Looking at an interesting weather day around these parts. I'll note that we now cancel school here for heavy rain - although it *might* turn to snow later today. Of course, we're not giving tours, but that's for economic reasons. If nobody rides in bad weather, we won't break even, and it's not worth operating at all. But I digress.
We'll start on the aviation front this morning. President Biden has decided to resolve the VC-25A paint controversy by announcing that the planes will maintain the Kennedy-Era color scheme,
although maybe a little darker blue. Clearly, the most important thing facing the administration these days.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is sticking with a blue-and-white color scheme for the exterior of the replacement Air Force One aircraft, the first of which is expected to be delivered in four years.
The Air Force said late Friday that the light blue on the new model of the modified 747s that transport the president will be a little bit deeper and more modern in tone than the robin's egg blue on the versions of the aircraft currently in use.
Boeing is modifying two of its 747-800 aircraft that will use the Air Force One call sign when the president is aboard. They will replace the existing fleet of two aging Boeing 747-200 aircraft the president currently uses.
The choice of the plane's exterior colors follows an earlier decision by the administration to scrap a red-white-and-blue design favored by Donald Trump, Biden's immediate predecessor. An Air Force review had suggested the darker colors would increase costs and delay delivery of the new jumbo jets.
Of course, that's somewhat facetious - but do keep in mind that it fixes what would have been a problem for years, if not decades to come.
In 2018, Trump directed that the new jets shed the iconic Kennedy-era blue-and-white design for a white-and-navy color scheme. The top half of the plane would have been white and the bottom, including the belly, would have been dark blue. A streak of dark red would have run from the cockpit to the tail. The coloring was almost identical to the exterior of Trump's personal plane.
Allegedly though, the color change is also for budgetary reasons, and since it is budget season - what is the President proposing this time around
, for military or otherwise?
Overall, the budget proposal is $26 billion more than the $816 billion that the military got this year, which equals a 3.2% increase, according to released budget documents.
The boost to service member paychecks is likely to remain. Troops and civilian workers are in line to get a 5.2% basic pay raise -- the largest in more than 20 years. This year's raise was 4.6% and also notable as the biggest in a decade.
"The United States military's greatest asset is its volunteer force, and we need to ensure that our people know how much we appreciate what they do," Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said about the pay increase in a statement Monday.
The hike is tied to the Employment Cost Index and could take effect next January without any action by Congress.
The Pentagon also unveiled a plan to provide universal pre-kindergarten childhood education programs. Many four-year-old military children living at overseas locations don't have access to those programs, according to advocates.
The National Military Family Association wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in February urging him to expand the pre-K services to improve the quality of early education offered to military families. Many children are instead forced to depend on child development centers, which are overburdened and often have long waitlists, it said.
"Current Pre-K programs are unable to accommodate 80% of the eligible population of four-year-olds, with parents unable to access similar early childhood education (ECE) programs comparable to their counterparts in the continental U.S.," the group wrote in the Feb. 24 letter.
Pentagon officials also said the budget plan aims to reduce the cost of groceries at commissaries, though it provided few details on how Monday. Budget slides said it would "strengthen" the chain of stores at military installations around the world.
Will the budget ever get passed? Probably not, given the contrarian nature of the way we govern today. But it could be...after all, it's the military. The Republicans always whine about how infrastructure, debt relief, and world of programs to improve the human condition are always "too expensive", but in GOP world, the military tends to get whatever it wants. We'll see.
And then we'll veer into the personal. We have many varied folks that work for the ol' trolley company. An actual veteran (Iraq) has just been promoted to head conductor, and I'm pretty happy about that. I helped train him in trolley world, and knowing what I know of leadership skills and temperament, it feels like he just might have The Right Stuff.
But there is also sadness - another of our conductors is a military spouse. Her family has been based here on the North Shore for many years. Her husband is in the Coast Guard, and he's just gotten a promotion! Which means a new assignment....on the opposite side of the world. They'll be heading for Alaska on June 1, for who knows how long, and who knows if and when they will ever return.