Compliments my first cousin, Leo Bashinsky:
“Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have ever been tried.”
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
From Nashville J this morning:
Unfortunately, I can not fill in your name and vote for you in today’s school board election. I would if I lived down there – just to throw the CAT amongst the pigeons as they say! Regardless, hopefully you made some people think about some issues that no one else was talking about – and hopefully you opened some eyes of people who don’t think for themselves.
Have a good day and get out there and vote SLOAN!:-)
I voted last week to avoid the crush I figured today would bring at the polls, partially thanks to our dear right-wing Christian Republican Governor Scott and his party reducing the number of early voting days – early voting is said to favor more Democrats and Independents voting. I have no clue if I opened any eyes. I have no clue if I ever opened any eyes in the Keys. I have enough trouble just keeping my own eyes open, and I need plenty of angel help with that.
Toward the end of today’s is a snapshot of School Board Chairman John Dick. Before that, though, is a snapshot of the Presidential race, starting with the syndicated bridge column in The Key West Citizen today:
By Phillip Alder
Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, said,“Leadership cannot be measured in a poll or even in the result of an election. It can only be truly seen with the benefit of time. From the perspective of 20 years, not 20 days.”
From The Key West Citizen this past Sunday:
November 4, 2012
EDITORIAL BOARD PAUL A. CLARIN /PUBLISHER TOM TUELL /EDITOR RALPH MORROW /SPORTS EDITOR NANCY SCHMOHL BECKWITH ROBERT CINTRON JR. KEN DOMANSKI SHIRLEY FREEMAN TODD GERMAN
Romney is our choice to lead the nation From time to time in our nation’s history, situations have arisen that require a choice be made by the voters to resolve political impasse. Examples of these occasions include issues such as continental expansion, suffrage, civil rights, continuing war and setting an economic direction. During such times voters have been called upon to make a choice between two equally passionate sides where the result affects the direction and future of the country. This is one of those times. If, as it’s often said, all politics are local, the Florida Keys have much to ponder this election cycle. That includes real estate values and sales that continue to lag, a declining population, increased city and county spending, state and federal mandated projects, restrictions and regulations galore. The ability to tax visitors to pay for our ways is at its limit. America itself is at a crossroad — in one direction, if the president is returned to office, we can expect a continuation of expanded government, the vilification of success, unwillingness to compromise or work across the aisle, while adding to national debt and a stagnated economy. We should expect continuation of class warfare and a continuation of shrill rhetoric. The president has asked for more time for his tonic to take effect, time the country can ill afford to gamble. In the other direction, a Republican administration headed by Romney/Ryan has promised to limit the growth of government, and promote more free enterprise to nurture economic growth while working “across the aisle” to end the partisan sniping and back biting in Washington. Beyond those complicating factors, and our skepticism, we should look at the candidates themselves and their record as public administrators. Since we know what has happened in the past four years — growth in government, a five trillion dollar increase in the national debt, naÃØve financial funding of nonviable “clean” energy firms that are now bankrupt, the raiding of $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare, a law that was voted on and passed without it having been read or understood by the members of Congress who, in their haste to pass a health care law, might have lost a chance to craft one that might have united the country while attempting to create affordable health care for all. Recent foreign policy gaffs have insulted our allies and emboldened our enemies. The recent blaming of a supposed YouTube video for a 911 terrorist attack exemplifies the unwillingness of this administration to take responsibility for any bad news. Mitt Romney is an experienced businessman, former governor of Massachusetts and the individual who brought the Winter Olympics of 2002 back from the brink of financial collapse. In essence, he has a career record working in the “real economy.” He knows how to start businesses and turn ailing ones around without dumping taxpayer money to “stimulate” this process. He knows how private enterprise and small businesses can create jobs and, yes, he knows how to downsize and even close inefficient operations. As for the choice for the Florida Keys — it should be clear. The economy of the Keys is supported by national tourism and the local military presence, specifically the Navy, and local businesses, small and medium, that supply goods and services to our major employers. If elected, Romney has promised: 1. A reduction in fuel costs (by using our own domestic resources and reducing our dependency on foreign fuel) that will benefit all Americans and, for us, encourage more travel into Florida and the Keys; 2. To strengthen the military that has been diminished by 10 years of war and military cutbacks by the current administration; and 3. To foster an economic environment that will be conducive to private sector job creation; promoting economic growth by lowering taxes and easing regulatory requirements. Consequently, the American dollar will be more attractive and more foreign travelers will come to the Keys for vacations, and potentially to invest here. In the past four years, we have witnessed the greatest job loss in modern American history. The population of Monroe County has declined, reducing our local tax base. We can no longer fund our schools, repair roads and bridges without funding gimmicks. Nationally, our energy resources and national infrastructure are in decay. For the past 50 years, administration after administration has squandered the financial future of those now living and that of generations to come. Government downsizing and economic incentivizing can’t be done in one easy painless trip to the polls, nor by one person. We must undertake a dedicated and long-term approach to create opportunities for all and to reindustrialize the nation. We believe Governor Mitt Romney offers a better choice to begin this process. – The Citizen
For several years I nagged The Citizen and Hometown! PAC to stop endorsing candidates unless The Citizen and Hometown! were prepared to ride herd on their endorsements if they were elected and then screwed up. By and by, The Citizen and Hometown! stopped endorsing candidates, not because of me, I don’t imagine, but because, I imagine, candidates they had endorsed performed in office, and elsewhere, in ways that made The Citizen and Hometown! look bad for having endorsed those candidates. If Mitt Romney wins, will The Citizen be as eager to take him to task if he screws up, as The Citizen was to put him in the White House? Probably not a very sincere question. If Romney wins, which won’t surprise me, my take will be it was because Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize while he waged the two psychotic wars of his predecessor, which wars were backed by all Republicans I know, and by many Democrats and Independents I know. I will not view a Romney win as having anything to do with Romney, nor with Obama’s domestic or foreign policies. I will view a Romney win like I view Hurricane Sandy’s visit to New York City and surrounding as America’s karma for the way it reacted to 911. Regardless of how the presidential race goes today, it looks to me like the blind leading the blind again.
In today’s edition of The Citizen, a posse of readers reply to the editorial, to one of which letters I respond in depth because it bears somewhat on the School Board races.Four of the letter writers are on my email hit list, as are two of the Editorial Board members.
Romney endorsement was slap in the face
Very disappointing to read the poorly written presidential endorsement of Mitt Romney. It appeared to be taken right off of a Romney website. Not a mention of any of his positions on women, LGBT issues or the environment. Nothing on his position to get rid of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and privatize disaster response. In fact it seemed to be written awhile ago ignoring many current issues, such as the storm Sandy and the refuted blatant lies about the auto industry. Judging from the response on Facebook, a lot of people feel as I do. This was a slap in the face to our little island.
Leda N. Andrews Key West
Mitt Romney can turn our economy around
I’m an independent and I will vote for Romney. If anyone plans to vote for Obama, then you must approve of his handling of Benghazi, the economy, and Fast and Furious. Nixon resigned for far less, yet we allow this president to murder civilians on his order and allow our ambassador to die because he didn’t want to make the Libyans mad. He has divided this country more than anyone since Lincoln. Despite what the left claims, there is no war on women. I don’t feel as though there is a war being waged against me. In fact, no woman I have spoken with thinks that. That claim is just one of the many ludicrous scare tactics that the Democrats employ to get what they want. … I’m voting for Romney because he has integrity, business sense, and a real love of America. He is the only one who can turn this economy around and the only one who can re-establish America’s place on the world stage.
Big Coppitt Key
Carol has been on my email hit list for a while. She is a Key West conch. She is retired US military and a lawyer licensed in another state but not in Florida. She has a gay son, who was repeatedly hazed at Key West High School, to the point he developed sucicdal ideation, Carol told me in an email. After getting no relief at KWHS, where her son was blamed for causing the hazing, and where he was not believed that he was gay, Carol wrote a letter to the editor to The Citizen, expressing her dismay. That was when I came into the case, since I recognized Carol’s name from my email hit list. The blaming of Carol’s son went up the line to then Superintendent of Schools Jesus Jara and the School Board. School Board member Andy Griffiths told me he was going to look into it, but nothing came from it. KWHS was where District 3 School Board candidate John Welsh was Principal before he retired a few years ago. John is being pushed hard by the local Republican Party for the District 3 School Board seat via campaign contributions, radio ads, and I imagine arm-twisting of local Republican Party members. John’s opponent, Capt. Ed Davidson, a long-time, tenacious citizen watchdog, is an Independent and has financed his campaign out of his own pocket. I learned in a conversation with Ed about a month ago that he views George W. Bush’s two wars about like I view them – nuts. While I may be viewed as nuts by many people, Ed Davidson is not viewed as nuts. He flew Navy Phantoms from carriers in the Vietnam war, and was flying on John McCain’s wing when John was shot down. Ed didn’t seem too big on the Vietnam war, either, when we had that conversation. He’s not anti-military, but he is anti-stupid war, is my take. I don’t know where Ed Stands on Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. But I know he is not a Republican Party robot, which it seems John Welsh is. I wonder which of the two men Carol will vote for? Or will she write-in my name on the District 3 School Board ballot. I’m the only candidate in either of the two School Board races who went to bat for her gay son’s trouble at KWHS. Carol, for Romney to turn around the US economy, he will have to apply the same draconian measures he applied to bankrupt companies he took over, and he will have to reduce military spending by half, all of which will insure he will be a one-term president if he isn’t assassinated sooner. Perhaps, Carol, you do not feel threatened by Romey because you are past child-bearing age. Perhaps you should not speak for young women whose sex and maternal lives the Republican Party apparently believes it has a mandate from God to control, not entirely alien to the way the Pope and Islam view their mandate from God to control women’s sex and maternal lives. I don’t see the Republican Party being any different from the Pope and Islam on homosexuality, either.
Endorsement based on untrue assumptions
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Your editorial is based on the following assertions that are simply untrue. You state as “facts” that Obama has: “Expanded government.” Fact: In the past two years, the U.S. has added 4 million private sector jobs, while losing 4 million public sector jobs. “Vilified success.” Fact: Obama stated, “We succeed because of our individual initiative” in the speech where he pointed out that, obviously, government-built roads and the government-invented Internet help everybody out. An “unwillingness to compromise.” Fact: Obama’s compromises on health care, the environment, Guantanamo, and immigration, just to name a few, are the basis of the left’s critique of him. Meanwhile, the Republican senators voted to block everything that Obama put forward, even Republican initiatives. Engaged in “class warfare.” Facts: Obama has given the rich the largest first-term gain in the stock market of any president since FDR, put trillions in corporate coffers, and asks only that the top 1 percent pay tax rates similar to that of the average voter. Romney’s promises on the economy are as baseless as those of the Tea Party landslide in 2010: they promised “jobs, jobs jobs!” but came in and focused, “laser-like,” on abortion and gay marriage. Romney’s economic plan is simply Bush-Cheney on steroids: Even lower taxes on the top 1 percent, and even less regulation of the same financial markets that crashed and burned in 2009. Please, vote for Romney if you want lower taxes on the very rich, increased military spending and a more likely war with Iran, and fewer rights for women and gays. But not for the reasons in your editorial.
Mitt Romney lacks an ethical compass
The right of The Citizen to endorse Mr. Romney for president in its Sunday editorial is unquestioned. Such an endorsement is a serious matter and needs to be seriously considered and rigorously written. The writer in this case seems to be moved by Republican pixie dust into believing Mr. Romney’s platitudes without plans. As a small business owner, I value character above all other qualities in potential employees. Mr. Romney has demonstrated that he lacks an ethical compass. He has taken contradicting stances on many issues, with expediency rather than principle as a guide. After paying close attention throughout this long campaign for the highest office in the land, I have no idea of how Mr. Romney would act in any given situation. This more than disappoints me, it frightens me. Mr. Obama does not frighten me. He has not embarrassed me or his country in his travels abroad. He has worked in concert with other nations to further our values and interests. He has made a good faith effort to reach across the aisle only to be met with an unqualified “no” from an opposition committed to party above country. Much more progress could have been made toward righting our troubled economy had all members of Congress been committed to aiding their constituents rather than defeating the president. I disagree with The Citizen’s choice, but not with their right to make that choice.
What about equality and rights of citizens?
I was fairly surprised that The Citizen came out in support of Romney because it contradicts all the reasons I chose to make this island my home. I see Key West as a tolerant place accepting of the rights of all people, and that includes women and gays. It said the three main reasons were that Romney could affect gas prices, he would strengthen the military and the final reason was job creation and lowering taxes. Do you seriously believe this and if so, do you choose these things above equality and the rights of all citizens who live here? Right now, we are drilling more in the U.S. than ever before in our history. Global markets set gas prices and presidents have little influence. We now have 14 times more electricity from solar than we did in 2009. Florida is the second largest supplier of utility grade solar power. It’s our future. Romney isn’t for giving government subsidies for renewable clean energy as we do for oil; he thinks it’s a waste. The second thing The Citizen endorses is more money for the military. We spend more than the entire industrialized world on defense and are trillions in debt on senseless wars. We have over 25 bases in Germany alone. Maybe we should suggest they close a few of those Cold War facilities and bring one to Key West. Unfortunately, Romney still sees Russia as a major threat. Finally, you want an environment that is conducive to job creation, but you want to go back to GOP policies. The worst creation of jobs in the last 50 years was during the last GOP administration. There is absolutely no proof cutting taxes on the wealthy creates jobs. You want more business from Europe? It’s not going to happen because they are sticking to austerity policies that aren’t working. Their economies are stagnated. Romney and the GOP are not for equal pay for women, against Roe v. Wade, against Planned Parenthood and against equal rights for gays. He is even against Big Bird. This is not Key West.
Surely you jest about endorsing Romney
Regarding The Citizen’s endorsement of Mitt Romney for president: You’re kidding, right?
You wish they were kidding, Connie, because you know them. Or, you thought you knew them.
I expected better from your [newspaper]
I am really disappointed to see Key West’s largest publication endorse candidates who blatantly oppose equal rights for all Americans — in direct opposition to Key West’s official philosophy of “equal rights, dignity and respect for all.” You have just endorsed people who say I should not have rights equal to other Americans. How would you feel if I endorsed someone who said you shouldn’t have equal rights? You’d be outraged! While I sincerely appreciate your long-standing support for One Human Family, I just wish the inclusiveness you wisely display at other times had played a factor in your endorsement now. As long as there are any groups that are denied equal rights, America cannot fulfill its promise. I had expected better from an enlightened [publication] like yours.
What motivated The Citizen’s endorsement?
The Citizen’s representatives seem to be pretty bright people, so I was surprised to read their endorsement of Mr. Romney this morning. Thinking I might have missed something that better minds were seeing, I read their editorial. But I found it was full of Romney-Ryan sound bytes (“the raiding of $716 billion from Medicare”), blame-shifting (“the military that has been diminished by 10 years of war;” whose war, please?), and sheer malarkey (“vilification of success”), so I wonder whether it really is the [newspaper's] considered view, or whether it’s a direct feed from the Romney campaign imposed on them by the paper’s owner. Perhaps as a condition of continued employment?
Shame on whoever was behind endorsement
The arguments you make in your Sunday editorial are petty and short-sighted. At best, a Romney presidency would produce a few cents drop in oil prices, a few more private sector jobs, and a few more (borrowed) dollars for the military and maybe a handful of foreign tourists, and maybe not even that. Is this worth the insult to our Keys commitment to one human family? Shame on whoever was involved with this choice. It is worth noting, though, that every other article and letter on the subject in Sunday’s paper is pro-Obama. A strange mix.
Alas, Anne, the entire Editorial Board, names provided near the top of this post, were behind the editorial. Otherwise, the ones who opposed it would have insisted on having their dissenting editorial published, or at least their dissenting letters to the editor published.
Endorsement right out of the GOP playbook
I see you are endorsing Mitt Romney for president. I didn’t know though, that you would let the Republican Party write out the endorsement for you. It is straight out of their playbook. Full of untruths. Would you please put your endorsement in your own words? I would like to hear how he is going to work across the aisle, make the numbers add up for his tax plan, and explain where he stands on any number of issues because of all his flip-flops. I also love the words that you use like “class warfare .” I wonder how the women at your newspaper feel about this endorsement. Republicans think of them as just chattel. Barefoot and pregnant. I mean, how dare women want to use contraceptives and have the right to decide what happens to their own bodies. Because of this, we men have to figure out whether they have been legitimately raped or just plain raped. Don’t they just always keep that a secret? No means yes, you know. Please explain your endorsement in your own words and not from a fanatical Republican conservative’s mouth, which is what is written in your newspaper. I would like to read that editorial.
Frederick H. Johnson
Actually, Frederick, I enjoyed reading your and the other critics’ rejoinders, which I give The Citizen credit for inciting and publishing. Looks to me, it’s a wild-ass guess, either way people vote.
Just call FOX News to get talking points
First, let me congratulate The Citizen on its editorial in support of Mitt Romney for president. To cut/paste the paper’s position directly from the Republican National Committee website was not only bold, but shows the kind of efficiency that a Romney presidency would bring to this country. Also, propping up your opinion with those of Mr. Belland’s directly below to provide consensus is pure genius. We know he only has his employees’ best interests at heart. Anyway, The Citizen hasn’t denied climate change yet but I’m sure that is soon to come. (Hint: You can cut/paste that from any Tea Party website.) However, reducing our dependency on foreign fuel doesn’t make the problem go away and that’s what will harm the next generation a lot more than deficit spending. Also, if you have a computer at your office it’s easy to discover that the military budget has never decreased over the last 10 years — or ever — but the standard annual increases have been subject to more scrutiny and if we quadruple our military budget we still can’t smart bomb our critics into oblivion. Furthermore, no self respecting economist believes that lower taxes and less regulation makes sound long-term sense. We cant just tell poor people to suck it up and drink their dirty water. As societies grow, they learn that while unfettered capitalism may put a Humvee in many people’s driveways, it’s at the expense of everyone socioeconomically below them. Finally the editorial didn’t mention the rollback of women’s rights to abortion or equal pay through the Lily Ledbetter Act, so I’ll assume the [editorial-writer] is single with no daughters to consider, and that The Citizen provides him with adequate health care coverage a long as advertising revenues stay strong in print media until he retires, which may not be looking too rosy either if Medicare and Social Security are gutted. So don’t get sick and keep pumping out quality journalism, and if you get stuck just call Steve Doocy over at FOX and he will provide the talking points.
Fox in the hen house comes to mind.
Endorsement was not supported by facts
[Sunday's] editorial speaks of foreign policy gaffs (sic) that have insulted our allies and emboldened our enemies. Yet there is no supporting evidence. Perhaps the same sloppy editing that overlooked the misspelling also overlooked the fact that it was Mitt Romney insulting the British during the Olympics. Furthermore, it strikes me that Romney’s self-serving, political second-guessing of the commander in chief’s response to a terrorist attack in the Middle East does far more to embolden our enemies than anything the current administration has done. On the subject of a self-serving agenda, I find it ironic that the Editorial Board of The Citizen looks to the Romney ticket to limit the growth of government and promote free enterprise; yet at the same time expects Romney to increase the size of the military — in part because of the economic boon it provides locally. While I certainly applaud any economic stimulus to our economy, I cannot fathom the hypocrisy of the concept. If the Editorial Board really supported fostering an economic environment that would be conducive to private sector job creation, they would advocate shrinking the military, and have the Navy turn over its valuable real estate holdings in Key West to be sold to private developers. While this is not an indictment of the Navy, I cannot abide the sanctimonious conservative notion that wealth redistribution through military spending is somehow more noble than through economic stimulus and social programs. Finally, America is producing more oil and natural gas than ever in its history under this administration. Prices are nevertheless high because our domestic production is sold on the open market, which in your “free enterprise system” is what determines the price. If American energy was sold only to Americans, the supply would be abundant, and the price would be affordable. No president in either party can ever make that happen. As long as we are competing for fuel with other burgeoning markets, no amount of additional drilling here is going to lower prices. That is pure conservative sophistry, promulgated at the behest of the corporate masters.
Citizen falls short in research, verification
The Citizen endorses Romney partly because of the $716 billion Obama allegedly “raids” from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. This is the exact number of dollars the Ryan budget, which Romney wholeheartedly supports, has also suggested to trim off Medicare. These cuts represent no reduction of services, rather they target wasteful spending, such as multiple redundant medical tests, superfluous administrative costs and the like. Either The Citizen is hypocritical about this point, or poorly informed. There is very little daylight between the candidates domestic energy exploitation ideas, other than that Obama would be a little bit more environmentally responsible about his policies. While citing cheaper energy as a possible boost to our tourist economy, the paper fully disregards the fossil fuel-enhanced rising sea level, which will make the Keys an all-underwater tourist attraction only if all we consider is our short-term benefit. To oppose Obama for not wanting to further increase an already obscenely bloated military budget on the grounds of our egotistical local interests, while disregarding the national fiscal consequences, is equally immoral. Taxes haven’t been lower in 30 years, and regulation is nowhere as stringent as the endorsement suggests. Again, the middle class will not be affected by the lapsing of the tax benefits of the super rich once the fiscally destructive Bush tax cuts expire. The endorsement is based on wobbly, quasi-facts, poor interpretation of what is pertinent, and a short-sighted, it-is-all-about-me style of thinking with no concern for the nation and/or future overall. It also ignores the long list of atrocious Romey/Ryan/tea party ideas that are an insult to women, minorities, arithmetic, science, common sense, and the concept of truth. This endorsement (as well as most Chris Belland columns) have shown that when it comes to the concepts of laziness versus “laid-backness,” there is quite a gap to bridge in regard to research and verification. Does this paper not value being taken serious?
The editorial was propaganda, facts and propaganda are generally incompatible, sort of like HIV and good health are generally incompatible. Not to worry, the Democrats are as adept at and addicted to propaganda as the Republicans, which is why I don’t belong to either party, or to any political party. On my ballot, for the US President eleciton, in the write-in space, I wrote, “None of the above.” In the District 3 write-in space, wrote, “Sloan Bashinsky.” Had I felt Ed Davidson would be a better School Board member, I would have voted for him.
Here’s a recent snapshot of School Board Chairman John Dick, compliments Larry Murray, who emailed me a while back that he would have endorsed me for the School Board, instead of Ed Davidson, if I had not been a write-in candidate.
From: Lawrence Murray [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Fri 11/2/2012 8:47 PM
To: John Dick
Subject: Business As Usual John: Listened to your interview this morning with Ezra on US1 Radio. Your comments regarding Ken Gentile were most interesting and enlightening. I thought noteworthy your general observation that Gentile’s misrepresentation on his employment application was simply a bump in the road that had to be addressed and was. More importantly, my attention was caught by your observation that you were “very satisfied” with Gentile and that you hoped that he would “stay around”. I assume that that is your imprimatur for his continuing appointment as Finance Director and that he will be here for years to come. It appears that Gentile has been successful in imitating Roman Gastesi. That is, Gentile has convinced the School Board as Gastesi convinced the County Commission that he is the “indispensable man”, that all would be lost without him. When one is deemed “indispensable”, it is amazing what will people will overlook. I am also told by others that Michael Kinneer may also be included in this new category of “indispensable”. Since Kinneer’s contract expires on December 15, I expect we will learn soon as to whether he is “indispensable” or “expendable”. Since nothing has been done to replace Kinneer and/or abolish his position, I can only assume that Superintendent Porter and the Board will find him “indispensable”. Then, come April 15, it will be Gentile’s turn, but I think that you have already expressed your opinion on that subject. During your interview, you also addressed the Fund Balance. I believe that you said that it is “precariously low”. Correct me if I am wrong. The last I knew, the Fund Balance was substantial, somewhere in the neighborhood of 5% or around $4 million. Can you tell me the current status of the Fund Balance? I have heard it said recently that it may be as low as $1 million, but I do not know. Larry Dr. Larry Murray Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocate
From: John Dick <John.Dick@KeysSchools.com>
To: Lawrence Murray <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, November 3, 2012 3:17 PM
Subject: RE: Business As Usual Larry, As of Nov 3 2012 the fund balance is projected to be $5.2 million for unreserved funds. John
From: Lawrence Murray [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sat 11/3/2012 9:58 PM
To: John Dick Subject: Re: Business As Usual– Reply II John: I need your help in clarifying what appears to be a contradiction in the data. You emailed me that: “As of Nov 3 2012 the Fund Balance is projected to be $5.2 million for unreserved funds.” Subsequent to receiving that, I have been sent a copy of “The School Board of Monroe County, General Fund, Budget Amendment, For The Month Ended September 30, 2012?, a report prepared by Ken Gentile, Finance Director, and presented to the Board at its October meeting. I assume that this is the report that you referenced in your comments to Bill Becker Friday during your interview. If you turn to page 6, the next to last line reads “Ending Fund Balance Projected to 06/30/2013?. The entry for that line is “$1,268,401.46?. What I am attempting to do and need your assistance is to reconcile the two numbers, your projection of “$5.2 million for unreserved funds” as opposed to Gentile’s number of “$1,268,401.46? for the “Ending Fund Balance Projected to 06/30/2013?. Can you provide some explanation for these apparently contradictory numbers? I also asked you in my initial email if you said during your interview Friday with Bill Becker that you thought the fund balance to be “precariously low” and thus reserve fund money was not available to be given to the teachers. Since asking that question, I have listened to the recording of your interview with Becker. What you actually said was that the fund balance was “dangerously low”. I am sorry that I got the word wrong, precariously versus dangerously, but I did not err in regard to the intent of what you said. Can you explain to me why you said that the fund balance was “dangerously low” to Becker and yet to me you wrote confidently that the fund balance was $5.2 million (c.6 1/2%) and thus at least reasonable, if not comfortable? I think that some sort of reconciliation is required. Larry Dr. Larry Murray Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocate
From: John Dick John.Dick@KeysSchools.com
To: Lawrence Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Monday, November 5, 2012 5:58 AM
Subject: RE: Business As Usual– Reply II Mr. Murray, I repeat the fund balance as of Nov 3, 2012 is projected to be $5.2 million. The report you are citing from Mr. Gentile does not include the rollover fund balance from the previous year. My statement of a precariously low fund balance is because I have constructed a table of all the districts in Florida % fund balance for 2010-11 (latest year all data is available) and Monroe County is the next to last out of 67 in having the lowest % fund balance. The state average fund balance that year was 16.26% John R. Dick
From: Lawrence Murray email@example.com
To: John Dick John.Dick@KeysSchools.com
Sent: Monday, November 5, 2012 9:37 AM
Subject: Re: Business As Usual– Reply II
Thank you for your explanation of the conflicting figures in the Fund Balance. I guess what you are saying is that the Finance Department forgot to include something when they calculated the current projection for the end of year Fund Balance.
I understand that mistakes are made. That is why they put erasers on pencils. What bothers me is that a mistake was made on a very important subject and no one was aware of it. The Finance Department that compiled the report did not catch it. The Superintendent and his management team that put the report on the agenda did not catch it. The School Board, to whom the report was directed, did not catch it.
My question is: Does anyone read the reports? I assume that when something as important as this report is presented to the Board and to the public at large, it represents the best work that the Finance Department can do. If that is the case, it makes you wonder. Are there other mistakes in the report that I did not catch or anyone else for that matter?
Dr. Larry Murray
Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocate
From: John Dick John.Dick@KeysSchools.com
To: Lawrence Murray firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Monday, November 5, 2012 2:20 PM
Subject: RE: Business As Usual– Reply II Dr. Murray, I read the reports and try not to miss anything. Since the beginning fund balance was far less then what I knew to be the beginning fund balance, and yes the ending fund balance was far less than the $5.2 million I figured it was only reporting one of the new components of the fund balance and not the total. However I was well aware of the current projected fund balance that concerns me was still $5.2 million. John R. Dick
From: Lawrence Murray email@example.com
To: John Dick John.Dick@KeysSchools.com
Sent: Monday, November 5, 2012 3:31 PM
Subject: Re: Business As Usual– Reply II
It is reassuring to know that at least you are reading the various and sundry reports presented to the Board.
Larry forwarded all the above to me, asked, “Last round?”
I wrote to Larry:
I be danged if I know, but so far, it don’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Looks like John answered you after I had sent out my post today, containing his and your prior emails. Would have been nice if John explained the “dangerously low” reserve fund balance to the US 1 Radio listening audience. And in his first reply to your inquiry. I am left wondering what, who, to believe? In all events, it seems that our school district’s fund balance isn’t too sporty compared to other school districts in the state. But we are said to be one of the top school district’s in the state academically – FCAT-wise. I wonder how our students fare on ACT’s state-wide? Not long ago, it came out that they didn’t fare so great nationally on the ACT and SAT, and Andy Griffiths said at a school board meeting that we should stop teaching to the FCAT, which colleges don’t look at, and start teaching to the ACT and SAT. I said during citizen comments that I hoped to God they did not start doing that, but simply taught the Three R’s and graded students by A,B,C,D & F, and let the colleges used those grades and the SAT to decide what students to accept. I wonder if there is any tracking in college of our school districts high school graduates? I hear lots of them take remedial courses when they get to college, including Florida Keys Community College. I’m pretty much of the view that the school district spends a great deal of time spinning (twisting) the facts in the light most favorable to the school district and least favorable to the facts.
Sloan: That the School District Fund Balance is “dangerously low”, as compared to other districts in the state, is nothing new. Rather, it is a new perspective that John Dick chose to offer in his defense that the monies in the Fund Balance are insufficient to remedy the District’s debts to the teachers. Larry
Insufficient, because John Dick and the rest of that School Board blew off Larry after he told them to hold off approving the collective bargaining agreement until they’d had a chance to make sure the School District could afford it. I imagine John is reminded of that every time he hears from Larry. I imagine the same for 5 -term School Board member Andy Griffiths, whose fate on the School Board also is determined today. Until the School District gets a revenue increase, ie. increase in tax revenues, the rift between the School Board/School District and the Teachers Union/Teachers will exist and will remain fertile ground for propaganda.