Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ask Ryan Anything

It's been a while since I've done one of these...

Ask me anything. I shall answer, whether I know what I'm talking about or not...

10 comments:

Amanda said...

You did an impressive job answering my question about the flip camera, how about computer printers?

My non-computer brain is overwhelmed with the array available.
Here's what I want -- a printer/scanner/photo printer with a lift cover for printing.

I have 2 HP printers that no longer function property and no one repairs them these days.

The ink cartridges are grossly overpriced for the number of copies printed. The remanufactured cartridges don't always work properly.

Is there any cost comparison available for the cost of the ink?
I found some on the internet, but since the cartridges are sometimes underfilled, there doesn't seem to be a per copy cost.

Does anyone make a cartridge that's refillable with powder? Messy, but I wouldn't feel like that commercial of the salesman calling out the numbers for the cartridges.

The Kodak printer available at Staples had the cost of the cartridges printed right on the box and seemed reasonable, but would only accept single sheet feeding for copies (that's why I want one with a lift cover).

Does anyone have any information or suggestions?

Anonymous said...

When do you think Sal will be arrested?

Kathleen Conley Norbut said...

Do you think the Administration will repeat the mistake of filing casino legislation? If so/not, why?

Do you think the Speaker has moderated his position on casinos with the pressure from media regarding his acquaintances' business deals with the Commonwealth?

Should the legislature have voted to allow max 25% reductions to local aid? Do they lose sight of local needs when the park on Beacon Hill? Is it the air, marble or the glare from the Dome that blinds them to the graft with pensions, salaries and benefits that are not found in today's private sector and are unsustainable?

Will the Red Sox have a better 2009?

Will you pursue a career as an advice columnist?

Ryan said...

Amanda, this Canon all-in-one printer had a 5 star rating on Amazon.com, costs a reasonable $70, has a preview LCD screen and has replacement ink on Amazon.com at $16 and $20 (color), which is a lot cheaper than the ink for my hp computer. It also allows you to print straight from memory cards and cameras. I believe, but am not 100% sure, that it has a lift cover from looking at the pictures.

Here's all of Amazon's all-in-ones: http://www.amazon.com/Multifunction-Devices-Office-Electronics/b/ref=amb_link_1753562_63?ie=UTF8&node=172583&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=gp-center-5&pf_rd_r=13VQZ38BCYW91QF6JMC7&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=465472111&pf_rd_i=541966. Trust the consumer ratings. They're usually pretty good.

Ryan said...

Anon,

Sal won't be arrested.

Kathleen,

I don't think so, but it's already kind of too late on that front. Lots of Senators and Reps are still pushing it anyway, which means we have to be on our guard. The unions and casinos will keep their coalition together. Thankfully, the unions are going bankrupt, which makes our arguments that much stronger.

The Speaker's still with us. He's just scaring us a bit. But he's always done that - as far back as that golf trip. That's not to say we shouldn't keep lobbying and pushing him to keep him on the right path.

The Sox: Yes, we're going to be better. We already had a better team than the Yankees and Rays (our run differential was way, way better than either team), we just lacked the back-of-the-rotation depth and got banged up at the wrong time. Now, with 2 more starting pitchers and a much deeper bullpen, plus a healthier Big Papi and Mike Lowell, we'll still be a better team when all is said and done, barring any major injuries. We're at least getting the wild card.

On local aid: Right now, the way our state government is set up is flawed. Forcing cities and towns to be the primary funders of public education takes that responsibility out of the hands of our elected state politicians. They're almost always divorced from local politics because that makes political sense - there's very little they can do about it, so if they ever do get involved, they'll tend to get in trouble. We need to change this dichotomy, radically altering the way our state government is set up to thereby make state legislators responsible for funding public education.

How do we do that? Got me. Here's one thing, though: local property taxes have got to go, or be slashed into tiny pieces. What we force towns to fund should radically change. We should take police, fire and schools primarily out of their hands, leaving towns to fund town business, like Town Hall. Maybe smaller things like the library. DPW should probably be a state thing, too. We should regionalize where we can (high schools, middle schools and police), to save funds where efficiencies are possible.

Career as an advice columnist? LOL. If it pays, sure.

Ryan said...

errr the casinos are going bankrupt.

Amanda said...

I'm off to check out Amazon!

Re: tax policy
How about a surcharge on the income tax specifically targeted, earmarked and untouchable for education? It would be one that is inversely paid to cities and towns based on their abilities to pay i.e. Newton low on reimbursement list, but Taunton, Brockton, Boston and so on, get increased per pupil fuding. But it would have to come with strings attached to prevent the schools from being raided by an equal amount.
Regional public safety?
Good idea, but we seem to screw up everything.
Local control may be problematic,
but loss of local control is even worse.
New York State negotiates the teachers' contracts on a statewide basis and hands down the demand of teachers' pay. $80-$90K for a teacher with 20 kids? If the results were spectacular, it wouldn't be an issue, but they're not. And the pension is fully paid by the state so there are early retirement deals that the local schools encourage.
An attorney for a small school district retired on a $400K pension paid by the state. The school district re-hired him for $200K.
You regionalize public safety and I can see one big mess. Are they responsive to their community? Can you complain to a local council or BOS if there's a problem?

Ryan said...

For most communities, regional police officers probably don't make sense, but for some? For example, Swampscott has a police station and next-door Marblehead, a bit larger but still a small town, has 2. Do those two towns really need 3 police stations?

I don't think the state should divey up all the towns on a map, as Europe did with disastrous consequences during the colonial periods. That would be absurd. However, the state could offer incentives for small towns to find partners and decide to combine resources on their own. That may not even include operating out of one station, maybe just sharing one chief or dispatching center? Or sharing one particular program?

Any plans for regionalizing would have to be done over a long period of time - and would probably include some bulk spending up front. It would be mainly beneficial for the purposes of schools - and it makes sense in terms of improving educational standards, because a high school with 1500 kids is going to be able to offer a whole lot more opportunity than a high school with 650. It's just basic mathematics. More APs, more shop classes, more art classes, more sports and more special resources.

I'd agree with you on putting a certain percent of income tax for education, but so long as the bulk of funding comes from local property taxes, state politicians neither can do much to help towns nor have a great deal of incentives to do more at the local level, because it's still 'not their problem.'

Beacon Hill and local communities need to be attached at the hip if we want state legislators to be held accountable for local problems - if we don't, they're going to continue to punt on our states greatest threats for years to come. They won't fix health care, they won't solve structural deficits and they won't figure out ways to save funds where funds can be saved, improving services where they need to be improved. Simply put, they have plausible deniability until we make them accountable for the main problems our state is facing, which right now is at the municipal level.

Amanda said...

In another lifetime, in another town, I was involved with a regional school committee.

I felt the town I represented lost all control.

The money was misspent on "frills," for instance, 6 kids participating in hockey, a handful in horseback riding, golf and tennis, all offered off premises that required overtime bussing. The per pupil cost was outrageous. And the library shelves were barren. Were the educational needs appropriately funded first and the sports stuff thereafter, I wouldn't balk, but that was not the case.
I have not seen a case where the communities involved are terribly pleased with the regionalized schools because the school committee becomes so unimportant to the administration's spending decisions.

I read somewhere that students suffer when the facility becomes too large and the student gets lost.

On a 'regional' basis, I can see that towns could do more to provide certain services than they currently are. Maybe a little creativity injected into the educational concept would be helpful. Is that an oxymoron?

As far as public safety, for smaller towns within close proximty, to work out a comprehensive plan to combine both police and fire might make sense. I can see that you would immediately save the quadruplication (if that's a word) of dispatchers and eliminate the need for chiefs in both departments. But I also see major turf wars and an unwillingness by local authorities to surrender control.

I'm not sure we can blame this fully on the legislature. Cost saving solutions get lost on the local level as well.

What do you think about Glenn Marshall's indictment?

How far up the food chain do you think it will go?

How far down the food chain? Local indictments?

How many more tribal indictments do you think? 6 ?

Ryan said...

Glenn's indictment was pretty much inevitable. I'm sure it won't be the last, though the chain's already been long-since rocked in regards to tribal gaming casino lobbyists across the country. Not sure if Glenn will lead to bigger fish, but quite likely smaller ones. No idea on the number - wouldn't really care to guess. I hope everyone's innocent; I just doubt it. Unfortunately, it seems like the MO of the tribe was to get the casinos. /sigh.

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