Help me understand the value of a college education…
When I accepted by position on the TRSD Budget Committee, one of my stated goals was to educate the public on the budget process.
On March 11th three people wrote my name in for TRSD Budget Committee representative for Danville. Three votes turned out to be enough to get me elected. I didn’t run for the position, and I don’t expect to run for the position in three years, but I promise to do my best to make sure we spend the right amount of money on the right things while I represent you. I’ll document the term here. What I learn will be linked at the right and left. What I feel will be right here in the middle. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to email or call me.
I have also volunteered to serve on the Curriculum and Assessment Committee. I’m the ‘second’ or alternate BudCom representative to that committee and we are only there to receive information. I’ll attend every meeting and post my learnings here (I’ve already posted the block scheduling presentation).
At that time, the minutes of the Budget Committee were little more than a record of the meeting and who attended. Once I began reporting on the meetings, SAU 55 posted their ‘version of the truth’ as a rebuttal. Eventually, through coercion, I was able to get the meetings recorded. I worked hard to have budget documents made available to the public. Again, the SAU only conceded when I threatened to post the documents myself.
In the years since my term, the SAU has reconvened its Secret Society. Rob Collins’ first term was stained by the sealing of meeting minutes for 99 years…
Q. Can the board vote to seal the minutes forever?
A. While some boards routinely do this, it is not a good practice since the law does not provide for this. Instead, nonpublic meeting minutes may be withheld only until such time as the conditions which lead to the sealing continue to exist. As discussed above, the law provides specific reasons why nonpublic session minutes may be withheld from public inspection. Arguably, the subject of the nonpublic session might be one that continues to be deserving of the protection that nondisclosure to the public affords it, and thus will be withheld for many years. However, the better practice is to vote to seal the minutes with no set time period and, instead, periodically review the sealed minutes to determine if they continue to meet the requirement for withholding from the public.
Ms. Steenson’s first term was tainted with illegal meetings called ‘work sessions‘ which had no minutes and were not recorded by the SAU…
When members of a public body constituting a quorum find themselves together either coincidently or when gathering for a purpose other than discussing or acting upon a matter or matters over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power, communications between the members shall not be used to circumvent the spirit and purpose of the Right-to-Know law. RSA 91-A:2-a, II. The convening of a quorum of a public body that does not have a purpose to discuss or act on business, could easily constitute a meeting. Therefore, it is very important to limit any conversation or other communication about the business of the public body. It is explicitly improper to deliberate or act on any business of the public body. RSA 91-A:2-a, II.
Now, Dr. Metzler has decided to forego meaningful minutes. This is illegal.
e. Meeting minutes must be kept and must include:
(1) The names of the members present;
(2) The names of people appearing before the body;
(3) A brief description of each subject discussed; and
(4) A description of all final decisions made, including all decisions to meet in non-public session. “Final decisions” include actions on all motions made, even if the motion fails. A clear description of the motion, the person making the motion, and the person seconding the motion should also be included.
What are these people doing that must be hidden from public scrutiny? I wasn’t in the nonpublic session for which the minutes were sealed for 99 years, but it followed ICE notification that a middle school gym teacher and girls soccer coach had admitted to downloading child pornography. I did attend the ‘workshop’ which included a recommendation by Ms. Steenson that the SAU hire a PR firm to sell higher budgets to the ‘cheapskate’ voters. We all know Dr. Metzler is spending a LOT of money and that his posse has been taken to task by the ACLU for violating the constitutional rights of citizens of the district. More recently, meetings have included censures, intimidation, and threats to people who do not go along. It’s more difficult to spin these things when there are public records.
I think you will better understand the value of sunshine laws when you get your tax bill in November. Merry Christmas.
Though the minutes to the 8/28/2014 meeting have not been posted, you can watch the video of the meeting here or read the article Arthur Green and Cathleen Gorman sent to local papers here. They project Danville’s tax impact at 9.1%!
Note the School Board’s near unanimous opposition to holding the Deliberative Session on a Saturday! At 2:05:00 the discussion begins. Town deliberative sessions are held on weekends so that people who work out of town (like me) and people who have to arrange for child care can attend. The SAU holds their deliberative session on a work night so that people who work out of town cannot easily participate.
Arthur T. Demoulas has promised that Market Basket will continue to give customers More For Your Dollar despite the unanticipated costs of his takeover of the company. Most of us have always associated that slogan with Market Basket prices. This summer we learned that the slogan means much more than great prices.
When consumers spend a dollar at Market Basket, here is what we get…
- Great product. Market Basket sources locally. The product is fresher. When you shop at Market Basket, you are supporting local farmers and fishermen.
- Great jobs. Market Basket employees enjoy a job with a future — advancement, bonuses, and profit sharing. When you shop at Market Basket, you are supporting the American Dream.
- Great neighbors. Wasn’t it great to see the 99% support the 1% who took care of them? Isn’t it great to know there is an employer in our neighborhood that cares about more than the bottom line? When you shop at market basket you are contributing to the social fabric of our communities.
Every time you shop at Market Basket, you are telling Big Business what kind of country you want to live in. Choose to live in a country of family businesses that take care of their customers, suppliers, and employees.
I awoke this morning to the news that the Market Basket problem had been resolved. After dropping my youngest at school, I stopped in. What a treat!
It was like a reunion. As I approached the entrance to the parking lot, there were signs thanking me and welcoming me back. For the first time in a long time, there were cars in the parking lot. I parked my car, grabbed a carriage (yes there were carriages in the parking lot at 8:00am), and headed into the store. I was immediately greeted by an employee, “Welcome back. Thank you for your support.” I got this a lot. Everyone did. We were all smiles — employees and shoppers alike. We won!
The meat case was sparse and there was no produce to speak of. (There were no pumpernickel bagels. I really miss the pumpernickel bagels.) The rest of the store was well stocked and well staffed. As I shopped, the meat case filled up. It was very exciting to be in the store as it sprung back to life. It was like Spring. Spring had sprung at Market Basket.
Customers renewed acquaintances and shared war stories. We shared knowing smiles and nods as we passed throughout the store, at the registers, and in the parking lot.
Today customers, employees, suppliers, and a CEO who loved them all prevailed over greedy shareholders while resisting overtures from the Teamsters, Occupy New Hampshire, and some really scummy politicians. It’s a great day for the rest of us. Stop in to congratulate these people and fill your cupboards. The food tastes much better steeped in victory.
- In 2007, the average household in the top 5 percent had 16.5 times as much wealth as the average household overall. But now the average household in the top 5 percent has 24 times as much wealth as the average household overall.
- According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.
- One out of every seven Americans rely on food banks at this point.
- One out of every four military families needs help putting enough food on the table.
- 79 percent of the people that use food banks purchase “inexpensive, unhealthy food just to have enough to feed their families”.
- One out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections”.
- Only 48 percent of all Americans can immediately come up with $400 in emergency cash without borrowing it or selling something.
- The price of food continues to rise much faster than the paychecks of most middle class families. For example, the average price of ground beef has just hit a brand new all-time record high of $3.884 a pound.
- According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now.
- The overall homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level since 1995.
- The homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.
- According to one recent survey, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.
- The average age of vehicles on America’s roads has hit an all-time high of 11.4 years.
- Last year, one out of every four auto loans in the United States was made to someone with subprime credit.
- Amazingly, one out of every six men in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job at this point.
- One recent study found that 47 percent of unemployed Americans have “completely given up” looking for a job.
- 36 percent of Americans do not have a single penny saved for retirement.
- According to one survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
- More than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year in wages.
- Only four of the twenty fastest growing occupations in America require a Bachelor’s degree or better.
- In America today, one out of every ten jobs is filled by a temp agency.
- Due to a lack of decent jobs, half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.
- Median household income in the United States is about 7 percent lower than it was in the year 2000 after adjusting for inflation.
- Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
- It is hard to believe, but more than one out of every five children in the United States is living in poverty in 2014.
- According to one study, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.
- Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
- If the middle class was actually thriving, we wouldn’t have more than a million public school children that are homeless.
- If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.
- In terms of median wealth per adult, the United States is now in just 19th place in the world.
George W. Bush is enjoying a renaissance of sorts as people grow weary of the failures and excuses of his successor.
In his 2008 convention speech, Barack Obama declared that as president he would clean up the mess created by “the failed presidency of George W. Bush.” Now many Americans say he has done a worse job in office than the man he replaced. A new Quinnipiac poll finds that a plurality rated Barack Obama the worst president in the past 70 years — worse even than Richard Nixon, who resigned in scandal. That is quite an achievement.
And, to add insult to injury, a new Gallup poll finds that confidence in the presidency has dropped from 51 percent when Obama took office to just 29 percent today (4 points lower than Bush at the same point in his presidency).