People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Money Pouring Down The Rathole

Those of you who still cling to the notion that economic vitality evolves from parks and recreational facilities - the more bike paths and greenways we develop, the more prosperity we'll enjoy - might take a hard look at Roanoke's most aggressive - and expensive - attempt at bringing jobs to the area - Explore Park.

From today's Roanoke Times:
What's in store for Explore?
By Cody Lowe

The Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority, the quasi-governmental agency that operates Explore Park, held its quarterly meeting at the park Tuesday.

This year, Virginia provided $200,000 and Roanoke County kicked in $300,000 of the park's $850,000 operating budget.

The historic area of the park, run by 16 full-time employees and set up as a living history museum featuring exhibits on 17th through 20th century Virginia, drew just fewer than 20,000 visitors last year, Executive Director Debbie Pitts reported. (
What's not mentioned is the number of little kids who are bused to the park en masse on field trips each day. Half of those 20,000? Were there any honest-to-God tourists among those 20,000?

In any case, you can quickly run the numbers and determine that 16 full-time employees cater to 54 visitors a day. At a cost of $42 per visitor. Why not send them up to DC to the opera? It'd be more cost-effective.

So how is it that city and county planners allow this to continue? The answer is in the snake oil:

Larry Vander Maten is convinced there is a market for a revamped living history experience at Explore Park that would draw between 1,000 and 2,000 visitors a day and eventually employ as many as 900 full-time and 900 seasonal workers.

This guy thinks big. And to a gullible, clueless, idealess quasi-government board with money to burn, it's just the kind of pie-in-the-sky music they want to listen to. 1,800 workers. Why not 40,000?

Well, my calculator can do big numbers too. If it costs $850,000 for 16 employees to run Explore Park today ($53,125 per), Vander Maten's 1,800 employees - if his scheme goes as planned - will require an operating budget of $95,625,000.
Just how much prosperity can Roanoke afford?

For that kind of tax money, I think you should all ask for opposite-sex massages. If you are going to pay dearly and get screwed, you ought to at least be able to walk away feeling like you got something out of the deal.

The Pogrom Begins

I haven't heard much from the gay community about the Mark Foley matter of late other than to read that he was homosexual but conservative, which means he deserves whatever punishments and persecutions come his way. Rather fascinating in itself.

But once the persecutions, let's call them what they've become - a witch-hunt - begin, it's hard to keep them under control. There is now a second homosexual under investigation:
Kolbe Matter Is Referred to House Ethics Panel
Allegations Involve Contact With Male Former Pages
By Jonathan Weisman and James V. Grimaldi, Washington Post Staff Writers

The House committee looking into allegations that former congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) had improper contact with male former pages has been asked by lawmakers overseeing the page program to look into allegations involving a second lawmaker, House sources said yesterday.

Members of the Page Board sought the review after news reports last week that the Justice Department had opened a preliminary inquiry into a camping trip that Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) took with male former pages in 1996. (
Here again the culprit is a Republican, probably a conservative one at that, so the investigation is certainly warranted, and Kolbe deserves to be sent to the gallows regardless of the outcome of that investigation.

But Pastor Martin Niemöller could tell us a few things about how these efforts can quickly get out of hand.

First they came for the homosexual pedophiles ....

If I were gay, I'd be kind of careful about that for which I cheer.

To Call Them 'Errors' Is To Be Kind

It's about time someone started focusing on this joker's antics:
James Webb: Retract this error-strewn ad
Washington Times Editorial

Attack ads are one thing, but blatantly erroneous attack ads should be exposed for the political tricks they are. One such ad is Democrat James Webb's current "Steer" commercial alleging financial misdeeds by Sen. George Allen -- which Mr. Webb should promptly retract. The ad wrongly claims that Mr. Allen "tried to steer government contracts to a company that paid him in stock options," wrongly claims that Mr. Allen "hid those options for years" and wrongly claims that the options are worth $1.1 million. None of this is true.

First, the alleged "steering" of contracts -- it never happened. We're not sure what Mr. Webb's campaign is talking about here; nothing of the sort has ever even been alleged, except for this new ad. All anyone can find to support this charge is a single letter Mr. Allen wrote to the Army in 2001 which asks it to hurry up and make a decision on business sought by the Virginia high-tech company Xybernaut, on whose board Mr. Allen sat as a private citizen after he left the governorship in 1998 and left before he became senator in 2001. The Army decided against Xybernaut. That's where the matter ended. There was no "steering."

Second, the alleged "hiding" -- this also never happened. In 2001, Mr. Allen disclosed the stock options given to him by the company Commonwealth Biotechnologies -- on whose board he also sat as a private citizen. Soon those options were worthless, so he stopped disclosing them. This, it turns out, could be a mistake under the current rules. It is hardly some calculated transgression. Once Mr. Allen realized it, he asked the Senate Ethics Committee for help to resolve the question. A pretty routine affair in sum.

You wouldn't understand any of this from Mr. Webb's ad, of course, which intones dark deeds by Mr. Allen and claims that the options are worth $1.1 million. Even this is just plain wrong. The options were worth that much on March 23, 2000 -- a record high for the company -- and have plummeted since. (
All this is common knowledge in the weblog world but the mainstream press, until now, has completely ignored the facts surrounding this and other Webb accusations, preferring instead to dwell on such heady issues as the meaning of a non-word - macaca - in nomadic regions of North Africa and the Jewish ancestry of Webb's opponent. Oh, and whether George Allen had a Confederate flag 30 years ago.

It's about time someone called the Webb campaign out for the sinister, underhanded, even fraudulent, certainly malevolent tactics it has adopted in this election year.

An Effort At Balance, Kinda

I made mention yesterday and day before of two newspaper articles about powerful, strong-willed successful wives of limp-wristed wienieboy Democrat senate candidates in Ohio and Connecticut. My interest was in the need that the folks at the New York Times and the Washington Post apparently felt that prompted the silly "news" articles.

Well, it was brought to my attention that the Post also ran a piece on Susan Allen recently and, although it is not the fawning, butt-kissing sort of fluff that the other two articles are (this one spends a good bit of time - far too much time - discussing Senator George Allen's racist tendencies or lack thereof), it does focus on his wife.

You'll notice a difference in tone right from the start. Take note of the header:
Allen's Wife May Help Soften His Rough Edges
By Annie Gowen, Washington Post Staff Writer

Susan Allen played a strong role in her husband's previous campaigns for U.S. Senate and Virginia governor, but they may not have prepared her for the current one. The revelation about the senator's Jewish heritage ... (

That's it. Read it and decide for yourself. Then compare it to the other two articles that portray two Democrat wives who walk on water, make the blind see, the lame walk, and who bring puppies back to life from the dead.

Or maybe it's just me ...