….and then like magic, the robo calls stopped

DSC_0014Election 2013, which was pretty much a local affair for us save some of the judicial retention that I never heard much about but was the flip side of yesterday’s ballot, is over.

The people have spoken.  And even the chairs of the respective political parties in Chester County should listen.

Let us start with Tredyffrin.  I am pleased to report the upset my friend Pattye Benson over at Community Matters is reporting this morning:

In a surprising upset, two Democratic at-large candidates Murph Wysocki and Mark Freed, beat incumbent Michelle Kichline (R) who currently serves as the chair of the Board of Supervisors and Trip Lukens (R), chair of the township’s Planning Commission.    In the middle District supervisor race, EJ Richter (R) beat Laurie Elliot (D).  Prior to this election, only 2 Democrats (Paul Drucker and Mark DiFeliciantonio) have ever served on Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors.  As of Election Day 2013, that number has now doubled.

I am leaving her tea party commentary out of this because that isn’t what the local election results are about.  The local results are about dissatisfaction and enough people from BOTH parties wanting people OUT of office.  I do not vote in Tredyffrin but if I had to guess as far as Kichline goes, her playing possum when Pattye was targeted by another supervisor had something to do with this vote and as far as Mr. Lukens it is a basic matter of development and what people want for their communities.  My hypothesis is simple: he did not listen well enough.

I volunteered at the polls for the first time yesterday in Chester County.  I enjoyed it and was fascinated by how different it was.  What I noticed yesterday as a newbie were the snap judgments I saw given out to people like me by some of the older volunteers because I am open with my opinion.  But if they had been targeted the way I was targeted as a new resident by a county party chair how would they feel about the way politics are done out here? And also what I discovered yesterday is to an extent political volunteers are to be seen and not heard and where are we in the political process without our individual opinions?  Are we all Stepford on this bus?

Part of yesterday I volunteered with some really nice union guys out of IBEW Local 654.  Apparently they were at many polls in Chester County volunteering for the Democratic Party of Chester County.  Honestly, these guys were nicer than a great deal of opposing party volunteers I have hung out with over the years.  They were so nice and made volunteer hours at a sleepy poll pass more quickly. These guys are Delaware County based for their union.

Here they are:

iew654 2

Malvern Borough had an upset yesterday and I am still waiting to hear what happened “officially”, but Malvern Patch shared some exciting news:

The county’s numbers have Democratic candidate for Mayor, Dave Burton, beating incumbent Gerard McGlone (R). Burton received 65 percent of the vote, 509 votes in all, nearly doubling the 266 votes received in favor of McGlone.

The three open seats on the Malvern Borough Council, however, are a little less cut-and-dry.

The three republican candidates, William Macaleer, Robert Coughlin and Zeyn Uzman all received about 210 votes, or 11 roughly 11 percent of the vote. The remaining 68 percent of the vote went to write-in candidates, 1,351 votes in all. This is no doubt due to the write-in campaigning done by candidates Todd Lexer, David Barmwell and Matt Radano

 

Now as far as I know this blog was the only one who actually reported on these three write in candidates before Election Day (please correct me if I am wrong but I kept looking and looking for coverage of what these ordinary residents were doing), and I hope they ALL prevail in the end when Chester County is finished certifying everything.

Why the Malvern write-in upset is so important is these are regular people who did this without the backing of the two main political parties.  Their actions are based on their desire to step up and be counted.  Their actions occurred because they want to save Malvern Borough from an ugly, overdeveloped future.  These three guys Todd Lexer ,Matt Radano  and David Bramwell decided that the residents of Malvern needed an equal voice in their own existence and future and they stood up to be counted.

I completely believe that the actions of the write-in candidates also swept the new mayor-elect into office.

What has happened in Malvern is really cool.  Instead of just complaining, these folks did something.  And truthfully, they proved local politics are truly local and neither political party can take credit.  They did this themselves.

Over in East Whiteland I expect there will be a recount.  I am told that  Vanguard employee Bill Holmes has retained his seat by NINE or TEN votes over my friend Maureen Martinez.

Maureen should be commended for running a clean and independent campaign.  Maureen didn’t run around with a sidewalk petition for a sidewalk to nowhere that probably will never happen and was just an election gimmick, nor did she have the multi-minute robo-calls bashing her opponent that you could not disconnect. She did her own door knocking and listened to what people had to say and answered questions.  I think she is a rising political star to watch.

With reluctant congratulations, I hope Bill Holmes gets the message that voters have sent him in East Whiteland.  The message is simple and clear and it is that  they want things done differently.  I listened to what people from both parties had to say yesterday at the polls and this is what I learned people want:

  • They want televised meetings and a website that is not 30 years behind the times. 
  • They want current and comprehensive meeting notes that are readily and easily available because I am told the majority of residents in East Whiteland don’t have a clue about a lot that happens.
  • They want abandoned houses and properties dealt with and some better historic preservation
  • They want the route 30 business corridor to not look so embarrassing.
  • They want all the sites with problematic environmental issues cleaned up and dealt with.
  • They want a say in development. East Whiteland might be more commercial than residential, but residents matter.
  • They want fewer conflicts.

Nine or ten votes is not a landslide victory even in a sleepy off-year election.  It’s a message.

In West Chester the upset on the school board is nothing save historic.  Congratulations to Joyce Chester and the rest of her slate. Here is the Daily Local on that race:

WEST CHESTER — The self-styled “better direction” slate of challengers for West Chester Area School Board defeated three incumbents and one other candidate in voting Tuesday.

Using the Democratic Party label, the four challengers defeated Republican Party candidates, including three incumbents.

Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, Chris McCune and Ricky Swalm are the four Democratic candidates who unseated incumbent board members Sean Carpenter, Ed Coyle and Maria Pimley and defeated newcomer Pam LaTorre.

 

In the Court of Common Pleas, the Daily Local is calling the race in favor   Republicans Patrick Carmody and Jeffrey Sommer.

Troubled Coatesville has two new school board members, too bad they couldn’t have tossed the entire old board out.

west vincentWest Vincent I reported on last night and congratulations to John Jacobs and the others!  These candidates had a tough road to get here and they worked hard.  Will next up be to retire Ken Miller?

Congratulations also to my favorite purveyor of local honey.  Carmen  Battavio was re-elected in East Goshen. Congrats also go out to a favorite local farmer.  Farmer Bob a/k/a Robert Lange was re-elected in Willistown. These two should teach other supervisors how it’s done.

Yesterday I was reminded again of how local politics should stay local.

I am happy that robo-call season is over and it is nice that life less political can resume!  Truthfully I do not have the stomach or tolerance for politics that I used to.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

pay to play lament: west chester area school district teachers picket

“Pay up!”

“The district has the money!”

Ah yes, the things that are heard on the picket line.  As in yesterday, in West Chester.

I have written about the ongoing issues between the teachers and the West Chester Area School District before.   And I am about to be the most unpopular girl at the dance again as far as these teachers and their supporters go. However, much like yesterday’s teachers who picketed and those who support them, I am also allowed to express my opinion on the topic.

One teacher heard hollering for the benefit of the television cameras who bore witness yesterday said it wasn’t about the money, it was about making a “living wage”.  I am sorry, did I hear her correctly?  Are teachers in the West Chester Area School District so grossly underpaid? Am I to envision the need for tip jars on every teacher’s desk throughout the district?

I truly don’t think so.

And whomever wants to can jump all over my back for having that opinion, but after following this story off and on for close to a year now, that is how I feel.

As I said before, I will say again:

Ok, here is what I think: Both sides will of course (to an extent) interpret the facts to suit their cause.  No one is perfect.  When the economy was better, I am sure everyone can agree this district spent like a drunken sailor on leave, correct?

So now times are tight.  Funding, grants, you name it are down. Which means both sides need to give as they get.

However, that being said, I think this teachers’ union and others need to wake up and smell reality.

They aren’t being asked to suffer a great injustice if they have to contribute towards their healthcare benefits!  Give me a break!  I am one of the millions of Americans who pays for their own healthcare out-of-pocket.  As in 100%.  And oh yes, I paid for breast cancer doing that and survived just fine.

Salaries.  My goodness, where else can you earn a fine salary and take off a few months a year on the taxpayers if you so choose? Wow.  Most of us in the private sector have considered ourselves lucky for years if we managed to get a cost of living salary increase!  Sorry, but between the salaries and the retirement benefits that enable teachers to not only retire early, but if they have been paying attention, retire rich, I do not feel the love in a need for an 18.3% bump up over three years.

Accountability.  Charter schools and private schools hold teachers accountable.  Heck most jobs in this country exist with a review process as part of the every day  dealio. Public school teachers should be equally accountable.  But if everyone is accountable than those who should have either chosen other career paths or been put out to pasture can’t slide by any longer, can they?

But is the school district itself with 100% clean hands here? Doubtful, never seen one that was.  School districts have all sorts of issues and skewed politics.

Now, do I believe there are people who are underpaid? Yes.  School District employees like teacher’s aides are often grossly underpaid.  But the teachers?  I am not so sympathetic.

And  I have a comment to the blond teacher who said on camera “we want fair wages for our work…we live in the district too.” My comment?  Simple.  If these teachers live in the district then they KNOW that there are a lot of people living on a LOT less than they have.  People without jobs, struggling to make ends meet.  People without benefits.

The day of the fatted calf is done.  These teachers have a LOT more than a lot of other people. Period.  This economy sucks for a lot of people, not just teachers.

If all of West Chester Area School District were so fabulous then they would not have kids being home schooled. Or in Charter Schools.  Or in private schools. Or in Catholic Schools.

I am sorry, but it truly upsets me to see people who have decent jobs and benefits most can only dream of  complain chronically that it is never enough.  If it isn’t enough, then they have options including going to work for other school districts and moving.

But to stand there and complain when so many more are going without right in their own district, well enough is enough. Grow up.

And think twice before you roll up on this blog and accuse me from hating teachers.  I don’t hate teachers. I know a lot of them.  And some of the teachers I know live with a LOT less all the way around than the teachers in the West Chester Area School District.

Overall, I think a lot of school districts spent a lot of years being bloated and neither teachers nor administrations planned adequately for “rainy days”.  Furthermore, yes times are tough, but in my mind that doesn’t mean you just shell out more to some, while so many others go wanting.  And there are a lot of people in Chester County, let alone West Chester who are seriously wanting and in need.  Maybe these teachers need to go volunteer at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food banks – see what real need is. Right in Chester County.  Right in West Chester.

I apologize again for those who feel I am being strident.  It’s just the simple fact that SO many are detrimentally affected by the current state of affairs as far as the economy in Pennsylvania and the US as a whole.  These teachers aren’t by themselves suffering on a little deserted island.

West Chester Teachers Rally For New Contract By David Kinchen, Reporter

FOX 29 News September 25, 2012

West Chester teachers say they have been working without a contract since June 30th and want the West Chester Area School District to pay up.

“We happen to know that the school district (is) finding money and has the money to settle these contracts,” said Debbie Fell, president of the West Chester Area Education Association. …

District leaders say the school budget is fine for this year.  However they are worried about deficit projections up to $18 million two years from now and want to be careful about future financial agreements.

Union leaders say they have already saved the district nearly $3 million by agreeing to pay a pay freeze last year.

Both sides will continue negotiations on October 10th

West Chester Patch: West Chester Teachers Rally for a New Contract

Members of the West Chester Education Association gathered outside the district’s administration office to rally support for a new contract.

ByJake Speicher Email the author  5:45 am

The West Chester Education Association held a rally in front of the district’s administration building before Monday night’s school board meeting.

“We didn’t get in this for the money,” said teachers’ association president Deb Fell in front of a crowd of district teachers.  “All we want is a fair wage.”

Didn’t get into it for the money?  Really?  Good to know, from an outsider’s perspective it is hard to tell. Seems to me the teachers are telling us ordinary lay people that we are just supposed to work our tail feathers off to support them? At the expense of what we can afford? Do they think that the WCASD administration is just going to pull the money out of thin air? Or knock over a leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?

mixed nuts: negotiation update for west chester area school district

Whether you have a kid in the school district or not, if you live within the confines of the West Chester Area School District, you pay.

Within the past couple of days,  mailboxes all over the West Chester area received a mailing from the West Chester Area School District titled “Negotiation Update”. (You can also visit them on the web for further information HERE.)

When you look at the  Board vs. Union Proposal Analysis , the following really stood out:

For the Board’s contract proposal, total spending on teachers’ salaries and healthcare benefits will increase from $86.2 million in 2011-2012 to $93.4 million in 2014-2015. This will increase the District’s costs by $7.2 million. For the WCAEA’s proposal, total spending on teachers’ salaries and healthcare benefits will increase from $86.2 million in 2011-2012 to $107 million in 2014-2015. This will increase the District’s costs by $20.8 million.

So I have to ask West Chester, what are you willing to pay?  This comes out of your pockets, after all.

Of the issues in dispute, as per the mailing, here is some of what you are looking at:

WCASB (West Chester Area School Board) wants as far as Salaries:

 under board proposal, teachers will earn raises totalling 3.82% over first 2 years of 3 year contract or average salary will go from $67,800 to $71,200. In the 3rd year the district will offer a one time bonus of $1500 (+ 2.11%) to each teacher if average increase in combined real estate assessment growth in areas served by district exceeds 2.6% between 2012 and 2014.

What Union wants:

Salary increases of 18.3% over course of 3 year contract (intentional so it will exceed annual increases in healthcare contributions rates on the part of its members.) What union is asking for is that teachers receive both a cost of living increase plus a “salary column” increase or + 5.57% year 1, + 5.81% years 2 and 3.

WCASB (West Chester Area School Board) wants as far as Accountability:

If a teacher receives an unsatisfactory performance evaluation, they will not receive a salary increase the following year.

What Union wants:

The union proposal continues to allow members to receive annual raises without regard to performance evaluation.

WCASB (West Chester Area School Board) wants as far as healthcare:

District funds 90% of medical,dental, prescriptions, and vision year 1, 85% year 2, 80% year 3.  Also moderate (yes moderate) deductibles.

What Union wants:

In a nutshell an expansion of current healthcare benefits.

There are more sticking points having to do with retirement benefits, course reimbursement, work year/professional development time, work time and on-line course work.

I sort of agree with the teachers’ union as far as the on-line course work, because I have a problem with courses in a box…but as per the district when you compare the cost of the two proposals (and I quote from the flyer which was mailed out):

Comparing the Cost of the Two Proposals:

The cost of paying for a new teachers’ contract should be of particular interest to taxpayers, since they fund approximately 85% of the District’s budget.  The chart…indicates the difference between the school board’s proposal and the WCAEA proposal in each of the 3 years:

Year 1 – $4.9 million

Year 2 – $9.4 million

Year 3 – $13.6 million

So in digging around to see what the media is saying I found a blurb on West Chester Patch which says in part:

The following is a press release from the West Chester Area Education Association.

The West Chester Area Education Association (WCAEA) met today with representatives of the West Chester Area School District regarding contract negotiations. While no deal has been finalized, WCAEA President Debbie Fell said the teacher’s union and the school district have agreed to continue talks and have scheduled the next negotiation session for Thursday, August 16.

“We agreed to continue to meet in order to come to a fair and equitable resolution for everyone involved,” Fell said. “The WCAEA is dedicated to providing an excellent education for our children…

Alrighty, so one side mails, the other side press releases, but school begins September 4th and the children of the district are Malcolm in the Middle.

How do you all feel about that?

I found a letter in The Daily Local I would love to share:

Recently, there have been a number of newspaper articles and letters to the editor regarding the current contract negotiations between the West Chester Area School District and its teachers’ union. There have been some key numbers frequently mentioned including an 18 percent average pay increase over the next three years, as well as teachers will receive a 33 percent decrease in the effective compensation over the next three years if the proposed contract is adopted….I find it difficult to believe that the average teacher’s salary will be decreased by 33 percent over the next three years. The most recent letter was from the treasurer of the teachers’ union who again stated the 33 percent decrease concern. I believe it is necessary for that statement to be verified by details showing exactly how the average teacher’s current effective salary would decrease over the next three years from that teacher’s current effective salary.

  I would hope that a union representative would respond in writing with this information

Amen to that!

Suggested reading?

Opposing opinions may stall WCASD contract talks  BY JEREMY GERRARD jgerrard@dailylocal.com  Posted: 08/03/12 12:39 am

 

Residents Speak Out Against Union Dues Requirement: Residents at the West Chester School District Board meeting speak out against the district’s requirement that all teachers pay union dues. ByJake Speicher Email the author July 24, 2012

Letter: Teachers’ Union Disappointed in School Board.A letter from the West Chester Area Education Association expresses disappointment in the negotiating process to this point.  July 20, 2012

Ok, here is what I think: Both sides will of course (to an extent) interpret the facts to suit their cause.  No one is perfect.  When the economy was better, I am sure everyone can agree this district spent like a drunken sailor on leave, correct?

So now times are tight.  Funding, grants, you name it are down. Which means both sides need to give as they get.

However, that being said, I think this teachers’ union and others need to wake up and smell reality.

They aren’t being asked to suffer a great injustice if they have to contribute towards their healthcare benefits!  Give me a break!  I am one of the millions of Americans who pays for their own healthcare out-of-pocket.  As in 100%.  And oh yes, I paid for breast cancer doing that and survived just fine.

Salaries.  My goodness, where else can you earn a fine salary and take off a few months a year on the taxpayers? Wow.  Most of us in the private sector have considered ourselves lucky for years if we managed to get a cost of living salary increase!  Sorry, but between the salaries and the retirement benefits that enable teachers to not only retire early, but if they have been paying attention, retire rich, I do not feel the love in a need for an 18.3% bump up over three years.

Accountability.  Charter schools and private schools hold teachers accountable.  Heck most jobs in this country exist with a review process as part of the every day  dealio. Public school teachers should be equally accountable.  But if everyone is accountable than those who should have either chosen other career paths or been put out to pasture can’t slide by any longer, can they?

But is the school district itself with 100% clean hands here? Doubtful, never seen one that was.  School districts have all sorts of issues and skewed politics.  What are those in administration giving back as far as salary increases, perks, etc?  Are there positions within administration specifically that could be pared down or eliminated to save money? And above all else are kids in this school district getting an education they can actually use to better their futures?  And what about the bullying issues and other social issues which exist and I never seem to hear addressed? I found a tumblr blog post about bullying that is old that says in part:

Ironic the passing of Rodney King also saw Lou Ferrigno “Hulk” sworn in as a security officer in Los Angeles.  Now that most schools have completed their academic year, it would be time for the school administrations to review their policies for prevention of bullying.  In this area, the West Chester School District has a policy, most recent seems to be 8/08 and states it will be updated every three years.

Am I reading this correctly?  If so, WCASD has some ‘splaining to do there, huh?

And then there is the constant and troubling undertone that one political party runs the school board and school district?  I am a Republican but I still believe that one party rule anything is a bad idea and leads to petty tyranny.

Whatever, I am definitely an outsider looking in.  But what I have seen with regard to this school district is not particularly impressive.  Like much of the public school education in this country, it leaves a lot to be desired and is the only thing the majority of taxpayers can afford.  So taxpayers are stuck no matter what.

What are the taxpayers in the West Chester Area School District going to do?  Smile politely from behind PTA mom and dad faces or get up, stand up, be heard, and demand that both the district and the teachers’ union have accountability?

In my opinion, the choice is up to the taxpayer whether they believe it or not.  Taxpayers can have a real and valid say on how this plays out.   Start now.

Why don’t you contact some of the people listed below? Write the papers? What do you have to lose?  The answer is nothing and the kids have everything to gain.   When did education stop being about preparing future generations for life?

Dr. Marc Bertrando
Assistant Superintendent
Secondary Education  484-266-1004

Dr. Robert Fraser

Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Curriculum  484-266-1198

Dr. Suzanne K. Moore Director of Business Affairs

Business & Finance Department  484-266-1020

Members of the public may contact the Board by email or via the Board Secretary, Mrs. Pauline Bachtle by submitting information in the following manner:

By Traditional Mail:
West Chester Area School Board
c/o Pauline Bachtle, Board Secretary
Spellman Administration Building
829 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA 19380

By e-mail:
pbachtle@wcasd.net
(Note: Mrs. Bachtle, the School Board Secretary, will see that all members of the Board promptly receive your e-mail.)

By Telephone:
Call Mrs. Bachtle at 484-266-1125 if you wish to speak personally with a member of the School Board. Mrs. Bachtle will forward your name and telephone number to the respective Board member.

Members of the 2012 West Chester Area School Board: 

Vincent Murphy, School Board President  vmurphy@wcasd.net

Heidi Adsett, School Board Vice President hadsett@wcasd.net

Sean Carpenter scarpenter@wcasd.net

Ed Coyle ecoyle@wcasd.net

Karen Miller kmiller1@wcasd.net

Dr. Maria Pimley  mpimley@wcasd.net

Linda Raileanu  lraileanu@wcasd.net

Maureen Snook  msnook@wcasd.net

Sue Tiernan  stiernan@wcasd.net

Robert Partridge Communications Program Director
Communications Department  484-266-1170

Dr. Leigh Ann Ranieri  Director of Pupil Services

Pupil Services Department  484-266-1229