taks column and rss stuff

Here’s my column from today’s paper, on the injustice of the TAKS test.
Also, in my continuing quest to expand the crabwalk.com media empire, I unveil two new ways to get your fill of this site’s piping-hot content:
An RSS feed! (I’ve had one for years, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned it.) If you’re an RSS type of person — and oh boy, I am — there you go.
– If you’re a LiveJournal person: this is a feed of all crabwalk.com posts sent through LJ. You can add it as a friend in LJ and I’ll show up there — no need to come over here any more. (Although, of course, you’re always welcome.) Much thanks to Leah for setting it up.

wh fraud

Today’s Wilmer-Hutchins story (and it’s a good one):
A baritone horn from a pawnshop. A $7,700 set of murals. A pizza crisper, cookie-dough scoops, and a Queen Anne loveseat for the principal’s office. According to state auditors, those are some of the ways Wilmer-Hutchins officials spent more than $270,000 in federal education funds – money that was supposed to pay for reading and math instruction for the district’s weakest students.
Including one of the best quotes I’ve had the privilege of typing:
“I don’t care if they have to sell a kidney, they need to pay this money back,” [said former W-H trustee Joan Bonner of the folks who misspent the district’s money]. “We know they don’t have a heart or a brain, but a kidney might be usable.”
(Several of you who know me well are chortling knowingly right now.)

stop calling general honore

Animal-loving types have to be told to stop flooding FEMA offices with phone calls because “the barrage of phone calls is now hampering [Gen. Honore’s] humanitarian missions, rather than helping.” Some folks on this site have apparently been posting Gen. Honore’s phone number and telling people to call it repeatedly so they can tell him…I don’t know what, really. “Worry about the puppies”?
As I said: I like animals too, but I’d like to think I know better than to flood an already-stressed emergency-management system with “save the kitties” calls. This isn’t your congressman before a vote — this is a disaster area. Priorities, people.

wh stories, party coming, connie price

Two Wilmer-Hutchins stories in recent days: this ‘un and that ‘un. Another (more fun) one will probably be in tomorrow’s paper.
Also: Dallas-area readers, I’m having a party this Saturday night. Email me (jbenton at toast dot net) if you want an invite.
Also: The new Connie Price and the Keystones album kicks so much ass that I am now nearly assless. Instrumental funk at its finest. Here’s a link to sound samples in iTunes.

tom fox and the oily dog

For the record: I have nothing against animals. I generally find them cute. (And tasty!)
But sometimes animal types go too far.
Take this story. A friend of mine, DMN photographer Tom Fox, took this awesome photo of a poor little dog covered in oil and muck down in St. Bernard Parish. (Tom’s down there doing great stuff on Katrina.) It was a sad photo, obviously, and readers responded. (About 100 times more than they responded to photos of individual humans in distress, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Anyway, two days later, Tom saw the same dog and arranged to have it taken in by some animal rescuers. Thanks to Tom making the call, the dog is fine and waiting to be reunited with its owner (if he/she is still alive) or adopted.
A nice story, eh?
Actually, a bunch of clowns have decided to attack Tom for a variety of crazy reasons.
First: The Fake Dog Theory. Some folks are arguing that the dog Tom actually saved was a surrogate dog, that Tom was deviously involved in a tear-jerk dog-swap. (“I would be disapointed [sic] if the media were misleading everyone,” says one clown.) One person suspects Tom swapped the dog with another oil-covered dog two towns over.
Second: The Rude Photographer Theory. Several folks say Tom’s a war criminal because he didn’t immediately adopt the dog the moment he saw him, smother him with kisses, and rescue him right that minute. One fellow says there should be a law requiring reporters to immediately aid any animal they see in distress.
Are these people on Mars? There are packs of roving dogs all over Katrinaland. Tom is supposed to rescue them all? Even though he, I don’t know, has a job to do? And in any event, haven’t these people been watching TV? There were hundreds of thousands of people — actual human beings — in conditions worse than this dog. Did they get outraged then? Or is it just a puppy that leads to this sort of insanity?
In any event, it turns out that Tom did give the dog water and food, and probably would have done more if it hadn’t bitten one of his colleagues. He did call animal rescue the first time he saw the dog, but they didn’t respond immediately. Which is why the dog was still around a couple days later, when Tom saw him again and took matters into his own hands.
So, to recap: Tom is 100% responsible for getting this poor dog saved — and he’s still taking shit for it. Some people are just crazy.
In case it needs stating: Reporters and photographers working in Louisiana have all seen literally thousands of people who need help. And they’ve probably all seen hundreds of animals who need help. They can’t help them all, and it’s not their responsibility to.

kozol review and more

Here’s my book review in Sunday’s paper. It’s of The Shame of the Nation, Jonathan Kozol’s luridly-subtitled new book. Have already gotten a few emails calling parts of my review “insulting,” which makes me think I’m doing my job.
I’ve forgotten to link to several of my stories recently. No worldbeaters in the bunch, but for the record: Baylor delays vote on chief, Wilmer-Hutchins High to house hurricane evacuees, and Houston, D/FW districts relaxing admission rules.

more michael brown

More sketchiness on Michael Brown’s resume. Turns out our FEMA chief, he of the horse-contest resume, claims to have been “an assistant city manager” “overseeing the emergency services division” in Edmund, Oklahoma, from 1975 to 1978. Which would be sorta impressive, considering he’s 50 years old today, which means he would have been a 20-year-old assistant city manager.
Of course he wasn’t: he was actually an assistant to the city manager. As in, he fetched the city manager’s coffee during a college internship.
He also claims to have been named “Outstanding Political Science Professor” at Central State University. Of course, he was never a professor at Central State, much less an outstanding one.
And he claims that, for the last 23 years, he has been director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home. Which would explain why no one there has heard of him. As one veteran employee put it: “He was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was never executive director. He was never here in any capacity. I never heard his name mentioned here.”
Oh, and his former law-firm boss described him as “not serious and somewhat shallow,” which is why he got canned.
This man is in charge of dealing with natural disasters and terrorist attacks on America.
(For the record, the asshole Michael Brown is not the Michael Brown who reads this site. Who, to my knowledge, has never faked his resume, been an incompetent lawyer, or fucked up the greatest cataclysm to ever hit the United States of America.)