May 31, 2015
It was a startling moment for Dorothy and her trusted companions when Toto pulled the curtain back and exposed the real “Wizard of Oz.” While the Wizard had been caught up in the smoke, mirrors and trappings of the position, once exposed, he discovered that living in the light – free of being discovered – was a better way to go. The Wizard had worried the people would hate him and instead the residents of Oz embraced the idea of the curtain being removed and the true nature of the Wizard coming to light.
In their own way, the residents of Oz preferred what we call today “transparency in government.”
Every candidate for Commissioner in the City of Cocoa Beach ran on maintaining or increasing “transparency” within the City government. While that is what they promised voters, there is no better example of trying to close the curtain off again than the Comprehensive Plan and the height and density requirements within that plan.
To refresh your memory, the Planning Board presented the Comp Plan to the City Commission in December of 2014. My wife and I watched the plan being presented. We also watched Commissioner Skip Williams make a detailed presentation on some of the wording in the plan; wording that would allow a variance to be granted to a developer to build higher and with more units than the City Charter and voters had approved by a ballot initiative. Furthermore, the Comp Plan included language that allowed a variance to be granted by a 4 -1 majority vote of the City Commission instead of the 5 – 0 vote the residents had approved.
Many of us saw the Comp Plan and the language within for what it was – an end run around the will of the people. Despite that, the Commission voted 4 – 1 to send the Comp Plan off to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity as required by Florida Statutes.
May 30, 2015
(courtesy Wynona Benson Photography / Liberty Institute)
Readers of this blog know that we are big proponents of speech and freedom of religion. We believe that these two rights are listed first inthe Bill of Rights for a reason as they are central to the existence of mankind in society and deserving of protection.
With that in mind, allow us to introduce you to Monifa Sterling. Sterling has been in the news lately for allegedly being dismissed from the United States Marine Corps for posting Bible messages on her computer. Her story has gotten coverage from media outlets like Fox News, the Blaze, Christian Today, the Washington Times, the Washington Post, and even outlets across the pond.
The headlines scream the outrage:
Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse
Marine Who Refused to Remove a Bible Reference Posted in Her Work Station Was Court-Martialed and Given a Bad-Conduct Discharge. Now, She’s Fighting Back.
Hero marine discharged and prosecuted as criminal for putting BIBLE quote on her computer
US Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse from her computer
(We love the “Hero Marine Discharged…” headline for as far as we can tell, Sterling would not be considered a “hero” under normal definitions. A person who wins a Bronze or Silver Star is a hero. A Medal of Honor recipient is a hero.
Not so much.)
If Sterling had been dismissed from the Marine Corps for a Bible verse, the tone of this post would be different. We too would be raising our voice to claim an injustice had occurred. While we think there has been a shift in the military against Christians and Christianity under the Obama administration, the Sterling case is not evidence of that shift.
If anything, the Sterling case is a case of a person who did something wrong crying wolf and claiming they are a victim when they are not.
Sterling was convicted in a general court martial …
…of failing to go to her appointed place of duty, disrespect towards a superior commissioned officer, and four specifications of disobeying the lawful order of a noncommissioned officer (NCO), in violation of Articles 86, 89, and 91, Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. §§ 886, 889, and 891.
For her actions and inactions, former Lance Corporal Sterling was reduced in rank to a private and given a bad conduct discharge (BCD.)
Sterling was assigned to help Marines with their Common Access badges at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In that capacity, she shared a work space and computers with other Marines.
Sterling’s relationship with her Commanding Officer, Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Alexander was at best, rocky. In May of 2013, in the midst of this contentious relationship, Sterling printed out three signs (a term that was used by both parties at her trial) in a 28 point size font (a little less than one half an inch) which read “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.”
The signs were a derivative of Isaiah 54:17 which reads:
May 29, 2015
Somerset Academy of Las Vegas is a charter school that, according to their website:
…..will implement the same best practices and commit to meet the same standards and quality indicators, which make them eligible to pursue and receive accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Such commitment to implement best practices and quality standards have proven effective in raising student achievement annually for all student populations.
One of those “best practices” seems to be to not be able to read or lie with the best of other educational institutions.
Our story starts with Mackenzie Fraiser:
In February 2015, sixth-grader Mackenzie Fraiser’s schoolteacher assigned her class a PowerPoint presentation called “All About Me.” In the presentation, Mackenzie was instructed to include a slide with an “inspirational saying” that was important to her identity. Though she planned to include her favorite Bible verse—John 3:16—Mackenzie’s teacher emphatically told her and the other students they were not allowed to put “Bible verses or quotations from the Book of Mormon” on the “inspirational sayings” slide. Mackenzie’s father, a pastor, emailed the school to ask why Mackenzie had been denied the right to include the Bible verse in her assignment. The Assistant Principal responded that they were simply following the law.
It is a bit of an understatement to say that the school thought it was “following the law.”
The email from the school was penned by Assistant Principal Jenyan C. Martinez, M. Ed who writes:
The U.S. Department of Education states that students have the right to engage in voluntary prayer or religious discussion free from discrimination, but that does not include the right to have a captive audience listen or compel other students to participate. When Mackenzie created the project with the expectation she would present the Biblical saying to the class, the matter became one of having a captive audience that would be subject to her religious beliefs. Had the assignment been designed to simply hand in for a grade, this would not have been an issue. Therefore, considering the circumstances of the assignment, Miss Jardine appropriately followed school law expectations by asking M
ackenzie to choose an alternate quote for the presentation
Martinez is attempting to “big dog” Fraiser. Her appeal to a legal authority is one meant to say “you don’t know what you are talking about.”
The problem is that Martinez got it wrong in a big way.
May 28, 2015
A friend of ours that we have known for many years moved to Scotland. The move was not unexpected for as long as we have known her (let’s call her “Pam”) she has felt the tug of her ancestral homeland. It started with her doing genealogy research and finding relatives in Scotland. She had been through Scotland on a European trip in her college years and felt at home there, but she had commitments and family here in the States.
But the call of the Scots was strong in her. She made several trips over to the country, meeting relatives and new friends. The new acquaintances made her desire to move there all the stronger.
After the death of her parents, she took the plunge, selling or giving her possessions away here in the states. She packed her clothes, mementos and two dogs and crossed the big pond. She seemed at peace and at home. That feeling was magnified when she made a fine Scottish gentleman who treated her the way she deserved to be treated. They fell in love and married.
In the time we have known Pam, she never seemed happier and more content.
The happy couple moved a few times over the course of the years to different towns. They have great credit and so last year when they decided to move for what they hoped would be the last time, they felt confident they would be successful.
They found several homes and fell in love with one of them. The home looked out onto the Scottish hills but was close to town for shopping and cultural events. The house was smaller than the one they were living in, but the smaller size was a trade off to central heating and a more insulated home which would save them money on energy bills.
(Interestingly, when homes are listed in the UK, they list size per room. Here in the US we might say “1600 square foot home with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a garage.” In Scotland, the size of the rooms are given, bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, etc, but not for a garage or hallway spaces. They don’t list the footprint size of the house. You have to sort of figure that out and guess a little bit.)
Pam and her hubby made an offer on the house of their dreams and after negotiating, the offer was accepted by the owners.
That’s when the bank stepped in.
May 27, 2015
Via the Food Republic is a look at that summer staple of hot dogs and how they are prepared around the country and the world. There are a lot of choices that we had never heard about that look somewhat yummy and inspire us to try different things.
(By the way, the “Coney Island” hot dog is not from Coney Island in New York, but rather is from Michigan.)
May 25, 2015
Don’t weep for me
O’ Land of the free
When it was my time to fall
‘Twas for my country’s call
‘Twas for the land that I loved,
That I gave my all
And for the land that I loved,
I did freely give
And in her freedom
And her courage
I’ll continue to live
c. 1993 Patricia Krull
May 24, 2015
Well, here we go.
On Saturday, Maryland defeated in-state and hated rival Johns Hopkins 12 – 11 to advance to the Division I Lacrosse Championship game on Monday. There, the Terps will meet Denver who needed overtime (also known as ‘free lacrosse’) to send number one ranked Notre Dame home to South Bend.
In the Maryland game…
Hopkins didn’t go away quietly, ripping off five-straight goals — powered mostly by sophomore middie John Crawley’s four second half goals. Through the run, freshman face-off specialist Hunter Moreland was excellent, winning three-straight draws at one point, finishing 11-23 on the day. The Blue Jays also got a nice performance from goalie Eric Schneider, who finished with 13 saves.
Like the first semifinal, the nightcap also featured a dramatic finish — after Shack Stanwicks first goal of the game cut Maryland’s lead to one with 1:13 remaining, he had another shot with about :45 remaining that hit the back of the net. Maryland failed to clear, however, giving Hopkins one more look. Freshman middie Joel Tinney got a clean shot that Bernlohr saved with the butt-end of his stick and after a delay to tend to Wells Stanwick’s injury (he was hit trying to track down the rebound), Maryland ran out the final two seconds.
Yeah, the final Maryland save was made off the butt end of Maryland’s goalie’s stick. We can’t remember ever seeing that before but it was great to watch.
As for the Denver win….