$21 Million For Just A Few Pennies A Month!

The October 15, 2014, Raleigh News & Observer features a front page article about our (North Carolina’s) Utilities Commission 4-3 decision (4 recently appointed R’s to 3 D’s) to allow electric, gas and water utility companies to continue charging customers a 6.9% tax even though the utility companies will only pass 5% along to the state under the new corporate tax rate.
N&O reporter John Murawski writes that the companies stand to collect an additional $21 million a year even though the bills to consumers would be tiny (9 to 17 cents a month).
This decision will be appealed by the Attorney General and the N.C. Public Staff, and independent organization that looks out for the interests of utility customers.
Here’s hoping those appeals succeed.
If not, here’s hoping my utility corporations will let me know if they need any more money. Hate to see any corporate “persons” have to go on any more welfare than they are already forced to use….

“The Roosevelts,” PBS Series by Ken Burns

Been watching the 7-part PBS series? What a wonderful way to experience a very important part of American history!

From establishing federal regulation of railroad freight charges and the food and drug industries to coaxing America into the fight against the Nazi’s and further along the road to equal treatment for the nation’s people of color, and for promoting a few dozen other social reforms, Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt gave their country much to take pride in.

And as I watch I can’t help but notice the similarities between the resistance the Roosevelt’s met and the shrill (and many just plain false) accusations polluting the atmosphere in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections. Then it was Progressives vs. Stalwarts; now it’s Liberals vs. Conservatives, Democrats vs. Republicans, and establishment Republicans vs. the Tea Party.

The more things change, well, you know……the more they stay pretty much the same.

And a “Sprayground” Is…..?

A maze-like playground area where children can safely run around, chase each other, try to guess when the water will get them, and scream and run away when several dozen water sprays come on unexpected and all at once.

The first sprayground I ever saw was in communist Leningrad (now restored to its historical name, St. Petersburg).

It was July of 1966, and I was one of 25 high school Russian language teachers on a graduate study tour of the USSR sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

One of the tour stops was Peterhof (Petrodvorets), often called the Russian Versailles, the summer palace and park in St. Petersburg established by Peter the Great.
While visiting Peterhof (Peter’s Palace), I spent a good hour watching children run through an area roughly 100′ by 100′ and cluttered with pathways up, down, in and around small hills – like a little, open maze. Every so often water would spring up all around the area, sending the kids screaming and laughing and running away.

It was fun to watch, but even more fun when I realized that a little old man sitting on a park bench close to one side of the area was controlling the spray by pressing on a pedal with his foot. The children knew the water was coming, but never knew exactly when. I spoke with him long enough to learn that he was a state employee and controlling the spray was his job.

Now I serve on a volunteer board, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources, in Wake Forest, NC, and we are energetically pursuing construction of one or more spraygrounds for the Town’s children to enjoy in hot weather.

Contrasted with a pool, a sprayground is much less expensive both to build and maintain, and could be built to require that I sit around for hours making the children scream and laugh and run away by pushing on a secret pedal.

Actually, modern spraygrounds have replaced the little old man with a computer chip that randomly activates the water.

Progress.

And almost as much fun to watch.