Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Stay Tuned

Yesterday, I taped an interview with Susan and Steve Halkiotis for air sometime during July on WCHL. We talked about politics and the tone of debate lately. It was a lively hour with a few good laughs, for sure. Among the best was when I asked hen they got married and they answered ... she with "1999" and he with "2000."

She was right. He should be shopping at area jewelers soon.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

On The Radio

It's been big fun dabbling in the world of wavelength ... courtesy of WCHL, 1360 on your AM dial. With one installment of The Special Hour in the book (on the archive at I'm looking forward to many more interviews with newsmakers ... talking about the big picture. As with chess, we'll try to see the whole board.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A Modest Proposal

Just a thought ... but when setting aside the infamous Titanic speech episode, did anyone else notice the choices of commencement speakers for our local high school graduations? Cedar Ridge High School got State Superintendent Mike Ward ... woo-woo. I just know the kids were beside themselves over that one. They're probably still too giddy to sleep!

The kids should make this call -- not the school officials or the politicians. We have so many wonderful, entertaining and hip people in this community. For pity's sake, why didn't we get Ron Stutts or someone who can write and deliver a funny limerick?

Oh, sure, the grown-ups should have approval, but the kids ought to be making this choice for their special day.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Post-Cook Era

Step One in making the scandal go away: Keith Cook has resigned as chairman of the Orange County school board.

Won't it be the ultimate irony if Cook's collosal error in plagiarizing a commencement speech ends up being a catalist for bringing the Orange County school board to a position of unity? The community is furious for the embarassment over this incident. It seems likely that to a person, all school board members have taken Cook to the woodshed.

Maybe the sheer shock of it will send them all into the coming year with a fresh sense of appreciation for their differences ... it's only politics, after all. Differences can mean the strength of broad representation and a common standard of conduct and value can bring any group together. If Sept. 11 taught us anything, it was that our most common values are as near to the surface as we need them to be.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The Passing of Ronald Reagan

It's a sad day. I was no fan of Ronald Reagan as my President, but I sure respected him as a politician. Democrats were driven insane by his ability to lobby and win a point without losing his opponents friendship. His relationship with Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill was legendary.
How I miss the days of the loyal opposition in politics. It is such a mistake to demonize one's opponent, such a waste.

Can we take the lesson that his passing teaches without making it a political referendum on his politics?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Lessons from the Cook'd Ship Lollypop

Remember in fourth grade when your teacher scolded that if you didn't put your name on your assignment, then Mr. Nobody would get the credit for your work? Apparently Mr. Nobody got elected Chairman to the Orange County School Board.

Ketih Cook's excuse for his recent plagiarism of a Donna Shalala commencement speech is that he "didn't know it belonged to anybody." First, he's full of it. I cannot find an unattributed copy of that speech online, though perhaps by now Cook has posted one somewhere.

Second (and more to the point) it brings to mind an image of Cook finding someone else's homework assignment on the teacher's desk, seeing no name on it and signing his own. His not knowing whose it was is utterly irrelevent. He knows it wasn't his.

Can it get worse? Sure. Cook says that this situtation is now blown out of proportion by his detractors: From the 6-4-04 News & Observer:

"It started out with a little fire, and people threw wood on it, and now you have flames ablazing one more time in Orange County Schools, and it is not good for anybody," he said. "It is chilling to feel and hear how vindictive some people are, to know that people could forget so easily."

Now that he's compounded his offense by lying more and adding an attempt at victimhood for good measure, yes Cook has clearly demonstrated that he's a candidate for the "I don't get it" hall of fame.

Thankfully, next month the voters will explain it to him with a math lesson.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

And Another Thing

As sometimes happens, I have one more thing to add ...

In my 6-2-04 column (regarding Orange County School Board Chair Keith Cook's having swiped a speech from Donna Shalala for use in the Orange High School commencement ceremony) I mentioned that the movie "Titanic" was R-rated." That was an error. It was rated PG-13.

When people make mistakes, some are tickled to point out the error, some are just tickled. There will be much talk in the coming weeks about whether or not Cook should resign from the Orange County School Board. I hope that instead of quitting, he demonstrates the strength of character that it takes to admit a mistake, resign your leadership post for it, and continue your service in a manner that demonstrates you've learned your lesson.