by David Safier
As I count down to my exit from BfA and entrance onto The Range, I'm taking a look back on my tenure here. Mike Bryan says I've written over 3,000 posts, and I believe it. Even scrolling through them at lightning speed takes some time. Here's a continuation of my first self-indulgent trip down memory lane, stopping just before the horrific January 8, 2011, shooting.
• I started blogging about charter schools in earnest in 2009, looking at the Imagine School chain, which has gone from bad to even further downhill, BASIS, which does a good job at what it does but lies through its teeth about how it does it, and other charters.
• I went after candidate Steve Kozachik in a post in 2009 when he ran for city council for the first time. Boy, was I wrong. Sorry about that, Steve.
• I began my series about the "Creative Headline Writing Team" at the Star in 2010 when it was coming up with jaw-droppingly misleading and/or politically slanted headlines. I capped the series with a "Worst Star Headline of the Year" contest in December. Probably coincidentally, the paper's headlines have gotten better since then.
• The Goldwater Institute's education guy, Matthew Ladner, was pushing the "Florida education miracle" pretty heavy. I wrote a series of posts, "The Floridation of Arizona Education" in 2010, taking apart the not-so-miraculous educational progress in the Sunshine State. Since then, Arizona has adopted a number of Florida education ideas, while Florida has backpedaled on some of them. Ladner now works for Florida ex-Guv Jeb Bush.
• G.I.'s Matthew Ladner made possibly his single most laughable statement when he wrote about the huge bureaucracies in Arizona's school districts. To do that, he included people like bus drivers, maintenance workers, cafeteria workers and secretaries in his list of bureaucrats. I shamed him in post after post, but he stood his ground, and I have a letter from G.I. voicing its support of his "Bus drivers are bureaucrats" contention. [Note: Arizona spends a lower percentage of its funding on administration than any other state in the country.]
• In June, 2010, a reader told me about an event Jesse Kelly was holding. I put the image in a post. The announcement read: "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly." At the time, people shook their heads and moved on. Six months later, after Gabby Giffords and others were shot, the image went viral, appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show, Talking Points Memo and all over the Twitter-verse. BfA got 10 to 15 times more visits for the next few days than usual.
• Speaking of the Maddow Show, producer Bill Wolff came to town and held an event at the Congress. Mike Bryan and I attended and shot a video with him. As Mike was leaving, he said to me, "Tell Bill about the private prison/Jan Brewer connection!" I did over a beer. The more I talked, the more Bill listened. A few other people chimed in, adding details. A few days later, the Maddow Show led with the story, then continued to cover it for a few days after that. Terrific series. Later on the Maddow Blog, Bill credited "our friends at Blog for Arizona" for alerting them to the story.
There's still 2011 through 2013 to look over. I don't know if I'll get around to those. My time on BfA is growing short.