City Spending

Gateway City Good Times: $31 Million Fast-Fingered; Business Lunch at Chuck E. Cheese's

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In Montebello, the budget is as appetizing as an Applebee's quesadilla burger.

Officials in Montebello, an eastern Los Angeles County town of 64,000 with a long history of public-money hanky-panky, misspent $31 million in public funds between 2005 and 2010, according to two new audits from California's fiscal controller. 

An audit of Montebello's redevelopment agency [pdf] and another one of the city's "special gas tax street improvement fund" [pdf] "found $31 million in questionable spending, loans, and fund transfers," says state Controller John Chiang. 

Montebello is one of the group of "Gateway Cities" that includes the unpopulated industrial town of Vernon (which was the subject of a recent move by the state legislature to revoke its city charter) and Bell (which became a national scandal last year after the L.A. Times revealed its city manager's salary of nearly $1 million a year). 

Montebello's interim city administrator quit this spring after a falling out with the existing political leadership. In a recent issue of Reason I discussed how the city managed to spend $1 million to put up an Applebee's in the late nineties, and apparently things have been going downhill since then. 

Who wants a mouse in a restaurant?

Only the names of the family-friendly restaurants have changed. From the RDA report: 

In May 2009, a city manager incurred expenditures of $1,315 of RDA funds for the purchase of Dodgers tickets and parking passes, and $788 for dinner in Las Vegas. The same city manager also received per-diem reimbursement for the dinner in Las Vegas. This city manager also incurred $3,112 in petty cash reimbursements from the RDA during July and September 2009, of which approximately $600 was for lunches. It should be noted that the city manager approved all of these expenditures.

That would be former city manager Richard Torres, whom we last met making $211,921 in a roundup of local city managers. Torres gave up his job in November 2009 and was replaced by one Nick Pacheco, who lasted only a month before being replaced Randy Narramore. Narramore lasted until July of 2010, when he was replaced by Peter Cosentini, who appears to be the first city manager/administrator to make a serious effort to get to the bottom of the city's financial secrets. After quitting in April, Cosentini was replaced by the developer Larry J. Kosmont, who is still serving as the interim city administrator. 

Larry Kosmont, Montebello's man of iron.

Kosmont reached out to Reason (on an unrelated development story) a few months ago, but after some back and forth decided he did not have legal clearance to speak with us after all. I hope we'll be able to get some insight from him on Montebello's fiscal follies. 

Meanwhile, the Whittier Daily News catches up with Torres and reveals that one of the challenged lunch expenses was for a meal at Chuck E. Cheese's: 

Torres said City Council members frequently asked him to meet at local eateries to discuss city business.

"The council's preference, more than others, was to meet for breakfast or lunch," Torres said. "I had a standing breakfast meeting each week to meet with (former councilwoman) Kathy Salazar."

Torres said he met at Chuck E. Cheese's with former councilwoman Mary Anne Saucedo- Rodriguez on one occasion, because she was baby-sitting her grandchildren.

The city tried to challenge the lunch complaint in the state report. The state controller's office responds: 

The SCO finds it hard to believe that the City Administrator met with an official from another city at a pizza parlor known to be child friendly to discuss Montebello City Council or Redevelopment Agency agenda items.

Most of the towns in this part of the county are specimens of government that would be considered sub-par by national standards, but they're more or less normal by L.A. standards. Assembly Speaker John Pérez ultimately failed in his bid to disincorporate Vernon, but the effort was a dire warning. Bad as these places are as independent polities, they would probably be even worse off as part of the phenomenally corrupt and inept City of Los Angeles. 

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  1. Would you prefer if they met at a strip club?

    And that quesadilla looks good. Like most things it needs more peanut butter though.

    1. I’d prefer they met at the god damned facilities they paid to have constructed for meeting you fucking troll.

      1. Why don’t you pick a fucking handle, troll?

      2. It’s in some people’s nature to be nothing better than a contrarian no matter the topic or the position taken. Had the actually met at a strip club and we had publicly objected to it, he would have responded with something like “Would you prefer they met at a kids restaurant and ate some “pizza” while they ogled the small bits of small ones playing skee ball?”.

        1. Leaving aside the fact that this was obviously a joke, a notable feature of contrarians, as opposed to sincere gadflies, is that they take contradictory positions at different times.

          I’m not a contrarian, as you can see from the fact that my positions are consistent. I’m just someone who eloquently and passionately disagrees with many of you.

          1. And still has an exceedingly deep and profoundly disturbing fixation with peanut butter, I see. Is there nothing on which you will not slather on peanut butter, Tulpa? Fortunately for you, I’m assuming you don’t have a nut allergy (no double entendre intended).

            1. Peanut butter and bacon makes a pretty tasty sandwich. Just don’t want to put too much PB or the flavor takes over the bacon.

              1. Add banana slices and you have The Elvis.

            2. What up, GM? Hey, can you write me a prescription for Zoloft for Tulpa? I think his ran out.

              1. Tulpa is beyond psychiatric help, IME. I don’t think even an IV drip of concentrated liquid hooker and buckets of Risperidone and Seroquel can alleviate his authority fetish.

                1. The words of a small man with a small sigmoidoscope. I’m disappointed.

                  What’s ironic is that if we followed my allegedly authoritarian policy prescriptions, rather than the strategy of demanding absolute freedom and taking your ball and going home when it’s not granted, which much of the Reason staff and commenters implicitly advocate, the authorities would actually become LESS powerful than they are now.

                  1. Good lord Tulpa, eat some prunes for criminy’s sake! Coated with peanut butter. Laugh and the world laughs with you.

                    Never have I advocated absolute freedom, since I realize the need for limited governance; I merely am dubious about your policy proscriptions and their alleged efficacy. Particularly the claim of less powerful and centralized authority with your views implemented.

                    I also have the feeling a sigmoidoscopy on would reveal the shape of a colon roughly about the color, quality and consistency of that picture of the alleged beef quesadilla.

                    1. Haphazard enforcement of a gigantic criminal code is the tyrant’s best friend, Groovus. You should know this better than most.

                      Complete and utter ruthlessness in enforcement is the only path to a smaller body of law. Painless repealing of everything isn’t an option.

                    2. Haphazard enforcement of a gigantic criminal code is the tyrant’s best friend

                      Then gut the damn code to the necessary, practical and equitably enforceable size as opposed to sodomizing every jay walker with a tazer. Yes, yes, hyperbolic I know. But it makes the point.

                    3. That’s not going to work any more than you can just will antibodies to HPV to appear in your bloodstream. We must inject the vaccine of crushing enforcement into the societal bloodstream so that the liberty antibodies can be produced. There’s no other way! And if that makes society retarded, so be it.

                    4. Why Tulpa, what a lovely metaphor. Almost Mengelian.

                      Who is this “we” business? I’d rather excise the offending cancer of a metastizing criminal code. One can define deviancy down so far before you kill the patient attempting to save it.

                      Will you valiantly volunteer to be inoculated first?

                    5. If you think the immediate means of enslavement by authoritarianism are justified by a theoretical revolution of freedom, you are no better than the authoritarians.

                    6. Don’t come crying to me when you get cervical cancer in your rectum.

                    7. Don’t come crying to me when you get cervical cancer in your rectum.

                      Epic anatomical, histological and philosophical FAIL.

                    8. A vaccine has the benefit of, you know, being different from the disease. Retard.

                2. Maybe a dissociative? Hey Tulpa, wanna do some angel dust? Maybe some Special K, and you can get in a K-hole? I’ll bet you’d like that. You wouldn’t have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders for a little while.

                3. Thorazine should do the trick.

    2. I would prefer if you stopped being a tedious troll.

    3. Wassup, guys? Any trolling going on over here?

  2. I see nothing wrong here.

  3. Kosmont … decided he did not have legal clearance to speak with us

    See, that’s why Larry is still serving as city administrator: he’s not afraid to make a decision.

  4. “Quesadilla burger”, my ass!

  5. So Vernon is still open for an invasion? There is a McDonalds so we would have wifi for work and H&R. We just need for 200 of us to get kicked out of the house by our respective wives. Just telling her about the plan might be enough to accomplish that. Then we register to vote as homeless in Vernon.

  6. Would you prefer if they met at a strip club?

    The bottom of a well.

  7. Um, by the way? Reasonable is amazing.

    1. Good, that’s what I’m going for.

      1. it really is an excellent extension. Thank you very much for your work.

    2. Double plus good.

      It’s good enough that it helped me switch browsers. Had it sucked, I would have just stuck with Safari, but once I started doing some heavy browsing with it, as I’m wont to do when I’m on H&R, I started to see how much of the functionality I could duplicate with Chrome.

      It turns out that I can duplicate ALL of the functionality (though I do get that icky feeling of using something from Google besides the google), PLUS not have to read double fuck hole and the RTB (Reason Troll Brigade).

      Chrome with ADBlock, Email this page, flashblock, reasonable, YouTube Downloader, and YouTube HTML5-ifier is the cat’s ass.

      1. Gotta love the rebels against authority subscribing to a central ignore list chosen by someone else.

        While I’m not a huge fan of ignore lists to begin with, I can understand having one that you choose yourself. But having one that is chosen by someone else? Screw that.

        1. The ignore list wants to be FREE!!!

        2. I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I really need to point out anything hypocritical that might be true.

        3. Silly Trollpa, you can customize your own list, or use the autolist made by everyone.

          STFU already you lazy-ass troll.

          1. ^^THIS^^

            I have turned off the auto-ignore list and ignore only whom I chose.

            That whoosh you just heard was a swing and a miss.

            1. But the centrally planned list is the default, no? So it’s opt-out, not opt-in.

              1. PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

              2. I don’t remember specifically, but I think it is.

                As long as I don’t have to “read” anything by Double Fuckhole, I’m good. It was him and that idiot indian who wanted to kill most of the population of the world so he can gambol across the plains that pushed me to it.

                I can take the regular trolls like Tony because at the very least he tries to do more than simply troll. All in all, I only have about 3 people blocked. The not having to write my own html is a nice feature too.

        4. It’s called crowd-sourcing, chief. Nothing wrong with it, order out of chaos, and you can turn it off if you prefer.

        5. 1. You automatically have your own list where you can add and remove people.
          2. You can turn off the autolist. Most people probably don’t (I can only tell by the frequency of list submissions versus Google’s count of who’s downloaded it). And they use the autolist not because they’re buying into the echo chamber but because Reason rarely mods its threads and at some points becomes infested with trolls. Really, how many of these people would you miss? One or two? Unblock them.
          3. Posts are minimized with only the poster’s name shown in light gray to provide information on exactly what’s being hidden. Folks may then unignore a name like “Matt Welch” while passing over things like “Ayn Rand = Pol Pot.” If they do decide to unignore Matt (and don’t re-ignore him after reading), this information gets passed along to the autolist. In this sense it’s mostly like a Report Spam/Not Spam feature.
          4. The autolist is created by users of the extension. My personal blocklist is a fraction the size of the autolist. I do not curate it in any meaningful way aside from setting a few publicly available thresholds.
          5. Opt-out as a default is ridiculous because a) Google already makes you opt in to sharing data with the extension’s web page whether you use it or not, b) it’s the main feature of the extension versus alternatives like INCIF, c) almost no one opts out, and d) the autolist has over 500 entries, and around 99% of them are actual trolls. What makes much more sense is convention over configuration, where defaults are set the way most people expect or prefer while allowing others to fiddle with things as they see fit.

          But hey, if you need to believe that there’s some collectivist censorship mentality, go for it. IMO, it’s a reasonable way of capturing the benefits of an autolist ? la AdBlock while deferring to individual assessments of whether something should be blocked rather than centralized control.

          1. You make a good case, but I’m still not convinced you’re not just a silver-fingered devil.

            1. Hm, in that case I’ll throw in a can of peanut butter.

  8. “I hope we’ll be able to get some insight from him on Montebello’s fiscal follies.”

    Right after you can ice-skate on the River Styx.

  9. The SCO finds it hard to believe that the City Administrator met with an official from another city at a pizza parlor known to be child friendly.

    Apparently a requirement for that job is a magnificently limited imagination.

    1. Or that one be a sheep fucker.

  10. Democracy in action, not corruption! Have another snort, have another whore, have another lobster dinner.

    1. You bet yo’ ass!

    2. I believe it’s “Have a blow for your nose; one more drink, fool, would drown you.”

  11. Fuck California, yo

    1. No offense, but Xeones would’ve said it better.

      1. Indeed. Xeones would have said/written, “Yo, Fuck California!”

        1. Hi, GM! Good to hear from you!

          1. Ditto.

  12. Clearly we have a revenue problem. The rich aren’t paying their fair share.

    1. just ask Elizabeth Warren. This is just part of the social contract. Obviously these guys need more money so they won’t be tempted with corruption.

  13. This is somehow prop 13’s fault.

  14. If not for the meeting, they weren’t going to have lunch? No lunch reimbursements.

    1. Good point.

    2. Yeah.

      In general, a lunch reimbursement should only be on the table when a meeting requires an employee to travel so far from his home office that it’s not possible to go home for lunch.

      (Then it’s just a matter of making sure no employee ever scams up some fakeo reason for having to drive that far.)

  15. I’ll bet that in their hearts the employees involved here sincerely believe that the problem is revenue.

    State and local governments feel “unfairly constrained” in raising revenue directly from their constituents, so they start making interagency transfers from departments that get federal funding to departments that don’t.

    I guarantee you that the redevelopment authority in this town gets all or almost all of its funding from the federal government and the state and none or almost none from the town.

    So they’re probably parking employees at the RDA, and I bet they funnel RDA money to favored town nonprofits and/or come up with ways to “partner” with the RDA that involve having the RDA pay for the town’s shit.

    Once you get used to doing that, everyone starts to say, “What the hell, let’s go to Vegas and get some lunch.” It’s hard to maintain spending discipline when the entire point of the exercise is to loot the RDA.

    1. Actually now that I think about it, I guess it depends on whether this is a redevelopment authority funded from Community Reinvestment Act funds, or from some fake California equivalent funded from a targeted property tax.

      1. Oops, Community Development Block Grant funds, that is.

        I really shouldn’t post before the coffee brews.

    2. Fluffy,

      I actually to a real DC dinner party last night full of public servants and NGO types. And I can assure you that is exactly what they believe. When I told them that we are broke and the current model from the 1960s can’t go on, the universal response is that we are not broke, we just need to raise taxes. And they will also tell you things like that Ronald Reagan ended the great society and big government. And the evil corporations are taking profits and refusing to hire people. You can’t talk to these people. They don’t read. And the worst part I think is that they think they are so damned smart and have no idea how misinformed they are.

      1. Reagan did not end big government, but it can be argued that he slowed its growth somewhat.

        That “raise taxes” canard has been refuted to death. Yet, convincing them that their inherent core belief that government wonks and central planner types own the money and wealth to be distributed as they see fit is as futile and useful as bringing a back of freshly gelded dicks to a dyke bar.

        1. You are right. And what is really disturbing is that their views on things never evolve. They are frozen in time to what their lefty profs taught them in college. I can honestly say my views have changed since college. I have turned against the drug war, I have realized the gold bugs may have a point, all sorts of things. But these people never change. There is a certain way of thinking and that is it.

          1. Which is exactly how a fundie thinks.

            Odd these people don’t realize the irony of being the economic and policy equivalent of a flat-earther.

            1. Honestly, I have had conversations with people who honestly believed the earth was 5000 years old (there are a few of them but not many) and they were more open minded and engaging than these people.

              1. I don’t know how you do it, John.

                You’re always conversing with the worse sorts (fair taxers, and young earthers Oh My!)without losing your cool and smacking a motherfucker. Maybe living in DC has given you some sort of immunity.

                ———————————

                Hey! How’s it goin’ Groov?

                1. Maybe living in DC has given you some sort of immunity.

                  It’s a diluted form of Stockholm Syndrome, a type of defense mechanism. I understand it is endemic to DC exclusively.

                  It goes, Cap L. It goes.

                2. I haven’t met a real young earther in a long time. But I remember thinking that they kind of knew that their view was goofy. It was sort of a badge of honor. A way of being a fool for God I guess.

                  But the fair taxers are the worst because they are so damned smug. They really think everyone else is crazy or evil. That drives me crazy. And my wife hates it when I get into it with these people. She says you can’t just tell people that what they think is nonsense. She does a lot of smoothing over, especially if I have had a couple drinks. The woman is a saint.

                  1. Yeah, being around those that assume everyone believes as they do and that they’re positions don’t have to be logically defended can be infuriating. Being on the political fringes, as most here are, you must constantly defend your positions from attacks from all sides; which means that people using collective wisdom as positional support can be enraging.

                    “We’ll everybody knows that …”
                    ————–
                    Just to clarify, when I said fair taxers I didn’t mean flat taxers, but rather the ‘rich don’t pay enough’-ers.

                    1. You cant even get passed basic facts and assumptions. How do you have a discussion with someone who honestly believes Reagan ended the New Deal and the Great Society and George Bush a radical right wing deregulator?

                    2. George Bush a radical right wing deregulator?

                      Which one? Both governed as big government fiscal liberals. You deal with some pretty sick people, John.

                    3. Almost as bad as people who think Jimmy Carter was a big government liberal.

                      Compared to his GOP predecessors he was Lysander Spooner. And he wasn’t much different from Reagan in practice.

        2. Wow, what’s up, doc? Been busy have we?

          1. Very. Life has been certainly a bushel basket of interesting times.

            1. Well good to see you back, though you’ll be seeing much less of me. I can only post from home now, and I’m rarely at my computer.

              1. I rarely have time for myself, much less anything else. Thanking you and fare thee well, sage.

      2. From the sound of it, you should buy stock in a guillotine company.

  16. Tens of thousands “displaced” by armed soldiers, homes destroyed, people killed. You know, just another day in the green agenda.

    Across Africa, some of the world’s poorest people have been thrown off land to make way for foreign investors, often uprooting local farmers so that food can be grown on a commercial scale and shipped to richer countries overseas.

    But in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming.

    The case twists around an emerging multibillion-dollar market trading carbon-credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which contains mechanisms for outsourcing environmental protection to developing nations.

    The company involved, New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon-dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad. Its investors include the World Bank, through its private investment arm, and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC.

    In 2005, the Ugandan government granted New Forests a 50-year license to grow pine and eucalyptus forests in three districts, and the company has applied to the United Nations to trade under the mechanism. The company expects that it could earn up to $1.8 million a year.

    But there was just one problem: people were living on the land where the company wanted to plant trees. Indeed, they had been there a while.

    Intentions ad all that.

    1. Wow. That is a really troubling story. A new take on something all too familiar, though…

      1. Yet the green congregation still insists that environmentalism is all about protecting the earth. Bullshit: it’s all about money and garnering as much political power as possible in the process, the little people be damned.

        I guarantee that it these people were moved to build a factory, greenies would be going fucking nuts.

    2. What a fucking racket.

  17. Somebody call the health department. There’s a big rat in this restaurant.

    1. Be fair. Chuck’s a mouse, and hence markedly less pestilent than a rat.

      1. Although that rat in Ratatouille was surprisingly hygienically sound.

        1. Yes, but “The” Art-P.O.G., you do realize that it was NIMH that genetically produced the rodent known as Chuck E. Cheese. The were trying to research lactose intolerance in rodents to protect Big Cheese. I have it on good authority that Jenner planned on using Chuck E. Cheese restaurant for world domination. Or was that Pinky and the Brain?

          No matter. It’s obvious that fungible HHS funding is behind this somehow.

          1. I didn’t know Chuck had a backstory at all, let alone a badass one.

      2. I think he meant the city manager, Art.

        1. OK, that’s a good one.

  18. Committed. To EXCELLENCE!

    If the U.S. is “serious about building an economy that lasts” and strengthening the middle class, “we had better be serious about education,” Obama said. “We have to pick up our game and raise our standards.”

    Yesterday, he announced in a speech at the White House that states that commit to higher standards will get waivers from the No Child Left Behind law. The measure was signed in 2002 by Obama’s Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush.

    Obama said the law’s goals “were admirable” in emphasizing proficiency testing and requiring annual progress. But in practice, “teachers are being forced to teach to a test, while subjects like history and science are being squeezed out,” Obama said. “And in order to avoid having their schools labeled as failures, some states lowered their standards in a race to the bottom.”

    Building an economy that lasts; by spending our way to prosperity (with borrowed money)!

    Strengthening the middle class; by keeping unionized teachers on the job.

    Raise standards; by eliminating hard targets, in favor of good intentions and pinkie promises!

    Saving science and history; somehow or other!

    Avoiding failure and low self-esteem; by redefining the meaning of success- we’re all above average, in our own special way!

    Yay!

    1. Yesterday, he announced in a speech at the White House that states that commit to higher standards will get waivers from the No Child Left Behind law.

      I find this troubling: How exactly can the executive branch just up and offer plenary waivers and absolution from existing law? Colour my silly, but I thought it was up to the legislative branch to draft legislation repealing existing law and then the president signs it.

      Would this not make for a bit of problem for both Obama now with all the Obamacare waivers and pretty much guarantee Obamney’s claim that he will “grant waivers from Obamacare to all fifty states on his first day in office?” will be nullified by a court challenge? I’ve been perplexed that Obamacare opponents have not challenged the veracity of the waivers in the first place.

      1. Why challenge what you can put in your pocket and use in the near future?

        1. I’m not convinced at all that Obamney will be employing his waiver promise.

          I’m firmly convinced that Big Gov Republicans like the idea of Obamacare overall, they just want to put their own special brand of lipstick on this pig.

          I get your point though: keep the waiver option for other pesky legislation.

          Incidentally, that is one of the reasons why drug laws will never be repealed: it’s too handy to have laws on the books to charge someone when you are going after a different crime. Like nailing Capone for mail fraud and tax evasion.

          Hell, why don’t we just coronate a potentate now and just be done with it?

    2. If the U.S. is “serious about building an economy that lasts” and strengthening the middle class, “we had better be serious about education,” Obama said. “We have to pick up our game and raise our standards.”

      More people than ever attend college and possess degrees, yet the middle class continues to shrink apace. Perhaps the last thing we should be encouraging young people to do is put themselves in debt peonage to increase the ranks of the paper-pushing managerial class.

      1. And we spend an unGodly amount of money on education. Yet we seem to get less and less for our money. Why is education the one thing that the only solution seems to always be spend more money? How about bending the cost curve on education?

        1. Education is a funny product. It’s one of the few things we spend money on and don’t mind when we don’t get what we pay for (I mean this in the sense that many college students are glad to fork over $XX,000 a year, then cut class/make a bachelor’s degree a five or six year program).

          1. That is because they are not paying for an education. They are paying for a credential. It is really a mad system when you think about it.

            1. That is because they are not paying for an education. They are paying for a credential.

              ^^THIS^^

              When I taught, most students couldn’t of cared less about actually learning something. They just wanted to know what I wanted so that they could pass the course and move on. They see college as their ticket to a job because that’s what it’s billed as, not as a means to educate oneself.

              1. When I taught, most students couldn’t of cared less about actually learning something. They just wanted to know what I wanted so that they could pass the course and move on.

                What did you teach and at what level of instruction?

                If it was a class that I might not be super jazzed about, naturally my interest level would not be as high as a class that really got my intellectual dander raised.

                They see college as their ticket to a job because that’s what it’s billed as, not as a means to educate oneself.

                Perhaps a good trade or technical school with a solid apprenticeship would have been more appropriate, since that is the whole point of that type of practical education.

                I still maintain this attitude in students you lament can be traced directly to the entitlement mindset.

                1. I taught composition at the University of Kentucky.

                  No one was jazzed about the class, but of the hundreds of students I taught, there might have been 2 that didn’t need remedial help. Most just thought they didn’t need to learn how to write.

                  They are certainly entitled; you can hear it in their language. A grade is something given, never something earned (He gave me a C on that paper (on which I did as little work as possible in order to finish)). Almost universally they want to do as little work possible, fudge the rest, and hope that I’m too stupid to notice.

              2. They just wanted to know what I wanted so that they could pass the course and move on

                To be fair a lot of people are taking classes to fulfill bullshit requirements that have nothing to do with their major. Take today for instance, I am writing an essay for history of architecture, when I should be doing pchem or research for work.

                I want to do just enough to get an a- and move the fuck on. Not that it’s not interesting, it’s just that I could spend a week in the summer reading a book on the subject and retain more. It’d be a hell of a lot cheaper as well.

                1. Thank Jeebus for CLEP tests. I was able to test out of 33 semester hours.

                2. Agreed. But I taught composition. Not some bullshit course that no one needs. In my experience, I had perhaps 2 students who didn’t need it.

            2. I’m hiring for an entry-level business analyst position, and have already rejected two people with MBAs and put through someone with only a GED yet with very relevant work experience. The college credentialing system is falling apart precisely because it provides employers no guarantee that the applicant knows anything of actual, pragmatic value.

              1. I think the college credentialing system provides a pretty good guarantee that MBAs know nothing of actual, pragmatic value.

              2. The college credentialing system is falling apart precisely because it provides employers no guarantee that the applicant knows anything of actual, pragmatic value.

                I’ve found during most interviews that no one gives a shit about my Master’s degree; they are much more concerned with my experience and whether I’ll be a reliable employee.

                Rather than a standard of excellence, degrees essentially became a tool for lazy HR directors to weed out applicants.

          2. Not to mention that the education bubble is ready to burst soon, methinks. This big push for college grads artificially raises the costs for a college education, never mind the money we as taxpayers throw down the local (and national) rat hole for worthless to mediocre primary educations. Colleges have become remedial centers of primary education catch-up and distorting the cost curve even more. It’s exactly like the model Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac employed and got us a shit load of toxic assets. It’s sad that Big Ed is selling essentially the same bill of goods.

            1. Colleges have become remedial centers of primary education catch-up and distorting the cost curve even more.

              I’d love to see stats on how many college students have to take remedial English and math courses in order to take the “real” courses. It’s no wonder it takes 5-6 years to get a 4-year degree.

              It’s exactly like the model Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac employed and got us a shit load of toxic assets.

              The student loan industry is actually worse, because a student will get these loans almost automatically, regardless of their ability to pay, because the inherent assumption was that the degree will provide them a means to repay it. The fact that student loan debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy shows that assumption no longer applies, yet the government continues to backstop the loans and provide the means for tuition to keep skyrocketing.

              It’s ironic that banks have higher standards for car loans then they did for both housing and student loans. Imagine going into a Lexus dealership to get a $50,000 loan with no way to pay for it–the salesmen would laugh you right out of the dealership. Yet college students can take out tens of thousands in debt with no job, and nobody even blinks.

              1. Yet college students can take out tens of thousands in debt with no job, and nobody even blinks.

                Or fails to take into account the future expected income viability of the course of study the would-be matriculating student plans to complete, as well as market need and reasonable expectation of employment.

                “Studying nursing or medical? Approved. Underwater religious wymyn’s basket weaving? Denied! GTFO of my office!”

            2. But note that the housing bubble only significantly appeared in places where housing had little inherent value compared to prices.

              There was no housing bubble in Buffalo or Pittsburgh, and none in Manhattan either — those places were priced right for the most part. It was the trendy locales in CA, AZ, NV etc that bore the brunt of the bubble phenomenon.

              So when the higher ed bubble collapses, the Pittsburghs and Manhattans of the college world ( community colleges and strong science/engineering schools, respectively) aren’t going to be terribly impacted.

        2. The cost of college tuition has risen at four times the rate of inflation over the last 30 years–that’s a greater rate than health care costs over the same period.

          Ironically, Obama and every other policy wonk is more concerned about how to shovel more people into this debt grinder than in how to reduce the costs (probably because the primary solution would be for the government to quit backstopping these student loans, along with making it dischargeable in bankruptcy).

          1. Ironically, Obama and every other policy wonk is more concerned about how to shovel more people into this debt grinder

            Being dropped into the debt grinder can make a person intent on asserting financial independence suddenly very open and compliant to government options of repayment, including say, I dunno, “voluntary” government service.

            Particularly when said graduate is some Gen X’er or Millenial who never had to struggle, doesn’t wish to give up their standard of living, and is suddenly saddled with a butt load of debt.

            1. BO isn’t smart enough to do that. 3 years ago I might have thought his advisors were, but to all appearances they’re just as unstrategic as he is.

              He’s just looking for sound bites and photo ops for “making college affordable”. The increase in dependency on govt is just a fortuitous happenstance.

              1. I see you haven’t been saddled with the debt of medical school. Such a scheme is going to be implemented if/when (moreso when) Obamacare takes full effect.

                This bozo was a community organizer: they specialize in the increase in government dependency. Not to mention his appointments of both Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. Donald Berwick, or did you forget about those two medical commies?

        3. ” Why is education the one thing that the only solution seems to always be spend more money? How about bending the cost curve on education?”

          It’s because education is being funded by Other People’s Money. Pay for it yourself, in cash, and you’d expect a better result. Same as in medicine and any other socialized segment of the economy.

      2. ^^THIS^^

        I applaud wanting to be educated, but trying to sell an education as the ticket to prosperity is disingenuous to say the least. Most of the truly successful people I have met DO have an education, yet it isn’t the education that helped them to become prosperous, but their veracity and work ethic. In many cases, the education and its associated costs got in the way.

        Most of my fellow graduate students (that have since finished grad school), however, live in comparative squalor to say, your average electrician or car mechanic, and most with a lifetime’s worth of debt to boot. One friend has had to become a “student for life” because he can’t get a job that will help him pay his (crippling) debt, and as long as he’s a student, he needn’t pay towards it; another has over $150,000 in debt which paid for an English degree he may never actually receive – and even if he does, there are few academic positions (the only positions an English PhD can hope to get that pay reasonably well) which pay well enough to pay down the debt and live reasonably well.

        Outside of trying to enrich oneself personally, an education, especially a liberal arts education, isn’t worth much at all.

        1. I’ve posted this before, but it’s always good to be reminded of how distorted society has made the pursuit of higher education.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgFhnWXOcJM

        2. I’m pretty sure somebody’s already named all the different spiders, Noah!

          1. Seriously, if H. Jon Benjamin doesn’t win an Emmy for Archer, I am going to rub sand in the dead little eyes of Emmy voters.

            I don’t know if they grade sand but… coarse.

        3. I’m so sick of the student loan debt excuse. I wasn’t in college that long ago, and had a total of $10,000 in student loan debt when I got my PhD without getting one red cent from my parents.

          – go to a community college or a state school
          – work during the summer
          – go to grad school for something the school will pay you for (ie math, science, engineering)

          it ain’t hard.

          1. I wasn’t in college that long ago, and had a total of $10,000 in student loan debt when I got my PhD without getting one red cent from my parents.

            The problem is that’s not how most young people think. Not that your approach isn’t a good way to go about it, but Gen-xers and Millenials are conditioned to take the path of least resistance. Why bother sweating and hustling when you get all this “free” money from the government? They don’t realize that they could spend their early adulthood fucking and getting drunk and not have to take out tons of debt to achieve it, because they don’t see it as “debt” until they get that degree and suddenly can’t find a job.

            Furthermore, this country needs to dump the bullshit status-mongering that anyone with a degree is inherently better than someone without. Again, look at that ad I posted above. The idea that working a blue-collar job right out of high school will put you on the path to Loserville has got to change. Filling the heads of a bunch of striver poors with unrealistic dreams is a big contributor to what got the college tuition levels to their current unaffordable levels and rendered the value of a bachelor’s degree almost worthless.

            Also, as someone who graded papers as a TA in grad school, not everyone is cut out for a degree in the hard sciences. Intellectually, they just don’t have the tools. That doesn’t mean they should be dumping into the liberal arts, either, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of people are simply not intelligent enough to justify saddling themselves with a huge amount of debt.

            Look at the University of Wisconsin, which is your average university. College costs $4000 a semester there, just for tuition. That doesn’t count things like books and the cost of living in the dorms.

            Yes, I realize a lot of them could live at home. Yes, I realize a lot of them could do community college and matriculate up (and in fact, that’s becoming an increasing trend now due to the things discussed above). But most Milennials and many Gen-Xers don’t think that far ahead and don’t look at the big picture. Most of these people are going to take out the equivalent of a loan for an SUV to get a degree of dubious value.

            The dirty little secret that no one wants to acknowledge at this point is that it would be possible to lower the cost of tuition and overall expenses. But that would involve something the current Lords of Academia would never consider, and that’s 1)being MUCH more restrictive in who they allow to attend; and 2) dumping a truckload of administrative positions that are really just feather-nesting for deadweight clerks and deans. It would also involve getting the government out of the student loan business.

            And that’s why this bubble is going to pop sooner or later, just like every other credit-driven bubble. Because no one will want to make the hard choices and take a bit of pain for the short term as opposed to a lot of pain later on down the road.

            1. Agreed on the stupidity of assuming that college grads are/do better than non-college grads. The “studies” usually quoted on the subject of the effect of degrees on earnings are classic examples of confusing correlation with causation. An IQ 85 high school dropout scraping grills for a living at McDonalds would not have been likely to get a job making $200,000 a year if they had gone for a PhD instead.

              Of course, those Gen-X and millenials have parents, right? Why aren’t they insisting on the kids following the Tulpa path?

              1. My grandfather spent 8 years in tertiary education, graduated with honors, became a master engineer, and his earnings were less than a trash collector in today’s America.

                He was Soviet, yeah, but it’s just a nice contrast there.

  19. I was talking to somebody a while back who was whining about how NCLB had somehow or other “ended” history and civics classes. I asked her why those dratted “reading comprehension” test couldn’t involve some, you know, actual content.

    She was baffled.

    1. Reading comprehension tests – at least from my 7-year-stale experience in Texas public schools – usually involve a three-page story taking place in some semi-novel culture and then asking questions about the order events took place in and “how people felt”.

  20. why don’t we just coronate a potentate now and just be done with it?

    They’re working on it.

    The progressive fetish for centralized authority and control is unbounded.

  21. http://www.foodrenegade.com/yo…..tal-right/

    Wisconsin judge “you have no fundamental right to grow and consume your own food”. Yes, you belong to the collective. Honestly, I think the only way to stop these petty tyrants and to just start showing up at people like this judge’s house and burning it down.

    1. Honestly, I think the only way to stop these petty tyrants and to just start showing up at people like this judge’s house and burning it down.

      Now, now, John. I’m sure you meant that in a purely hypothetical and rhetorical sense and any and all similarity to a combustible event would be entirely coincidental.

      I don’t have the stomach to RTFA. Who appointed the judge and how long has the judge been on the bench?

    2. John’s either pulling our leg really cleverly and fucking with our minds, in which case, John, 10 Internets, because that’s some hilarious shit, or it’s true, and I just passed that mental threshold that may genuinely cause you to shit bricks — did a judge in the United States of America just say that you have no fundamental right to grow and consume your own food? Is this for real?

      1. RPA, you are familiar with Wickard v. Filburn, no?

        1. Yeah, but I’ve honestly never seen a judge go ahead and just say that, outright. Jesus Christ.

          There was no convolution, there was no long-winded, twisted explanation of his opinion — there was this, and these are his exact words:

          “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;”
          “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”

          “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice?”

          1. It’s the logical progression of the Wickard decision, which limited the commerce of the wheat, even for Filburn’s personal use and sale.

            “10th amendment?? What is this 10th amendment of what you speak?”

            1. When they control the food, the game is over.

    3. As much as I like to join in on a good war wagon, the judge, in his clarification makes a rational point. The plaintiffs cited some peculiar and irrelevant citations to make a very general argument about liberty. Plus, the plaintiffs were, at least what I gleaned from the clarification, attempting to run a dairy farm for profit under the radar.

      The official clarification

      Original ruling

    4. There’s a more thorough article here with a link to the judge’s “clarifying remarks”.

      As if to show how pissed he was at being questioned, he said his decision translates further that “no, Plaintiffs to not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;

      “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”

      And in a kind of exclamation point, he added this to his list of no-nos: “no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice…”

      I think the raw milk people are batty as hell, but if they want to turn their own intestines into petri dishes, that’s their right.

  22. The larger point is valid, but the specific criticism of the Chuck E Cheese thing is some weak sauce.
    (And it creates a distraction from the larger issue like the 16 dollar muffin thing does)

    1. Thank you. That was the point I was trying to make in a jocular fashion with my first post.

      1. This post is too humorous!

        This post is not humorous enough!

        Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to read some more Critiques of Libertarianism so that people will pay attention to me even though I have nothing to say.

  23. “why don’t we just coronate a potentate now and just be done with it?”

    Eternal glory to the Leader! Eternal glory to our King! May God damn the Republic!

  24. OT: TX: Former Houston police officer gets 20-year sentence for stealing $656K from police union

    http://www.texaswatchdog.org/2…..488.column

    “A former Houston police officer who confessed and pleaded guilty to stealing at least $656,000 from the Houston Police Officers Union was sentenced today to 20 years in prison.”

    “‘I think you’re remorseful, no question,’ State District Judge Michael McSpadden told a teary-eyed and choked-up Matthew Calley, 46, of Magnolia, after his ruling.”

    “The judge also praised Calley’s exemplary police record and described the folder of support letters and professional commendations the former officer received during his roughly 25-year career.” …

    Steal money from other cops, get 20 years. Murder people under the color of law, get administrative leave.

    What a fucking joke.

    1. The judge also praised Calley’s exemplary police record

      Exemplary you say? Yes, grand larceny and embezzlement from both other cops AND the taxpayers that provided that union loot is certainly above reproach.

      1. If he’d beaten a homeless man to death, he would probably have been congratulated on his good punching arm — in open court.

    2. Steal money from other cops, get 20 years. Murder people under the color of law, get administrative leave.

      And nothing else happened.

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