The Boot to the Neck

 

Stalling is a time honored tradition of many a School Superintendent here in the State of Maine. The small rural towns of the Pine Tree state are breaking beneath the ever burgeoning burden of school budgets. This is compounded by the yearly tradition of dipping back into the nearly parched taxation well for budgetary shortfalls, which have been increasing at a rate of some $30,000 a year. As the taxpayers of these little towns compare their high mil rates and over-leveraged town budgets against the return on their confiscated funds in the quality of education for the dollar from these high priced school districts, it is no wonder that many are opting to withdraw from low performance expensive school districts and seek greener pastures for the future of their little ones.

But the head of each child, so endearing to the parent and the community in which they grow up, is a dollar sign to a school district, and these under performing districts are loathe to release these towns and lose the revenue that the children generate for their escalating budgets. No matter if the towns vote to withdraw, no matter the exercise of sovereignty, and no matter the will of the people, these phrases so rudimentary to our Republic are disdained and mocked by pompous school districts who have no fear of recourse from small towns. Through the din and cries of acrimony and hardship from districts light on education and heavy on expenditure, the voice of the small community is but a whisper if heard at all.

After the vote to withdraw, comes the negotiations. Here the stall tactics, there the arm twisting until finally a town will pay whatever ransom to be free to try and repair its fragile infrastructure from the exorbitant price tag but spare product many public school districts are offering. One lawyer observed and characterized the withdrawal negotiation tactics of school districts as legalized extortion.

Some towns have deep enough pockets to pay the ransom money, but some little towns do not. This legislative session a bill was put forward to help give voice and leverage to towns that heretofore had been non-existent. LD 1336 provided that in the event withdrawal negotiations could not be completed in 180 days, the Education Dept. would provide mediation and should the impasse continue for another 90 days even with mediation, the negotiations would then go to binding mediation. This bill would have kept school districts from stalling and dragging negotiations on for years, causing unwarranted burdens to Maine’s rural communities.

The bill passed through committee unanimous, Ought To Pass. That means it enjoyed bi-partisan support. Most observers expected it’s passage through the chambers to be a mere formality and the common sense bill would become law, a welcome relief to struggling Maine towns.

Instead, Speaker Sarah Gideon allowed LD 1336 to languish in committee until the legislative agenda was near at end with little time left. Two days ago it was brought to the floor, a single protest was lodged from the floor, and Speaker Gideon killed the bill without allowing a vote. In one fell swoop the purpose of the Republic was desecrated, the voice of the small town silenced, their hope of leverage crushed, and the boot of the under performing abusive school districts was placed firmly on the necks of rural Maine.

The big money interests of public education matter more to Speaker Gideon than correcting a wrong that has too long been ignored. The towns of Maine pay the heavy price. In this travesty, silence is not golden but a brazen glaring example of a poverty of morals multiplied by willful ignorance beholden to special interest’s money.

Double Down Double Standard (Non-Poetic Version)

 

It seems my recent poem has caused many to have an attack of the giggles. Perhaps they think its unmanly to write a poem…or…something. If so, then by all means stay away from such girlish pursuits as The Iliad , Beowulf, or even that silly little National Anthem of ours. We wouldn’t want to clutter your “open” mind. Just keep that wind tunnel of yours wide open and clear of any obstruction between both your ears and behind those vacant eyes.

Once again let me remind people, that my reason for the angst is not the picking of berries blue and red or the foraging of fiddleheads. Uh-oh, did I just rhyme again? Get over it! It’s the lack of respect for private property and ambivalence to the double standard conservatives portray.

Did you know that long before our foraging and hunting traditions here in Maine, our Founding Fathers put a high premium on private property? Yes, so much so they were willing to die for it. They challenged the most powerful Nation in the world at that time, Great Britain, for Life, Liberty, and Private Property.

Oh, I can hear giggles the more. “Idiot! Not only does he write poems but he screwed up the most famous line in American History!”(giggle snort) I am well aware the line reads Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but do you know that line was originally drafted Life, Liberty, and Private Property.

I’m sure there are different reasons why it was changed. I can imagine they realized that one is not necessarily born endowed with private property, hence, the pursuit. Still, this shows that our Founders placed private property on a very high pedestal, a thing to be protected.

Much of the anger by conservatives here in Maine against landowners who asked for this foraging bill is really seeded in the fact that most of these major landowners are of a liberal persuasion. They have bought up large tracks of land and have begun to block hunting , foraging, and recreation on their land. Yes, it makes me angry, too.

But the fact of the matter remains, they still own the land. Still, the anger remains and the desire to use or block the legislature from defending their rights because they appose our will and our want seems, ahem, poetic justice. The question remains, what of the Constitution?

According to the Constitution, private property rights trump all including the Bill of Rights. For example, when I was campaigning during the Q3 referendum if a homeowner took exception to what I was saying they could order me off their property. I had to go and exercise my 1st Amendment rights elsewhere. If a homeowner objects to my sidearm on their property and demands I remove myself, I need to remove myself and exercise my 2nd Amendment rights elsewhere. The rights of the private landowner overrule our rights to hunting, foraging, and recreating. So take your various pursuits of happiness and pursue them elsewhere.

Sadly, it seems we are willing to preach the Constitution when it works in our favor but trample it when it doesn’t. The issue is more than foraging and hunting traditions, berries and fiddleheads. The question should be asked: Is the Constitution the foundation of the Republic for all citizens or just a weapon to wield against our opponents to win elections?

Whenever I write against this double standard among so-called conservatives, the immediate retaliation is, “No! We are going to teach them a lesson!” or “Now, they can know what it feels like!” I have been a conservative all my life but this double standard on so many issues, not just this, is not conservatism. It’s something I don’t recognize. The politics of retaliation and me first, the future be dammed. It seems we are not interested in winning elections to make the Republic stronger but simply to gain the power to inflict our double standard on our opponents, payback. And faster the pendulum swings…

Double Down Double Standard

 

When fools build a caricature and call it a crown,

Blindness is bliss in the new double down.

The Republic will crumble and walls start to tumble

But no care is taken to the cause of our stumble

We secure victory and revel in bliss

No effort no pining for the standards we miss

Its power we’re craving and “new” ways we’re paving

We’re forging the fetters of our own enslaving

Its my rights alone and you come along

If you see things my way then we have song

But don’t sing my tune you’ll find out soon

Its trample and stample to your old dusty rune

We cry Constitution and say its for me

But don’t you dare cross me and say its for thee

We want what we’re getting wherever its setting

And laugh at the rights of the ones who are fretting

We say that its right because we’ve always done this

And one can’t say “No” to how we’ve always won this

Some berries are red The fiddle his head

You stop us from picking Your rights have no cred

When tables are turned and we take a stand

To keep those we wish to stay out of our land

Double your standards run up on their lanyards

Your words will come back like drunken old tankards

So we might be gladden to forage with glee

On land bought and paid for, but no not by thee

Its our own tradition Its worth the sedition

If need be we’ll trample that old Constitution

When fools build a caricature and call it a crown,

Blindness is bliss in the new double down.

The Republic will crumble and walls start to tumble

But no care is taken to the cause of our stumble