Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Three Cheers for the Sidekicks #1 Fan!

Fans welcome Dallas Sidekicks' comeback at the Allen Event Center

hen indoor soccer team Dallas Sidekicks folded in 2004 after its 19th season, Alan Balthrop of Plano decided against pulling the plug on his website,

Balthrop had painstakingly compiled every Sidekicks game score, transaction, injury, stat and bit of player trivia that he could find and put it on the site.

The official (and unpaid) team historian spent $120 on web-hosting and $50 on domain renewal out of pocket every year, firm in his belief that the team would be revived.

That devotion was tested every fall, when Balthrop would count the number of years it had been since a Sidekicks season opener.

One. Two. Three. … Eight.

“I never lost hope that we would eventually be back,” Balthrop said. “There will always be next year.”

His faith — and the $40 a month that he paid over five years for a storage unit to house newspaper clippings, team records and championship banners that he rescued from the now defunct Reunion Arena in Dallas — paid off.

Those banners adorned the Allen Event Center on May 1, when the Dallas Sidekicks announced the Nov. 3 kick-off of their 20th season as new members of the Professional Arena Soccer League.

“It’s always been a dream,” said Sidekicks’ former star player Tatu, who will resume coaching duties. “It was unfinished business, the way it ended.”

The team signed a one-year contract to rent the Allen Event Center with the option to renew, said Tim Dentler, director of Allen Parks and Recreation.

“I don’t know that I ever realized the following that they had over the years,” said Dentler, who went to a few Sidekicks games with his son as part of Boy Scout outings. “People are just excited that they’re coming back.”

The new ownership group includes Tatu, former general manager Jim Tobert, former Sidekicks owner J.L. “Sonny” Williams and former sales representative Ronnie Davis as team president.

The Sidekicks will recruit veterans and fresh talent to make up their roster, Davis said.

The event center, which is also home to indoor football and hockey teams Allen Wranglers and Allen Americans, respectively, is perfect for the Sidekicks because of its cozy atmosphere and location, said Tatu, a native of Brazil who lives in Far North Dallas.

“It’s right in the middle of the soccer [community], you know, Richardson, Allen, Plano, McKinney, Frisco,” he said. “That is where the soccer is being played.”

The team hopes to sell out its eight home games, Davis said. The venue has capacity for 6,200.

Four-time league champions Dallas Sidekicks collapsed in 2004 after dwindling numbers in the stands caused financial hardship.

But a contingent of longtime fans has remained loyal. Some, such as Bob Bartlebaugh of Richardson, are already counting down the days.

“If they are going to be reincarnated, I’m going to be there for it,” said Bartlebaugh, 54.

Former season ticket holder Doug Anderson of The Colony said the Allen Event Center will make a great home for the team.

“I think they picked a good venue, and I think it will get a good family value out of this area,” said Anderson, 64.

The Sidekicks will work to become a presence in the community like they were in the past, Davis said. Sidekicks soccer camps are among the memories of a generation of young men and women who grew up in the area.

Coaches and players always had time to chat with fans and fulfill autograph requests, said Bartlebaugh, who would often run into former coach Gordon Jago at the supermarket.

The team’s affability and gratitude toward fans scored goals in many hearts throughout the years, supporters said.

“It truly became a family,” Balthrop said. “That is what I’m really looking forward to, seeing the family coming back together again.”

Neighborsgo reporter Julieta Chiquillo can be reached at 469-330-5671.


Tatu means armadillo in Portuguese. The Brazilian native and Sidekicks coach, whose full name is Antonio Carlos Pecorari, inherited the nickname from his father.

The former Sidekicks forward endeared himself to fans by throwing his jersey to the audience each time he scored a goal.

In Brazil, soccer players traditionally go by their first name or a childhood moniker. These include legends Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Pelé, who is widely considered among the best soccer players of all time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Romney and Obama : Where They Stand on My Issues

Let's take a close look at where Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Mitt Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama stand on National Issues that I feel are important and which I could actually confirm as positions.

Given the track record of both these men over the past four years, I will take any bet that both will flip-flop before November Election. Please keep in mind that I am opinionated, but factual in this report on My Presidential Issues for 2012.


Obama: Supports abortion rights. Health care law requires contraceptives to be available for free for women enrolled in workplace health plans.
Romney: Opposes abortion rights. Previously supported them. Says state law should guide abortion rights, and Roe v. Wade should be reversed by a future Supreme Court. Said he would end federal aid to Planned Parenthood.


Obama: President Obama created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to address our nation's fiscal challenges. The Commission was charged with identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission proposed recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. In addition, the Commission proposed recommendations that would meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government. However, Fourth-straight year of trillion-dollar deficits is projected. Won approval to raise debt limit to avoid default. Calls for tackling the debt with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases. Central to Obama's plan is to let Bush Tax Cuts expire for couples making more than $500,000
Romney: Defended 2008 bailout of financial institutions as a necessary step to avoid the system's collapse, opposed the auto bailout. Would cap federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product by end of first term, down from 23.5 percent now, with largely unspecified spending cuts. Favors constitutional balanced budget amendment. He would extend the Bush Tax Cuts.


Obama: Term marked by high unemployment, a deep recession that began in previous Bush administration and now continues a gradual recovery. Responded to recession with a roughly $800 billion stimulus plan. Continued implementation of Wall Street and auto industry bailouts begun under George W. Bush. Proposes tax breaks for U.S. manufacturers producing domestically or repatriating jobs from abroad, and tax penalties for U.S. companies outsourcing jobs.
Romney: Lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budget, more trade deals to spur growth. Replace jobless benefits with unemployment savings accounts. Proposes repeal of the law toughening financial-industry regulations after the meltdown in that sector, and the law tightening accounting regulations in response to corporate scandals.


Obama: Has approved waivers freeing states from the most onerous requirements of the Bush No Child Left Behind law. "Race to the Top" competition has rewarded winning states with billions of dollars for pursuing education policies Obama supports.

Romney: Supported the federal accountability standards of Bush No Child Left Behind law. Has said the student testing, charter-school incentives and teacher evaluation standards of Obama's "Race to the Top" competition "make sense" although the federal government should have less control of education.


Obama: Ordered temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico but NOW pushes for more oil and gas drilling overall. Achieved historic increases in automobile fuel economy standards that will save money at the pump while raising the cost of new vehicles. Achieved first-ever regulations on heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming and on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Spent heavily on green energy and has embraced nuclear power as a clean source. Failed to persuade a Democratic Congress to pass limits he promised on carbon emissions.
Romney: Supports opening the Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves to drilling, as well as Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska. Wants to reduce obstacles to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy development, and accelerate drilling permits in areas where exploration has already been approved for developers with good safety records. Says green power has yet to become viable and the causes of climate change are unknown.


Obama: Once opposed federal recognition of same-sex marriage, later said his views were "evolving" and has not taken a position since. Opposes constitutional amendment to ban it. Supports civil unions and letting states decide about marriage. Achieved repeal of the military ban on openly gay service members.
Romney: Favors constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, says policy should be set federally, not by states. However he would not seek to restore a ban on openly gay service members. 


Obama: Achieved landmark healthcare reform for U.S. citizens which will go along way towards universal coverage if the Supreme Court upholds the heath care law and its mandate for almost everyone to obtain insurance. Under the law, insurers will be banned from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illness, tax credits will subsidize premiums, people without work-based insurance will have access to new markets, small business gets help for offering insurance and Medicaid will expand.
Romney: Promises to work for repeal of a law modeled largely after his universal health care achievement in Massachusetts because he says states, not Washington, should drive policy on the uninsured. Proposes to guarantee that people who are "continuously covered" for a certain period be protected against losing insurance if they get sick, leave their job and need another policy. Would expand individual tax-advantaged medical savings accounts and let savings be used for insurance premiums as well as personal medical costs.



Obama: Failed to deliver on a promised immigration overhaul, with the defeat of "The Dream" legislation that would have created a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants enrolled in college or enlisted in the armed forces. Government has deported a record number of illegal immigrants under Obama, nearly 400,000 in each of the last three years.
Romney: Favors U.S.-Mexico border fence, opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants. Opposes offering legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college, but would do so for those who serve in the armed forces. Establish an immigration-status verification system for employers and punish them if they hire non-citizens who do not prove their legal status. He opposes full citizen for any illegal immigrant and would provide only a work visa for those that serve in the armed forces.


Obama: President Obama created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to address our nation's fiscal challenges. The Commission was charged with identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission proposed recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. In addition, the Commission proposed recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending (which includes Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid) and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government. In 2011, proposed a new measure of inflation that would reduce annual increases in Social Security benefits. The proposal would reduce the long-term financing shortfall by about 25 percent, according to the Social Security actuaries.

Romney: Protect the status quo for people 55 and over but, for the next generation of retirees, raise the retirement age for full benefits by one or two years and reduce inflation increases on benefits for wealthier recipients*.

*These are contained in the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform created by President Obama.


Obama: Wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and ensure they pay 30 percent of their income at minimum. Supports extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone making under $200,000, or $500,000 for couples. But in 2010, agreed to a two-year extension of the lower rates for all. Health care law provides for tax on highest-value health insurance plans. Together with Congress, built a first-term record of significant tax cuts, some temporary.
Romney: Drop all tax rates by 20 percent, bringing the top rate, for example, down to 28 percent from 35 percent and the lowest rate to 8 percent instead of 10 percent. Curtail deductions, credits and exemptions for the wealthiest. Eliminate capital gains tax for families making below $200,000 and cut corporate tax to 25 percent from 35 percent.


Obama: Approved the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden, set policy that U.S. would no longer use harsh interrogation techniques, a practice created under George W. Bush's presidency. Largely carried forward Bush's key anti-terrorism policies, including detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay despite promise to close the prison. Expanded use of unmanned drone strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen.
Romney: No constitutional rights for foreign terrorism suspects. In 2007, refused to rule out use of waterboarding to interrogate terrorist suspects. In 2011, his campaign said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture.

BUSH WARS and US Military Size and Presence Abroad:

Obama: Ended the Iraq war, increased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan then began drawing down the force with a plan to have all out by the end of 2014. Approved U.S. air power in NATO-led campaign that helped Libyan opposition topple government. Major cuts coming in the size of the Army and Marine Corps as part of agreement with congressional Republicans to cut $487 billion in military spending over a decade. Opposes near-term military strike on Iran but holds that option open if it proves the only way to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
Romney: Would increase strength of armed forces, adding almost $100 billion to the Pentagon budget in 2016. Has spoken in favor of covert action by the U.S. and regional allies in Syria but "the right course is not military" intervention by the U.S. Criticizes Obama's approach on Iran as too conciliatory but has not explicitly threatened a near-term U.S. military strike.