Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why Does Lisa Wong Hate America?

Sad, sad news today.

It seems that Mayor-Elect Lisa Wong has a problem with the incoherent ramblings old-school comedy stylings of beloved nonagenarian Andy Rooney.

I realize this is deeply troubling, so if you need to take a few moments to collect yourself, please do so now. It gets ugly from here on out.

The story begins a few days ago. Whichever one has the day with Andy Rooney giving his wonderful commentaries. Sunday? Yeah, Sunday.

Anyway, Rooney had the ingenious idea of looking at local newspaper headlines out of context and then complaining that he didn't understand them. Hilarious stuff, and totally original! Nobody ever makes fun of newspaper headlines!

You can view the genius of his performance here (link courtesy of 1970's Abraham Lincoln, the master of all internettery). By all means, do it now! Don't wait!

Did you notice the mention of Wong and Fitchburg? Hey, I know who that is! I also know that she's not a "he," but I'm going to assume that was dementia intentional and was just Andy being too lazy to even read one sentence into the article madcap crazy hilarious like usual! Oh man that guy is funny!

Because old man ranting comedy gold like that is obviously big news, the Sentinel today ran a story about it! Good reporting for once, Sentinel!
Rooney's rant focused on how newspaper headlines are too broad and do not give enough information to readers.

As an example, Rooney held up a headline from the Nov. 7 Boston Globe which read "Wong Claims Win in Fitchburg," and used it as an example of headlines that are vague.

"You don't know if Wong won in Fitchburg or if he just claimed to have won," Rooney said.
Oh man, that's lame funny stuff!

Anyway, the Sentinel went out of its way to interview Wong herself (himself?) about it!
"I think it's great actually that Fitchburg was mentioned in a positive -- if not humorous -- light," Wong said.
Oh no!

Wong is clearly calling the mention "not humorous!" Or maybe she's not, but that's how I'm choosing to interpret it!

That's Andy Rooney, national annoyance treasure you're calling "not humorous," Miss Wong! Which leads me to my question: Why do you hate America?

Also, other stuff might be going on in town. Beats me. This whole Andy Rooney thing has sent me into a deep funk about our mayor-elect's apparent lack of a sense of humor. Also, I had trouble coming up with the headline for this post, and I blame her for that too. Man, it's a dark day in Fitchburg...

Thank you, Sentinel, for your waste of space that could have been spent reporting on something meaningful important article!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Apes Evolved From Conservative Talk Show Hosts

Election's over, enough local politics for a minute!

As a guy who strives to provide a different voice in Fitchburg, I ingest a lot of media that I quite frankly can't stand. But unless you know what other people are saying you're in no position to point out that they're often totally wrong. That's why I read skim the Sentinel thoroughly for things to make fun of and that's why I occasionally listen to the horrible Chuck Morse show on WEIM.

I happened to be listening last night while Morse went off about how people who believe the theory of evolution is correct (i.e. everyone with even a basic grasp of science) are big fat jerks. Now, I may be a big jerk, but I'm not fat. Morse also updated his terrible blog with information about it! Incidentally, I think his blog gets even fewer readers than his radio show has listeners, which might put it into negative numbers somehow.

Morse is clearly neither a scientist nor a theologian. Nor does he seem to have any real understanding of science or theology. You'd think that would make him unqualified to have a meaningful discussion of the evolution vs creationism "controvery," and you'd be right!

But funny thing about evolution. Most scientific theories are debated by scientists. If some radio host started going off on a totally uninformed tirade about the theory of relativity people would just laugh at him. But evolution has been politicized to the point where anyone who's even heard of Darwin can rant about how horrible evolutionary theory is and have a similarly uninformed subset of idiots believe him.

But this is science, not politics. So let's get to the facts, shall we?

First, a quote from Morse's blog so you can see where this all came from:
I am proud of comedian, author, economist, and former presidential speechwriter Ben Stein for taking on the thorny issue of evolution versus intelligent design in his new film "Expelled - No Intelligence Allowed" due to be released in theatres [sic] February, 2008.

Besides delving into the raucous debate over the scientific legitimacy of Darwinism, the theory that claims that man randomly developed from muck and was formed by mutating over millions of years, the movie also documents the Stalinist tactics of the darwiniacs, the devout cult followers of this questionable theory.
Hmm, okay. Ben Stein was a teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." And though I don't see "scientist" or "theologian" in his credentials either, people seem to be under the odd impression that he's kind of smart.

After all, he had that show where people tried to steal his money, right? No way could that have been set up to mostly ask questions that he'd be likely to know the answers to!

Morse, as usual, began spouting things that just aren't true right away. There's absolutely no "raucous debate over the scientific legitimacy of Darwinism." There's a political debate, not a scientific one. Sure, there are debates within the field of evolutionary biology, but they're about elements of the theory, not the legitimacy of the theory as a whole. Nor is the theory "questionable" in the usual sense. All scientific theories are open to questioning, but the validity of the theory isn't in doubt in the scientific community (it's only in doubt by the moron community).

Also, evolutionary theory doesn't really claim that "man randomly developed from muck." It has little to say about the origins of life, and is really about the development of life after that point (which actually means it's not even incompatible with a "creator," but more about that later). He's right about mutations being important though, so good for him getting at least one fact right!

Morse talked last night about how he considers evolutionary theory "just a theory," and how he wrote a column several years ago that said that and got a lot of criticism. Chuck Morse apparently does not know the difference between a "theory" (as used by the general public) and a "scientific theory" (as used by scientists, natch). This is a common argument used by similarly-confused creationists, like the Cobb County Board of Education, whose unconstitutional sticker for textbooks is reproduced below.

Anyway, here's a link that explains the difference in ways even Morse should be able to understand. For those of you too lazy to follow it or that need a refresher, in a nutshell:
A theory is more like a scientific law than a hypothesis. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.

In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology...

A theory is developed only through the scientific method, meaning it is the final result of a series of rigorous processes. Note that a theory never becomes a law unless it was very narrow to begin with...

...Real scientific theories must be falsifiable. So-called "theories" based on religion, such as creationism or intelligent design are, therefore, not scientific theories. They are not falsifiable and they do not follow the scientific method.
Pretty simple, no?

Evolutionary theory, of course, is a scientific theory. One that's as well-proven and accepted as quantum theory or the theory of relativity. It's open to debate and revision, but outright rejection of evolutionary theory would require some pretty dramatic evidence against it.

Back to Morse:
Stein reveals how how [sic] educators, scientists and commentators have been publically [sic] denounced, scorned, and in some cases denied tenure and even fired for the “crime” of believing that there might be evidence of design” [sic] in nature.
Maybe that's true. I don't know. If a science teacher is denying evolution in favor of creationism I'd certainly deny him tenure. Similarly, I'd deny him tenure if he was staying the Earth is flat or that gravity only exists because God keeps shoving everything to the ground. Science teachers are supposed to teach science, not crackpot theories.

Come to think of it, evolution is probably better understood than gravity (which works, but isn't well-explained). Probably even better than quantum theory (which is just incredibly hard to wrap your head around). Quantum theory is accepted as fact though, because it explains how the world works with incredible accuracy. Evolutionary theory does the same thing. And that's what a scientific theory is about! If it works, it's a good theory. If it doesn't, it's rejected and hopefully replaced by a better one. Hurrah for science!

Morse seems to have a touch of PTSD from his dramatic loss when he ran against Barney Frank for Congress:
I had my own run-in on this issue when I ran for Congress in Massachusetts against Barney Frank in 2004. In his opposition research, Frank had uncovered an article I had written that (gasp) questioned Darwin's theory of evolution. He brought this up during a joint television appearance on NECN - Nightline with Chet Curtis and Jim Braude.

Frank looked angry as he exposed what he considered to be a bombshell, a shocking scandal. By questioning Darwinism, I was not to be taken seriously. [blah blah blah]
Yeah, indeed Morse shouldn't be taken seriously. But it's not for "questioning Darwinism," it's just for being really really dumb. I wouldn't take someone who denies the Holocaust seriously, I wouldn't take someone who denies the theory of relativity seriously, I wouldn't take someone who thought that when I hit the button to open my garage door invisible pixies flew over to it in order to do the heavy lifting seriously, and I wouldn't take someone who denies evolution seriously.

It's not about asking questions (science actually encourages that), it's about intelligence. If you question evolution intelligently then you should be taken seriously. If you deny it wholesale because your invisible friend in the sky told you to then you absolutely should not be taken seriously.

Morse ends his blog post with this paragraph:
Darwin's evolution is the cornerstone of the secular faith because it removes the possibility of God. Thus, God is replaced by the State which is, according to the secular faith, charged with the moral responsibility to evolve man. This was the faith of the ancient pagans, the idol-worshippers of biblical times. The state set up an idol, such as Baal, and dictated the means of worship down the lines of supporting "enlightened" state power. This also gave the King, who controlled the false idol, the moral pretext to denounce and remove his enemies. Perhaps not much has changed.
Okay, ignore for a minute that most of it makes no damn sense and let's just focus on this idea that evolution=atheism. Morse doesn't come right out and say that in his blog, but he did on the radio. As we've come to expect, it too is totally made up.

Of course there are plenty of atheists who accept evolution as fact. The brilliant Richard Dawkins is perhaps one of the best-known evolutionary biologists at work today, and has taken an extremely strong stance against religion (and I dare anyone of faith to read The God Delusion without questioning what they believe). But there are plenty of others in the field who believe in a god.

One very well-known evolutionary biologist who also believed in a god was the late Stephen Jay Gould. Gould introduced the concept of Non-Overlapping Magesteria, which boiled down to a belief that religion and science are seperate "magisteria" with nothing to say about each other. For that matter even the Vatican under John Paul II has endorsed evolution, though I think the current pope isn't on board with that anymore.

The head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, has also espoused the theory of Theistic Evolution (TE). I happen to disagree with Collins (personally I'm a Pastafarian), but the fact that so many respected biologists are clearly theists pretty effectively debunks Morse's claim.

As for Theistic Evolution, it's the belief "that religious teachings about creation and scientific theories of evolution need not be contradictory." And indeed, they need not! Who's to say that a god didn't set evolution in motion? That'd be a pretty clever trick! Certainly smarter than creating men with nipples and all humans with an appendix that does nothing except sometimes get inflamed and kill people!

One last thing I want to address. Morse talked a lot last night about how he got so much anger and hatred and so forth for his evolution denial. He seemed baffled by it, and suggested that evolutionary theory was the one thing in this country you're not allowed to question.

Now, I'd actually argue that other people's religious beliefs are the one thing you're not allowed to question, but let's just go with this...

Chuck, the reason people react so strongly is because you're totally uninformed about the subject you're discussing. To reject evolution at this point is (rightfully) seen by many people as a sign both of ignorance and of a desire to impose your religious beliefs on others.

No question here, so-called "Intelligent Design" is just creationism in fancy clothes. Its goal is to get God into the public schools, which is clearly forbidden by the Constitution. If you endorse gutting the Bill of Rights, you're going to piss people off. People who are pissed off are going to react strongly. It's not just atheists, it's anyone who respects the First Amendment.

I haven't focused much on the creationism side of this argument, because I believe it to be nonsense. You can believe it if you like, but the instant that belief turns into a desire to corrupt the minds of our children with fairy tales when they should be learning real science, you earn yourself an enemy. And I'm hardly alone in that.

Question evolution all you want, but learn a thing or two about it first. Try reading a book that doesn't agree with your religious preconceptions once in awhile. Just being a dumbass won't get you far.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wong Won, Donnelly Didn't

See that alliteration in the title? Impressive, huh?

Anyway, per the Fitchburg Pride, Lisa Wong just won the mayoral election with "a mandate-setting 72 percent of the vote."

Holy crap, Fitchburg! Way to go!

Now, I didn't make any predictions here, but I privately had told people I expected her to take "65% easily." Getting 72% actually doesn't even surprise me that much. People who had never taken an interest in local politics before were all over this race. That alone should have told anyone paying attention that Wong had it in the bag all along.

I don't have any information on the other races yet. Hopefully Wong's win means lots of smart people went to vote today (and indeed turnout appears to have been reasonably high). So hopefully lots of good candidates got in. I'll probably write something about all that tomorrow.

Anyway, this is a short post. I just wanted to congratulate Mayor-Elect Wong. Lots of people have high hopes for you. Try not to fuck up.

Update: make that 75%, not 72%. Damn you, Fitchburg Pride!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Councilor-at-large time!

Note to readers: I started this post reviewing all the Councilor-at-large websites but got distracted part of the way through. The election is now happening tomorrow and I'm too tired and lazy to finish what I started and update the bits that have changed since I wrote this like two weeks ago. Rather than let what I had go to waste I'm just going to post it. Enjoy. Or don't. Whatever.

Do vote though. And vote for the right people. Or else.

Post begins here ----\/


Time for more website reviews!

We've been through the mayoral candidates. We've been through the Ward Councilors who actually bothered to have websites. Now we have the councilors-at-large!

There are five councilor-at-large positions. One of them is currently held by Tom Donnelly, who won't be returning. Annie DeMartino and Thomas Conry are both incumbents, but don't seem to have websites. Jesus "Jay" Cruz and Dean Tran are incumbents who do have websites! We also have newcomers Shaun Cormier and Marcus DiNatale running (who have websites).

Once again I've failed to find a decent list or just who's running and how many seats are contestable (I'm assuming all, but who knows!). Shouldn't stuff like this be easy to find? Isn't that what the internet is for? Could some kind person with more time than me put one together? Maybe the city clerk or a newspaper reporter or somebody? Sheesh!

Not that it matters for this post. Here I'm just going to critique the websites of the four Councilor-at-large candidates who do have websites. Anyone else can go to hell.

Let's go in alphabetical order, shall we?

Shaun Cormier: www.shauncormier.com

What are the first impressions of Cormier's site?

Every page has a bigass picture of the city, which is actually the only picture on the site! It's not a bad picture though, and the site is actually pretty simple and clean-looking. Also at the bottom it says "This website is designed and maintained by Shaun Cormier," which I'm going to take literally. If he did indeed make it all himself he actually did quite a nice job. Seems like a FrontPage jobby.

On his front page he does the traditional "I'm running for office because I want improvement in the stuff that currently sucks" thing, lists where to vote, and gives this more-specific paragraph:
If elected as Councilor At-Large, I will strive for improving communications between city officials, propose that the City of Fitchburg use renewable energy sources, look into tax relief for first time homebuyers, and find ways to attract more recreational businesses to Fitchburg. I will further strive to find ways for the city to save money.
Not terrible, but not inspiring either.

Moving to his About Me page, we find no picture! Hey, everyone else has had a picture! This lack of picture may not be a bad thing. Cormier's quite young-looking (and I believe is just 22, so that makes sense), and conceivably his youth could turn off some old fogey voters. Personally I see it as a strong point, but old people have more votes than I do. Then again, young people have computers.

He gives some of his background (lived here forever, etc), talks about his job (sadly without mentioning the really awesome parts), and takes this interesting swipe at the current state of political discourse in the town:
There have been many negative articles written towards city departments blaming city council or city council blaming city departments on certain issues. I want to see all city departments working together to help solve problems. I would especially like to see a better relationship with the city council and mayor.
Oh, snap! Take that, stupid people who can't get along! Cormier's coming to town and he's going to make you all do trust-building exercises and give each other Secret Santa gifts!

Next we have his Ideas page, which is like an "Issues" page, but without the word "Issues" being involved.

It's pretty decent, actually. The best we've seen from Council candidates so far, at least. Renewable energy is the top bullet (I'll come back to that in a moment). He wants to kick the asses of "Delinquent Tax Payers," who I would argue should actually be called "Tax Non-payers," but whatever. He spells "increased" wrong in this bit, but it's just a typo. Still, Unicow hates tpyos!

He also proposes incentives for first-time home buyers, which is nice. Wisely wants to exploit FSC, which is something a lot of people have been saying for awhile now but nobody has managed to do. Then there's more bugging the city officials to get together and hug. Fine.

Last, he proposes a Route 2 On/Off ramp (both West and Eastbound) on Mt. Elam Rd. Which I've heard talked about before and isn't a bad idea.

The next page is actually the most prominent link, entitled Renewable Energy Information. Cormier is clearly big into renewable energy, which is something I also feel strongly about. So kudos for that!

He talked about the need for renewable energy on his "Ideas" page, and here he gives basically just a buttload of links to information about it. Unfortunately he doesn't go into any great detail. Just links. Which I suppose is okay, but I'd like to see more explanation of where and how these technologies can be best used in Fitchburg. Wikipedia pages do not help me with that! They're great if you want to learn to speak Klingon or find out the history of LOLCats, though.

Then there's a Links page.

Hey, I'm on it! That's awesome! Go me!

Anyway, it's just links and links are boring. It's sort of nice that he links to his opponents though. Classy touch!

The last page is a contact page, and suitably uninteresting.

Conclusion: Actually, not too bad. It's sparse, yes, but it does have a few specific ideas and remains pretty light on the political rhetoric. The design is simple but unobtrusive. I'd like to see the renewable energy stuff fleshed out a bit more, though. Also, the site is totally devoid of any pictures of the toys he made. I want to see the fire-breathing horse "Butterscotch!"

Moving on...

Jay Cruz: www.councillorcruz.com

First off, I have a major problem with Cruz spelling the word "councilor" as "councillor" (with two l's). Yeah, I know both may in fact be acceptable in some areas, but "councilor" is the right way! If you're on the fucking council you should know how to spell councilor!

Anyway, Cruz's page is done by Kreative Dezign, the same people I criticized for the god-awful Seney site. Yet this site doesn't look too bad. It does have a very strange looking blobby blue picture on the front page. Which I guess is an old-timey picture of Fitchburg, but looks like crap.

Let's start with Jay's Bio!

He went to Monty Tech, was in the Marines, has some kids and a wife, served on a couple of boards, and owns a heating & air conditioning business. Boring. Next!

Oh, next he just tells me How to Volunteer. But he hasn't given me a reason to want to volunteer yet so I'm not going to. Then it's Make a Contribution. Same deal. And on to Fundraising, which I almost skipped!

Good thing I didn't, because I would have missed the charming photos of him surrounded by former mayors, children, and assorted old people!

Okay, that was a waste of time too. How about some issues or something Jay?

The next link is called Articles and has one article on it: "Cruz Plans City Council Campaign / If Elected, Cruz could be the only Latino on the Fitchburg City Council." Umm, he already is. He's an incumbent (albeit an appointed one). Big whoop.

Then he has Contact Information, an offsite link to register to vote, Where to Vote, and Useful Links, which aren't all that useful and don't include me!

What the fuck, Jay? No issues at all? No information about where you stand? Nothing?

Oh wait, there's a link to Charter Reform on the other side of the page. But argh! It just takes you to a question of whether you'd sign a petition to support charter reform! He doesn't even tell you if he supports it!

Fucking waste of time.

Conclusion: This site wasn't half as ugly as the other Kreative Dezign site I've looked at during this process, but it suffers the same problem. Total lack of meaningful content. It has like 5 different ways to contact Cruz in order to help him, but absolutely nothing about how he'd actually help me. This is not an informational website. It's not even about self-promotion. It's about trying to get people who already support you to help more, because nobody else is going to have a clue what Cruz thinks. Plus he spells councilor wrong. Bad!

Marcus DiNatale: marcusdinatale.com

First impression? This site was designed for a tiny browser window. There's a little box with the important stuff in it, then a giant field of purply-red stars (communism?) as the background. I'm not crazy about the style, but it does look professionally done.

The front has a picture of Marcus, along with his slogan: "Stabilize, Prioritize, and Harmonize." For some reason this makes me picture him in a barbershop quartet.

He "respectfully" thanks you for visiting his website (really Marcus, it was no problem!), and seems to want you to send him a yard sign for some reason. His "priorities" are also listed, but is really the first part of a linked page (fancy!), so we'll deal with that when I visit the links.

Handily, the annoying "Volunteer/Contribute/Contact" links are all set aside from the links that might actually be interesting to me, so I'm just going to ignore all of those! Let's see what Mr. "I have a cooler goatee than Jay Cruz" has to say!

First we have Meet Marcus. Oh my god that's a confusing picture! The picture of Marcus in the banner has a goatee. In the picture of his family his father has a goatee and he's clean-shaven! But they look fairly similar! I've added some stuff to this screenshot to try to explain it:

As you can see, the goatee-Marcus up top corresponds to the clean-shaven Marcus down below. Disregard the goateed older DiNatale (state Rep. Steve!), and the sister (who really you wouldn't get confused about anyway but happened to be in the picture).

Why is everyone so proud of being a "lifelong resident" of Fitchburg? That's not a qualification! Also, he lists education and stuff. He's on the school committee too, which is good.

Moving on, he has a lengthy Priorities page! Like really dense-looking and long. The sort of long thing that actually discourages me from reading it, to be honest. I'm going to do it anyway, of course. But if I'm discouraged, then you can bet the casual web-weenie is even more discouraged.


Hello again, readers. This is where I got distracted! I don't remember what did it, but it was probably related to sex, drugs, or rock'n'roll. Regardless, I didn't finish, but really all that was left was to make fun of Marcus some more and then hit Dean Tran.

I'll give super-short reviews of both of their sites just so you don't feel slighted:

DiNatale: Okay, but boring.
Tran: Has a thing called a "shoutbox", which is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. Man, if I ever actually developed the motivation to review this thing I would have endlessly made fun of it. But I didn't, so bully for him.

There you go, folks!

Live Chickens? Seriously?

Turns out there was an article about Donnelly in yesterday's paper that I totally overlooked at the time.

Most likely I missed it because it was saying negative things about Donnelly, and so of course didn't have his name in the headline and was in the passive voice. Thanks for staying true to form, Sentinel!

Anyway, it was called A history of health-code violations and went a bit like this:
City Health officials have visited properties owned by mayoral candidate Thomas Donnelly 188 times and found sanitary-code violations in 95 instances during the past 23 years.

Officials found violations -- where a landlord fails to live up to the state's sanitary code -- in 65 of 101 inspections that were done in response to a complaint or during the application process for a rental permit, according to city records.
Oh, that's not good. No wonder they didn't have his name in the headline!

Going on:
Officials cited Donnelly's properties for a variety of violations, including things as small as an electrical plug that didn't work to more serious violations like holes in roofs, ceilings and floors.

Officials even cited one of Donnelly's properties at 93 Myrtle Ave. in August 2000 because one of his tenants had live chickens at the building.
Live chickens!

Now, I've lived in a few crummy apartments in my time. I'm no stranger to leaky roofs, or even the occasional mysterious hole in the bathroom floor (which was guaranteed to attract any item you dropped into it as if it were a black hole). But no live chickens. If you can get away with having live chickens in your apartment you have to pretty much assume that the landlord doesn't give a shit about anything.

The list of violations goes like this: chickens (natch), leaky roofs and water damage, mysterious holes, lack of heat or hot water, insect infestations, missing smoke detectors, leaky faucets, exposed live wiring (!), poorly-bolted toilets, rotten floors, mold and mildew, and birds living in the wall. I'm assuming the birds living in the wall weren't poultry, but who really knows?

Well those sound like lovely home accoutrements! Sentinel, why are you making such a big small deal about this?

There's also a lot of jibber-jabber in the article about how every rental property has some issues. Which is no doubt true. I'd argue that most don't have live chickens though. And none should have any of those things listed above. A missing smoke detector or leaky faucet I can understand, but holes in the floor and birds in the wall just shouldn't happen at all. Not to mention the exposed wiring or lack of heat.

Donnelly, of course, has a long record of blaming others for his shortcomings. Does it happen here? You bet!
Donnelly said sometimes tenants use the Board of Health to hold off on rent payments or to give the property owner problems.

"Sometimes people use the Board of Health as a game," Donnelly said. "Usually, not always, you'll have people who haven't been with us for a long time, you have people who have had problems with other property owners, they plead ignorant, or are ignorant."
Okay, I can believe that there are a few people who try to game the system. But Donnelly has 13 occupied properties, and 8 of those have had violation reports.

Additionally, note that first quoted bit up there. Sixty-five violations were found in response to a complaint or visit for a rental application. But 95 violations were cited total. I'm going to have to assume that the thirty violation difference is unrelated to devious tenants. And for that matter, that's a whole buttload of violations! How many nefarious tenants do you rent to, Tom? Perhaps you should review your application process?

I also have more than a bit of difficulty believing that people somehow poked holes in their own roofs or turned off their own heat in order to get out of paying rent. I'm not sure how they'd even do that, frankly. Firing off celebratory gunfire in the house during a sporting event, maybe?

Blaming the victim is pretty classy though. That's what I look for in a mayor!

The article also talks about how Tom's sale of properties to FSC (no conflict of interest there!) resulted in FSC getting some pretty shitty properties. Way to profit, city councilor!

Anyway, I guess the love-fest between the Sentinel and Donnelly has ended. A whole two days before the election. I wonder how long they've been sitting on this information. Wouldn't want to have jeopardized all those fascinating articles about how Lisa Wong's website is a communist plot.

Tom should have some extra free time after he loses the election tomorrow. Let's hope he puts it into bringing his rental properties up to code, for the sake of his tenants. And the chickens.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The taming of the tax rate: A short play

Okay, this is getting annoyingly ridiculous at this point.

Allow me to present for you a brief play I've written that imagines a conversation between Tom Donnelly and someone on his campaign staff.

Donnelly: Hey, it turns out I really like this negative campaigning stuff! It's a handy way to try to distract people from my history of inaction and lack of any real accomplishment!
Staffer: Okay. So what's next?
Donnelly: Well, so far all I've done is take things Lisa Wong says and say she's a big fat liar-pants. That seems to work pretty well!
Staffer: But according to these polls...
Donnelly: Silence, cur! Unless you're telling me something Wong has said recently that I can cause a stink about I'm not interested!
Staffer: Um, okay. Well, she endorsed Dean Tran's idea of only having a 2.25% increase in property taxes instead of the 2.5% you back. But I don't think we can use that...
Donnelly: Fool! Of course we can use that! We'll say she wears flip-flops in winter!
Staffer: But that doesn't make any sense...
Donnelly: [glowers menacingly]
Staffer: Fine, fine, whatever. But doesn't it make you look bad when you keep saying she wants to raise taxes and now you're actually supporting higher taxes than she is?
Donnelly: Flip-flops!!!
Staffer: [pulling out a calculator] But the tax rate shift you criticized her for comes out to a roughly 0.2% increase in the residential tax rate. And going to a 2.25% increase instead of the 2.5% increase you support is a 10% residential savings. That's, ummm, like fifty times as big. Doesn't that make you look pretty bad?
Donnelly: Of course not! She wants to change the status quo! That's scary to old white guys like me.
Staffer: But her increase costs the average homeowner about five bucks, while her decrease saves them $550. So she's saving them $545 more than you.
Donnelly: That's why we mention flip-flops! Everyone knows wearing flip-flops when it's cold outside is stupid, so they'll think she's doing something stupid!
Staffer: But the math...
Donnelly: Shut up, nerdlinger! [Donnelly storms out to go talk to the local press.]
Staffer: Man, did I ever pick the wrong horse to back...

The End!

I hope you've enjoyed this brief dramatic journey. Feel free to perform this at your next school play or dinner-theater event!

PS also a new poll is over there -->