A Merry Christmas to Everyone! The following excerpts are from A Christmas Story by Charles Dickens. I hope you enjoy them. Greg Walters, December, 2009 "You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?" "I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"
Scrooge trembled more and more.
"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!" _______________________
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" _______________________
The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at that moment. "Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, "but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?"
"It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it," was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. "Look here."
From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.
"Oh, Man, look here! Look, look, down here!" exclaimed the Ghost. They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.
"Spirit, are they yours?" Scrooge could say no more.
"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. "Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end."
"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge.
"Are there no prisons?" said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses?" The bell struck twelve. _______________________ "And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content.
"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see."
Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty. _______________________
"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
He sat very close to his father's side upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.
"Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before,"tell me if Tiny Tim will live."
"I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, "in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die."
"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh, no, kind Spirit. Say he will be spared."
"If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race," returned the Ghost, "will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." _______________________
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him. ________________________
Transparency Re-Defined Transparency According to Jim and Dave Skeletal Minutes and Consent Agendas Filing Opens for Two Seats on Raytown Water District No. 2 Board of Directors High School Sports Transparency Re-defined When David Bower was elected Mayor of Raytown he was fond of certain words and phrases. High on that list was the word “transparency”. He would often use the term as a means to distance himself from the previous administration’s excessive use of closed sessions. His was the public’s trust and he intended to allow the public to see how their local government worked. At last Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting there was an interesting discussion that shows how much Bower and his staff have redefined “transparency”. It also shows how meekly the Board of Aldermen has fallen in line with their marching orders. The discussion began when Ward 4 Alderman Bill VanBuskirk (who had been out of town at the previous meeting of the Board) commented that the abbreviated minutes of the previous meeting were so abbreviated that one could NOT tell what had transpired at the meeting. Outside of some Pollyannish remarks by the Mayor about how wonderful the Board works together and how great things are in Raytown, there was little about the meeting other than item headings and vote totals. In behavior that has become expected, the Mayor became confrontational with VanBuskirk. This set the stage for what is a tag team of comments from the Mayor, the City Attorney and Ward 2 Alderman Jim Aziere to show VanBuskirk the error of his ways. The rest of the Board did what they do best. Quietly sat there and said nothing. Transparency According to Jim and Dave According to Aziere if you want a copy of the minutes you can take time off from your job and drive up to city hall and get hard copies of the abbreviated minutes Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Bring some money with you. Last time we checked photocopies were being charged out at $1 per page at city hall. Or . . . you can watch a rebroadcast of the meeting if you are home during one of three time slots it is rebroadcast each week. But to do so you must subscribe to Comcast for your television signal. If you receive your television signal via antenna or satellite – so sad, too bad – the re-broadcast is NOT available to you. Or . . . if you want a copy of the video tape of the meeting, call city hall, make an appointment to have the copy made. Take a blank video tape to city hall. Leave it to be copied. Return to city hall at a later time, and the video tape is yours. Another problem is the rash of technical difficulties at recent meetings where the broadcast screen froze up or went blank during the meeting. Furthermore, the video tapes are not kept as a permanent record by city hall. See how simple Jim and Dave have made life for you? Skeletal Minutes and Consent Agendas “Been there, done that,” came to mind when I watched the last meeting of the Raytown Board of Aldermen. It was about 12 years ago the another Mayor tried the same stunt that Bower and Company have adopted as their “business as usual” way of handling the public’s tax dollars. The Mayor back then was Jack Nesbitt. Like Bower, Nesbitt had a “let the public be damned” style of governing. He directed his city staff to cut back the minutes to roll calls and headings only. The policy was dropped when he left office. He also tried to use consent agendas. This is a device whereby ordinances and resolutions are grouped together and voted through without debate on individual items. The practice never really took hold because Board members kept removing items from the consent agenda for debate. But that was different time with different elected officials. Many of whom were out-spoken and not afraid to make a stand. That is not a concern with the crew in charge today. With the exception Alderman VanBuskirk, the standard operating procedure appears to be one of go to a meeting, get instructions, and vote accordingly. Here’s a message to the Board. Do your homework. Make up your own mind. Remember, you are the ones elected by the voting public to make decisions. Those decisions should be made in public. The arguments and reasons for those decisions should be part of the public record. Skeletal minutes and consent agendas only serve to obscure and hide why and how decisions are made. Filing Opens for Two Seats on Raytown Water District No. 2 Board of Directors Two seats on the Raytown Water District No. 2 Board of Directors are up for election this spring. Those interested in filing for either seat can do so at Raytown Public Water Supply District No. 2 headquarters located at 6945 Blue Ridge Boulevard. The election will be held on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. Sub-district #3: 75th street is northern boundary, to city limits on south, Hedges on the west and city limits or Westridge on the east. Sub-district #5: 75th street is northern boundary, to city limits on south, western boundary, city limits or Blue Ridge to Elm street for eastern boundary. There is no filing fee. The election will be held on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. Questions regarding the election (when filing closes, candidate requirements, etc.) should be directed towards the Raytown Public Water Supply District at 353-5550. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS Cardinals Run Away from Shawnee Mission South, 60-40 It was a matter of time before the Roadrunner pulled away from Wile E. Coyote.Raytown South, ranked third in the 810 Preps power poll, pulled away from Shawnee Mission South for a 60-40 win in the nightcap of the opening night of the Hy-Vee Shootout. Senior guard Xzavier Moananu led the Cardinals with 16, while fellow senior center Joe Cooper added a season-high 14. The Raiders (2-2) rallied from an 11-0 deficit to take a 25-21 lead with 6:37 left in the third quarter after a Rayner Frederick layup. But Moananu hit three's on consecutive possessions, Cooper dropped a shot on the block, Corey Hilliard added a 12-foot bank shot then frosh Ishmail Wainright also trickled in a trifecta for a 13-0 surge and a 34-25 cushion. For the rest of this story and other stories about Raytown South Sports use this link: Cardinals Run Away from Shawnee Mission South Lady Celtics Rally to Win 50 – 40 in Sedalia After a slow start, the O'Hara Lady Celtics won on December 14th at Smith-Cotton 50-40. At halftime, the Celtics were trailing 24-18, but managed to whittle the score down to one point to start the fourth quarter at 36-35. A three-point shot by Cameron Randle tied the game at 40-40 with three minutes remaining in the game. Ashley Clark followed with another three-pointer to give O'Hara the lead. The Tigers were forced to foul and the Celtics took advantage with seven free throws on eight attempts to seal the victory. Eighteen of O'Hara's total came from three point range although the team did have the advantage of height with Hailey Houser and Tori Hurtt under the basket. Costly turnovers forced by the Celtic defense and missed layups worked against the Tigers. At one time the Tigers led by a 15-9 score. O'Hara took a temporary 35-32 lead inside of the third quarter when Ashley Clark hit on a trey along her way to 14 total points in the game. Cameron Randle and Alex Smith had 13 game points each. O’Hara 56 / Miege 58 (MEN’S BASKETBALL) O’Hara 42 / Shawnee Mission West 62 (WOMEN’S BASKTBALL) The O'Hara boys team lost to Miege by a close 58-56 score and the girls team dropped a 62-42 decision to Shawnee Mission West over the weekend. With a few seconds left to the boys contest, a three point shot that could have won the game for the Celtics bounced off the rim. O'Hara had led by two points after the first quarter and then by as much as four until Miege pulled ahead 24-22 midway through the second period. Aaron Stubblefield got the Celtics back on top with a layup at 33-32 during the third quarter, but then the Stags retook the lead and held on the remainder of the game. For rest of this story and more stories about O’Hara sports use this link: Brother Richard's Blog