Park and Rec, school district partners for tennis courts

Two government entities working together and sharing money is a rare event. However, such a thing is under way as the Austin Park and Recreation Board and the school district are joining forces to make it easier to find a place to play tennis.

The city has too few tennis courts and the school district doesn't have enough.

Wescott Field has six courts that need refurbishing and plans are on the table to add to two more courts there.

More money is needed than the school district has. Resurfacing would cost about $30,000, and adding two courts would cost about $80,000 more. Fencing would run another $40,000, and lighting would cost about $150,000.


Superintendent Candace Raskin went to the park board this week -- the first time a superintendent ever appeared at such a meeting -- and asked for help.

The park board saw the benefit of joining in as a doubles partner and they did not even mind serving up some money.

Even if the full project is not completed, the park board and the school district deserve points for playing together instead of against one another.


; Presidential polls galore

Two non-traditional polls show President Bush with a sizable lead over challenger Sen. John Kerry. These aren't polls taken by polling organizations, rather they're fun methods used by retailers.

According to, Costume seller has been tracking the sales of presidential candidate masks for many years. For the last six presidential campaigns, sales of candidate masks have been a perfect predictor of that year's winner. This year, Bush leads Kerry 57 percent to 43 percent in mask sales.

In Texas, the restaurant chain Flying Saucer holds its own poll at its 10 locations across the state. Voters select their candidate by buying a glass of beer with a picture of Bush or Kerry on it. So far, Bush leads 1,756 beer votes to 1,245 for Kerry.


We aren't taking these results too seriously, but these methods may be almost as reliable as the national polls we've seen change in recent weeks.


; Trust at stake

Last week, a report was given to Congress by a top American inspector that concluded there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003.

This report joins earlier issued reports that concluded there were no links between the regime of Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization responsible for the 9/11 attacks on America.

President Bush used both the potential for WMDs and links to al-Qaeda as reasons to attack Iraq.

The latest WMD report was presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn, a committee member, and one of 23 Senators who voted against going to war in Iraq, said the reports could further erode the public trust in the presidency.

"President Bush has committed a colossal betrayal of the public trust," said Dayton. This is indeed a concern.


The loss of trust is crucial should the 44th president -- Bush or Kerry -- be forced to ask the nation to commit troops to another war. If the reason is a preemptive strike based on intelligence, there will surely be a howl of protest.

The loss isn't in further questions, it is the potential that the next president might not use troops when they are genuinely needed or that a delay in commitment until all intelligence is certain is the threshold for the use of troops. Delay from either scenario could mean disaster. This is the problem that comes from a lack of trust.


; RPU making right moves

Rochester Public Utilities has brought its yet-unfinished plans to construct additional transmission capacity from the Prairie Island nuclear-powered electricity generation plant to Rochester. Finished plans are still nearly a year out, but opening the development to the public is a wise idea.

Transmission development is a large-scale public project. Community buy-in is crucial.

The best reason RPU should anticipate public support is the utility has a rock solid reason behind the proposal. Quite simply, the region, and Rochester are slowly being bottlenecked by the lack of access to more electricity.

This means growth -- not yet, but in time -- will be held back.


RPU is making the right moves by going public.

Openness is always the way to win support.

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