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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Back in business

Someone made a new sign for my lawn. This one is on heavy-duty cardboard so it might not hold up in the weather as well as the heavy-duty reused plastic sign I used to have. But like most people in favor of giving our kids a healthy place to learn effectively, I am going to save my money for the modest tax increase instead of spending it on propaganda.

110 comments:

Martin McPhillips said...

Terence: "But like most people in favor of giving our kids a healthy place to learn effectively,"

Yes, that's part of the pitch, but there's really no reason to believe that a much scaled-down plan couldn't provide a much improved place.

It's not Optimum vs. Nothing. It's Optimum vs. Improved. That's a choice people make all the time, and Improved is the usual winner.

Bill Mulcahy said...

I want to see a picture of this new sign. I heard a rumor that Terence is calling for the SUNY students to rise up against New Paltz landlords

Anonymous said...

I drove by his house today, it says,

"MIDDLE SCHOOL YES"

What Bill you want to disenfranchise the student vote and activism? It only comes in handy when they agree with you? re: Crossroads

Steve said...

The sign will withstand the weather. The one up near the "welcome to New Paltz" sign by the thruway is made of lighter guage cardboard and has withstood rain, snow, and wind thus far. So long as they do not encounter skullduggery, both signs should make it through next Tuesday.

Middle School Yes. Pretty controversial stuff. Sounds very propagandistic to me -- clearly designed by evil advertising geniuses to appeal to special interest groups and transients that have no respect for New Paltz taxpayers. You know, not like the signs from the anti's, which deliver a pure, simple, honest message, or one of their vocal leaders who shows up at every public forum and writes lots of letters to the paper, even though he lives in Kerhonkson...

Don't blame Bill for his concern, Anonymous, even though I agree with you. Almost everyone plays switcheroo when it suits them. Just look at happy Josh Honig and Fawn Tantillo arm in arm, even though Fawn was the leader of the drive to remove all of New Paltz east of the thruway from New Paltz and annex it to Lloyd, the section where Josh lives, and where he was the leader of "We're Not Lloyd" that openly fought with and vilified Fawn Tantillo. And with her other arm, Fawn is arm in arm with Susan Zimet, who beat Fawn out of her County Legislature seat in 2003. And with her other arm, Susan is arm in arm with Bob Gabrielli, who led opposition against Susan when she got defeated in her race for re-election as Supervisor over her efforts to reduce the police budget. Such good friends now, because of the Middle School.

This is normal. Not in the psychology definition, but in the political definition. Leave Bill alone. He loved me when I was opposed to Crossroads, and he edited all my campaign videos when I ran for school board. Now he doesn't want the Middle School built (which I admit caught me by surprise, because I ran on a Renovate the Middle School platform and Bill spent a lot of time supporting my campaign, and he's very vocal on child safety, and the current building cannot be kept safe), but I don't take it personally. It's just the crappy way these things play out.

Martin McPhillips said...

You mean to say that even in New Paltz people are free to agree or disagree with one another on any particular issue?

What a scandal. You would think that we were living in America, or something! I'm calling the Stasi right now. This has to be stopped.

Anonymous said...

Steve can't handle anyone disagreeing with him. Everyone is expected to walk lock step with his dictates.

John Bligh said...

I don't know Steve or much about his politics, but it's really easy to insult people when you're anonymous, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

What is the motivation of the college students to vote -- either yes or no on this? If they vote yes, more than likely some of their rents are going up. Other than that, what do they care? I fail to see a groundswell of support for it, or against it.

Martin McPhillips said...

There are always at least a few hundred students around who might be induced to "follow the light" for the cause of the moment.

But, is it a fact that proponents of the renovation project are attempting to rouse the lumpenstudentariat on the SUNY campus?

I did note that the "Middle School Q&A" episode of Slice of New Paltz was being shown on the SUNY cable channel (as opposed to NP public access, where SONP usually runs), but I didn't want to jump to any conclusions.

That "Q&A" episode, by the way, is obvious promotion thinly disguised as merely informational. It's hosted by two of the social hygienists from the school board with the usual disclaimer that they are only speaking for themselves. (That formality is getting a little tiresome, is it not? Suppose the chief of police supported building a new police station but added the disclaimer that he was only speaking for himself, not in his capacity as chief. Would that hold water?)

Rick said...

Martin,
SUNY students are collectively a convenient boogey man anytime there's a local election. They played a decisive role in electing Jason West and so still have the power to scare lots of people. But there's no candidate on this ballot to patronize them, and I doubt enough of them will be inspired by a building project to bother to vote this time.

And you may be tired of school board members and their disclaimers, but I have no doubt that one failure to issue it would result in said board member's ass being hung out to dry for misrepresneting the board's position. Your analogy is inaccurate. It's more to the point to say that town board members, to whom the police chief obstensibly answers, likewise couldn't claim to speak for the full board when, say, talking police department business at a community forum. Only board votes speak for the board. The police chief is just that, the cheif. He is charged with, among other things, speaking for the department, just like Maria Rice is charged with speaking for the district.

Martin McPhillips said...

There's actually some sort of policy that says the president of the school board alone speaks for the school board. So, with or without a disclaimer, a circumspect board member, given that policy, would offer his or her views only to the assembled school board, not directly to the public. So, for instance, if one member of the school board gives full expression to his or her views on this renovation project at a school board meeting in the capacity of board trustee, his or her serial repetition of that view with the disclaimer really stretches the policy.

There is also apparently a state policy that limits the school board, and presumably its members, from either supporting or opposing a measure once they have voted to put it on the ballot.

Normally, I don't care one way or the other. People are entitled to their views, but this has degenerated into rank electioneering. Let the voters weigh it as they see fit, however.

As for the SUNY students, I don't see them as any sort of bogeyman. Those who have an active interest in local affairs will find their way to the voting booth. The rest won't pay any attention. But where a few dozen votes could swing a plebescite on taxes like this one, an effort to manufacture a student voting bloc should be viewed dimly.

If anything like that is happening, I think that voters should know about it.

Robin said...

Regarding the votes of the SUNY students, I'd like to remind everybody that SUNY has a large number of graduate students, which means it also has a large number of adult students. I came to New Paltz to get my MAT when I was in my 30s, and I enrolled my son in Duzine when we got here. Many other SUNY students also have children in the local school system.

Furthermore, many younger SUNY students are likely to "go native" and stick around New Paltz as they begin their adult lives. As such, they certainly are invested in the outcome of this vote as it will impact the education of their potential offspring. They have every right to have a say.

Not every SUNY student is a 20-something that you found passed out on your yard the morning after a nearby beer-pong championship.

Martin McPhillips said...

The voting rules are that everyone who is 18 and has lived in the district for 30 days has a right to vote on this.

And as I pointed out, SUNY students with an active interest in local affairs will find their way to the voting booth.

But if there is a campaign to rouse people to the cause du jour, who would not otherwise have even a passing interest, then I think that the voters should know about that. That's all. The voters should just know how the angles are being played.

For instance, if a professor tells his or her classes to go vote, or has someone give an exhortative presentation in the classroom, I think that the permanent residents in the New Paltz community should get word of that.

You could make a perfectly good case that there's nothing wrong with it. It is, after all, a political play that can be made in any college town.

Robin said...

"For instance, if a professor tells his or her classes to go vote, or has someone give an exhortative presentation in the classroom, I think that the permanent residents in the New Paltz community should get word of that."

Has this happened?

Martin McPhillips said...

I don't know.

Robin said...

It sounded like you were making a veiled reference to an existing situation. I'm glad to hear it's just alarmist pessimism, without which we can surely do.

Martin McPhillips said...

I thought it was clear that the discussion of SUNY student voting was hypothetical, and also realistic, not alarmist or pessimistic.

It is true that the "Middle School Q&A" episode of Slice of New Paltz (hosted by two members of the school board) is being shown on the SUNY cable channel (at least twice, that I ran across it).

And my hypothetical about an activist professor using a SUNY classroom to manufacture a student voting bloc might have been inspired by the fact that a board of education member was scheduled to give a presentation to students at the high school on the importance of voting per se.

I'm sure that it was just a coincidence that the talk was scheduled in advance of the Middle School vote that is being held at the high school. I'm guessing, probably reliably, that there are a number of high school students who are 18.

AwesomeMaria said...

Why should college students vote, you ask? Well, I am a college student...but I like to think that I'm a special breed of college student. This town has become my home, and I have fallen in love with it. I'm not leaving after I graduate. I may very well end up paying taxes here sooner than later, and I know a lot of little kids that are in/are going to be in that school, including my boyfriend's youngsters whom I live with and care for, ages 6 and 7. So as a college student, I would say yes...I personally do have a vested interest in this project!!!

Now let's keep it real. Check out the voting records. How often do SUNY students actually vote? Really, it's been something I've been working on for quite some time, trying to get them out to the polls. No amount of free punch and pie can get a lazy apathetic student to vote. The ones who do vote are passionate about this town and often do have a vested interest. Like Robin said, it's not the frat boys you see laid out on your lawn in the morning that are voting. It's the students who recognize New Paltz as their home, and really care about the community. We feel HONORED to vote on local issues!!!

Now come on, let's keep it real, get along, stop with the personal attacks, and just vote on February 9th. Either way the election goes, we will reap what we sow!!!

Martin McPhillips said...

"No amount of free punch and pie can get a lazy apathetic student to vote."

Could it be possible that what you refer to as "lazy apathy" might be an implicit and prudent understanding that the Middle School renovation is not an issue that concerns them?

Or that common sense, not passion, is the correct approach to the approval or disapproval of a bond issue?

Granted, the school district has gone all out with its sales pitch -- it has most recently sent out its Sunnybrook Farm newsletter to everyone in the district reinforcing that pitch -- and the "activist" segment of the community responds to these pitches like a well-groomed demographic. But this really comes down to a question of fiscal restraint when taxing people who are living in homes that have lost perhaps 25% of their market value and are wildly over-assessed.

This ain't no disco.

AwesomeMaria said...

Hah! I sincerely DOUBT that it is what you hope; that the college students have "an implicit and prudent understanding that the Middle School renovation is not an issue that concerns them". They really just don't care, for the most part.

And perhaps myself, along with other active college students, DO have common sense, knowing that this is THE WAY TO GO (Middle School Yes!), and that deep common sense and understanding LEADS to passion.

And at least the school district isn't misleading anyone with propagandic false information ;)

I <3 being well groomed.

and rock and roll > disco.

Martin McPhillips said...

The school district has acted in bad faith lo' these past two years, by never seriously putting a much more modest repair option on the table for the Middle School.

And it's not a particularly honest outfit. It's aforesaid Sunnybrook Farm newsletter, just out to everyone in the district, only makes mention of the capital cost, as "local cost," for the Middle School project. It repeats that $29.7 million figure, but makes no mention of the app. $15 million in interest costs that the voters will be taking on.

I am advised by a school board member that this is "common practice," to mention only the principal and not mention the interest. Well, the interest is fully a third of the total cost.

Also, the school district has its annual budgets up to app. $23,0000 per student. That's a price tag aimed at a better class of taxpayers, maybe from Westchester.

Anonymous said...

If this passes, the impact will be felt by so many families who are struggling now with NP taxes. Even without this particular project, we know that modifications and repairs must be done to all the NP schools, and that will - along with the state tax cuts - just lower the boom on happy time here in NP. No discretionary spending means a bad time for local businesses already hurting in this economy. Why don't we all just take a breath and realize this is just too costly. The school board will have to do what it can with the money they already have. They should have fixed the middle school a couple of years ago. People are trying to raise their families here and keep their homes. It's making it difficult to do so. If everyone hates the landlords, as they say, you can keep them to a minimum and keep the families here by keeping the taxes low.

Anonymous said...

There are only a few landlords, out of several dozen, that come to the middle school meetings and speak out against the project. It's a small percentage. They're vocal, and are not afraid to say who they are. The person taking out the large ads is not a landlord of student rental properties.
It's convenient to blame the landlords for stirring up trouble. If the landlords don't want the middle school, then everyone should vote for it.
Well, it's families, not landlords that are concerned. Landlords will just raise the rents to make up the difference. Families will have a much harder time finding the money.
Whoever said that there is only one foreclosure in New Paltz is wrong. Where did that information come from? There are a few, and more on the way.
Why are people "anonymous" on this blog? Well, for me, I don't want an elected official trying to ruin my reputation because I don't agree with him.
Maybe the person from Kerhonkson has elderly parents in this town that he's trying to protect. You never know. And is it so horrible that people who disagree on one issue can get together on another?

Robin said...

Anonymous, I don't know where you're getting your information, but at least two of those enormous wooden signs are placed on student rental properties.

Anonymous said...

I'm talking about the large ads in the newspaper. But two out of how many? Dozens? Hundreds? Yes, keep blaming the landlords.

npblogger said...

Tax increases will get passed on to the consumer. It happens all the time.

The "landlords" (I am not one) are actually doing the college kids a favor by fighting this. As their taxes go up, so do their rents. In fact by fighting this, they are fighting for all of those who will not be able to afford to live here anymore. They will still be able to. They are fighting for the retirees, the families and the poorer amongst us. It is so funny that I see the rants against Landlords like they are evil. Yes, they may make a profit. Maybe that profit is their income or retirement money? Are they not allowed to provide for themselves? They also take the risk. They take the risk to buy property and make it available to college students or families. Often at a fair rate, if it wasn't then people would not rent it. Ahh gotta love supply and demand! I guess some of you here do not understand that. See - you need people who produce. That is who you get all the freebies you want paid for. Yet you rail on them at the same time. You want them to give up the right to make a living. If they do give up, then who pays the taxes for you? Who pays for all your wants? New Paltz "Wants" a new school. The taxpayers say enough is enough. A good project fixing all the schools and all the problems can be done for much less. Now is not the time to spend money from retiring debt on new debt. That money should be used to offset the coming shortfall that is going to cost teacher jobs and after school programs. Why is the BOE, NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT???!!!!

Steve - Nice personal attacks.

AwesomeMaria - Good luck with School. If you choose to stay here, go and try to buy a home in New Paltz, come back and post what it is that stops you from doing it.

Brittany Turner said...

@Rick, the student vote actually had no impact on West's victory. If no students had voted, he still would've won. Weird, but I checked the rolls.

Brittany Turner said...

@NPBlogger - thank you. I, too, would like to hear about it when Maria ultimately moves on.

Robin said...

I am a home owner and a taxpayer, and I say that doing the right thing is worth the taxes.

I also say that landlords who overcharge their tenants for sub-standard living conditions by virtue of legal loopholes are NOT working in the best interests of those students.

(I have been such a tenant, my young son and I being evicted after eight years because the landlord didn't want to make essential safety repairs, and I wouldn't pay a rent increase until he did. Turns out landlords of two-unit buildings do not have to do ANY...I repeat, ANY...upkeep at all, according to NYS rental law. Do you see the opportunity for profit-margin coinciding with blight, here? Don't for a second try to tell me that there aren't any predatory landlords in New Paltz.)

Two signs on non-owner-occupied properties is two too many. By putting up signs on rental properties, the landlord/owner creates the false impression of multiple cases of home-owner (read "taxpayer") support for the "NO" vote. This is disingenuous at best, and at least is deceptive. Many voters are swayed by perceived numbers. If the sign represents the actual desires of the occupants of the residents, then fine...but I seriously doubt that's the case if, as has been suggested, most student renters don't REALLY care about local politics.

Martin McPhillips said...

I wouldn't worry too much about a couple of landlords putting up signs on their property when the school district just mailed its promotional brochure posing as a newsletter on the renovation to every home in the district, conveniently not mentioning the true cost of the project.

The school district is very well organized politically, cultivating parents and children, tightly controlling its message, and carefully ignoring other options for the Middle School.

They originally wanted a new school. The community said no, fix the existing school. The school district comes back with the grand vision, at $50 million, no mention of a more modest repair and upgrade option.

They didn't get the new school they wanted, so they went ahead and made the renovation into essentially a new school.

For the children? I can think of five or six things it's for before it gets to the children.

Robin said...

Martin, stop signifying. Just say what the five or six things are.

I'll tell you what I want the renovation for:

1) Improve on a horrible design from when the addition (with all those stupid ramps and terrible ventilation) was built.

2) Keep the excellent architectural integrity of the original building.

3) Maintain the sports fields in proximity to the school (rather than bus students to them).

4) Keep the students in town when they're at a stage that demands experiences in independence and interaction in community outside of school and family.

These are the few that come to mind immediately. They mean a lot to me.

I'm not going to talk about what "should have" been done up until now. I really don't care about that, and I'm not interested in hearing it from anybody, not unless you've got a time machine in good working order. I only care about what we're going to do about the situation NOW. And right now, I believe that this renovation is the right choice to make. I'm voting Yes.

Martin McPhillips said...

Signifying?

That's a good one.

Nos. 2, 3, and 4 on your list don't require the $50 million renovation that's on the ballot and, arguably, No. 1 doesn't either.

And a more modest repair/upgrade proposal could be presented without too much delay. There's usually a Plan B hiding somewhere in the files of Bureaucrat X.

But don't let me try to convince you not to spend $30-$40 million more of your neighbors' money than is necessary to fix the Middle School.

Robin said...

It's my money, too. And you still haven't explained where you think it's going to if not to the children, though you're willing to make such veiled accusations.

And sure, it might be able to be done on the cheap. I don't want that. I want there to be an up-to-date, efficient, solid, functional, beautiful school on that site. I'm damned proud of this school district, and I believe our kids deserve quality, not cookie-cutter. I'm voting Yes, unlike the selfish, paranoid cheapskates in our district.

Oh, and by the way...I'm not rich. I work for a living, and paycheck-to-paycheck is a struggle. I have no savings account, and that scares me. I wear the same clothes for year after year. But even so, I believe there are many services and community improvements worth our taxes. This is one of them. And frankly, the tax increase is so small that even I'm not afraid of it.

npblogger said...

"Two signs on non-owner-occupied properties is two too many. By putting up signs on rental properties, the landlord/owner creates the false impression of multiple cases of home-owner (read "taxpayer") support for the "NO" vote. This is disingenuous at best, and at least is deceptive. Many voters are swayed by perceived numbers. If the sign represents the actual desires of the occupants of the residents, then fine..."

Robin -

Are you suggesting that "landlord", aka PROPERTY OWNER, does not have the right of freedom of speech. The "actual occupants" do not own the land, and do not have any rights to the landlord's property other than what is stated in the rental agreement.


As for your experience, I am sorry for it, but you are suggesting all Landlords are bad because you had a bad one once? Was that even in New Paltz? Also, if it was so bad, why did you stay there 8 years??? Tenants can often be at fault too.

As for your reasons to want the new school

1- I walked thru the building last night. The buildng is rock solid. It needs some TLC no doubt. Layout? Sure it could be better but is that justification to spend 50M? I want to improve the layout in my house to but I have a budget.

2 - Huh? The 1930's part is huge and it is all going to go for the District? This is perhaps the most boneheaded part of the plan! All the YES signs say "For the children". Tell me how does this fit in? It sounds like something for the highest paid SUPERINTENDENT in the county. And they already have beautiful offices where they are now and we spent 500K to make them. In addition to get back the 2.6M it will take to renovate them, that will take about 25 years! Not worth it. Stay where you are. leave the building as classrooms.

3. I don't know what you are even talking about here. There is no proposal that I am aware of to take out the fields. As for the little they have in the plan now for the fields, lets just say the District spend 5M on the HS fields and they are not ideal. I do know that if they go Geothermal - you will have about 150 wells drilled somewhere back there.

4 - this is the one that I really don't get. I have a 6th grader. He takes the bus but occasionally asks to go to Labella. It scares the heck out of me! Yes, getting out and meeting people is fine but this is a college town and I cannot tell you the countless number of parents I have spoken with regarding the DRUG problem in this town and the MS. I do not think that is something that needs encouragement.

Also with the POD plan,kids will be stuck in one classroom area for the whole day! That is like being back at Lenape. My son loves going from class to class. He knows how to get around and most likely looks forward to see his friends that may not be in any classes. Sure give them freedom on the streets but lock them up inside?

You have a right to your opinions but if these are the major reasons, you are missing a ton of info as to why this plan is not a good idea. Just my opinion.

npblogger said...

Wow - now I read your last post. Do you know why it is only costing $13 /month? Well, because they are taking ALL of the district's capital reserves to offset the first few years. Then they are using money from retiring debt to offset the rest. That money could be used to offset the major budget cuts that are coming that WILL cost teacher jobs and after school programs. Instead of talking about that, the BOE is pushing more debt. Gotta love it, only in credit happy America! The real cost to you has not been explained truthfully. The real cost of the project is about 1.7 times your yearly tax bill. This is all for 1 building. The other buildings need an additional $7M in work too that is being neglected by the BOE. Why not fix them (7M) and the major issues at the MS (10M-13M), using the reserves (4M) for about 15M before state aid? It sure is better than $53 (50 + 7 - 4). That is a 40M difference!


I would prefer not being called a cheapskate, for wanting to be smart and spend 40M less. Especially when our kids are already doing very well there. What study can you show me that this money will have any impact on making our kids smarter? You don't because teachers teach. And in fact by spending our money on bricks and mortar rather than saving teacher jobs, the quality of education will go down in the MS because of this project.

Martin McPhillips said...

"And you still haven't explained where you think it's going to if not to the children, though you're willing to make such veiled accusations."

I'll give you as brief an answer as I can about just one element of what this is about other than "for the children."

The school district has huge contractual commitments to the teachers union (very high salaries, benefits, pensions). In order to meet those obligations in a community without a significant commercial tax base, the district needs to have wealthier homeowners move into the district. The Middle School, as is, is not physically a sales winner with people who look at the school system before moving anywhere. In brief, whatever the state of education in the Middle School, it lacks the allure for the better class of taxpayer that the district needs to maintain the financial commitments it has made.

To put it another way, the school district is in this community, but it is not particularly of this community. It is tied into the power establishment of public employee unions in Albany and into a state education bureaucracy that is further entangled with those unions. All of that gets squeezed into a very tight dress that tries to make it look like it's "for the children of this lovely community," but that is not the reality of it.

Rick said...

@Brittany you may be right about students and Jason's win. It was mostly due to Feldman splitting the "old guard" vote. That's why when he ran for reelection against one "real" opponent he lost. But I'm not sure how you can be sure just checking the roles. They would show only those students who live on campus. How would you check those who lived in the village?

@Martin. I absolutely agree that the district should be upfront about the interest costs. But the anti- crowd is also playing fast and loose with the numbers. Do you blame a car salesman (an analogy which, granted, opens a can of worms) for "lying" when he claims that the car he's selling is $25,000 when it's true cost to anyone not paying cash upfront is many thousands more? It's dishonest to say we should take total interest and lump it in when calculating our current debt.

Martin McPhillips said...

It is most certainly not dishonest to say that the school district should include interest when calculating debt.

It is dishonest for them to exclude it. It's a third of the entire cost to taxpayers.

Taxpayers will owe both the principal and interest, not just the principal. The cost of borrowing the principal is part of the debt that's owed.

npblogger said...

@Rick -

It's dishonest to point out what your total payments are going to add up to? So that is why there is a truth in lending law? Why is the mortgage company now forced to give you an amortization schedule? So when you buy something on credit do you not think of the interest factor of what it will actually cost you? This way of thinking is precisely the reason the country is in the credit mess we are in right now.

Everyone knows what a car salesman is doing and most people think that buying a car is a horrendous process due to the interaction with said car salesman. Are you saying that the BOE is like a car salesman? Wow, I never thought of that. You are right, they are acting like car salesman, actually used car salesman offering me a very bad deal.

At 4.5% for 20 years, a $49000000 bond will cost the NP School District $308,840.04 per month or $3,706,080.53 per year. Our yearly tax levy is roughly 31,600,000 per year. 3.7M is greater than 10% of the current levy. With state aid, which is voted on yearly by the legislature and only given AFTER the project is complete (another lie by BOE) will add up to about $1,400,000 per year, leaving NP CSD to cover, $2,300,000 per year!!! or 7.3% of our current levy. That is the true cost of this project. The BOE is hiding this by using reserves and money from expiring debt. Those monies could be instead be spent to cover the coming operational shortfalls of at least $2M per year due to state cuts, pension funding increases and federal cuts. Operational cuts affect our children much much more than a new building. All for 1 school, 3 years out of 13 spent in school.

Rick said...

@npblogger
so you're assuming no state aid? if you're convinced that we'll get nothing, then by all means vote against it. but be honest and point out where your assumptions differ from the district's.

of course interest should be considered. but it's dishonest to bring it all forward and lump it into one pile with the principle. The signs say $100 million debt. Putting aside the legitimacy of that number, it thrown around without any mention that it's over 20 years. I think there's some intent to confuse people into thinking that all of a sudden the district will have $100 million in debt on its books, which will not be the case. I'm pissed at the district for not being completely honest, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to be suckered by the other side.

Anonymous said...

This whole process is taking its' toll on everyone. It's starting to sound so much like the health care debate. It's the unknown that's got everyone in a dither. Tuesday can't come soon enough just to relieve the tension. At least, we will know where we stand, or then again, probably not. If the vote is NO, it will be months and possibly a year to sort things out and decide on a new plan. If the vote is YES, it will be a major setback for families. No one really knows for sure what the final numbers will be and that's the shame of all of this. We have half-truths to base a decision on.

Martin McPhillips said...

You're getting a good glimpse of the school district as a steamrolling political power outfit as opposed to the image it wants to project of the Sunnybrook Farm education utopia.

The sense of entitlement seems to grow with the bloating of the annual budgets.

npblogger said...

@Rick -

I mentioned 1.4M per year in state aid. Look again.

The 100M figure is a BOE figure. IT is legit. That is the total amount of debt that the NPCSD will have. Now of the 100M, 24M is already existing and I believe about 12M is payable by state aid. Of the new 77M debt that will come with this bond, about 29M could be covered by state aid. So 29+12 is 41 and 100-41= 59. That is the part the taxpayers would be responsible for AT THE VERY LEAST. The deal with state aid is this. It is not paid in one lump sum. If the project is approved by the voters, then the NYS BOE needs to approve the plan. If so, then the project starts. Then when the project is done, the aid payments would start. Each year, the NYS legislature votes on the budget. It is true it has not been cut in many many years. However, understanding the times we are in and that eventually as a school district, county, state and federal govt, spending cuts will have to be made for this country to recover economically that makes me think that this aid could be vulnerable at any point over the next 20 years. The point is that there is no guarantee other than looking at past history. However as you know, life cannot be predicted and if for some reason NYS cuts this aid, then NP taxpayers will be on the hook for 59M++++ whatever cuts come our way.

The bigger issue is the cuts that ARE KNOWN to be coming on the operational side. Going into next year we are already $2m short and this is foreseeable for the next few years leading into the start of bond payments. Before that even starts we could see an increase of 20%!! Just to keep the status quo.

This is real, it's not made up.

100M is truthful as that is the amount of debt in total (principal + interest). If we could pay off the debt today up front, yes, the amount would be closer to the principal. Just like the "payoff" amount on your car loan or mortgage.

Rick said...

@martin
that's right, all these supporters of the project (not sure yet if i'm one, frankly) have surely been "steamrolled" by the district. Such suckers! These gulible idiots are voting in favor of a new school...oh, the irony!

Martin McPhillips said...

The steamrolling comes both in the institutional force put behind the plan and in the broad political cultivation that together present the plan as inevitable and the only way that right-thinking people would want to proceed.

The hubris component of that is how something this expensive goes on the ballot in the middle of a severe economic downturn, as though the good times never stopped rolling.

I don't think that anyone is necessarily gullible if they support it. Viewed within the normative terms of the debate, the pros and cons can both seem quite reasonable.

Within those terms, however, I see the school district as already grossly overfunded.

Beyond those terms, my criticism of the school district goes to much more fundamental questions that are not under examination in the context of this yes/no vote.

Robin said...

Martin, I had a beautiful, thorough response that took me about 45 minutes to compose a couple of days ago. Blogger ate it. I'm annoyed. But to sum up...

1) If you don't know about the athletic fields issue, then you haven't been paying attention.

2) A building that was already not solid when I did the walk-through two years ago can hardly be expected to have improved in that time.

3) Land does not vote. Landlords get one vote each. I'd prefer that land owners get the right to put up one sign for each vote they get (which means my husband and I should actually have two up on our yard, but I digress) to avoid the misleading implication that more residents support their view than actually do.

4) Not all landlords are greedy, opportunistic predators, but we do have a significant number of that ilk in New Paltz. The building inspector's office freely refers to many of them as "slum lords," and I agree.

5) Sheltering children from community hurts both children and community. Teach them how to function in "the wild" and then let them practice their skills. My son is now 18 -- he survived the daily walk home through the wilds of New Paltz during his middle school years; in fact, he loved it. It helped make him a savvy individual who is not afraid to confront the challenges of the unknown. It also helped teach him the value of a dollar, as he realized that he couldn't always make purchases both The Bakery and Handmade & More's toy counter when he wanted to. And frankly, if your sixth grader doesn't know how to cross a street safely, you've got bigger problems on your hands.

6) Perhaps the job could be done cheaper. Cheaper is not good enough. I want a school that reflects best practices and solid planning. I'm not looking for extravagance, but I do expect quality. I'm willing to pay for it. I'm not rich; I have no savings (which scares me), and paycheck-to-paycheck is a struggle, but I believe there are some things worth paying for. A quality school is one of those things.

7) Please keep using fear as an argument point. It undermines your position. When you start talking about what we should be working towards instead of arguing about what-might-happen-maybe-because-you-don't-trust-people, maybe I'll be more convinced. But I think your current strategy is (quietly) swaying more people to the "Yes" side, so by all means, continue.

Okay, that's all I'm going to bother reconstructing of the original post. I'm done. I know my vote, and I know yours. I think I'm right, I think you're wrong. Feel free to have the last word.

Robin said...

npblogger, when a house is listed on the market, only the capital is listed, not the total amount people will pay over time. That is conventional. The amount of interest to be paid is discussed later, as has been the amount of interest for this project. To call this deceptive is to be paranoid.

Martin McPhillips said...

@ Robin

To your points:

1) The athletic fields? They're not scheduled to go anywhere with or without the proposed renovation. They were an issue if a new MS was built out by the high school because the fields at the current MS were donated under the condition that they always remain athletic fields, which presented a problem if the MS was relocated and the school district wanted to sell the land.

2) There is nothing structurally unsolid about the Middle School. It has some infrastructure problems. See the 2005 report that started this. It is, or was, at the school district's web page.

3) You want to tell people how many signs they can put up?

4) This isn't about landlords.

5) I have no idea why you're directing that comment at me.

6) A $10 million repair/upgrade is not "cheap."

7) My criticism of the school district is based on paying attention to the way it acts as a political institution and a bureaucracy protecting its own interests. I believe that it is already grossly overfunded -- by a third -- and that it is out of control. People living around here pay for that, and can make up their own minds whether they want to pay more.

Brittany Turner said...

@Rick - I obviously counted those voters who lived on campus as students. I then included a rough estimate of voters living in known VoNP rental properties in the 18-24 age range, which slightly broadened the scope to those who were probably actual students. The voters meeting either of these criteria were not, cumulatively, enough to produce a winning margin for West et al. "Permanent" residents accounted for the victory; students just gave a minor boost to the numbers.

Rick said...

@Martin
Well, I for one am not surprised that the district, once it's decided to put a project up for vote, is trying to do everything it can to persuade people to support it. You seem to be. Of course that's no excuse for fudging the facts, and I agree that this project is more expensive than it needs to be. But I took the tour last week, and I think you're contention that $10 million in fixes will do the job is wildly optimisitc. I think a better plan would be cheaper, but still closer to the district's number than the one you site.

As for the district as a force of tyranny, I just don't see it. Any institution is going to try and gather as much power and wealth as it can. That doesn't really qualify the individuals in that instuttion as evil. The idea is that the democratically-elected board is the people's check on that tendency. I'm not naieve enough to think this always works the way it should, but the board is composed of volunteers who live in the district. What vested interest do they have in a too-expensive project when they have to pay the same taxes as you and I?

Earlier, you said said, rightly, I beleive, that the public should be aware of any concerted efforts by one side or the other to sway SUNY students to their side. Yet when others try and so the same with regard to landlords (don't think they aren't trying to tell their student tenants how to vote backed by the threat of rent increases), you seem to think it's a smear job. What's the difference?

Martin McPhillips said...

As for a repair/upgrade budget of $10 million, I think it would probably go a lot further than we've been led to believe.

When the school district set out to have either a new school at a new location or a renovated 'new school' built on top of the old one, a set of biases against repair/upgrade were ushered into place. The first of those biases being not to seriously discuss that approach. (A guided tour of the building would be aimed at emphasizing the bias for big renovation. It's part of the sales package.)

For instance, even the opponents have yet to question the $7 million price tag that was put on fixing the heating system. I think that is something that can be questioned, and should be if the bond is voted down and new plans have to be drawn. I'd like to see an astute HVAC contractor/engineer with established bona fides in middle-large older commercial or apartment buildings suggest a plan that's way less expensive.

As for the school district doing everything it can to promote the plan, I have a lot of questions about that. My understanding is that once the school board decides to have the public vote they are supposed to stand down from actively promoting the plan. Sure, there's probably an infinite grey area that makes the school district's behavior nearly impossible to parse on that score.

But I have no question that the district has acted in bad faith throughout this deal, especially by shunting aside the repair/upgrade option from the outset. You are welcome to view it otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess the "cheapskate" angle didn't work. All 2,500 landlords came out to vote.

Anonymous said...

That's funny! It's ironic that the schools are closed today, now the BOE can sit all day in their respective corners with their dunce hats on and think about what they did wrong.

Rick said...

Boy, all you "anonymous" types sure have the courage of your convictions.

Martin McPhillips said...

My only problem with "anonymous" posters is that when there are more than a few of them, I can't tell which is which. Screen names (like "Agent007," for instance) help readers sort out anonymous comments, and still allow anonymity.

But other than that, you are anonymous, Rick. Unless a reader is supposed to be able to divine which "Rick" you are from however many Ricks live in New Paltz.

Rick said...

@Martin
I'm Rick Francis and I don't live in New Paltz. Remember, the district bigger than the town. You NPers tend to forget that. First name or last or initials, something. It's not if any of the names here, yours included, mean anything to me other than the fact that you're not afraid to be associated with your opinions. Anonymous = coward. And I do find it telling that on this and other online forums addressing this issue, all the anonymous types are the ones opposing the bond. You won handily, so what's there to be ashamed or embarrased about? It's gutless.

Martin McPhillips said...

So you're not the same Rick who said his county, town, village taxes were higher than his school taxes, and finished that post by writing, "But then, this is New Paltz."

That's why I assumed the "Rick" posts were all from someone who lived in New Paltz.

One of the "anonymous" posters here said quite clearly that he didn't post with his name because he didn't want to have his reputation attacked by an elected official.

I can understand that. I think that as long as someone is making an honest (broadly defined, of course) argument or comment, I don't have a problem with anonymity. It's been net wisdom for years that you take a risk if you don't post anonymously.

My reaction to "anonymous" anonymous comments (without any screen name at all) is that they blur together and I have a hard time taking them seriously. There are exceptions.

Robin said...

Okay, it's done, and I'm disappointed. That's all I'm going to say about that part of it, for now.

Rick, I agree that anonymous posts are suspect and cowardly, and I further think that anonymous gloating is just odious.

Pete Healey said...

Calling it 'Democracy in Action' doesn't absolve the board of responsibility for dragging thousands of people out in mid-February to stand in hour-long lines twelve hours in advance of a major snow storm just to prove, by about a twelve to one margin, that the superintendent and board had proposed a great extravagance at a time of tough austerity. The most strident and vociferous proponent of this proposal needs to offer his resignation almost immediately.

Robin said...

Pete, get real...the average tax impact per property per year would have been less than many New Paltz residents spend on coffee in a week. Austerity? Give me a break. This would have put people to work who really NEED the work. I'm just...well...astounded and disgusted by the result. I'd gladly have taken on the tax burden for myself and another land owner if that would have gotten this measure passed.

*sigh* Okay, I really need to shut up about this now before I give myself an ulcer.

Martin McPhillips said...

It would be very easy to get lost in the school district personalities. I think that to do so misses the point.

As currently constituted, the school district is a highly skilled political operation. It has gone to school on how to be a political machine. The personalities involved are interchangeable parts. You don't get close to that operation without serious pre-conditioning on the obligation to serve it.

Aiming at any of the personalities is to aim way off center.

The school district is primarly a branch office of the teachers union and the power base that union has in Albany. Secondarily it is a arm of the state education bureaucracy, which in turn is involuted with the union. The roots of all this are, by now, impersonal and historical, tied in with tangled legislation and the occulsions of regulation. Some of it goes back generations right to the very question of compulsory education.

Local input into that pile of crap comes down to very little, other than paying for it. The operation dresses itself up for the taxpayers, but occasionally there is a wardrobe malfunction. Yesterday's vote being a good example.

I occasionally tag the superintendant because she is the pivotal bureaucrat on the scene, but you could run the next five superintendants in there in quick succession and nothing changes. The plan will always be to just hit the reset button and start the long con back up, again.

The solution? Well, the first solution is to stop feeding the thing like it's the community's prize bull. Next solution: circumvent it.

Paula said...

If people want to be anonymous, that's their choice. I don't have a problem with it. We're not talking Watergate here. We're not talking CIA operative disclosures. People have their reasons and they should be respected, not called cowards. Throwing a name down on a piece of paper doesn't make their argument less effective. I, for one, am happy this bond failed. If I signed anonymous would you think less of my opinion? If you do, that's your problem.

Rick F. said...

@Martin
Such narrow assumptions you operate under. That I vote in NP school district election, so I must be NPer. Wrong. That since I live in Esopus, I don't pay NP property taxes. Wrong. I live outside the village, but I own property in it. I might even be considered a dreaded...landlord! Paula. No, it's not my problem. It's just common sense that I (and I'm sure you too, if you're honest) take an opinion more seriously if we know where its coming from. Otherwise, it's just graffiti on an alley wall. Martin, I see where you're coming from with anonymity on the net, but really this is a local blog. If you insist on being anonymous here, it suggests that you're too afraid to stand in front of a school, village or town board meeting and say the same thing. And that's pathetic. As for the paranoia that they'll be victimized by the all powerful guv'ment officials in their black helicopters, well...take your Paxil folks.

Paula said...

Rick,

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Robin said...

Paula, Shakespeare was making a lovely metaphor there, but roses (as far as we know) do not have individual names for each blossom. Were a rose to voice its personal opinion, it would distinguish itself from the other roses.

You're a human, not a rose.

In other words -- your allusion is unrelated to the topic at hand, and serves to do little more than show that you can quote a play we've all read at one point or another without considering its lack of true relevance.

Anonymous said...

LCM says…

Steve sounds bitter and should get his facts strait...I know Zimet and Tantillo never ran against each other.

npblogger is right, Robin, the flyers the BOE handed out said the $49 Million was ALL the cost. THEY put the ALL in bold caps. Even when they were asked point blank they refused to state the interest amount, I know I asked. BOE members implied state aid covered the interest but they were forced to admit the truth.

I was amazed at the mix of people in the "vote no" group but you've got to give them credit, they had their facts well documented. When the BOE had to admit that the $100 Million number was correct (I was at he meeting at Lenape when they handed out the spread sheet) and BOE members lied about getting a "contract" to get school aid up front or they wouldn’t do the project, I was all done.

The final nail in the coffin was Hinchey saying the "Middle School Yes" people were "blatantly misleading"

The biggest problem for us was feeling that some BOE members think the public is stupid. Some of us even “grad-ge-ate-ed” from NP and we know calling something “Green” doesn’t make it so.

Pete Healey is correct. We are lucky the proposition failed. If the BOE oversaw the work at the Middle School as well as they planned the election we would have been in trouble. All they needed was about 4 or 5 more voting machines. And why not use the entire gym? What a mess! No excuse for that! They were hoping more people would get mad and leave.

You NP people think you can force your ideas on the rest of the district? Get over it and move on. This was not some little "vote no" or "landlord" group - this was hundreds of angry tax payers who were mad enough to go through that bedlam to vote.

Frankly, I don't remember any "vote" to keep the middle school or rebuild a new school? I'd rather not have my 11 and 13 year old in the middle of NP where the drug dealers hang out. That is prime real estate and could probably be sold for enough to build a new school near the High School with an amphitheater.

And, yes, Paula, I understand why people sign "anonymous". The last time I criticized the BOE here and used my name, another "Steve" absolutely harassed me for days. My wife and I don’t need that again. He is scary and reads this, so I will sign off with initials, LCM

Anonymous said...

Ironic that Steve, of all people, was critical of someone who owns property in the New Paltz District and in Kerhonkson for daring to criticize him. He doesn’t own a home. No wonder he hates landlords. Seems like Steve hates taxpayers, too.
I rent myself, but I don’t pretend that my landlord is a villain. He is a great guy. His taxes have doubled since I moved in 8 years ago. He built us a 10 x12 deck and the assessment went up $20,000. Our rent has only gone up $75/ month since we moved in.
We put three kids through the New Paltz School system. We have one son in Middle School and one in High School. Neither one remembers classes in the hallway? Both have had cast on their leg or foot and they were able to get to all their classes. Our family discussed this and we voted no because we all need to live within our means.

Robin said...

LCM, the decision to focus on renovation, rather than demolish/rebuild, was made after many public meetings two years ago. The overwhelming majority opinion of people who showed up to those meetings was that renovation was the best option. (No, not everybody felt that way, but just review any of the videos of those meetings, and the community support for renovation is clear.) If I recall correctly, the district was at first pro-demolition, but the public opposition to that idea (again, two years ago) swayed them in favor of renovation.

I don't know why all the people who are so dead set against it now didn't bother to show up back then. That would have saved many people two years of hard work trying to find a way to do this right.

Paula said...

The topic at hand was why take anonymous opinions seriously. We should. Isn't voting anonymous? Just because you put a name down at the bottom of your letter doesn't change the content. If you want to remain anonymous, you have your reasons. I respect that and I think if you didn't have an honest opinion, you wouldn't be bothered posting here. It's not graffiti on an alley wall.

Leo said...

Two years ago, the BOE talked about building a new building for 40-50 million, or a renovation between 12-20 million. That's why people wanted to renovate instead. They were ALL listening. One of the current board members won his seat because he argued that 40 million dollars was too much for the people to handle. To come back with 50 million for a renovation was just over the top.

Brittany Turner said...

@Robin, instead of arguing with everyone who has a different perspective, perhaps you would be better served to just listen a little. Surely the NPSD has learned that lesson by now and I wish the MSYes people would, too.

Rick F. said...

@Paula
voting is yes or no, him or her. it doesn;t incolve personal attacks and the peddling of factually suspect information.

@Martin
you insist that the NPSD is some all powerful, slick political machine, but the results of the vote undermine your claim.

Martin McPhillips said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin McPhillips said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin McPhillips said...

[I deleted this comment from just above, corrected it, and I'm reposting it.]

Rick, the New Paltz School District has an annual budget of app. $50 million dollars. It spends app. $23,000 per student, more than twice the national average. The average teacher salary is $70,000 a year for ten months. Pro-rate that for 12 months and you have an annual compesantion of app. $84,000. Add in benefits and pensions, and it pushes close to or over $90,000.

In addition, I counted eight or nine administrators who are paid over $100,000 a year. There might be more than that. The superintendant is paid $192,000 a year, about twice what the mayor of the village of New Paltz, the supervisor of the town of New Paltz and all eight members of both village and town boards are paid combined.

The school district didn't achieve those kinds of numbers by accident. As I've pointed out in earlier posts here, the district very carefully cultivates parents with a continuous message of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement, which is indeed a good thing, does not happen without serious competition. What the school district has is a monopoly established by compulsory education funded by compulsory taxation, and its political operation has achieved the numbers I've laid down above.

This ain't no disco.

Rick F. said...

@Martin
I'd argue that the teachers union achieved those numbers, but I suppose you'll argue the district gives the union whatever it wants. I'm sure the union would disagree. Nonetheless, I'm curious to know where you're getting your numbers. A quick Google search takes me to schoolmatters.com, which shows per pupil spending of $17,140 in NP versus $17,007 average statewide. Granted, those are 2006 numbers. If yours are more recent, please let us know the source.

You're advancing a much bigger argument, but I for one am not interested in seeking to disband the district and putting all my hopes on charter schools, though I'm all for their expansion.

Maria Rice makes a lot more money than the guv'ment officials because she has much greater responsibilities. Makes sense to me, like her or not. That you throw out these big numbers with no context whatsoever suggests to me you're simply interetsed in stirring up outrage. But once you've done that, what do you do with it?

And I wonder, are you similarly in favor of private comeptition for the local police force? If my neigbors and I don't feel we're being well-served, should we be able to take our tax dollars and hire a private security patrol?

Martin McPhillips said...

The per student cost is total annual budget (app. $48.5 million) divided by the number of students in the system. The number of students vary. You can contact the district office for the exact number right now. My calculation is based on 2,100 students. That's why I wrote app. $23,000 per student.

Here's the NP school budget for 2009-10:

http://www.newpaltz.k12.ny.us/newpaltz/lib/newpaltz/_shared/DistrictwideDocuments/DraftBudget20092010-detail.pdf

You're entitled to provide your own "context" for these numbers, Rick. If you think that the responsibilities of the superintendant, for instance, exceed those of all the board members, including mayor and supervisor, of both village and town, you are more than entitled to your view. I don't share it.

I have no personal acquaintance with the school superintendant, but I'm certainly immune to her charms as the school district's chief bureaucrat. And I do not like the fulsome role she plays in the district's propaganda regime, but she does not put on that song and dance by herself.

And, yes, there has been a concerted effort throughout New York by teachers unions to get greater compensation. That's why I emphasize their influence locally from a statewide power base, and suggest that local taxpayers have less control in this kabuki theater than they are sometimes led to believe.

This is indeed a statewide problem, the influence of these unions, but it's about to become a lot more obvious locally as the nearly bankrupt state begins cutting aid to school districts, which will expect local taxpayers to make up the difference.

According to one school board member, the average annual increase in the New Paltz school budget over the past 20 years is over 7%. Before you even compound those increases, that's 140%. Perhaps that clever gentleman who does all the numbers for the district can tell you what the compounded increase has been.

teri said...

Not that it's anyone's business, and it's certainly academic at this poing, but Steve and his wife do in fact own a home, and two cars, and a lot of stuff, and we feed 3 kids, and we pay taxes and a mortgage and insurance.

Steve's wife

teri said...

http://www.seethroughny.net/BenchmarkingNewYork/tabid/98/Default.aspx

Total spending per pupil in new paltz is about 21k, the average upstate is closer to 18. that number includes state and federal aid.

Martin McPhillips said...

The numbers at that site are from 2007-2008, or two budgets ago. If the current budget (app. $48.5 million) is divided by the enrollment given for that 07-08 budget year (2,251) the amount per student is about $21,500.

If your three children each do a full K-12 for a total of 39 years in the system, and the annual spending per student is taken as what it is this year ($21,500), the total benefit to you from the New Paltz school system would be $839,500.00. Subtract your school taxes for, let's say, 20 years, and there's your net benefit. It will be rough numbers all around because the price per student will go up and so will taxes. Calculating the percentage of your state and federal taxes that pay for aid would lower the net benefit also.

Martin McPhillips said...

That one number should be $838,500, not $839,500. Copying error.

Steve Greenfield said...

So much foolhardiness, so little interest in trying to dispel it, not out of lack of interest in the public good, but because of the futility.

I do not have a problem with a guy who lives in Kerhonkson and owns rental property in New Paltz disagreeing with me. I have a problem with him VOTING here, because that's a crime. A person may not vote where they own property. They may only vote where they live. Rick Bunt has voted where he does not live.

Whether Maria Rice deserves higher pay than Toni is also not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of math. Maria is the CEO of a company that has a $50 million dollar budget, six facilities, four of which are larger on their own than all Town facilities combined, several hundred full time employees, almost all of whom hold 4-year degrees and most of whom whold graduate degrees as minimum employment requirements, a huge fleet of vehicles, and 2,400 children under complete care, full days, five days a week, plus substantial community use of the facilities during non-school hours. Since most of that doesn't even compare to what the Town Supervisor does, trying to keep it to apples-apples, if you put Toni's pay into just the budget size, facilties footage, fleet numbers, and FTE's under supervision category and multiplied it out to Maria in those categories, the math would come out to Maria earning at least a half-million per year. When you (and when I say "you" I mean a devout capitalist like you) factor in what it costs, in an economy where labor is portable and owned by its supplier, to retain someone with the qualifications, experience, and responsibilities of a school superintendent vs. what they could get in other sectors that need those things, you lose all right to complain about her pay. Not the ability, obviously, but the right. It's not opinion. It's fact. If you want all the better people to be grossly underpaid, all school systems will be overseen only by less able people. Doesn't public education already have enough problems? Is supervisory inadequacy something we need to add to the list just for keeping $40,000 off over 6000 properties? Please. And Maria lives in the district, which is not required, and she has no kids going to school here. So start out by looking up her property tax and taking it off her supervicial pay, because she gives several thousand right back to us.

Same for teachers. We are not price givers. The market sets that. If we have notably low pay, our teachers will move to other jobs. And roughly 1/3 of our teachers live in our district, and put a nice chunk of their pay right back into the pool that pays them. If we pay less, they'd all have to live elsewhere, and we'd lose both their taxes and the other contributions they make to the health of our community.

Fawn Tantillo got redistricted out of her seat in 2003. That Fawn can do math and make choices about how she spends her time and money does not change the fact that she and Barabara Santoro lost their seats to Susan Zimet and Hector Rodriguez. Focusing in on that one distinction without a difference does nothing to change the more general point, which is that Fawn tried to sever part of New Paltz and attach it to Highland and that during that process she argued that votes should be weighted by how much property one owns, that Gabrielli and Tantillo have been opponents of Zimet, that Honig spearheaded the opposition to Tantillo's secession, but that all of them could find common ground in placing their own financial interests over the needs of kids trying to get a decent education.

Steve Greenfield said...

Facts vs. opinions, continued:

You want other estimates? From people who have never examined the school construction code, don't build to the same square footage per occupant minimums as schools, never have been forced to hire at prevailing wage, don't have to hire four separate contractors, and ask them to declare the cost extremely high? I could save you the time and effort. School construction is much more expensive than any other kind of construction, except maybe hospitals. That's why school boards prepare estimates with the help of experienced school construction managers and confirm them with theie own experienced Asst. Superintendent for Business as well as public records of similar projects. They don't simply hoist Tanya Marquette up to the roof with a halyard and ask her to yell down a number. The same goes for processing state reimbursement rates. The degree of certitude that the board has been incompetent many times over to the high end in estimating cost, from people who have no idea how that cost is calculated (yet complain that when undertaken, the actual project would actually go way over, not way under -- that's a convenient paradox) is staggering. If you want to know if our numbers were realistic, all you'd have to do is peruse rates for similar projects in this region. It was right down the middle.

I own a house and pay the tax, and I'm not rich, so I have at least as much stake as anyone in the pain of the school tax. I have three kids in school, so I also have as much stake as anyone in understanding and caring about what those taxes provide.

This is what the vote, and the comments by the bond's opponents in public and on this blog, come down to: 1) you don't believe the advice of the school building inspector from 2005, even though you have not examined the building, or the report, and have no expertise whatsoever to refute the findings even if you had; 2) you don't accept the 100% declaration by the the teachers in the facility that the building gets in the way of delivery of education, and the detailed explanations they have given at open meetings, even though out of the other side of your mouth you declare their expertise to be the basis of the quality education kids get here; and 3) you refute the expected cost even though you have no expertise in school construction with which to refute, and there is ample apples-to-apples public record against which to compare that you declare to be meaningless.

Now democracy allows for all that, but for chrissakes drop the pretense that you factually know you made a solidly informed choice and that the differences are nothing more than differences of opinion. In the most superficial sense, maybe, but when one side forms its opinion on copious, verifiable real-world research, and the other side forms its opinion from randomly spouted nonsense, what you actually have is a contest between data-driven decisions and selfishness, ignorance, and/or lunacy. I know nobody likes it when I use those words, but tough nuts. Since you made your choices in the absence of facts, and even revel in that, that's what it is.

Martin McPhillips said...

Oy vey!

Brittany Turner said...

hahaha, I'm with Martin (again), because, ya know, I'm a monster like that.

This is what Steve Greenfield's comments come down to.

1) If my comments are too long to fit in the window, rather than reserve some of that hot air for myself, I will keep expelling it onto the internet (or the New Paltz Times).

2) If someone disagrees with me, it is impossible that they have another equally accurate set of facts and opinions, such as the willingness to correct problems at the middle school but not in this specific way, problems with the way this form of "democracy" was rammed down the community's throat, or opposition to tyranny. Instead, you are selfish, ignorant and/or a lunatic. And an asshole and/or whore, but only off-the-record (I'm going to have enough problems with reelection as it is!).

3) I missed the lesson on sticks and stones in preschool. I also missed the lessons on sharing, inside voices, playing nice and probably running with scissors, too.

Robin said...

Way to take the high road, Brittany. /sarcasm

I think Steve is making some valid points here. Care to address them?

Martin McPhillips said...

If you see a point you like in there, Robin, why don't you fish it out and restate it as a rational argument.

Robin said...

Well, I may be naive, but I was not aware that non-resident property owners were allowed to register and vote as if they were residents. I, like Steve, have a problem with that. While it may not be the case for all non-resident property owners, it certainly opens the door for a lot of decisions made with the intent of keeping property taxes low without actually having any interest in the quality of life in New Paltz.

Martin McPhillips said...

O.K. So one non-resident has been accused of voting. For the sake of argument (without judging the merit of the accusation) we'll say the real vote total was 2560 (down from 2561) "No" to 983 "Yes."

And I assume we can all agree that non-residents should not vote in school district elections because they do not meet the basic requirement of residency (for 30 days).

If a voter was not registered, then he or she had to sign a form attesting to those requirements. So any non-resident who did that falsely attested to something in front of an election official.

Robin said...

But I'm wondering now...how many people who were residents once and who still own property here have retained their voting rights and voted in absentia? I just think this is something that we should know. How do we keep track of registered voters who have moved out of town, and verify that they don't vote illegally by absentee ballot?

(And no, I'm not saying that would have changed the final result in this case. The surprisingly overwhelming numbers don't suggest that.)

Pete Healey said...

there are several assumptions in the disgruntled essay(s) above:
1) this project absolutely, positively had to be done in every last detail right away.
2) every word that officials of the district said at all points in time were and are perfectly obvious and of perfect clarity(and therefore everyone who didn't agree in the end is...all those awful things that were said)
3)the markets for superintendents(supervicial, what is a "supervicial pay"?) and teachers are open markets that are fair and equivalent to all other markets, and therefore that wage and benefit rates are to be accepted without question. I'll take up the "prevailing wage" rate argument with anyone at anytime and relate it to the teacher market whenever you like.
4) I'm right and you're wrong, so shut up or I'll call you names. The most egregious assumption of them all. And for the record, 'foolhardiness' or 'tough nuts' or 'randomly spouted nonsense' or 'selfishness, ignorance, and/or lunacy' is not what you call, a 'valid point'.
5) The approval process that was used, that some call democracy in action, produced such a horrid result that the 75% of people who voted no should be seen as various forms of stupid and worthless.
This is where I go off down a similar road of my own and say something like he's changing his name to Truthfield, or DataField, or Factfield, of just plain
ShouldResignNowField.

Brittany Turner said...

Uh... look past the petulant child acting like a petulant child and try to find a valid point? I don't think so. You don't get a free pass on plain bad behavior.

As for the sole valid point - you're kidding, right? Sure, it's a valid point, and also quite the anamoly. I'm certainly a skeptic, but I don't think there is rampant felony voter fraud going on here. Not to mention the unbearably irrational question as to whether people who don't live here are voting with absentee ballots. Um... your absentee ballot gets mailed to your addresss. In the district. Yeah.

Go back to pointing fingers. You guys are way better at that.

I like DataField and TruthField best, although ShouldResignNowField is probably the most accurate. Are these like forcefields? He's sure gonna need one of those, and not the usual "FORCE"field that he uses where he tries to force his opinions onto everyone else until they either agree or shut up...

Maybe the gadfly could set up a poll for which name they like the best? I'll even let Ol' OrangeVowelField vote twice!

Robin said...

Wow, Brittany. I was asking a real question, because I didn't know. Is "rude and dismissive" just your default setting? Thank you for answering the question, but you could have been nicer about it.

Who exactly do you mean by "you guys"?

And I wouldn't be interested in participating in a poll such as the one you suggest, regardless of the target. Can we please, everybody, bring this back up to something more mature than 5th grade nonsense?

Steve Greenfield said...

OK, here's the reductionist version.

This is what the vote, and the comments by the bond's opponents in public and on this blog, come down to: 1) you don't believe the advice of the school building inspector from 2005; 2) you don't accept the 100% declaration by the the teachers in the facility that the building gets in the way of delivery of education, and the detailed explanations they have given at open meetings; and 3) you refute the expected costs of both fixing the emergency problems and an upgrade to contemporary standards.

There it is. We don't know what Brittany thinks, because she won't say, she just calls names and casts aspersions.

Martin and Pete and one or more anonymous people have been abundantly clear that they in fact don't believe the inspection report. All of you: what is your basis for that? Did any of you inspect the building? Are any of you expert on school codes? Did you confer with anyone who inspected the building AND is an expert on school codes who disagreed with the report?

The teachers and administrators' expert testimony is also dismissed. Why, and on what basis? What educational experts have you conferred with who disagree, and/or what educational qualifications do you personally hold that informs you that the existing classroom and floorplan configurations are well-suited to contemporary Middle School learning?

Now unless you've already answered those two questions with serious responses that show you know more than the experts who advised the board, you're going have a very tough time showing that you knew that the financing presented by the board was way out of line. But if you've gotten this far, then tell us exactly how many cubic feet of fresh air per hour have to circulate through a classroom to meet state code, calculate the amount of space under that code, look up the equipment costs to sustain that, and tell us why you are certain the inspector's (and not one but two separate school construction managers') estimate on the HVAC is grossly out of line. After that, repeat with all other systems that are needed and meet school code, and show me the final cost.

Come on now, you're all very, very sure that the board was way out of line in all three areas. Can you explain why? I sat there for a year and a half listening to experts and reading reports. During the last 90 days a lot of people showed up (and typed) telling us we were completely wrong in all three areas. Except for just one thing -- none of them told us how, or by how much, or why, or how they even could be so sure.

But Brittany, Pete, and Martin (at least) keep saying right here that they are very certain. That means they can explain it. I'm listening. Seriously. I'm listening. I have to come up with a new plan, and I don't want it to get voted down. So show me what you know that the rest of us somehow missed.

Martin McPhillips said...

The inductive logic that leads from the inspection report of five years ago to the $50 million renovation plan just rejected is the product of the school district's groupthink.

I can run through my house right now and tally up all its deficiencies, name myself the "expert," and reliably present myself a renovation plan.

My problem is that I can't use other people's money to pay for it.

Martin McPhillips said...

Among the characteristics of groupthink are "inferential cascades." But those cascades don't just flow out from the immediate facts, they also flow back from a perceived optimum solution, and so the groupthink consensus can form comfortably as those cascades join at the middle and it all becomes self-justifying.

Challenges to the groupthink are often met with baffled derision and technical assertions reinforced with appeals to "expert" authority.

This is not uncommon in bureaucratic organizations where there are no true market forces to guide the distribution of resources. Wish-fulfillment takes precedence over such practical considerations as how something is paid for or whether adequate results can be achieved through other approaches.

No doubt every married couple knows the enjoyment of sitting down and designing their dream home. It might just be a fantasy aimed at firing the imagination or it might be a serious plan for a future still unfolding. It would be the rare delusional couple that believes that because they have designed their home that someone will come along and just give it to them.

Groupthink bureaucracies, because they are not spending their own money, actually believe that, after their "long hours, years" of designing a project, someone is actually obliged to come along and just give it to them. Why, the codes, the regulations, the experts, the long careful planning demand it.

It ain't so.

Jason West said...

Martin --

Steve wrote a detailed and reasonable outline of questions that I believe vocal opponents like yourself need to answer.

You've written that you're confident the Middle School can be renovated for around $10million. i think it's fair to ask you publicly to back up your numbers.

Your only response is one of general sociological ideas about groupthink and cascades. It doesn't answer the question, and I think Steve is right to say to you, Brittany and others -- OK, you've won, you said it could be done cheaper, explain how.

Waiting for your explanation, and hoping it's relevant to the costs to renovate the Middle School going into the future, and not a vague explanation that the teahers union and iron law of oligarchies make the School District projects pricey.

You are very confident; please be specific and list the costs to renovate what is wrong at the site.

Jason West

Martin McPhillips said...

Jason, the $10 million figure was suggested by the report on the Middle School from five years ago. I didn't make it up.

Unless it has been removed, the report is still on the school district's website. I believe that it also estimates an additional $7 million for work needed on the other schools.

I raised my objections to the school district not offering a repair/upgrade option two years ago, when it had "new building" or "massive renovation" as its preferred choices.

Unless someone wants to contract me to do it, it's not my job to spec out a repair of the Middle School. But I recommend a prioritized list of repair/upgrades that can be priced up to a total that is politically tolerable (i.e., acceptable to voters). It doesn't necessarily have to top out at $10 million.

My question about the $7 million figure for renovating the heating system is simply an intuitive sense that it is a price that should not be accepted at face value. Money saved there could be applied elsewhere.

My comments on the political power of the teachers union are reflected in the huge commitments the school district has made to it (in salaries, benefits, and pensions). That is tied in with the political power that teachers unions have in Albany, both with the legislature and the education bureaucracy. I don't think that anyone seriously disputes that power. It's hardly just a problem in New York, either. And teachers unions are not the only public employee union that are busy pricing their members out of markets.

I wouldn't necessarily consider "groupthink" a sociological phenomenon. It's not a "mass psychology," although I suppose there are parallels. "Inferential cascade" is a term I coined to explain the logical pathways that small groups can fall into automatically when making plans without sufficient critical analysis or by just ignoring options.

And, again, the $10 million figure for the Middle School repairs is from the report commissioned by the school district. It's not my number.

Steve Greenfield said...

Martin:

There is not $7 million in repairs to be done to the other buildings. That was just one of the many Big Lies used by the opposition. But it's one you have faith in, while you have none in the people who trained for and conducted the detailed research that went into the proposal. The truth is almost everything on the checklist that was expensive was carried out last summer in the EXCEL project, a project that came in on time, on budget, and with Albany money. In an even grossly imperfect political world, that should have been enough to show people the board was both competent and not wasteful when it came to the repairs and capital planning in general. The previous project was the high school addition, also completed on time and on budget. From whence comes all this declaration of the board's incompetence to process and implement capital projects? Where is the spate of unnecessary projects? Where is the failure? Where is the financial ruin? Oh yeah, in Highland and Saugerties, not here.

But why would you trust the assertions of the opponents? The frequency with and degree to which they lie has been demonstrated repeatedly. What expertise do any of them have in education? In the school building code? In state reimbursement rates? In anything that goes into making an informed decision on this matter? And why do you believe the parts of the inspection that you imagine spelled out $7 million in repairs in the other three buildings, but you refuse to accept the report from the same inspector that declared the future of the MS as an educational facility to be in doubt barring substantial renovation? How do you reconcile that? Why not just declare all the repairs it listed to be wrong? Because that wouldn't suit your narrative, that's why.

It's easy for you to side-step Jason's questions, but there is a fundamental issue for democracy here. If people are to loudly declare the experts who conduct state inspections, and build to state school building code, and the administrations and school boards to which they all report to be simultaneously incompetent, rapacious, and dominoes in some self-propelled bureaucratic perpetual motion machine, but can't demonstrate any element of error on any of their parts, then aren't you essentially a windbag? (Pause for Pete and Brittany to start furiously typing something cute about me.) And even more importantly, if we on the board are to "listen to the community," but they refuse (or are unable) to say anything substantive that we could actually turn into a school building within the limits of state law, what exactly is supposed to happen to our community's kids as these old buildings get still older? Because the board is in a position unlike any other elected body in that we can't implement anything without public approval. So if the things that we think make sense don't get public approval, but the public won't advise us of anything that makes sense (or in most people's cases, anything at all), then how will we ever be able to come up with a plan that is both realistic as a physical plant for a school, AND considered desirable by the public that must tax itself to do it?

Martin McPhillips said...

I really don't know what the big deal is in understanding this situation. On one hand you repair and modestly upgrade the building and on the other hand you gut part, tear down part of it and essentially rebuild it.

These are two different approaches.

See: Two. Different. Approaches.

With the repair approach you don't tear down part of the building, don't gut another part, don't build a new gym, maybe you move the kitchen and maybe you expand the existing one, you don't create the new "learning spaces" for the newest approach to teaching, you don't create a new parent pick-up access drive, and don't necessarily have to move students to another school for a year. Message: Don't spend money on anything that isn't necessary. Prioritize.

That's what the voters are saying, and they are saying it because they are doing it themselves. Deferring purchases. Scrambling to make ends meet. Keeping the thermostat low for the winter. Spending less at the supermarket. Not eating out.

So, they are saying, just fix the bloody building and make it more serviceable.

And I really don't know what Brittany and Peter's views are. They haven't said that much here and I've never discussed it with them.

And I did not lead the effort to defeat this bond. Didn't write any letters to the paper. Didn't speak against it at the school forums. Never met or spoke with the opponents. Never gave anyone any money. I joined the discussion here, and wrote about it at my blog. Obviously, 70% of the public, fully informed by the school district of what it planned on doing with the bond money, said "No."

My theory was -- I expressed it to Rachel in an earlier thread -- that folks are just tapped out and now is the wrong time to ask them for more. Wrong. Time.

If the good times were still rolling, this project might have breezed right through.

The next hurdle, before getting back to the Middle School, is the budget for 2010-11. That's going to have to deal with cuts in aid from the state.

My advice is to not try to pass the burden of those cuts on to local taxpayers.

tg said...

that comment, a few comments back, about getting "other people" to fix your own house, was completely off base. when your house needs improvement, you pay for the improvements, in cash or with a loan, because you own the house. the school district owns the schools. the school district is the taxpayers within the district. when the schools need repair, the owners pay for it. that is not getting "other people" to pay for it. that is having the owners pay for it.

npblogger said...

Democracy like Hugo Chavez, as long as everyone agrees with you, right? Otherwise, personal attacks and all out war and destruction!

Steve Greenfield said...

"The next hurdle, before getting back to the Middle School, is the budget for 2010-11. That's going to have to deal with cuts in aid from the state. My advice is to not try to pass the burden of those cuts on to local taxpayers."

Finally we are at the crux of the matter, which is where we always were, although none of you would admit it. It's the money. Nothing but the money. You left out the second half of the sentence, which, under the parameter you set in the first half, is "pass the burden on to the local students."

And that's the problem. Taxing entities always want the services taxes pay for to be passed on to other taxing entities. That way they can all look like they're not raising your taxes when revenues go down or the costs of the services increase (can you spell "unfunded mandate?" I knew you could), and someone else is. But there are things that have to be paid for no matter what. Filling potholes is one, so we don't have a rash of accidents, and lawsuits for damaged suspensions. So when the state passes that to the county, the county has to raise your taxes. Period. When there are cuts to law enforcement, you have to take those on, or you risk a crime wave. Period. You can't blame the town for taking on the burden the state has passed along. Should Susan Zimet succeed in her attempt to remove delinquent school tax collection from the county and force it onto the district, the district will have to hire accountants and collectors to staff an office to handle that, and you're going to have to pay for it, period. And it will be Susan's fault, not the district's. How can such a substantial majority of taxpayers be so stupid as to blame the victim taxing entities every time? And to not realize that by being so Pavlovian about it, you're incentivizing the higher entities to continue abusing the lesser ones?

When we reduce the quality of education because you don't want Albany's win to be your loss, you're demanding we make it the kids' loss. And what they lose now they never get back. It affects, and to a large degree determines, every aspect of their futures. And I don't want to break out into an overwrought ballad, but they are in fact the people who, in one generation, are going to be at the helm of our private and public sector ships, so it affects all of us, and our children and grandchildren. We need them well-equipped every bit as much as they need it themselves. It's not like our international competitors are going to quit educating their kids just because we're refusing to educate ours. And in all those countries, higher education is publicly financed as well, all the way through grad school. Only in America do doctors enter their profession hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

This isn't something like "put on an extra sweater so we can turn down the heat." This is "we can't care if you get proper attention to advance in your studies, because Martin McPhillips and 2500 other people forced us to increase class size to 32 kids." And "we can't care if there is no longer a blue collar economy you can enter if you didn't get an information and services oriented foundation, because Martin McPhillips and 2500 other people didn't allow us to install educational spaces conducive to the types of learning needed in today's economy and college admissions requirements."

Don't tell me that everyone cares equally about the kids and we just have different ideas about how to get there. What you just typed laid the truth right out there.

npblogger said...

And you are on the board? How does the defeat of the project impact this year's budget shortfalls? The answer is that it doesn't.

Martin McPhillips said...

I was thinking that since the school district insisted that a 1% increase in the tax levy was trivial, that it could demonstrate how trivial it really is by making sure that this next budget provides for a 1% decrease in the tax levy.

This woulld constitute an unusual show of respect for beleaguered and tapped out taxpayers by recognizing the economic difficulties all around us.

Other than that, any assertion that the school district absolutely must be funded at current levels, or higher, or the children will suffer, or must be given the right to borrow $50 million, or the children will suffer, is risible.

Steve Greenfield said...

Yes, I'm on the board, for all the good that does me, the public, or the students, given that I'm nothing more than an unpaid advisor and "npblogger" and Martin McPhillips get to make the actual decisions.

The reason the failure of the bond exacerbates the budget shortfall is because there are a lot of necessary repairs that now have to be done for 100 cents on the dollar out of the operating budget, the same budget that just got slashed, instead of out of the building budget, where Albany was prepared to pay 40% of the total in outside aid.

That is not our choice -- that is the law of New York State. We explained over and over again that people who were interested in protecting the program during times of operating aid cuts should be the ones most in favor of getting the repairs off the operating budget and into a capital budget, but apparently the fun of calling us a bunch of numbnuts exceeded you interest in saving money or the quality of the annual education program.

And this will only get worse when the 2011-2012 budget has to be prepared next February, because the 2 year federal stimulus money that saved our teacher staffing levels like a cavalry coming over the hill expires at the end of the 2010-2011 calendar, so even if Albany somehow reverses this year's cuts a year from now and restores us to our current levels, we're still going to have to slash staffing, increase class size, and cut the program (all of which adds up to serious cutting of the quality of education, and reductions in the quality of the future of our students, sorry to have to burden you with those petty considerations) due to the end of the one-time federal aid.

Due to state pension losses resulting from the Wall Street collapse, which by law local taxpayers have to make whole to their employees, rising health insurance costs over which we have no influence, and rising energy costs (which we can influence, except taxpayers won't let us buy the equipment we need to do that), the rollover budget (defined as having exactly the same program in the next year as this) for any given year is running over 10% tax increase. Just getting it down below 4% requires dramatic slashing of progams and firing of teachers. And next year the same thing happens again, because the rollover budget will still be 10% higher than wherever we end up this year, and there will be more cuts, and then the same the year after that. Due to the bizarre way the State of New York finances education, and the even more bizarre way Washington finances wars, both taxpayers and public schools are in a financial death spiral, and there is no reason to blame the school board -- especially since of all the entities, both elected and appointed, that administer public business, school boards are the only ones that cannot levy taxes. Read that again. We cannot levy taxes, so it gets a bit tiresome being blamed for them all the time. All we can do is study issues as they develop, compare those issues to established best practices, be as creative as possible in tailoring proposed work to the available funding sources, and then ask you whether or not you want to tax yourself. That's it. Stop making us your whipping boys (and girl). Not only is it unseemly, but it doesn't even make any sense. We do not tax you. The most important things I've worked on in 18 months over which I can actually make a decision were fine-tuning the guidelines under which employees can use district cell phones, and under what set of criteria school property can be named after someone.

Martin McPhillips said...

I believe that I heard the superintendant admit, at a school board meeting, that a repair/upgrade (i.e., the app. $10 million option) of the Middle School was eligible for aid. This was said to correct an earlier power point presentation that said that option was not eligible for aid. Perhaps not all of the school board members were present, or listening, at that meeting.

Also, the plan for financing the $50 million renovation included using app. $4 million from, what is it called, the reserve fund.

So, a repair/upgrade plan is eligible for aid and the reserve fund is still there. Repairs to the Middle School should not need to be paid for out of the operating budget.

Since the school district is now fully sensitized to the difficulty that taxpayers are having, and has just finished telling taxpayers how insignificant a 1% increase in the tax levy would be (Just $13.99 a month!), perhaps this year it will discipline itself to live with a budget that features a 1% decrease in the tax levy (Just $13.99 a month!).

What a warm gesture it would be to show solidarity and good faith with financially strapped citizens.

Peter said...

C'mon, Stevie Boy, you're utterly frustrated and feeling like your competence and expertise and great intelligence is underutilized, and you're sick and tired of us windbags and selfish,ignorant,lunatics. You know what you can do, you can cut us loose, that's what you can do. I'd actually vote "YES" to that, if someone would give me the chance.

Steve Greenfield said...

I invite any of you to find out, on your own, how much the HVAC should actually cost -- a real school HVAC that meets SED code -- for the number of square feet and classrooms, and with the number of angles, with the mandated hourly fresh air exchange, and everything else that goes into estimating what the HVAC should actually cost, and then come to a school board meeting and show how much you can save over the estimates the board has gotten so far. That's the bottom line. Because no matter how snarky you get, or how pleased you are at the appearance of your own typing, you either know what you're talking about or you don't.

I'm not suggesting anything I didn't do myself before I was on the board. Just before I joined they were embarked on an estimated half-million dollar septic replacement at Duzine, but I found out the engineering company hadn't examined the existing system to determine whether the problem was a cheap leak or a very expensive field failure -- all they knew is there was sewage coming to the surface. Ultimately the repairs were done for 1/4 the cost, and no new brownfield was created on limited school property, protecting unused areas for other purposes that may come up in the future. So, if you know something, say something. I'm still waiting. By the way, right after that, I was the swing vote in returning the savings to the taxpayers rather than putting it the reserves. Big waster of taxes that I am, callous about the plight of the suffering homeowner, which of course I can't relate to because I don't -- wait, check that, I do own a home, and I do pay property taxes.

Was the administrative portion of the building designed to give office workers luxurious quarters, or was it designed to add $10 million in state aid to the reimbursement and end the annual $100,000 payment for the rented office? Do you know? Do you care? Which would have cost less annually to operate -- the larger renovated building with the new wing, or the current building with its roof, electricity, and HVAC issues dealt with? Do you know? Do you care?

Since I'm on the board, it's my job to care, and then do everything I can to know. Your job is to crack wise and not give a shit about anything. Since I took an oath, and it actually means something to me, I don't have your luxury. But then comes the problem -- you get to decide, not the people who studied the actual situation at hand and the options for correcting it, and that's really not funny.

There are two seats up in May. Come on down. Let's see you do this. It's not like the Village Board, Petey boy, where you had 20% of the vote and the other 80% came from people who had full access to the information germane to the vote. On this board you're just one of 13,000, and almost none of them know a thing beyond "do I want to give up money, or not?"

Of course there's this one small problem, which is you're going to need more than 90 votes to get a seat, including if you're clever enough to actually vote for yourself.

Peter said...

You could be right about everything, except for just that one thing... and it's a big one.