Mar 15 2016

The Scattershot Effect

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis, Policy, State Politics

Last night’s passage of HB779 by the Tennessee House brought to light some features of the bill that I was previously unaware of, and some problems that will most certainly result if the bill is passed.

Here’s Rep. Carter speaking on two features of the bill that haven’t gotten a lot of play in the media.

Ed. Note:The clip is about 3 minutes long, but the video doesn’t stop on its own for some reason.


A couple of thoughts about the sunset provisions:

First, it is a good thing that this bill sunsets in 3 years. That certainly does reduce the amount of time that Memphis and other cities would have to be in a holding pattern while neighborhoods organize to leave the city.

Second, the ‘one and done’ provision is also a good thing. This basically gives the organizers of any de-annexation effort one shot to get it done. If, for instance, an effort were to fail in November, the city would know that area is safe from being de-annexed (theoretically).

Unfortunately, there’s nothing stopping a future legislator from writing a bill that would change those provisions in the future. If they can change nearly 200 years of standard land use practice, they can sure as hell change 3 years without even giving it a second thought.

I understand that all legislation is subject to change at any time, but these sunsets give a false sense of security to the impacted cities.

Scattered, Covered, and Smothered

taken from Shelby County Register GIS

taken from Shelby County Register GIS

One of the other things that Rep. Carter talked about last night was something called ‘non-contiguous annexation/de-annexation’.

What that means is areas that are part of the city don’t have to be lined up one after another. This is kind of a hard thing to visualize, so I have a picture of a neighborhood (I removed all the identifying factors because I don’t know if this neighborhood can de-annex or not, its just for illustration).

Lets say, this neighborhood was part of an area that de-annexed itself. Under Rep. Carter’s bill, the City could end all services on the effective date, and still tax the property for the debt accrued while in the city.

But there’s another piece. If some homeowners didn’t want to leave the city, they have a certain timeframe (I think 30 days from the effective date) to petition the city to come back in.

That all seems well and good until you visualize what that might look like, which I have done below.

Non-contiguous Memphis 'what if'

Non-contiguous Memphis ‘what if’

As you can see in this example, just a few of the plots of land in this image have asked the City to accept them back in. The City doesn’t have to, and it might be in their best interest not to.

Here’s why: Providing police, fire and trash pickup for these few plots of land in an otherwise unserviced area would be a very inefficient use of resources for the city. The property taxes and fees collected would never pay for the services. Its only when the city provides services to everyone in a neighborhood that it comes closer to being efficient.

Which means that if the people in these plots of land want to still be in Memphis, they would have to move, because it wouldn’t make good sense for Memphis to annex just their homes, and not the whole neighborhood.

This is one of those provisions that gets stuck in bills to make it seem really Democratic. “If they want to stay in Memphis, let ’em”, says Rep. Carter. He says this, knowing full well that Memphis will have to say no if there’s not enough demand (we might be wise to say no if its not unanimous).

What’s more, this is just one neighborhood of a larger area that de-annexed. It may be that City services have to traverse over miles of County roads just to provide services. There’s no way the City could, in good faith, allow that to happen either.

So this ‘pot sweetener’ is really a red herring. Rep. Carter knows the City could never make a few exceptions for select people. It would be fiscally irresponsible.


At this point, we don’t know if the Senate will vote on this bill this week or next. The House calendar says its ready to be sent over to the Senate, which means it could be any day now.

This afternoon Mayor Strickland met with the Memphis City Council (they were still meeting as I wrote this). Strickland says de-annexation could add between 30 and 70 cents to our already highest in the state tax rate.

Last night Rep. Larry Miller warned the Tennessee House of Representatives that by voting for the bill they were voting for a tax hike. He was right.

I guess Republicans aren’t opposed to tax hikes for some people.

Mar 09 2016

Parks, Progress, & Politics

The Parking Park - via David Lindsey on Facebook

The Parking Park – via David Lindsey on Facebook

I’ve been struggling to organize my thoughts since last week’s last week’s hasty action by the Memphis City Council regarding zoo parking.

But I don’t want to get into the specifics of the issue. I think others have captured what’s going on there better, and with more detail than I could.

The events of last Tuesday set off a lot of complicated thoughts that have lingered in the background of my mind for some time. Those thoughts were stirred up by the following two Facebook posts. One, from Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, posted just minutes after the City Council’s action:

Via the Mayor's Facebook Page - Click to view the post

Via the Mayor’s Facebook Page – Click to view the post

And this reaction from friend and local organizer, Brad Watkins:

Click to read the whole thing

Click to read the whole thing

For a week now, I’ve been thinking about these two statements, and what they mean for Memphis. And for a week, these thoughts have been disorganized and jumbled like the sounds of an orchestra warming up before a performance…with moments of clarity, like a melody that sings over the noise of the musicians for a moment, then is overtaken in a wave of disorganized dissonance.

That dissonance became more quiet after reading this article: Memphis Burning: Housing and Inequality.

There’s a lot to unpack in the article, but through it all there’s a consistent theme:

That in Memphis, political power is used as a blunt object to defend the powerful few, rather than a positive transformative power to lift up the many.

Last Tuesday’s Kabuki Theater serves as a prime reminder to Memphians that if you’re a well placed individual or group, like the people serving on the Zoo board, you can get the City Council to act swiftly and decisively on your behalf.

If, however, you are not, you can expect little more than words. Which is all the 300 families soon displaced from the Warren and Tulane Apartments, received on that same night.

With all that said, not everything is all gloom and doom. The passage of the resolution gifting the Greensward to the Zoo has ignited more interest from the people who live in the area…working to spare the space from the indignity of becoming a parking lot. One can only hope the fire doesn’t diminish over the coming months, as winter turns to spring and summer…and the continuing crush of cars descend on the zoo, complete with a new attraction, but with no corresponding infrastructure to deal with the additional visitors.

And hope springs eternal as the City waits, with baited breath, for the Mayor to release some sort of plan addressing the “crime, blight, litter, creating jobs, minority and women-owned business development, and the significant financial issues in front of us” for “hipster activists” to coalesce around.

In his defense, Mayor Strickland is on board with a short-term plan to revamp public transportation, though the impact of those changes to actual riders isn’t currently known. We’ll have to wait and see if the concerns of actual bus riders are dismissed as freely as the supporters of the Greensward were.

Over the past 12 years I’ve watched as citizens who show a little too much interest in local affairs have been derided. Hell, I’ve been one of those derided citizens. We’ve been dismissed, by both the powers that be and the media. We’re characterized as malcontents trying to sow dissent, and we all know, in Memphis dissent is something to be violently squashed.

Our politicians hate dissent so much the City Council wanted to do away with public comments a few weeks ago because they couldn’t take the heat of being public officials.

And dissent is messy. Too messy or the local media to report on regularly…even though its a fixture of local politics everywhere. I mean, its hard to drill down a story to a 45 second VOSOT or a 200 word bullet point when you’ve got to tell both sides of the story…with more detail than a he said/she said.

And when the reporters don’t even understand the basic civics of the area, all that noise of people with good intentions makes it too hard. Better to talk about demonic weaves than…you know, real shit.

And consequences? What consequences? I mean, this one elected official said it would be good… isn’t that enough?

So while the city faces the loss of 300 low income housing units with the closing of the Warren and Tulane Apartments, there are still plans to demolish 900 more when Foote Homes comes down, with no idea of where those people will land, and no chance of even trying to ensure that where they land will be more suitable than what they have now.

I’ve only seen one person talking about that, and it ain’t a politician or any person in the media.

We just don’t plan for those things, much less report on them, or hear from people who don’t wear $1000 suits. I mean, what about the developers feelings?

And so the people most impacted by these decisions, the working poor, are an afterthought in Memphis. A group to be blamed for not Horatio Algier-ing themselves into success while carrying the crush of history that is both summarily ignored and dismissed from our fair leaders.

In the end, I keep going back to one passage in that Memphis Burning piece:

To this day, many believe that King’s death coincided with the death of Memphis, that it marked the beginning of a half century of decline. It’s a convenient notion, but it doesn’t ring true. The assassination merely punctuated events set in motion decades earlier, when Boss Crump suppressed Bob Church’s dream of social equality and economic justice.

And every time I read it, I think about our elected leaders in Shelby County, and I laugh a little. Because who, of those people, have the stones to really talk about social equality and economic justice with any authority, credibility and political ability to get any of it done? Who is going to be the point-person that gets the City Council, County Commission and the County School board on board with social equality and economic justice?

No one…that’s who.

Its not funny, its comically tragic.

Because when it comes down to brass tacks…social equality and economic justice will always be framed as too financially expensive…when in reality, we’re going broke trying to ensure it doesn’t happen.

The truth is, social equality and economic justice are too politically expensive for our political leaders to bear.

And while what happened last week with the Zoo resolution may not be the ‘social equality and economic justice’ issue of our time. You can bet your ass that anyone who advocates for such policies will be dispatched, derided and dismissed with as much, if not more haste than the folks standing up for the Greensward.

Because, as Boss Crump says, “This is Memphis”, and that kind of justice ain’t how we do things around here.

Jan 10 2016

Changing of the Guard

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis, Policy

MPD Director Toney Armstrong

MPD Director Toney Armstrong

The Commercial Appeal reports that half of the members of MPD’s administrative staff have left, or will be leaving soon.

This follows the recently announced departure of Police Director Toney Armstrong.

While there’s no question the loss of so many seasoned officers who made their way up through the ranks will be a huge loss to the Department, it also gives newly inaugurated Mayor, Jim Strickland, an opportunity to remake the department to better serve the community.

To Protect and Serve

The Department faces many challenges in the coming years, including a crime rate that is higher than national averages for urban areas, continuing problems with public opinion, and an overall decline in the number of officers.

The department also suffers from internal problems that have been long ignored regarding policing strategies, something that was a major campaign issue in the fall, operating procedures that have serious flaws, and conduct issues that, while not untypical for a major metropolitan department, must be pursued in a more open and honest way.

It is my belief that these challenges are unlikely to be adequately addressed by an insider. The CA article cites concerns about losing institutional memory. While no one wants to have to relearn some of the more painful lessons of the past, there’s also no reason to believe that those lessons can’t be maintained with some of the leadership that remains assisting new leadership from outside.

Remaking the Department

One of the flaws that was exposed in the investigation into the officer involved shooting death of Darrius Stewart is the lack of consistent policy positions for officers in what would often be standard situations. These rules are written vaguely to give officers the latitude to make judgement calls. Unfortunately, that latitude can also be used to treat different people in similar situations very differently…which ultimately undermines the relationship between law enforcement and populations that have been wrongly targeted due to circumstances that may be beyond their control (race, the condition of their vehicle/residence, and the area in which they live).

Rules that detail when passengers involved in traffic stops are to be compelled to identify themselves need to be put in writing to ensure people’s privacy rights are respected, and that officers don’t accidentally create a situation where an arrest is thrown out due to mishandling the situation.

In addition, clear rules about when to call for backup need to be in place. If an officer has reasonable suspicion that there is additional illegal activity going on, calling for backup is appropriate because it both protects the officer and the other people involved by having another set of eyes on the scene.

Finally, additional rules about when force, either restraining force or deadly force, is to be used need to be implemented more fully. Is an unarmed suspect running from a crime scene a ‘deadly threat’? That standard should be in line with a 1985 US Supreme Court ruling which involved the Memphis Police Department.

The case, which happened in 1974, involved a MPD officer shooting and killing a man suspected of stealing a purse then fleeing. An officer on the scene shot the man in the head, killing him.

In the decision, the Supreme Court held that an officer could not use deadly force unless it was:

necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.

This is already the law of the land. Ensuring the Department is protecting itself, and its officers against unreasonable uses of deadly force is just as important as working as hard as possible to ensure the safety of the officers and the public.

Putting those things in writing to aid officers in their decision making on the scene would go a long way to avoiding issues that lead to the shooting death of Darrius Stewart.

An Active Partner

In addition to these changes, the new police administration should actively engage the Citizen Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) on any new policy adopted, and treat their relationship as a partnership to both inform the public of new policy, and provide oversight to the department when policy violations are reported.

Since long before the Darrius Stewart case, relations between law enforcement and some populations has been strained due to real and/or perceived wrongs committed by officers. Letting officers know that actions in violation of policy will be not only taken seriously, but that another set of eyes are watching, will help solidify these changes, and can lead to a net positive in the public’s view of police.

The end result here is not to tie the hands of officers, but to ensure consistency across the board, inoculating the officers and the department from lawsuits claiming unfair treatment.

Building Relationships

One of the challenges that police in Memphis face is little direct contact with the populations they’re serving, unless on a call. That means officers only see the people they’re serving when they’re at their worst, or in a bad situation, which negatively impacts their outlook on the community, and leads to more alienation.

Instituting a more traditional Community Policing Program would help both of those problems, and most likely lead to a real decrease in crime.

Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

While walking patrols may not be feasible all the time in a place like Memphis, which has low population density, putting more of a focus on officers developing relationships with people in the community to create a more cooperative spirit between law enforcement and the public will minimize the alienation that is common in traditional patrols. It also builds relationships between the public and police that are durable, even when things go wrong (like a questionable police shooting).

Personal relationships go a long way to building stronger communities. Memphis not only has an interest in building those relationships to heal the fractures between the public and law enforcement, but to also use that ‘boots on the ground’ intelligence to identify other societal ills that may be occurring in communities (domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, unfit housing, wage theft, and other problems people who feel forgotten may not report because they don’t believe anything will be done about it).

This kind of partnership strengthens communities, and can help lift up people suffering from these kinds of problems that often go unseen until they spill over into the streets, or result in a 911 call.

As those problems get resolved, it also increases the efficiency of the citizenry (as they are now, assuming all goes right, in a better situation) which can lead to secondary gains for the community like greater economic independence and community renewal.

All of these things are important for a city like Memphis that has a high rate of working poor.


While the loss of decades of institutional memory may seem like a severe problem for the city…problems are really just opportunities ripe for the taking.

Positive changes are unlikely to come from within. Institutions have their own inertia and generally follow Newtonian Laws of Motion, meaning, they will most certainly maintain their current velocity and direction unless acted upon by an external force, and then, they’ll still resist the push to change.

The opportunity for Memphis and law enforcement in the City, is to identify the right kind of ‘external force’ that will move the department in the right direction, and make Memphis not only safer for its citizens, but also one that places a high degree of value in a cooperative relationship between the police and the citizenry.

Jun 28 2014

Giving Process its Due

Posted by Steve Ross in corruption, lies, media, Policy, Shelby County, shenanigans

Shelby County Commission

Shelby County Commission

The crazy clown car show that has become the Shelby County Commission rolls on…but at least it may hold off until after the fourth.

Of course, the troubles are well known. Now at least two members of the Commission are under scrutiny for not living in their districts: Henri Brooks and Justin Ford.

Oh to be a fly on the wall at MLGW this week. I suspect they got a lot of $175 deposits from area politicians who have made a home outside of the area they represent.

But my purpose is not to throw out allegations, or anything of the sort (I’m not nearly the attention whore that some are…ala Thaddeus Matthews), but rather to mock the maker of the original accusation, the target of the accusation, the so called “conclusive” investigation, and the County Commission for making a mockery of itself.

Terry Roland Loves Checkers

Its too bad for Terry Roland, we live in a chess world. The guy plays checkers pretty well. I’m sure he has all the strategies to get that last checker cornered in such a way that he can go in for the kill.

But Roland hasn’t been as successful in the real world of politics where chess reigns. Sure, he’s garnered a lot of media attention, but most of it, in the end is just the fruitless flailing of a guy who quite frankly is more about attention than effectiveness.

Terry set off this chain of events, and in one way I’m glad, because this has been known a problem for some time, though not necessarily in this instance (that remains to be seen). But in another way, like checkers vs. chess, he forgot that the queen can “move” anywhere on the “board”, and the absence of a queen in one place doesn’t mean the queen isn’t still on the board.

Marcy Ingram and Mishandled Investigation

In the letter to Commission Chairman James Harvey, Ingram provides evidence that Brooks does not live at the location listed on her disclosures, and offers one eyewitness account that she frequently visits her daughter and grandchildren in Cordova (which is what grandparents do, by the way) and may have established MLGW service at that Cordova address (which is also something a parent might do if their child is in financial distress).

Unfortunately, Ingram does not establish anything other than the fact that Brooks does not live at the address on Crump, which is problematic. There are literally thousands of other addresses in District 2 that Brooks could live at. Merely proving she no longer lives at one of them does not prove she doesn’t live at another.

In fact, the lack of evidence establishing that Brooks lives outside District 2 (rather than just not at the Crump address) means that Ingram’s conclusion that Brooks lives outside the district is a huge leap in logic, not to mention other things.

In essence, Ingram sets up a “guilty until proven innocent” scenario in her letter…a flaw that Brooks was ready to exploit.

Defining Residency

I wasn’t at the County Commission meeting on Wednesday, but coverage from the event show Brooks sitting next to Walter Bailey looking like the cat that ate the canary. And despite her counsel getting the address wrong, Brooks did exactly what you would expect her to do in the face of a faulty report by the County Attorney…she offered up another address in District 2 as her residence.

The media guffawed at the new assertion, while failing…as I did initially, to note that Ingram’s report only established where Brooks does not live…rather than affirmative proof that she DOES indeed live outside the district.

Because Ingram never affirmatively proved where Brooks lives, she also hasn’t proved that Brooks doesn’t live in District 2.

Henri Brooks the too willing martyr

All of this could have been avoided if Henri Brooks had only provided the address on Mississippi to the County Attorney. But Brooks seems to relish being in the limelight this way.

Indeed she’s built her career on “standing up for her constituents” by launching invective at both friend and foe, while seeking to highlight an issue. Its unfortunate that she chooses this tactic, because it has made her one of the most disliked and ineffective members of the County Commission during her time in office.

Brooks doesn’t seem to understand that in order to be effective, you can’t shit on everyone around you and then claim moral superiority in the same breath. Her unwillingness to cooperate with the County Attorney’s investigation is just one example of the arrogance she demonstrates on a regular basis to the detriment of both her self, “her constituents”, and the County Commission as a body.

Indeed, she did set off an unnecessary shit show as Memphis Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden put it.

Yes, I still hold that she should prove her residency and end this foolishness.

But this is classic Brooks being Brooks as this CA profile put it. I’m not sure why anyone would expect anything different.

Doing Due Process

Now that there’s another Commissioner whose residency is in question, the County Commission should put in place a process by which they may remove a member who has violated the residency requirement set forth in both State Law and the County Charter.

I tend to agree with this editorial at the CA, the lack of a defined process, and the legal tests that must be met to “prove” someone to be in violation of the law, means that future efforts to enforce the residency requirement will indeed be met with both resistance, and dragged out to the point that they are moot (which is what will most likely happen in the Brooks case).

Residency questions should fall to a body outside the County Commission itself, to remove the appearance of playing politics. Perhaps the County Ethics Committee should be the one to investigate such claims, or the District Attorney (though neither necessarily mean the claims themselves, nor the investigations would be devoid of politics at its worst).

Regardless, there needs to be a real process in place rather than what is happening now, which is a half-assed attempt at best.

Failing to do something of this sort almost ensures another “shit show” such as this one…which is something the public shouldn’t have to endure again.


Lets give credit where credit is due…this whole misadventure getting to this point (and the future if the Ford question comes up) is the direct result of an elected official believing they don’t have a duty prove they meet the qualifications of service.

This belief is founded on something more akin to divine right rather than representative democracy, and has no place in our government on any level.

Scrutiny is the check that should help give us faith in our government. This may have been lost somewhat in an era of scrutiny for sport, which has dominated the past several years, but that doesn’t make elected officials any more immune from answering to the public, even when the question is stupid or politically motivated.

It speaks volumes about the individuals who believe they don’t have a duty to answer to such scrutiny. It says they don’t understand the fundamental nature of their relationship with the public.

It says a lot about a person who would rather allow a fight to escalate unnecessarily than choose to bat it down before it matures into a crisis. This kind of self-absorbed lack of care is all too present in our current political climate…at all levels of government.

But while Brooks’ character flaws (both real and perceived) may make it easy to dismiss her, dislike her, or hold any number of ill wishes on her political future…the simple fact remains that this process is as flawed as the witch trial in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail…which is at least as bad for our republic as Brooks’ irrational behavior, and many other completely preventable incidents she’s been a party to.

You don’t have to like her. You don’t have to support her. But until the County Attorney can prove where she lives and that her address is actually outside of District 2, the conclusion that she’s in violation of any State or County statute is not based on the fact that she doesn’t live in her district…only evidence that she doesn’t live where she previously said she does.

While the standard offered by Ingram may seem on its face to prove something, it doesn’t rise to the standard of proving a violation. Until the County Attorney can provide hard evidence that proves guilt (by proving where Brooks lives and that it is outside the district) rather than lack of innocence (which what Ingram has proved thus far), this whole charade is nothing more than a distraction initiated as a political ploy, continued by a hasty determination, fueled by a bullheaded and self-absorbed elected official, and fanned by an all too compliant and complacent media.

May 20 2014

Outsourcing Substitutes…#sigh #scsk12 #budget

Saving money is one thing,
but the math doesn’t even work on this deal.

I think we need to call in the subs for some of these members.

I think we need to call in
the subs for some of these members.

Tonight the Shelby County School Board is going to consider a proposal to use Kelly staffing services to place substitutes for the district in the upcoming year.

According to this article at the Commercial Appeal, the district doesn’t have the in house resources to fill the 800 – 1000 teacher and teacher aide absences that happen each day. The district says they’re operating at 80%, which means classrooms could be teacherless (which we all agree is bad). So they propose to do this deal with Kelly Staffing, so they can use their existing staffing model to get the subs to the schools at a higher assignment rate.


Now I see both sides of this argument. Its a liability for the district to have classrooms without teachers (or subs). On the other side, using a temp agency makes it sound like any ole Joe Blow will be able to go in and play “teacher” for the day.

Well, that’s not how its gonna work…in theory.

Current subs will be grandfathered in, and Kelly will use its massive resources to get other folks to fill in when they need them.

This all sounds good in theory, but I can’t help but wonder what happens when it doesn’t work, or some guy on the sex offender registry gets assigned to a school (which would be a catastrophe of epic proportions).

Will Kelly be required to get certified teachers? Better yet: What will the qualifications be to become a sub in the Shelby County Schools? Heck, what are they now? (Here’s the answer)


Here are the top two things the district expects of Kelly:

1. On average, SCS experiences approximately 800-1,000 teacher/teacher assistant absences/day; Due to staff capacity issues, SCS HR has only been able to maintain a fill rate of about 80-85% (there are only two people on staff who are assigned to substitute management, and who also have other duties), leaving dozens of classrooms empty on any given day. Our recommended vendor has an average fill rate nationally of 98% and locally (surrounding districts) of 100%
2. Next year the district will be responsible for providing employer paid health care for employees working, on average, above 30 hours per week. We estimate this would add 200 employees to the district’s health insurance plan – estimated cost is being researched and will be provided in Board presentation

Subs in the Kelly system will be able to buy into their health insurance…assuming they keep their hours above 30/week.

I get being all cost conscious, but I’m still not comfortable with the idea that people are these expendable things that can be shuffled around over a couple percentage points of your budget. I know…this is the world Reagan built for us, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.


My biggest problem with this is the top number…$11,000,000.

Let’s do some simple math…but first, lets look at what subs get paid:

Fewer than 20 consecutive days $128.95/per day
Certified Substitute Teacher (after working 20 consecutive day in the same assignment and has a valid Tennessee Teaching license in the subject area in which he/she is subbing) $214.35/per day
Assistants $13.70/per hour

Now, lets do some math here…

# Absent Cost Per Day Cost Per Year
800 Teachers $103,160 $18,568,800
800 Assistants $65,760 $11,836,800
400 Teachers/400 Assistants $84,460 $15,202,800
200 Teachers/600 Assistants $75,110 $13,519,800

There is no way to get to $11m…unless you’re not really having to place 800 subs a day.

Which begs the question…how many are you really having to place a day?

According to next year’s school budget, there will be 7,191 teachers and 1,395 teacher’s aides (p.20) or about 8,600 folks who would fall under the ‘needs a sub’ category (not sure if guidance counselors, librarians, etc. fall under that category, but I don’t think so).

For the district to have to fill 800-1000 subs/day, between 9.3% and 11.6% of next year’s teacher population would have to be out on EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.

Now, when there’s a flu or something like that going around, I get it. Maybe it peaks at 1000. But 1000 on a daily basis? Seriously?

I find that incredibly hard to believe.

More Math

Here’s another thing. Last year, the district says they budgeted $11,517,482 for substitutes. Last year there were a whole lot more teachers (because every school in the county was in the district). This year, the budget calls for $8,436,504 for substitutes (p.89).

But we’re gonna pay $11m to get someone else to do the heavy lifting and get around paying health insurance?

Is that what I’m to understand?

We’re going to pay over $2.5m more for a private company to handle our subs so we won’t have to hassle with assigning them or pay health insurance.

That’s what I’m reading into this whole thing.

In the process, you’re going to make an already difficult job even less attractive (the few who actually work every day a year (and its gotta be a few) probably qualify for ACA subsidies…if they aren’t already covered).

The most a sub could make is just under $37k/year. That’s assuming they work every day, which knowing some subs I can tell you, they don’t.

But I know, I know, we gotta make sure people that don’t send their kids to public schools don’t feel double taxed by their discretionary spending on private schools!!!

SIDEBAR: yes, some of them actually have the gall to think they’re being double taxed for paying private school tuition…when they’d do it no matter how good public schools are because its just as much about what the Jones’ down the street are doing (ie. status) as education.


Look, I don’t have a problem with fiscal restraint. I understand that we can’t throw money at every project in the public schools. But seriously people…this crap has gone way over the top.

I also understand that the schools are treated like society’s social workers…tasked with fixing all the things we, as a society, have screwed up, while at the same time being society’s whipping boy for not getting it done on a budget.

Its asinine.

But that’s what we expect…cure poverty, reduce crime, end teen pregnancy (without mentioning how it happens), and for God’s sake, bring up our low graduation rate/college degree attainment…and do it for nothing, because we’re just that damn self-absorbed to believe we can have it all and pay nothing for it.

Teachers, look out. The way things are going Kelly will be your new boss next year. Your union’s already been busted by the State Legislature…don’t think this school board won’t do it to you as well…and with a grin that says “fiscal responsibility”.

And while you’re at it… you better keep that performance up, lest someone decide you just aren’t getting it done cheap enough for their bottom lines.

Because that’s where we’re headed…and folks, it ain’t pretty…unless you keep your rich uncle on your side…which I just didn’t do.