhaps, ultimately, that has been Alexandria’s problem for the past forty years: Developers rarely followed public investments; instead, they asked the public to follow their investments. And we built roads, drainage and sewage systems, utility lines, public parks, libraries, and golf courses that served to inflate the value of the farmland that they then carved into cul-de-sacs of houses (that the vast majority of Alexandrians can never afford).
A couple of years ago, I reached out to Jim Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere and an outspoken critic of the public’s investment in sprawl expansion. I tried my best to explain the situation on the ground here in Alexandria, and one of the things he said to me resonates and now seems prescient (bold mine):
Your analysis of the property ownership / city government situation seems valid to me. Apart from the bad codes themselves, there has been an awful lot of bad faith behavior. One might even say that the real public interest was kicked out of the arena some time ago, where land development has been concerned.The good / bad news now is that a lot of the people who benefited from all that misbehavior and bad faith are going to get crushed financially in the years ahead as their property hemorrhages value.
As many of you know, I am somewhat passionate about the panoply of issues known under the umbrella of “smart growth.” In fact, I have written about and posted on smart growth issues so often that it’s its own category on this blog.
I typically don’t post about things I’m working on in my real job and, almost always, shy away from the affairs of the Alexandria city government (unless I am compelled to respond to an egregious, stupid, and irresponsible lie). Despite how others may define my efforts on this blog, I do not speak for anyone other than myself. My other contributors, Sharon Tohline, Drew Ward, and (very occasionally) Daniel Smith, all speak for themselves, as do the nearly 8,000 comments we’ve received during the past three years. None of us get paid for blogging, and we’ve never sold a single advertisement.
That’s not what this is about.
I disclose all of that because I want to share a few things I have grown to appreciate about development in our City. Again, this is just my opinion, and you’re always more than welcome to share yours.
I grew up in a real estate family: Before his death at age 41, my father had developed subdivisions, owned a brokerage firm, managed apartments, condos, and single-family homes, and, as a result, bought and sold a lot of property– the vast majority of which was in Central Louisiana.
Real estate was also his father’s business and his father’s uncle’s business. When my father died, my mother, who had co-owned a real estate brokerage firm with him, took the helm, and today, she remains in the real estate business. By the way, I also went through and passed real estate “school,” though I am not an agent. The profession is in my blood, whether by nature or nurture, and without a doubt, many in my family have had front row seats in watching the development of Alexandria.
I say all of that to get to this: When I criticize “sprawl developments,” I am not criticizing the residents or the developers of those subdivisions. I fully recognize that, at the time these decisions were made, sprawl was the reigning economic paradigm. Banks were lending money for them. Cities were investing in them. Land was cheap. And the promise of a new home on a large lot in a new neighborhood represented the American Dream.
Like many American cities, Alexandria’s growth throughout the past four decades has followed typical sprawl patterns: subdivisions built on the edges of town, disconnected from the urban core and key resources. Alexandria’s growth may not be unique, but it is still remarkable: In forty years, Alexandria’s geographic size tripled, from nine square miles to twenty-seven square miles, while its population remained relatively stagnant.
Some of you have probably heard this before.
In practical terms, this means our tax base stayed about the same, while our service area tripled. Our taxes became spread thin, and basic services, like Police and Fire, were sometimes over-extended. This is one of the reasons that, right now, Alexandria has to build four new fire stations. Because of the way our City grew, many of our existing fire stations are no longer in the right locations. If we decide not to make this investment, our fire rating will decrease, which means that insurance rates for everyone will increase.
Incidentally, Alexandria’s expansion was partially funded by our tax dollars. Despite what may have been argued at the time, Alexandrians spent tens, if not hundreds, of millions of tax dollars building out this sprawl infrastructure: roads, sidewalks, golf courses, parks, schools, libraries, utility lines, drainage, sewage, and much more. Many of these developments have improved and added value to our community, but if we are honest in assessing Alexandria’s growth and landscape, we must acknowledge the extent to which our taxes have been used to promote development on the edges of town at the expense of areas with existing infrastructure.
We must also acknowledge that our resources are limited. When we elect to spend millions of dollars building infrastructure on the edges of town, we are also limiting the amount of money we can spend in existing neighborhoods, oftentimes money that is desperately needed: money for fire stations, police substations, roadway improvements, parks, and drainage– all of the things that make a City worth living in.
Again, Alexandria is not unique: Sprawl was the reigning paradigm in American planning and development for over a generation.
But Alexandria is remarkable: We grew in size but not in population. For most cities, sprawl was a reaction to seismic population growth; sprawl development was haphazardly planned because the pace of population growth required immediate attention. There simply wasn’t enough time for neighborhood charettes (planning meetings) or comprehensive future land use plans; there wasn’t even a recognition of the long-term value of strategic planning. Cities grew because they had to grow, or so they thought.
This has never been the case in Alexandria. Alexandria did not triple in geographic size in forty years to accommodate a massive influx of new residents. We didn’t sprawl because we had to; we sprawled because we could– cheap land, government assistance, and a market of hungry demand for new suburbia. And when you add to that all of the social and cultural upheavals of the time, you may conclude that our decision to create new and somewhat isolated neighborhoods was, in part, a reaction to those movements.
What does it mean when a City grows in size but not in population?
To me, it indicates a City that is moving away from itself, and in today’s America, successful cities are those that recognize and celebrate the value of an inclusive community.
What does it means when a City spends tens of millions of dollars to expand its limits while much of its existing infrastructure continues to be underutilized and underfunded?
To me, it indicates a City that does not have its priorities straight, a City without a vision and without clear plan for the future.
Demand has changed in our country. The American Dream is no longer exclusively defined as a quiet life on a large lot in a big house near a big city. Baby Boomers are entering retirement and wanting to get closer to their families and basic resources. Young people are no longer as wedded to the car as they are to a specific community, which means, in practical terms, that if we are to attract a younger workforce, we must invest and cultivate a cohesive and unique community.
This aren’t pie-in-the-sky abstractions. According to a recent study, the average age of our Central Louisiana’s workforce will reach retirement in less than three years. This is an alarming statistic that reinforces the need for workforce development, training, recruitment, and a full-fledged, multi-organizational effort in diversifying Central Louisiana’s employment portfolio. Unless we locate new knowledge-based jobs here in Alexandria, we will continue to lose manufacturing jobs by attrition, retirement, or out-sourcing at a steady pace, which will ultimately increase overall unemployment rates and cause additional burdens on the public.
Critics who oppose inner-city reinvestment or downtown revitalization efforts are quick to say that the public’s investment should always follow the private sector; they argue that the “free market” should dictate the public’s investment in infrastructure. Unfortunately, however well-intentioned these critics may be, they fail to acknowledge the significant public subsidization of those so-called “free market” developments.
Today, we know empirically that communities who neglect their historic districts and corridors are at a competitive disadvantage.
The private-sector, particularly in this new knowledge-based economy, is more attracted to and more likely to invest in communities that invest in themselves, communities who recognize the tremendous value of a “sense of place.” Put simply, anyone who suggests that Downtown/inner-city reinvestment is somehow “socialistic” hasn’t seen the empirical data or the figures on local public investments in other areas .
Two hundred years ago, Alexander Fulton and Thomas Harris Maddox first settled and planned Alexandria for a reason: its strategic location on the Red River and in the geographic center of the State of Louisiana. Alexandria’s Downtown was not constructed on a random intersection of two state highways. It was built before the age of the automobile, on the banks of the Red River, on some of the most valuable and viable land in the entire region.
Alexandria’s historic residential neighborhoods were originally developed along a public trolley line, not along an Interstate. Neighborhoods were built to scale. They were meant to be walkable, and you didn’t have to own a car just to get around.
(Part Two: What’s Your Point, Lamar?)
(Actually ‘Ro-may-o’, ‘Ro-may-o’)
As many may know Chrysler Holdings, as part of its remake of the country will be closing many dealerships and getting rid of several models. It’s also quite common knowledge now that the company will very likely become part of Fiat Group of Italy. What is not so common knowledge is why Fiat would want Chrysler in the first place.
For Years Chrysler has been the sick old man of the American Auto Industry. It’s not that Chrysler has been a bad company. In fact, they have been one of the most innovative in their products and one of the best in styling in quality…sometimes.
Chrysler has had one main feather in its cap for decades, and that was Jeep. It is and has been a very solid company with a near cult following. And, that’s not so hard when you’ve been basically making the same product for 60 years — especially, if you stick to what you do well and do it better than anyone else. Unfortunately for Chrysler, Jeeps aren’t for everyone.
Unfortunately, neither have Chrysler’s other products. Chrysler cars themselves have gone in cycles with the early 80′s being great and the mid 2000′s being wonderful and everything in the middle being a mish mash of poorly constructed amalgamations of moving parts that looked more like a combination of flying saucer and dung beetle than respectable automobile.
Luckily Chrysler didn’t fall into the same pitfall of Ford and GM by focussing on the biggest baddest penis-envy SUV-so-big-you-need-a-new-garage market segment. They didn’t go down the path of zero fuel economy but more cupholders than a cinemaplex. That’s a good thing for them. Unfortunately, they didn’t really seem to focus on any market segment at all.
Chrysler’s most recent suitor was of course German automaker Daimler-Benz. Daimler really only purchased Chrysler for Jeep. With the luxury car market changing away from large sedans and toward Luxury SUV’s and Cross-overs, Mercedes saw in the daddy of all Sport Ute’s a chance to get one up on the competition (usually BMW and Audi). So in order to get access to all those nice patents and technology that has kept Jeep the best at what it does since Normandy, Mercedes decided it was time to buy American. But, like Napoleon with Louisiana, Detroit wasn’t about to give in that easy. Jefferson couldn’t buy New Orleans without Missouri, and Germany couldn’t have the Jeep without Chrysler and company in tow. Still, the deal was done. Within a year of Daimler buyign Chrysler Mercedes debuted its first SUV (which looked an awful lot like a Grand Cherokee). A year or two after that and Jeep introduces its newer improved Grand Cherokee (which looked even more so like the Mercedes).
Long story short, Mercedes got what it wanted out of the deal. But, Chrysler didn’t come out so bad in the divorce either.
You see, the Germans don’t so much have a taste for luxury as much as Americans do, and they really don’t care that much about quality compared to consumers here. But they do value engineering above all else and in bringing into its family Chrysler, even if it was the ritalin addicted stepchild of the marriage, the Germans had to make sure that Chrysler was the best Chrysler it could be. So…sie haben den Chrysler besser gemacht.
And when they made Chrysler better, they did so the same way Ford made Jaguar and Volvo better; they looked for ways to take the good from what they had bought (an American brand that could sell big cars), the good from what they had (a German brand of great big cars in a country that doesn’t really value big cars), a whole lot of extra engineers in a country with high unemployment and high labor cost, and a whole lot of auto workers in a country with considerably lower production costs, threw in some designers, sprinkled in an Austrian or two for good measure, stared at a Bentley, and voila…the new line of Chrysler sedans.
Now here’s the thing, love them or hate them, the new Chryslers are pretty amazing cars. For one, they look an aweful lot like an updated version of my mom’s ’82 New Yorker we had when I was a kid. At the same time, they look like a slihtly smaller and boxier version of the big buck Bentley. But that’s not what matters, and that’s not why I knew several Mercedes execs in Germany who drove Chrysler 300′s. The big Chrysler is basically a Mercedes E Class, but for about 40-50 thousand dollars less. The drive train, suspension, electronics…let’s just say it’s a good deal.
So, we didn’t come out so bad when Chrysler came home. But, what about Fiat? Why would they want (the now bankrupt) Chrysler?
Well, they aren’t just after Chrysler for Jeep (which was the reason Mercedes bought Chrysler and the reason Chrysler tried to buy Renault, the reason Renault bought AMC, and the reason the AMC was formed with other companies from Willys in the first place). No, they want you!
Well, maybe they don’t necessarily want YOU, but they want access to you. Fiat wants access to the biggest car-buying market in the world (that’s us). They want to be able to get their cars into dealerships on street corners in America — dealerships in your town — dealerships that Chrysler and Dodge.
This won’t be Fiat’s first foray into the North American market. They had brief success in the 60′s and 70′s in some areas of the country and when England Air Force Base was open, you would even occasionally see one that had made its way to Alexandria via some poor unsuspecting Airman who learned all to well the jocular “Fix It Again, Tony”.
Fiat at the time, like most car coming out of Europe were crap to say the least. They were cheap, and sometimes fun, but you needed as much room in your trunk for tools as you did for groceries. Reputation at the time pretty much doomed Fiat in the American market when combined with our love for everything big and their specialization in making cars small.
Times are different now. Fiat makes good cars. Their company is stable. And, they have enough market share wordwide that a total failure in the American market wouldn’t really hurt them that bad. In fact, the Fiat Punto right) is the world’s Best Selling car. It’s not the fastest, it’s not the best looking, but it’s really really fuel efficient, reliable, sporty, and cheap! (three things most American cars have forgotten about being)
Does this mean we need to look for the new Fiat dealership on Coliseum Blvd or learn to add “Punto” to our vocabulary of Corvette, Mustang, and Wrangler? No…not likely. Fiat will fear American prejudice to their brand which most feel is a cheap car. They also wouldn’t want to put a car into our market that sounded anything like Pinto (car that had exploding gas tank, bean that causes explosive gas, etc). Instead we’re likely to see Fiat cars arrive on the local scene rebadged as Dodge’s.
A few years ago the idea of losing one of our American car brands was unthinkable to my Generation. Sure the 20th Century saw the rise and fall of hundreds of auto marques. There were even 4 or 5 of them here in Louisiana. But by the early 1970′s the American market had calmed down into a blend of brands that had remained fairly continuous for decades. Then a few years ago we lost Oldsmobile. Plymouth quickly followed suit, and rumors of Mercury’s demise have remained aloft for at least as long. And now we have to accept that within the next few years our familiar car market will change once again. Pontiac has already received its execution order. GMC is probably next and Buick may likely be following right along.
Back in the 1980′s and 90′s Chrysler played around with rebadging by selling Mitsubishi and Renault cars as Eagle and Dodge lines. Other automakers do this all the time as well. Fords are Mazdas; Chevys are Daewoos; Citroen, Puegot and Toyota all sell the exact same car with almost the exact same styling made in the exact same factory (it’s the Yaris here). Like most any other industry it comes down to marketing more than anything else.
Nowadays however, marketing has to be combined with market awareness and after 50 years of telling Americans what they want, car makers are having to listen to and react to what consumers are actually demanding. American consumers will still want sporty cars, and luxurious cars. They will want to feel they are getting the most they can for their money whether they spend seven thousand or seventy (believe it or not, most Europeans don’t view driving as a pleasurable thing so most cars there are quite utilitarian and even BMW’s sold in Germany seem cheaply made by American standards of fit and finish). In addition now to valuing the comfort and performance of our rides now though, Americans want something that’s going to be as kind to their wallets as it is kind to their bottoms. Fuel economy and lower cost of entry are becoming the defining factors in consumers’ car hunts.
The days of every auto manufacturer making a variation on the same theme is probably gone. And for Chrysler that most probably means a much leaner Dodge. Jeep does it’s job as an SUV marque impeccably and aside from losing the ill-conceived Compass, it’s safe. Dodge however is keyed for a makeover. It’s weight-loss regime will probably come in the form of jettisoning it’s SUV and truck offerings. Our market has shown that even the USA cannot support the 6-7 lines of full-sized trucks on the market. GM is already going to have to choose between Chevrolet and GMC as to which will go forward as their workhorse line, Ford is by far better at that market than anyone else, and Toyota has absorbed much of the market share that was at one time split. Dodge will likely need to concede defeat on this front. Ram Tough just wasn’t tough enough for $4/gal gas.
Chrysler as a marque is already lean and has its segment of sedan buyers. Plan on saying goodbye to the Sebring and despite being a good car, the Crossfire has already gotten the axe, so the baby Bentley / middle-class Mercedes is likely to be the bulk of its offerings with a minivan thrown into the mix somewhere. That leaves Dodge to pick up the slack and provide America with the cars they are wanting. Expect those cars to be Fiats. We’re likely to see cars like the Punto on Dodge lots with remenicent names like “Dart” and “Daytona”.
Now Fiat isn’t just a single brand. Fiat is a large car company and covers a full range. If you compared them to Ford, you would have Fiat [Ford], Alfa Romeo [Mercury], and Lancia [Lincoln]. But you have Maserati and Ferrari. Out of all of these we’re not likely to see Lancia, Fiat will likely be rebadged, and let’s face it, those who can afford Maseratis and Ferraris already have them. The one brand to watch though — and the one Brand to look for coming to a dealership near you is Alfa Romeo.
Alfa’s are an oddity in the car market. They’re completely out of sync with the brand design of most American and Asian marques, and even by European standard they are a sort of purposefully designed prodigal son of the industry. Alfa Romeo has the unique position of being born a sports car and manufactured by a company that sells the some of the cheapest cars in the world and some of the most expensive on the planet. What this all blends together to form is a brand of auto that has a very odd combination of German Sportiness, fine Italian Styling, and a very American middle class pricepoint. They’re luxurious, fast, fun, utilitarian, and really really cool!
Take a look at the 8c (left). It look likes a Porsche, drives like a dream and costs about the
same as a Mazda or a Saturn. And the one thing about Alfas that you can rarely say about a car that most people can afford (take a look at the car to the right)…They’re BEAUTIFUL!!!
Alfa Romeo actually makes a full line of cars and their price point is around where a Saturn is. Some are closer to the price of a Honda. The people I have known who owned them loved them and they are known to be very dependable.
I recommend you check out their website at alfaromeo.com
Of course, this is all conjecture on my part, but having spent as much of my adult life in other countries as I have in the US, I have had the chance to get to know more than just the local auto industry, and these are my guesses as to where we’re heading.
Only time will tell, but in the meantime, have a nice drool over the Alfa Romeo 8c:
(Notably, the paper did link to her entire address online; I did not see that link this morning).
This morning, The Town Talk‘s “Our View” editorial opposes Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court because she once said this:
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.
Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.
However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.
I also hope that by raising the question today of what difference having more Latinos and Latinas on the bench will make will start your own evaluation. For people of color and women lawyers, what does and should being an ethnic minority mean in your lawyering? For men lawyers, what areas in your experiences and attitudes do you need to work on to make you capable of reaching those great moments of enlightenment which other men in different circumstances have been able to reach. For all of us, how do change the facts that in every task force study of gender and race bias in the courts, women and people of color, lawyers and judges alike, report in significantly higher percentages than white men that their gender and race has shaped their careers, from hiring, retention to promotion and that a statistically significant number of women and minority lawyers and judges, both alike, have experienced bias in the courtroom?
Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.
There is always a danger embedded in relative morality, but since judging is a series of choices that we must make, that I am forced to make, I hope that I can make them by informing myself on the questions I must not avoid asking and continuously pondering. We, I mean all of us in this room, must continue individually and in voices united in organizations that have supported this conference, to think about these questions and to figure out how we go about creating the opportunity for there to be more women and people of color on the bench so we can finally have statistically significant numbers to measure the differences we will and are making.
I am delighted to have been here tonight and extend once again my deepest gratitude to all of you for listening and letting me share my reflections on being a Latina voice on the bench. Thank you.
So, how, exactly, is she a racist? Does the paper even know what Sotomayor means?
I know the California Supreme Court’s decision about Proposition 8 will be old news by the time anybody reads this, but I just wanted to point out that California makes me sad. And they have proven, once and for all, that no matter how progressive or conservative you THINK your region is, the people can always fool you. And in the case of California, that’s disappointing. But, to put a silver lining on a difficult situation, I think this paradox says something about our own state. Louisiana has rarely, if ever, had a reputation as a progressive haven. But what we can take away from the CA decision is that, just as it’s possible for one state to swing back and forth, it’s possible for us to rise above our reputation and prove that we are capable of making progressive decisions. We should accept the challenge that the CA proposition presents, and show the nation that we care about equal rights.
Now, more than ever, it’s important for everyone concerned with gay marriage rights to contact Senators and Congressmen, to elect officials who will support gay marriage/civil unions, and to press the Obama Administration to make good on its campaign promises to the gay community and its supporters.
I don’t know what else to say. Because it’s really, really hard to put a silver lining on this one.
Originally published on May 26, 2008:
Lee Hamilton Deal, formerly of Alexandria and West Monroe, Louisiana.
A comment left by “E. from New York” on Fallen Heroes Memorial:
On the day of his death, Lee Deal saved a marine, a very close friend of mine for over 12 years. If it weren’t for him, my friend may not have survived the extensive injuries that he received. To his family, thank you so very much for sending this hero, this angel, to save my friend. I am so sorry for your loss. Lee Deal and your family will forever be in my prayers.
From the News Observer:
The last time Melanie Deal talked with her son, Lee, was the week before Mother’s Day.
“He had flowers delivered — tulips,” said Deal, who lives in West Monroe, La., about 80 miles west of Shreveport.
During their early Mother’s Day conversation, Deal wanted to know if her son had received the DVDs of the Master’s golf tournament she had recorded for him.
“He was a big golf fan,” Melanie Deal said Monday. “He tried to play every chance he got whenever he was in North Carolina.
Three days after Mother’s Day on May 17, Petty Officer Third Class Lee Hamilton Deal, 23, was killed in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Monday.Lee was a Navy sailor assigned to Camp Lejeune. The Defense Department news release ascribed his death to “enemy action.”
He was assigned to Regimental Combat Team-5, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), and permanently assigned to 2nd Marine Division Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, Camp Lejeune.
In addition to to his mother, Deal is survived by his father, Harry Deal, of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, and an older brother, Justin Deal, of Denver.
Lee Deal graduated from West Monroe High School in 2001. He is best remembered among townsfolk as the placekicker for the school football team that won a string of state titles and national championships in 1998 and 2000.
Among Lee Deal’s teammates was his best friend, Andrew Whitworth, a former offensive tackle with Louisiana State University just drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Deal is the third West Monroe football player to lose his life in Iraq.
The summer after graduation Deal tried out as a walk on with LSU and made the team. He decided to join the Navy in what would have been his sophomore year.
“He just wanted more structure, time to mature,” his mother said. “He thought that the armed forces would give him that.”
Deal was deployed to Iraq on March 25. His mother visited with him in Wilmington the week before he left.
“We had lunch on the beach,” she said. “He was funny. A beautiful boy. Maybe I shouldn’t say that because he’s not a girl. But he was extremely handsome.”
A friend of mine who has always championed Louisiana College, in many ways, sent this article to me today. Needless to say, he was concerned.
I encourage you to read it and share your thoughts and impressions.
I have my own opinions, but I’m interested in hearing yours.
God has given us a territory. It is defined by His Word, unchanging truth without any mixture of error. Satan, through culture, media, education – the world, has done his best to redefine and challenge God’s truth.
The enemy is attacking the Christian’s territory and he is doing so at an exponential pace.
The murder of our unborn is occurring at a rate of 21 babies per second!
The President of the United States is carrying the banner to continue these murders at an even faster pace and to also use our tax dollars to expand the murder overseas.
If we use Biblical truth to define our president and those in Congress as murderers – and that is what they are, murderers – as those who have perpetuated this murderous plot, will they imprison us?
It was reported Friday on various newswires that the President of Uruguay has ended the country’s 30 year ban on gays serving in the country’s military.
Sadly this news comes the same week that our own President Barack Obama issues a press release hinting that repealing the US ban on gays openly serving in the military may be the first campaign promise that he chooses to break to the American people.
Setting aside the fact that nearly every American ally and member of NATO allow gays to serve openly and that our peers in having such an archaic view are fine governments such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Syria, and Yemen — true bastions of freedom, for the United States to maintain this policy is beyond belief.
And with places like Uruguay taking the step to abolish such practices, for President Obama to betray those who so vehemently supported him based on his promise of change is despicable.
I can only hope that the President quickly realizes the folly of bowing to the anti-gay lobby and sticks to his guns and opens the military to gay service members in much the same way that his predecessor Truman opened to military to African Americans which could very easily be argued as having been one of the prime steps that have made the possibility of Mr. Obama’s presidency a reality today.
Originally published as a comment on Drew’s post titled “Thank you Town Talk.”
Developing and reporting the news costs money, and for better or worse, the vast majority of blogs heavily rely on newspapers for their content.
Newspapers only have two options: They can continue to deliver their content online for free, while charging their print readership for the same content, and continue failing. OR they can wake up to the fact that their readership is PRIMARILY online and begin charging for online content as well.
The music industry woke up to this already, and though it may have not been popular at the time, I, for one, don’t have a problem paying for an album or a song. Sure, a few years ago, it was awesome to download whatever you wanted from Napster, but I also understand why it was important for the music industry to push for clearly defining the legal methods for online delivery of their product.
The solution isn’t as easy as a young, enterprising blogger simply replacing the newspaper; there’s not enough money in online ads to create sustainable, localized, and professional blog “news” sites, particularly in small to mid-sized markets like Alexandria.
The newspaper industry should band together and develop a suitable and affordable online delivery system, with the flexibility of allowing bloggers their right to reference their product (though they should not relinquish basic “fair use” standards; too many blogs are just regurgitations and/or aggregations of the paper’s daily content).
The future of news is online; it’s in the cards. But instead of viewing the newspaper industry as a dinosaur that will surely become extinct, we should view it as an industry with enormous profit margins and considerable resources that has yet to fully recognize or understand the explosive potential of the Internet in engaging consumers and has been, at the same time, undermined by a corporatist profit model that, instead of embracing the blogosphere, seems to despise it.
My DNC pal Athenae from First Draft is spot on when she writes:
If there was no Internet, if Craigslist disappeared tomorrow, if nobody ever blogged again, the greed, shortsightedness and selfishness that looks at a 40 percent profit margin and cries poverty – as was the case at some Gannett newspaper properties this year – would still smother newspaper journalism eventually.
The Town Talk can make a ton of money; by most standards, a 20% return is tremendous. Apparently, that is what they made a year ago (according to GannettBlog). But when you’re expected to make 30% or 40% returns, you’re forced to cut costs… and usually, the first people to get pink slips work in the newsroom. Without the resources to develop news stories, a paper loses credibility. This is doubly hurt when a paper takes divisively partisan editorial positions without balanced counter-criticism.
Basically, the industry needs to completely rethink its priorities and reorganize its corporate structure, perhaps opening up massive amounts of preferred stock to local investors in order to ensure sustained viability, independent of the success of a single corporate behemoth (I don’t know necessarily how this would work, but increased local ownership seems important).
Somehow, someone will read this and call me a socialist.
Greg Aymond has apparently locked out any additional comments on his post that “jokingly” compares the 2009 graduating class of Peabody High School to the Ku Klux Klan (because of the school’s tradition of wearing white gowns at commencement) and has suggested to his readership to comment on my website instead.
I’ll take him up on his offer.
If your comment was deleted by Mr. Aymond or if you would like to respond to his “joke,” have at it.
A few ground rules, though:
- I will delete any personal threats against Mr. Aymond.
- I will delete any personal threats directed at anyone associated with Peabody High School.
- Commenters must leave their e-mail address. (Don’t worry; your e-mail address will not be made public.)
- Your opinion means more to people if you put your name next to it. You don’t have to, but I encourage disclosure.
If this thread fails to attract any comments within 24 hours, it will be deleted.
I am not sure how I missed this, but a hearty congratulations to Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu (as well as his entire staff at CRT) for winning the first-ever national Public Innovator Award, presented by RootCause. Quoting:
The Public Innovator Award recognizes government leaders who embrace six roles for advancing innovative, entrepreneurial solutions to today’s most difficult problems. ”We’re honoring Lt. Governor Landrieu for his vision in founding the Office of Social Entrepreneurship in 2006, the first office of its kind in the nation, to support the creation and growth of the solutions to the many social problems affecting the state of Louisiana,” said Wolk. “He is on the leading edge of a national movement to identify what works and ditch what doesn’t, and we hope his leadership spawns similar efforts at all levels of government across the nation.”