“Penny Ante” Mayors

Penny AnnieHappy Hump Day, Y’all!

Who’s glad we got here today!? I know I am! Also, I wanted to give a belated birthday shout out to my boarding school basketball (and football) coach, Mr. Maurice Blake. A lot of the “boys” showed him “love and respect” yesterday which was his 89th birthday! My hat (converse sneakers and football cleats, too!) go off to a man who has changed the lives of a lot of us who went to St. Paul’s School over 40 years ago! How many of you remember someone from your schools that long ago?! Popular singer here in Miami, “FLO RIDA”, surprised his elementary school teacher at her retirement party this year by just showing up!!! She was certainly “floored” by “FLO” and they exchanged niceties. I plan to meet up with Coach Blake as soon as his son gets back in town north of here in New Smyrna, FL!!

When I was in boarding school, and later at college, one of the things I remember many historians I read saying is the following: “Power corrupts! Absolute power corrupts absolutely!” I posted this one day as an intro to EE on a social network but I am not sure how many people “got it”. Well, here’s a “small” example. Two South Florida mayors – one of Sweetwater and the other is the mayor of Miami Lakes – were arrested yesterday after being caught in an attempt to acquire monies from the federal government for their individual cities using a “fake” consultant company set up by “The Feds”. The consultants were put in place to be able to identify the interests of “wrong doing” once the monies were awarded to Sweetwater and Miami Lakes. The catch is, the mayors planned to KEEP the money for themselves, which they made clear to the phony consulting firm, rather than put the money into the individual programs that they were identified to go to for the citizens of each city! How tacky is that!!!???

Another story was on the news is an example of corruption on the local government level, though in this case, it involved Miami Dade Correctional Officers. This one found the correction officers using the “Handicapped Parking Spaces” for themselves, and, never … I said NEVER had a “handicap sticker/hanger” in their vehicles and NEVER got a ticket after being there for nearly two hours in some cases! The story broke because an attorney who has had some hip surgery and other physical challenges has NEVER been able to use the handicapped parking spaces because, as Carmel Cafiero of Ch 7 News discovered, they were ALL being used by correction officers with NO HANDICAP!!!! The attorney finally complained to Miami Dade Courthouse Officials, which brought “Carmel On The Case”, and still nothing had been done! Can you say, “Penny Ante” criminals of local government!?! How sad is that? As I often learned to speculate, though not too far, if stuff like this is going on at a local level, imagine what’s been happening on the higher levels of “power” in every city?!

Have a great Wednesday and be well!


John I. Cook, Director

“Find Them, Feed Them”


If you are reading this, that means that you “survived” the weekend with most of your major faculties functioning!! “Yes, indeedy!”, as my good friend “Petey” Zachary used to say. Sometimes, like this past weekend, I find myself contemplating all of the different types of people that I have met in my life along this journey. Most of the people I’ve met are usually fortunate beyond what they actually realize struggling with “first world” problems like upgrading a cell phone or getting a new fixture on their “hemi” engine to make it go even faster than it presently does!

I had a weekend filled with gratitude! When I began to look at some of my challenges that I must work through like IRS back taxes or student loan status, even a slight pain in my groin, I realize how fortunate I am, too! I have some really good friends … some who cherish our relationship and others whose relationship I cherish. One thing that I often try NOT to do is to compare myself to someone else. I mean, we all have our gifts and talents, which I like to highlight and encourage folks as well as compliment them. I am well aware of my own gifts and talents and continue to build on them, though they may be different from some of my friends and associates. In other words, I try to stay on the “positive” tip or end, if you will, and encourage folk, starting with myself, to be the best that they can be!

After streaming a service from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, FL and hearing that they are expanding to another location in Lauderhill, I came away with a new appreciation for the concept that Luke describes and Pastor Bob further illustrated as the process of “finding those in need of peace, love and happiness” and feeding them spiritual food. Thusly, the title of this e-mail. In my own way, that is what I do with Educational Excellence. I just put my humble words and thoughts out there, based on my own experiences, and share them with friends and associates. I also hope that readers can relate to my “pieces” that I create early in the morning after contemplating some things in life that I feel might be worth sharing. I, too, come with “spiritual food”, so to speak, and enjoy “finding” others who may appreciate a small spiritual meal! I also hope to meet others who enjoy a good read on topics close to their hearts, too. Peace be still . . .

Last night as I watched “60 Minutes”, a segment on the “Africa Mercy Ship” caught my attention for a variety of reasons, not to mention how their voyages are essentially journeys to “find and feed” those in less developed areas of Africa’s West Coast with modern medical techniques for problems that have plagued certain groups of people for centuries. Their moneys come from churches, corporations and even private individuals who staff the ship who “pay their own way”, so to speak. When I saw the images of some of the people with tumors that were larger than the “normal” human face who awaited treatment from the doctors on board the “Africa Mercy Ship”, also called the “Love Boat” since so many of the medical and engineering staff on board have found the “loves of their lives”, I murmured the word, “mercy”. As I looked in the mirror this morning, my gratitude went even higher, as I understood in more depth what keeps these doctors and nurses, engineers and ship staff traveling along the coast of West Africa to “find and feed” these souls! What a calling!

Well, in closing, I just wanted to say thanks again for reading and passing my work on, as it truly is a labor of love! Also feel free to let me know if you would like to be removed from the list and no longer wish to receive these e-mails. Have a wonderful day … and an even more wonderful week!


John I. Cook, Director

Are You Sleeping?


Happy Fridaaaayyy! Yeah! And a … T.G.I.F. to each of youse, too!

What a way to end the week … not a better way than a “weekend”, right?! ‘nough said. While I have had another fairly challenging week, I have promised myself to stay on course. Here is where the spiritual training comes in best for me. There are things that I cannot control … God, grant me the serenity to accept those things. Then, there are things that I can control (my attitude, my responses, my joy) … God, grant me the courage to change them. And in the end, God, grant me the wisdom to know the difference! The previous is an “overview” or re-wording of “The Serenity Prayer”. Have you ever heard it before?

It is a lot easier, I am sure most of us have noticed, to talk about someone else’s life … than our own. Part of my magic with Educational Excellence is that I talk about my own life as much as I can. Now that is not like a narcissistic exercise of any sort, but it is based on a sense of “sharing”, of knowing oneself, rather than telling others how they should be! Why not just show them with your own life?! Isn’t that fulfilling enough for most of us?

By now, I am also sure that many of you have heard about the “Hialeah Massacre”, as the news has termed it, and maybe even heard the “911” tapes that the killer made HIMSELF five hours before opening fire on those innocent people in his complex. Even his mother, who also spoke in Spanish to the “911” operator, realized that her son needed help … psychological help. You know, some people “play crazy” as long as you let them get away with it. Others really need help, as this guy did … and … as the Castro character out of Cleveland who was sentenced to a “life sentence and a thousand years” for his kidnapping and treatment of the three women whom he held in his house against their will. He, Castro, even tried to say that proof that the “ladies were happy” (?) is the fact that Amanda Berry, one of the girls who mothered a child for him, was called on stage at a concert and danced with the rappers and the audience gleefully! That’s simply “playing crazy” … and teetering between knowing it … and accepting it! Peace, be still!

As we prepare to bring summer to a close, and, on the other hand, prepare for the next “school year”, which affects us all in one way or another, children or not, may we open our eyes to see the things that we can? May we open our spirits to allow us to choose a healthy direction in our lives? May we be caring and sharing enough to see each other for who we are? If we see someone struggling with issues, suffering through something, lend a hand or guide them to resources that may better help their situation. Indeed, “no person is an island”!

“Every closed eye is not sleeping and every open eye is not seeing.” – Bill Cosby

Have a great Friday and a wonderful wonder-filled weekend.


John I. Cook, Director

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