Wednesday, May 07, 2014

More good stuff from David J. Theroux and the Independent Institute. Take a look and enjoy! Jim



Dear Jim,
We recently had the pleasure of holding a sensational event featuring former Congressman and bestselling author, Dr. Ron Paul, entitled "Liberty Defined: The Future of Freedom."  This sold-out program was co-sponsored by the Independent Institute and the Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies at California State University, East Bay.

Could we interest you in please posting a notice on your blog of the very timely and far-reaching, new video from the program?

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you again for your kind assistance!

Best regards,

David
------

David J. Theroux
Founder and President
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621
(510) 632-1366 Phone
(510) 568-6040 Fax


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Julie Feasel Follies (4) -- Is Olentangy's Julie Feasel above the law?

Originally posted on 4/17/09 -- Jim

She must think so.

It's amazing what you can get with the right public records request. Note the email exhange between Feasel and Jennifer Smith (below). It certainly appears that Feasel is skirting Ohio's sunshine laws by conducting a serial meeting -- you know, polling votes with a nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more.

Feasel is president of a board that has already been in hot water for violating sunshine laws, so she should know better. Maybe she does and doesn't care. You know, power and corruption.

Note:
1. At least one board member (Smith) follows the law, the rest just hold the public in contempt.
2. OFK, How can you still support Feasel in the face of all this? Hmmm.


To: "Julie Wagner Feasel"
Cc: jaheavilin@insight.rr.com
From: "Jennifer Smith"
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="--=_--0291526e.0291429d.c60a67a8"




Julie,


I have not returned your phone calls soliciting my opinion regarding an upcoming work session, because you made it clear in voicemails that you were - and now have- contacted every other board member and polled them as to whether or not Kathy LaSota should be hired to facilitate a future work session. It is improper to discuss board business outside of public view (properly notified public meetings). This "round robin" voting and discussion is highly improper and there is case law that substantiates that this activity is a violation of ORC 121.22. I will not be party to violating the law.


Jennifer



Julie Wagner Feasel writes:

Jennifer,

I didn't get to make any board calls on Saturday because we spent the day doing graduation and prom stuff so I made my board calls tonight. What I've been asking the other board members is there thoughts on hiring Kathy Lasota for at least one more work session to help us finalize the items we didn't finish on Thursday. So please let me know your thoughts as I would like our next work session to be sooner rather than later and everyone's (sic) schedules will have to be coordinated. Also, I was talking to the other board members about their thoughts and opinions on Thursday's session so I'd like to talk to you about that as well. Finally, I never got to talk to you about your thoughts on the budget subcommittee meeting. I've spoken to Sue, Teri, Mr. Lidle and Becky on their thoughts and I'd like to talk to you as well, specifically about making the budgeting process better next year.

Let me know when a good time to call you will be. I don't have anything on Monday night so I'm open. Or I can call you during my lunch hour noon-1 on Monday.

Julie Wagner Feasel, member
Olentangy School Board
Please note that all e-mail communication to elected officials is public record and maybe viewed by anyone who requests it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Julie Feasel Follies (2) -- Olentangy School Board in Wonderland

Originally posted on June 5, 2008.

If reelected, Feasel will continue to keep the sunshine from board deliberations. -- Jim



Down is up, and illegal is now confidential. We are now lost in the rabbit hole.

Starting with
Edward Bernays, propagandists have lived by this maxim: Tell a big lie, repeat it over and over, and the masses will accept it as truth. In accordance with this, board has told the big lie and is now in the repeat phase. The question remains: Will the community accept it as fact.

Board member Jen Smith notified the board of a pending sunshine violation, yet the board voted anyway. Why? I assume arrogance. Now the board majority is taking Smith to task in a
letter to the Olentangy Valley News (below). The goal is to repeat the lie until it is believed.

If you want the facts, read the newspaper articles on this issue. The board schemed to violate Ohio sunshine laws, with the smoking gun -- the instructions on how to circumvent state law -- penned by McFerson (as reported on the OVN).

It seems like the board has taken a very Bernaysian turn. Will you believe them?

note: You have to love the implication that board policy trumps state sunshine laws, along with the mention of ethics from one (Dimon) whose own actions caused then-governor Taft to commit ... you guessed it ... ethics violations.


Letter: Smith should not have given confidential info to press

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 11:11 AM EDT

To the Editor:

In the news recently, our fellow board member Jennifer Smith attacked the process the Olentangy School Board is using to hire a new superintendent. As two fellow board members, we feel that these attacks are unwarranted and simply untrue.

Dr. Davis told the members of the Olentangy Board of Education that he would be stepping down due to his illness in a closed executive session. Board President Scott Galloway appointed Vice President Dimon McFerson to lead the search committee. Since three out of the five board members had never participated in a superintendent search, McFerson's background made him the best person to head up this process.

For some reason, Mrs. Smith felt the need to share confidential information discussed in executive session with the press. Mrs. Smith has always voted to go into every executive session the board has had this year, and at no time during any of our executive sessions has she voiced any opinion about why the board should or should not be in executive session. By sharing this executive session information with the press, Mrs. Smith broke the board's governance policies GP 4.1 in the code of ethics, which states "respect the confidentiality of privileged information," and GP 4.2 in the code of covenants, which states "remember that board business at times requires confidentiality, especially in the process involving personnel, land acquisitions, negotiations and the need for security."

Mrs. Smith also told the press that Galloway and McFerson screened the 15 applicants to pick the top five for interviewing -- that is true. What she didn't mention was that she reviewed the same 15 applications herself and picked out five applicants to interview. Ironically, she picked the exact same five candidates that Galloway and McFerson selected. Thus, this process is hardly "rigged" as she told the press it was.

Did the search firm hired to find the best superintendent for Olentangy personally contact potential candidates and talk to them about applying for the position? Absolutely. Did McFerson himself talk to potential candidates about applying for the position? He did. There is no law in Ohio that says these actions cannot be done. That is why the process is called a search. This is done all the time in the business world and in superintendent searches as the great leaders are usually employed. Once candidates apply, their names then become public and the entire board is involved. But until the candidates apply, it is just one person talking to another to get them interested in the position.

Both of us are hopeful that Mrs. Smith will realize she jeopardized the work of the board by discussing confidential information with the press. We also hope she realizes she will get more accomplished through collaboration. She has some good ideas and a passion to improve where improvement is needed. However, she needs to follow the board's governance policies just like every other board member.

Julie Wagner Feasel and Dimon McFersonOlentangy Board of Education members

Copyright © 2008 - Columbus Local News

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Julie Feasel Follies (1) -- Olentangy Levy: Most inane comment from a board member

First published on February 29, 2008. At least the calendar can stretch a month ever now and again. Too bad Feasel can't stretch one simple buck. -- Jim 

Note: Is Feasel the Nancy Pelosi of Olentangy? Hmmm. Something to think about.


Olentangy board member Julie Feasel posted this comment on another
blog:

I just want to point out that Olentangy did make $6 million in cuts to future spending BEFORE even going on the ballot and we continue to look at how we can trim costs. (emphasis added)

Did you get that? The district made cuts to future spending when the issue is this fiscal year and next fiscal year. Is this her idea of cutting costs?

Really, why do I care that they cut projected costs, effective FY2010, when it's FY2009 that has the supposed negative balance (I say supposed as there is no real deficit -- read my previous post)?

Inane!

Just think about it: There are costs that can be cut, yet Feasel and company are waiting until 2010. And, they want to raise your taxes for such nonsense.

This is the logic which guides the district. Amazing!



note: According to Feaselian logic, I am a financial genius and a good steward of my money since I decided not to buy an aircraft carrier in 2010. I cut $1 billion in future spending. Wow!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Letter to Wall Street Journal

Dear Editor:

Whenever I hear Richard Dawkins champion his selfish gene theory ("Richard Dawkins's Big Idea"), I cannot help but feel a touch of sympathy.

Assuming arguendo that Dawkins is correct with regard to genes ruthlessly seeking to replicate themselves, he, with one child, must therefore be host to defective genes -- ones without a level of ruthlessness to adequately replicate.

So, based on his own theory, Dawkins is not a pinnacle of his beloved evolution, he is but an evolutionary defect whose genetic legacy is bound for extinction. I assume he recognizes this, hence my sympathy.

Maybe, for his own sake, he should consider an alternate theory, especially the one he so whimsically denies.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Letter to WSJ

Dear Editor:

Edward Frenkel displays a high level of acuteness with regard to the esoteric boundaries of mathematics  ("Weekly Confidential," August 24, 2013). Nevertheless, his keen insight is not omnipresent.

To wit: In defense of the Common Core Standards Initiative, Mr. Frenkel makes an analogy to the heights of doorways. He claims the varying standards found in the several states are akin to doorways of different heights -- this notion he challenges and fears. Though, one stroll through, say, the Notre-Dame de Paris reveals the error in the analogy: doorways are set at different heights for reasons that make perfect sense.

The same is true for academic standards. No one -- no entity -- can define a set of standards that serve all purposes. To claim and advocate otherwise is to miss the lesson to be learned at Notre-Dame, or any building for that matter.

The Common Core Standards Initiative will not improve educational outcomes in the US, just as standard doorway heights would not have improved the Notre-Dame. Furthermore, to conceive of an entity setting standards that are neither political nor lacking is to view the process of zoning as the means to structures that have a greater sense of beauty than a French gothic cathedral.

 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Brian Helwig for Olentangy School Board

Support Brian -- website found here.

It's time to bring more common sense back to the board ... Adam White is only one vote, he can't do it alone.

According to Helwig:

I am a better candidate because:
 
                    I do not believe in common core!
                    I believe we have a huge opportunity to improve our education system!
                    I know we don't need another levy!
                    I want to put Student Learning over Student Testing!

For me, opposition to additional taxes is a sufficient. Throw in Common Core and you got a winner.

Vote for Helwig!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mark Gerber -- a political thug

Dear Editor:
 
In his recent Letter to the Editor, Mark Gerber, Liberty Township fiscal officer, perverts the ideals that founded this nation. He desires a country (or township, at the very least) where the majority are wholly unconstrained – for his benefit, of course. So he agitates for a tax that is paid by only 5% of the township, but is reaped 100% by his parochial political class. This he terms democracy.

He shouts in the streets, “Tax the 5%!”
 
But didn’t this nation rebel against King and Parliament when it was 95% of the population taxing the other 5% – the Colonies?
 
One can assume that if Gerber found five wallets on the ground, instead of returning them, he would dredge up 95 folks willing to say, “Just keep ‘em.”
 
What Gerber terms democracy is the means that affords him – and his political class – the ability to use the majority to exercise ”a long train of abuses and usurpations” on the minority.
 
Seem liberty is lacking in Liberty.

The sweet irony that is the Joint Economic Development Zone

Dear Editor:

Oh, the sweet irony that is the Joint Economic Development Zone.

First, there is Republican Curt Sybert who recently announced he would not seek reelection to his Liberty Township trustee post. Instead, he will abuse the concept of no taxation without representation as he champions his new tax night and day.

Then, after burdening folks under the yoke of rising taxes, Sybert will run for Delaware County judge. Will he run on his conservative legacy: the perversion (er, reinterpretation) of an obscure tax law for the purpose of growing local governments? If so, his platform must not include integrity.

Finally, there are those most vocal against the new tax: local government employees. Liberty Township firefighter and union President Chalaco Clark lamented the dent the proposed tax will make in his wallet. But he made no similar declaration in defense of taxpayers when it was his levy on the ballot.

Doesn’t he realize the money Sybert wants from him was first found in the wallets of Liberty residents? In this instance, it sounds like the fox is being out foxed, and whining about the outcome.

The sweet irony of it all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Anthony Gregory on Rand Paul's Senate Filibuster

Here is a new "video with Research Fellow Anthony Gregory regarding Senator Rand Paul's powerful and heroic filibuster defending the Bill of Rights and attacking the Obama White House's claim to be judge, jury and executioner and kill Americans at will with drones on American soil."

"Anthony Gregory on Rand Paul's Senate Filibuster," featuring Anthony Gregory
http://www.independent.org/multimedia/detail.asp?m=335

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Here is a recent piece by Senior Vice President Mary Theroux of the Independent Institute regarding the shameless and hypocritical use of the Oscars to promote the Obama social and economic agenda? The Presidency as Theater: The Fa├žade Continues.

"Hurray for Washington," by Mary Theroux
http://blog.independent.org/2013/02/25/hurray-for-washington/

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Philosopher Alvin Plantinga Receives Prestigious Rescher Prize

"Philosopher Alvin Plantinga Receives Prestigious Rescher Prize" -- a very interesting and insightful article from David J. Theroux, Founder and President, The Independent Institute.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Begging your neighbor for a handout

Dear Editor:

Based on the results from the Orange Township community recreation center survey (itself a $55,000 cost to the taxpayers), 1/6 of the 1,500 households surveyed favored having health club memberships subsidized by their neighbors (the study reports only 46% of the 559 survey respondents favored a rec center).

One of those seeking a handout, former township trustee Mark Robertson, said $96 a year for the bond issue is not too costly to homeowners. Maybe not to him, since he will be getting the benefit. But for those not planning to use the facility (the majority of the township), a $96 transfer from their wallets to Robertson's personal recreation fund is costly indeed.

Of course, Robertson could seek his handout directly by knocking on doors near his home, but such an approach would expose his aim. It is always much cleaner -- more sophisticated -- to have an issue placed on the ballot. That way he, and those also seeking a benefit at the expense of others, can position their gain as some sort of public good.

Sincerely,

Jim Fedako

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A public rescue

Last week we camped at Van Buren State Park in Michigan. The park has sand dunes that reach some 100 - 120 feet above lake level. There are a few rope swings on top of the dunes -- all illegally placed, for certain.

One day, as we sat at the bottom of the dune (I found a Youtube video that shows the dune in question), there was some commotion. Two very large MI DNR employees came racing down the beach in quad runners and proceeded to attempt to ride up the dune, quickly bottoming out as the tires on the overloaded vehicles sank deep into the sand.

I asked what was going on.

One DNR officer replied that a young child had injured her neck after falling from one of the rope swings. Not knowing if the child was one of mine, I raced to the top of the dune. A young girl lay motionless in the shade of a log while other adults kindly tended to her, waiting for professional assistance.

Our two public heroes trudged up the sand, both surrendering less than halfway to the top. They stood bent over, desperately inhaling air, unable to speak coherent directions to the forthcoming EMS guys -- who, by the way, easily raced up the dune, carrying back brace and sled.

Later, I jokingly told my brother-in-law I was going to review the official report. I wanted to make certain the DNR guys did not state they arrived on the scene. In the vicinity, maybe. But certainly not on the scene.

I vaguely remember officers having to pass annual physicals. But that was before public employee unions overthrew the taxpayers.

And they call themselves public safety officers.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Can my neocon Christian brother justify their political beliefs?

I would like my neocon Christian bothers to realize the US has suffered (to date) almost as many military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan as were suffered in the Revolutionary War. In promoting the supposed wars, neocon Christians have cheered the spilling of blood, as well as the commissioning of all the other atrocities associated with war.

But for what? For the god of democracy -- the Baal of the Neocon Christians. And for these words (from the constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan):


Iraq Constitution:
Article 2
First: Islam is the official religion of the State and is a foundation source of legislation:
A. No law may be enacted that contradicts the established provisions of Islam

Article 92
Second: The Federal Supreme Court shall be made up of a number of judges, experts in Islamic jurisprudence, and legal scholars, ...

Afghanistan Constitution:

Article One Afghanistan shall be an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.

Article Two The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rituals.

Article Three No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.

When confronted with these words, can neocon Christian still cheer? Is the god of democracy really the savior of souls?

Friday, January 06, 2012

A great article from David J. Theroux

For your review, here is a new article from me that draws on the work of William Cavanaugh, C.S. Lewis and others:

“Secular Theocracy: The Foundations and Folly of Modern Tyranny,” by David J.
Theroux

Part 2 will appear in January.

David J. Theroux
Founder and President
TheIndependent Institute

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adam J. White signs available


If you want a sign, leave a comment (which I will not post) that includes your name, address, and phone number, and I'll forward to Adam.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Adam J. White's Platform


Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board


My name is Adam J. White and I’m running for Olentangy School Board. I work in the private sector and spend my free time studying/participating in local politics and engaging government entities through personal interaction with our political leaders, writing letters to the editor and serving on the Republican Central Committee.

Despite many interactions with Olentangy School Board members and administrators to discuss escalating taxes and problems with Olentangy’s Curriculum, my efforts have been unsuccessful. Refusing to speak, answer or acknowledge my questions, the Olentangy School Board leaves me with only one option: Acquire a seat on the Olentangy School Board to penetrate the bureaucracy and start resolving the $400 million debt and curriculum problems.

The solutions to Olentangy’s problems are:
1.Cut Taxes
2.Curb Spending
3.Construct a Better Curriculum

The Olentangy School Board is responsible for creating a debt close to half a Billion dollar$. Olentangy is taxing the private sector for overpriced debt that is beyond the useful life of their purchases. For example, purchasing books (average life span of 7 years) with bond money (a.k.a. money from a 30 year loan) and taxing the public for an additional 23 years after the books are no longer being used. Unable to stop spending, Olentangy has resorted to passing permanent levies (taxes) and 30 year bonds (taxes).

Spending on entitlements for school employees is excessive and causes financial hardship on the private sector. Healthcare, retirement, mandatory pay increases, sick leave payout, and other lavish benefits given to every Olentangy school employee lack any comparison with the realities of private sector job benefits. While the private sector must contribute funds for the retirement plans of Olentangy employees, the Olentangy Administrative staff does not contribute anything toward their own retirement and will still receive approximately 66% of their highest earned salary at retirement. The 11% extra contribution from taxpayers toward the administrative staff’s retirement is not mandated (a.k.a not required by law) and should be eliminated from taxpayers’ expense.

While healthcare premiums, deductibles and out of pocket limits have increased dramatically for private sector employees over the past few years, Olentangy has maintained its zero dollar ($0) deductible and 100% coinsurance coverage plan for its employees at the taxpayers’ expense. Changing the employee healthcare deductible from $0 to $1000 could save $1.7 million dollars annually (based on 1,718 employees). Olentangy’s refusal to address any significant benefit cuts (Salary / Benefits are approximately 85% of the budget) is leading the way for the financial collapse of Olentangy and the taxpayers that support our district.

Furthermore, Olentangy and American schools have fallen behind the rest of the world in math, science and reading with their “Diversity” curriculum. Injecting “diversity” into every subject has jeopardized the teaching of basic skills in many ways. Olentangy’s continuous improvement plan divides students by skin color rather than scholarship. Olentangy’s curriculum advocates dependence on government rather than self and steers children toward the need for public services; thereby, increasing the size and cost of government and the size of your tax bill.

If the top school in America only ranked 25th against other countries in math, then where does Olentangy rank?


Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board
-Cut Taxes
-Curb Spending
-Construct a Better Curriculum

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board

From Adam:

I will be hosting a meet and greet this Sunday (8/28/11) at Hoggys on Polaris
from 1 to 3pm for those interested in hearing my views and/or showing support.
Drinks and appetizers will be served.

Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board

-Cut Taxes

-Curb Spending

-Construct a Better Curriculum

Monday, June 06, 2011

The next levy is in the works

Based on the district's rationale for needing levies, the next one is due in 2012. That's right, we just passed a 7.9 mill levy and the district is bleeding red. Amazing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Political Doublespeek

In today's edition of the OVN, Wade-O claims that the district will be doing more with less -- and this after passing a $25 million levy. Doesn't he really mean more with more?

In addition, Feasel states she has her work cut out for her -- and this after identifying only $100,000 in cost reductions. What a way to put a dent in the budget (or is it really a ding, or maybe a scratch, or ...?).

Thursday, May 05, 2011

No promise made

A reader left this comment:
Jim,

To my knowledge, there was never a timeframe stated for how long this levy money is to last before another one is presented to voters. Do you know if this is true?

Also, what are your thoughts regarding district size? How much growth is permitted? Is there a stopping point or does the ogre just keep growing until tax burdens overwhelm the majority and "No" finally wins?
Great question. To my knowledge, no promise was made. So the district can be back in two years with its hand out once more.

Does anyone think the lack of a promise was an oversight?

Until the taxpayers yell, "Enough!" there is no stopping the ogre.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Voting yourself a raise and increased benefits

Once again, we can assume the levy passed on the vote of district employees and their spouses. And we know the levy was simply about money for raises, benefits, etc. So, in the end, the employees voted themselves a raise and increased benefits. Hmmm.

Note: I know, I know, the levy was about the cuts and the kids. But the cuts were the hammer used to pass the levy. Rein in costs and the levy wasn't needed.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Friendly reminder -- tax effective day was 122 days ago

During the campaign, Olentangy for Kids made this statement: These additional taxes will not be collected until 2012.

For those of us who escrow our tax payments, we are already four months behind. Remember, taxes are always paid in arrears. But they are effective the first day of the year in which a new levy is passed. That means this new levy is effective January 1, 2011.

Better tighten your belts extra hard today and begin making additional escrow payments. You don't want to face a big escrow catch-up bill early next year.

Note: The sweet irony is that as you tighten, others loosen.

It's OK to vote No

A reminder on election day!

The district can go back to the ballot in November with a scaled-down issue. -- Jim

Monday, May 02, 2011

OFK spins a response

In an earlier post, I rhetorically asked, "How do the current heads of OFK spin that little nugget?" Now I know (number 5 below).


Real quick response to the OFK response to my 10 reasons not to vote for the levy:


Intro: Is the bond expert the same district resident (is the expert even a district resident?) who also is the district bond consultant? If so, working the weekend was not just a freebie. I bring this up only because OFK makes the claim.

1. Bond Residuals: Call the money what you want. The interest earned is not an investment (I explain that in a couple of blog posts). The IRS does not allow governmental entities to make an arbitrage profit on tax-free bonds. So the interest is equal (dollar for dollar, for the most part) to the interest current residents have been paying on the bonds. In other words, if the revenue from the bonds earns 5%, the district can only earn 5% on its investment -- there can be no "money mak[ing] money."

2. Search the web for O'Brien's comments as reported in ThisWeekNews. He changed his story with his letter to the editor. Also note that Lucas's responses to my letter to the editor did not refute my claim about O'Brien's comments.

3. The district is using previously-taxed dollars to pay-down the current bond payments, so to speak. How is that forcing future residents to pay their fair share? The older levies actually did what they said.

4. The elementary cost is 32% higher than the last elementary ($10.035 million to $7.8 million). And that is an acceptable increase?

5. Check the current five-year forecast on the district website to see that the district planned to lower the ratio.

6. This response has never made sense. As I read it, if the levy fails, the district will ask for MORE money to offset the proposed cuts in state funding that will drive lower expenditures if the levy passes. Or something like that. The argument sounds good but does not hold up to scrutiny.

Some call it a threat, but it is really a lie

Olentangy district top news:

* NEW INFORMATION AVAILABLE REGARDING POTENTIAL BUSING CUTS
If the May 3 levy fails, Olentangy will no longer be able to provide the busing services that go above and beyond state requirements. That means that beginning with the 2011-12 school year, there would be no busing for high school students or any student in kindergarten through eighth grade who lives within two miles of his or her school. To assist parents in planning for this possibility, the transportation department has created maps showing the streets that are within two miles of each school and would therefore not receive bus service. Click here to view the maps. (emphasis mine)

Note the phrase "will no longer be able to provide." Now focus on "be able to." Had the district left out those three words, the statement would be a threat. But, in its current form, the statement is a lie.

Why support those who cannot be trusted?


Note: Why do the district and board lie if they have such a good story to tell? That is a valid question to ask Wade, Julie and the rest of the lot.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Reason #7 for not supporting the Olentangy levy

According to Responsible Olentangy Citizens, Sue Mahler, OFK core member emeritus, acting as district finance chair, "reported [to the school board] that the sooner we get to this number [student/teacher ratio of 15:1), the sooner OLSD can save millions."

Instead, the district is lowering the ratio in each year of the most-recent five-year forecast.

How do the current heads of OFK spin that little nugget?


Note: Why do the folks at OFK simply fall in line with the Wade Lucas / Julie Feasel nonsense?

Reason #6 for not supporting the Olentangy levy

The bond issue includes -- get this -- $13.5 million for a new elementary school. Given that the last elementary cost only $7.8 million, $5.7 million remain for (I was informed by the district treasurer) technology, loose furnishings and textbooks. That is $8,769 per pupil. Amazing! Amazingly expensive, that is.

Add it up (and I am being charitable here):

  • use of a computer, network, etc. -- $1,000
  • a desk and chair - $150
  • textbooks - $250
  • misc - $1,000

So, where is the remaining $6,369 per student?

Hint: It's not in your wallet.

Read this entry to see what the district does with excess bond funds -- your money. And remember, the district HAS sufficient bond residuals to build the new elementary.

Olentangy Levy: Feasel's Fictitious Financing

School board president Feasel claims the district "already cut $15.7 million" since 2008. Interesting. But from where?

Certainly not staffing, since staffing is increasing relative to students. So where were the cuts made? Hold that thought.

I just cut $1 trillion from my family budget. How, you ask? Well, I had assumed that we needed $1 trillion in additional expenses this year. Then I came to my senses and realized I didn't. But a cut is a cut. So I cut $1 trillion. You just gotta love Feasal financing.

The district has cut nothing.

Of, sure, they pared back their inflated five-year forecasts. But that is not cutting, just as my $1 trillion example is not cutting.

So take Feasal and her fictitious financing for what they are: nonsense.

Note: The folks over at OFK know better. But they have a levy to sell. And the truth is the first thing to go in campaign.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wade-O lies again

Oh, wait. I am being redundant.

In his reply to me letter in The Dispatch, Wade-O claims that the almost 9% forecasted health care cost increases is due to new staff. Wrong. His own five-year financial forecast has premiums rising by almost 9% annually. In addition, there are costs associated with new employees. So the total is HIGHER than than 9%.

Wade-O amazes me.

Note: Not really.

Wade-O changes his story

In his response to my letter in The Dispatch, Wade-O drops the zero base salary increase claim he made in his response to my letter in the Delaware Gazette? Why the change? Was it a lie?

Take the Wade-O challenge: Search the Ohio Department of Taxation website for the term "tax effort." You will not find Wade-O's definition of tax effort there. So why does he make that claim and reference the tax department? Another lie?

Wade-O, changing your story doesn't say much for your truthfulness.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Reason #5 the Olentangy levy is not needed

OFK is lying when it states the following in regard to the supposed no-additional-millage bond component of the levy, "Current residents should see NO increase in their tax rate for school bonds, which results in future residents paying more than they would have under a 'traditional' debt structure."

An internal document obtained through a public records request shows current residents paying the greater portion. Why? The district is using residual funds (which current residents are paying off) to reduce the millage in the early years.

Future residents will pay the same as a "traditional" debt structure. And both the district and OKF know they are lying about this one.













Note: Wade Lucas has pulled a few fast ones in his short tenure in Olentangy. For Feasel, it's as expected. For OFK, dangling from the puppeteer's strings are leading the organization down the wrong path.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reason #4 why the levy is not needed

The Ohio Department of Transportaton produces a report for regular education transportation. Sorted by the efficiency ratio statistic, Olentangy's transportation department ranks 303 in transportation efficiency.

Oletangy needs to improves its transportation department and give the efficiencies back to the taxpayers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yet another reason not to support the Olentangy Levy

Wade-O lies.

I had a letter published in the Delaware Gazette -- the very same letter published in The Dispatch yesterday. Turns out Wade and treasurer Jenkins replied ... and lied.

Here is my response, hopefully the Gazette will publish it:

Dear Editor:

There is a difference between obfuscation and lying. In their response to my letter (4-21-11), Olentangy superintendent Wade Lucas and treasure Rebecca Jenkins provide examples of both.

They obfuscate when they imply the Ohio Department of Taxation terms tax effort a simple ranking of districts by school millage equivalents. Here is the department's definition of tax effort: it is the percentage of income in a school district that is paid for residential and agricultural property taxes and school district income taxes.

District residents currently a pay high percentage of their income in the form of school-related taxes. Today, the district ranks in the top 10% statewide based on the department's tax effort calculation. The district has been moving up in rank over the past 10 years, a trend that will continue with the passage of this latest levy.

Lucas and Jenkins obfuscate with regard to bond residuals. According to page 57 of the district's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (available on both the district and state auditor websites), the district performed "a one time transfer of $12,200,000 to the other Capital Project fund from the Building fund."

Last year, Lucas and Jenkins, in essence, hid $12 million of bond funds and then have the nerve to turn around and claim otherwise.

Lucas and Jenkins lie when they state the five-year financial forecast does not include close to 6% average salary increases. Furthermore, they lie when they claim the forecast provides for "no base wage increase during the first three years."

Page 8 of the district's October five-year financial forecast (available on both the district and Ohio Department of Education websites) shows forecasted pay increases of $1,978,722 in fiscal year 2013, the first year of the new levy. This is a 2% average increase -- not the zero percent Lucas and Jenkins claimed in their response.

Add in the step increase and education advance and the average salary increase is close to 6%. And this continues for all subsequent years of the forecast.

If obfuscation is not a action residents want from their public officials, what about lying?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reason #3 why the Olentangy Levy is not needed

O'Brien, the latest addition to the Olentengy school board, has said that the district has "pledged to pursue budget reductions of about $5.5 million during the next three years.

Why is the district waiting UNTIL a levy passes before enacting the O'Brien reductions?

The current issue is overstated by millions. And O'Brien agrees with at least $5 million of that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reason #2 for not supporting the levy

A statistic tauted by the district is the average salary for district teachers. Interesting finding: since fiscal year 2006, the average salary for district teachers has increased at over twice the rate of the average salary for residents -- 18% to 8%.

Twice.

And this does not include the average cost of benefits.

Any wonder why the district school-related property tax burden is soon to be top 20 in the state.

Note: Number used above are from the Ohio Department of Education's Cupp Report.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reason #1 the Olentangy levy is unneeded

The district currently has sufficient bond residuals to fund the $24.4 million on the ballot. Where is the money? $12 million of bond residuals was moved into the permanent improvement fund last year. Why was it moved there? I'm not certain. But I know that it is not going to be used for permanent improvements. That's right. An internal district document shows that money being set aside other purposes. Another $5.5 million is sitting in the bond fund, and just like the $12 million in the permanent improvement fund, unspent on previous projects. So, assuming the listed projects and expenses are needed (and should be funded over 27 years), the district has sufficient bond residuals (if they trim just some of the fat, of course).

Why trust OFK? They can't even get their own history straight

From the Olentangy for Kids website:
Why should you trust Olentangy For Kids? Good question! Before 1999, Olentangy’s levy campaigns were run primarily by school district employees – board members, administrators, etc. That’s still fairly commonplace across Ohio. But there are two problems with that. First, to a community member, that “campaigning” sometimes seemed self-serving. Secondly, because of that vested interest, community members sometimes were suspicious of the facts that were provided by the district’s campaign. Not surprisingly, Olentangy often lost its ballot issues. They made it their business to research and verify all campaign information and to take responsibility to distribute that information to their fellow community members. Since then, nearly 1,000 conscientious and diligent community members step up to research and prepare campaign information and to distribute it to their neighbors. We do our best to validate and verify. We’re your neighbors who care so much about our kids’ future and our community’s future that we get involved – investing our time, energy, and expertise.
Oh, where to begin?

No group of concerned citizens ever "stepped up and took the campaign reins away from the district." Never happened. And I should know, as I served as OFK co-chair in 1998 and 1999. The issue prior to 1999 was organizational -- it was not an issue of district control. (Homework: Find the newspaper articles from 1998 where I lambasted the board for doing nothing during the 1998 levy campaign.)

That said, district officials participated in OFK before 1999, just as they participated in the 1999 levy and are participating in this year's levy. (Homework: Ask OFK to list the members of its strategy committee since 1999 and count how many years superintendents and communication directors served.)

Despite the claim, the "vested interest" still exists. (Homework: Ask the Delaware County Board of Elections for the OFK finance reports for the past 10 years and see who contributes to the committee -- compare community contributions with those from district employees and vendors.)

Research is only as good as those researching. During the 1999 campaign, I personally researched and answered every email sent to the committee. And my answers were not cut-n-pastes from documents provided by the district's communication department. There were a few other strong members on the early committees, but they are long gone. (Homework: Ask any of the "1,000 conscientious and diligent community members" to explain bond funding to see how well-researched the volunteers really are.)

So, why should you trust OFK? You shouldn't. Trust them only as far as you trust the district officials -- because it is district officials guiding the strategy committee, regardless of who the figure head chair is these days.

The OFK of today simply repeats what the district spoon-feeds it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Statistics as a blunt instrument

The folks over at Olentangy for Kids are trying to use statistics to prove that property values are directly linked to the local school district. But their statistics are blunt and their conclusions dull -- but their conclusions tell the story they want told ... just like that old saying, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Here is
their analysis: Scioto Reserve – In the Scioto Reserve subdivision, some of the homes are part of Olentangy, while others are part of Buckeye Valley. Here is a comparison of home sales in 2010 within that subdivision:

Interestingly, I analyzed this very same question five years ago. So I figured I would analyze it once again.

To get the data (I have no idea which hat OFK pulled their data from), I went to the county auditor's site and pulled recent sales figures (from January 2010 to present) for houses (not condos) in Scioto Reserve. I then to filter out new construction (new construction sales have not been tested by the market) as well as any sale not considered an arms-length sale (there is a column on the auditor's sales report that shows valid sales). This is my data.

I then ran some statistical models (you can download a demo version of my favorite tool, NLREG, from NLREG.com) in order to see what the data say (if anything).

It turns out that there is little difference between sale prices in Scioto Reserve based on the district alone. In fact, no one should make any claim whatsoever regarding the effect of the district on property value (based on Scioto Reserve as the sample). None whatsoever.

This is the same conclusion I reached when I previously analyzed Olentangy and Buckey Valley, as well as Olentangy and Big Walnut.

But I am certain that OFK will continue using the dull conclusions of their blunt statistics.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Phantom Committee Strikes Again

How does a committee that hasn't met in seven months issue media releases? How has it "made it easy for you to make your voice heard?"

This is the product of a district running a pseudo levy campaign by making stuff up right and left.


A CALL TO ACTION!
from Olentangy's School Funding Action Committee

Help the School Funding Action Committee fight the proposed state budget cuts for our schools!

The proposed budget will be hard on many school districts, but its impact on Olentangy is unparalleled due to our continued growth. Our district lost nearly $13 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010/2011 and will lose an additional $9 million in anticipated state revenue in FY 2012/2013 due to the previous governor's change to the Evidenced Based Funding Model. The newly proposed budget would cost the district an additional $3.3 million (44% more) of basic funding in FY 2012. In addition, the acceleration of the phase out of the Tangible Personal Property Tax reimbursement is going to force the district to make $11 million of additional cuts through FY 2014.

The School Funding Action Committee has made it easy for you to make your voice heard. Just click here to access the instructions for sending lawmakers a pre-written letter or your own thoughts on the issue.

Thank you for taking the time to help keep Olentangy a great place to live and learn!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reason #9 why the levy is not needed

Taxpayers are picking up the pickup and the pickup of the pickup -- and the pick up medicare.

For state retirement, the school district and the employee contribute to the employee's retirement -- unless the employee works for Olentangy, of course.

In Olentangy, the district -- which means the taxpayers -- "picks up" the employee contribution. In addition, since the district picked up the employee's contribution, that amount is considered income and subject to retirement contributions, from both the district and employee. The district -- taxpayers, once again -- "picks up" the employee contribution on the original "pickup," the pickup on the pickup.

So administrator income is actually 11% higher than advertised.

Make sense?

It doesn't have to. But you pay for it anyway.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Yards signs available

If you are looking for a Vote No sign, leave your name, address and phone number in a comment (will not be published) and someone will leave a sign in your yard. -- Jim

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reason #8 for not supporting the levy

Olentangy for Kids loves to flaunt this graph -- it's the lead banner of the OFK dog and pony show:

Add 7.9 mills to Olentangy and the district is the only behind Bexley as far as school taxes.

Ten years ago, the district was one of the lowest taxed in the area. Now it is heading for second place.

Note: Ironically, the graph is under the heading, "My taxes seem high. Why is that?" Ok. Let me take that bait. Could the reason your taxes seem high be because they are high? Hmmm.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Olentangy for Kids and the law

This all seems like yesterday. OK, it all seems like last levy.

You remember, the bogus opinion from 2008 regarding the district's (supposed) ability to close schools to the public should the levy fail. Now it's a bogus opinion claiming that OFK does not have to pay for the use of school facilities, despite this opinion being in conflict with state law, board policy, and the opinion of the state attorney general.

District treasurer Rebecca (Becky) Jenkins has been nice enough and responsive. But she is not the responsible party here, that lies elsewhere.

Regardless, the district's tax consuming legal council is once again providing opinions that suit the needs of the district. According to an email from Jenkins, "He (legal council) basically said the Board is not required to charge OFK for facility use."

Not required? In violation of state law, board policy, and the opinion of the state attorney general?

I think I'll request a copy of the legal council's bill for his opinion -- it always nice to quantify the value of our tax dollars at work.

Here is my latest email to Jenkins:



Becky,

Per Kevin McIver chief of the opinions section of the office of the state attorney general, opinion 91-064 still stands and OFK must pay reasonable fees. I assume that you value an AG opinion over the verbal opinion of your legal council. Let me know whether the district intends to comply with state law.

In addition, according to board policy, for OFK to use district facilities, "[a] facility use agreement must be executed and approved prior to its use by any nonschool Board sponsored group."

I request that you provide me the use agreement that is currently in effect.

Also, let me know which fee group listed in the board policy includes OFK.

Thanks.

Jim

I wonder if the OFK volunteers know what nonsense goes in on order to pass a levy. Is anything beyond the pale?

OFK volunteers: When you face your neighbor, remember the actions of your committee reflect on you.


Note: Here is the relevant section of the Ohio Revised Code. It is unambiguous -- unless, just maybe, your dance is for the tax dollar.

3313.77 Use of schoolhouses and grounds for public meetings and entertainments.
The board of education of any city, exempted village, or local school district shall, upon request and the payment of a reasonable fee, subject to such regulation as is adopted by such board, permit the use of any schoolhouse and rooms therein and the grounds and other property under its control, when not in actual use for school purposes, for any of the following purposes:

(A) Giving instructions in any branch of education, learning, or the arts;

(B) Holding educational, religious, civic, social, or recreational meetings and entertainments, and for such other purposes as promote the welfare of the community; provided such meetings and entertainments shall be nonexclusive and open to the general public;

(C) Public library purposes, as a station for a public library, or as reading rooms;

(D) Polling places, for holding elections and for the registration of voters, or for holding grange or similar meetings. Within sixty days after the effective date of this section, the board of education of each school district shall adopt a policy for the use of school facilities by the public, including a list of all fees to be paid for the use of such facilities and the costs used to determine such fees. Once adopted, the policy shall remain in effect until formally amended by the board. A copy of the policy shall be made available to any resident of the district upon request.

Effective Date: 08-29-1975

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Olentangy for Kids: time for a math check

Olentangy for Kids loves to flaunt this graph -- it's the lead banner of the OFK dog and pony show:

Add 7.9 mills to Olentangy and the district is the only behind Bexley as far as school taxes.

Ten years ago, the district was one of the lowest taxed in the area. Now it is heading for second place.

Note: Ironically, the graph is under the heading, "My taxes seem high. Why is that?" Ok. Let me take that bait. Could the reason your taxes seem high be because they are high? Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Olentangy School District: taxpayers looking for the truth

The Buckeye Institute has a database of the salaries of all public school employees (the Institute has other searchable public employee databases, as well). According to its latest email, these are the top searches for March by district:

Teacher Salary
1. Gahanna-Jefferson City (4,570)
2. Columbus City (3,549)
3. Olentangy Local (3,342)
4. Cleveland Metropolitan (3,323)
5. Akron City (3,113)

Get the feeling that Olentangy would rather not be number 3 on this list (the district was number 3 inFebruary, as well)? Wonder why so many people are concerned about district salaries? Hmmm. Note: The database is not complete, but it is a start. It does not list the value is all benefits, such as the pickup, the pickup on the pickup, etc.

Yard signs

If you are looking for a Vote No sign, leave your name, address and phone number in a comment (will not be published) and someone will leave a sign in your yard. -- Jim