Friday, June 29, 2007

Rewriting LeftBlog

The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette runs a pair of opposing political blogs, imaginatively titled LeftBlog and RightBlog. LeftBlog is written by Stephen Handwerk, a local businessman and member of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Party.

Full disclosure: I have never met Handwerk, but I don't doubt his sincerity and bravery in tackling progressive issues in Lafayette. He's surely a decent man as well. However, I have read much ridicule of his writing by Advertiser contributor and pal Nick Bouterie and that makes me sad. It's not that Handwerk doesn't make valid points, but his incorrect grammar and sometimes tiring prose makes him a ripe target for the kind of lowbrow attacks famous among right-wing commentators. And I hate to see that happen to good people.

I've never been the voice of a political party, and probably never will be. And no one at the Advertiser was about to let me run LeftBlog. Maybe that was a wise move. Because below is how I would have written Stephen's (better than usual) current LeftBlog.

(Note: I've rewritten only the first section, because my personal preference is to stick to one topic per piece. Then again, I don't get to publish only once a week.)

Amid much upheaval, Lafayette Parish has a new school board. And, true to their word, they’re already cracking down on the big-money issues. With so much to be done, the board has plenty of problems to choose from. Some schools have been shut down due to fire-code violations. Bathrooms lack such staples as soap dispensers. The list goes on and on, like the world’s longest and deadliest history lecture.

But never mind any of that. Of utmost urgency was the $300,000-plus outlay for what amounts to absolutely nothing. The school board has voted to buy out the contract of superintendent James Easton. And while Easton’s tenure has been pockmarked with controversy, surely there was some better, more cost-effective solution to the crisis.

Easton has exhibited a leadership style similar to George W. Bush: snap judgments, with no budging on his position out of apparent pride. And this deserves what amounts to a year’s paid vacation for the outgoing superintendent? Were the taxpayers of Lafayette Parish pining to waste more money than they already do?

Regardless of Easton’s job performance, the newly elected members of the board who prompted the buyout may have done more harm than good in the long run. With this display of financial wizardry, how likely is it that taxpayers will trust future education-tax proposals? And how likely are they to even want to renew existing school taxes? Nice job, board.

Mike Hefner had an interesting, if symbolic, idea: that the new board members forsake their salary until the cost of this buyout is covered. Though that’s never going to happen, it would go a long way toward ensuring that the school board exercise discretion with funding. If they felt that it was their own money at stake, they might make smarter decisions.

As long as the new school board occupies itself with childish reasoning, our actual children will pay the price.


Cajun Tiger said...

Yep...definitely can't be a good leftwing liberal blog without taking a swipe at Bush...way to set him straight!

Ian McGibboney said...

Well, when hubris contributes to the downfall of one once-beloved leader and threatens to destroy another, I call them both on it.

Anonymous said...

Your re-write is unfair, and your criticism is petty. It’s not nice to bite the hand that bores you.

Ian McGibboney said...

It's so petty that this entry got 15 or so clicks on LeftyBlogs, and I've gotten e-mails and extensive debate on other blogs just for bringing up the topic. With everyone hating on me so viciously from all sides, I almost feel like I'm back in Lafayette again. Aaah.

Then again, you could be anybody, so here's a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

So Ian, is this an offer to be my editor? I would greatly appreciate the help! Many are out there to take swipes but so few really "STEP UP"... This is why we do a TV show weekly along with the "LEFT BLOG" and now I am on KVOL AM1330 every Thursday AM. I could definitely use the editor, as you so clearly point out. So let me know -
Stephen Handwerk
stephen at

Anonymous said...

PS TV Show is at ...
Thanks - Stephen