education


The headline indicates a fiasco:  District owes more money to get bus out of storage than what it was sold for.   This article appears in this week’s Morrison County Record and all I can say is, how do supposedly intelligent people get themselves into such idiotic situations?

Here’s a summary of the situation for those who don’t want to click through to read the story.  The Little Falls School District had a bus sitting by the Central Office Building five years ago.  The space where the bus was sitting was needed for the Arts & Crafts Fair, so the bus was put into storage at Auto Max.  It was only supposed to be there for a few days, but no one from the district made arrangements to get it out of storage.  Duane Doble, owner of Auto Max, tried to contact transportation people with the district in order to have the bus picked up, but no one from the district acted on his calls.  As the time stretched from a few days to five years, Doble felt guilty about charging the district $10 a day for storage, so he dropped his fee to $1 per day.  Instead of charging the district $18,250 (my basic math estimate) for storage, Doble was willing to settle for $1,500.  Pretty good deal, wouldn’t you say?

When the district finally got its act together, it opened bids to sell the bus.  It got the high bid of $300 from Dave Kalpakoff, but decided not to sell him the bus because it wouldn’t cover the entire cost of the storage bill.  Instead, the district decided to give Duane Doble the bus in lieu of the bill.  He’s going to scrap it.

Could somebody please tell me the logic of this?  If the high bid is $300 and that’s all you can hope to get out of this old bus, why would you not accept the offer (thus, living up to a promise) and then pay the balance of your much-reduced storage bill (thus, living up to an obligation)?

To top this all off, the district’s Business Manager, Nancy Henderson, concludes by saying, “I don’t think the district will be doing business with Auto Max in the future.”  How incredibly snide!  As though it’s the fault of Auto Max that no one from the district came to retrieve the bus.  Frankly, Doble has shown that he is a thoughtful and kind-hearted businessman through all of this and he deserves the district’s future business.  However, I wouldn’t be so unkind as to saddle him with the district’s inept behavior.  Honestly!

I do hope Doble got enough out of that scrapped bus to recover what was owed him.

My school of fish isn’t gonna ride this bus,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

Addendum (7/27/2007):  In today’s edition of the Morrison County Record an apology letter from Nancy Henderson appears.  Way to go, Nancy, for making amends for last week’s comment.  (Sorry, I can’t find an online version, otherwise I’d provide a link.) – P.F.A.P.

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Following is a post from Fish Wrap correspondent Black Molly. – P.F.A.P.

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The Spring 2008 issue of Initiative Quarterly, a magazine produced by the Initiative Foundation, has recently been released. The Initiative Foundation, for those of you who don’t know, attempts to assist the fourteen counties it serves in central Minnesota with economic development, leadership training, natural resources projects, and children, youth, and family issues. The Initiative Foundation meets a portion of its mission through loans and grants and works to grow the funds it manages in order to expand upon its programs. The Initiative Foundation is one of six Minnesota Initiative Foundations in the state, all of which were started by The McKnight Foundation in the 1980s. In fact, the Initiative Foundation used to be called the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

For each quarterly magazine, the Initiative Foundation picks a topic of focus. This quarter’s topic is stated on the cover: “Ready or Not? Minnesota’s Future Workforce.” While the magazine does indeed focus on the up and coming Generation Y or Millennials who will soon be entering the workforce, what’s curious about one story, “Workforce Interrupted” by Dawn Zimmerman, is how it spotlights the entry of the Millennials into the workforce as a replacement for aging Baby Boomers, who will soon be leaving the workforce in droves. As I read the article, I sensed there was something missing within the Boomer-Millennial polarity that was being presented. What was missing was Generation X. It was almost as though Millennials were expected to take over for the departing Boomers with nary an Xer in sight.

I have a particular bias toward Gen X because I can be counted among this cohort. I also tend to be sensitive about generational discussions because I typically see that Gen X gets the short end of the stick when it comes to coverage.

The Boomers are huge because, well, they’re huge in numbers. They seem to have been the first named generation and they got the name because of the massive population boom after World War II. The boom lasted from 1946 until 1964 and, thus, those born within these years are considered to be Boomers. Sometimes the Boomers are split into two groups, the Baby Boom Generation (1942-1953) and Generation Jones (1954-1965). (Generational dating is obviously not an exact science because you’ll see some overlap in dates between the generations.)

Gen Xers, who are generally considered to be those born between 1965 and c. 1982, were first called the “baby bust” generation because of the drop in births in 1965. This was five years after the introduction of the birth control pill, which, according to the FDA, was being used by about 5 million women in 1965.

The years associated with the Millennials haven’t been precisely pinned down, with dates ranging from 1978 to 1984, c. 1980 to 1994, or perhaps 1988 to 2008. There’s another named generation, only it was named after the fact, by Tom Brokaw, no less. It’s the Greatest Generation and is supposed to include those who came of age during the Depression and World War II.

That last point is key. While generational discussions can be irritating because they pigeonhole us and don’t describe the individual very well, part of what defines a generational cohort for sociologists and marketers, other than population numbers, is the kaleidoscope of cultural events occurring during our formative years. The thought is that those of us who grow up through the same critical moments together develop a particular view of the world. For the Boomers, it was the Vietnam War, the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Feminist Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement. You can also count the Summer of Love and Woodstock among the Boomers’ cultural influences.

I’ve said before that what seems to have defined Gen X is the ill-defined threat. We had the Cold War, with its constant threat of nuclear holocaust. (Remember the movie “The Day After”?) We had the Shuttle Disaster, the start of the AIDS epidemic, and a president who was almost assassinated. We lived through a ton of divorces and moms entering the workforce. We became latch-key kids. We had reduce, reuse, recycle and the first major energy crisis. (Gas lines, anyone?)

Gen X women grew up knowing we’d have to work. Staying home wasn’t the option it had been for older generations. We were told that we had to put our careers ahead of having children, and many of us did. We watched as major companies threw responsibility out the window when it came to their employees and laid them off right before they were due to retire, thus avoiding having to pay pensions. We were promised good jobs if we went to college, but when we graduated, no good jobs were to be found. Due to these economic forces, we lost the concept of loyalty to a corporation. We became free agents, changing jobs that didn’t suit our lifestyles, retraining when necessary for completely different careers than we’d first been educated for. We were called slackers and cynical, yet we became independent and entrepreneurial out of necessity. (It’s pretty hard to be entrepreneurial if you are a slacker.)

Call me irritable, but when I see a magazine article that seems to hint that Millennials are a direct replacement for the Boomers (i.e. they get to jump right into the high-level jobs being vacated by the Boomers), the cynic in me makes an appearance and starts thinking that the Gen Xers are getting kicked in the teeth again. If employment attrition works as it traditionally has in the past, the ones who should be directly replacing the Boomers are the Gen Xers, who hopefully have been in the workforce long enough by now to have acquired useful experience and some of those soft skills this issue of Initiative Quarterly is encouraging the Millennials to learn.

I don’t think the article’s author really intended to slight Gen Xers. Her focus, after all, was elsewhere. But, when we’re looking at “a workforce exodus about the size of Minneapolis” as the Boomers retire, I don’t think we can afford to discount an entire group of people when we look for solutions. Rather than ignore the Xers, why not take advantage of their continual training and wide range of employment experiences? As the Boomers retire, some Xers may be ready for another career change, maybe into one of the areas for which employee shortages are predicted. How about having Xers and Boomers collaborate on giving Millennials some pointers on the employment experience?

While it may be easy to put us into generational boxes with cute names, we have to be careful about the judgments we make about each of those generations, especially in relation to the economy and our livelihoods. No matter what our age, we all want to be taken seriously in the workforce and know that our labor matters.

Your Fish Wrap Correspondent,

Black Molly

Just as fears over the largest beef recall in U.S. history began to dissipate, today Reuter, Madrid reported the deaths of 2 people in Spain who recently died from the human form of Mad Cow disease also known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

Typicallyspainsh.com  who also reported on the event stated that the two who died were “youngsters” who were thought to have consumed the tainted beef some eight years earlier. Very few details are being given at this time and no information about the two who died is currently being released.

Saturday at 6pm central time and 5 pm Sunday on CNN,  Lou Dobbs will interview presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Nader has been a thorn in the side of presidential candidates, raising important questions on health care, consumer safety and the war in Iraq.

See the broadcast here—> Lou Dobbs Talks with Nader

A special thank you to U.S. Cable for publishing incorrect information in their online T.V guide:  According to their listing Lou Dobbs was scheduled to begin at 5… sorry folks it starts at 6. Is it paranoid to wonder if they did that on purpose?

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Under pressure from lawmakers the Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a list of all schools nationwide that received beef included in last months recall.  Since the recall spanned a 2 year period, the complete list resulted in a 226 page document that named all school food authorities who received beef processed at the Westland/Hallmark slaughterhouse.

Even though there were no reported illness associated with the recall, the meat was recalled because some of the cows  processed could not stand on their own and are typically banned from the human food supply because they are more susceptible to illnesses including mad cow disease. While officials insist that the risk is very remote the incubation period for the human form of mad cow disease reportedly could be as long as long as 30 years.

Full List of School District

I try to keep readers update on the developments in the Westland/ Hallmark Meats beef recall story.  Earlier today MSNBC reported that one of the workers charged with abuse plead guilty and was sentenced to six months in jail.

While all that was good and fine the story went on to report,

Downer cattle have been largely barred from the food supply since a mad cow disease scare in 2003. The cows pose a higher risk of disease, partly because they often wallow in feces. “

Downer cows have not been LARGELY BARRED, the cows this article was referring to were BANNED from the food supply.

The sentence that follows, “The cows pose a higher risk of disease, partly because they often wallow in feces”,  is even more bewildering because it has nothing to do with mad cow disease it is referring to E-coli contamination which comes from feces…. a disease not mentioned at all in this particular article. When read in the same paragraph a reader could easily conclude that feces have something to do with mad cow disease when in fact they are discussing the increased potential for E-coli contamination.

The fact that a cow can’t walk could indicate that the animal is suffering from the neurological symptoms associated with mad cow disease, but a non-ambulatory cow is also more likely to contaminate meat with E-coli because they are on the ground where cows poop. 

Side Stepping the Poo,

Olive Rockfish

By Nicole Gaouette, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 13, 2008
WASHINGTON — The president of the Chino meatpacking plant that triggered the largest beef recall in U.S. history admitted Wednesday that crippled cows, which are more likely to carry disease, probably entered the food supply at his company.
“Obviously my system broke down,” said Steve Mendell, president of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., once a major supplier to the school lunch program.Mendell initially told a House oversight subcommittee that “downer” cows at his plant “were not slaughtered, ground or sold.”But after lawmakers screened a graphic undercover video that showed ailing cows being jabbed with electric prods, beaten and rolled with forklifts toward slaughter, Mendell acknowledged that the four-minute clip did indeed show that at least two cows were processed into food.
Read the full story —> Panel Grills Packing Plant President
Again, panel members act like the problems in our food supply is new news someone should really be grilling them.
http://www.fda.gov/ora/about/enf_story/archive/2002/ch5/cvm1.htm
http://www.fda.gov/ora/about/enf_story/archive/2002/ch5/cvm1.htm
http://www.fda.gov/cvm/Sep_Oct01.htm
http://www.fda.gov/cvm/Sep_Oct.htm
http://www.fda.gov/foi/warning_letters/archive/awl2.htmhttp://www.fda.gov/foi/warning_letters/archive/awl6.htm
http://www.fda.gov/foi/warning_letters/archive/awl130.pdf
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01061.html
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/enforce/2007/ENF00996.html
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no12/06-0965.htm

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