the last word (tm)

Vol. 14/No. 9 - 423rd issue - December 4, 2005 - - Bellevue, KY
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Welp, we got to enjoy the upset defeat of David Pepper, after he kept spewing one bullshit right-wing idea after another, causing him to lose his bid for mayor of Cincinnati. Now there's another important election coming up on December 6 - this time in the Campbell County school district.

Strange. The right-wing Campbell County Schools treated me like shit for years in my youth. Now the school system is asking some of my relatives and friends - who still live within the school district - to spend more of their hard-earned money financing one of the worst school systems in the nation.

You know what, school board? You're fucking hilarious. The school system should be paying my family - not the other way around. But this isn't just about me and my experiences. The school system has done the same to others, and it's time people grow the guts to expose it.

Recently the Campbell County Schools passed a tax hike - as it often does. (At least one such hike in recent years was enacted illegally.) Not everyone was jumping for joy over this, and enough signatures were gathered to place a referendum regarding the tax increase on the ballot. Some of our usual political adversaries were furious about the tax hike. Despite having to be on the same side of an issue as some of the area's more virulent loudmouths, however, we support defeating the tax, because of the school system's war against me and other innocents. We hate to make ourselves political bedfellows with some of the county's more hapless fools, but we can't let a failed school system keep getting its way. (You know that old saying about how even a broken clock is right twice a day.)

A public school system that's actually private

The Campbell County Schools are - by very definition - like a charter school system, even though they're never called that. In other states, a charter school is a school that gets public tax dollars but is allowed to operate like a private school. The pros and cons of charter schools are beyond the scope of this article. But it's fair to say the so-called public school system of Campbell County is like a private system in that it excludes any student it feels like excluding, even if that student lives within the district and hasn't done anything that would normally cause them to be expelled. Those who are excluded would seem to be the lucky ones, considering how miserable - and dangerous - the Campbell County Schools are (even if they are preferable to many local private schools). But there's some principles at stake, and one of them is that the school system is violating federal law by ostracizing students.

It's a fact that the Campbell County Schools have banished students (ignoring the wishes of students and their parents) because of conditions such as dyslexia or presumed attention deficit disorder. (Normal behaviors are often misdiagnosed as ADD, just so schools can label or drug a student.) Forcing these students to attend school out-of-district violates the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975. (Not like we expect the school system to give a shit, because the system is so arrogant that it never has before.)

To make matters worse, we read the school district's policy on transfering students to other systems. According to this policy, the Campbell County Schools absolutely will not - except in very rare circumstances - allow students who live within the district to attend an out-of-district public school if they choose to do so. In other words, the county schools exclude students who shouldn't be excluded, while not permitting students to transfer if they actually want to.

You can't get that ass-backwards by accident. Having policies that are this upside-down takes effort.

The school district has an exclave that is completely surrounded by other districts. However, the system does not permit most students in that area to voluntarily transfer, even though there are at least 7 public high schools other than Campbell County that are geographically closer (not counting ones in Ohio). (To be fair, some of these other schools have had their own troubles in recent years that have rendered them almost total losses.)

The right-wing county school system pretends to still "own" the students it shuns. Often, students who are involuntarily ostracized from the Campbell County Schools still aren't free, because many are forced to attend whatever school the Campbell County Schools tell them to, because their home district is still officially responsible for their education.

Do all school systems behave so shabbily? We suspect a reason Campbell County pushes kids around like this is so it can get more funding from the government - because school districts receive money for each student who they have some responsibility for. So what the district is really doing is mooching off of children. Not cool.

History of wasting money

The Campbell County Schools have wasted money in the past, such as when proceeds from a candy sale were squandered on an extravagant outdoor sign that was discarded after only a few years. This does not make a strong case for asking the public to cough up more of their hard-earned simoleons (to borrow one of Boss Hogg's favorite words). Interestingly, the school board could have designed a tax hike to bring in less than a 4% increase in revenue, in which case there could not be a referendum to reject it. Instead, by hiking the tax to more than that amount, the school district caused it to be subjected to a referendum - which the district is required to pay over $30,000 for, thus spending even more of our money.

We know almost every other media outlet in the area supports the tax hike. We know how the local press takes the view of self-styled economic boosters and how they think the Campbell County Schools are just so, so, so - what's the word we're looking for? - "innovative", with their almost windowless buildings and "alternative" calendar and all. Yeah, the Campbell County Schools are so "innovative" that they haven't even entered 1975 yet regarding IDEA, that it took Campbell County High School 17 years to realize the Supreme Court had ruled against school-sponsored religious exercises, and that the district's favored disciplinary method in my youth (battery) had been discredited for over a century.

Of course, the school system mailed notices about the election to households who had children in the system, but not to other local residents. This shady tactic, however, will likely backfire, because those who have family members in the Campbell County Schools are more likely to know how insufferable the system is.

The Campbell County Schools have made little progress in the past 20 years, and in most respects have actually moved backwards. If there were any lasting signs of improvement in my former school system, we would trust the system to use any possible tax hike wisely. But the school district has instead chosen to languish - while hiding behind occasional rightist gimmicks - and has continued to be a laughingstock and an irritant.

We can't in good conscience encourage these masters of disaster to continue their failed ways by giving them more money to keep doing the same shit they've been doing for decades.


In a boogery mood?

From October 14 to 16, we embarked on the amazing third vacation trip this year, which chagrins the Far Right even more than our St. Louis and Orlando outings did. They hate it when we do this. This trip was to upstate New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and we call it the Magical Mystery Tour. You'll soon find out why.

Starting with Tuesday, here's our approximate route:

I-71 from Cincinnati to near Columbus.

I-270 (which is shaped like Porky Pig's head) counterclockwise around Columbus.

I-70 to Bedford, Pennsylvania. At a gas station in New Stanton, Pennsylvania, I burst out laughing because the audio system played "Something Happened On The Way To The Bathroom" (as I call a certain Phil Collins hit). Something must have happened on the way to a lot of bathrooms on this trip, judging by the amount of pee I noticed on lavatory floors.

I-99 north to where it currently ends. The oft-ridiculed I-99 became an Interstate only within the past decade or so, but it's already crumbling to smithereens. It's practically a brand new Interstate, and already it's shot to hell!

US 220 to a nondescript freeway around State College and to I-80.

I-80 to the next US 220 split. This is where the defining moment of this trip was discovered. We brang along a computer-generated map to show what counties we needed to pick up for our collection. As I retrieved the map from under the front seat of the car, I noticed a green, slimy blob - perhaps marble-sized - staring up at me as it adhered to the map. Why, it was a bogey! Nobody knows how it got there, and it soaked through the thin paper and threatened to slime us all. The gob of mucus appeared to be quite fresh. Nobody in our caravan of counterculture Dukakisiks wanted to handle the contaminated map, as it got tossed back and forth like in a game of hot potato before being chucked into the back seat. Because the booger was of mysterious origin and seemed to magically expand, this trip is known as the Magical Mystery Tour.

US 220 through Williamsport, an exciting little city, and then I-180.

US 220 at least to Dushore. I was still laughing about the booger, so I don't remember exactly what roads we took then, but I think we took PA 87, US 6, US 11 to Kingsley, and PA 106 to the blue-collar burg of Carbondale. I'm trying to figure out where those funny rail viaducts were.

US 6 to Indian Orchard. In the town of Honesdale we saw a billboard with an illustration of a dog drinking out of a toilet.

PA 652 and across a barely noticeable bridge over the Delaware River to Narrowsburg, New York.

NY 52 and 17B to Monticello.

NY 17 (freeway) to Wurtsboro.

US 209 to Kingston.

We lodged overnight in Kingston, although we barely even entered the city limits. We had supper at a diner there that had what appeared to be vomit and urine all over the toilet seat. At the motel, the clerk looked exactly like the friendly Mr. Hooper of "Sesame Street". The radio was so miserable that I could hardly pick up anything other than this wimpy AC station where the DJ mumbled.

Wednesday was one day A.T.B. (after the booger). That morning we conducted an investigation into the mucus that appeared on our map printout. In addition to its apparent tendency to expand, the boog also exhibited another unusual property: It still had not dried and remained as slimy as ever. It was a dead-end case. The mystery of who produced this booger and how it got wiped on the map have remained unsolved to this day. So we discarded the emboogered printout in the trash can in our motel room. The green boogie leered out of the wastebasket for the next maid, maintenance person, or guest to discover.

I also noticed there was a booger on the ceiling in the hotel room, but it appeared to have already dried.

When we got back on the road we took:

I-87 to Catskill.

NY 23 across that majestic Hudson River bridge. The road continued as MA 23 to the Massachusetts town of Great Barrington (like Barrington underpants).

US 7 to Middlebury, Vermont. The further northeast we went, the better the roads got. In that region, major surface roads often have wide shoulders or signage to accommodate bicyclists. (Back home, you're expected to just get run over if you can't afford a car.) US 7 took us through Pittsfield, Massachusetts, another important city, and through the hills of Vermont. We ate lunch at a Denny's in Rutland, where someone had peed and apparently spit up something that looked like chewed-up hash browns all over the toilet seat. The college town of Middlebury had a brief but unusually steep hill downward as the partymobile lurched off US 7 and onto the next road.

VT 125 to a nice bridge over Lake Champlain. This took us to NY 9N to Port Henry, New York.

Minor roads and US 9 to North Hudson. This entire area is in the nifty Adironack Mountains. We were pleased to learn that state law protects these mountains from the type of fall-apart exurban development that has ravaged other parts of America. The Adironacks are one thing the Bush regime can't take away!

SEC 2 and 25 to Winebrook Hills.

NY 28N to Long Lake.

NY 30 to Tupper Lake. By then, however, it had beginned to rain. The entire trip and the lives of millions of innocent people were ruined. Just joking!

NY 3 to near Fort Drum. We zipped past an eerie-looking abandoned mine just east of Star Lake.

NY 3A along Fort Drum's south border. A group of people were stopped in the middle of the road to retrieve a cap.

NY 3 to Watertown. In this fun little burg, a group of spoiled youngsters deliberately pushed a skateboard into the street, causing us to run the skateboard over. It sounded like either the car or the skateboard was demolished, but apparently both escaped damage. At the Mobil station in Watertown, I noticed that someone had peed all over the floor in the restroom.

I-81 to Maple View.

NY 104 to Red Creek.

NY 370 to Baldwinsville.

The NY 690 freeway and I-690 to Syracuse! An Interstate closure expelled us onto city streets, as the illuminated red column atop one of the city's most distinctive skyscrapers glowed in the nighttime darkness.

I-81 to Cortland.

NY 13 to Ithaca. Approaching the city, this road offered a spectacular nighttime view.

We stayed at the Stupor 8 hotel in Ithaca. The following morning, during the free breakfast downstairs, some guy hoarded most of the bananas. Also, we saw another celebrity look-alike: A guest at this inn resembled Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

Thursday - 2 days A.T.B. - we continued our trek:

A suburban residential road and NY 79 to near Watkins Glen. I don't remember the exact route after this, but I think we went north on NY 14 along Seneca Lake, then northwest on another road ascending a steep hill. I think we went to Penn Yan, and I know we ate lunch in Dansville, because some major market radio station was invading the restaurant from Rochester to do a remote. I'm pretty sure we went down to Franklinville, but I don't know how. I think we took NY 98 and US 219 to a characteristic little town called Salamanca, in the Allegany Indian Reservation.

NY 417 and maybe a minor road through Salamanca.

I-86 to near the town of North East, Pennsylvania.

PA 89 north. A sign on I-86 had told us there was a gas station on this road, but we had to go 3 miles off the freeway - all the way to I-90 - just to find it! And it was full-serve, which we didn't want! I noticed someone peed all over the toilet seat in the restroom. This location offers a great view of Lake Erie though.

I-90 to near Ernie - oops, Erie.

A new, modern-looking parkway to Erie. We went through downtown on city streets (and past some totalitarian-looking private school).

I-79 to I-90.

I-90 to near Cleveland.

I-271 around Cleveland. Bypassing the city on this hopelessly clogged freeway was a concession to the Far Right we never should have made.

I-71 through Columbus and back to Cincinnati. The traffic was completely stopped for no apparent reason near Mount Gilead, which almost caused us to do a U-turn on the freeway. A humor highlight of our Magical Mystery Tour that was rivaled only by the booger happened when we stopped for sup-sup at an Amish restaurant near Mansfield: As the attendant was clearing the table behind us, she farted really loud! Some say it was just a figment of my imagination, but the sound was unmistakable. I started laughing so hard that I almost choked on my food.

And there ya have it! Another road trip full of humor and fun is over and now makes its way into the history books. Hundreds of years from now, people will be studying our outings, and future generations will laugh with us just as you're doing right now!

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(Copywrong 2005. Online edition created with Internet Exploder 6.)
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