As y'all know, we finally got all those 4-B and Chamber of Commerce contracts that our rabid-for-info readers put up the cash for back in February. It's not just a Trapper-Keeper full o' paperwork, it's thousands of pages that somebody has to dig through in order to bring forth the sweet statistical goodness that lay within. That somebody is Chase Cochran.
For the record, while this column is technically written by me, Mike Reynolds, much of the heavy lifting associated with putting these things together is often borne by one of my business partners in this endeavor, The Chase. I don't go through thousands of pages of anything, attend Council meetings or keep an eye on the banal daily doings of other local media. Any one of those tasks would make me bug-nutty. Chase is way younger than I am, and doesn't yet appreciate the damage all that exposure to government/media nonsense is doing to his general health.
So please keep in mind, especially over the next few months as we dig deep into the 4-B and Chamber of Commerce contracts, that somebody had to sit at a desk and pore through the stuff. And tonight, to paraphrase a one Mr Bono of the U2 band, thank God it's Chase, instead of you.
Jim Poage: From Hero to Zero in Fifteen Minutes
Last week, 4-B Board member Jim Poage had us thinking that perhaps things were changing over at 4-B. He was the lone vote against the Board's approval of $3.2 million for a pool and a gym at the new recreation center. It wasn't his vote against the project that got our attention, it was his stated reason for the dissent, as published in the April 15 edition of the HZ. Check this out:
“My concerns are that there appear to be a bunch of numbers that maybe some of us have seen, but a lot of us haven't seen with regards to cracking up revenue, (revenue)-neutral and cost-benefit analysis and so forth... I'm not saying they aren't there, but we're talking about millions of dollars here and a pretty good chunk of our reserves without data that exists... somewhere to kind of talk about the revenue."
WHAT? This is unusual coming from a 4-B guy. So we checked into Jim Poage a wee bit more and found out some stuff that we would have been much happier not knowing. All the air went out of the newsroom when we discovered that it's business as usual at 4-B. It was all weeping, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments up in here.
We've been harping on 4-B for a good long while about their corporate welfare program, and their tight-fistedness when it comes to projects that benefit the community in general. This was a perfect move for 4-B - hand over a heapin' he'pin' of cash for a City recreation center, and get the heat they've been taking over the last couple years turned down a few notches. But then Poage had to speak up. Man, sometimes we just get lucky.
While Poage's reason reinforces our own complaints about 4-B's recklessness with public funds, there might be more to his motivation than meets the eye. Poage isn't just a member of 4-B, he's the former CEO of StarTech, a San Antonio-based, taxpayer funded foundation specializing in the redistribution of, well, taxpayer funds from public coffers to private hands, much like 4-B.
StarTech went under in 2013. We'll dig into that meaty goodness next week, and drop something on you none of us saw coming - and that 4-B figured we wouldn't notice. #barnburner
Chase Cochran contributed to this story, and should be named as a co-defendant in any litigation pending as a result of its publication.
After my break last week, I'm ready to go back to politics, and Hillary Clinton has offered an opening just too good to pass up. Actually, she hasn't, but the latest scandal has, and I thought I should get at least a few licks in before her whole campaign implodes. I'd never forgive myself if the unthinkable should happen and things went so badly that the Clintons were forced to pack up and head off into obscurity and I never took the opportunity to give them a good kick in the pants before they go.
First let me point out that Hillary Clinton presents a problem from a writing perspective. The last time she was included in a column, I spent the entire piece trying not to refer to her as Hillary. I don't think using her first name is appropriate; she is after all an accomplished politician and presidential candidate. I don't call President Obama "Barack" and I don't call Elizabeth Warren "Elizabeth." Unfortunately the dynastic element of our politics is conspiring to make things unclear. Not only is Hillary Clinton a problem, but so are Rand Paul and Jeb Bush. For this column, I plan to move forward using "Bill" and "Hillary." (Clinton supporters are encouraged to offer alternative suggestions in the comments section of the online edition; I'll take them under advisement.)
Is anyone else disturbed by the idea that Hillary and her supporters are promoting that it's time for a woman President? I know that Hillary's old, but I'm no spring chicken myself, and I was raised to not judge people based on their genitals. Carly Fiorina has pointed out that traveling is not an accomplishment. Let me add that having a vagina isn't an accomplishment either.
Gender is not something I look for in a candidate (somehow that just sounds wrong, but it's true). I can think of plenty of reasons not to vote for Hillary; the fact that she's a woman isn't one of them. And, if I hear one more of her supporters suggest she's ok because she's "post menopause," I'll throw up.
Another thing that bothers me about Hillary's campaign is that she, and/or her handlers, don't seem to recognize the irony in her suggestion that she's a champion for the "little guy." Hillary Clinton has Secret Service protection 24 hours a day, she receives $200,000 a pop for speeches, she was married to the President of the United States and was a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, her family has a foundation that takes multimillion dollar donations from foreign governments; Hillary wouldn't know a "little guy" if "Scooby" ran one over in the Chipotle's parking lot. Please spare me and the rest of the country this hypocritical attempt at rebranding. I'd be happy if you can convince me you won't sell the Lincoln bedroom for campaign contributions like Bill did.
And while we're on the topic of Bill, how is it that he's even still alive? Do you mean to tell me that Hillary could find some way to get past the Secret Service and off him in the last 15 years? I can't imagine that Hillary believes it will be possible to get through the entire campaign without a trademarked Bill Clinton bimbo eruption. (I suspect it will be a small group of attractive and just slightly under aged campaign workers at an after-hours pizza party, with the pictures sold to TMZ.) Even assuming Bill can manage to keep his pants on for the next year and a half or so, I'd be nervous that he would engaging in some passive-aggressive attempt to torpedo Hillary at the last moment.
Perhaps they've already considered this. I haven't seen Bill for a while. Maybe he's tied up in a closet in Chappaqua.
These are just the snarky reasons why Hillary's a bad candidate. There are several things that Hillary will simply have to face unless the media as a whole decides to forsake doing their jobs to a greater extent than they have during the entire Obama administration.
Hillary still hasn't offered anything substantial as an answer for Benghazi. I actually suspect that there is a reasonable explanation for the dissembling on Benghazi and that it has something to do with the CIA annex being so close to all the action, but Hillary's State Department handled the whole thing ham-handedly. What there probably isn't a good explanation for is why Hillary and the rest of her team simply ignored the danger to Ambassador Stevens and our facilities in Libya.
I also suspect that Hillary's push for U.S. involvement in Libya's overthrow of Gaddaffi will come up. Libya is currently spiraling out of control, and when everything shakes out, I fully expect Libya to a terrorist state. Hillary could suggest that most of the Middle East is headed in that direction, but I think Libya is going to end up being laid at Hillary's feet.
Just as troubling is an entire book being released detailing Clinton corruption. As I alluded to before the book indicates that many large donations were made to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was Secretary of State. Many of these donors had beneficial dealings with the U.S. government. So far Hillary's campaign has dismissed the allegations as simple partisan mudslinging and said that they have been "unprecedentedly transparent." That these allegations come from a partisan source is unquestionable, but that doesn't really mean they're untrue. As for transparency, that's a word that Hillary's campaign should be very careful about bandying around.
After all, we still haven't received any sort of acceptable explanation for Hillary's State Department emails. She has said that she released everything that was related to the business of government, but that will be hard to verify since she erased the emails from a server she controls. I don't think that even Hillary's supporters believe that all the emails erased were personal business related to her daughter's wedding and yoga lessons. Equally suspicious is that Hillary kept her own server for emails in the first place, and that she's fighting to keep anyone from trying to retrieve what she erased from it. I wonder how the story will change when someone gets a subpoena, and we find out that the server was stolen, then run through a degausser, before finally being melted down and shipped to China.
One thing nice I can say about Hillary is that she's never boring. I expect this election season to be very interesting indeed. Between the Republican field bludgeoning one another mercilessly and Hillary trying to avoid felony charges and keep Bill in line, I expect to have plenty to write about. I expect 2016 to be a very exciting election season.
You can read more from Kelly Colby at yourfirstshrug.blogspot.com.