...on subjects that interest me, including but not limited to Tulsa, technology, politics, religion, and life.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I just got my hands on some research by Steven Hantler that suggests that Oklahoma is 44th in the list states with favorable litigious climates for business. In "Risky Business, The annual boardroom guide to litigation in the 50 states", Hantler starts of by explaining the problem with trial lawyers
…the biggest competitors for capital that business has are America’s plaintiff trial lawyers. They siphon off billions of dollars that would be invested in R&D, growth, and jobs creation, or would be returned to shareholders. Trial lawyers also increase the cost of capital for those companies whose ratings are downgraded as a direct result of trial lawyer briefings to financial analysts or press conferences about their litigation portfolios—all part of the trial bar’s new business model.So Trial lawyers are bad for business? Huh, I wonder if that is why so many companies leave Oklahoma for Texas. Hantler continues to explain how trial lawyers stack the political deck
Plaintiff lawyers are among the most politically astute and media-savvy entrepreneurs in America today. For the past 20 years or more, the trial bar has outflanked business in electing tort-friendly public officials and lobbying legislators to either enact proplaintiff liability laws or block liability reform efforts. This is a major reason that today, to give just one example, in 32 states automakers cannot introduce evidence in product liability trials that a plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt. Worse yet, trial lawyers have greatly influenced the process in which judges are appointed or elected.This is what he has to say about our fair state.
Insurance loss ratios in Oklahoma are in the bottom 30 percent of all states. Sequoia County is fast becoming a class action magnet. While the Oklahoma Legislature passed comprehensive liability-reform legislation this session, it was vetoed by Governor Brad Henry despite his pledge four years ago for “Texas Plus” tort reform. Governor Henry turned his back on Oklahoma voters and also on growth and jobs creation. Attorney General Drew Edmondson is a highly activist attorney general.I think Hantler is being too negative. He freely admits that the trial bar is itself a business; so Oklahoma is not completely unfriendly to business. I choose to flip this research around. Instead of being at the bottom of states favorable to business because of our litigious climate, I choose to say that Oklahoma is among the top ten states with a favorable climate to the Trial Bar. Oklahoma trial lawyers constitute a very important businesses for Oklahoma. Seriously, ask yourself where Oklahoma would be with out trail lawyers…let's not be ungrateful!
Technorati Tags: Oklahoma
Monday, June 25, 2007
On Apr 3, 2007, I switched my phone and internet service from AT&T to Cox Communication (the local cable company). For some reason AT&T has no idea how to terminate a business relationship. They have been jerking me around over 25 bucks for 3 months now. Ironically they keep sending me letters asking me to come back to AT&T, but I’m so angry with them, that’s a fat chance. Anyway, I’ve spent hours and hours on the phone with AT&T trying to resolve my bill.
Every time I think we have reached an agreement about what I owe ($0.00) I get another bill or surprise. The latest was a call from a third party collections agency. So I spent another 2 hours on the phone with AT&T to determine, again, that I don’t owe them anything.
Below is the letter of dispute I’ve written to the collections agency with my latest call notes. Skip ahead to the call notes, it’s particularly interesting how the different departments within AT&T can’t agree with what is going on.
To whom it may concern
My wife was contacted by your collections agency about a past due amount from AT&T for $25.82. This letter is to formally inform you that this amount is in dispute.
This amount was from when I disconnected my account on Apr 3rd. I was charged for the next month but because I canceled my service I didn’t really owe that amount.
I had previously contacted AT&T on May 7th, and was told I had received a credit and that I did not owe AT&T money.
I’ve contacted AT&T again today. They have confirmed that this is a mistake and that I in fact owe $0.00.
Below are my call notes with your company and with AT&T on 6/25/2007
----------------------------------------------------------------------I called the collections agency back @ 1800 454-2227 at about 9:30 on 6/25/2007
Talked with a rep and told him the amount was under dispute. He gave me an address to send a dispute letter to
97 East Brokaw Rd
Suite 240 San Jose CA, 95112
I called AT&T Collections and first spoke with Chantil - 9:57 6/25/2007
She informed me that she did indeed see a past due balance and that I needed to talk with the high-speed internet department to resolve the balance, because if there was a credit she could not see it.
I was then transferred to the high-speed internet residential billing department. I spoke with Liza. She that there was an adjustment but it did not go through. She said that she would issue a manual adjustment and that she would then transfer me back to final billing where I could verify that the final balance was zero, at which point they would contact the collections agency and inform them that this was all a mistake. Her typist initials are IRLP in the notes field…
She also verified that the initial credit that did not go though (for whatever reason) was “applied” on May 7th 2007.
I was then transferred to final billing where I spoke with Mary.
I told her about my conversation with Liza and she checked the account notes.
She did not see the notes…
She didn’t see the notes from May 7th either! She asked for my cell phone in case they needed to call me back…
I was transferred back to customer service where I spoke with Bill. He sees the credit and doesn’t understand why they (final billing) can’t see the credit “I don’t understand why they can’t see it…they aren’t looking at the notes because It’s clearly there”.
I told him that I need final billing to agree that there is no balance otherwise when I send my letter of dispute to the collections agency, they will contact final billing and they will say “No he owes us money.” If I cant get them to agree that the balance is 0 then I’m screwed.
He said he would try to get final billing on the phone to see why they don’t see the credit.
He spoke with Christie, in collections, who finally saw the credit. He said, she said she pulled it from collections. I asked to be transferred to collections so I could verify that they really have the balance set at zero. (I wonder why I don’t trust them.)
Bill transferred me back to collections/final billing. I spoke with Christie (a different Christie?) I re-capped the above notes. I told her that I wanted to make sure they (collections) did indeed agree that the account was at 0 and that third party collections had been revoked. She said that they did finally show a zero balance and that collections had been notified. “They have a different system than we do and some times the credits don’t show up”
I hope this resolves the matter
Steven H Roemerman
Technorati Tags: AT&T
Posted by Steven H. Roemerman Sr at 12:43 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
...if we could sell our house that is. Since I announced my intention to move, I've received several interesting comments. The one by Shadow6 is very insightful,and I wanted to give it it's own post. I've bolded the parts I thought were particularly good.
Your situation is why I was so frustrated about the Bunche situation(link added my me), and the whole "choice" and "magnet" culture in Tulsa Public Schools. A bunch of Power Parents liked Bunche, and had no intention of letting their kids go to a neighborhood center. So instead of working to make every Pre K program like Bunche, they just exerted political pressure to keep Bunche.
Now, in your case, Mayo is on the East Side. You are not really going so much out of sector since you live in the Disney district. What, a mile and a half? But you cannot get what you want and so you are leaving the school district.
There is a mindset in Tulsa that if your child does not get into Mayo or Eisenhower, they will have a poor education. Sadly, this situation is deserved to some extent, but I think it is because of policies that have been building for over 30 years.
Further, there is an additional mindset that is is absolutely essential to get your kids into Carver Middle School, because if you are a Carver student and have a pulse, you are guaranteed a slot by district policy into Booker T. Washington, and THAT is the only Tulsa high school worth attending. This has changed somewhat as Edison makes inroads, but there is still a perception that Edison and Washington are good, and everything else is bad.
Keep in mind that Washington has 300 slots every year, and the first 220 or so go to the Carver kids and then a small group at Wilson that get in before any other Tulsa Public Schools 8th grader is considered. That leaves 80 precious slots for the other 12 middle schools, and the coaches will make sure to recruit the folks that can play ball first.
The screening criteria for Carver and Wilson Language Magnet students is standardized test scores on the 35th (!) percentile and a GPA of 2.5. That's it. Three years of mediocrity at Carver or Wilson gets you a free ride to Washington.
They have instituted an area quota, but that does not change things so much. They still get most of the best and the brightest, by district, but the Carver and Wilson kids in each district get 1st chop in those districts.
That keeps test scores high at Carver and Washington. Smart and well-behaved kids learn enough to pass the state test, even with average teachers.
Here is the problem for Tulsa Public Schools, and the neighborhoods, with this situation. The best and the brightest kids, and the best parents either get into the schools they want, or they leave. Those kids would be the leaders, socially and academically, in their schools. The parents would be active and interested in their kids education, and they would not hesitate to complain if there were a problem. The good kids and parents who are left are insufficient to the task of making a difference.
These people would also be the neighborhood leaders, and their absence diminishes the neighborhood in the same way.
I understand your situation. Although good people are willing to fight and sacrifice much for themselves, they are not willing to do the same when their kids are concerned.
It's easier and safer to leave for greener pastures than to stay and fight for a good education at the local school, especially if it looks like an uphill fight. But Tulsa Public Schools, and the neighborhoods, pay a great price when parents can't get satisfaction at their neighborhood schools.
Wow, I cant say that I disagree with what Shadow6 said, especially the part about neighborhoods and schools suffering when good people leave instead of staying and making a difference. It kinda makes me feel bad about moving...but not enough not to do it. However, I will say that if things work out, I'll be able to stay in District 6. I've found a housing development close to 51st and 193rd in the Broken Arrow school district, which looks promising.
Technorati Tags: Tulsa
Tulsa Public Schools
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Recent events have intensified my theory that the stem cell debate has nothing to do with good science and everything to do with our culture of death. A scientist in Japan, using genetic reprogramming, has developed a method to create embryonic-like stem cells using adult skin cells as the starting point. His method does not require the creation or use of an embryo, and therefore does not require the destruction of life. What is wrong with his discovery?
The key word in embryonic-like stem cells is “like”. Even after demonstrations that these cells can be used to create any kind of tissue. The argument is that these cells aren’t as good as embryonic stem cells. A team at Harvard has seemingly proven the detractors wrong by modifying this technique to create mouse embryos that could generate embryonic stem cells, or be implanted in the uterus of a foster mother to create pups. This seems to pretty well end the debate that you can’t use these cells to create any kind of tissue.
Also, this discovery does not fall in line with the current political climate which wants to kill babies. You would think that this development would be heralded as a momentous success because both camps get what they want. The embryonic camp gets their embryonic stem cells and the religious nut jobs, like me, can finally shut up about the destruction of embryos for science. Instead, this news hardly gets any press.
A research scientist friend of mine has long thought that genetic reprogramming held great promise. He told me that he has not seen the funding for it. When I asked why, and he told me that unfortunately bureaucrats and politicians are often the final world on what is determined to be good science, not scientists. I’m going to go a step further and conclude the reason this is not “good science” has more to do with a political agenda that a scientific one.
Technorati Tags: stem cell research
embryonic stem cell research
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I ran across this neat little game where you are in control of re-districting a state.
There are five missions
Learn the basics of redistricting; try to achieve Population Equality, Contiguity, and Compactness.
2. Partisan Gerrymander
Same as mission 1, but try to take a way the a district from the other party.
The essence of a partisan gerrymander is manipulating district lines around a set of voters that will elect your party's candidate. The two principle tactics used in gerrymandering are "cracking' and "packing".
3. Bipartisan Gerrymander
A New Twist The bipartisan gerrymander is a new twist on the partisan gerrymander. Rather than trying to gerrymander the opposing party's incumbents out of office, the political parties effectively strike a bargain in order to maintain the status quo. Also referred to as "incumbent protection," the parties cooperate to protect all existing incumbents and (where possible) to preserve their traditional constituencies.
4. Voting Rights Act
Mission Four reflects the gains made in redistricting fairness by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its later amendments (VRA).
5. Reform Mission
The final mission of the Redistricting Game simulates the reform proposal put forward by U.S. Representative John Tanner (TN). The proposed bill restricts the mapmaker's ability to use partisan and demographic information as to draw congressional districts.
It's pretty fun, and educational. For a few laughs, see what happens when you re-draw the district such that the representative's house is no longer in the district...
Technorati Tags: Gerrymandering
The Redistricting Game
Posted by Steven H. Roemerman Sr at 3:02 PM
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Yesterday, I went to the 19th and Riverside to take some pictures. My eye was drawn to several bikes on a bike rack which all looked the same. I thought to myself, "What are the chances that everyone who parked their bike here has the same bike?" Obviously slim to none, so I went to check it out. What I found was one of the brand new St. Francis Cycle Stations. These bikes are free to the public as part of their wellness program. All you need is a credit card to keep you honest. While the program has not officially started, the bikes are ready to use. I spoke with a representative from St. Francis who told me that they are in the "soft launch" phase.
I decided to give it a whirl, and aside from a few glitches that they were already aware of, it was very easy to borrow, use, and return their bikes. I really enjoyed my free ride down Riverside. It was an entirely new way to experience the park and I'm definitely going to do this again; it's fun, it's free, it's good for you, and it's one more reason to love Tulsa.
Technorati Tags: Tulsa
Friday, June 01, 2007
This afternoon some co-workers and I were in the mood for a bowl of red, so we drove down to Bowl of Red Chili House only to find this letter attached to the front door.
That’s too bad, I think they had the best chili in town. I guess I should have eaten there more often.
Technorati Tags: Tulsa
Bowl of Red Chili House