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So Jerry Jones thinks he’s a general manager, huh? He thinks he can almost single-handedly assemble a group of individuals, balance their varying talents and mold a perfect machine out of imperfect parts? I don’t think so.According to the Dallas Cowboys website, the team’s long-time owner is now also the official GM, despite the fact he has zero experience in much else besides being a meddling, spotlight-hogging proprietor of “America’s (or what used to be, anyway) Team.” Why do I care so much? Because by giving himself the tag general manager, Jones is dragging my name through the dirt, as I pride myself on being one of the world’s premiere GMs in constructing juggernaut kickball teams.Since the second or third grade, I’ve been putting together kickball teams so unstoppable that the late Red Auerbach (may he rest in peace) wouldn’t even bother bringing a cigar to a game against my squad. In fact, my sixth-grade winning streak of 23 consecutive games at Everglades Elemiddle School still stands to this day. We only played 23 times, FYI.Jerry Jones on the other hand has to this point only signed Terrell Owens as offensive centerpiece. This leads me to my first rule of good general managing in picking a winning kickball team, since GM rules apply across the entire sporting spectrum.Rule No. 1: Never pick T.O.The first law of being a winning general manager is to NEVER pick Terrell Owens. Better team architects than I have fallen into this pit, like Andy Reid in Philadelphia, who eventually lost his title due to bringing in the boisterous crybaby. Now this rule doesn’t just apply to Owens, but all players that the wideout might want on any team of his. So, if you spot a player who is a big talker and is quick to vent his anger against his teammates, avoid him like the Brits avoid Crest. Rule No. 2: Never be the team to pick lastPicking second is like picking first but giving the other guy a head start. The difference between the top two players in a kickball game and any other game really is minimal. However, the drop-off from the second-to-last person picked and the last one is larger than the gap separating Roseanne from Denzel Washington at any awards ceremony. The last kid picked is ALWAYS terrible. That’s why they are the last picked. There is also a mental block that comes with being Mr. Irrelevant, if a player thinks he’s Chuck Knoblauch — who should always be picked last — he will play like Chuck Knoblauch. The Oakland Raiders have had the last pick in three of the last four NFL drafts — enough said.Rule No. 3: When in doubt, pick based on footwearAll too often, GMs find themselves in a quandary over how they utilize their next pick, not knowing anything about the remaining players involved. You’ve seen this often from the Minnesota Vikings, who miss their drafting deadline almost annually, and from the Detroit Lions, who can’t decide which Wisconsin Badger they want, so they pick as many as possible (Alex Lewis, Brian Calhoun and Jamar Fletcher to name a few). The answer is to always pick based on footwear. Like Forrest Gump said, “there’s an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going. Where they’ve been…” By looking at a prospective player’s footwear you can tell a lot about them. Wearing white shoes? The guy’s probably a soft prima donna. Wearing sandals? Probably laid back and possibly lazy, and definitely not someone you want on a kickball team — though you should jump at the chance to grab anyone wearing steel toes — it shows a strong work ethic and the ball will go at least 15 percent further. Rule No. 4: Cool hair does not equal cool game,While charisma and goofiness in a teammate can lead to increased morale, which is always a good thing, the fact is that a real neato hair (facial or otherwise) does not equate to on-field success in football, baseball, bowling or whatever, kickball included. Look at some of the great hairdo’s of all-time.Oscar Gamble: Career .265 hitter.Scott Padgett: Career average of 4.4 points per game.Ben Wallace: 41 percent free-throw shooter.Ricky Williams: Smoke coming out his ears.Barry Melrose: Terrible ESPN commentary.Those are just some rules to live by when picking your next kickball team, or taking over a general managerial spot or even just putting together a business research team. I can’t reveal all my secrets for fear that Red Auerbach may come back from the dead and bring a victory cigar with him. But this should be sufficient for Jerry Jones to realize the only thing he is really capable of reconstructing is his face, and not a football team. Dave is a senior majoring in English and journalism. He is also holding a keg kickball game on his birthday, one he is sure to win. If you want to play, you can e-mail him at [email protected] — and remember your steel toes.
Dronkers was in Washington, D.C., last week meeting with several members of the local congressional delegation to push for support of the McGovern-Emerson Act. That bill, the Feeding America’s Families Act, would eliminate the cuts to the food stamp program put in place in 1996; remove the standard deduction freeze and make adjustments for inflation. Removing the cuts and bringing the standard deduction up to $188 would cost an estimated $18 billion over the next five years. “Of the six visits I did \, five of them said they were willing to support the McGovern-Emerson Act,” said Dronkers. He added that the bill would also increase the minimum monthly benefit from the current $10 to $32, and would allow program participants to deduct child care expenses, when applying for food stamps. Among those with whom Dronkers met with were staffers for Rep. Hilda Solis’ office. “I am very supportive of \,” said Solis, D-El Monte. “The reality is we have many families that need help. Cost of living has gone up, the price of gas, groceries, college tuition, have all gone up. So there should be an increase in benefits.” There are currently 641,315 monthly food stamp recipients in L.A. County receiving an estimated $63.2 million in assistance per month – on average $98 each month per family, according to the California Association of Food Banks. That money does not only benefit the recipients, said Bartholow. She cited U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that each $5 in food stamps generates more than $9 in local economic activity. That translates to $116.2 million pumped into the L.A. County economy every month. Any increase to current benefits would be very welcome by Arehiga. “It would help me out a lot,” she said, carrying her young son into the market. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BALDWIN PARK – West Covina resident Salome Arehiga struggles to feed herself and her three children with the $190 worth of food stamps she receives from the government every month. “A lot of the time what they give me isn’t enough,” said Arehiga while shopping at the Vallarta supermarket in Baldwin Park Friday. “If they gave me less, it would be even harder.” Arehiga’s benefits translate to about $2 per meal per family member. And since she has only been on the food stamp program for about a year, she probably doesn’t know that, if things don’t change, those benefits will indeed go down. Since 1996, the average food stamp allowance for a three-person household in California has shrunk by about $37 per month including cuts and adjustments for inflation. Further reductions are scheduled over the next 10 years. Local activists are trying hard to not only halt those cuts, but to bring food stamp benefits back to 1996 levels. And they want the Congress to take action in this year’s farm bill. “The farm bill is something that comes around every five years, and it is our one chance to make sure the program is working for people,” said Jessica Bartholow, statewide program manager for food stamp outreach for the California Association of Food Banks. “The issue of food stamp benefit erosion is a problem that affects people every day.” Until 1996, the standard deduction food stamp recipients use to determine their benefits increased each year to keep up with inflation. But that year, Congress froze the standard deduction at $134, a rate that remains in place to this day. At the same time, the cost of food has continued going up. In Los Angeles County alone, food prices increased 5.7 percent over last year, compared with 3.9 percent annually, said Jeff Dronkers, director of programs and agency relations for the L.A. Regional Food Bank.