Saturday, May 31, 2008

How Both Hilary Clinton & John McCain Could Both Win! A John McCain/Hilary Clinton Team Ticket Running Mates for the White House!

Well it's in. The Democratic National Congress voted and pretty much settled Hilary Clinton's last chance to win the nomination for the U.S. democratic presidential nomination. They decided today to seat the full delegates of both Michigan and Florida at the Democratic convention but will only allow them a half vote! Many Hilary supporters are today truly upset and incensed saying that they will now support Republican John McCain.

With only three state primaries now left and if Obama & Clinton split these final three then Obama will only need 24 of the estimated 200 remaining uncommitted super delegates to clinch the democratic nomination whereas Hilary will require 150 of the 200 uncommitted super delegates.

Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

So this Editor believes that the Clintons will slog on in the primaries tomorrow in Puerto Rico and in final two primaries in Montana & South Dakota on Tuesday. Will she take the fight to the national convention in July? Will they fight tooth in nail to get the required super delegates?

Irrespective, I have a scenario that could help both Hilary & McCain and the USA all come out winners and indeed help them win the whole election too!

Whatever happens, if Obama wins and he obviously will not choose to select Hilary as his Vice President running mate, there is another option that could be a strategic option for the American voters that want real change in their national politics. Here's my suggested scenario.

The democratic primary votes are split with democratic delegates comprised of women, older voters and the average working and middle class members clearly supporting Hilary over Obama. Unless Obama sincerely & publicly asks Hilary to become his VP running mate, the democratic party is now damaged and split irreversibly along racial, gender and economic lines.

The opportunity now exists for a revolutionary & innovative new idea that in this Editor's opinion would satisfy the dis-enfranchised democratic delegates as well as the now marginalized Democratic delegates from Michigan and even more so the general election voter rich Florida delegates. More importantly all center left & right republican & democratic voters and especially all women voters are still looking where to finally park their general election votes. Among his Republican peers, Republican Presidential candidate John McCain is considered more as a left leaning republican and Hilary outside of her stance on health care is viewed more as a conservative and right leaning in comparison to Obama. McCain has the unwanted, burdensome and dangerous general election baggage of the American general anger, dislike and dis-satisfaction with his republican party's predecessor George Bush and his years of rule.

So here is my strategic scenario. McCain should negotiate with the Clintons to have Hilary run as his VP running mate. To do so he comes out publicly and says its time for America to heal itself nationally and international and to usher in a new political era of teamwork, compromise and true innovative leadership and real change that the American people all seem to now want especially in light of the severe looming economic recession and the very poor world view of the U.S.!

Both McCain And the Clintons will have to compromise obviously for a win-win policy agreement in advance that would probably include vital concessions by McCain on health care universality and on the Iraq war. If they compromise on these I believe that the John McCain/Hilary Clinton running team/ticket would easily take the White House no matter who decides to run with Obama

Heck, even this Editor (I am not an American b-t-way) would find this innovative team refreshing and very enticing and irresistible. Impossible you say? Why not? Maybe its the plan already! In any event, if this suggestion is not taken up, this Editor believes that McCain should alternatively find another very strong and very well recognized female as his VP running mate to scoop the US democratic and general population of female voters that will be upset that Hilary is not on the final Democratic ticket.

Reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction! Vote McCain/Clinton!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Conservative Minister Bernier Resignation Points to Severe Lack of Depth of Conservative MPs

Less than an hour ago Prime Minister Harper announced the resignation (resignation my rear end!) of foreign affairs minister Bernier because he left classified documents in an unsecured location. Specifically he reportedly left these highly confidential and classified documents in his former girl friend's apartment. Note, I said former. Apparently as a now jilted girlfriend she will tonight on Quebec TV reveal that this classified document was left behind in her apartment. Curiously even up to this afternoon PM Harper was still defending Bernier's choice of personal friends no matter that the linkages to organized crime were screaming out loud. Incompetence in spades!

Unfortunately Minister Bernier has not been a stranger to questions of competence in his posting at the highest security level of clearance in Canada as the minister of foreign affairs where he has dropped the ball several times over the past many months. Harper has now appointed David Emerson as his replacement. One has to wonder now about the judgment of our current Prime Minister as well in allowing the Bernier fiascoes to continue so long and more so why was he chosen to be the foreign affairs cabinet minister in the first place? His performance or lack of it reflects on Canada and our government internationally to ALL countries! Certainly very poor judgment don't you think?

This whole fiasco which will continue to spin in the house of commons and in the media for weeks and perhaps even months to come highlights to this Editor the saddest and obvious underlying problem of these fiascoes in the first place. The root problem is that there is NO substantial depth of capability of conservative MPs in the House of Commons. Bernier had no previous foreign affairs experience what-so-ever but did win his seat in Quebec by the biggest margin. Did this qualify him for the job perhaps?

So the real problem is that the elected conservative MP's are just smart enough (or their handlers, back room boys, are) to get elected but not smart enough to serve in important portfolios for our government. Sadly this Editor feels that this problem is due to a few factors. I will lay the blame at the feet of the Conservative party, the Media (especially the local media) and finally the electorate that votes in an MP based primarily on the Party or leader of the party and ignores the qualifications and capabilities of the candidate him or her self.

Look no further than Langley Township where our own Conservative MP defeated an outstanding candidate in the initial riding nomination election many years ago with what seemed to me at the time to be a strong Christian fundamental backing of membership and perhaps even membership sales. There is no doubt in my mind that had she won the nomination instead she would have had a better opportunity of being cabinet material than he, - hands down.

In fact our present MP parachuted into Langley from Abbotsford where he was a City Councilor who ran in the nomination against a local Langley female candidate who was viewed as perhaps pro abortion by too many of the voting riding delegates at the time. The meeting hall on the nomination evening was filled with conveniently placed rumours that spread and this issue I believe sunk her in the final analysis. Since our Langley MP first elected, the Conservative party has protected him and just about all the other sitting Conservative MPs by not allowing any challenges by anyone else for the privilege of representing the riding as a Conservative federal candidate. Sadly no better qualified candidate is allowed to apply any more. Hence the Conservative party is clearly responsible in limiting the best possible individual to rise to the top to become our elected representative. The cream is not encouraged or even allowed to rise to the top!

Once again subsequently when another female first ran against our Langley Conservative candidate as the challenging Liberal candidate it again became painfully clear that while in my opinion she was by far the most educated, capable, competent and intelligent, she was doomed to failure because the electorate voted primarily for the national party or the national leader. The "Sponsorship Fiasco" capped any other chance. The candidate qualifications were essentially ignored and deemed unimportant by the voters. In Langley the electorate would have essentially at the time voted in a monkey as long as it was branded conservative and not Liberal or NDP! Hence the electorate is also equally responsible for the lack of competent and capable depth across wide swathes in the benches of the Conservative House of Commons.

Finally the media and especially the local media were at fault because some of their Editors are often also blinded by party philosophies; party preferences and biases that do not help emphasize the best candidate as opposed to the best party or leader. That in this Editor's opinion was the case as well. In fact the media does an equally pathetic job in describing the capabilities of council candidates and incumbents in Langley as well in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong though. Our MP is a nice guy and so are some of the councillors on Township and City Council and so are most of our MLAs. But do we just want nice guys/gals or should we demand councillors and federal & provincial representatives as possible cabinet material candidates THAT COULD WIN the nomination and election rather than just nice guys who warm the back benches in silence. Why don't we want the best possible individual I wonder?

The Conservative Bernier fiasco of today simply points out to this Editor that the "Severe Lack of Depth" in the Conservative party and probably for most of our elected politicians is chronic and is extremely bad politics that is due to poor party politics, the media and yes, we the voting public. We ultimately get what we deserve then, embarrassment, poor leadership, bad decisions, bad policy, wasteful and questionable government spending and incompetently high and stupid taxes. Further the Conservative Party and perhaps the entire Canadian political system in fact encourages even more "nice guys" and 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even 5th class/tier elected decision makers. Why don't we elect 1st class candidates? Sad, but so true isn't it?

Susan Semonick On Schools - Trustees Board of Education Meeting Report of May 20, 2008

Commentary on the Board of Education meeting of May 20, 2008.

Well, I have to admit that when I first saw the agenda I thought there would be nothing really to report here. However, once I received the meeting package, it was an interesting read.

The Board is now in the ‘pat everyone on the back’ mode. Whether it is ‘near the end of the school year’ syndrome or the election-year commentary starting, I am not sure. I always find it atrocious that they jam the Teacher Long-service recognition for over eighty teachers into a 30-minute time slot once a year. It happened again last month, and it was less than impressive considering it was to acknowledge considerable employee dedication to the district. The Board also sees it as appropriate to cut off anyone who takes more than 10 minutes for their presentation and yet, for themselves there is no timer. During the last few board meetings, trustees have spent a fair amount of their comment time patting themselves and colleagues on the back – taking approximately half of each meeting to have the public hear their opinions or commentary. Yet, delegations are ruthlessly limited to the allotted 10 minutes. It is sad that these elected officials are more interested in what they have to say rather than making time for their constituents.

During question period last night, the 6 or 7 people standing there with questions were limited to not more than 15 minutes in total, even though it was just past 9 pm. I believe they adjourned at 9:30 pm. There was no reason to rush to adjournment since meetings can go to 11pm. If a trustee needed to leave, they could have. Consideration of staff or trustee time should not supersede consideration of the public’s expectation to be able to satisfactorily address the Board at a public meeting. Staff and the board are remunerated; the public is not. I saw the adjournment as another act of the arrogance - that they didn’t have the time to hear anyone else’s questions asked of them. The Board chair should not allow this at all in my opinion. Yes, it is the Board’s meeting and there are rules. The Board can also choose to ignore or override those rules for the sake of building relationships, or simply because they choose to take the high road and reject petty shenanigans in favour of respectful behaviour, as we expect our students to do. Leaders should lead by example.

One trustee questioned the number of board meetings for next year - maybe hoping that there would be fewer? Is this maybe overconfidence that they will be re-elected so would need to worry about it?

Trustees do get another raise in December of this year, automatically, as do other districts. I am in the process of doing a review of the districts across the province about this. I must say it is very interesting. I may post results later this summer. It will be more thorough than what the public may have seen in the past.


The agenda item that is worth mentioning is the District Code of Conduct that the district staff presented to the board for information. It seems that this document had little to no consultation with interested partner groups or parents before last night. When questioned, district staff stated that the DPAC president was consulted. However, I was told that the Vice-presidents of DPAC, both in attendance at the board meeting, were not aware that the President of DPAC was consulted. So, I would say it was a very limited consultation. The partner groups said they were not consulted either. Several parents also stated that nothing was discussed at their DPAC meetings in regards to the District’s Code of Conduct. I wonder how many trustees even cared enough to ask about parent input.

It appears that the district thinks that little consultation is required when they are setting rules and codes for our children to follow. The district does plan to advise principals to review school rules and discipline practices with PACs and students on an annual basis. The problem is that the template or umbrella document they wish the schools to follow had no proper consultation to this point. From what I was advised by people at the meeting, it seems that there was essentially NONE.

I understand that all districts had plenty of notice to fulfill this Ministry requirement. Langley schools reviewed their respective codes of conduct last year. Principals met with district staff to work on the district document which presumably reflected what was already in schools’ codes of conduct and focused on common beliefs, principle goals, and general acceptable remediation strategies. For all the lip service from the district about valuing consultation, it is evident that this practice is still not an embedded part of the district’s culture. Consultation with partner groups, especially parents, should have also happened and been ensured BEFORE the document, which affects all students, was presented to the Board. The public was informed that it is a living document that will be discussed at Table 35, a round-table for students. I hope that those representatives at that table will properly consult with their respective memberships. People take note; you should request a copy so that input can be given.

Development of clearly articulated, open processes for consultation and adherence to them is important. Perhaps it would be helpful for the district to work on this over the summer. Expedience is not an acceptable excuse to not consult. Respectful discussion and consideration builds relationships.

A couple of years ago, during my time as DPAC president, we floated the idea of providing key district staff with magnets, note paper, or the like imprinted with the phrase “Have you consulted with parents?” or something similar. The intent was to provide them with a gentle, yet constant reminder of this key practice. I don’t remember why it never was done. In hindsight, it might have proven to be helpful, regardless of the cost or initial resistance. Perhaps, it is an idea that is still useful. I would think that there would be enough in the professional development budget or even the superintendent’s department budget to cover this. Money well spent if it changes practice and improves relationships.

As for the document itself, certain terminology in this guiding document should be discussed. For example, there seems to be an implied expectation for parents to support the school no questions asked. The district Code of Conduct includes the following expectation for students.

Ethical and Respectful Citizens - What this looks like…
“Making a Big Deal” with the purpose of accessing help for those in need (e.g. helping a classmate access counseling support)”

Of course, the Board showed what they thought of people “making a Big Deal” about the Special Ed Inquiry. They totally ignored them until the Minister stepped in and encouraged them to communicate. Good example people. Another case of “do as I say, not as I do”. Then on the next page it goes on to…

Ethical and Respectful Citizens - What this doesn’t look like …
Promoting hatred or discrimination (e.g. encouraging isolation of someone because of their ethnicity)

This district has selective courses that, if you are not of particular ethnic background, you are not allowed to participate. I had thought the purpose of a publicly paid education was to make available all curricula to all students registered. This is not the only district that practices this type of discrimination. The document goes on to say…

Democratic Participants - Would not …Discriminate on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, culture, etc

Yet, don’t we offer courses that do just that? They then go on to say…

Self-directed Individual and Skilled and Knowledgeable Learners - What this looks like…
- Performing at an acceptable level in core subject areas
Who determines what this acceptable level is and what consequences are expected? If the district has listened to parents, they would know that expectation of staff differ from those of parents. Parents of special needs students in particular often comment on the low expectations of staff for their students. To have to sit at this meeting and listen to Board Members state how perfect and wonderful the code is makes me wonder if they even read it.
They go on to define what a Quality Contributors is.
To me, this section as a whole directs the student to be compliant, not to believe in Freedom of Speech and individual creativity. Students with learning differences may not be accepted here. Next, there is the following….

Consequences for Unacceptable Conduct: Advocacy…
Whenever possible or appropriate, an advocate or mentor (e.g. Parent, Special education case manager, aboriginal representative, etc) will be present with the youth during the discipline process.

Who determines when this is required? Has anyone checked to ensure this document does not contravene other policies currently in existence?

Remarks about the definitions list would lengthen this commentary by 3 more pages, so I will stop here. This document is not ready for schools to use as a template. It is a starting draft document not ready for adoption. Whether you agree or disagree, send your input to Mr. Lenarduzzi, Assistant Superintendent at: I believe he is the person in charge of this.

I hope this will help parents and the district make student policy and code (rules) that are non-discriminatory and something that does not contradict itself in beliefs.

It is important to note that the Graduate Profile upon which much of the document is based is currently under review.

As an aside, I wonder how many DPAC executives, and PAC representatives will query the performance of the DPAC president in the consultation process, and the lack of information provided to parents about the District Code of Conduct? I am told that there will be a change in DPAC leadership next year. A comparable change in the make-up of the Board of Education this coming election might be doubly welcome by many people judging by what I read in the local media.

I have received word in regards to the petition - that I have met criteria according to the MoE’s governance department and they have passed on the petition to the Minister for consideration. To anyone wishing to encourage the Minister to take action - this would be the time to contact her, especially all those people who are interested in regional boards, capping salaries and expenses, and amalgamation of ballots. Let her know that there are many, many more people who wish to see change in this area.

I thank all the people who have supported my initiative and thank them all for their time and efforts. I thank all the people who emailed and asked questions, and sent updates. I am glad that the information supplied to you has been helpful. Have a great summer people.

What about the thunder on Tuesday? It reminded me of Saskatchewan. What an alarm clock! Everything shook - the kids thought it was an earthquake. Are you PREPARED?

Respectfully submitted

Susan Semonick

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Energy Non-Crisis -The Other Side of The Story?

The foregoing video clip speaker Lindsey Williams, in Oct 2007 predicted oil would climb to US $4.oo to $5.oo and more a gallon. He laid the blame not on dwindling peak oil reserves, nor at the oil producing countries, nor the oil companies. He points directly to the middle-men. Very powerful middle-men and financiers indeed. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

He goes back to the 1960's when all the world's oil producing countries agreed to set the price of oil in US dollars and further they all agreed to also continually purchase up the US national debt with their profits. Hence propping up the USA despite a crushing debt/deficit. The US national debt is now at $ 8 trillion dollars and still on a steep climb upwards! Only two countries ever refused to sign this world oil pact. Iraq & Iran (after Saudi Arabia, Iraq & Iran have the 2nd and 3rd largest world oil reserves).

The 9/11 attack and the WMD solved the Iraq problem and the sabres are still rattling in Washington around Iran about their so-called nuclear threat capability! Iran has apparently threatened to flood the world with cheap oil and to set their price of oil in EUROS and not in US $! If more oil like the supposed Alaskan Gull Island reserves (he says just one single & classified Gull Island oil discovery can fuel america for 200 years and there are more there) and many other abundant oil reserves flooded the market or if Iran followed up on their threat, unopposed, Williams suggests that the US debt ridden economy would collapse immediately and precipitously along with the dollar. That is why he says the "Bush/Cheney dynasty is milking America for everything its worth..". The high oil price is propping up the US financially and funds the IMF and the World Bank. All at the cost of us, the public, desperately paying for gas & oil.

Fact or fiction? This Editor suggests that this is "another side of the story" that deserves some consideration. It got this Editor's attention certainly! The mysterious IMF and World Bank is an enigma and has always been a silent and very guarded mystery to the population as a whole that clearly pulls and yanks far more chains globally with dramatic repurcussions to you and me!

What do you think? Right wing conspiracy rhetoric or some bit of reality? Below are some more links that deserve consideration about Lindsey Williams line of thought. I dug these up by googling keywords. If you google or find any other interesting and related links please forward them to me for posting.

Lindsey Williams actual book "The Energy Non-Crisis" word for word.

Sidebar: Iran in the Crosshairs

Some more related online links here, here ,here & here.

Energy & the Environment Stewardship at The Princess & the Pea B & B

Local Langley Heroes
For Energy & the Environment Stewardship
Sharon & Wally Martin

Both Sharon & Wally Martin who run and own the best, most unique and quaintest multi-unit Bed & Breakfast in the lower mainland has scored another first. Their Princess & The Pea B&B, formerly known as the Traveler’s Hotel, is an historic Langley landmark located at the immediate south east corner of the equally famous Murrayville community five corners (Langley’s first traffic circle). The Martin’s, restored the landmark and historic Traveler’s Hotel structure. They re-built it with lots of elbow grease, time and most of all, love for the historic structure. It is one of Langley’s most rare, treasured and historically recognized buildings. They made sure to keep it as true as much as possible to its original ambience right down to the furnishings. Their latest substantial investment is the recent addition of multiple solar panels that generate electricity from the sun’s rays. This also helps protect our environment as it is the cleanest non carbon burning alternative energy source.

Wally is no stranger to energy innovation, as he has previously undertaken just about every type of energy savings measures possible. He says he is not done yet and has even more ideas! For instance, he uses LED lighting in lieu of incandescent and hangs his wash, including his guest’s bed sheets, out to dry on a clothesline! In fact Wally told me that he even gets some B&B reservations just because the clients like the idea of having their sheets dried on an outside open fresh air clothesline rather than in a fabric softener laden electrical spin dryer.

The unique thing about Wally’s solar power electricity generation is that it is not stored in batteries but instead “BC Hydro is essentially the storage battery” says Martin. When the solar panels generate electricity from the sun the excess electricity is sent back down on the same hydro lines that provides the B&B’s power. Wally explained that he thinks he may be the first to provide this electrical power co-generation in Langley and possibly even South of the Fraser. He believes that only a total of 75 others are presently co-generating electricity in BC as he is. In the previous inaugral year when BC Hydro encouraged and accommodated this service, there were only about a total of 15 co-generation electricity providers.

The 10 silicon based solar panels are mounted facing the south sun on a variable degree angle at the back of the B&B. He estimates that his B&B uses about a total of 10 mega watt hours annually and that this installation alone can be expected to save one quarter to one fifth of his electricity load annually. Wally is also contemplating a further doubling of these solar panels some time in the near future. When asked how much this installation cost him and what pay back he could expect, he simply answered that it cost him about “half the cost of a large touring motorcycle”. He further explained that he compared the payback to the personal satisfaction and joy of a prestige motorcycle as well. He also pointed out that with the ever escalating price of utilities it could well perhaps pay for itself in the not to very distant future.

The Princess & The Pea Bed & Breakfast is recommended for its superb services, food, facilities and setting. Now its owners, Wally & Sharon Martin are further respected for being truly unique local Langley heroes and trendsetters in energy and environmental efficiency. But more importantly, they obviously care enough to actually do something substantial to better our environment. Thank you. Congratulations Sharon & Wally Martin.

Pictures & story courtesy of Bob Richter ...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008