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All posts for the month February, 2016

The standard arguments against taking stuff from alleys

Published February 26, 2016 by justicewg

Xmas TrashmanI have some answers from the city on the questions I had about the rules for removing junk that was set out for trash pickup. I’ll get to that in a later post, first some discussion on the whole trash issue.

The three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. It is taught to little kids in school, it is the mantra of anyone who cares about the problems we have in a society that wastes too much, worships new stuff when old versions are still working, and is filling the dump sites to overflowing. All of the R’s are not simple to do, reusing is especially problematic for people who don’t want to use Craigslist, and find it simpler to set still good material out by the trash.

I’ve read a lot of online wrangling over taking discarded stuff, if you want to see some people flipping out, just search for the comments that get posted whenever Freegans are mentioned. The less extreme practices of people who just pick a few choice items sitting out by trash cans can also cause the heebie-jeebies in certain types. In order to preempt some of the arguments that occur over and over when this issue is discussed, I’m going to do a brief summary of the past discussion.

The xenophobe (also known as The Trump)

This person has a fear based response. “The hordes of poor people will come into our little city and strip it bare! We must defend it from all trespassers!”

The xenophobe has an over-developed defense reaction to what is a minor problem. I can’t provide statistics for an issue which occurs out of sight for most people, with no consequences. But I would guess there is only a tiny number of people who do scrapping in alleys who also steal stuff. After all, you are placing a big obvious sign on yourself when you have scrap metals into the back of your truck, the police have no questions about what you are doing. Only the dumbest of thieves would think it was a good plan to steal stuff then continue to drive around with the stolen material in full view.

All the discussion and worries about scrappers are out of date. The prices of scrap metals have bottomed out, there is no money to be made by scrappers anymore. Maybe prices will go back up, but for now this discussion is moot – you will not see scrappers when it costs more in gas than can be earned by scouring alleys.

Bad news for recyclers too, the city’s recycling program cost the city about $20 a ton to have it taken away. Regular trash cost $40 a ton to have it taken to the dump, so it makes financial sense for the city to recycle, it just isn’t putting us in the plus column (these numbers per Director of Administration Patrik Bowman).

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Superintendent Culp holding meetings at Marshall’s

Published February 5, 2016 by justicewg

Culp sideThe December “Superintendent speaks” article in the TVN was a promotion of a monthly meeting Mr. Culp holds at Marshall’s restaurant. I have to give Culp credit, this is 100% better than any public meeting schedule that former Super O’Reilly* ever held during his time at the school.

If you are thinking, “Here comes the damning with faint praise”, you know what holding a single monthly 8 AM meeting for everyone in the district, no matter what schedule they might work, inspires in me.

Community coffees story with odd omissions

I think Culp has been holding these community coffee meetings for a year or so – he didn’t say what the history was in the TVN article. I found it odd that there was no mention of specific topics that had been discussed in the past, just generic “efforts and goals” and “personal concerns”. What concerns? What goals?

It would be instructive to know just what kind of topics are being brought before Culp, are they repeated questions about a specific policy? Questions about school finances? Complaints about programs?

If Culp is taking people who attend these meetings seriously, he must be writing down the concerns as he listens to parents. I asked if he could share those notes, and after a couple of weeks, he replied –

“I believe you asked me about my superintendent’s coffee and whether I record them. I do not record them but they are public meetings and open to anyone.” – Mr. Culp

So you can go to these 8 AM meetings, and they are open to anyone, and say what you want – but Superintendent Culp will not write down anything that is said. Not because there is anything confidential being said, this is an open meeting in a restaurant. He doesn’t write it down because – it’s not important enough?

Still, better than O’Reilly.

What is being changed as a result of the meetings?

Another missing part of the TVN article was anything about results of these meetings. If you have to change your morning routine, worry if your kids are going to get to school, possibly miss some work hours, or sleep if you don’t have a first shift work schedule, the most important thing you need to know is if it will all be a waste of time, because nothing gets changed by talking to Culp.

I asked Mr Culp if he could list specific policy changes that came about at the school as a result of these meetings.

Items I would point to would be:

  • Increased email blasts out to the community.
  • Feedback about our Brand Identity and corresponding beliefs, mission, story, and characteristics.
  • Parent Drop off and pick up at Stevenson Elementary.
  • Feedback on district goals and objectives
    • Formative Instructional Practices
    • Learning Targets
    • Personalization of Learning
  • Feedback on our technology integration and our 3, 21st century learning spaces.
  • Feedback on our K-12 facility planning process.

These are all topics that have been discussed and corresponding changes realized as a result of conversations that have occurred during our Superintendent’s Coffees.  I hope this helps. Andy Culp

Buzzword translation of the above – anything that starts with “Feedback” means Culp had to listen to somebody whine listened to people speak but didn’t take any action as a result. So the only confirmed changes that came from a year of so of holding these morning meetings were more email blasts, and changes to the pickup and drop off at Stevenson.

This is the best we can expect?

The school board has made it clear, they believe in Policy Governance, and it is a waste of time to bring any requests for change before the board. This monthly morning meeting, no matter how inconvenient, is the best that you can expect in Grandview (unless some new board members are elected).

I was hoping to read Mr. Culp outline a long page full of changes that had occurred as a result of the parent meetings, in a better system ALL changes would come as a result of parent requests. This is our school system, it doesn’t belong to the bureaucrats.

My suggestion – there is this thing called “the internet” where people can post words and have conversations with each other. If Mr. Culp and the school board wanted to hear from parents, and not just at 8 AM once a month, they could put up a board or a blog, and allow comments 24/7. This doesn’t have to be a S-storm of off-color comments, it is easy to make comments “only by approval” (as long as a light hand is used). That’s the way I do comments here on this Blog.

Fat chance that happening. Still, for now there are the coffee meetings, so – huzzas?

 

*Mr O’Reilly did have an attempt to hold monthly meetings with parents back in 2006, with a poorly chosen time of 6PM before school board meetings. Nobody came to his meetings. (Note to Mr. Culp, you know how I remembered stuff that happened ten years ago? I wrote it down. Good tip for you.)