Sunday, March 6, 2011

A must-read as we head into School Board Election Season

One of the most important and little-mentioned facts in all of education: Most educational outcomes have nothing to do with the schools and are determined long before schooling starts.

For those who like Fantasy & Sciency-Sounding Fiction

Greater Salem-Keizer
Local Government Forum

March 15, 2011, 6:30 - 8:30pm
North Salem High School Auditorium
765 14th St NE • No RSVP necessary

The forum will allow local government entities to share their economic forecast with each other and discuss what measures seem likely to be taken as a response.

Featured speakers include:

  • City Manager Linda Norris, City of Salem;
  • City Manager Chris Eppley, City of Keizer;
  • Steve Dickey, Director of Transportation Development for Cherriots;
  • Marion County Administrator John Lattimer;
  • Chemeketa Community College President Cheryl Roberts; and
  • Salem-Keizer Public Schools Superintendent Sandy Husk

Moderator: Bill Church, Executive Editor of the Statesman Journal will eld written questions from the audience.

Event coordinated by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce
Questions? Contact Jason Brand
t 503-581-1466 ext. 304

Ok, so this is interesting. Not at all obvious why local governments need to appear under the aegis of the Chamber of Commerce or, given their huge PR budgets, have an employee of the corporate press ready to "field" (filter) questions from the taxpayers when the subject is economic forecasts, but it's a good step that they're doing it, to a point.

One of the more interesting questions is why the local transportation poobahs are not included, since the biggest deal in town is the proposal to blow $400-$650 million on a totally unnecessary, monstrously large, third auto-bridge over the Willamette, despite a persistent DECLINE in driving across the Northwest and the upcoming second round of recession caused by our unwise (suicidal, actually) dependence on fossil fuels. The SKATS (Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study) folks are the only ones with forecasts that matter, since their resolutely autistic forecasting model is built from the start to justify continual expansion and never-ending sprawl. The price of oil (and, thus, gas) doesn't even appear in the SKATS travel demand model, so the fact that we're getting hammered by $100+ per barrel oil right now means nothing -- just like a severe autistic person, once the model decides it wants a new bridge, no amount of reasoning with it can change its view.

The other interesting omissions from the forecasting party: Marion-Polk Food Share, the people with the best and most-current picture of the real economic situation in the area. Another one: Someone from the real-estate industry specializing in foreclosures (25% of Oregon home sales last year, and scheduled to spike even higher).

And if you want to have some big fun, come and ask this: Before telling us any more new economic projections, please review all your agency's past economic projections from, oh, 2004 onward. Tell us the date you made the projection and what it included, so that we may evaluate your past performance in this area as we hear your new projections.

The reason we must undo "Citizens United" [sic] v. FEC

double-click to watch full -sized