Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tragic Exploitation

Witness, to dispatcher: Hello, I just witnessed a shooting.

Dispatcher: Did you get a good look at the shooter?

Witness: Yes, he looked like.... well, imagine if President Obama had a teenage son....

Dispatcher: Got it, and the victim?

Witness: Ummm, yah, imagine if the president had a second son....oh no, there is a large crowd approaching!

Dispatcher: Can you describe the scene please?

Witness: Sure, its a large, mixed race crowd carrying signs....

Dispatcher: Let me guess, they look like the president?

Witness: No, he's black. Imagine an Obama/Robinson family reunion at a journalists convention.

Dispatcher: Understood, now what are they doing?

Witness: They are demanding justice and racial harmony.

Dispatcher: OK, I'll send the Reverends Sharpton and Jackson right away.

Witness: No, that never works.

Dispatcher: Then what?

Witness: Well there is an injured black youth remember? How about an ambulance?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Parenting Blue

The following is my comment, awaiting moderation, to Steven over at Blogging Blue who wonders about his now three year old black son's safety in light of the Trayvon Martin death:

Steven, you worry about your son as all decent parents do. And his race may well contribute to different treatment from others, sometimes good treatment, sometimes not. My suggestion is that, over time, educate your son – explain to him that, unfortunately, people sometimes make assumptions about others based on what should be irrelevant characteristics. And that there is nothing whatsoever he can do about other people’s irrationality. As such, he should not dwell or obsess about others real or perceived attitudes towards him, as this will lead to a dead end of bitterness and excuse making. Rather, he should focus on his own development and decency. He may win over some who are obsessed with his blackness, some he may not. But again, its their problem, not his. It is true and unfortunate that he may be treated poorly by some, but then, who is always treated perfectly? People discriminate all the time. As a shorter man, I, now happily married, sometimes jokingly note that nearly all women are heightists, ie, they won’t date someone shorter. It would be foolhardy for me to claim victim status and set out to end this discrimination. Now I am not equating racism with heightism except to suggest that one should not dwell on something that you have no control over. And lastly, I would suggest that you not react hysterically to the Trayvon story any more that you should swear off flying after a plane accident. You cited statistics stating that a black boy is more likely to be shot by a white person that a white boy is. Perhaps true but as a parent I trust you don’t have a preference about who is to shoot your son, rather, you just don’t want him shot, period. As such, you might want to look into just who it is that is shooting the most black boys. Hint, it isn’t white people. And some day, your son will need to try to understand why violence is more of a problem, statistically speaking, among black people here in America. And here, unfortunately, I suspect you will fail your child.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Racism or Elitism?

RUSD Superintendent Ann Laing stepped in it a bit by making racially insensitive remarks about black families. Since she is a card carrying liberal, she will get through this episode unscathed. And she has apologized. Read the story here.

Basically, Laing insulted black families by pointing out that many were the ones most "prone to enroll their kids in the fly-by-night schools that cropped up after vouchers existed." She went on to add that black families "don't know how to make good choices for their children. They really don't. They didn't have parents who made good choices for them or helped them learn how to make good choices, so they don't know how to do that."

I have some sympathy for Sup Laing because I suspect she is right in many cases. Her mistake is to lump all black people together and assume, or at least incorrectly state, that all black families are basically dysfunctional. That is certainly not true or fair.

Of course much of the case against vouchers and for a monopolistic public school system rests on claims like Sup Laing's. Yes, the public is too stupid to make good choices on education. Therefore we need to limit or hopefully one day eliminate other educational options for children. And this will dramatically improve the funding and the educational outcomes for all our darlings.

I don't agree with the liberal line on public education, but what do I know, I'm just a white guy without an education degree.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Conditional Freedom

Racine's Becker era conditional-use law has been used to club another would-be business out of town. This time the victim is a funeral home that would have occupied the former Women's Club in downtown Racine. Opponents of the funeral home most often cited parking and traffic concerns as their reasons for opposition.

The conditional-use requirement essentially allows the city to circumvent their own zoning laws and make any potential business subject to a political process before opening.

The problem with the politicization of entrepreneurship is that the real reasons for opposition may not be so innocent. I am making no claims about the hearts and minds of the particular opponents in this case, but it is not a stretch to suggest that in some cases opponents won't want a particular type of person to open a business. That is, there might be discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion etc... or to block a potential business competitor. There will always be ample "legitimate" concerns to mask the real reason for the opposition.

It is disheartening that the city has a law that invites and empowers discriminatory opposition. Prior to the conditional-use requirement, a persons race, gender, religion, sexual orientation etc... was not a factor in whether they could open a business in Racine. Is this progress?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nuisance Schools

The City of Racine is looking to crack down on nuisance properties, namely those that require frequent and costly services from the police department.

My guess is that the three biggest offenders, though not all in Racine, are Park, Horlick, and Case high schools. Somehow I doubt the new ordinance will apply to those offenders.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

We Don't Need...

"We don't need another WallMart."

The problem with this point of view is the assumption that one has or should have the power to prevent another from pursuing an opportunity, that the process of opening a business should be entirely politicized.

"We don't need another black family in the neighborhood."

Can we see the potential problem with empowering people to frustrate or deny opportunities or freedoms to others?

Friday, March 09, 2012

Other Than Wise

The following paragraph, found in this Journal Times article, is why I worry about sending my son to college:

Jennifer Correa, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology who spoke on the history of lynching, urged students to be “race conscious” — to be aware of other racial groups’ ideas and beliefs — and to challenge the notions of “whiteness.” Just like you define “good” by defining “bad,” she said “whiteness” is defined by “the Other,” referring to anything different. In order to address institutional racism, she argued society must first challenge the notions attached to “whiteness” like being civilized and superior.

First of all, do we really understand "good" by first defining "bad?" How did we first define "bad" without a definition of "good?" And isn't it silly to think that we understand "whiteness" by first defining the "other?" If the "other" is defined in part as "anything different," wouldn't we have to understand that which it is different from? So right off the bat we are working with a nonsensical premise.

And we are told to be "race conscious" while challenging notions of "whiteness." I wonder what Correa is conscious of when she sees me, a white man, since the notion of me being civilized must be challenged.

My head is spinning. I am going to lie down. But first, can anyone define "up" for me please?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

City Discriminates Against Unmarried Heterosexual Couples

The city of Racine just extended benefits to the same sex partners of city employees, so long as they have registered as domestic partners with the state. But state law discriminates against opposite sex couples as only same sex partners may register as domestic partners. And the city of Racine in turn discriminates against unmarried opposite sex couples by denying them benefits that they are now extending to same sex couples.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Registry Abuse Prediction

The city is not just hurtling toward financial disaster with misguided TIFs but with a proposal to extend health benefits, read all about it here, to those on the state's domestic partnership list.

A little anecdote might just illustrate the future that awaits us. Someone dear to me had a friend who worked for an airline. The airline extended some flight benefits for any partner of the employee. Though the two were merely friends, the former flew many times for nearly free, courtesy of the airlines domestic partner policy.

Big deal you say. There are only a handful of people - 57 or so in the entire county - who are on the domestic registry list. How many of them work for the city? One, maybe two?

Yes, but here is the problem. As soon as benefits are extended, and they surely will be, you can say goodbye to city employees with single coverage. A single employee will be sitting on, ie wasting, a $900 per month or $11,000 annual benefit. How long before said single employee offers to sign up for the domestic registry with the chronically ill acquaintance that offers him $4,000 per year? Before long everyone working for the city will either be married or will have a domestic partner, and our costs will skyrocket. Mark my words.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Planning Omissions

I went to a Racine Planning Commission meeting last night to learn more about the Porters project and the TIF proposed to help with the financing. But that was not the only issue before the commission.

It seems that there are some folks who want to utilize (purchase or rent?) the Women's Club building on the outskirts of downtown. The one and only controversy discussed was over parking and traffic congestion that might result when the proprietors have a funeral procession departing from their establishment. Apparently this was the second time wrangling over the issue and this time the proprietors proposed routes which seemingly would have been different from those used by a neighboring funeral home. We also learned that in the last five years, they have only had about five funerals that did not go from a church directly to a cemetery. In other words, unless they change their modus operandi, they will have very infrequent funeral processions. Even so, they spent close to an hour discussing this phantom problem before deferring action until such time as the proprietor can relieve the concerns of the committee. How exactly to successfully address the "problem" of a once a year funeral procession on public streets was left unsaid.

Regarding the Porter's project, it was a love fest from start to finish. The project itself looks great and I wholeheartedly endorse the Waters family using their own money or that of investors to move forward. Fearing the TIF would sail through the committee like a funeral procession on an open road, it was up to me apparently to suggest that a TIF is a serious investment by the public, with considerable risks to the taxpayer, and that the risks should be fully explored before the matter is voted upon. But alas, with no discussion beyond praise for the Waters family, they voted unanimously to approve the TIF. The matter now heads to the full council.