Thursday, April 26, 2007

Funny happenings in Chinatown

Frank Chin, the power broker in Chinatown who was behind the Mayor's guy Linehan getting into the final of the may 15 special election is back at it.

Reports are that he was recently at the Election Department in City Hall. What was he doing there? Well getting hundreds of absentee ballots of course.

Nice to know old school city politics of voting for what your ward boss tells you about is alive and well.

What does Frank Chin get from the Mayor to elicit such loyalty?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

City Budget nicely summed up

Although I am in Ecuador, a financial professional friend of mine took a look at the
proposed City Budget. Here is the summary:

here's the bottom line


Maxed out on Prop 2 1/2 and dipped into reserves a little
Counting on some extra from the state


Pay the 10% hike in health care that we got across the board

$7 million for a few extra cops

Send the rest to the school system - we have 4600 teachers for 54,000 students and 5000 other employees in the school system. That's one adult (all with health care) for every 6 students. One teacher for every 12. If a class size is 25 kids - that means the average teacher only spends half the day in a classroom.

Everything else is little more than inflation.

The globe calls this "strategic" - only if "strategic" is the new bloated!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thoughts from Central America

Today is the last day in Central America for Clara and I. We discussed at dinner last night what our biggest surprises were. Mine was how easy it was. It was not dangerous, it didn't ever feel dangerous (aside from a crackhead neighborhood in Panama City). Clara has happily surprised at how many tourists we saw in all the countries, for example in Nicaragua which receives a lot of bad press.

People everywhere were friendly, did not hate americans,

(although they think George Bush is an idiot and they can't understand why we elected him), and on the whole were positive about the future. In almost every country there is deep cynicism about government and corruption. A park ranger in Guatemala told us the people believe every penny of foreign aid goes into the politicians back pockets, and guide at the presidential palace in Mexico(!) told us that the Mexican congress is full of rich guys who vote themselves raises, give themselves tons of perks, don't do any work, and have no responsibilities. Talk about an honest government worker.

The recurring themes of politics here are similar in each country. The rich abusing the people and the land to maintain control. The deforestation across the region is obvious, and the trash and environmental damage are all too prevalent. I am convinced that it is no mistake that Costa Rica is clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the whole region. They have a stable, democratic government, they abolished the military in 1948, and they spend that money instead on schools and social welfare. They have protected the land, the flora and the fauna with a huge network of national parks. In response the people are happy, successful, and clearly are proud of their country and take care of it. It seems so simple, and the good news is that other countries are starting to see the light. We could do it Boston as well.

I intentionally was not keeping up with the news in America. I would catch snippets here and there about the Iraq war and the British hostages. I've received emails about some of the violence in Boston. The answers seem to be simple, hire more cops (as our lawsuit requests), and give kids and families hope for a future by providing good schools, and ending the corruption, nepotism, and racism that bars access to the valuable assets of the city. We just need the leadership to do it.

A quick note about District 2. Mary Cooney, Ed Flynn and Susan Passoni are 3 very good candidates. I believe either one of them will provide a beacon of responsibility if elected to the council, and I encourage voters to check out what they (and the others) have to say and make an informed choice. I'm a bit glad I'm not in their district so I don't have to choose between them!

We dropped off our bikes at the shipping company yesterday at the cargo terminal in Panama, we are getting on the plane today and will reacquaint ourselves with the bikes in Quito, Ecuador!

Hope Easter was good for everyone, and Go Sox!!!