February 19, 2015

Strange bedfellows

This item from the NY Times caught my eye today. It looks like groups across the political spectrum--from Koch Industries and Freedom Works to the ACLU and Center for American Progress--are uniting to support policies to reduce the US prison population and recidivism.

One thing I'm hopeful about in the WV legislature is that there may be similar agreement about reducing the number of children in the juvenile justice system. I mean, really. If those guys can agree on the need to make the adult system a little less awful, one would think we could do something like that here for young people in the system.

IT'S NOT ALL LOVE-AND-HUGS. Here's an op-ed by a friend of mine on why right to work (for less) is a bad idea.

February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

So this is my favorite religious holiday and I couldn't make it out to get my ashes due to weather and roads. In lieu of all that, here's the last stanza of T.S. Eliot's poem about this day:

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated 
And let my cry come unto Thee.

February 17, 2015

The perfect metaphor

Re: the latest WV disaster, I'm thinking train wreck might be a perfect metaphor for the state of West Virginia.

I was feeling pretty cynical this morning and had the following thought: the historical function of government in WV is to make it easier for big business to kill people and trash the place. Republicans think they can do that better than Democrats. And they're probably right.

Otherwise, a relative from out of state had this to say about WV: "Oh my God, I really think that place might be the real hell."

In any case, all this is yet more reason why we should change the state motto to "You can't make this **** up."

February 16, 2015

Water and workers

El Cabrero got snowed in today, but a lot has been going on at the capitol. Early this morning, citizens urged the Republican legislature to keep water protections.

Meanwhile, West Virginia got another reminder about what can happen to our water. This afternoon, a train carrying crude oil derailed in rural Kanawha County. According to the Gazette, at least 14 tanks are on fire and some have exploded. There is now burning oil on the Kanawha River.
Water intakes for the communities of Montgomery and Cedar Grove were turned off because of the accident, according to a release from the state Department of Health and Human Resources. While the intakes are off, customers are asked to conserve water, according to the release.

ANOTHER IT'S NOT ALL BAD REMINDER. Despite the snowstorm, a huge crowd of workers and citizens showed up today to protest attacks by the Republican legislature on the rights of working people. One Facebook  friend of mine called it "a sea of Carhardt..."

February 15, 2015

A bright spot

Last week I mentioned some welcome good news (a rare thing these days) about progress in child nutrition in West Virginia. Here's a little more about that.

In the wake of the passage of the 2013 Feed to Achieve Act, the 2010 federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, and some great  leadership from the WV Office of Child Nutrition, WV leads the nation in school breakfast participation.

This really is a big deal since many kids in WV lack basic food security and since a healthy breakfast improves learning, health and behavior. WV has also been an early leader in adopting the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in most counties. CEP allows school boards to provide free meals to all kids in schools where 40 percent or more of kids are directly certified to be low income.

What is particularly dramatic about WV's performance is the fact that breakfast participation has shot up from 29 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in 2014. This is largely due to the fact that more and more counties have adopted new breakfast delivery systems, like grab and go and breakfast in the classroom.

The ultimate goal of child nutrition advocates is to make free, nutritious meals available to all children as just another basic part of the school day. And we're moving in that direction.