On a number of occasions, Joe has made it quite clear that he is of the mind set that those of us on this side of the political divide need to just shut up and stop costing the money unneeded funds in legal fees.
Congrats, dude - you've now joined the club. However, instead of trying to right a wrong, you simply wanted to make a crass political play. You cost a whole slew of hours of work to a whole bunch of people, including Barbara Aichinger.
And if that was your sole point, you succeeded. Such a thing to be remembered for.
But you will also be remembered for not having the courage of your convictions by being a "no show". If there was any thought that this was a truthful challenge on your part, you proved that with the lack of your shadow in the hearing room.
Thanks for proving our point for us.
And as always, remember this:
Oh wait! Joe may have a big problem now:
II. No person shall use or threaten force, violence, or any tactic of coercion or intimidation to knowingly induce or compel any other person to vote or refrain from voting, vote or refrain from voting for any particular candidate or ballot measure, or refrain from registering to vote.
III. No person shall engage in voter suppression by knowingly attempting to prevent or deter another person from voting or registering to vote based on fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, or spurious grounds or information. Prohibited acts of voter suppression include:
(a) Challenging another person's right to register to vote or to vote based on information that he or she knows to be false or misleading.
Hey, Joe! I think that the phrase " Lawyer-up" may be in your future. Your latest post in Facebook at Gilford, NH may have been a bit premature.
Supervisors of the Checklist - Slapping Joe "No Show" Wernig's voter challenge to Barbara Aichinger
Yesterday, the Supervisors of the Checklist spent from 4 hours, starting at 10am, hearing Barbara Aichinger defend herself against the politically motivated intent by Joe Wernig to have her thrown off the voter rolls and thus, disqualifying her from her run for office (not to mention the publicity it caused).
In rebuttal to Ms. Fraser's Letter to the Laconia Daily Sun (P.4, her Letter is after the jump ):
I stand by my post on GilfordGrok where I referred to you as the “Lady in Green” (because I could not hear your name). Often I will comment, as a blogger, on what is said (or how something is said) at public political meetings – and the joint meeting of the Select and School Boards certainly fit both adjectives. Anyone has the right to address their elected officials either to inform them of their opinions or to seek redress for perceived wrongs by those same elected officials. At the same time, when anyone rises to speak at such a public meeting, there is that same right to comment upon those words as well.
I stand by the information that was given to me concerning your spoken words:
“The gal who gave that tear jerking speech was sitting in front of me. She was given that speech in the form of a hand written piece of paper that was handed to her by the teacher beside her. When she came back to her seat she handed the paper back to the teacher and the teacher thanked her for reading it. "
as well as the demeanor in the video. I also added the following, since I did not directly see the paper passing: “Truth or not? Reality or a great facade? Who knows? “. I also point out – you could have sent your email to me as well, as my email address is readily available on the Town web site – but you didn't. Thus, I could only comment upon the information available.
But I also stand by the thrust of my post – those connected (either directly or loosely) are fighting the tax cap because they wish to see no financial limits placed upon the district. There are many that construe my willingness to see a tax cap put in place as “he doesn't support education in Gilford”. Rather, the proper categorization is that “I don't support education in Gilford 'at any price' or 'at a price beyond that of the average family paying the bills'”; remember, while the costs are rising, our enrollment is decreasing. Given that the majority of that rise goes to union members, is it "for the kids" or for the adults?
Once again, we see our language perverted for political purpose (i.e., “support” equated with “willing to not reign in spending” and “you're against kids” as a euphemism for “you won't spend what I want you to!”).
Spending other peoples' money requires hard decisions on actual dollar amounts as in "when is enough, enough Ms. Fraser?". To a write a check, the Town first has to take that money from someone else; stating "it's for the kids" and hoping it all works out doesn't cut it.
If that is insulting, then I have no idea how to sugarcoat that for you.
I wonder what C. Bradford Morgan would think about this statement: “Every child does not deserve a public education; instead, they deserve a publicly funded education”. The first is a locked system that is government funded, staffed with government employees, and teaches a government specified curriculum: a couple of systems fits all. Add to that the growing philosophy by the educational system that they know what is best for the children than their parents. I have personally heard this view and have video of teachers saying that to back up that claim. We also see this trend in society in general – let the professional make the decisions for us.
The second is a 180 degree change of direction by putting the parents in charge to choose the best of a number of systems for their child (which could included a “government school”, as C. Bradford Morgan put it). This is how most of society works still – parents making choices for their children (seems to have worked well for the last few hundred years). In fact, this used to be the norm up until the rise of the Progressive movement in the United States at the beginning of the last century. Then, such Progressive luminaries as John Dewey advocated for what has become our current “industrial style” system that become so union dominated. It may well be time that in order for our nation to educationally progress forward, we have to return back to letting those invested the most, the parents, make those decisions.
This is emblematic of the two polarizing political views now becoming more and more public – who knows what is best for society, its citizens, and the children? Is it Government, where it seems that our educated bureaucrats (assumed to be non-partisan in theory and rarely in practice) are making more and more “for the common good” as they insert themselves more and more into what used to be considered “private society”? Also, bureaucrats are deciding that they will make those decisions independently, regardless if empowered by actual law or not. We end up with Government by Regulation instead of by Legislation by our elected (and therefore, accountable) peers.
Or is it individual citizens, in their own “pursuit of Happiness”, making their own decisions for themselves with a Government sitting in the way back, and getting out of the way by enforcing and protecting our individual Rights and allowing the private sector to solve its own issues and problems?
Frankly, my take is this: the Bigger the Government, the smaller the citizen. The more that Government intervenes, the more that crowding out of private society happens. As that happens, the foundation of our Republic is weakened. I'd rather see Parents make the decision and my trust is with them. After all, as one looks across the nation, it is clear that our current system has severe problems that merely throwing more money to do more of the same invokes that popular definition of insanity. In this, Doug Lambert is correct: more choice, not less.
My rebuttal to both Joe Wernig and Kevin Roy's Letter's to the editor assailing Doug Lambert (Roy's Letter to the Laconia Daily Sun, P.11, after the jump; Wernig's all out personal attack was a while ago). I also have a few comments interspersed in amongst Roy's Letter):
There are those in Gilford, chief among them Kevin Roy and Joe Wernig, that seem to be constitutionally incapable of accepting an apology as they continually assail and berate the unfortunate (and wrong) words that Doug Lambert uttered a couple of years ago. He was contrite, apologized several times, and finally withdrew completely from local politics. He admitted wrong, took ownership of that wrong, and did the right thing. He did not do as some have in the past which has been to merely duck down for several months and then slowly come back – a mere pittance of penitence, a hollow “oops”. Instead, a strong Conservative voice was silenced – for years.
While there are those accepted that apology, I personally received comments that said “no apology will ever be sufficient” and that they wanted to see him gone from the public square and his family penniless, destitute, and homeless. And it is obvious that both these “gentlemen” may fit into this category. The apology was meaningless – the actual aim was complete political and personal annihilation.
While I am not saying that Wernig and Roy are wishing for the latter, they are actively trying to keep Mr. Lambert speechless in the Gilford political sphere. They may well say it is about the word that was said but their actions belie their words. Notice their words in the paper – they can only dredge up that history and attack the person – always never accepting the apology. Have they no Christian charity in their hearts? No, it isn't about the apology or, seemingly, Christian forgiveness either.
This is strictly political even as they have not even tried to debate the issues of the day in Gilford in any logical fashion. It seems that “their agenda” as they have accused me over the years of having one (hint, I keep saying it over and over again: “Why should the rise of government spending ever be greater than that of the family income?”) is not to extract an apology from Mr. Lambert. That is not their purpose.
As we have seen this last couple of weeks concerning Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh, it is not about civility (as the Right seems to be able to dredge up FAR more examples misogyny and real hatred on the Left than the Left can of the Right), it is about silencing the opposition. Add to this, Joe Wernig's Chicago style political stunt of trying to get Barbara Aichinger off the ballot on a technicality that is false before he called his press conference. These are Alinsky style tactics to remove powerful players from the field – they brook no competition.
Sidenote: Joe, wasn't your wife the Gilford Democrat Chair? Certainly Mr. Lambert and Ms. Aichinger poses a huge ideological obstacle to the Statist vision!.
Maybe Wernig and Roy owe Doug an apology for not accepting his? For by not accepting his, what does that make them to be?
School Board - ignoring voters on full day kindergarten
At the forums held in town last week I heard glowing praise and passionate pleas for the children of Gilford. Our kids are treated well and generally achieve well and I too am proud of them. It’s agreed that we should provide academic and extracurricular opportunities when properly vetted and voted upon. We have given our children a lot in the few short years we have been a stand alone SAU.
Did I mention that we have all day kindergarten, too? Do the taxpayers of Gilford remember voting for and approving it? I don’t. So let me tell you what has happened because you probably don’t know.
In 2005 the Gilford School Board placed this warrant article on the ballot:
“Shall the School District raise and appropriate the sum of Two Hundred Nineteen Thousand, Five Hundred Dollars ($219,500.) to be added to the operating budget for the purpose of extending the current half-day Kindergarten program to a full day Kindergarten Program. (If this article is approved, the additional cost for the full day program will be included in the operating budgets for future years.”
The warrant article failed by a vote of 1534 NO votes to 497 yes votes, by a margin of over 3 to 1 the voters of Gilford said an emphatic NO. And now we have all day kindergarten against the will and overwhelming vote of our citizens.
The Gilford School Board, led by Kurt Webber, without voter input instituted all day kindergarten. The budget committee was told that they are able to do this because it does not increase the budget. The savings they say comes from reassigning a teacher and not having to run a few midday buses. Are we to really believe that there is no cost impact?
At the joint hearing of the Selectmen and School Board, I asked a series of questions that included:
if this truly is being done at no cost now, how do we eliminate the full day sessions when they start costing us money in the future?
Will Kurt Webber and the School Board identify when this happens?
Will there be a warrant article to eliminate it?
If it is presented as a taxpayer warrant article will we be told it is advisory only?
What could the voters do if Kurt Webber decided that they were going to institute all day Pre-School because “studies” that the School Board liked concluded it was beneficial for the children.
None of these questions were answered by Kurt Webber. The only defense he made was that “they didn’t think the previous warrant article mattered now because it was a money issue then."
HUH? Does anyone see a severability clause in the above Warrant? Do you, the taxpayers and voters of Gilford see the conundrum that the School Board has put us in again? How many times must we “digest” what they feed us with this kind of arrogance? Do you see why there is a discussion about “lack of trust”? I ask no matter what your viewpoints are shall we abide this fiat by an elected body? If you were on the other side of an issue and this happened again and again would you accept it? Is this the “Gilford Advantage” that you want and is this how you want to get it?
Oh, by the way, the RSA’s of NH tells us that “NO MEANS NO.” Consider the potential ramifications.
The Citizen petitioned warrant articles on this year’s ballot are a direct result of this continuing method of operation by Kurt Webber that runs contrary to the sacred, secret ballot that we hold as part of our Constitutional Right of Free Speech. I ask that you examine these issues and decide for yourself if they are right for Gilford. I also ask you to vote for those candidates that are sure to respect the will of, and trust in the will of the voters.
These candidates are Doug Lambert for School Board, David “Skip” Murphy for Budget Committee, Stuart Savage for Budget Committee and Barbara Aichinger for Budget Committee.
If the people elected to carry out the will of the people do not, we must elect people who will.
My name is Stuart Savage, and I’m running for a seat on the Gilford Budget Committee. For those in the town who don’t know me personally, please allow this letter to serve as an introduction.
My wife Darlene and I have been Gilford homeowners since April, 1997. I am a fiscal and social conservative and a registered Republican. I currently work as an engineer in the aerospace industry. I have 15 years of combined budget experience serving in a local church and in management positions at two manufacturing companies. Although those budgets were not as large as the ones needed by Gilford, I’m confident that I can transition effectively to the town committee.
I have enjoyed my time in Gilford, but have seen taxes and spending slowly increase over time. The shock of the 2008 recession is still being felt by many in our town. Wages have stagnated, living costs have gone up, and job opportunities have diminished. Our friends and neighbors are often struggling to do more with less.
While I believe some level of taxation is necessary to provide services, I also believe it’s the responsibility of those in office to use that money efficiently. Taxes collected by the town represent a sacrifice for many people and those entrusted with those funds should understand that. No money should be spent capriciously with the thought that there will always be more.
As an engineer, I am trained to collect and analyze data to make informed decisions. If I’m given the honor of serving on your budget committee, I would work diligently to apply this principle. I will insist on reasonable justification for expenditures and objective exploration into alternatives. If we work together with this goal in mind, we can keep our town attractive and safe while spending our money wisely.
At this point in my life, I feel it’s my duty to use the things I’ve learned in my 51 years to serve my community. I humbly ask Gilford residents for their support on March 13. Thank you for your consideration.
My name is Stuart Savage. In a previous letter I announced my candidacy for Gilford Budget Committee.
Like most people, I like to shop for bargains. If I can use some ingenuity to save a few dollars, I feel victorious. If my neighbor was going to pave his driveway and mine needed it too, I would try to package my work with his to get us both a better price from the contractor. Yes, we could work independently and pay more, but why? The savings realized could help me finance other projects, or maybe something fun for my wife and me. Why toss money away needlessly?
If I’m elected, I would apply this same logic to our town finances. We should evaluate our needs in parallel with surrounding communities and attempt to “bundle” purchases for better pricing. This could include paving materials, salt and sand, office supplies, and so on. This could also mean contracted services where practical. I feel there’s good potential in these areas. Quality can remain high while saving taxpayer money. We can start out small, see what works, and build from there.
So many times, political debate has degenerated into a vitriolic clash of “us or them”. This should not be so! I think all Gilford residents are proud of their town and want it to remain an attractive, safe place. There is a huge opportunity to put aside our often petty disagreements and work together to create efficient government that works! Let’s not squander it!
There has been a lot of recent dialog about “the Gilford Advantage”. To me, this doesn’t have to be a nebulous reference where anyone who challenges the status quo is branded an enemy of our great town. Our true advantage lies in the many constructive ideas we can glean from all those who want to offer them. Not heartless, Draconian “cuts”, but creative realignment of our spending with the harsh reality of a struggling economy. Low taxes can coexist with quality services; creativity and efficiency are the keys to success.
Again, I humbly ask for your support on March 13. Together, we can steer Gilford back to fiscal discipline and preserve our bright future.
Rebuttal to Derek Tomlinson and Dale Dormody - by Dave Horvath
Over the past few days we have seen some interesting letters in the papers, particularly Derek Tomlinson’s and Dale Dormody’s letters. Both claiming how the checks and balances and the processes are working in Gilford. This year the school budget did not go up dramatically and there were some staff cuts. But before they get hurt patting themselves on the back let me advise you that this did not happen auto-magically or because they were leading the crusade.
During Tomlinson’s tenure in town politics the school budget rose to its current $24 million plus figure while the school student population declined by over 20%. That’s a million dollars a year. The checks and balances were not working. I will also point out that Administration and staff costs far exceed comparable metrics to not only the private sector but also to similar school districts.
We are told by Mr. Dormody that he favors candidates that work for all of the taxpayers. I do have to agree with him on this. I must point out however that during my two years on the budget committee I rarely if ever saw him vote to contain costs. Neither has Phyllis Corrigan. One must assume that his vision of working for all taxpayers is to assure that everyone’s taxes will increase not decrease.
The reason that you see an ever so slow change in the right direction is because of the work that certain members of Gilford’s elective bodies who have stood up and taken the ridicule by refusing to go along to get along. They have pulled up the shades and allowed the sunlight in. These people are current Candidates for School Board, Mr. Doug Lambert and for re-election to the Budget Committee, David “Skip” Murphy.”
For this they get demonized and called “Radicals”, Extremists” and “Mudslingers”. One person’s mudslinger is another person’s whistle blower. I want honesty at all levels of government. We don’t always get that in Gilford nor is the will or the voter honored. I would also say that an educator that is seen gadding about the lakes region in a tee shirt that suspiciously looks like Che Guevara printed on it should not be calling anyone else a radical.
Even though the sun is starting to shine on the activities of our elected officials, we still see smoke and mirrors. Kurt Webber, current Chair of the School Board is also patting himself on the back with one hand. The other hand that you don’t see is working to assure increased costs in future years. What you didn’t see was the 4 year contract with guaranteed raises and a Lamborghini benefit package signed with our already highly compensated School Business / Assistant Superintendent in a time of recession. Why would you do this? This also insures that the death spiral of ever increasing legacy costs will continue and default budgets will increase too. Where do our kids benefit from this? Is he an appointee also?
I leave you with one more observation before you vote this year. The people who sit on the Budget Committee are all good people. Those that have connections to town or school employee’s rarely vote against cost issues. That is why I also am supporting Barbara Aichinger and Stuart Savage for the Budget Committee. They are proven conservatives in word and deed. They will work independently for all taxpayers.
As I drive around Gilford I see hundreds of political signs, some make reference to the “Gilford Advantage”. Sounds good but what does it mean? When I think back to when I was looking for a new hometown to raise my young children, I remember what really stuck out about Gilford was that we had all the qualities of close nit community with all the benefits of a small city. We have a fulltime Fire Dept., a Great Library, an awesome Community Center, play grounds, a public boat launch, well maintained roads, great skiing, and nearby shopping. All of this and still a reasonable tax rate due our huge tax base with a large number of multi-million dollar homes and a shopping district consisting of two supermarkets, a Wal-Mart, a Lowes, as well as several other highly taxed establishments. To me the “Gilford Advantage” was that we had all these amenities at an affordable price. Unfortunately our tax rate has climbed to the point that living in Gilford is no longer a bargain.
The small group of public employees (past and present) that are behind these signs call themselves “Friends of Gilford” and are lead by Mr. Joe Wernig. I learned a lot about these people by watching what they were posting on a certain un-named Facebook page. These people are full of hate and jealousy. They say nasty hateful things about Mrs. Aichinger. Perhaps because she is successful enough to live in one the very expensive homes that provide so much to the town in the form of property tax, or maybe it’s because she exposes the great deal they get at the taxpayers’ expense. Or perhaps it’s just that she is so much smarter than them. They cooked up this false conspiracy that she may not be a real resident and Mr. Wernig held his little publicity stunt tipping off media and inviting them the session of the Secretary of the Checklist in an attempt to damage her campaign for budget committee . The fact is: Mrs. Aichinger is most certainly a resident and everyone knows it. She attends more public meetings anyone else in this town, far more then Joe Wernig. She served on the School district strategic planning committee, and has been a constant presents in the local political scene for the last several years. These people have said terribly slanderous things about Doug Lambert and Skip Murphy. Gilford doesn’t need this type of vitriol and these dirty slanderous political tactics. Mr. Wernig should be ashamed of himself.
These local activists don’t care about the tax rate, most of them live in modest homes and any increase in the tax rate is more than offset by their annual pay increase as public employees. Look at their signs; they support ALL the spending on the ballots, and ALL the big spenders. None of their candidates have even indicated any desire to control the tax rate. Electing their slate of candidates will offset the balance on the Budget Committee and will most certainly result in the loss of any financial discipline and guarantee further tax rate increases.
Please help us RESTORE the “Gilford advantage”. Vote Skip Murphy, Barbara Aichinger, and Stuart Savage for Budget Committee. Vote Doug lambert (and only Doug Lambert) for School Board.
Update and bumped: Well, the Steamer published this Letter but with an Editor's note:
We feel compelled to point out, in response to Mr. Murphy’s comments, that the article which appeared on Page A3 of last week’s issue was written as part of our “In Our Schools” series before the controversy over the all-day Kindergarten program erupted. The purpose of the article was to spotlight the Kindergarten program itself, not to investigate whether or not the school board was correct in its decision to implement the program. We believe both sides of that issue were covered fairly and accurately in the separate front page article.
Fair enough. But seeing that you are the "buyer of ink by the barrel", either this information or another disclaimer could have been put with "In Our Schools" article. However, the question remains - where ARE the Fourth Estate" questions, Mr. Editor?
While our form of Government has three branches (i.e., Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches) there is also the “fourth estate”: the Press. The Founders knew that the purpose of a free Press was to objectively inform the citizenry of the news and events of the day so that when the times come, they can make the important decisions. They also intended this “fourth branch of Government” was to act as a watchdog on the activities of Government – to shine a flashlight into the deep dark corners so as to “afflict the powerful and comfort the powerless”, for who is more powerful than those that can tell us how to run our lives or use our property? They depended on the Press for that specific purpose.
Thus, imagine my dismay when I read about the controversy concerning the School Board disregarding the vote by Gilford residents to not implement all day kindergarten on the front page, but then on page A3 was an above the fold puff piece on the kindergarten program: “Look what we are doing for the children”.
School Board meeting - 3/6/12 - Electioneering, the Law, Schluffing off of elected responsibility
"The meaning of 'is', is" and "Leave the politics to the politicians"
At the same School Board meeting, Doug Lambert had three items to address:
The fact that the School Board would settle on policy, by a vote, without first getting the public's input - effectively cutting the public out of the process.
The policy change effectively denied access of parents to their elected officials pertaining to removing their child from a class when controversial material is presented in class. Instead, the highest level of redress is to an unelected (and there, unaccountable to the public) employee (the Superintendent)
Doug disputes the assignation of "appointed" to the Superintendent pertaining to the electioneering prohibition on behalf of the employer (the school board). An employee is not allowed to do so (Mr. Hemingway was going to speak about voting no on the tax cap that has been proposed for the District), but an appointee can. But how many "appointees" have employment contracts?
It is clear that the Board's council is highly stretching definitions in order to shield the Board from the blowback.
During the Public Input part of the meeting, the amount of the rise in spending by the School Board. Kevin Leandro maintained that since 2007, spending has increased over $1.6 million. As would be expected, Kurt Webber, at the joint session with the Select Board, insisted on a much lower amount.
It was a topic of discussion at this meeting:
It turns out that Kevin was right when the actual numbers were used for the right years.
Budget talking points – school board letter short form.doc
The Gilford School District warrant contains 9 articles this year. Articles 2-5 were moved to the ballot without amendment at the Deliberative Session February 8th.
The School Board and Budget Committee recommend articles 2-4.
Article 2 – The school operating budget is BELOW last year's budget by $327,000 (-1.1%). Reductions in salaries (-$25,000), staff (6.8 FTE $388,703) and over %500,000 supply and equipment accounts are included.
Article 3 – The Gilford Education Association and Gilford School Board agree to a $0.0 increase for all teachers in 2012-13. In the second year, salaries increase by $191,000.
The School Board does not recommend these articles. The Budget Committee did not take a position.
Articles 6-9 were presented by citizen petition. The School Board does not support these articles. The Budget Committee did not record a recommendation.
Article 7 moves calculation of the default budget from the school district to the budget committee. See detail below “Understanding the Default Budget”.
Article 8 – proposes a 0% tax cap on locl funding for schools. The petition excludes any provision for facilities repair, capital improvement or emergencies.
The School Board has presented operating budgets below prior year spending in 3 of the past 4 years. The school Board and Budget Committee have acted most responsibly in this economy and will continue that in future years.
Articles 6 and 9 address staff contracts aand voting dates are also opposed by the Gilford School Board.
Understanding the Default Budget
1. What is a default budget?
A 'default budget is a budget that is adopted in a SB2 community when the proposed operating budget failes to get a majority vote at the town voting session in March.
2. How is the default budget determined?
RSA 40:13 defines the default budget calculation. It is the operating budget that was authorized last year + / - any one time expenditures, debt obligations, contracts or legal requirements.
3. Why should the School board continue to develop the default budget?
It is the budget Committee's budget and the School Board's default budget that together get placed on the ballot. This provides for a system of check and balances where two groups elected by the residents of Gilfor have input into what goes on the ballot.
4. What concerns does the School Board have if the Budget Committee, not the School Board, develops the default budget?
a. Total control of the budget development process will be transferred to one single entity.
The Budget Committee will have sole discretion in presenting the default budget. No longer will the two separate elected bodies have input in the budget development process. BOTH the School District budget and the default budget will be determined by the Budget Committee.
b. The School Board develops the default budget based on the legal formula and it with the Budget Committee. The School Board and Budget Committee have always worked collaboratively in this process. The NH Department of Revenue administration is consulted for legal guidance.
There is no legal recourse to dispute the Budget Committee's decision. It cannot be amended by voters or School Board.
Original screen scrap available here or look after the jump:
I have submitted the following to the local papers:
First, the School Board decided to flaunt the will of Gilford voters, who voted 2-1 to not have a new Superintendent (hiring one the day before the election). Then, the Board decided to not hold the Special Meeting as petitioned by Gilford residents because of this action (and in violation of NH law). Then at the Gilford Candidates Night, the current Chair and past Chair (Kurt Webber and Sue Allen, respectively) insisted simply by saving $11,000 on busing costs was a superb reason to start up full day kindergarten – again, showing complete disdain for Gilford voters who had previously voted NO (video at GilfordGrok.com). Kurt Webber has further doubled down by stating he had cut the School Board's budget (even though expenditures have grown) – and showing that the bureaucrat-ese of “Washington budgeting cuts” (where a “cut” = “increasing, but at a slower pace”) has been brought to Gilford.
Now we just had the taxpayer funded Superintendent willing to speak at a forum sponsored by the taxpayer funded Parks & Recs Director to “educate” residents on the tax cap petition (which has already been “not recommended” by his employers, the School Board). Although he claims ignorance of the RSA that prohibits this (lets assume to be true), just the idea that the School Board did not see the impropriety of this, RSA aside, speaks volumes.
Doug Lambert stood up against this by bringing it to the public's attention, citing the RSA. He also corrected the School Board's lawyer at the Deliberative Session (who read only the part of the RSA dealing the tax cap that put the School Board's position in a positive light) by reading the REST of the RSA that contradicted the lawyer's utterances (video on GilfordGrok.com). And yes, he is one of the Gilford residents who is using the only source of remedy available to citizens between elections by bringing the Superintendent hiring before a judge.
Fed up with this public malfeasance, Doug Lambert is now running to be on the School Board. His platform: full compliance with all laws, greater transparency in deliberations / actions, moving towards more accessibility, and forcing more budgetary openness. These are stances that I wholeheartedly endorse – as well as his stated stance of respecting the will of the voters of Gilford in all things.
Therefore, I am happy to endorse Doug Lambert to replace either Kurt Webber or Sue Allen. I ask for your vote for him (and only for him for one of the two three-year seats).
There seems to be an inordinate number of employee contracts for a venture this size. While employment contracts do play a role in the private sector, they are usually only for "key" personnel - either those for which the enterprise would fail if gone (like a founder) or for one that would have severe consequences due to key information going out the door (e.g., marketing plans, product plans, and the like).
Most of the following employee contracts cover people that would be merely employees at will at most firms. The following covers employee contracts for:
Assistant Superintendent / Business Manager ($103.1K) + longevity pay
Athletic Director ($78.7K) + longevity pay
High School Guidance Director ($70K)
Director of Media Services ($69.3K)
High School Technology Integration Specialist ($56.5K)
Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds ($72.3K)
Business and Personnel Manager ($56.2K)
Food Service Director ($59.5K)
Interim Elementary School Principal ($88.6K) + longevity pay
Gilford Middle School Principal ($92.8K) + longevity pay
Gilford Interim Middle School Assistant Principal ($58K) + longevity pay
Gilford Assistant High School Principal ($83.7K) + longevity pay
Technology Coordinator ($92.1K) + longevity pay
Director of Curriculum, Student Learning, Professional Development ($83.2K) + longevity pay
Director of Student Services ($96.1K) + longevity pay
School Nurse ($69K)
School Nurse ($43.6K)
School Nurse ($61K)
I also find it more than a bit strange that for many of the positions, there exists both longevity pay ("please, stay with us!") as well as retirement incentive ("please, leave us!"). What a perverse set of incentives!
I also add, as a former Budget Committee member, that by issuing these employee contracts, it takes those positions completely outside of the normal Budgetary oversight process - it is as if they simply didn't exist and that there is nothing that the Budget Committee can do about these costs (wages alone are $1,458,700 - benefits would add a six figure figure on top of that),
Click here for the entire PDF (or on the image below):
This is relative to Article III on the School ballot - the Teachers Contract that calls for no raises in the first year but $191,000 the second (are YOU getting raises?):
Click here for the entire contract PDF format or on the image:
A couple of things to note upon a quick read:
Do you get up to a 2 year sabbatical (no pay) after working only 3 years? Or a full year at 50% pay after 7 years?
When, in the private sector, could someone accrue up to 90 days of sick time and be able to cash out at taxpayer expense?
You know, when I have quit a position, I've never received a parting gift of $3 - 5,000, no matter how long I was there.
And if I retire, the taxpayers give additional "gifts" up to 25% of the last year's salary. So, if you are making $70,000, that is $17,000. That doesn't include paid health insurance after retirement either.
During joint Selectmen / School Board joint public meeting, the "Lady in Green" got up to speak:
Now, I truly mean no disrespect at calling her the "Lady in Green" - as shown by the call to speak up, I just did not hear her say her name. So, no disrespect for that.
However, I do believe that she showed the crowd quite the disrespect - those were not her words. Oh sure, it seemed like she meant her words; it certainly looked like she had a sufficient level of "self-righteous" anger when she left the podium.
At least, that's what it looked like. Reality? Not so much. From someone sitting close to her:
The gal who gave that tear jerking speech was sitting in front of me. She was given that speech in the form of a hand written piece of paper that was handed to her by the teacher beside her. When she came back to her seat she handed the paper back to the teacher and the teacher thanked her for reading it.
Truth or not? Reality or a great facade? Who knows?
But if that was a teacher, what better way to protect the "educational-industrial complex" (after all, we now spend more money on education than on the Department of Defense)? A tax cap would definitely put a crimp in future union contracts - and their raises. It would also put a lid on the higher Admin costs as well. Face it - it will become a zero sum economic pie. Could be kind of interesting to see if, if the faucet is shut down, if this School Board can become creative and really make do with less? I have been in start up situations before and when one has hard limitations slapping you in the face, you are forced to become very good at coming up with constraint driven ideas.
Or, will we truly find out if it really is "for the kids"...
"What if you are only allowed to vote because it doesn't make a difference?"
Over at Townhall, Judge Napolitano penned a column that caught my eye:
What if you are only allowed to vote because it doesn't make a difference? What if no matter how you vote, the elites get to have it their way? What if "one person, one vote" is just a fiction created by the government to induce your compliance?...
A charade, a farce, and the meaning of democracy is no more. This country was built on the foundation of one man, one vote; that this one vote is precious and it should count for something. Casting that vote is the culmination of a sovereign citizen deciding how they will be governed by the elected and that includes guidance to the elected when voting on specific issues. The problem here is that the "elected" (School Board) decided that the citizens don't know what is best for them (or their families). To start things off, watch Kurt Webber, Chair of the Gilford School Board, reaction to the call out of "arrogance" as a town resident takes him to task for ignoring the will of the voters:
Yes, Webber is not a happy camper and it is obvious that he is not too keen at being taken to task. Yes, it is edited, but the context of the full video can be watched here at my blog, GilfordGrok ("all things Gilford"), Part 4, starting at about 5:20). The event was a joint meeting of the Selectmen and School Board held to 'listen to public input' as each is having to deal with citizens having brought forward Petition Warrants that, if implemented, would place tax caps on their budgets.
Why? What the Judge is talking about has happened in my hamlet - the resident is trying to get Webber to understand why people in town are upset with School Board. The topic - full day kindergarten (the local communities in NH can make that decision for themselves) and why did the School Board decide to unilaterally implement it EVEN AS THE TOWN FOLK HAD PREVIOUSLY VOTED IT DOWN? Sounds like elitists telling the proles "we don't care about your vote".
Oh sure, perhaps it saved some money - the elimination of some busing for a total yearly savings of about $11,000 which was loudly trumpeted. Yet, upon my asking, the extra staffing cost to make that program work was the opportunity cost of a reading teacher that had to be moved from another area to the kindergarten, a greater cost, is simply brushed aside (as the bottom line was unchanged from a staffing perspective).
Prior to the above meeting was another one - the GilfordCandidate (speeches, Q & A respectively) night held by the High School student Council. I have abstracted out a question that another resident specifically asked three of School Board candidates: "why did you go against the vote of the town and implement full day kindergarten?". Here, both incumbents, Chair Kurt Webber and Past Chair Sue Allen defend their decision to override the vote of the Town simply because it saved money and they were elected to make the decisions.
I note with pride that my friend, Doug Lambert was also part of the group that was asked the question - and that from a Conservative standpoint, a Constitutional (US or NH) standpoint, and from one that stands up for that foundation of "one man, one vote":
"What can I say? That's just another example of how the School Board does what they want...if it's a vote they disagree with, they just do what they want....if they had all these facts and everything was on their side, bring it to the people, let the people vote. I'm more than willing to trust voters in the town of Gilford."
The full question:
Several years ago, the School Board put a warrant article on the ballot for all day kindergarten. The voters of Gilford rejected the measure. Regardless of the cost, why do you feel it is acceptable to now incorporate it without the voters input? Why do you think you have it both ways and do it by Executive fiat?
Let's hope folks like Dick Hickok will want to stick around
Many thanks to retiring Gilford Budget Committee Chair Dick Hickok.I have gotten to know Dick only recently through my own efforts to reign in the local government spending and increase voter participation and improve transparency.Dick and I have exchanged emails and he has given me advice as I make a run for a seat on the Gilford Budget Committee.After Deliberative Session he remarked ‘do see why this can be frustrating?’The people of Gilford that keep voting in all this government spending do not understand that they are literally biting the hand that feeds them.As the tax rates go up the real estate values drop.The pay and benefits package of the upper echelon Administrative staff both at the town and school district are NOT on parity with the private sector.For example our Town Administrator is one of the highest paid for towns our size.He receives not one but TWO taxpayer funded retirement plans.This is the same guy who claimed that he never received my legal “Right to Know” requests even though an investigation by others clearly showed that they reached his desktop.Now on the school district side its worse.Our Business Administrator is again one of the highest paid in the entire state (salary alone=$103,173.00).He receives over 7 weeks of paid vacation and the taxpayer pays 100% of his health and dental costs.Our school board chairman, Kurt Webber, just this last summer signed a contract with him for 4 more years of this.In this contract the district promises him a yearly raise and a performance bonus.Yet nowhere in the contract does it define how this ‘performance’ is measured.He is not alone.A recent school board study showed that on average the district administrative staff is over paid by an average $11,000.00 yet they claim it is warranted due to the level of experience they have.Well that experience has not held costs down and it did not prevent Gilford from becoming a DISTRICT IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT.Money can’t buy you love and apparently it can’t buy us a district NOT in need of improvement. As I stood there talking with Dick Hickok he explained that he is considering moving away from Gilford over the next few years.His reason?He just can’t justify the taxes he pays here on the lake in Gilford.Let’s stop this out of control spending, put the brakes on and support our TAX CAPs for both the school and town.Perhaps then, folks like Dick Hickok will want to stick around.
For Liberty, Barbara P. Aichinger Governor’s Island Gilford, NH
So the District should over pay some and cut others?
In response to the most recent letters concerning the school nurse and her 36.6% pay differential over the average pay for nurses here in NH.Their letters highlight my point.In the private sector we do not pay more for longevity for the sake of longevity.We pay for the value of that job.For example:If I have an engineer on my staff for 18 years I can’t afford to pay 36% (or 53% as the case is for the Middle School Nurse) above market value for that employees service.The cost to my customers would be too high and my customers would go else where and my business would go under.In addition if I have a job that requires a certain skill set and education level I don’t hire someone with a Masters degree and pay more if I only need the skill set of a Bachelors degree.This is the problem that we have with government and one of the reasons why it grows and is bankrupting the private sector under its tax burden.Government has become a very very nice place to work.People gravitate to it and stay there.Last year when leaving Deliberative Session I was approached by a small business owner.The told me they just had an employee quit and go to work for Laconia.The pay and benefits were better there.I don’t begrudge the work that the school nurses do and I would expect them to do an excellent job and I am happy to hear that they do.What I have a problem with is when the local government pays above the prevailing wage that the private sector would receive for the same skill.Remember, not to long ago folks who worked for the government where considered public servants.People went to work there because, even though the pay was less, they wanted the satisfaction of serving their community.Now many go to work there because it’s the best job in town.When I look at the School District non union contracts, which I have posted on www.NHPropertyRights.com, I am amazed to see what our current School Board Chairman Kurt Webber signed.Why did he need to sign a 4 year contract with the Business Administratorfor a $103,173.00 salary with 100%health and dental coverage?He knew that economic times were tough so why in this same contract did he promise yearly raises and performance bonuses.Who in the private sector would do this nowadays?No one!Why do we pay 100% benefits for the Business and Personnel Manager and the Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds?So should the district continue to pay some of its employees above prevailing wages and then cut others?It does not make good economic sense.This is why I am running for Budget Committee.We need highlight these issues and Right Size the local government.
GrokTV Event: Joint Selectmen / School Board meeting for public input on this year's Petition Warrant Articles
Held last night at the Town Hall, the Selectmen and the School Board held a joint public meeting so that they could hear what the public had to say concerning the petition warrants on the ballot - specifically the tax caps and the creation of the default budgets.
All of the proceedings of the meeting are here; the division into parts is to make processing / viewing easier:
GrokTV Event: Gilford Candidates Night 2012 - Part 2
In addition to the speeches given by each of the candidates, attendees were requested to submit written questions to the students manning the event. After the candidates gave their brief words, the Question and Answer period started in.
Some questions were directed to only one person, some were directed to multiple people (e.g, one question for all three School Board candidates). All the questions and answers are given below - this is merely edited for "time for each video:
GrokTV Event: Gilford Candidates Night 2012 - Part 1
This past Tuesday night, the Gilford High School Student Council held their yearly Candidates Forum. Each of the candidates running for any Gilford elected office were invited to give a 4 minute speech to the assembled crowd (my estimated was around 50 people) as to why they were running. Here are the videos of those candidates that actually showed up or had their [absentee] Letters read for them.
School Board: Sue Allen, Doug Lambert, Karen Thurston, Kurt Webber
Selectman: John O'Brien Moderator: Sandy McGonagle Library Trustee: Leon Albushies
Budget Committee: Barbara Aichinger, Phyllis Corrigan, Skip Murphy, stuart Savage
(Absentee Letters: Richard Grenier, Allen Voivod, J.Scott Davis, No Shows: JoEllen Space, Joe Hoffman)
Asking for your vote for re-election to the Budget Committee
My name is Skip Murphy and I am running for re-election for the Gilford Budget Committee. I am also endorsing Barbara Aichinger and Stuart Savage for the BudComm and for the following reasons. Bev Buker correctly identified the spending problem in her Laconia Daily Sun 2/9 Letter “to work with the available money on hand” as for some in Town “the available money “ is never enough; the implicit demand is that the needs of Government trumps that of taxpayers' need for their own hard earned money. What is rarely is addressed is the important point: what is the cost of Government doing more? Unfortunately, there are those in Gilford that don't care – they just demand those services regardless of the cost (or the result). They seldom ask “can this service be done better at a lower cost?” nor, “what is the unit cost of providing that level of service”?
Terry Stewart in his Sun Letter (2/14) Letter, honed in on that lament – one cannot reduce budgets without some departmental budgets getting haircuts. I've heard the hysterics over the years that services will suffer if even the slightest of cuts are implemented but I've heard very few ever raise the issue of “Does Government have to have the best at the expense of taxpayer wallets?”. Two concrete examples are the buying a costly new fire engine vs fixing the current backup one to last a couple more years, and propping up the Planning Dept staffing even as its work load has plunged the last few years.
But the biggest problem is that Labor costs constitute the majority of our budgets and are amongst the highest of NH towns our size. My first meeting on the BudComm, I unveiled a salary study that showed that Gilford consistently paid highest salaries for all the Town related job descriptions of the 32 town surveyed. Nothing I have seen since has led me to believe that has changed. Even the School Board's own Administrative Salary study found their costs were higher than similar districts. These costs lead directly to a larger tax due price that show up twice annually – unless someone fights to keep that in check.
That was one of the reasons I originally ran to be on the Gilford Budget Committee and why I am, again, asking for your vote to re-elect me to the Budget Committee. Much has been done and in conjunction with others, I helped achieved real financial structural changes benefiting taxpayers with starting the process of employees paying more for their healthcare as in the private sector and moving from COLAs to merit increases to name two specific examples. I've also been the only Member that has consistently, over the years, asked for large budget decreases to keep more of your money in your pockets.
I have been accused of having an agenda these last six years and I readily admit such: “why should Government spending rise faster than the ordinary family's income?” Government does need to serve its citizens but never at a price that puts families second financially. That is why I ask for your vote for me as well as Barbara Aichinger and Stuart Savage; I need their help and I can promise that we will look out for your wallets!
Lower Taxes, improved voter participation and more transparency!
In response to the Gilford Selectmen and the Town Administrator’s misunderstanding of the Petitioned warrant articles I would like to respond with the following:First of all each of the 5 petitioned articles submitted to the town had between 30 and 50 signatures so many Gilford taxpayers did take the time to make sure these got presented to the voters.
ARTICLE 25:This relegates the creation of the default budget to the budget committee.The creation of the default budget is not the sole purview of the Selectmen but can be relegated to EITHER the Selectmen or the Budget Committee per RSA 32:14.The Petitioners would like to give this choice to the voters.The Petitioners feel that it should be the budget committee in order that a LOWER default budget might be devised so that more choice is presented to the voters. VOTE YES
ARTICLE 26:This is the long awaited TAX CAP.This is the first year that town’s have been able to vote on a tax cap in New Hampshire.This tax cap is for 0% which means that the amount that the town took from the taxpayers last year will be the same for each year the tax cap is in force.This is NOT ‘toothless’ as implied by Town Administrator Dunn.The language of the article is prescribed by RSA32-5;b and if passed is binding on the town governing body or Budget Committee, without recourse, regardless of who prepares the budget. VOTE YES
ARTICLE 27: Pushing out the town elections until May.Our 2011 town election voter turnout was less than 900 voters.We also have a very low turnout at Deliberative Session.This is because in part it’s COLD in February and March and people stay home.In addition we have many many snowbirds.Some of them do vote absentee but they cannot participate in Deliberative Session if they are in Florida.The Selectmen claim that if we do this the town will struggle due to the difference in the fiscal year versus the calendar year.Hogwash, RSA 32:13 has a prescribed method for this situation and many towns operate this way.Let’s give democracy a bigger role here in Gilford and push out the date a bit to reach out to more voters. VOTE YES
ARTICLE 28:Voter approval for Non Union Contracts.Well what is good for the goose is good for the gander.If the union contracts get vetted why can’t the non union contracts get vetted?To date the town claims it has only ONE non union contract and that is the Town Administrator.The Selectmen claim that this would prevent employment of contracted employees until the town votes.Not true, many towns have no contracts for many employees indeed many of Gilford’s employees have no employment contracts.The Selectmen can chose to hire the person without a contract until it is approved by voters.Vetting these contracts is an important part of the improved transparency that the petitioners are seeking. VOTE YES
ARTICLE 29: Changes to the personnel policies and procedures manual.This was a tough one to put together.Buried on the town web site is the Gilford Employee Personnel and Policies manual.The Petitioners feel that the private sector and the public sector are no longer on parity.Private sector income is down, benefits costs have shifted to employees and retirement accounts have been hit due to fluctuations in the stock market.However the public sector has been largely immune to this.So the private sector gets stuck paying for both!To summarize, these changes are:Increasing the amount of Health and Dental benefits paid for by the employees by 10%.Today the taxpayers pay 94% of the Health and 84% of the Dental.Making raises every two years versus every year and lowering the amount of those increases.In addition when a person reaches the top of their pay scale they just don’t keep getting raises.In the private sector a job category is worth a certain pay and you don’t keep increasing salary because of longevity.Also eliminating the 2% town provided contribution to a second retirement plan. Petitioners believe one taxpayer provided retirement plan is enough.All of the other benefits: life insurance, long term disability, short term disability, vacation time, sick time, health club stipend, training costs, contributions to the State Retirement plan (as prescribed by law) and payment for not participating in benefits packages all remain untouched. VOTE YES
In summary the goal is to lower Gilford’s tax rate, increase voter participation and improve local government transparency.
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