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September 01, 2009  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

No stupid questions

Normally, I don’t get nervous when the phone rings. But this time was different. I was expecting a very important call.

by Thomas McMahon, Executive Editor


Normally, I don’t get nervous when the phone rings. But this time was different. I was expecting a very important call.

Sure enough, as I answered, I was greeted with, “Hi, Tom. This is Dirk Kempthorne.”

As you may know, Dirk Kempthorne is a renowned statesman. He has served as a U.S. senator, the governor of Idaho and, up until the beginning of this year, the 49th U.S. secretary of the Interior.

In that last position, Secretary Kempthorne not only oversaw such agencies as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs — he was also eighth in the presidential line of succession, right below the attorney general (yes, I learned that on Wikipedia).

So, as you can probably understand, I was a bit apprehensive about interviewing Secretary Kempthorne. I wanted to conduct a professional, insightful interview and avoid asking any questions that might seem, well, stupid. (Whoever said that there are no stupid questions must have never been a journalist.)

Fortunately, Secretary Kempthorne proved to be amiable, thoughtful and forthcoming. It was also gratifying to hear how much respect he has for the school bus industry and its successes.

Click here to see what Secretary Kempthorne has to say on such topics as school budgets, alternative fuels and unfunded mandates. You’ll also find out why he kept a wooden model of a school bus in his office while he was governor of Idaho.

Then, be sure to catch Secretary Kempthorne as he delivers what will surely be an intriguing keynote address at the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s upcoming Annual Summit in Louisville, Ky.

Picturesque page
Another portion of this issue that I’d like to call attention to is a new department that we’ve dubbed “Snapshots.”

As the name suggests, this recurring page will feature a variety of photos of school buses and related subjects. Readers often send us shots that are scenic, historical, humorous, informative, or some combination of those traits, so we felt compelled to create a place where we could show them off on a regular basis.

In the inaugural edition of Snapshots, you’ll see how the shop staff at Queen Creek (Ariz.) Unified School District gave their service golf cart a much-needed overhaul.

But they didn’t just fix what was broken — they turned it into a functional piece of pupil transportation art.

We have a good supply of fascinating photos lined up for future editions. A few examples that you’ll be seeing soon: a pupil transportation-related sign in Italy, a school bus that’s resigned to resting under a massive tree, and an impressive bus restoration project. But we’ll need more fuel to keep this department rolling, so send us any interesting shots that you’d like to share with about 24,000 other readers.

As always, we hope you enjoy this issue, and we welcome your comments, suggestions and questions. OK, even stupid questions.


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