Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fourth Grade History

I was talking with a friend this morning and was asked if I had seen a post on a local blog regarding the ongoing controversy about how our local URD does its business. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read it. I think I probably laughed so hard I cried. This can be found on OpenCDA , a blog created, I believe, for discussions about the inner workings of the Coeur d'Alene city government. To the best of my knowledge no elected official nor employee is available at this site for providing clarification nor assuring the accuracy of the assumptions. That might be something to consider.

February 24, 2008
LCDC–Lesson from Founding Fathers?
Filed under: General — mary @ 4:51 pm
When the White House was being planned, back in 1792, they needed an architectural design for the building but wanted to be completely open with their bid process to insure that the architect was chosen solely on the merits of their design, not favoritism. So Thomas Jefferson placed an ad in the newspaper, soliciting architectural designs. The winning plan would be chosen by President Abraham Lincoln. Jefferson himself submitted a design, under an assumed name, “Mr. AZ”, but did not win. Now that’s a fair, transparent bid process! Perhaps our LCDC should take a lesson from history?

Hub was a Political Science/History major before undertaking his law studies and he remembers everything so I trotted out to his office and asked him how Lincoln figured into this. He arched a disdainful eyebrow at me, his "I don't believe you asked that" look. Aha!

When I had a few minutes to hit the computer I did a little refreshing of my own memory - fact checking so-to-speak. There are many web sites devoted to the history of the White House but I settled on The White House Historical Association Classroom site because it is geared to grades 4 to 8, about the level of understanding journalists are taught to target.

You can read the bulk for yourself, but I would like to comment on a few points. Jefferson did ask for plans - as part of a contest. The prize was to be $500 or a medal of equal value. I'd call that a design competition, not a bid process.

The White House was burned by the British in the War of 1812 but the exterior was found to be structurally sound and it was rebuilt. The original builder did the work and the house was ready for our 5th President, James Monroe in 1817.

Lincoln was our 16th President elected in 1860.

"Perhaps our LCDC should take a lesson from history?" Perhaps a history lesson should be given.

Better yet, take to heart a popular mantra from the 1960s. "Question everything." Especially if it's unsourced on a blog!


Word Tosser said...

You know, as one gets older, one has to pull from the grey area of school time. But even this old deep grey matter, had eyebrow going up with WHAT??? on the Jefferson and Lincoln bit. My first thought was... and later confirmed by your research.. that there was a gapping hole of time in between there. lol..

What was the other saying... believe 1/4 of what you read and 1/2 of what you see?

ThomG said...

Thanks for the research on this topic. Very informative.

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