Ein Superintendent, Ein Board, Ein Voice!

I posted this about three years ago (Jan 2008). Given the situation in Illinois, particularly with education waste and featherbedding, I think it bears re-posting. Think about the nature of the people educating your kids.

Elaine Johnson seems like a regular everday citizen. She may be a little out of the ordinary in that she also started a very good local blog in Downers Grove. It’s amazing. You take a little time to look into things, and slowly but surely you start to notice just how things actually work – particularly with school boards.

No need for silence on the school board

Voters were told the board’s responsibility is to put children first and to hire the superintendent. The board acts as a single unit, not as a congregation of individuals motivated by personal agendas – a concept further underscored when incumbents of District 58 and Community High School District 99 ran together as a single slate.

“School boards don’t have a lot of power other than hiring the superintendent,” says Jim Russell of the Illinois Association of School Boards, the voluntary organization that counts 98 percent of the state’s school boards as members.

Indeed, the Illinois School Code highlights the board’s role in hiring, directing and evaluating the superintendent and states that members have no legal authority as individuals.

But it also allows boards to “exercise all other powers not inconsistent with this act that may be requisite for the proper maintenance, operation and development of any school or schools under the jurisdiction of the board.”

The question is: Why don’t they? Why don’t our school board members interpret their duties in the broadest possible terms, initiating policy and holding administrators accountable as other elected officials do? Why do they accept a role that is in large part ceremonial and supportive?

The answer may lie at least in part with the Illinois Association of School Boards, which tries, as Russell says, to “create a philosophy or culture” among its members. My husband, who ran unsuccessfully for the District 58 board last spring, received a packet of IASB handouts explaining the role and duties of a school board member.

Further training encourages individual members to “submit themselves to the overall board,” Russell says. “You have a voice, yes. You are supposed to represent the public, yes. But the board works as a unit. We don’t discourage members from speaking or asking questions … but the district and the community have to hear a single voice.”

This excellent article highlight a singular truth that I have been trying to beat into the heads of people across the political spectrum. School Boards and “districts” are merely facades that provide the appearance of local control. In fact, there is next to no local control at all.

The article also highlights the dark nature of the IASB in particular and school administration in general. By Mr. Russell’s own words, he exposes “Adminstration” for the anti-democratic, anti-free speech, and essentially fascist mindset that they promote.

!!!! “We don’t discourage members from speaking or asking questions … but the district and the community have to hear a single voice.” !!!!

The first part of the above sentence is an outright lie. Members are discouraged from speaking all the time. As some one who follows the antics of school boards and the oily adminstrative class closely, I can attest to the aggressive tactics used by these protectors of financial malfeasance and legalized money laundering.

The second part of the above sentence is even worse than the outright lie, for it reeks of the of enforced conformity and political correctness that have become a cancer on our culture. Any board member who steps out of line is first politely asked to fall in line. If this fails, the gloves come off, and the “education mafia” goes into full attack mode.

Here is a simple fact that most parents and citizens don’t want to process. They practice a dangerous brand of denial regarding their schools. The fact is this. If there is “harmony” on your school board, then corruption is going unnoticed. The legalized money-laundering that now has metastasized to so many districts that the only politically “healthy” districts are the ones where there is “disharmony.”

I’d be happy to hear of any exceptions.

Please wake up people. Re-read the quote by Mr. Russell of the IASB. Please understand the dark, dangerous, and vile nature of his ideology. It is fundamentally anti-freedom, anti-democratic, and anti-American. These are the people that are picking the curriculum for your kids. Mr. Russell’s views and the curriculum are far more in lockstep than you are permitting yourself to see.

Paging Steve Rauschenberger…

There is now officially a “constituency for spending cuts.”

I don’t mean to pick on the good senator, but Steve Rauschenberger was the guy who told me (a few years ago at some ILL GOP event, that “there is no constituency for spending cuts.” Nonsense!

If you are ever told this by a politician, jump down their throat and say “THE HELL THERE ISN’T! There is a huge constituency for them. We aren’t as well funded, but if you make the case, we WILL come to your aid!”

In fairness, back in 2005, when many idiots thought they could retire of their 3 bedroom townhomes that were going to be worth $2.5million someday, it may have been harder to convince the voters that teachers and public employees were bankrupting their future.

Not any more. Union and Public Union positives are below 50% for the first time in decades. Drive their numbers into the dirt and cut spending on their greed to the bone. If you are still afraid of the teachers unions, you don’t deserve to be elected to office.

Either Reagan or George W. Bush could shape the fall election

I was sent an advance copy of another poll, this one done for the Third Way, a leading moderate think tank, by the Benenson Strategy Group, which has worked for past Obama campaigns. It suggests one way of shifting the odds.

This rests on reviving, one more time, the favorite Obama tactic of 2008: Run against George W. Bush, even though he is not on the ballot.

Unprompted, only 25 percent of voters in this survey said that they think that if Republicans regain a majority it will signal a return to Bush’s economic policies. By comparison, 65 percent say that a Republican Congress would promote “a new economic agenda that is different” from Bush’s.

The difference is dramatic when Bush enters the equation. Obama’s economic agenda is preferred over Bush’s by 49 percent to 34 percent. But a generic conservative approach, pitting a leader “who will start from scratch with new ideas to shrink government, cut taxes and grow the economy” beats one committed to sticking with Obama’s policies, 64 percent to 30 percent.

We are inside a short window(2-4 years) where we can literally freeze spending Government in place for generations. Let us not waste this opportunity.

Public Sector eating itself alive

Repeat what I’ve been saying for about 5 years now…

“You can’t fund a public ______ when you are funding a public ______bureaucracy. It’s sad, but somewhat gratifying to have the things I’ve been talking about for years actually come true. It won’t get better until you end the reign of public employee unions. Find the politicians that have taken their money, and vote them all out of office.

Layoffs spreading among N.J. public-sector workers

They had it all planned out.

Jennifer Beese would give up her $65,000-a-year job as a sales rep and borrow money to go to graduate school. Her dream: to become a teacher.

Her fiance, John Cidoni, would support them on his income as a Lumberton police officer and save money by moving into Beese’s home in Bordentown City.

The couple would marry in June and have their first child next year.

Now New Jersey’s fiscal crisis has thrown their plan off course, as it has for thousands of public and private workers across the region.

Cidoni, 32, was laid off from his police job of seven years at the beginning of the month, along with five other employees, when Lumberton faced a budget deficit.

Beese, 30, is one month away from receiving her teaching certification from Georgian Court University but is concerned about finding a job at a time when many other school districts in the state are considering teacher layoffs.

Maybe it’s time all these young couples took a good economics class. You know, the kind that teaches that before wealth can be taxed, it actually has to be produced. Yeah, something like that.

Bill Brady – Follow Chris Christie’s lead

N.J. aid to schools to be drastically cut

Every school district in New Jersey will see cuts in state aid – some far deeper than local education officials said they were led to expect – according to figures the Christie administration released yesterday.

“We’ve never seen cuts like this before,” said Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association.

In most districts, “formula aid” will be cut an amount equal to roughly 5 percent of their total operating budgets.

In three-quarters of South Jersey districts, that means they would take a double-digit cut. Some wealthy districts would lose all their formula aid.

Officials of suburban and urban districts said yesterday that their schools would feel pain, and many said they felt blindsided by the severity of the cuts.

Fire Away! Start with the Administrators and work your way around.

How about Nationally imposed spending caps

With all of the state whining for Federal money, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a fiscally conservative president and a majority of Paul Ryan’s in Congress?

If we were that lucky, we could use the profligacy of states against them by making any bailout conditional upon the states passing hard constitutional spending caps.

States Hope for a Rich Uncle
Governors Lobby Washington for More Money as Stimulus Aid Runs Out

Among other things, Illinois is hoping the federal government will keep paying a higher share of Medicaid costs. “That’s $600 million we desperately need,” said Kelly Kraft, a spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget office. Those funds already are counted in the governor’s budget proposal.

But in Congress, members are balking at further subsidies amid an election-year outcry over the U.S. deficit and federal involvement in the economy.

That tension sets up fierce battles as states work out budgets for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Because they can’t run deficits, most states face yet more tough choices: raise taxes, cut services, lay off workers or trim employees’ wages and benefits over union opposition.

“Our demand for services continues to grow, especially with underemployment and high unemployment—and we expect this trend to continue as we enter what is expected to be a slow-growth recovery,” said Anna Richter Taylor, a spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski of Oregon.

Illinois and Oregon are 2 states that have (like most) lavishly showered greedy public unions with cash and benefits. It would be nice to have a Federal Government that worked to undo that mess. Instead, we have a president likely to further bankrupt the nation by using federal cash and debt to bail out these most greedy and powerful interests.

When enough people are either on the public payroll, or related to someone on the public payroll, it’s all over folks. You have a about 18-24 mos. to put a stake through these organizations heart.

Dear Governor, Cut Education, Cut Deep, Cut Long, Cut Hard!!

This is an easy choice, everyone. Cut education!!

Start with the high property value districts that overtax their citizens, and start working your way down the list.

Better yet, put something in the bill to force the layoffs/pay cuts of personnel before cutting a single program. Hit them where they deserve it – the bloated payroll. Codify the use of common law “emergency” doctrine to re-open union contracts and hack payroll costs.

Raise taxes or cut education, Quinn says

SPRINGFIELD – — Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn pitched a 33 percent income tax increase Wednesday, framing the debate as a choice between finding more money or hurting schoolchildren.

But the governor’s challenge to lawmakers immediately ran into Republican criticism that Quinn is holding students hostage and into a Democratic dose of political reality.

“The people of America don’t want tax increases. …They’re hurting,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan, D- Chicago, speaking on public television’s ” Illinois Lawmakers.”

Madigan did not say whether he’ll muster the Democratic votes required to approve a tax increase this spring, noting the Republican rallying cry against higher taxes before the November election. It was clear lawmakers from both parties do not feel bound by the choices Quinn is offering.

Republicans have no credibility on the “education/union” issue, as they are craven cowards in the face of the teachers unions. Is it possible that no one (except for the two reformers in the Governor’s race) understand that you can’t defeat these awful people until you start campaigning against their greed.

The Republican Party in Illinois began it’s awful decline the moment it crawled in bed with public employee unions. If it returns to power without shedding them as a partner, it will remain an enemy of the taxpayer.

If you are too cowardly to take on Public Unions…

…Then you are too cowardly to save your country

Public Employee Unions Are Sinking California

The state is in a precarious position, with a 12.3% unemployment rate (more than two points higher than the national average) and a budget $20 billion in the red (only months after the last budget fix closed a large deficit). Productive Californians are leaving for states with less-punishing regulatory and tax regimes. Yet so far there isn’t a broad consensus to do much about those who have prodded the state into its current position: public employee unions that drive costs up and fight to block spending cuts.

To do that California needs to take on its public employee unions.

Approximately 85% of the state’s 235,000 employees (not including higher education employees) are unionized. As the governor noted during his $83 billion budget roll-out, over the past decade pension costs for public employees increased 2,000%. State revenues increased only 24% over the same period. A Schwarzenegger adviser wrote in the San Jose Mercury News in the past few days that, “This year alone, $3 billion was diverted to pension costs from other programs.” There are now more than 15,000 government retirees statewide who receive pensions that exceed $100,000 a year, according to the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

Many of these retirees are former police officers, firefighters, and prison guards who can retire at age 50 with a pension that equals 90% of their final year’s pay.[That is the definition of the word “Parasite”] The pensions for these (and all other retirees) increase each year with inflation and are guaranteed by taxpayers forever—regardless of what happens in the economy or whether the state’s pensions funds have been fully funded (which they haven’t been).

A 2008 state commission pegged California’s unfunded pension liability at $63.5 billion, which will be amortized over several decades. That liability, released before the precipitous drop in stock-market and real-estate values, certainly will soar.

One idea gaining traction is to create a two-tier pension system to offer lesser benefits to new employees. That’s a good start, but it would still leave tens of thousands of state employees in line to receive lucrative benefits that the state must find future revenues to pay for. Another is to enact paycheck protections that require union officials to get permission from their members before spending union dues on politics (something that would undercut union power).

My hope is that these and other reforms find support in unlikely places. Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a well-known liberal voice, recently wrote this in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life. But we politicians—pushed by our friends in labor—gradually expanded pay and benefits . . . while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages. . . . [A]t some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact.”

Fire them all when their contracts run out. Start over. It’s either that, or move to Costa Rica. If you don’t kill this parasitic movement at this politically opportune time, they will bleed this nation to death.

Doing the Pension Math

30 years of small, but growing payments buys you 30 years of out-sized and unsustainable benefits. That is the 10 second sound bite on Public Employee Pension Greed.

You can’t have 1000s of people running up their salaries in the last 4 years, artificially expanding their pensions. It’s an obscenity.

You can’t compound this with allowing swaths of state and local employees (teachers and Administrators especially) retire at 55, allowing them to live off a pension system designed for 10-15 years of life expectancy.

Do the math. You work from 25 to 55. Your pay (and pension payments) are low for about 10 of those years, medium for about 10-15 of them, medium to high for 5-10 of them, and obscenely inflated for the last 4. (don’t forget that public employees get sick days, car allowances, and unneeded insurance benefits added to the pension pie.)

You retire, and live off of an artificially bloated 75-80% average of your last 4 years FOR 30 YEARS OF LIFE EXPECTANCY!!!! WITH FREE HEALTH CARE!!!??????

Anyone living off of this scheme is a parasite bleeding their host (Individual and Business taxpayers) dry. They are killing the host.

Democratic Greed Destroying City and State Budget

I would like a Democrat, any Democrat, defend this obscene waste of money. OK, I readily admit that public pension pigs like Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar, and George Ryan luxuriated in this type of slime, but at least the Republican party is paying for their vile legacy.

Who pays for the Democrat’s legacy of Public Employee Greed? Teacher’s Union Greed? Utter waste that takes food and health care assistance from the poor and disadvantaged?

I challenge one of you lefties to defend this. Please.

Losing business, McPier added big salaries

Even as convention business has plummeted, the number of people on the payroll of the government agency that runs McCormick Place and Navy Pier who are paid more than $100,000 a year has grown.

A Chicago Sun-Times analysis of payroll records shows 54 employees of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority were making at least $100,000 as of September 2009. That’s eight more than the agency, familiarly known as McPier, had in 2006, the records show — a 17 percent increase.

OK, I get that you don’t want to answer that question. You can’t, because to do so, you expose yourself as a morally illegitimate purveyor of lies. Let me give you an easier question.

How can you defend the existence of a governmental entity like McPier? Is an agency like this even necessary. I know. You can’t answer that either.

Here is my answer. The State of Illinois should cut off Chicago’s take from the Illinois budget. Zero it out. All of it. Even Schools.

Let the King of Chicago sell off McPier to some Australian/Spanish conglomerate.

If Illinois citizens don’t turn all of these incumbent pikers out of office, they are no longer citizens, but sheep.

Cut Spending, then cut it again!

There is no way to tax our way out of the hole we are in. If Illinois raises taxes, it will merely send more business to other states, and keep existing business from hiring or investing.

Public Employee unions led us to this condition. Cutting their pay and benefits is what we need to lead us out. Of course, the these unions owning both Quinn and Hynes lock, stock and barrel, don’t look for them to cut the proper items. Look for them to borrow and bounce checks.

States Draw Up Plans for Year of Even Bigger Budget Cuts

After months of spending cuts and layoffs, states are drawing up plans for tax increases and an even larger round of service reductions next year as budget shortfalls continue to widen.

In hard-hit Michigan, Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm directed state agencies last week to plan for 20% budget cuts for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2010, on top of 10% cuts made to balance the current budget.

Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said last week that revenue for the first four months of the fiscal year was 7.4%, or $309 million, below forecasts. He ordered state agencies to cut spending by 10%, on top of 5% cuts at the beginning of the current fiscal year.

A report Wednesday from the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States warned of “fiscal peril” in clusters of Midwestern and Western states, the result of widespread foreclosures, rising unemployment and poor financial management. The report cited Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona. Florida, New Jersey and Rhode Island also were in bad shape financially, the Pew report said.

Some economists and lawmakers are pressing for another round of federal stimulus aid to states and localities.

The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Wednesday that, without more federal help, state budget cuts will shave nearly a percentage point off growth in U.S. gross domestic product, eliminating roughly 900,000 jobs in fiscal 2011, which for most states begins on July 1, 2010.

Shaving 900,000 public sector jobs is only fair. In Illinois, where the State Employee/capita number is actually pretty low, the gravy is in the massive number of grants. Public employees have had their ride on the gravy train.

It’s time for taxpayers to have a breather. A 10-year breather.