Wilkes-Barre Area in a fight to save our schools.

        I would like to say this is a good story,  but it is not. This story is the setup for the final death knell for a crumbling city.  Wilkes-Barre was a coal mining city.  It is right next to the Susquehanna River,  the polluted part.  It has always been a home to the working man. I was born here in 1974 in a hospital that closed.  Anyone from the area would remember Mercy Hospital.  My 2 kids and my wife were also born in this hospital. Wilkes-Barre was a good city.  Over the years drugs,  crime,  corrupt politicians,  corrupt judges and recession has decimated it.  It is a shadow of its former self.  The mayor is proud of the service jobs he “created”,  while the city hemorrhages good jobs and people.  We are the home of the Kids for Cash Scandal,  the one where the judges put juveniles in a facility for a kickback and the home of the gas scandal.  67,000 gallons of gas went missing and not a soul was prosecuted.                      

        I graduated from one of our 3 high schools,  Meyers,  my wife graduated from our rival,  GAR. The other school in our area is Coughlin.  Meyers and GAR are neighborhood schools and Coughlin is downtown serving the outskirts of our city and the northern part.  There are about 42,000 people in Wilkes-Barre.  The median income is $20,000 below the Pennsylvania average. We are such a poor area,  every child gets a free lunch in school.  The kids cafe and other programs for poor kids are packed full.  My home is struggling.

        The Wilkes-Barre Area School District serves an estimated 82,000 people.  It has about 6,800 students,  about 40% of which are minorities.  We have 9 schools and 1 charter school.  Elementary schools are: Kistler,  Dodson,  Heights,  Dan Flood,  and Solomon,  which also has our only middle school.  Bear Creek Community Charter School is a public charter,  that just built a new school.  Our high schools are Meyers,  GAR,  Coughlin. Mackin,  a school that was closed,  is being redone and will temporarily house Coughlin 9th and 10th graders,  unsure of its later use. In 2007 we ranked 128 in the state in testing.  In 2011 we dropped to 423 out of 501.  Around 2006 Meyers was in danger of closing.  The engineering firms deemed it unsafe.  But a concerted effort by citizens saved it and money was thrown at it. It was a band aid.  The Wilkes-Barre Area School Board has had corruption issues as well.  Several years ago board members were caught accepting money for teaching positions,  among other things.  Very trustworthy group.

          Fast forward to 2014. At some point the superintendent was informed of safety issues at Meyers.  They quickly went to work to determine the extent of damage at all schools.  It was deemed the Meyers and Coughlin were in bad shape.  The district conducted a feasibility study.  They also had 2 groups working to look for a solution.  One was made up of teachers and school employees.  The other of citizens.  The 2 groups started their work,  looking for new sites and ideas of how to build schools or school to better serve our kids.  A couple weeks after the groups started meeting,  the board informed them that they had a $100 million limit and could 9nlt choose from existing school properties.  Essentially the groups had 2 properties to choose from. Coughlin is about 2.4 acres and Meyers is 7.7 acres. Coughlin is in downtown,  Meyers is a bit out of the center city. The groups came up with 3 proposals. 
1) keep all 3 schools.  Rebuilding or renovating Meyers.  Rebuilding Coughlin at its current site or at the Solomon site.
2)rebuild Coughlin and merge it’s students with Meyers. 
3)rebuild Meyers and put Coughlin students there.

            The feasibility study said Coughlin was shot.  The estimated rebuild was between $65-$75 million.  Meyer was estimated at at a rebuild cost of $75-85 million. Meyers renovations were estimated $85 million.  The parapet was falling down and the steel knuckles above the windows were rusted and needed replacement.  They said the floor shifted 12 inches,  yet there were no cracks anywhere.  It turns out the shift happened as it was being built. GAR needed $20 million worth of renovations. Tops for the 3 was $180 million.  The cap was put at $180 million to avoid referendum for exceeding maximum tax allowance. 

           That is the general story.  Here is where it goes a little awry.  On June 8 there is a board meeting.  The board decided to close Meyers,  build at Coughlin and put an extension on Kistler to house 7th and 8th graders. They threw out every suggestion and came up with a whole new plan.  They also were going to vote to submit Plancon funding on June 10. Plancon is Pennsylvania’s system for reimbursement for school building.  On June 10 the board voted 7-2 in favor of this plan.  This plan goes against all current literature and what all experts agree is best.  It goes against what countless University studies determined was best for children.  But here is where our story gets interesting.

Our district is going forward with this consolidation despite public outcry, statistics citing the utter failure of consolidation, the fact that they are flat broke and the fact that their plan changes daily. The are telling us they are broke but are paying for architects, engineers and the renovation of a school from their general fund. The money meant for the kids and teachers. About $11.5 million of the general fund has been spent on this. Throw on top of this the budget impasse in Pennsylvania and that the District must pay its charter school by November 1. Also that the $100 million bond is not guaranteed, in fact who would loan to anyone who is maxed out. This is a mess that will get worse.

A group of us, part of which is the Wilkes-Barre Area Save Our Schools, are trying to educate the public, while trying to to get the board to slow down. They are not listening to reason, in fact the board president got so angry at the last meeting the solicitor had to quiet him down. At the moment this board is drunk with power and does not believe the public has the right to question them. The board dismisses, makes fun of and general looks at anyone who doesn’t agree with them as the enemy. How can the public work with elected officials who view the public as the enemy? We have tried reason, pointing out the flaws, exposing untruths, forcing answers and trying to find their financial bottom line. They are reluctant to let the public see the books.

The last meeting was revealing. We found out quite a bit with a concerted effort by the public. People asked questions, people behind them asked follow up questions and any question not answered was asked again. The pressure is on. A process that should take 9-12 months is being shoved into a 6 month window. We are making process but it does not feel like it is enough. If we fail Wilkes-Barre fails. The exodus will continue and a once great city will fall into complete ruin.

School consolidation, bad for education and finances.

    I live in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  We have had 3 high schools in our area since at least the 1930s.  There were many more,  but they were consolidated into 3 schools.  E. L.  Meyers High School,  Coughlin High School and G.A.R. High School.  Meyers and GAR are 7-12 and Coughlin is 9-12. The graduating class in 2015 from Coughlin was 259, Meyers about 150 and GAR about 150. All the schools in our area are not meeting the grade testing wise.  Meyers and Coughlin have issues with the buildings that change day to day. Our school board recently decided to infuriating the public,  ignore the public and subvert the public by deciding to build one school.

       The board decided to consolidate Meyers and Coughlin into one school.  They had a choice of 2 locations.  1 was Meyers,  7.7 acres,  neighborhood school,  most of the school walked already and it wasn’t in a central location to create traffic problems.  2 was Coughlin,  2.4 acres,  downtown,  traffic problems,  crime and drug problems,  now have to bus both schools and the property with the higher value to sell.  The board said no more property would be bought but are already proposing to buy more. Yes,  they chose number 2. Then decided to add on to an existing school to put 7th and 8th graders in there.  They are building over the city pool.  The project is estimated to cost $100 million.  They company that did the feasibility study received the job with no bid.  Yes,  a $100 million job,  no bid,  to the first company.  When the people asked for this to be put on the referendum,  the board voted 5-4,  against the referendum.  A classless display of egotism.

           Why do I not want a consolidated school? There are several reasons.  First and foremost is the children. Consolidated schools,  with over 1000 students have been shown not to work.  Test scores are lower,  attendance drops,  less participation is school activities,  loss of the intimate parent teacher relationship and kids falling through the cracks. The housing prices next to this newly empty school will plummet 10 to 20%.  A pillar in that community will be gone,  the building will be left to fester like so many other empty schools across the United States and a place that had a large community involvement leaves a hole which was once filled.  Another issue with consolidation.  Lower income kids do not get the same level of education they get in smaller neighborhood schools.  In effect,  classism reigns supreme again. 

    Sadly our school board did not take any of these things into account.  In about a year they went about their study.  When informed that Governor Tom Wolf intended to put a moratorium into effect on Plancon,  the state school funding project,  our board rushed to a decision.  They presented the plan Monday and voted on it Wednesday.  That seem well thought out to you? When the board spoke,  all they talked about was money.  Education was not mentioned once.  They believe bussing more kids will save money,  haha.  They believe eliminating 32 positions will save $3.1 million a year,  haha.  They said only 50% of landowners in the city pay taxes.  I say look at how happy Utah is.  They consolidated and didn’t save any money.  In fact it cost more.

      The board cited soil condition under Meyers as a reason for building at Coughlin.  Yet they plan on adding to a school that  is about 500 yards away.  They claim that they are concerned with safety at Meyers,  yet  had a graduation ceremony there.  They want to make that building into a sports complex.  How is that safe? The football stadium that 4 schools use is there.  They still plan on using it.  How us that safe? Something seems a bit off.

         I have an idea.  I don’t know if it is the right or best idea but it is better then this mess.  Experts say 1000 kids or less is the optimum amount for our kids to learn and test well. Built a new,  smaller Meyers that meets all qualifications.  Build a new Coughlin on the site where the middle and elementary school is,  no more land purchases,  build it to accommodate the population. This way we have 3 campus style high schools.  All very close to 1 of the 5 elementary schools locally. Experts agree that this model is best.They also agree 7-12 is the best model. Why is money coming before our kids? Pennsylvanian ranks 49th in the country in state funding for education. It also has a horrible system for who gets money.  Wealthier districts seem to receive more. These are things Governor Wolf is trying to fix.  Let him fix it.  Let our kids not have to pay off a monstrosity that we will be trying to change in 15 years.  Listen to the people.

A non-profit youth sports organization targeting underprivileged youth. Great idea. But can I do it?

        I live in a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It is a lower income city, in the northeastern  part of the state. We are about 15 minutes from Scranton and about 90 minutes from Philadelphia. At one point it used to be a nice place to live but over the years it has become crime ridden. In fact it is number 18 on the list of top murder cities, did I say that right. Everyday the drug use and crime seems to sucking up another kid and spit them out. There isn’t an inexpensive   place for a kid to play and learn fundamentals in a sport. The cheapest  basketball is $50 bucks at the CYC, a place where the refs told me if they called every foul there would be no score. This is an instructional  league. Any type of travel team or AAU  team gets very expensive. Many of the kids around here are unable to play because of their financial  situation. You would think the YMCA or CYC or someone  would offer a spring program or summer program at an affordable  price. They do not. Nor does the city. I wrote my Congressman Matt Cartwright  several days ago asking him for some direction  and he never responded. Who is there for these kids?

         I want to start a non-profit  youth sports organization  for underprivileged  children. I want to concentrate  on 2 sports, basketball and soccer. Those are the 2 sports you need the least amount of equipment for. Less money for families to spend. I want to offer these kids an option other then drugs, drinking, fighting, gangs or whatever else they may get into. I want to offer a kid the same opportunity  a wealthy kid gas, why punish a child for a parents station in life. I see so many incredible athletes who lack the fundamentals of their sport. For basketball at the CYC, you get 1 hour of practice a week. You get the privilege of playing school teams who practice quite a bit more. Many kids spirits are crushed because of this. A kid who I’d fundamentally sound can compete with less talent, causing that kid to carry better grades, stay out of trouble and stick with their commitment. I don’t think we should be getting wealthy off of kids playing sports, AAU and travel soccer teams. Why aren’t the kids coming first?

          I want to be able to defer cost through federal, state and corporate grants. I want this to focus completely on the forgotten youths of a dying city. Anyone who has played a sport will tell you that it helps you in many other aspects of life. You learn a work ethic, discipline, teamwork, confidence and make lasting friendships. Through all of this you avoid trouble or you cannot play or be with these friends. Some kids can get an athletic scholarship because of this, some will get an academic  scholarship because they work harder to keep good grades because they want to play and go to college. It changes how many kids life daily. Why not offer a program that helps them?

         When the kids would enter are program there will be certain obligations  they must meet for us to defer their costs.
1) They must maintain a B average in school. If I a kid needs help, I would like to offer a tutoring program. Education is the key.
2) They must stay out of trouble. Any detention or suspension will be met with the same at our program. If it us a continuing problem we will refer it to a facility to help. We will try not to leave a kid behind. But they must realize there are repercussions for your actions.
3) They will be required to do volunteer work at a soup kitchen or any other program that requires volunteers to help the needy. To teach them empathy, compassion  and remind them that there are people who have it worse. After my daughter did these with the Key Club at G.A.R. High School she couldn’t wait to go back to help again.
4) To participate and help organize community outreach programs periodically. Several times a year. Anything to reach out to help those less fortunate, even if it is a free basketball or soccer tournament. Through this they will hopefully take pride in their community and look for ways to help improve it.
5) Summer programs and clinics that the kids can help teach. Teach them to give to others in order to help them improve their situation.
Most importantly I want to keep them off the street and out of trouble. Have impromptu  3 on 3 basketball  tournaments, 5 on 5 soccer tournaments. For those that want to play AAU or travel soccer, we will offer those programs but ask the kids to hand out flyers or participate  in fund eaising, all with a qualified adult present. I would like in the summer to offer child care to low income families. Several hours a day. Introduce them to a sport, get them outside and active. Have dodge ball tournaments. We need to fight childhood  obesity  as well.

            I would also like to offer affordable clinics for coaches. Youth coaches effect a child more then many people realize. It would help if they had proper training that didn’t eat up a lot of their time or money. Youth coaches are typically volunteers. They deserve some thanks in this grueling process. The better the coach, the better chance a child has. I want to build a facility  with several indoor courts, several outdoor courts, 2 high school size soccer fields and 2 small children soccer fields. Maybe I am being naive, but I believe this is needed where I live and in most other areas. Why can’t we be the template everyone else follows? I know some areas offer something similar to this. Now is the time for Wilkes-Barre  to offer it.   If you want to take your community back, wouldn’t this be a great jumping off point? Now to figure out how to get it done. Any ideas?

Our 5th and 6th grade girls basketball season.

          I signed up to help coach my daughters basketball team this season. It was my second time coaching basjetball, my first was coaching a 7th and the grade school team. For that school team we had 5 practices before the season started and 2 a week. Definitely  not enough to compete against teams practicing all week. Our team is a group of girls who were put together on a team. They recieve 1 hour of practice a week. Yet the we’re bumped into the school 5th and 6th grade league, against several schools who have practiced daily, as well as being together since 2nd grade. They were also cherry picked teams of the best kids they had. We were up against it.

         We begged and pleaded to get more practice time. We got 1 extra hour. Out of our 2 practice hours, one was on a half court. The only other team that practiced there had full court. Our head coach preferred to scrimmage and I prefer drills with rules in a scrimmage. During practice I would run drills to improve fundamentals ; dribbling, passing , shooting, boxing out, rebounding and off ball movement. I would try to combine them into one drill in order to make the most of our time. The only place we did not see dramatic improvement was our shooting. They jumped from 8 foot to 10 foot rims. The adjustment period has been tough on them. We worked on adjusting their shots  one girl double clutched every shot. Very difficult  to work with in 2 hours, but we made progress.

       Our 2-3 improved dramatically  over the season. First game all of our points were given up in transition. Our second group of girls had difficulty  learning the close out, then returning to their spot. Our guards played well, although they left the middle open quite a bit. Our center was very good but we were a team of 5th graders playing the majority of 6th graders. I know it seems like lame excuses, but their guards were taller then our center. We played well despite the odds. The kids never quit. We had 3 games where we got trounced and we were just over matched in those games. St season the 2 guards ran everywhere while the 3 down below stood there. It was a difficult learning curve for them. They shpwed a ton of improvement as the season went on. Very proud of them.

        Offensively we did not have much to build on. Last season the guards did the work while the big stood and watched. We taught themscreens, give and goes, V-cuts, pass and move and just general smart off ball movement . Because of the lack of time and their difficulty  understanding how to use a 1-3-1 to break the 2-3, we had to run some very generic movements. We referred to it as the curl and screen. The wings curl down under the basket to the other side. We would set a high screen and a low screen to cause the close out to fight through a screen. The only issue is we could not make our shots, otherwise it worked. We got a lot of open shots that were either air balled or bricked. One girl scored about half of our points, she took smart shots and worked into the middle. The big thing was the growth, they were setting screens, passing improved in games, shot selection for the most part was good and the dribbling improved. They also started doing things on their own. One quick example; they came down court, set the screens inside the top 2 in the zone, point guard dribbled in, drew in the defense and lob passed to our center. Who missed, but it was what we were looking for.

         We did win 1 game, suprisingly, even the guy in charge of the league was suprised  we won at all. All season we told them not to look at the score board, wins in 5th grade basketball are not important. This is where you set the foundation  for everything you do going forward in basketball , work ethic, attitude, skill and sportsmanship is built here. Throughout a 10 game season we went to the free throw line for 10 shots, yes 5 times total. Referees there were not good. It was a learning experience  for me, how to bend and mend in order to get 11 year olds to practice hard, to cement in their heads that you play like you practice. It clicked for some, others not so much. It was a season of growth, despite the fact I seem bitter, I am not. I am trying to be honest and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to being disappointed  in myself. I let them down at times, as all coaches do, my practices were not planned out properly, wasting precious time and I didn’t put my input in on out lineups, despite disagreeing with how we started the game. We will be playing in a few tournaments  against some of these good teams, yes it will be a learning experience  on how to grow and play for them. But as it is said, iron sharpens iron. The better we play against the more they improve.

Conservatives, their time is now.

          Conservatives control the House and the Senate. They have control of 70% of state governments. The 2014 election was a blowout. Republican candidates took over in almost every state or important seat in the country. Despite all of this, what will these Republicans do with it? The early indicators do not look good for the average American. It seems to be more of the same, the same policies that nearly destroyed our economy and put us into 2 endless wars. 94% of sitting politicians were reelected, despite a 9% approval rating. Voter apathy? No, plain dereliction of a citizens duty.

          John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak before Congress. Though not unconstitutional, it clearly is a shot at President Obama. President Obama is currently engaged in talks with several countries in attempt to disarm a nuclear Iran. This makes it appear that the United States is siding with Israel and puts all peace talks in jeopardy. It is a complete lack of knowledge on the part of a party dedicated  to destroying a Presidents legacy. Add in the fact that despite 8 investigations into Benghazi, which revealed no wrong doing by anyone on President Obama ‘s staff, Republicans want another investigation. They have wasted $60 million already. What’s a little more right? A lot when you look at the cuts they want to make.

                Republicans are going after the SNAP program, Social Security, unemployment and tax cuts for middle class. Mitch McConnell said any tax cuts for the middle class are off the table. Paul Ryan wants to gut Social Security, because they are all leeches scamming the system, despite him receiving it as a child. Raising the minimum wage is a non-starter for Republicans and they were already attempting to cut $58 billion from the SNAP program. All while trying to get more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. They want to cut education  funding and privatize it like our prison system. We saw how that worked right!  Is a myriad of policies that benefit their benefactors at the expense of the American people. Which battle should Democrats fight? I belive all of them.

             On the first day of the new Congress they proposed an Anti-abortion law, which was voted down, then proposed another. They proposed a bill to make this a Catholic nation, clearly unconstitutional , doesn’t matter to these clowns. Then they are trying to push through the Keystone Pipeline, calling it the Keystone Jobs Bill. They added in mountain  top removal, another mining technique that destroys the environment. The day they voted on the pipeline bill, we had the 4th pipeline explosion or break of the month. The Keystone Pipeline will create 35 permanent jobs, the oil will not come to America and it is some of the dirtiest stuff in the world. Sadly if you look at the contribution list for all politicians, all that voted for the bill received a fat stack of cash. The Koch Brothers have bought our Democracy.

              Citizens United needs to be overturned. 94% of the candidates who raised the most money won their race. Money should not equal power in our Republic. When the Disclosure Act was voted on, Republicans voted against  it unanimously. The Disclosure Act would allow us to see all money donated to every candidate. President Obama  proposed a one time 14% tax on American corporations hiding money overseas to pay for roads and bridges, Republicans are unanimously against it. I hope by now you can see the trend. Unfortunately these people are not working for us, they work for their sponsors. My grandparents wouldn’t recognize this country now.

              Republicans are firmly in control. It is on them, no more excuses. They can no longer hide from their policies. It is truly put up or shut up time. We all know trickle down economics doesn’t work, that Paul Ryans budget is a joke and that these Republicans had 4 years to create jobs, but only created chaos. It looks like that is not going to change. They don’t care because more then half of all Congressmen are millionaires now. Why would the middle class or poor matter to them? How do these people represent us when they do not understand how we live. We have allowed this to happen with our dereliction of duty. We must vote to keep them honest. We only have ourselves to blame.

Is there truly a cabal of wealthy people who secretly control America?

          This is an odd topic, although it is something that has been presenting itself to me more daily. Each day I watch news, read the paper, read on the Web or debate one person or another, it seems that this subject is slapping me in the face. The more I read, the more it seems I am being force fed garbage, something to keep me off the this elusive subject. The Internet is veritable smorgasbord  of conspiracy theories. The news and the papers are obviously controlled by the wealthy elite, so we only get the stories they want us to read. My ideas on the subject are in constant evolution and not 100% clear yet. I just want to present them, just to get them out and hopefully get some input from others. I also want some of these thoughts solid so I can always refer to it.

              I want to start with the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is not controlled by the government, it is controlled by private bankers. Odd, right, one would assume that it was a government entity. For a period of time our dollar was backed by gold. That switched, I apologize  for being vague but I am not going in depth about this part, and money became backed essentially by the full faith and credit of the United States. It is made up out of thin air, it means nothing and comes from no where. That, you would think makes our dollar worthless, but it doesnt. Now every dollar that we borrow from the Federal Reserve, yes our government borrows money from private bankers, has to be payed back with interest. So every dollar created puts the United States further in debt to wealthy bankers. It creates a system of perpetual debt, leaving the super wealthy in control of our government.

            Let’s move to Citizens United next. This ruling by the Supreme Court allowed dark money to flood into our politics. Dark money is money that comes from unknown sources and cannot be accounted for. It also allowed individuals to contribute more to political campaigns and to be able to hide who it was contributed to. Let’s be very clear, this does not benefit the poor or middle class. I gave $15 to President Obama  in 2012 and $10 in 2008. There is a new bill Republican lawmakers are trying to pass that would triple the amount people could contribute without declaring any of it. Now interesting statistic I keep seeing is that 94% of candidates that raise the most money win. Now Congress had a 9% approval rating yet 94% were reelected. I hope you caught that anomaly as well. 9% approval is very very bad. Interestingly, just for example, the Koch Brothers contributed approximately $325 million, that is accounted for in the last election cycle. That is according to the Washington Post. Now how does that help the poor?

             Now to Voter I.D. laws. Who do voter i.d. laws affect? The poor of course! The rate of fraudulent voting of the sort Republicans are trying to stop is about .00002%. Does that really seem like something that would warrant this much action? Especially because Republicans have seemed reluctant to take any action at all. Why is this an issue? In 2008 when then Senator Barrack Obama was running for President, the poor overwhelmingly voted for him. His speeches motivated the country and helped assuage voter apathy. 93% of the African American vote went to President Obama and minorities  as a whole were generally in his corner. How can the wealthy elite keep their puppet in office if people vote? They cant. They had to do something, their lobbyist marched into our capital to manufacture a new issue. Voter fraud. By requiring I.D., people who live in inner cities and do not drive, nor have the finances to own a car could not vote. Unfortunately for the wealthy we were protected from poll taxes. But it didn’t end there, Republicans ended early voting or shortened it, closed polls early, created long lines by having less polls, machines switched votes from Democrat to Republican and they even used voter intimidation. In 2014, about 30% of the population or less voted. It seems they got their sheep back in the herd.

            Those are the big ones I wanted to cover. But here is more food for thought. The rolling back of part of the Civil Rights Act that helped protect minorities rights to vote in districts that have had past issues. Low wages and the decimation of Labor Unions. Unions were the middle classes great protector. The continual attempts to decimate the EPA. Saying the EPA makes it where business can’t compete because of regulations. The illegal foreclosures by banks, who paid a pittance of a fine and didn’t have to give the homes back. Bank executives getting bonuses while crashing the economy, destroying people’s pensions, 401 KS and decimating our workforce. No prosecution of any of these people who committed illegal acts, while our prisons are over crowded by poor people with Marijuana offenses. The complete control of the mass media, holding each to their own standards and showing a blatant avoidance of the truth. In fact, many tell outright lies more then they tell the truth, Fox News. The worse part of this is the absolute ignorance of so many Americans. The easiest way to make the middle class forget about the rich, is to make them hate the poor. We are so gullible.

          Is it a true conspiracy? Did I paint a clear enough picture? The answer to both, I don’t know. The idea is still coming together for me as I dig through more and more. It is a theory, but truth, not sure yet. This I will say. There is an eternal battle going on in America. At its root is income inequality, which is at its highest since the 1920s. The DOW Jones is setting records dailly, but we are only getting minimum wage jobs. Why? 95% of the wealth made over the last six years has gone to the top 5% of the population. Class warfare is undeniably one of the biggest issues in America. It seems as if the wealthy elite have clung to power for so long, that any perceived attempt to dislodge them from power will be met with fierce resistance. Even at the loss of our great country. Cabal or greedy men? They might be one in the same.

2014, a year closer to the end of America?

         The title may seem conspiracy like or even reactionary, but it is not far off base. If we honestly look at some of the things that transpired this year, you have to admit that this isn’t our parents America. The land we live in has fallen quite short of what I thought we were. But this is a disappointment I have gotten used to. Republican and Democrat blaming each other, while both are suckling Wall Streets teat. More insane nut bags threatening our “monkey” President Obama, because his skin color is bothering them. Conservatives pining for the time when white American men were the only people who mattered. Cops not just being bullies, but now shooting and killing unarmed black kids, then saying they felt threatened. Then trying to understand how an adult justifies shooting 12 times at someone running away, while my 10 year old daughter tells the grown up it is wrong. Cops using an illegal choke hold to kill a guy who was selling “loosey” cigarettes, only to hear more adults justify it. Then trying to explain to my 10 and 13 year old kids what is wrong with these people without calling them dumb. This list can go on and on. But seriously, what the hell is wrong with us?

            Everyone screams that things need to change, but when your voice is heard the majority sit home. The American society has failed. We are in general a weak and lazy group. Not all, as I said in general. To show our unhappiness we sit home, to show our social disobedience, we sit home. Sitting home and not participating seems to be the universal answer. America is the way it is because of US, WE THE PEOPLE CREATED THIS MESS. Our apathy has left a shell of a nation for my children. When we can change something, we do not because the devil we know is better then the devil we dont. Unfortunately we have left the fox in the henhouse, we stopped paying attention. Now everything seems corrupted, anyone with the tiniest bit of power has eaten the poison apple. Who cares, no one was watching them. Cops are beating black kids, don’t break the law. Killing black people, don’t break the law. But a black kills a white and all hell breaks loose. Politicians, even the ones where I live are under investigation for being corrupt.

           I love the freedoms I have but I have been negligent of my responsibilities as well. As a democracy, we are responsible for the actions of our representatives, we stopped telling them what to do because they quit doing it. If I stopped doing my job, I would get fired. CONGRESS SHOULD BE FIRED!!! 9% approval yet 94% reelected, what is wrong there. This apathy goes right into how people think. It is easy to hate and be bigoted, doesn’t take any thought. Simple minded people hate people based on color and creed. Stupid and loud people hold a lot of power in this country. How did we allow this? Money is some cases, because in some warped world money means intellegence. Laziness in others, why debate a dumb person, they will never change. We all seem to listen to the loudest speaker, typically the most ignorant person in the room. So this because our education system failed us or just because we lost faith in everything?

             I don’t have any answers. I can’t tell you what is right or wrong. I can tell you that my convictions are changing. I have always been a very liberal Democrat. The liberal part has grown stronger, I believe we need to help one another, foster a sense of community and continue to help the weakest among us to rise above where they are. We are a wealthy country who needs to commit resources to our infrastructure, education, homelessness and better health care, as well as mental health. We need to reel in the police, educate, better training and better mental health screening, as well as holding them accountable for their actions. The same needs to be done with our leaders on all kevels, state, local and federal. As well as TV and radio personalities who spread vitriol and lies. Time for all to be held accountable for their actions. That is a start. To improve our government, term limits for House, Senate and Supreme Court Justices. Time to remove money from politics and deny personhood of corporations. Even the playing field, end lobbying. The Democrat part has been called into question. I agree with them more, but they are also guilty of putting money before the people.

         In general 2014 was another year we failed our children. I will not anymore, my children will see that I believe it is time to stand. There is a movement in this country, it has been building slowly but it is building. I think it will reach a crescendo soon and we will see massive change. It is a dangerous and beautiful time to be alive. We will take our country back. We need to reverse the trend and improve in all aspects. If not America Jay be doomed to fail. Happy New Year! HAPPY NEW AMERICA!!!!