New governors stumble over First Amendment

January 21, 2011 What’s in the gubernatorial water supply out there, when it comes to matters of the First Amendment?Just 45 words setting out five essential freedoms as part of the Bill of Rights, the amendment has been around for — as of next Dec. 15 — 220 years. But several newly inaugurated state leaders have stumbled in word or fact over how to live up to that guarantee of our basic rights.

Obama, Cain approach the starting gate

January 20, 2011 It is unusual for a President to launch a re-election nearly two years before the vote, but this is exactly what Barack Obama is laying the ground work for. Without fanfare Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, and Jim Messina are leaving the White House, returning to Chicago to form the nucleus of the campaign staff.According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama’s advisers believe, “the re-election campaign needs an early start to establish Mr. Obama as a formidable candidate and begin raising money for a bid expected to cost each party around $1 billion.”

An old man’s fancy turns to ….

January 20, 2011 In mid-winter, an old man’s fancy turns to thoughts of gardening and fishing, not necessarily in that order.But with icy pellets falling outside or snow trying to melt off the countryside, those of us who were kids in the 1950s start remembering the pungent smell of newly broken garden dirt and the fast-biting action of panfish that were just warming up and ready to eat after a long winter just hanging out in the cold water.

Always be the judge

January 19, 2011 He’s still the judge.Even though retirement has afforded him time for his love of golf, quality time with family and the luxury of not having to spend countless nights lying awake worrying about making the right decision, those of us who know him will always refer to him as judge.Eight years ago this month Circuit Judge Tom Hilburn hung up his robe and decided to spend less time worrying about child custody cases, who gets what in divorce settlements, and the usual drama that would find its way into his courtroom.

School has sweet deal

January 19, 2011 Dear editor:Our new superintendent (Dr. Randy Willison) has started something brand new with school owned vehicles. The supervisors of each department now have unrestricted use of their school owned vehicles. All they have to do is pay taxes on it. For example, if the vehicle value is $7,500.00 they look it up in the Kelley’s Blue Book and just pay taxes on the $7,500.00 each month, which I think is around $55.00 to $60.00. They can take them on vacations with their families; take them to anywhere they desire, no limitations at all.

The new reality?

January 19, 2011 Imagine a handsome young family complete with kids living in a stylish two-story home in a quiet neighborhood. The parents work quiet middle-class jobs. Dad is a city bus driver. Mom is a secretary. Their house is brimming with consumer goods: a couple of mammoth-sized televisions, a drum set for the kids and high-end furniture. Mom’s closet is bursting with her ample wardrobe. Dad has a motorcycle. Combined they make just under $90,000 a year.

Change the standards

January 18, 2011 There’s something remarkably similar to the dual American problems of obesity and political trash-talking. Short term solutions made situations worse and in both instances most of us didn’t seem to notice till the problem was way out of hand.We have become a nation that’s more overweight than not, willing to watch people who call themselves politicians or policy makers trash talk others.

Hens scrap at party

January 18, 2011 Any other time of year, Gary has two favorite shows, “Two and a Half Men” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”Doesn’t matter if he’s seen them a hundred times. When I come home from work, if the TV is on it is turned to one of those two shows. This time of year, he’s watching more football but I still don’t know a Seahawk from a Raven. Instead, I’ll retreat to my scrapbook room or find a quiet nook and read.

Home item in question

January 18, 2011 When I arrived at Buster’s house, the first thing I noticed was the weathervane on the roof. It was the most realistic one I had ever seen. It stood up there as if it were guardian of the wind, staring down like a rooster sentinel watching all who came.I hadn’t seen Buster in a long time. We grew up only a few miles apart, and spent a lot of time together. Now, though we only live about 20 miles apart, our lives keep us busy and we don’t get together too often.

Leave well enough alone

January 17, 2011 Dear editor:Why do some people not just leave well enough alone? We need to leave the metro police and sheriff’s department the same.They are doing just fine in my eyes. If they change the department, we will have to have a new metro chief at taxpayers’ expense, another building at taxpayers’ expense, more metro officers at taxpayers’ expense. The sheriff’s department will lose reserve officers. Right now they have one reserve officer for every officer in the sheriff’s office. Some do it for free; some get paid.