Sharples Gets a $1.2 Million Parachute, Free Will, Death Row and Steven Wright: Live Wire Weekend
FlaglerLive | November 19, 2010
You’re welcome to send your Live Wire news tips or suggestions to LiveWire@flaglerlive.com.
Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links
- Sharples Gets $1.2 Million Golden Parachute
- Starred Comment: Purposeless Sacrifice
- Feed Flagler Update XI
- Beverly Beach’s New Sheriff’s Substation
- Does Free Will Exist?
- Reflections on Capital Punishment
- Video Rewind: Dick Cavett
- On Foot-In-Mouth Disease
- Punk Rocker Patti Smith Wins National Book Award
- Terrence Hayes, Poetry’s National Book Award Winner
- Bill Nye On Science and Religion
- Steven Wright in His Prime
- A Few Good Links
Live Wire Rewinds
Don’t call it a firing, of course. But that’s what it was. And a very expensive one at that. Expensive, and disgraceful. The Daytona State College board of trustees voted 8-1 Thursday to pay Sharples, its fourth president, $1.2 million to get him out of its crosshairs three years early. Sharples’ contract ran through April 2014. He was paid an annual salary of $316,00 a year, $25,000 of which as one of those “allowances” boards of directors are excellent at extracting from the salary to artificially make it look less than it really is. So Sharples is getting paid more to leave the college than he’d have been paid had he stayed. Wonderful way to get a paid, three-year vacation at taxpayers’ expense. That’s just the straight out settlement dough. There’s also the retirement money he’s drawing: not just here, but in South Carolina, where he spent 18 years as president of Horry-Georgetown Tech and 33 years on the government’s payroll overall. Not only that: the Daytona State board, now led by John Tanner, the former state attorney, is agreeing to give up any legal claims on the guy: no lawsuits, no legal remedies, if accounts show improprieties with his fingerprints. Not only that: Sharples gets to keep his health insurance through the April 2014 date (even though the guy has qualified for Medicare for two years and it wouldn’t cost him that much to get a little supplemental coverage, but hey: why not double-dippingly screw taxpayers when you can?). Not only that: he’ll still get to have a college-paid vehicle, and not just any kind of vehicle: a Lincoln Navigator, one of those monstrous SUVs (because of Sharples’ brood of children, of course, and all those grocery bags he hauls every other day) that gets all of 12 miles to the gallon, because why not screw the environment at taxpayers’ expense when offered the chance, too? Not only that: Sharples leaves the college’s books hanging, with that big fat question mark over the $1.4 million he paid that other hybrid of hubris and hysteria, the American Music Festival (Daytona Beach’s attempt to “rebrand” itself as a place slightly less than culturally bankrupt). Naturally, because it’s always the Sharples show, there were tears wagging crocodiles’ tails at the board meeting Thursday evening, and silly speechifying to divert from the million-dollar payoff. Sharples now has his own personal bailout to go along with the national vogue, with one important distinction: bailouts elsewhere are being repaid. In Sharples’ case, it’s a taxpayer loss all the way.
- Will Kent Sharples Be Fired?
- DSC’s Kent Sharples’ Latest Folly
- DSC’s Kent Sharples Defends Himself
- Ego and Egoer
seenthisb4 comments on “Offshoring War: How Obama—and Those Moments of Silence—Insult Military Sacrifice” (the column has been getting a lot of traffic since getting picked up by Common Dreams and Antiwar.com, among others): “To die for a cause that no longer has a purpose is the most tragic of human endeavors. Woe to those who would call for such a sacrifice, without sharing in that sacrifice. Can we really stomach looking at ourselves in the mirror and saying, “I feel safer knowing that someone else’s sons or daughters died for me today?” Are we OK with falling asleep knowing someone else’s dad, mom, uncle or aunt will die for our children tonight? Are any of us who know these wars are necessary prepared to take their place so they can be home for the holidays this year? How about filling in so they can be there for their children’s birthday? Are any of us who know these wars are necessary prepared to enlist or re-up or encourage our children to do so? We ask and expect much from others that we would not even consider of ourselves. Incidentally, if it takes our neighbors children’s death, in some third world hell hole, to make us feel safe, why do we spend $80 billion dollars a year on 16 intelligence agencies?” The full column.
Come on now: $805 is great. We can do even better. FlaglerLive is urging you to donate to Feed Flagler. See the button below. (Yes, Thursday morning we were at $475 and went with the same line, but our goal remains $1,000. Come on, we can do it! Look, we’re even using exclamation points, which are usually forbidden on FlaglerLive!)
Feed Flagler is designed to raise thousands of dollars and thousands of pounds of food for Flagler County’s food pantries and to pay for the Nov. 24 Thanksgiving meal for some 2,000 people in the second annual Feed Flagler celebration. The effort is also designed to stock families’ and food pantries’ shelves well beyond Thanksgiving, which is what makes this necessary and particularly worthy. There’s also a challenge on: several companies and government agencies are competing to out-raise each other, in money and food donations.
Please do your part. We’re doing ours. We started our own fund-raising through FlaglerLive, seeding it with an initial contribution of $100 and further contributions from the following:
- Hollingsworth Gallery’s JJ Graham
- David Millonig in Pensacola
- Nancy Nally in Palm Coast
- Darrell Smith in Flagler Beach
- Palm Coast Bible Church ($100)
- Inna & John Hardison
- Anthony Mike Kales
- Kendall Clark
- Jim Guines
- Lynn Snyder
- Ann DeLucia (thank you for pushing us over the half-way mark)
- Anonymous ($100)
- Phyllis Jenkins
- Sharon Hennessey Pinard
- Charlie Ericksen
- Mario diGirolamo
If you’d like to donate but would prefer to remain anonymous, just send us a note here and we’ll leave your name out of it. Thank you all. Keep it coming.
Here’s the list of monetary donors through the county’s efforts:
- Bug Guard Services, Inc. ($1,000)
- Acme Trophies
- Biblical Truth Ministries ($505)
- Phyllis Carmel
- First Coast Community Credit Union
- Grace Tabernacle Ministries
- Prosperity Bank
- Temple Beth Shalom
- University Women of Flagler, Inc.
- Jean MacAllister
- New Beginnings Church, Inc.
- Cornelius & Ruth Van De Weert
- P. Hassid
- Flagler County’s three Rotary groups
- Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston
- John’s Auto Parts of Bunnell ($1,000)
- Adella Latus
- Michael and Patricia Danforth
- Rev. Elizabeth & Charles Gardner
- Helio Creative
- Hijackers Restaurant
- ITT TDS
- Johnson Orthodontics
- Palm Coast Lions Charities
- Pepsi Co.
- Philippine American Association
- Rocky’s Pizza (Flagler Beach)
- Rotary Club of Flagler County Foundation ($500)
- Rotary Meeting (Single-Meeting Donation, $425)
- Cornelius & Ruth Van De Weert
- N.D. Walsh
- Waste Pro ($500)
- Winn Dixie
Here are the members of Team Flagler’s Food Drive Challenge, coordinated by the county’s Joe Mayer and Christie Mayer (313-4094):
- Flagler County Board of County Commissioners
- Flagler County Tax Collector
- Flagler County Property Appraiser
- Flagler County Schools
- Flagler County Health Department
- Flagler County Clerk of Court
- Flagler County Sheriff’s Department
- Flagler County Supervisor of Elections
- City of Bunnell
- City of Flagler Beach
- City of Palm Coast
- Chicks With Cans
- Waste Pro
- Hammock Dunes Club
- Feed Flagler Chicks With Cans Special
- Feed Flagler Suzanne Johnston Special
- Feed Flagler on Facebook
- Time to Get Involved: Feed Flagler Challenges County’s Thanksgiving Compassion and Beyond
- Calvary Christian’s Bus Ministry: Treasuring the Homeless, One Sunday at a Time
- Daviana’s Excellent Adventure: Halloween Bash Fills Carts and Kitty for the Hungry
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office officially opened the Beverly Beach substation on North Oceanshore Boulevard Thursday with a brief ceremony at the beachside office. The substation is at 2735 North Oceanshore Boulevard and will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Beverly Beach Mayor Steve Emmitt presented Flagler County Sheriff Donald W. Fleming with an appreciation plaque from the town commission before the Sheriff announced that the substation was fully operational. “We appreciate the support of the Town of Beverly Beach which is allowing us to occupy office space in the Town Hall. This substation will provide the same services as our Palm Coast substation and I hope our residents will take advantage of the convenience this location provides,” said Sheriff Donald W. Fleming. The new substation will provide fingerprinting service, notary public services, take requests for vacation house watches and offer gun permit packages.
From Philosophy Today: “When you go to the restaurant and choose spinach tart, there must be a reason for your choice, we feel. Perhaps you don’t feel like asparagus today. Why? Perhaps you had asparagus last week. Or perhaps you feel that spinach tart goes better with the wine you’ve already ordered. But of course, there would have been reasons to choose asparagus instead (eg, you like it very much). So the fact that you did not choose asparagus does not mean that you had no reason for choosing it. Why then did you not choose it? Apparently because you didn’t have enough reasons, or you only had reasons that weren’t strong enough: the reasons in favour of spinach tart were stronger. So let us presume that every reason has a certain weight. Imagine a pair of scales. On one scale we put all the reasons that make us inclined to choose spinach tart, on the other, all the reasons in favour of asparagus. We then make our decision according to which scale is heavier. Or rather, it is decided for us – the scales decide. Or, imagine being a piece of iron, and each reason is a magnet pulling us in a certain direction. Some magnets pull us in this direction, others in that, and we move where the most or strongest magnets are. Supposing that decisions are made in such a mechanical way, we can imagine a situation where there’s perfect equilibrium between the opposing reasons. Here, the weights on the scales are equal, or the magnets that pull you to one side are neither stronger nor weaker than those which pull you in the other. What happens then? It seems that a rational decision would no longer be possible, because the reasons for either option are balanced. This is the situation of Buridan’s Ass, named after philosopher John Buridan (1300-1358). A donkey finds himself halfway between two equally big and delicious piles of hay. Because he lacks a reason to choose one over the other, he cannot decide which one to eat, and so starves to death.”
Robert Leleux in the Texas Observer via Utne: “A good friend told me something startling. She said that, barring some unforeseen event, a good friend of hers was going to be poisoned to death by the state of Texas. Her friend’s name was David Lee Powell, and David was a convicted criminal who was sentenced to death for the vicious, evil murder of a police officer named Ralph Ablanedo. I recognize that David Lee Powell’s crime was heinous. And yet I don’t believe he was a heinous man. I don’t believe the state had the right to kill him. I also doubt, very much, that any of this—the shooting of a police officer or the poisoning of a convicted murderer—would have registered as more than a passing blip on the radar screen of my mind if I hadn’t been personally affected, albeit in an extremely indirect manner, by this sorrowful series of events. But because I was personally affected, because I was challenged by conversations I had with my friend—about David Powell and the death penalty, about the state’s right to kill American citizens, and about my own obliviousness to political issues that don’t directly affect me—I volunteered to write a series of posts for the Texas Observer’s website. Excerpts from some of them follow. During the two weeks I wrote these posts, which took the form of a daily countdown to David’s death, I found myself profoundly confronted by the experience.” See the posts.
Louis Menand on Dick Cavett in The New Yorker: “Louis Menand writes about the former talk-show host Dick Cavett and the late-night battles of yore. “He gave the impression of being slightly superior to the medium—a little too bright, a little too literate, a little too intellectually upmarket for commercial television, ‘the host with the mots,’ as Time called him,” Menand writes. “He may have been all those things, but he loved show business, he loved being on camera, and he loved talking to celebrities. He was not out to raise the standards of the medium or the I.Q. of his audience. He was just doing what he was hired to do. He was trying to take a piece out of Carson.” See the full story, and the video below.
Lynn Phillips in Psychology Today: “Why am I addicted to tactlessness, I wonder. Why won’t my mind follow orders? Am I chasing some bygone teenage thrill of disobeying myself? Helplessly imitating Mother, a famous planter of faux pas? I can’t possibly be dependent on the shot of self-generated downers I get every time I act like something out of Mommie Dearest Wears Prada? I try so hard to stop, but. . .[...] In a recent review article in Science, delightfully entitled, How To Think, Say Or Do Precisely The Wrong Thing For Any Occasion, Daniel M. Wegner of Harvard’s Department of Psychology explains that my perverse lapses, what he calls “counterintentional errors” while often beyond my control, are not true addictive behaviors. “The ironic return of suppressed thoughts” as he calls them in Harvardspeak, is a common consequence of the way our minds process attention and intent. To start with, the human mind is not a great multi-tasker. As the New York Times reminds us frequently these days, it has trouble staying focused on the road while it’s helping you speak on your cell phone. It can miss seeing a gorilla walk through the room if it’s focused on some fussy task; and it’s especially difficult for it to multi-task while processing life’s many other stresses and distractions. Wegner’s theory is that when you try to suppress a thought like “hog slop,” or a feeling — like “I’m such an idiot!” two mental processes kick into gear. One processor, the squelcher, runs the instructions, like, “Do NOT say “hog slop;” or, “You’re not a TOTAL idiot,” over and over. The other processor, the hunter, is almost as busily looking for the hog slop, or the self-flagellating label to be suppressed. [...] So I’m not an addicted rebel, mom’s evil spawn or hooked on stinging jellyfish. I’m distractable: Perhaps a bit more than normal. Or a lot more.” The full article.
Elizabeth DiNovella in the Progressive: “Patti Smith just won the National Book Award for her beautiful memoir, Just Kids (Ecco Books). Smith gives us the tender story of her longtime relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The two met in the summer of 1969, when both were hungry and homeless in New York City, and quickly fell in love. They were proverbial starving artists and often faced a choice between buying art supplies or day-old bread.Smith and Mapplethorpe served as artist and muse to each other. Smith writes she was happiest when “we would work side by side for hours, in a state of mutual concentration.” These were their formative years, when Smith encouraged Mapplethorpe to take photos, while he told her she should sing. Back then, they were so poor they couldn’t afford two tickets to the new Whitney Museum, “so one of us would go in, look at the exhibits, and report back to the other.” Afterward, he told her once while walking to the subway, “One day we’ll go in together, and the work will be ours.” Both would make their mark on the art world. Smith became an influential poet and singer, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Mapplethorpe elevated photography as an art form in America, and gained notoriety during the culture wars of the 1990s. His early photographs are scattered throughout the book, including one of Smith that became the cover art for her album Horses.” The full post.
- Patti Smith’s Website
- Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
Terrance Hayes won the National Book Award in poetry on Wednesday for his latest collection, Lighthead (Penguin). He read one of his poems at the Jazz Poetry Concert in Pittsburgh. Watch:
- Pablo Neruda: Now You’re Mine
- Harold Bloom Recites Wallace Stevens’ “Tea at the Palace of Hoon”
- Poem: Your EE Cummings Bit
- T.S. Eliot’s Conservatism
Bill Nye, who doesn’t get enough credit for also being a stand-up comedian accepts the Humanist of the Year award: “I was very excited to do this talk tonight until just a few minutes ago. Someone came up to me and said, “Is Bill Nye your real name?” And I said, “It’s William Nye.” Everything was going fine but then he said, “Why did you change it?” And this gets into the notion of critical thinking skills and questioning things. We all have a tendency, in skepticism and to a degree in science education, to find ourselves, dare I say, preaching to the choir. (Did I lose you with that reference? I know many of you have never seen this, but in church, they have a preacher and…) Incidentally, we may assume that the choir is already converted, but we don’t really know that. The choir might just be there singing because they like to sing, but the hope is that they’ll go along. So let’s just say that we have great success in preaching to the choir and it makes us feel good, but we have to do more. We have to reach out. [...] I was brought up in the Episcopal Church and I was very unsatisfied. I used to be one of the speakers and would get up in front of the microphone at the pulpit. (I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that. They have it in church, the pulpit). I would read from this big, thick book that was in arcane English. I liked that part but the rest of it really didn’t make any sense.
“For me it’s very much analogous to the ancient dinosaurs. I’m so old, I remember when there wasn’t really any satisfactory explanation for their disappearance. [...] And so I often wonder what else it is that we’re just completely missing that will integrate all sorts of our current scientific ideas. But we don’t have to know the whole answer right now. What I like to call the PB&J—the passion, beauty, and joy—is in the pursuit of it, right? That’s what we love about science. It is, absolutely, to me, the best idea humans have had. Science. I’ll even say science is the best idea we’ve had so far. It could change, right? Got a better idea? Bring it on.” Read the full speech.
The cleverest stand-up around:
- How the U.S. Snoops on Russian Nukes From Space
- Magic mismanaged in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- America’s Changeable Civil War
- Sun Going Down on Solar?
- More Trapped Miners, This Time in New Zealand