Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rodeo Clowns in the MRTA

Please do not post comments to this article. Blogger has blocked comments to this article due to a vandal who tried to crash the site through spam. All the comments that were previously posted to this article, can be downloaded here.

The MRTA’s latest antics and utter incompetence would be comical if they weren’t so tragic. In the face of massive layoffs, the Matawan Regional Teachers Association, which represents nearly every fulltime school district employee below the administrative level, has chosen to antagonize the only people on the planet who could actually save their members’ jobs, namely the Matawan-Aberdeen School Board.

The union has orchestrated political theater from heckling board members at a public meeting to frightening the community into believing the district will replace our beloved custodians with pedophiles.

All this to distract the public and the union membership from the simple truth:

  • Every cent of the 2% tax increase has been budgeted for staff salary raises
  • A 2% tax increase isn’t enough to fund their raises so the custodians are being outsourced
  • The district has to terminate another 30 people to cover a $1.5 million increase to their Cadillac health insurance plans
  • The union has not offered any concessions or suggestions on how to cut costs and save jobs
  • Union officers receive full pay for a reduced workload to permit extra time for union activities
  • The union has filed a slew of grievances demanding extra pay which, if victorious, will result in more job losses
  • Our high-end teachers are among the highest paid in the state
At this past Monday’s board meeting, there was such overcrowding from union members and their friends that we had to change venues after an “anonymous” former board member contacted the police.

Once the meeting reconvened, the battle lines were drawn when school board president Charles Kenny refused to give MRTA president Carl Kosmyna any special consideration and Kosmyna refused to give his home address (as every other speaker did) when addressing the board, instead using the MRTA’s office address.

Of the approximately 32 people who spoke, three-quarters were district employees, all unanimous in recommending a 4% tax increase. Among local residents not on the payroll, four speakers (counting a married couple as two) supported a 4% tax increase. (4% is the legal maximum excluding waivers.)

To give a sense of the circus atmosphere, the union members cheered a young mother who was scared of being unable to provide for her children in the face of rising taxes. They cheered again when Dr. Gambino recommended the entire district take a pay-freeze even though they were refusing to do exactly that.

When Kosmyna was asked what he had done to reduce layoffs, the Lion of Matawan declared he had sent board member Ruprecht an email and the dastardly Ruprecht hadn’t fully responded. That’s right. Confronted by scores of union members losing their livelihoods, Kosmyna sent an email. I exert more effort returning spoiled food to Shoprite.

Mr. Kosmnya also stated the union was prepared to make concessions in exchange for a written guarantee of no layoffs, as if that were a possibility with a $7 million shortfall.

Remarkably, nobody from the union spoke about the 43 other employees who would be losing their jobs, half being teachers.

As for the board, many (if not all) of us were wondering at what point the union would offer a concession that would allow us to save jobs. We were equally amazed that people trying to convince us to save jobs would be so disrespectful. (The union could learn a thing from Ms. Collins who spoke beautifully about custodians going above and beyond for the students and staff.)

Matawan-Aberdeen hasn’t approved a tax levy increase since 2001 and it’s unlikely they’ll do so again during a deep recession and housing crisis. Once details of the board meeting hit the papers, the community will probably be even less likely to vote for the budget, thereby placing more jobs at risk.

The latest union gambit is to complain the board refuses to negotiate as if that would make a dime of difference even if it were true. All Kosmyna needs to do is offer concessions in exchange for jobs and the board would leap at the opportunity.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us at the time, during the school board meeting, New Jersey approved a bill requiring all public employees to contribute 1.5% of their salaries towards health benefits once their current contract expires. The contributions will save the district about $500,000.

What will the school board do with that newfound money? Pay down debt, use it for tax relief when the budget fails, or preserve jobs? Will the union try to strong-arm the board again? Is that the only way they know to negotiate?

As every rodeo clown knows, you can distract the bull, deceive the bull, and avoid the bull, but stick around too long and you will get trampled. The union leadership can no longer distract, deceive or avoid the public. Or its membership. >>> Read more!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Fireman's Letter

Ms. Nicora,

Let me first tell you, I respond as the Chief that stepped down March 9th. I too have been monitoring the responses of this fiasco with great interest as well, although not personal. I agree that there have been many inappropriate things stated but I must disagree with you on several points of your personal interest.
I have known Lou for most of my 48+ years and more than the 26+ years as a fire company member. I will tell you how I looked up to this man until that very day of March 9th, 2010. Yes, Lou is a grumpy old man and admits it himself often to everyone. It’s Lou’s way or the highway, yes that’s true but doesn’t make it always right, doesn’t make it always safe and doesn’t make it always surest. Ask him how he got hurt at a recent call for not wearing gear. His way, NOT safe, NOT surest. Brushed it off as a little injury. He has called out myself and other Chief’s on the gear issue since he has been called out, but most, if not all of the time, the Chief was in a Command position and not inside the “hot zone” like he was that night. On a personal level, he has been wrong sometimes but will skirt the issue and turn it around as being right.
I have been a volunteer for many things but mostly a volunteer fireman for the past 26 years as I said. It is not thankless. I hear all the time from anyone I speak with, neighbors, fellow firefighters, business associates, “you are all to be commended for the job that you do”. It is refreshing to hear these comments.
As you say, he has helped quite a few members and am sure they have thanked him personally for that. He has always been this way and is one of his good traits.
Along with Lou being awarded his plaque, my father was also, that same incident and my father said that it is one of his proudest moments, as it should be for all of those men that day. I too have been cited for saving a man from a burning car while on my way to work one day. It is something you never think you will do during your firefighter career but when it does, it sure makes you proud whether you are recognized or not.
It was mentioned how Lou returned to his job after retiring. That’s fine being that it has helped the firefighters so much in the equipment that the District has supplied. However, I hope the men in that office are taking notes.
Please note that there is certain equipment that Lou retains in his vehicle but note that he is not at every fire call. There is equipment on our trucks that we use for when he does not respond, for if we had to rely on his presence at each call, we might be in trouble. He makes a large percentage of calls but he does have a life also and other times just doesn’t respond for whatever reason (not feeling well, whatever). We are a sufficient fire company and it does not revolve around Lou.
I won’t respond as to any corruption because I would be lying if I said I knew any of these details.
Now, regarding the assault. I will have you know that as Chief, I investigated this whole situation fully with every single person that was there that night. 9 witnesses excluding Lou and the Deputy Chief. I asked everyone the same questions and I reported my results to the Fire Company that night. Provoked, no, no one, not even Lou said he was provoked. The DC stepped in front of a heated attitude person approaching one of the firefighters he was just yelling at. I say heated because of all the people that saw him proceeding, not one person said that he wasn’t heated. No one said the DC was yelling into Lou’s face either. Poking him in his chest, I think not. Lou accused him of pushing him backward 4 times. I think not. Of the nine people interviewed, 3 could not see from their position, 5 said that the DC did not push him (not that they didn’t see him not push him but said that he did not push him) and one said that he got pushed. I discount this one because after that, this 1 person stated that Lou did not push the DC while Lou admits it himself that he pushed the DC. Of the 5 that stated the DC did not push Lou, 2 of them were Commissioners.
Again, did Lou push the DC?, 4 said they did not see because of positioning in the room (the 1 additional is because he said he left the truck room). The other 4 (including a Commissioner) saw Lou push the DC (more than once).
It was clear that Lou was not honest with me the day he told me his side of the story February 25th and that night, March 9th was not honest with his fellow firefighters. All’s it would have taken was to stand tall like a man, admit the truth, apologize and move on.
There were too many witnesses to get by this incident and I for one am sorry that this ever happened and is now cause for the low moral of this Fire Company.
I resigned for my own reasons as stated that night and noted that my Captain and Deputy Chief have also resigned.
We never wanted this to happen and I am sure Lou didn’t want it to happen either. BUT IT DID. Nobody is stabbing anyone in the back and certainly, these firemen in this Company are not cowards.
You live with the truth, you die with the truth and everyone knows what the truth is. Especially those that witnessed it and those that were involved.
I have the documentation of my interviews with those witnesses and summary of my findings and am willing to turn them over to the Commissioners, should they request them.
I have nothing against Lou and I have moved on. While I remain a Life Member of the Fire Company, I am proud of the men that remain to serve. The truth is out there and those that don’t have clouded judgment know that, it is now time for the Commissioners to perform their own unbiased investigation.
Lastly, I said that I would not respond to any of these “blog” responses and have not til now, but your response warranted a response with the facts.
Respectfully, Gary Bellone
>>> Read more!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The St. Patty’s Day Massacre

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

- Pastor Martin Niemöller

Amidst the celebrations and merrymaking of St. Patrick’s Day, New Jersey State delivered a very sobering reality - the state is broke and cuts in state aid for school districts are going to be much deeper than anticipated. State aid for the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District will be slashed $2,917,577, about $1.2 million more than projected.

There will once again be calls for higher efficiencies, higher taxes, anything but the only solutions that will actually close the budget gap – reduced personnel and program cuts.

Once again, the ball is in the teachers union’s court. Will the MRTA agree to wage and benefits concessions to save jobs? They didn’t do it for the 73 employees previously slated to be terminated. Will they do it for the bus drivers who came to the last board meeting? Will they do it for the teacher aides, the non-tenured staff, the child study teams, the guidance counselors, the computer instructors, the librarians, the secretaries . . .

Will they agree to lower stipends so we can continue to fund after-school programs and athletics?

The union membership loves our children and they love their colleagues. They would agree to small concessions to save jobs and programs in a heartbeat. But will they be given that option?

Carl Kosmyna, you have a rare opportunity to craft your own legacy. Will you be remembered as the union leader who marched your most vulnerable members off a cliff or will you be the hero to the Matawan-Aberdeen community and your colleagues?

We are all awaiting your decision.
>>> Read more!

Aberdeen Township Fire Department

Note: The following is an article by an anonymous author. Given the circumstances, I have decided to wave the prohibition against anonymous articles.

Dear Mr. Warren,

Let me start by saying I enjoy reading your blog although I don’t always agree with your views or the views of your posters. Everyone has a right to their own opinion about all matters. As such I am going to ask you to post this email.

I am writing to you in reference to some of the fire (pardon the pun) the fire districts have been taking. I want to clear up some issues which people may not exactly understand.

Aberdeen Township consists of two fire districts. Fire District #1 is known as Aberdeen Hose and Chemical and Fire District #2 is known as Cliffwood. Each district is independent of each other and contains one fire company, however together these companies make up the Aberdeen Township Fire Department. Each district is run by a Board of Fire Commissioners which takes care of the daily operations of the fire district including the fire officials however the boards have very little control over how the actual company is run. That is left up to the executive board and line officers of each company. These boards of commissioners are elected by the public to run the fire districts. Each board holds one (1) meeting a month that is open to the public. I can tell you from experience that the public does not come out. All matters pertaining to the district are brought up at these meetings. All purchases and expenditures are discussed in detail before they are voted on by the respective boards. At the end of each meeting, the floor is turned over to any public present for questions or comments.

A person on your site raised the question as to why our budgets increase every year. I am going to attempt to explain that as well as I can. As with everything, firefighting equipment has a life span. That life span all depends on how much an item is used and the manner in which it is used. The nature of our work is dirty and rough. If any of our equipment is damaged in any way it must be taken out of service and either repaired or replaced. What many people don’t understand is that our equipment is very expensive. The average set of turnout gear which consists of just a jacket and pants costs between $3500 and $5000 depending on size and distributor. Add to that approximately $200 for boots, $75 for gloves, $50 for a nomex hood, and up to $500 for a helmet. Now if any of that equipment gets even a small tear it must be replaced because its ability to provide protection has been compromised. Next let us look at some of the tools we use. Take a chainsaw for example. Anyone can go to Home Depot or Lowes and purchase a decent chainsaw for anywhere from $200-$500. That same exact chainsaw will cost a fire company 2-3 times that amount because we have to buy the one that says its NFPA certified. A scba, the device we use to breathe in smoke filled or toxic environments, costs upwards of $3500 for a single unit. Now let’s look at the actual apparatus and building. Each piece of apparatus requires maintenance on a preventative and corrective basis. An engine or pumper requires the pump and hose to be tested annually. An aerial or ladder truck requires its main ladder to be tested annually as well as all ground ladders. The building also has to be maintained. Be it fixing a leaking roof or replacing a light bulb that has gone out. These services cost a lot of money and as with everything else I have mentioned the cost goes up every year.

What I have touched on here is merely the firefighting end of things. I haven’t discussed the administrative end of things because I will be honest and say I don’t know all the numbers. I know there are insurance premiums to be paid so that the firefighters are covered in the event of an injury or heaven forbid a death.

I just irks me to know these people who complain about the budget are the same people who won’t join our ranks. We are a volunteer organization. We put our lives on the line every time that call comes in. Granted it’s not a fire every time but the most dangerous time for us is actually responding to the call. If you have a problem with our budgets come to a meeting and see how the money is being spent. The fire districts are very transparent if you would just show up. I am going to end this by asking a favor. The next time you see a blue light coming up behind you PLEASE yield. If it was your house or your family in trouble you would want people to yield so that we can get there safely and quickly.

Thank you,

A Concerned Volunteer Fireman
>>> Read more!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Union Elite

Where’s the outrage?

Two years ago, the Matawan Regional Teachers Association (MRTA), was outraged. Over two hundred teachers stormed a board of education meeting at Strathmore Elementary, wearing buttons that read “I CARE about our kids”. They picketed in front of board members’ homes and stuck placards in their car windshields when parking at the schools.

At the time, MRTA President Carl Kosmyna said "Tonight is about making a statement and about making the public aware that things are not what they seem in the district. We also want the board to see that we are standing here united."

Why was the union so outraged? Their salary guides hadn’t increased 4.5%.

Today, the school district is on the verge of terminating 73 employees. The union response? A flyer. Kosmyna’s only public comments, made literally minutes before a board vote on the budget, was a suggestion for the school board to recommend raising taxes as high as possible to avoid personnel cuts.

The union leaders are willing to beat the war drums for a raise but not to save scores of employees’ livelihoods? It doesn’t make sense unless, and this is just a theory, the union leaders were never fighting for their union. Maybe, just maybe, the union leaders were fighting for themselves. After all, even without increases to the salary guide, everybody but the highest paid teachers were still slated to receive a raise.

In 2008, the school board and MRTA ratified a memorandum calling for salary increases and retroactive pay in exchange for a change to the state health care plan, NJ Direct 10.

However, the exact language of the contract still needed to be negotiated, the biggest of which was the salary guide. The memorandum only refers to the total increase to the salary guide, not how that increase is distributed.

In an astonishing act of malfeasance, Board President Pat Demarest outsourced the writing of the salary guides to the teachers union and Joel Glastein, director of personnel. The salary guides were never reviewed by any third party or even by the school board prior to Ms. Demarest signing the contract.

While a district wants to increase salaries at the lower levels to attract the best teachers, unions want raises at the higher levels to boost pension income. With Demarest’s blessing, the union got what it wanted.

The below tables show what the union officers received from the revised salary guides. Comparing salary guides, our senior teachers earn over $3,000 more than their peers in most wealthy “I” districts in Monmouth County (p. 22), which explains the top-line’s slow growth rate – it can only grow so fast without appearing obscene.

However, the real story is the extraordinary spurt in income for those union officers that hadn’t yet reached the top rungs on the salary guides. To use an extreme example, Margaret De Be Voise, a building rep for the middle school, got a 62.30% salary increase over three years plus a five-thousand dollar check for retroactive pay. In fact, a third of union officers got about five-thousand dollars in retroactive pay.

Furthermore, among the officers, only Kathleen Vergaretti (32.35% raise) is earning below $84,000.

In other words, due to seniority, the union officers ain’t afraid of losing their jobs. Nor are they willing to sacrifice any raises to save jobs.

Let’s assume there’s $1.5 million budgeted for increases to the salary guide. The teachers could also shift to NJ Direct 15 for a 5% savings, or about $300,000. Additionally, the legislature looks likely to pass a requirement for all staff to contribute 1.5% of salary towards health benefits – another $500,000. That’s a total of $2.3 million savings. The terminations are saving the district $2.8 million. That still leaves a deficit of $500,000 but one that is far more manageable. Five more retirements could close the gap.

Absent union concessions, 73 staff members will lose their jobs and the district will begin looking for additional places to cut next year. Everybody but the most senior teachers and administrators will be at risk of losing their jobs.

Does the union leadership care? I’m guessing their membership does.

Name of Employee
3-yr Increase
Carl Kosmyna 80,580.00 82,330.00 85,220.00 87,080.00 8.07%
C. Marshall Gorman 69,330.00 71,900.00 86,540.00 87,900.00 26.78%
Patricia Mattern 82,960.00 84,650.00 87,540.00 89,400.00 7.76%
Janet Breslin 82,960.00 84,650.00 87,540.00 89,400.00 7.76%
Edward Kornberg 78,450.00 80,150.00 83,040.00 84,900.00 8.22%
Janette Caufield 65,998.40 69,750.00 76,110.00 84,350.00 27.81%
Rose Marie Turley 73,730.00 81,580.00 84,220.00 85,580.00 16.07%
Margaret De Be Voise 54,160.00 61,640.00 74,700.00 87,900.00 62.30%
Kathleen Vergaretti 51,560.00 54,440.00 62,070.00 68,240.00 32.35%
Suzanne Serden 78,450.00 80,150.00 83,040.00 84,900.00 8.22%
Barbara Lyttle 82,610.00 84,300.00 87,140.00 89,400.00 8.22%
Wenona Dubrowsky 64,070.00 71,900.00 86,540.00 87,900.00 37.19%

Name of Employee
Retro Pay
3-yr Increase
Carl Kosmyna 1168.00 6,500.00
C. Marshall Gorman 5120.00 18,570.00
Patricia Mattern 1168.00 6,440.00
Janet Breslin 1168.00 6,440.00
Edward Kornberg 1168.00 6,450.00
Janette Caufield 4954.49 18,351.60
Rose Marie Turley 1091.66 11,850.00
Margaret De Be Voise 5088.00 33,740.00
Kathleen Vergaretti 2104.00 16,680.00
Suzanne Serden 1168.00 6,450.00
Barbara Lyttle 1128.00 6,790.00
Wenona Dubrowsky 5120.00 23,830.00

>>> Read more!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Return of the Demarest

The last time we saw Pat Demarest, she used the race card in an amateurish power play and publicly humiliated Revered Gattis of the St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church. At the time, Zavorskas had resigned and both Demarest and Barbato declared they would not be seeking reelection. At her last board meeting, Demarest secretly invited Reverend Gattis to petition for the open seat. The non-Barza wing predictably objected to the surprise petition and insisted upon upholding the past practice of interviewing all interested candidates. Why Demarest would subject the reverend to such embarrassment or risk inflaming racial tensions is anybody’s guess.

Apparently, Demarest hasn’t learned anything because she’s playing racial politics again in a selfish bid to regain her spot on the Matawan-Aberdeen school board. Most employee grievance issues remain confidential and Demarest obviously relied upon that confidentiality in her latest gambit to win support from the African American community. Unfortunately for her, Demarest’s latest attacks against the school district have become public record.

Patricia Demarest has volunteered to testify against the school district in a grievance hearing involving the district’s senior African American, Wayne Spells. By stitching her affidavit to the school board minutes, it’s easy to see what happened and what she’s doing.

November 19th, 2007 - Shortly after Quinn’s departure, the school board voted unanimously to conduct a “Hearing and Investigation in the Terra Nova Test matter”. Every student in the district had “failed” the exam and the school board wanted to know what went wrong.

April 23rd, 2008 - Demarest is elected president of the school board at the re-organization meeting.

May 19th, 2008 – At Demarest’s first school board meeting since becoming president (i.e. her first opportunity to set the board agenda), the full board votes to “approve withholding of a salary increment for the following tenured staff member” – Employee 4496.

From Demarest’s affidavit, we now know that Employee 4496 was Wayne Spells, the Director of Special Programs, and that his increment withholding was “related to the administration of the 9th grade Terra Nova test in 2007”.

We also know that, as expected, the union filed a grievance on Mr. Spell’s behalf.

January 22nd, 2010 - I post an article about a “former school board member" who voted against Dr. O’Malley’s appointment and intended to run in the school board election.

January 29th, 2010 – One week after the blog post, Demarest files an affidavit on Mr. Spell’s behalf against the school district. Not only has she volunteered to testify against the school district, she also throws Dr. O’Malley under the bus by blaming him for failing “to inform [her] of the existence of relevant Board policies”.

So, let’s get this straight. Sitting at the table, we have a board president with five years experience on the school board, Mr. Gross, the board attorney for nearly a generation who probably wrote or reviewed every board policy, and Mr. Glastein, the former acting superintendent who’s been with the district for over 30 years, and Demarest blames O’Malley, who’s only been working full-time in the district for one month.

Are we to believe Demarest never questioned Mr. Gross or Mr. Glastein regarding procedures for withholding an increment? Maybe. After all, Demarest claimed, as board president, that she was not accountable for anything but her board votes.

Moreover, she’s a liar. As board president, Demarest was intimately familiar with Spell’s grievance filing, with his argument that the district did not comply with a particular policy, and the district’s position that that policy only applies to teachers, not administrators. Only now, over a year and a half later, after she’s decided to run for the school board, does Demarest claim she suddenly discovered this "obscure" policy and reversed position.

Does she really believe the public is so stupid to believe this? Yes, she does. That’s why she has such low expectations for our students.

So, to recap, Demarest votes against O’Malley’s appointment, then throws him under the bus when she volunteers to testify against the school district in her bid to regain African American support after she publicly humiliates Reverend Gattis. How ironic that Mr. Spell’s grievance only becomes exposed through Demarest’s efforts to undo the damage she inflicted upon herself the first time she played racial politics.

Demarest is still strongly linked to Barza. Her candidate’s petition has four signatures from the Barbato household and it will be interesting to see whether this linkage proves a boom or a bust for the Demarest campaign.

If only these were Demarest’s sole “indiscretions” but there’s more to come. Demarest has a history and she intends to make it our future.
>>> Read more!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bill My Neighbor

My esteemed colleague on the Matawan-Aberdeen School Board, Student Representative Andrew Monagle, articulated the community opposition to any program cuts – Any program that attracts student participation and has educational value should be maintained. Furthermore, all existing programs have educational value. For example, ceramics and TV production provide “career exploration”. Drivers ed satisfies a state requirement towards acquiring a driver’s permit. Golf has the educational benefits of any successful athletic program.

Since any program with student participation can find some justification, the logical outcome is - Don’t cut any student programs. Give the kids what they want and bill it to the taxpayer.

I respectfully dissent.

The critical issue is how one views taxes. Those opposed to cutting any student programs or services view taxes as the cost of living in a nice community. You want good schools, paved roads, a safe neighborhood, clean parks, etc.? Well, this is what it’s going to cost you. And, if you don’t like it, you’re free to move (as if uprooting your family, selling your house, and finding a new home were as easy as changing TV channels).

I view taxes as property seizures. I envision men with guns garnering your wages, plundering your bank account, and taking your home. Why? Because your neighbors voted to take more of your money than you could afford or ever agreed to pay.

Taxes are only a necessary evil when they support necessary expenditures. Otherwise, they’re just evil.

We’re spending over $600 for every student taking ceramics or TV production. Another $350 per student taking drivers ed. How can we justify forcing one person, under threat of losing his house, to pay for another person’s golf instruction?

How about a gun club? Citizens have the constitutional right to bear arms, gun safety is very important, and there are many occupations that require the use of firearms, such as law enforcement, security, and military. I’m also guessing it would be very popular.

Would we force our neighbors to pay for training sixteen-year-olds how to fire a rifle?

How about martial arts, scuba diving, or magic? Using student participation and “educational value” as the sole criteria, what program wouldn’t justify us picking our neighbors’ pockets?

Does this mean we’d end all electives outside of core requirements? Absolutely not. It does mean that, before confiscating our neighbors’ property, a program would have to meet a higher threshold than student popularity.

In my opinion, a program must meet four criteria to warrant taxation:

  1. The money must be used “to pay the debts [or] provide for the common defense [or] general welfare” of the public
  2. The benefit must outweigh the cost and burden to the taxpayers
  3. The benefit must be a legitimate role of government
  4. The public has no reasonable alternative
Does ceramics meet the threshold? The money is being used for the “general welfare” of the public, i.e. the students. Does the benefit outweigh the cost of $600 per student? No. Is teaching ceramics a legitimate role of government? Not when we have several other arts programs. Does the public have no reasonable alternatives? No. Students can enroll in a different arts program or study ceramics at one of the local private art schools.

How about drivers ed? I’d say yes to all but the 4th. Our district could lease space to competing driving schools and the students could pay private instructors.

How about golf? You’ve got to be kidding.

Remember this - If all school programs are sacred, then our private property is not.

Our country has a long tradition of balancing the majority’s will against the minority’s rights. Even if most of us want a ceramics class, we don’t have the right to make our neighbors pay for it. >>> Read more!