Tuesday, April 30

Let's Rename Bishop Kenny to Bishop Lenny

Bishop Kenny was probably a real person. I'm sure he was a decent guy, but the fact is that it's not like he has kids and grandkids clamoring for continued recognition for him. Conversely, Lenny was a Jacksonville mayor who managed to survive trying to sell off JEA so that1 he and his buddies could retire early. He also let another buddy pretend to be a cop because he was rich. Lenny put up a bunch of flashing blue lights in crappy neighborhoods to stop crime. And he oversaw a very successful decade of construction at the airport I-95 interchange. I'm sure he did some other stuff, too, and he sent his kids to Bishop Kenny (unlike Bishop Kenny himself). All of that should be reason enough to rename Bishop Kenny to Bishop Lenny.

Some might say that Lenny is not a Bishop, but Lenny's rich friend was not a police officer when he was allowed to hang out at police HQ and wherever else within JSO he wanted to go. I guess that's what heroes who receive the key to the city get out of it, at least until they start asking teenagers for lap dances. Also, I'm not a manager, yet many people in Jacksonville call me "Boss." I guess the school could be renamed Boss Lenny, but Bishop is a little more religious sounding. Less Boss Hogg-ish.

Maybe Bishop Kenny hobnobbed with God, but we don't have photographic evidence of that. Bishop Lenny High School could display photos of Lenny hanging out at sporting events with lobbyists from power companies. Power companies are powerful because it's right in the name. 

Lenny left us with mostly the way he found us, but with some small upgrades. The I-95 interchange at the airport still under construction. Shotspotters are now used to know when and where someone got killed. The empty Landing has been replaced by empty space. Older strippers, then younger strippers, and now probably older strippers again. Confederate monuments. I am glad those fishing game gambling things closed, and I'd say that is the #1 positive accomplishment for Lenny. Jesus, and probably Bishop Kenny, would have approved of getting rid of those dens of sin.

I'm sure there were people in the Catholic church who used terms like "useless," "alcoholic,"  and "favoritism" when referring to Bishop Kenny. Lenny will be comfortable hearing these words, too.

Saturday, April 27

Two Referendums and Now Layoffs From DCPS?

I voted for the referendum to finally rebuild, maintain, or upgrade schools. It passed, but I won't see the upgrades before my kids graduate because I'm-not-sure. I voted against a teacher pay and arts funding referendum because I didn't understand from the description how it would benefit my kids. It passed, but I still had to send in a check for art materials. As a community, we've added higher sales taxes and property taxes to benefit our schools, but now the district is set to lay off hundreds of staff amid a teacher shortage, and with the lackluster results of the other two referendums, I don't see the taxpayers wanting to step in.

Part of the problem with the school upgrades was the requirement to harden the schools' security before construction of new facilities, so schools spent resources adding bars and cages and cameras before even starting classrooms. Then prices went up, I guess. Maybe contractors got greedy or it's just inflation, but we will be getting less than we've been promised. Less than we're paying for. On top of it all, charter schools use their slice of the money to pay rent to themselves and enrich their owners.

The arts and pay referendum cost all of us on our property taxes or rent increases, but art teachers are often the first to get laid off, so I'm not sure how that will play out. I don't even know which teachers were getting the pay increases or if that was necessary to retain talent. I bet most teachers just want to keep their jobs right now. I've been there.

It sounds like the district is blaming school choice for all its woes, but it also added that Covid funding had disappeared. Add in charter schools that steal students and budgeted funds, and Duval Schools are in trouble. We're talking way beyond "Save-Atlantic-Beach-Elementary" trouble. Again, I've seen it before, and this doesn't end well, folks. The district was relying on funds it didn't really have (COVID, pre-inflation construction, students who later enrolled in choice schools). And now, we'll have to increase class sizes, fire teachers, close schools, and basically enter into panic mode unless the far-right state legislature steps in to save a school district in a city run by a Democrat mayor, so that's not going to happen. If you enjoy watching the proverbial train wreck, get ready for a show.

Lots of $100,000 consulting fees will be paid in the near future that might save $120,000 in electrical costs over the next five years or might encourage dinosaur teachers to retire early to get their pay off the books, but it won't be enough. Unlike JEA, which was pretty much fine, DCPS is right in the middle of a death spiral. The new superintendent may as well be one of those CEOs companies hire to restructure before declaring bankruptcy. There will be a lot of finger-pointing and blaming, but it'll be silly and useless. This was the goal of the legislature all along. 

When I faced similar challenges in my school district as a teacher, I was the only teacher who floated taking a pay cut for all of us in order to save jobs (and my salary sucked). The union and the teachers will do a lot of screaming and yelling before this is over, but it's really already over. Before it gets too far, maybe we need to shut it all down and start over from scratch as an all-charter school system. Or a dozen smaller school districts. Or all K-12 schools. I don't know. Get some consultants. 

Saturday, April 13

Trailmark Sounds A Lot Like Trailerpark

If you were going to build a fancy new car, would you name it a Jugo or Hugo? Not unless you want consumers to remember the Yugo. And you'd have more sense than to name your new vitamin pill Vigara, since another your business growth might not only be base on excitement for your product. So I'm wondering why someone would build a fancy suburban neighborhood and then name it Trailmark, because it sounds an awful lot like Trailer Park to me (and it's exactly what the fancier neighborhoods in St. Johns County will be calling it).

I do have to admit that I'm happy that we've only taken 150 years to move past naming neighborhoods after plantations. Sure, we still have a bunch of plantation-hoods, but names like Wildwood, Nocatee, and Beachwalk at least forego the odd naming convention. It's also nice to see that after 250 years, we might be moving past the other convention of naming neighborhoods after England, like Kensington. 

Still, I think Trailmark sounds a lot like Trailer Park.

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