Media

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

'Enemy of the People': The Phrase's Ironic and Instructive Literary History

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 5:05 PM

IMAGES COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA
  • Images courtesy of Wikimedia
In a recent tweet, Trump called the press "the enemy of the American people." Days earlier, though he didn't use the phrase, he made a similar accusation about our courts when they ruled against his Muslim ban. I'm sure Trump had no idea he was quoting the title of a 19th century play, An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen, in his tweet, nor could he know how ironic the play's title is or how clearly it reveals his intentions. The "enemy" in the play is a man who dared speak truth to power. Power, as it often does, did everything it could to suppress the truth.

We're not very familiar with Ibsen these days, but we know Steven Spielberg, and most of us have seen Jaws. The opening of the movie is based loosely on Ibsen's play.

Late one night in Spielberg's little tourist beach town, we see a swimmer killed by a shark. When the coroner confirms to the police chief that it was a shark attack, the chief decides to close the beaches until they're safe. The mayor disagrees. It's the beginning of the summer tourist season, he says, and closing the beaches would be disastrous for the town's economy. The mayor convinces the coroner to change the cause of death, to say the swimmer was caught in the blades of a boat's propeller — in other words, to lie. The mayor forbids the police chief from closing the beaches. It takes two more shark attacks before the mayor acknowledges that the police chief was right and closes the beaches, which is when the hunt for the Great White begins.

Ibsen's original Enemy of the People has a similar setup. A small town's economy is based around its health baths. A local doctor discovers that the water is contaminated and writes an article which he submits to the editor of the local paper. The editor is eager to print it, both to report the problems with the baths and to use it as a way to expose the corruption running rampant in the town's government. But the mayor intervenes. He convinces the editor that printing the truth would be bad for the town, so the editor pulls the doctor's article. In its place, he runs a statement by the mayor praising the quality of the baths.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

T.H.R.E.A.T. Watch: Bless, Keep and Protect Our Free Press

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 12:30 PM

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Since the election, I have feared the mainstream press would collapse under the weight of Trump's endless onslaught. Instead, it has dug in its heels and held its ground. It could have normalized our aberrant new political order, accepting the presidential campaign as a variation on a standard political theme, treating Trump's continual lies and outrages as the growing pains of an eccentric newbie trying to learn how to be president, acting like his agenda fits neatly under the headline, "Elections have consequences." But it hasn't. From the New York Times, to the Washington Post, to papers in other major cities, to the Associated Press which supplies most of the national stories in the Star, to principled conservative writers who are horrified at what they're witnessing, journalists have striven to show the reading public how unusual, how outlandish our present situation really is. CNN, to my surprise, has responded to constant Trumpian attacks by stepping up its coverage of the White House, and MSNBC, especially in its evening shows, has zeroed in on the day's events and spotlighted why we need to remain concerned and vigilant. Even Fox has spoken occasional truth to power.

In much of the daily news and in many magazines, truth telling is trumping Trumpism. Facts are still facts, and diligent, whip-smart investigative journalists are digging to see what facts they can uncover beneath the facts we already know. It's not a perfect process. It's flawed, messy and many-headed. But that's what unfettered journalism is all about, and it's what authoritarian leaders hate and fear, and do everything they can to suppress.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

TUSD Board Meeting Scheduled For Tuesday, Feb. 21. Only One Item on the Agenda

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 3:14 PM

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A special TUSD Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21, with only one agenda item: a discussion of the possible firing of Superintendent H.T. Sanchez and General Counsel Todd Jaeger. It's a bit more complicated than that—you can read the agenda here—but that's the gist of it.

The same item was on the February 14 agenda, submitted at the last minute by newly elected board member Rachael Sedgwick, but it was pulled before it was discussed in the open meeting. On Feb. 21, it is the agenda, period, unless other items are submitted. And Mark Stegeman has joined Rachael Sedgwick in requesting it.

After the last board meeting, I wrote that I wasn't sure if Sedgwick put in the earlier item on her own, but I suspected she did. This time, however, it's clear she has Stegeman with her, an experienced, thoughtful, strategic board member who knows how to dot his "i's" and cross his "t's." I expect the item will be discussed and voted on.

We'll see what happens. We could get a drip, drip, drip of information over the next few days, or not. I certainly wouldn't lay odds that Sanchez will have his job after the meeting; then again, I'm not a betting man. But you never know. These things have a habit of taking odd, unpredictable turns.

Stay tuned. I know I will.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

TUSD Superintendent Firing Update: Nothing To See Here, Folks (For Now).

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 1:14 PM

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The agenda for TUSD's Tuesday board meeting included an action item to look at firing Superintendent H.T. Sanchez and General Counsel Todd Jaeger. The item was pulled from the agenda. No action. Nothing to see here folks. But this isn't the last time we'll witness an attempt to oust Sanchez. It was a preview of coming events.

I'm only going to indulge in a general discussion of the situation. There's so much heat and so little light on both sides of this battle, it's impossible for me to sort out fact from fiction or determine the difference between cause-and-effect and random incidents. The fighting is fierce, filled with leaks, rumors, accusations and strange bedfellows.

So, just a few comments.

I think Sanchez should stay. [Open The Comments Floodgates!] He's done a decent job as superintendent—admirable in some instances, less admirable in others. Based on my 30 year-plus career as a public school teacher and a student of education around the country, I have no reason to think another superintendent will do a significantly better job steering this difficult district filled with the kinds of problems facing most large, ethnically diverse urban areas. More likely, the district's loss of continuity would do more harm than good.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Does TUSD Board Member Rachael Sedgwick Want to Fire Superintendent, General Counsel at the Tuesday Board Meeting?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 10:31 AM

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The agenda for Tuesday night's TUSD Board meeting includes this "Action Item" requested by new board member Rachael Sedgwick:
Discussion/Consideration/Action re Employment, Assignment, Appointment, Promotion, Demotion, Dismissal, Salaries, Disciplining or Resignation of a Public Officer:
- Superintendent
- General Counsel
The Superintendent is H.T. Sanchez. The General Counsel is Todd Jaeger.

Consider this post a heads up, not a discussion, because there too many questions and moving parts here for me to address them at this point. There could be far more to talk about Wednesday. If you recall, one of the major questions raised during the 2016 board election campaign was whether or not H.T. Sanchez was doing a competent job running the district, and if not, whether he should be fired. Sedgwick's action item addresses the question head on.

The public part of the meeting will begin around 5:30pm in the Multipurpose Room, Duffy Community Center, 5145 E. 5th Street, though Sedgwick's action item may be taken up considerably later in the meeting. You can watch a livestream of the meeting here.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Jerry Falwell Jr. to Head Trump's Higher Ed Deregulation Task Force. Expect a Big Boost for Liberty—Falwell's Liberty University, That Is.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 5:11 PM

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Lost in the uproar over our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is another education-related appointment that needs no Senate confirmation. Trump plans to make Jerry Falwell Jr. head of his task force to deregulate higher education.

The Obama administration made some significant advances in draining the for-profit university swamp. Think Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, both of which went into bankruptcy when the Feds exposed them for the educational scams they were. Think University of Phoenix, which lost students and profitability when it was forced to mend its predatory recruiting practices. Trump and Falwell hope to fill the swamp back up, using federal dollars to fatten the alligators who profit by putting students into debt while giving them little in the way of education in return. "The goal," Falwell said, "is to pare [Obama-administration initiatives] back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs."

Falwell is president of Liberty University. It's a nonprofit educational institution with a 14,000 student enrollment, so the brick-and-mortar university wasn't affected by Obama's crackdown on for-profits. But Liberty U. also has 65,000 online students, making it the second largest online college after University of Phoenix. Its online education is very profitable.
Most colleges now have a mix of residential and online students, but it’s almost unheard-of to have four times as many online students as residential students.

Because internet courses are cheap to deliver at scale, the online division is a big revenue driver for Liberty, which brought in $591 million in tuition in 2013, against $470 million in expenses. Liberty is essentially a medium-size nonprofit college that owns a huge for-profit college.
Putting Falwell in charge of deregulating the for-profit college sector is kind of like, oh, say, putting Goldman Sachs executives in charge of deregulating the financial sector. Meaning Trump deserves some credit, for being consistent. Henhouse, meet fox.

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Fiamme Pizza Napoletana Restaurant Now Open

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 9:05 AM

Grab your Valentine's Day heart-shaped pizza for that special someone. - GABRIELLA VUKELIC
  • Gabriella Vukelic
  • Grab your Valentine's Day heart-shaped pizza for that special someone.

Fiamme Pizza Napoletana isn’t just wheeling their way around Tucson anymore. Scott Volpe, owner, opened a restaurant of his own at 4706 E Sunrise Dr.

The restaurant has been open since Feb. 1, and is still getting in the swing of things. The restaurant fits about 25 people right now and they only have one built-in stove.

“I do have a couple ideas for the future, I definitely want to expand more,” said Volpe.

As a kid, Volpe grew up working in restaurants and said he always embraced the culture in pizza making after learning from his mentors, who have over 30 years of experience.

Volpe travelled to Italy, New York and California to learn more about the ingredients and to gain knowledge of how to make a mean slice of pizza.

He said his father’s side of the family is from Naples, Italy and that is where he began his training for three months before starting a business.

Since he and his staff didn’t have enough money to open a restaurant just yet, they built their own mobile pizza ovens and travelled to farmer’s markets in California. Volpe has been in Tucson for the past three years.

Now, along with their grand opening, they have a permanent spot at the Rillito Park Farmer’s Market every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Some customer favorites are the margherita and bianca pizzas with their arugula salads.

During the Valentine’s day season, they create heart-shaped pizzas for couples upon request and are thinking about making a delivery option but said they are too busy at the moment.

Every Monday, the 13 inch margherita pizzas are half off.

On top of it all, Volpe competes in pizza aerobic competitions. One is usually in March in Las Vegas and another is an international competition in May in Parma, Italy.

What is pizza aerobics, you ask? Well, it is exactly how it sounds. People from around the world compete in who can spin and flip the pizza dough in the best way.

“I’ve actually come pretty close to winning before and I’m planning to go again,” Volpe said.

If anyone is looking to have a pizza oven in your backyard, Fiamme Pizza Napoletana builds ovens for customers too. How about that?

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Countries That Embraced Vouchers Made the Wrong School Choice

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 4:32 PM

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Remember that statewide vote Arizona held on vouchers? No? I didn't think so, because no such vote ever took place. There's a reason for that. Every time voters in other states have been asked the question, they've voted against vouchers. Our Republican-led legislature created our two voucher-like programs on its own. The first program was the tax credit for donating to a School Tuition Organization, which then gives out money to pay for private school tuition. The more recent was the vouchers-on-steroids program, called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts in Arizona but usually referred to as Education Savings Accounts. Bit by bit, year by year, the lege has added more students to the ESA program. This year they're fast-tracking a bill that would make the vouchers available to every student in the state.

Remember the evidence showing that vouchers improve student achievement? No? I didn't think so, since most studies have concluded there is little measurable difference between the achievement of similar students in district schools, charter schools or private schools. And on a country-to-country comparison, voucher programs appear to have harmed the overall quality of education.

The most glaring difference between the public education and voucher models of education is a comparison of Finland and Sweden. In the 1970s, Finland put together a comprehensive program to improve its public education system. Today, Finland has the best scores on international tests in Europe, scores that rival Asian countries which get the most attention for their high scores. In the 1990s, Sweden began a voucher system. Its scores on the international tests have fallen significantly since then.

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Staff Pick

PCC performing arts musical In The Heights

A sensational Tony award-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda about home, family, and finding where you belong. Carnaval… More

@ Pima Community College Center for the Arts Thu., Feb. 23, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Fri., Feb. 24, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sat., Feb. 25, 2-4 & 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sun., Feb. 26, 2-4 p.m., Thu., March 2, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Fri., March 3, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sat., March 4, 2-4 & 7:30-9:30 p.m. and Sun., March 5, 2-4 p.m. 2202 W. Anklam Road.

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