THE SURFER DUDE AND OTHERS

 

If you don’t want to hear about some good politicians (legislators), stop right here. As a lobbyist for rural schools for about 35 years, I believe that I have some perspective on some of the personalities and performances of a passle of people. I have just about heard everything over that time. I have listened to passionate speeches about democracy. I have heard anti-Semitic threats at an education committee meeting. I have heard racist’s remarks, mysoginistic remarks, many stupid conversations and a bunch of crap that no one has listened to.

Putting all of that aside, there are those who are sincere in their efforts to make things better for their constituents. I have been fortunate to know some of them and worked with quite a few. If there weren’t such people, things would be even worse than they are.

Kevin Shreiber is a young man a newish delegate, from the city of York in York County, PA. He has curly blonde hair and really does look like a surfer dude. He does not even own a surf board. I believe that he is in his second or third term. The House members in PA serve 2 years and then they have to run again. As they finish one campaign, they are on to the new one. It is like that for federal congressman. I have never thought that was a good idea. You could have term limits, but let the terms be 4 years, not two.

Kevin has accomplished a great deal in his short time. Although he is a Democrat in a Republican legislature, he has been able to work across the aisle to accomplish things. His medical marijuana legislation was just passed and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. He is also a defender of public education and an advocate for the kids in York County. We need more like him.

Donna Oberlander comes from Clarion County. If that sounds familiar, it’s where our family lived for ten years. Our children went to school with Donna (she was a year behind our daughter). She is truly a defender and white knight for rural people. Her constituency is pretty much all rural. She has been in the legislature for 3 or 4 terms. She is a defender of school funding for rural schools and stands up to members of her party and the other party in their efforts to take funds away from rural schools. She has risen in the ranks of the Republican party. She is either number 4 or 5 in rank. She is the secretary of the Republican caucus.

One of the things about Donna is that her leadership is sincere and low key. She has now gathered round her some young right thinking rural Republican members. She is in the process of forming a rural legislative caucus.

I have written extensively about Senator Jim Rhoades (god rest his soul), who was a friend and a champion of rural causes. He was singular in his attempts to bring funding to rural schools. His constituency was almost all rural. He never gave up trying to make things better for rural people. He supported most of my hair brained schemes and supported entrepreneurs in his district that needed some help. He brought many jobs to his area.

Ron Cowell is one of the brightest guys that I know. He was a long time legislator and chair of the house education committee. His speeches in the house on behalf of school funding are legion. He never gave up trying to make school funding fair. He even incurred the wrath of some of the leaders of the Democratic caucus, by pushing that agenda. Even now, as a civilian, he stokes the fire of fair funding for schools.

Those are just a few of the people who made crawling the halls of the Capitol somewhat pleasant. In fact, I could name a number more of sincere, hardworking legislators who don’t deserve the acrimony heaped about the general assembly and politicians as a group.

 

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THE TRANSGENDER FOLLIES

I was driving through North Carolina last week. Just by chance I happened to have my original birth certificate with me, not a copy. I was happy that I had it. It certified that I was born a male. I stopped at a nice restaurant in the middle of a mid-sized city. At the end of the meal and a few drinks, I had the urge to take a leak. I asked the waiter where the rest room was. He asked me if I needed to visit the men’s or ladies ‘room. I kind of squinted at him. He told me that he has been instructed to ask that question of any customer who wants to frequent a latrine.

I told him that I needed a urinal. He understood and pointed me to a rest room behind the bar. As I approached the door of the latrine, a rather burly man asked me to present my birth certificate. I congratulated myself quietly and pulled it out. The guard looked at it very carefully and opened the door to the men’s room. He had a funny look on his face. I did not think to ask him any follow up questions.

I entered the lavatory and stood at the urinal and relieved myself. After a moment or two, I heard the door open, and a tall suave looking guy pulled into the urinal beside me. He stood there and pulled down his zipper and began to pee. I had not finished yet, when he asked. Isn’t this who thing ridiculous. I turned to say something to him and realized that I had swiveled my body and began to pee on his shoes.

He was aghast and told me so. I told him that I would be glad to help him clean his shoes, or reimburse him for his trouble. He said nothing, so I grabbed some paper towels and bent over to wipe some of the urine off his shoes.

At that very moment, a man opened the door and saw me bent over about penis height cleaning the shoes. He practically screamed at me to stop what I was doing. All of the noise brought the manager and bartender into the bathroom. They both said the same thing. “We have got to have some way of weeding out the queers.” I shrank to about 3 feet tall and left the bathroom, paid my bill, as others scrutinized me and walked out of the door.

As I was driving to my destination, I realized what a boon this transgender thing could be to the North Carolina economy. First, there are now jobs for guards at the bathroom doors both male and female., additional personnel at the county courthouses to produce original birth certificates, and bumper stickers that might say, “ I peed as a man today and my son is a honor student at Fluffanutter High School.

 

I REALLY NEED TO PLAY GOLF

 

I am not really a golfer. If I play, my handicap is north of 35. That’s all anyone has ever allowed me to have. I believe that I should have a 50 handicap. All of this is extraneous. I have lived here in adult Disneyworld (land) for eight months. There are three courses on site and I have not played one hole yet. There is something wrong with that.

I have delved deeply into why I have not played once since I have lived here. My conclusions are; the other things have been more important than golf. Yes, our lack of sale of our home in Harrisburg was a burden, both financially and psychologically, however there are still other reasons. The major culprit has been our connection with the students at the Jasper County Schools and our attempt to find ways to help both them and the other needy rural schools in South Carolina.

We have been fortunate to connect with the South Carolina Department of Education and their main people. They seem to be happy with us doing anything that will help the rural schools. Our meeting with the students, coaches, staff members, and community people has taken a bunch of time. It has also been very satisfying. For whatever reason, the folks seem to see us in a different light than other volunteers. Looking back at our careers, we certainly have had different experiences that help us to recognize what schools like these might need.

Yes, the color of the skin is a difference. However, the ruralness is still the same; poverty, lack of jobs, low paying jobs, lack of nuclear families, lack of going on to college, lack of finishing college. Some of the colleges here in South Carolina have a completion rate of 33% in six years. That is intolerable and way too expensive for the average rural kid who is the first to go to school.

Are there students whose parents have a college degree? Yes there are. They are just as proud of their children as any parents are anywhere. These students have the advantage of parents knowing how to do all of the stuff related onto college going.

To kind of stimulate some of the young people to go onto to get a degree, Carol and I are offering a scholarship. It isn’t a great deal of dough, but it will buy a couple of years’ worth of books or necessaries. It’s the least that we can do. We are looking for some wealthy folks in the state to meet with and get some real dough for scholarships.

Now you see what has taken most of our time. We have also gone back up north a few times and will go again soon for the holidays. So, I still haven’t played golf, but I know I will soon.