the last word (tm)
16/No. 9 - 442nd issue - September
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BROSSART AND THE GOLDEN CALCULATOR
Sep. 8 - Brossart. Again. It never ends with them, does it?
Once again, it's a fresh scoop about something going on at Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria, the school to which we at The Last Word have devoted years of ridicule. (This is why you love us!) This time they may have finally bitten off more than they can masturbate, I mean masticate. But probably not, because nobody in authority ever investigates this miserable excuse for a school (though they've had grounds to for years), preferring instead to let the greed and control continue.
Yours truly, age 34, has gotten hold of a copy of the school's August newsletter, which puts the school's astonishing money gluttony on display for the whole community to ogle (beep). To quote Carmine Guzman, let's cut to the chase: The newsletter contains a small blurb (blurb blurba blurb blurba blurb) about calculators.
Now, it appears that the type of calculator you need at Bro$$art is made of gold, has solid marble keys, plays a concert-quality tune every time you turn it on (maybe even summons a live band), and has built-in satellite TV. Actually, probably not, but here's the poop: The newsletter says that all students in certain math classes and all freshmen must buy a TI-83+ calculator. The school specifies that brand and model. It states that this calky-poo costs about $90.
Ninety bucks for a calculator? Come on! We know people who have taken very advanced math and engineering courses in college who needed a calculator that would cost only about $20 today. When I took math in college, I never needed a calculator that was so advanced that it cost $90, and I know I never needed it for high school math. I did take 11th grade math at Brossart, which required a scientific calculator, but it would have been one of the less advanced $20 ones. So why would freshmen suddenly start needing a $90 calculator when juniors used to need only a $20 one - especially a specific brand???
Now that seems odd, doesn't it?
But it aaaaall comes together in the last sentence of the blurb, which demands, "Please clip and save the UPC label on the box and bring or send to school."
As Boss Hogg might say: Well, well, well, and well! That explains it! The big mystery is why so few people seem to notice what's probably going on (though a few have, and that's how we got tipped off about this).
So the school wants every new student (and some older ones) to buy a very expensive calculator and bring in the proof-of-purchase label - thus proving they buyed it. Simply having the calculator itself as proof they purchased it isn't enough. Bro$$art wants the label. You know what's almost certainly going on? The school is probably taking kickbacks from the maker of the calculator to get students to buy the most expensive calculator they can. And the school wants the UPC labels so they can send the labels to Texas Instruments to prove that students purchased that particular machine. But the school doesn't tell anyone that's what they're doing!
That is just really, really seedy.
If we confronted Brossart about it, they'd probably deny they're taking payoffs from TI, even if they are. (They're known to lie about stuff, like when they lied to the police back in 1989 when the cops called them about a bully who the school coddled. That's what liars do. They lie.) And if they do admit it, they'd try to justify it, because they've probably brainwashed themselves into not seeing how it's wrong to take payments from an electronics company to get people to buy their product, and not tell anyone about it.
If they're not taking kickbacks directly from TI, then Brossart is probably doing something that's even worse and almost certainly illegal. (Payoffs from TI are probably illegal anyway. In the music industry it's called payola.) Sometimes when you buy an expensive electronic item, there's a nice, big rebate when you send in the UPC label (depending on when and where you buy it). If that's the case here, the school is probably just collecting the labels so they can pocket all the rebate money. That would be so like Brossart.
We know what the so-called school's so-called excuse if they did admit to these things would be. Their pretext for this scam would be that they're such a poor school and they need the money. The trouble is that they're not, and they weren't when I was there. They operate under the auspices of the Diocese of Covington, which generously funds much of the school's continued existence.
Why hasn't Brossfart just been upfront all along about what it was doing? That they haven't makes it look like they have something to hide that's even worse than what we might think. Why didn't they just say in their newsletter, "Hey, look, charging students inflated prices for locks and making them pay for tearing up books they never had isn't enough, so we're taking payoffs from TI. Bear with us."
We know how much Brossart loves money money money money money money money money money money, so why not just admit it?
How Brossart might act
We can guess at what might happen if Brossart gets a student who doesn't cooperate fully with bringing in the UPC label. At first, the school will probably tell them they're not allowed using their own $90 calculator because they didn't bring in the label. Then the school will probably give them demerits for not having their calculator - even though they have it, but just aren't allowed to use it.
Then, after this goes on for a few days, the student's lock will "mysteriously" misappear from their locker - and the calculator will "mysteriously" vanish with it, forcing the student to buy a new $90 calculator and start the whole cycle over. Or, if the school really feels like making an example of someone, they'll drill some bully who's cozy with the school to "accidentally" knock the calculator onto the floor and render it a pile of twisted metal and plastic. Then they'll have the nerve to berate the student who owned the calculator for "letting" this happen.
I goed to Brossart, and I know this is exactly the type of thing they'd do. They know how to get their way.
And they almost always get their way. They've got the clout. We don't.
Because Brossart operates under the Diocese of Covington, it seems like the diocese would have the power to investigate it and make sure it spends diocesan funds properly and conducts itself in an honest manner. But if that doesn't happen, government authorities are going to have to face the fact that Brossart's not supposed to be above the law if it does something illegal. That's why they're called laws. Hard to come to grips with facts like this sometimes, but we have a right to expect the laws to be enforced.
Or maybe Brossart should just come clean about why it wants people to buy a specific brand of calculator that's far more expensive than what they need and why it needs the proof-of-purchase labels so badly (when there's so many more pressing issues in the world).
If our suspicions about the school's motives are wrong, we hope to be corrected in a diplomatic, dignified fashion. Our words are a responsibility that is ours alone - not that of our ISP or Internet hosting service. And remember: The Last Word can be taken down a million times but will probably always keep popping back up until nature elects to call me home. So let the marketplace of ideas have its say.
(Notice we didn't mention the school newsletter's silly-ass bullshit about how the only polo shirt you're allowed to wear is the one sold by the school's authorized uniform supplier.)
A NEW POPULIST BLOG!
Blog blog blog blogga blog! Blogga blogga blog blog blogga blog! Blog blogga blog blogga blog! Blog blog blogga blogga blog blogga blog blogga blog blog blogga blog blogga blog! Blog blogga blog!
Here at The Last Word, we've sprouted a whole new concept we think you're gonna love. It's a new progressive populist blog called The Online Lunchpail:
The 'Pail is a full-time project, which will pib in a big way like so many other things we know and love. Already it's the fastest growing political blog in creation, and I guarantee you've never seen anything quite like it before. You'll meet lots of friendly faces and read some incisive, biting commentary. If you haven't seen it yet, you don't know what you're missing!
The first entry is here, and, by golly, you're gonna read each and every one of 'em until your face falls off:
So why lay a log when you've got a blog? (Oh, we forgot: Because it bips.)
FLETCHER BREAKS UNIVERSITY BOARD LAW
Sep. 10 - The corrupt rule of right-wing Kentucky Gov. Ernie "Hey Bert" Fletcher has been Ernieing its way across the Commonwealth's injured landscape in its usual Ernieistic manner.
The latest scandal to befall the embattled Republican governor is his ignorance or willful violation of the law about state university boards. According to the Kentucky Post of September 5, state law sayeth that appointments to the university boards have to reflect the voter registration of the 2 leading parties. In Kentucky, registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2 to 1. (This is another reason why we don't trust "official" election results from Kentucky in recent years where the Republicans somehow keep winning.) But several of the boards appointed by Fletcher have Republican majorities. Only one of the 8 has the Democratic majority that the law requires. (This is one of the reasons why Kentucky's universities have gotten so awe-inspiringly right-wing - although the trend started years before Fletcher seized power.)
Kentucky Democratic Party spokesman Robert Kellar observed, "There are only 2 things that can be true here: Either the governor doesn't know the law and he never attempted to follow it, or he knows the law and he is simply breaking it."
What's ironic is that the Greedy Old Poops almost lost their status as one of Kentucky's 2 major parties in 1999 when they didn't even bother to run a strong candidate for governor and ended up almost finishing behind Gatewood Galbraith's third party bid. If the hilarious prospect of the Republicans only coming in third had happened, they would have lost their presence on state boards to the Reform Party, and there would have been a much stronger chance that Bush wouldn't have even been on the ballot in Kentucky (though you know they'd bend the rules for Bush, which is what some states did when it appeared he would stupidly miss the ballot deadline).
Even a Republican attorney admitted that Fletcher is disobeying the law. A lot of the disagreement centers on the part about how "appointments shall reflect" voters' party registration and the meaning of "shall." But that word is unambiguous. It means something is a requirement, not merely a suggestion. The only credible question about the law is whether or not it's unconstitutional because it excludes independents and third parties. As an independent, I say that if they're gonna challenge the law on those grounds, they should go for it.
But a Republican defender of Fletcher's scheme says the governor's criteria for picking people to appoint to the board is more important than meeting the political quota. Um. No. Not if the law says you have to meet the political quota. Since the GOP likes passing laws so much to control what everyone else does, they should at least follow the law themselves.
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