A Glass City political fable

Every once and a while there is something that is worthy of highlighting. If you have not already read it, please stop over and read the Toledo Free Press article written by Michael Miller called "A Glass City political fable". Because of how the points are made, this post will be kept at the top for a few days. - Chris
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Once upon a time, there was a Glass City. It was nestled near a great and generous lake, and its people were good people, with a few notable exceptions.

For many years, the kingdom was run by donkeys. Many of these donkeys passed their power down through the generations or through friendships and became quite the club; eventually, the number of donkeys outside the inner circle who were interested in leadership dwindled in number and in quality.

There were many hard-working people in the city, people who made great machines that rolled through kingdoms far beyond the Glass City's borders, and people who made sure the donkeys had the services and goods they needed, and people who made it their mission to educate the donkeys' many children. These people often banded together to give themselves negotiating power and protection from those who would exploit their labor. These unions of workers became very powerful and controlled great piles of gold, which naturally attracted the interest and friendship of the donkeys.

The donkeys whispered many scary stories into the ears of the people and promised to protect the hard-working people from danger, in exchange for just a little bit of the people's gold. The people, scared and wishing to keep their little pieces of the kingdom, made deals with the donkeys and opened their piles of gold for the donkeys' use.

For the rest, please see:

http://www.toledofreepress.com/?id=7072

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Jack Ford says:
The problem with their article is that it was not only untrue but also extremely misleading. First, the article questions why the Board of Elections has not chastised those politicians who supported me with contributions even though I was not endorsed by the Lucas County Democratic Party. Well, the Board of Elections has no jurisdiction in policing a county party regarding support or non-support of candidates. So a couple of columns were wasted right there.
http://www.thetruthtoledo.com/story/2008/012308/Jack.htm
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Michael Miller responds to Jack Ford's accusation:
http://www.troyneff.com/podcast/podaudio08/012408/miller_ford.mp3

Ford asks in his article - "Why the hatchet job?"

Maybe we should ask Ford, why the hatchet job on the facts in the story? There are a number of factual errors in his comments. Ford seems good at obfuscating the facts and confusing the truth.

The issue was that Democrats that were endorsed by the party gave contributions to an unendorsed Democrat. Party by-laws state, "Democratic Party endorsed candidates shall not speak publicly of other Democratic endorsed candidates in a way that could be construed as negative or non-supportive, or aid the candidacy of anyone other than those endorsed by the Democratic Party. Failure to heed these principles could result in withdrawal of endorsement by vote of the Executive Committee"

In my mind, giving money to an unendorsed Democrat that must be reported on a public finance form is aid. But maybe I just don't get it.

Cheryl Catlin has what I consider a very telling tale of party politics and the unwillingness of some to enforce the rules - Fighting for education reform. IMO, you either enforce the rules or you amend the by-laws and remove the "unenforceable" rules. Instead it looks like local Democratic Party leaders are sticking their heads in the sand and hoping it is just forgotten.

Unfortunately for some poor soul as long as the by-laws read as they do, at some future date they will be "dusted off" and used to "punish" a party member who they want to go away.

There will be more to this saga. I'm certain of it!

Dale Pertcheck responds to my 1/18/2008 Money, influence and public policy op-ed piece in the Free Press.

My response to Mr. Pertcheck's comments:

Pertcheck’s fallacy

In the January 27th edition of the Free Press, Dale Pertcheck, a teacher at DeVeaux Jr. High and active in the TFT, decides to take on my assertions that the TFT has controlled the Board of Education and consequently policy making of TPS through contract language.

Pertcheck decides to refute my assertions by saying that the Free Press failed to look at how other unions operate and that they all operate the same, Wow! So Percheck defends the TFT by saying that the TFT is doing what everyone else is doing.

I don’t quite believe that argument succeeds.

What is different in this situation is that we have a pubic service union that needs but three supporters out of five on the Board to “control” both sides of the negotiating table. I don’t see other unions such as the UAW able to “select” their bosses through elections. Read the rest here - Pertcheck's fallacy

As to Miller's fable, it should be obvious to any "sane, rational and observant" individual that this fable when the proper names are substituted is closer to truth than fable!

I have an additional character to add to Miller's fable, I'll call them the Crows. They sit in the trees looking down at what is going on and squawk to high heavens about the problems and how to solve them. As they sit in the trees raining down poop, all the unions of workers and donkeys want is for them to go away. After all, they are messing up the cars, sidewalks, etc. In their haste to shoo them away they miss the point of all the fuss. And then came a day when the donkeys find that they are all alone. Not only are there now no more crows, but the sheep have all escaped to greener pastures. The donkeys are quite perplexed for there are no more sheep to be shorn.

As usual, Steve Flagg accuses someone else of doing the same thing he does! If Flagg had read carefully, he would have learned that I spent 15 years in the business world before I became a teacher. So my challenge still stands. I "made it" in your world. Could you "make it" in mine? And, yes, this is relevant! Flagg casts aspersions right and left about teachers without ever experiencing the frustrations of the teaching profession, especailly in urban schools.
I couldn't care less about the relationship, good or bad, that TAAP (Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel) has with Flagg. TAAP's relationship with Darlene Fisher and Superintendent Foley are a great concern, however!
If Flagg is so concerned about the supposed clout that TFT has over the TPS Board, then the fact that TFT members have not had a raise in five years is extremely relevant. If a union tries to do anything, it is to get higher pay for its members! I left out that, because TFT also agreed to have its members pay more for health care coverage, many TFT members have less take-home pay now than they did five years ago, when, among other things, the price of gasoline was less than half of what it is today! Teachers and paraprofessionals have bills, too!
By referring to David Welch's vote, Flagg erroneously claims that the (measly) 1.48% raise was approved "behind the backs" of TPS Board members. This is a lie! The (measly) 1.48% raise was done under the very open, very organized collective bargaining laws for public employees in the State of Ohio. The administration and the TFT could not settle their differences, so both made a presentation to a neutral fact-finder who concluded that TPS could afford the (measly) 1.48% increase. The TPS financial people than made an erroneous presentation to the TPS Board in closed session, away from public scrutiny, and the TPS Board turned down the fact-finder's report.
Flagg further lies by saying that TPS has never had the funds to pay this (measly) raise. As justification for opposing the levy renewal, Flagg, on a local radion talk show this week, claimed that TPS will have a carry-over, surplus if you will, of $20 million in their "General Fund" at the end of the current fiscal year. In addition, Flagg also pointed out that the TPS health care fund has a surplus of $10 million over and above what is needed! This health care money comes directly out of the pockets of employees from the health care concessions referred to above. By Flagg's own estimates, TPS has far more in surplus funds than what TPS needs to put the 1.48% issue behind us!
As far as "TFT doing what other unions do" in the area of donations to candidates, I was referring specifically to TAAP and the AFSCME locals that also represent TPS employees, not specifically the UAW. Although I could make a good argument that the UAW represents a broad spectrum of workers, including many public employees. And the UAW, working in the best interests of its members for better wages and working conditions, have pushed the prices of automobiles up, which takes money out of every American's pocket as much as tax dollars do.
What it comes down to is that Flagg purports to be an expert in an area which he only observes as an outsider. I don't often quote Republicans, except for Abe Lincoln and Teddy Poosevelt, but a Spiro Agnew quote fits here. Flagg and his tiny group of disgruntled partners are, "...nattering nabobs of negativity".
His hand picked candidates, including one who almost won in 2005, lost by a landslide in the 2007 election for the TPS Board. His oppostition to the TPS renewal levy meant nothing. Give it up, Steve! You're as outdated as a leisure suit! Go back to the cave you crawled out of, and sit in front of your computer ranting at the world! You do that well!!
Dale Pertcheck

If Flagg is so concerned about the supposed clout that TFT has over the TPS Board, then the fact that TFT members have not had a raise in five years is extremely relevant

This is not true. You get step raises. There is not one teacher now making the same as they did 5 years ago. If you want to call someone a liar, you need to not skew your own words...

When the people are ready, the wave will recede back. Until then, Jack Ford, Carty, TPS, and all the other inbred Glass City Fables will continue to spend, say anythiing, and do nothing.

I'm guessing the impact on margin that a global marketplace, instant communication, on time worldwide delivery, and fundamental shifts in supply chain efficiencies have on a business, its employees, its customers, the family unit, the local schools, and ultimately a city's identity will continue to play a significant force against those who subsitute effective leadership with retaining power / control / complancency.

In short, the consumer / resident / voter who demands a cheaper, faster, better product or service is growing at warp speed. Businesses, Unions, and Cities can no longer insulate themselves. For the way they made money, great communities, lifestyles in the past, is the very thing that will prevent them from doing so in the future.

20 years of change before, now takes less than 5. Just look at technology, the rise of two-tier union labor, rise of emerging economies, etc... Entire business can uproot and move entire families out of state to gain sustainable margins.

Without decent jobs fueled by good margins, there's fewer students, patients, and local taxpayers in need of services. Cities can't survive on schools, hospitals, and themselves alone.

Toledo, TPS, this area doesn't have the luxury of waiting for things to get better.

This is what the national election is about too.
Hillary says the middle class must grow . Ok , fair enough. But the government cannot make a middle class grow by punishing 'the rich' . Change is here, communities must adapt , you are right.

Aw....I knew that you could.

Anyone who has spent a modicum of time or attention to TPS and the current political problems that face the board and the administration is that wages and benefits have largely been renegotiated via back room negotiations between lower level TPS administration employees and TFT. Including a 'retro-active' pay raise that is now over 20 million dollars.

To say that the teachers haven't had a raise is not true. The Memorandums of Understanding, when stacked together, are taller than the New York City phone book. All financial negotiations done outside of the public purview and without board approval.

And when someone uses sleight of hand to change the discussion and make things personal - well we just see the typical TPS tactic. If you can't get rid of the message,,,,get rid of the messenger :-)

Nicely done this time though...very nicely done.

And all, in my opinion, illegal.

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

Anyone who has spent a modicum of time or attention to TPS and the current political problems that face the board and the administration is that wages and benefits have largely been renegotiated via back room negotiations between lower level TPS administration employees and TFT.

Interesting how recent board member's have been brought on board in just the same manner!!

Not to sound redundant, but apparently here in Toledo, this kind of thing is "business as usual!"

.

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AHHH...those fantastic "step" increases!
I try to keep these things short. I leave A LOT of stuff out. You want more...Here goes!
First of all, new teachers are on the same "step" for the first THREE years. After "step 12" the increases are only once every THREE YEARS. The majority of TPS teachers are above "Step 12". That means they've had only one or two of these "step" increases in the last FIVE years. With the loss from additional payments into health care, their "take home pay" is, indeed, LESS than it was 5 years ago...and that's BEFORE inflation!!
On top of this, nearly all current Ohio teachers must take pre-approved, continuing education courses and be relicensed every five years. They not only have to pay for most of these courses/training/inservices, but the fee to renew their licenses was just increased to $400.00, which they also have to pay!!
Many TPS teachers are beyond "Step 30". They, our most loyal, most experienced teachers have had NO INCREASE IN FIVE YEARS -- unless they retired!! All Ohio teacher retirees have had cost-of-living increases from the separate State Teachers' Retirement System in each of the last five years!! The bottom line is: if teaching in TPS is such an easy way to make loads of money, why aren't you all signing on??
AHHH...all of those MOUs (Memoranda of Understanding).
MOUs cover a myriad of topics. Each one must be approved by the TPS Board at a public meeting. Most cost little or no money from the general fund. For example, if the State of Ohio offers special funding for teacher training, there may be an MOU as to what rate employees get attending those specially, state-funded training sessions, or presenting at such sessions. By the way, our local presentors get a small fraction of the money outside "experts" get, and usually do a better job of training their colleagues!
ANNA
Of course I remember you! I'm pleased that, as a product of the Toledo Public Schools you see the value in those of us who provide the teaching services. I'm sure that you'll always make us proud of you! As for what happened at Start, a minor, rare incident gets two days of news coverage. Of course, it's a TPS school!
I also am a product of TPS, and I saw value in the service of my teachers! I was raised in the inner city. I lived on a dead-end street called Marcella Court, between Upton and Auburn, and Bancroft and Woodruff. There were gangs back in the 1950s and 1960s, too! I owe everything I have to parents who valued traditional public education, voters who valued traditional public education, and dedicated teachers. Traditional public education is the greatest leveler of our society, especially in urban centers. If we erode these schools, we return America to the 19th Century when only the rich were formally educated. And most of the rich LOVED that. Education is power! If only the rich children get a first-rate education, the future will be dominated by the same rich families for who knows how many generations. That's not the legacy I want to leave my grandchildren, or the grandchildren of those I taught these last 32 years!
My wife and I both teach for TPS. Both of our children are grown and employed. We live a modest life style. Our "take home pay" is more than enough for us, now. Make no mistake about it, we struggled for many years, as so many people do.
But who is going to take our places when we retire? Who wants to meet the greater challenge of teaching urban students, for less pay, and have to fight for every penny of funding in the face of some who only see the worst in everything we try to do?
I love what I do! When I'm in my classroom instructing, I have a great time (well, most of the time). It's those outside frustrations that will get me to retire with less years than one teacher at DeVeaux, who is in year 51!

I have already pissed enough people off on the board, I don't think I can do too much more damage by asking you to consider editing this post to delete the part where you refer to spartan by her real name, could you?

I'm not trying to be pushy, just looking out for our (presumably) youngest member's best interest :)

There is a tide in the affairs of men...

I do have to make a correction on my previous post. The fee for a new 5 year license increased from $60.00 to $200.00, not $400.00 as I stated. On top of the $200.00 license fee, the applicant must also pay for an FBI check and an Ohio BCI check whenever he/she renews a license. These total another $40.00 to $50.00.

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