Friday, March 18, 2011

The Humor of Budget Blowback

There's plenty of humor to find in what has become the immediate rough-and-tumble of virtual debate; even some very over-the-top stuff.

Just a couple from the email bag this week before, during and after Governor John Kasich's budget Town Hall meeting and the continued sniping from side to side in Washington as both capitals grapple with the legacy of spending more than they have:

(Columbus) The Ohio School Boards Association both praises and questions the budget's treatment of elementary and secondary education, correctly noting the details are still to be delivered in assessing impact on the state's 600 plus districts. My favorite quote:

" is unlikely that those methods mentioned -- health care pooling, changes in procedures for reduction in force and new regional shared services -- will make any substantive difference in the upcoming budget cycle. These are possible changes that may help districts over the long term."

So let me get this straight; it's unlikely consolidating services will make a difference but it's possible it'll help over the long term. That's going out on a limb.

(Washington) Following the House vote to de-fund National Public Radio (NPR), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) issued their take by claiming it would cripple AMBER Alert programs.

"In his partisan zeal to defund NPR, Representative Bob Gibbs opposed an effort to protect NPR's vital role in disseminating AMBER Alerts. The AMBER Alert program is a partnership between law-enforcement and broadcasters that activates an urgent bulletin in child-abduction cases. Under an agreement with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NPR was designated as a disseminator of AMBER Alerts."

Now I happen to know a thing or two about AMBER Alerts, and this is a stretch. A big one. Not only to public stations issue AMBER Alerts, but local commercial stations do as well. We all do so in Ohio because we participate in the Emergency Alert System (EAS) -- those announcements usually preceded by beeps and tones before getting tornado, flood and severe weather warnings. The equipment is in place and has been for years to allow local law enforcement and emergency services, including the state emergency operations center, to issue such alerts. In the vast majority of cases, these alerts are automated -- meaning radio and TV stations pass them along to the public without the touch of a human's hands. The system is designed expressly for that purpose. Whether NPR gets funding or not won't impact stations automatically broadcasting such alerts. Whether NPR gets funding does impact if any humans are left behind to report on it.

(Columbus) My personal favorite is in this item from my friends at ProgressOhio, the group of Progressive Democrats. The topic is the Kasich Administration's ham-handed treatment of the press by ordering, then reversing, a ban on cameras and microphones at a budget briefing. It took about a half-day of protests from reporters to overturn the ban, but critics are still playing it for all it's worth. In the process, however, ProgressOhio's Brian Rothenberg might have used spell check for his subject line:

"Ohio is not Lybia: End the Statehouse Blackout!" Errr...not only was the blackout short-lived...there's also no Lybia. It's Libya. You might have heard of them. Wacko dictator (see at left), lives in tents, takes down commercial airlines, fights his own people? They've been in the news lately...

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