OPINION: WHY IS THE MARSHALL CITY COMMISSION PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS?

By Ron Munden – February 12, 2021

 On February 4, 2020 I wrote an article titled, “OPINION: MARSHALL CITY COMMISSIONERS MAKE ANOTHER UNFORCED ERROR”.

In the article I said:

The Marshall City Commissioners have decided they will put themselves in the position of picking winners and losers in the District 2 election by making an appointment to fill Gail Beil’s seat for two months.

Several people have said that they think the city charter does not permit the City Commissioners to make the temporary appointment of a City Commissioner and the position should remain vacant until the next May election.

The City Charter states:

 Sec. 35. – Same—Election therefor.

In case of the vacancy of the office of any elective officer by death, resignation, failure or refusal to qualify, or for any other cause, the commission shall order an election to take place to fill such vacancy, at a date to be fixed, not later than thirty days after such vacancy occurs, and shall give ten days’ notice thereof, published in the official newspaper of the city. In case of a vacancy in the commission, the remaining commissioners shall do and perform all of the duties incumbent on such officer until the election and qualification of a successor. In case of a vacancy in the office of city secretary, the commission shall appoint some suitable person to perform the duties of such office until such city secretary is elected and qualified.

(Char. 1909, § 60)

It is clear to me that the position should remain empty until the next election.  Prior Commissioners must have agreed with me.  When Katie Jones died in December, her seat remained empty until the next May election.  When Louis Block resigned, his seat remained open until the next May election.

Looking at this from an engineering standpoint it is clear that the City Charter does not want the Commissioners to make a temporary appointment of a Commissioner. I have been told that some lawyer has reviewed the City Charter and said that the Charter is ambiguous so the City Commissioners could decide what they wanted to do.  If that is the case, the Commissioners should follow the precedent set by prior City Commissions.

The Commission made a wrong decision.  At Thursday night’s city commission meeting they will select a temporary commissioner who will serve for 8 to 10 weeks before the next election.  Their selection will signal to Marshall voters who they want to be the next commissioner for District 2.  This is exactly what the City Charter wanted to prevent.  The City Commissioners made an unforced error and it has placed them in a no-win situation.

In my earlier article I said:

There is still one final off-ramp for the Commissioners.

In other cities and counties where I have lived, I have seen two temporary appointments to positions filled by elected officials. In both cases the appointment was made contingent on the person agreeing not to run for the position during the next election. The appointment became a caretaker appointment, not an appointment that launched a political career.

This is the last-off ramp for the Commissioners. Otherwise the Commissioners are headed for a concrete wall at a high rate of speed.

Unfortunately, based on the past actions of these Commissioners, I see a concrete wall in their future.


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE

Payday

Mr. President, George sir, don’t forsake me now.

By Lad Moore

It was tortuous ritual to deal with my twenty-five cent allowance. There was both excitement and great trepidation to part with the coin. As soon as it fell into my hands, I placed it between my index finger and thumb, rubbing it for enough time to give the silver a fresh gleam. The tarnish remained on my fingers. I smelled it. It produced a kaleidoscope of odors—the silver tarnish smelled like, well, coins; but different than copper pennies which stained green if rubbed. It also released a faint remnant of perfume from my grandmother’s purse. I think I smelled cigar smoke too; probably the coin came to her in change from Joe Power’s Market. Mr. Power enjoyed his cigars, although they were unlit much of the time. He just swapped the mushy stub from cheek to cheek, like a battle was being waged with his tongue. 

Secondly, my reverence for the coin was amplified because of all the chores suffered to earn it. My duties included toting the horrific slop bucket to the street when the slop man came to pick it up. Sometimes the slop rocked out of the bucket as I carried it. I had to walk sideways like John Wayne to keep it a respectful distance from my tennis shoes. 

I also had to mow the thick St. Augustine grass—a task made onerous by the spiral of dull blades on the reel mower. The blades spun like a barber’s pole but without the color. My uncle Archie gave me a file for tuning up the blades, but for some reason I could never get the right angle and pitch no matter how much I filed. The edges of the blades shined like chrome but that didn’t mean they were sharp. 

Mowing had its perils. The mower constantly screamed for oil. Archie brought me bottles of used black motor oil from his garage, and I transferred the oil into my squirt can. I loved the popping noise the can bottom made when I pressed it. I could play a nice staccato rhythm, but no one was ever there for the concert. 

The most despised reel mower enemies were the spiny little sweetgum balls. Just one of them stopped the blades cold. I had to crouch down and move the blades backward to dislodge the offender. In time, I learned to rake the balls down into the storm sewer before ever starting to mow. So, add raking to my chore list.

Edging and trimming followed mowing. Spring-assisted sideways-scissor-like shears were incredibly slow, and it seemed ten degrees hotter on my knees next to the tin skirt that encircled our frame house. A blister always formed on my middle finger and thumb. I used a safety pin to pop the skin bubble and let the water out. Then I swabbed on some orange Mercurochrome which was preferred to its sharp-stinging brother Methiolate. My blisters usually took until the next mowing to heal, but meanwhile my orange fingers showcased the wounds of a working man.

Archie told me that when edging, I should be especially watchful in the shallow graveled trench created by rain cascading off the roof. He said that the continued wash would unearth arrowheads and shards of pottery from our ancient Caddo Indian ancestors. I never found a single one. Caddo Indians must have carried common old rocks to chunk at their enemies.

Grocer Earl Moos was the beneficiary of my quarters. On Saturday, which was payday, I was at his store when he opened up. He lived right beside the store, and the clap of his screen door was my cue to hop off his ice dock and meet him at the storefront. I was inside even before he turned the lights on.

In the center of the store, across from his sandwich and ice cream bar, were two doublerows of shelves housing the world’s largest array of candy. That area of the store smelled like a cotton candy trailer at the fair. It was intoxicating, like the whiff of fresh whiskey that makes a drinking man crazy and no-account. Before it was over, I would travel those aisles two dozen times before making my purchase. It was a feat to balance the lust of favorite candies-past with the experimentation of new offerings. One wrong guess, like my one-time licorice mistake, and pennies can be wasted. One nickel was always reserved for the Holloway Black Cow, which was a staple. A Black Cow, hard as a paving brick, could last until the next allowance. 

Fourteen cents was reserved for the movie which was the next thing in my Saturday cue. The remainder of my quarter went for quantity—handfuls of penny or multiple-for-apenny selections. 

It cost nine cents to get into the Lynn Theater, and that left enough for a dill pickle. The pickles were as large as a flashlight and were capable of drawing the mouth into the tightest of contortions. The shriveling twist of my mouth even distorted my voice; making words drag thick, like winter molasses. The procedure goes like this: One sucks on the pickle until it gets wrinkled, then bites of a thin slice to chew and swallow. Repeat the process until you reach the stub of the stem. The stem then joins the other disgusting articles that inhabit theater floors. Once the pickle was gone, the candy from Earl Moos always tasted fresher and more brilliant. Pickles were cleansers of the candy palate.

This day was back to back westerns and double serials. Flash Gordon would battle Ming, a bout that always ended in a draw. The other short subject is the Bowery Boys. One can count on those buffoons for a laugh a minute. I always envied them their beanie caps and overalls. They reminded me of me if I were grown.

Sometimes I sat through the movie twice. It would be dusk when I left. My footsteps clapped my way through the train passenger tunnel. On the other side of the tracks was the hole in the fence that put me on East Avenue. I glanced over at “Moosies” store as I passed by. The light was on in his house and the store was closed. 

Me and my quarter had a good day.

* * * 

The author’s three collections of short stories, Tailwind, Odie Dodie, and Riders of the Seven Hills are available at all traditional booksellers. Copies signed by the author may be obtained by contacting him directly via pogo@shreve.net or at  his web page at:  http://laddiemoore.blogspot.com/

~~~

The story featured here holds © Copyright 2010 by the author, Lad Moore. All rights reserved. Image from the Public Domain


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE

GOING TO SEA ON A SUBMARINE FOR THE FIRST TIME

By Ron Munden – February 6, 2020

USS Thresher (SSN-593) … On 10 April 1963Thresher sank during deep-diving tests about 220 miles (350 km) east of Boston, Massachusetts, killing all 129 crew and shipyard personnel aboard in the deadliest submarine disaster except for the French submarine Surcouf (130 crew lost).

Given the fact that this submarine was going out on its first dive to test depth, well over 100 shipyard personnel would be on board plus 129 crew. The Thresher’s loss of life was far greater than that of the Surcouf.

In the summer of 1968, I was preparing to take my first dive on a submarine.  I was going to go to sea on the USS Permit (SSN-594) and I had no idea what to expect.

The USS Permit became the lead ship of her class of submarine when the former lead ship, the USS Thresher, was lost. 

The submarine was scheduled to depart Mare Island on a Monday.  The previous Friday all the shipyard personnel who were scheduled on this sea trial were taken to a conference room and shown a film on how to use the escape hatch to exit a disabled submarine.  It was a detailed film covering each step a person must take to exit the submerged vessel. 

After the film ended the instructor said that the greatest depth someone had successfully executed this procedure was 400 feet.  He also said the depth of the water where we would be diving was well over 1000 feet.  I did not find this comforting.

That weekend my wife and I went camping.  I would like to say that I did not give my first dive a thought during that weekend.  But I don’t lie well.  I gave it a lot of thought.  I did not know what to expect.

At noon on Monday I was climbing down the ladder into the torpedo room on the Permit.  Shortly after that the hatches were closed and we were off on our 12-day adventure.

Attack submarines are designed for a crew of about 125 people.  On the initial sea trial there are over 100 additional shipyard people on board.  This is because after undergoing an 18-month overhaul it is expected that the ship will encounter some problems on the first dive, so you have to have wrench-turners, electricians, and all the other trade people to fix minor problems while the sea trial is underway.

Since there are no bunks for these 100 or so people, the torpedo room becomes a dorm for the yardbirds (the sailor’s term for shipyard workers). Submarines going out on the first dive do not carry weapons; therefore, the torpedo skids are empty. Bunk mattresses are thrown over the torpedo skids.  A person can sleep on these mattresses in the sleeping bag they brought on board.  Since there is not nearly enough space for 100 mattresses, people must “hot bunk.”  One person gets the torpedo skid for 8 hours, then they get up and a second person takes the space.  Eight hours later a third person gets his turn.  That routine continues for the duration of the sea trials.

Attack submarines are small compared to surface ships and even ballistic missile submarines so when there is no place to sit when you are out of the rack you either stand or use your sleeping bag as a stool.

Because there are many more people on board than is normal, the Navy turns the shower stalls into food lockers.  There were no complaints about not being able to shower for 12 days because on every submarine that I was ever on the food was excellent.  It is amazing what the crew can do in a small cooking space.

The biggest irritant I found on board was smoke.  In 1968 smoking was allowed in all compartments.  Since sea trails are boring because there is nothing to do if you are not working, which is most of the time, people smoke a lot. A blue haze hangs over the torpedo room for the duration of the sea trails.

There is one source of entertainment – making fun of the rookies on board.

I was no exception. 

When I got down into the torpedo, I found that the old pros had already begun staking out their spaces on the torpedo skids.  I thought I was very smart when I found a stainless-steel surface that was about three feet behind a torpedo tube.  It was unoccupied so I staked it out by unrolling my sleeping bag.  In retrospect, I guess it was not taken because there was no mattress, and no one wanted to sleep on a stainless-steel surface.  At 20-something I could sleep anywhere so I did not see that as a problem.

When you are on a first sea trial many tests are run on the surface before the submarine makes a dive.  One of the surface tests is to fire water slugs from all the torpedo tubes.  At some point during the first 24 hours they ran this test.  I was lying in my sleeping bag directly behind one of the torpedo tubes when they began the test on that tube.  When they fired the first water slug, a seal on something directly in front of me failed.  Instantly a 1/8” spout of water started shooting out and scored a direct hit – on my forehead.  Unfortunately, I was zipped in my sleeping bag and could not move to get out of the way.  Did anyone come to my rescue?  No!  Everyone in the torpedo room began laughing as they watched me trying to free myself from my sleeping bag. Fortunately, a couple of sailors came running over and began deflecting the water into a bucket until someone could get there to fix the problem.  That was my baptism into riding submarines.

Of course, the most interesting test is the first dive to test depth.  In 1968 the test depths for submarines were classified. I will treat it as classified today since I don’t know if it is still classified.  I was told that when asked the question you could say it is greater than 1000 feet.

On the first drive the Captain does not vent the main ballast tanks and go directly to test depth.  He does it 100 feet at a time.  When the Captain reaches 100 feet he holds the boat at that depth.  The crew inspects all the compartments for leaks.  After all the compartments report no leaks the Captain takes the ship down another 100 feet and the search for leaks is repeated.  This process is continued until the boat reaches test depth – the maximum depth at which the boat is designed to operate.

When the Permit started its first dive to test depth someone tied a rope across the expanse of the torpedo room.  As the submarine gets deeper the outside water pressure increases and begins to compress the pressure hull which means the once tight rope begins to sag.  Of course, this is done to make the trip more meaningful for the rookies on board.

One sobering fact that I was told is that if there is a ¼” diameter leak in the main seawater system you have less than a minute to stop the leak or you will be unable to recover the ship.  That tells you how much pressure there is on the hull at test depth.

During most of the duration of the sea trial I sat and did nothing.  Finally, on the last day and the last dive I got to do my thing.  The boat conducted a trim dive and I got to capture all the data from the test.

The Captain took the submarine to 100 feet depth – a depth where the boat is not affected by wave action on the surface and the water pressure is too low to change the hull configuration.   The crew adjusts the water in the variable ballast tanks to bring the boat to a state of equilibrium.  Without the prop turning the submarine is stable.  It is not floating up and it is not sinking.  The ships buoyancy equals the ships weight and the boat is not trimming by the bow or the stern.

With that complete the Captain blew the main ballast tanks, surfaced, headed for the Golden Gate Bridge and Mare Island Naval Shipyard.  I spent the next few hours running around the sub taking readings from all the tanks and collecting other data that allowed the shipyard to certify that the ship could drive in all the loading conditions specified by the Navy.

My first trip on a submarine was complete.

I estimate that about 98% of the engineers working at Mare Island never got to ride a ship to sea.  I feel lucky that I worked in an organization that allowed me the opportunity to go to sea.  I only did this work for a year or so before I moved on to another job, but during that time I got to ride three or four submarines.  It was a great experience.

I have great respect for the submariners of the US Navy.  I have seen them in action – up close and personal.  They have a difficult job but an important job. What they have done and continue to do is invaluable to the security of this country.  Many have said that some of their special ops during the cold war kept us out of World War III – read Blind Man’s Bluff.


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE

It died on February 3, 2020

By George Smith

It died on February 3, 2020

Iowa. Dead. Not the entire state, but the status of the nation’s first presidential primary is dead.

It was killed by technology … and the lack of it, and a failure to recognize the need for change and the refusal to do anything to implement that change in a reasonable and timely manner.

The elementary school line-up-for- recess exercise called the Iowa Caucus was, well, endearing and quaint and…, yes, antiquated. But, golly gosh, it was the first presidential primary and the candidates and media focused attention on the small Out There state for months and it made everyone interested in politics simply giddy in anticipation.

But Iowa blew it in such a demoralizing,  rural-cousin l, embarrassing sort of way that another, more sophisticated state will get bumped to the top of the presidential primary pecking order in 2024.

As of early Tuesday, a Democratic winner in the Iowa Caucus had not been announced. Virtual all candidates or their campaign staffs had harsh words for the state Democratic Party and its decision to use a reporting app for results. The Peter Principle, of course, went into effect, with the app failing; the back-up plan — calling in precinct results as has been done in the past — failed as the phone system could not handle the traffic overload.

Result: Chaos,m, andmad campaign workers, delegates and the horde of media encamped in the state to report results.

Bottonline: In the wake of this take-no-prisoners scene from “Lord of the Flies,” if Iowa schedules a caucus in 2024, it will be without the blessing of the National Democratic Committee.

It is no secret that the catch-as-catch-can-line-up-under-the-sign-of-your-preferred-candidate voting process in Iowa’s 1,681 precincts was…maybe, cute. 

But cute, in this era of technological supremacy and instant media reporting, is passe’ and tradition will no longer be good enough to sustain the privileged position of being the harbinger for the presidential  political season.

The caucus circus has always been fun: Friends meeting friends, sizing up the size of the crowds at all the candidates’ designated meeting areas, ordinary citizens laughing it up with reporters and jockeying for their 15 seconds of fame.

Now, all gone.

Gone because a small state chose to act small rather than act smart.

It was fun while it lasted. Iowa, As the song lyrics go:   

“So long, it’s been good to know ya

So long, it’s been good to know ya

So long, it’s been good to know ya

What a long time since I’ve been home

And I’ve gotta be driftin’ along”


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE

Freezer Burn

“It’s free, but it’s not cheap”— Unknown

* * * 

By Lad Moore

We were a tight group, huddled together by like circumstance. We all worked for a manufacturer of fiberglass canoes at a plant near Austin’s Lake Travis. Our employer made the decision to open a smaller branch manufacturing plant in Carthage, Texas. Four of us were picked to do the start-up, each bringing a particular expertise to the new location. There was Hal, who would run materials supply and the maintenance shop, James the Customer Service and Inside Sales Manager, and Jack the Accountant/Data Manager. I oversaw the forming molds and gel-coat Finishing Operations.

I respected them all, but especially Jack. More than once he displayed his command of the company books, often pulling long hours to close out month-end results. He was classic stereotype accountant; bespectacled, plastic pocket protector, and an annoying practice of using a jumbo paper clip as a necktie clasp. His appearance may have been comedic, but his prowess with numbers was without equal. The crew lovingly referred to his ability to polish financial statements as “Jack’s Magic-Bean Counting.” He could walk the accounting tightrope without a net, knowing exactly how to win without cheating.

In the tradition of the old barn-raisings of the colonial past, all of us showed up to help one another when the moving vans arrived. Like a colony of ants, we unpacked boxes, set up furniture, and put the new household together in a fury of muscle power. It was both a ritual of welcoming and sharing, and a good reason to break out a cooler of beer when the task was over.

Jack’s arrival was no different. All of us were there to greet the van. His was a full load, owing to the fact that Jack’s wife Mollie was an interior decorator. The house was filled with period pieces of museum quality and accessories handpicked from her buying trips. While we unloaded and unpacked, Jack busied himself with handyman chores. It was truly out of character to see Jack with tools in his hand. He didn’t fit the image of someone who knew a bolt from a screw. But there he was, wearing a nail apron filled with the essentials—hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches, and the like.

On a trip through the kitchen, I saw Jack on the floor, half his body hidden under the kitchen sink counter.

“What’s up?” I asked. I could hear some clanking of tools, and Jack uttering some fourletter words.

“Icemaker,” he muttered. “There’s no connection pipe down here. I’m going to have to tap into the cold water line and put in a valve.”

“Maybe you need Hal,” I offered, thinking to myself that this was more of a job for someone with maintenance skills.

“Nope, doing just fine,” he said, “Just save a cold beer for me. We’re gonna be able to freshen that chest with some new ice real soon.”

The crew went on with its work. Several times we passed through the kitchen, noting that Jack’s jeans had slipped down to the point that his rear end was all smile. It was shiny with sweat.

We were finished. Mollie unpacked some Ritz crackers and a jar of cheese spread, and the crew assembled in the den to attack the beer cooler. The early arrivals got the chairs and the rest of us sat on the fireplace hearth. The sofa was piled high with lampshade boxes.

Jack joined us, wiping his brow with his sleeve. “Ice real soon,” he announced.

Hal wanted the technical details. “What sort of valve was that you put on?”

“One of those clamp-on kinds; you know, it has a spike that pierces the pipe as you tighten it up. I tied it in on 3/8-inch copper.”

“3/8-inch copper on a water line?” Hal asked. “That’s odd, water lines are normally halfinch.

“3/8” said Jack, “3/8 valve with a rubber gasket. It’s not leaking a drop.”

One of the guys wanted to watch a NASCAR race, so we connected the TV at the most convenient cable outlet. Maybe an hour and two six-packs passed before IT happened.

In a mighty explosion, the house shuddered on its foundation. A tremendous fireball shot out across the back yard, and dense black smoke poured out of the kitchen into the den. But as abruptly as it blew, it was over. There was no lingering fire or aftershock. Hal and I stuck our heads around the corner of the den. The refrigerator and part of the kitchen wall lay in the back yard, and the freezer door was missing altogether. Inside, the kitchen wallpaper and curtains were crispy black. A gentle breeze from outside rippled through the charred opening.

The rest of the crew came into the kitchen, all wondering what had happened, yet happy that no one was even slightly injured. Molly’s mouth dropped open when she saw her prized Jenn-Air lying warped and crumpled in the azalea bed.

Hal did the investigation. Given the path of destruction, it seemed likely that the explosion came from behind the refrigerator. A dangling icemaker line was all that remained of that section of the wall. Under the sink, Hal was closing a valve with a wrench. In so doing, he made the discovery:

“Jack,” he said, “3/8-inch is usually natural gas, not water. You tapped into the cook-top burner line. The freezer compartment got packed with gas, and the icemaker motor provided the spark.”

Among the crowd in the kitchen, widening grins began to replace concerned frowns. Jack’s face was as red as the remaining azaleas. 

Jack made us promise never to tell this story. I said I wouldn’t. 

I lied.

* * * 

The author’s three collections of short stories, Tailwind, Odie Dodie, and Riders of the Seven Hills are available at all traditional booksellers. Copies signed by the author may be obtained by contacting him directly via  pogo@shreve.net 

~~~

The story featured here holds © Copyright 2010 by the author, Lad Moore. All rights reserved. Image from the Public Domain”

GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE

Trump allies are handing out cash to black voters

By George Smith

Lord-please-help-us headline of the day:

“Trump allies are handing out cash to black voters”

Story:
“Organizers have begun holding events in black communities where they lavish praise on the president while handing out thousands of dollars in giveaways.

“Allies of Donald Trump have begun holding events in black communities where organizers lavish praise on the president as they hand out tens of thousands of dollars to lucky attendees.

“The first giveaway took place last month in Cleveland, where recipients whose winning tickets were drawn from a bin landed cash gifts in increments of several hundred dollars, stuffed into envelopes. A second giveaway scheduled for this month in Virginia has been postponed, and more are said to be in the works.”

Summary: the GOP is categorizing black voters as a group of Americans who will violate ethical principles and sell their vote for a few dollars,

Shame! Shame! Shame!

Ending comment on the legality of buying votes::

Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate; and

Whoever solicits, accepts, or receives any such expenditure in consideration of his vote or the withholding of his vote—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Is there no end to the corruption?


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE