Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thank You Senator Sheran

No wonder the state's roads are falling apart. Today's mail brought a brochure from Senator Kathy Sheran that divides a tax dollar into portions to indicate where state spending is going. Only one category (Agriculture and Veterans) at 0.2 cents is a smaller expenditure than Transportation.

We spend 0.4 cents of every tax dollar on roads. This is definitely not enough!

I am not happy that we spend more of our tax dollar on the environment (0.7 cents) than we do on roads and/or veterans and ag.

Some surprises include our spending only 0.5 cents on Economic Development. Some wise funding of economic development might bring us more jobs which is more needed than anything else. Big companies seem to be more interested in sitting on their capital or investing it in other countries than providing jobs here.

Looking at the division of how the dollar is being spent, I would spend more on transportation and veterans and less on the environment. This would mean taking money away from environment and possibly other portions of the budget.

A better solution is to bring in more money and designate it for roads. end

Good Roads

The big guy and I just returned from a trip to the Golden State. The state is gold, but it, like Minnesota is lacking in gold (funds). We had not driven six blocks away from the airport when the first words out of my mouth were, "these roads are very good." I do not know how or where the state gets its money for roads (I imagine gas tax and other fees etc.), but they have many, many miles of roads and the over 1000 miles we drove on would rate immensely better than any random 1000 miles I drive in this state.

Qualifier: most of the state does not enjoy the temperature extremes we have in Minnesota and that makes a gigantic difference. Also much of the state is very dry which goes a long way in preservation of a road that is excellent to start with.

We all know that states enjoy federal funding to help them build and maintain their roads. I am just guessing here, but I think that this huge state (both in population and in geography) means they can access more federal dollars. They may also know "how to work the system better than other states, i.e. legislators and lobbyists."

Good roads are vital to every citizen in every state. We are not a stabile population, but a mobile population. We think nothing of driving many miles to our place of work. California must place good roads high on their priority lists. We all know that a lot of our produce comes from that state and it sure does not travel on rails.

We enjoyed the smooth ride on their roads and highways. We had not driven four blocks out of the park and fly before I noticed the bump, bump, bump of the bituminous road sections and the roughness of the ride. My comment to the Big Guy was, "I guess we are back in Minnesota." end

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gettin' no respect

I feel sorry to Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. They are just getting beat up by Michele Bachmann in these debates. She is calling them on the carpet for various actions or programs they have supported in their states. (Perry in Texas - mandatory vaccines for young girls Romney for his health care program in Massachusetts.) Bachmann's main criticism follows the tea party line of government actions that stomp on personal liberties.

It seems like her opponents have to just stand there and take her barbs and then defend their actions. However they have no ammunition to come back at her. It is pretty hard to criticize or even disagree with a record of "nothing accomplished."

But maybe I am the clueless one here. It seems there are a lot of people who like her because she has done nothing. That is okay and that is their choice.

But how do we move our country forward by doing nothing? end

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Playin' Nice

Many young people are returning to school soon and "playin' nice" will be an attribute sought after in many a classroom. Too, bad our largest and most known classroom - U.S. Congress and Wash D.C. government - can't seem to learn to Play Nice.

Shame on the President and his advisers for purposefully scheduling his speech to a joint session of Congress on the same night as a major party debate. Notice of the speech aside, it was not a nice thing to do.

Shame on the Speaker for putting up a big fuss and insisting that the President change the date of the speech. Whether notice was properly given or not aside, it was not playing nice.

Evidently these people have not heard about the movement started by Starbuck's CEO, Howard Schultz. He has urged everyone including all of the CEO's of all the companies on the New York Stock Exchange to withhold donating to campaigns of all political folks who refuse to play nice. I hope these pols talk to their fund raising organizations soon. Hitting them in the pocketbook is the only language these people understand.

Schultz knows about hitting people in the pocketbook. His products are/were over priced and when his business lagged, he lowered his prices. All I know is that I like his idea of withholding donations until behavior is changed and meanwhile I will have a latte at Starbucks. end

Thursday, September 01, 2011

4-H in Iraq

We don't often read about the positive things that have happened because of our involvement in Iraq. Schools have been built, roads, other infrastructure. But some feel good actions do not make the top of the newspaper columns.

Mary Kerstetter is an employee of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) who spent two years in Iraq and started 42 4-H clubs with over 1,100 members. She was a typical district conservationist with the NRCS and she worked in New York State. She was one of those government employees who occasionally come under fire - because the government has too many of them. She volunteered to spend two years in Iraq and share her expertise.

When she got there, she found that help was needed in the area of sheep husbandry. Sheep are the most prevalent specie of livestock in Iraq. She found herself going back to many of the skills and training she had acquired while she was a 4-H club member. The thought occurred to her that she should try to start 4-H clubs in Iraq. She applied for a couple of grants and used the funds for translated versions of 4-H teaching materials, grain, shears, sheep and more. She got help from local people who wanted to see learning experiences for the Iraqi youth. In 2009 they started two sheep clubs with members being boys and girls ages 12 to 14. More than 60% of the children were orphans

She volunteered for one more year and saw the program expand so that by the time she returned to the United States, there were 1,100 4-H members, a national 4-H web site, trained local leaders, and a national 4-H organization.

It is obvious that this U.S. government employee has made a big difference to the young people of Iraq and they will benefit all of their lives from the 4-H teaching technique "learning by doing". end