Headlines over the past several days as we enjoy early "Dog Days of Summer" that usually don't show up until August.
These two headlines haven't received much attention from the national press mostly because they don't add to the hysterics being bandied about of gloom and doom from a government shutdown.
From the Washington Examiner "Union Curbs Rescue Wisconsin School District" tells a tale of how a local school district went from facing a deficit of $400,000 to a surplus of approximately $1.5 million. The savings come from changes made when Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the legislature stood firm and passed legislation that freed school districts from laws that favored unions at the expense of everyone else in the state. Wisconsin legislators succeeded in doing this while their counterparts in the Democratic Party hid out in neighboring states.
From National Review Online "Minnesota's Budget Muddle" tells the story of a largely under-reported shutdown of state government. Under-reported because people (senior citizen are the most common group to be cited) have not died or gone hungry because of the shutdown. After two weeks Gov. Mark Dayton said he was capitulating to a Republican budget offered up two weeks ago. That's not entirely true, but it is interesting this parallels the situation in Washington, D.C. taking place right now. The difference is that President Obama has the power to actually hold up checks in some cases.
The big takeaway on these two stories here is that just like states, including Ohio, New Jersey and Virginia with the two mentioned above can get their fiscal house in order by cutting spending. So too can the U.S.
From The Sporting News "Cardinals, Jamie Garcia agree to four-year extension." This is a good news story because most people believe Garcia is developing into one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game. It could also mean the team is positioning itself for LAP, or Life-After-Pujols. By choosing to invest in a younger ballplayer (Garcia's 25 years old) as opposed to a 10-year deal for a 31 year-old veteran one has to wonder if a message is being sent.
A nice segue, if you will.
My wife and I traveled to Cancun last week with several others, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, from the area and because I promised that "what happens in Cancun stays in Cancun." Apologies to Las Vegas.
We flew out of St. Louis and went up the night before to catch a Cardinals game against the Cincinnati Redlegs. A special treat was getting on the field during batting practice. We were right behind the batting cage when such familiar faces as Red Schoendienst, Mark McGwire, Jose Oquendo and Tony LaRussa were hanging around the back of the cage.
We didn't see the aforementioned Albert Pujols taking BP, but it's possible he was on the field. I was really looking for him, too. I wanted to tell him how much his friend Mike Hunter appreciated the necklace Mike picked up from him during spring training back in March.
We did see Lance Berkman, Colby Rasmus, David Freese, Skip Schumacher, Yadi Molina and several others hit.
Talk about a small world. Our escort to the field was a young woman with a connection to Kennett. Stephanie Roth was a roommate of Devon Lea Wheeler for a while when they were both in college at Southeast Missouri State University.
This was the game the Cardinals tied up in the bottom of the ninth and when Pujols failed to get a timely hit, went into extra innings. We had a flight scheduled for 7:15 the next morning. The group stayed around until the bottom of the 12th inning and left. The Cards lost in the 13th inning.
We got to the hotel, crawled into bed at 12:20, awoke at 4:30 and were at the airport by about 6:45. It was there we learned the flight had been delayed until 8:44. Yes, we all thought about that extra hour or so of sleep we could have had. Other than that, we're happy to report there were no issues with the airline after last year's fiasco.
The week was a lot of fun and had a little excitement.
We walked several miles along the resort strip in both directions and never felt any reason for concern about safety as some folks have expressed when traveling to Mexico. There was one incident we didn't witness that showed just how, um, interesting, things can be on occasion.
One of the couple's in the group was in the hotel lobby when they looked up and saw several armed men in military uniforms carrying machine guns come through the front entryway and continue out to the beach. There they saw them digging around in the sand and picking up a package that was about a foot square and six inches or so deep. They carried the package out the way they came in.
Another fellow in the group watched this take place from his balcony. While the armed men were digging in the sand he said there were two gunboats going back and forth in the water just off shore.
The lifeguard told us the package was cocaine. We assumed the boats were looking for additional packages that either fell or were thrown overboard. There's no telling how far this thing floated before washing ashore at the resort.
Even though all the meals were included, we went off the resort one night for a little local flavor. We dined at a restaurant that featured seafood dishes, Lorenzillo's, and had a great meal. After we finished eating several people began congregating on the outside deck looking over into the lagoon. We went outside to see what all the excitement was about and saw a crocodile floating in the water.
In what was likely a nightly event, a staff member began dropping chunks of meat on a string over the side. The croc would come several feet out of the water to get the morsel. We were told the croc could leave the lagoon and get around to the gulf side. However, I figure the choppy waves of the gulf, and nightly treats, kept it close by even though we were actually one a few hundred yards away as the crow flies. It would have been a swim of several miles for the croc to get around where we were.
Bud Hunt is regional vice
president, publisher of the
Daily Dunklin Democrat, Daily Statesman, Delta News-Citizen, Missourian-News and
North Stoddard Countian.