Daily Archives: December 20, 2009

Christmas Past Part 4: ‘Santa, I have a short list’

Here it is! This is the fourth and final in a series of holiday columns I wrote some years ago when I was the opinion page editor of The Reporter, the daily newspaper in Vacaville, Calif.  I have links at the bottom of this column to the other three if you missed them and want to take a look.

This one is a letter to Santa. (Yeah, I know! Incredibly original.) It’s ironic that those things I asked Santa for four years ago are pretty much the same things I would ask for today. All I’d have to do is change the year.

Here is wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Santa, I have a short list

The author was the opinion page editor at The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., when this was first published Dec. 21, 2005.

By Keith Michaud

Dear Santa:

I certainly hope this note finds you healthy and well. And Mrs. Claus, too. She sure is a cutie, ya ol’ dog, you; you’re a pretty lucky ol’ fella for having her, especially considering the traveling you do every year.

Granted, all that traveling is done in a single evening, but it’s a lot of mileage to put on that sleigh of yours. You must pay a pretty penny at the end of your lease agreement.

I hope all those helpful elves and lively reindeer are healthy and well, too. I know you all work pretty hard all year to get gifts to children around the world. And if we don’t say it enough, thanks for helping to keep alive the holiday spirit of giving.

Well, despite what some will say, I’ve been more nice than naughty this year. Yeah, I know, it’s been a rather boring year since we last spoke, but I’m hoping to remedy that in 2006. Hopefully, I’ll be able to admit to being a tiny bit naughty next year.

Anyway, my list isn’t very long this year. You know me. I don’t need much.

Santa, if you can swing it, how about peace on earth and good will to all men, women, children and animals? There is far too much strife in the world – fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, suicide bombing in the Middle East, revolts on the African continent, rioting in Europe, and race riots in Australia, for heaven’s sake. A little peace would be good just about now, don’t you think, Jolly One?

Along with that, how about a bit more safety for our fighting men and women in those faraway lands? They are spread thin and it would be easy for them to think that we have let them slip from our minds, that we do not care. Santa, please let them know that servicemen and women remain in our hearts and minds this holiday season, whether we back armed conflict or not. Surely, Santa, we can separate the war from the warrior. After all, wars are started by fat men and women in houses of politics. And wars are fought by strong, young men and women with a sense of patriotism and honor, and a bit of adventure.

St. Nick, how about a bit of tolerance, too? There doesn’t seem to be enough of that around. I mean, we’re such a wonderfully diverse people in this world that it’s a shame we cannot all get along better, accepting and embracing each others’ differences, rather than picking chest-thumping fights over silliness.

Santa, I’ve got a niece and nephew, and I’d like to have children of my own someday. I’d like to think we could leave them a better world than the one we’ve got now. What do you say, Santa, can you build peace, hope, harmony and tolerance in your workshop?

Previously posted:

Christmas Past Part 1: ‘Holiday spirit takes off’

Christmas Past Part 2: ‘Calling too late for wishes’

Christmas past Part 3: ‘Hey, call me Mr. Christmas’

Budget season in the Maine capital city

I gathered a couple of Maine state budget stories from the Kennebec Journal, the newspaper in Augusta, Maine. Click on the headline or at the bottom of each tease and it should bring you to the Kennebec Journal website for the full story.

As always, please let me know about a bad link and I will do what I can to fix it.

Plan for budget awaits Legislature

BY MATT WICKENHEISER

Maine Sunday Telegram

As Gov. John Baldacci began his presentation Friday on closing a $438 million budget gap, he noted that the state is having such briefings “a little too often.”

Several times a year, for the last several years, Baldacci has had to lay out hard plans for Maine. State revenue has been in a free-fall as income tax, sales tax and other funding sources have dried up in the recession.

In the last year, the Legislature has worked to cut the budget again and again. In early January, it started with a budget gap of $166 million, then later that month got a two-year budget calling for another $200 million in cuts. In May, revenue shortfalls led to another $569 million gap.

(Click here to go to the full Kennebec Journal story.)

Groups to watch possible cuts at DHHS closely

BY SCOTT MONROE

Staff Writer

AUGUSTA – Steve Hoad listened to Gov. John Baldacci announce plans on Friday for cuts and other adjustments that total $438 million.

The proposed cuts include a reduction of $67.8 million to the Department of Health and Human Services and the elimination of 6.5 positions.

(Click here to go to the full Kennebec Journal story.)

Education officials feel push to reduce

BY MATTHEW STONE

Staff Writer

AUGUSTA – For Maine’s school districts, universities and community colleges, the package of budget cuts Gov. John Baldacci announced Friday confirmed the grim news they’ve been bracing for throughout the fall.

The governor’s plan to plug a $438 million hole in the current two-year budget cuts $73.2 million in aid to local school districts and $15.9 million in funding to the state’s university and community college systems.

(Click here to go to the full Kennebec Journal story.)

State corrections remains flat funded

BY MEGHAN V. MALLOY
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA – County jails and other correctional facilities could see more positions lost or unfilled next year if Gov. John Baldacci’s latest budget plan, which flat funds jails at $3.5 million, is adopted for the next fiscal year.

“I don’t know how many and where, but it would happen in (fiscal year 2011),” Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin said Friday. “If it looks like it’s looming, we’ll do what we did last time, which is not filling vacancies.”

(Click here to go to the full Kennebec Journal story.)

Maine to consider cell phone cancer warning

Maine to consider cell phone cancer warning

One charter school in Maine highly touted

Here’s today’s DownEast.com trivia question. Educators might find it interesting.

What is Maine’s only public charter school?

Answer:

The Maine School of Math and Science in Limestone, established in 1995, was recently declared the twelfth best public high school in the United States.

Snowstorm slamming Northeast expected to skirt Maine – Bangor Daily News

Snowstorm slamming Northeast expected to skirt Maine – Bangor Daily News.

Blizzard-Like Storm Slams Eastern U.S.