Saturday, December 8, 2012

Monopolies don't do well in any kind of business or educaton.

Public Education as we have now in the USA is a monopoly.  Monopolies don't do well in any kind of business or educaton.  Public Schools are like the old Ma-Bell AT and T telephone monopoly.  Remember the clunky phones that AT and T sold us year after year.  What happened when the telephone monopoly was abolished in favor of open telephone competition?  We have a vibrant competitive advancing telephone business environment which is selling us the products that we want and enjoy, ie.  Galaxy, Iphone, Ipad, Razr, etc.  This is want we should want for our children........a vibrant competitive advancing education environment .........nothing less.  I don't know about you, but holding back our children's education and paying exhorbitant taxes to pay inflated teacher union contracts has got to stop.  We need competition through school vouchers in educating our young children, just like we have competition at the college level today via Pell Grants.  It is the very same thing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kingston's Teachers are over-paid

A Bureau of Labor Statistics report (May 2011) for secondary teachers in the United States lists Kingston as the 3rd top paying metropolitan area in the nation for this occupation, with an annual mean wage of $74,970. The 2010 U.S. Census lists the per capita money income in Kingston at $24,368 and the median household income at $46,098, with both numbers lower than the New York State average.  Seriously, can this heavy-handed milking of the Kingston Taxpayer continue?
I don't think so.  What is the Kingston School Board going to announce in the latest teacher's contract?  Let's hear more protest from Kingston's Taxpayers.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Morally Bankrupt Society

Morally Bankrupt is too polite!  What is on TV is sexual perversion with no limits!  Also, I believe the perverse TV content and public school health curriculums are designed by people who are purposely pushing this perversion for monetary gain and for spreading the liberal feel good message.  For these reasons, our country should return to independent small schools (public, private and parochial) which emphasize reading, writing, arithmetic and morality.  In this model, there could be schools setup by liberal parents who want their children to follow the liberal curriculum.  However, in this model, these liberal small schools would be in the minority since few parents would choose them for their children.  This last sentence is proof that the majority of children and their parents are being held hostage by the liberal public school system in America.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cuomo Must Lead - Binding Arbitration, Triborough

E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center Think Tank has written the following Oct.29, 2012 NY Post Op Ed piece.

Empire Center for New York State Policy | PO Box 7113 | Albany | NY | 12224

Andrew’s next test

Local governments need help

  • By E.J. McMAHON
  • Last Updated: 9:51 AM, October 29, 2012
  • Posted: 10:37 PM, October 28, 2012


E.J. McMahon

By capping property taxes, Gov. Cuomo has tapped the brakes on local government and school spending outside New York City. He’s also taken steps to limit the growth in the local share of Medicaid over the next few years, and to curb public pension expenses further down the road.

But the governor hasn’t provided the kind of mandate relief local officials want and need most — more flexibility to control their still-spiraling employee-compensation costs.

New York’s second-largest county, Nassau, is already a state-certified basket case, and several others might not far behind. Buffalo is just emerging from a state fiscal-control period, while the next three largest cities — Yonkers, Rochester and Syracuse — face big and growing problems of their own.



It’s not that easy: Cuomo wants local governments to balance their budgets — but will he address the state laws that drive up local costs?

Asked about such problems, the governor last week pointed to his own success in closing the state’s $10 billion budget gap in his first year. "It’s very hard to do, I know it," he said. "But we did it . . . and the local governments have to do it, because raising local property taxes is not an option."

Yes, both the state and its local governments had raised spending to unsustainable levels before the financial crisis and recession hit in 2008. But there are some significant differences between the challenges Cuomo confronted and the budget gaps now facing counties, municipalities and school districts.

While two-thirds of the state budget consists of local aid, an even larger share of the typical municipal or school budget is spent directly on salaries and benefits — for teachers, cops, firefighters, sanitation workers and other employees who deliver basic services directly to the public.

Once they trim away the fat accumulated in flush economic times, local officials caught in a budget pinch ultimately face two choices: Cut services by laying off workers, or reduce the growth in salaries and benefits — which requires bargaining with entrenched public employee unions.

And there’s the rub: The collective-bargaining rules are set by Albany, mainly in the state Taylor Law, which tilts the bargaining table toward unions in at least two key respects.

The first problem for the locals is the Triborough amendment, which requires employers to continue giving "step" raises even after a contract has expired.

At this point, localities desperately need to break completely with the outmoded automatic pay-hike model, but that’d be nearly impossible without repeal of Triborough.

Another Taylor Law provision gives police and fire unions the right to seek compulsory binding arbitration of contract impasses. Enacted as a supposedly temporary experiment in the early 1970s, and renewed ever since, binding arbitration has been a bonanza for unions, driving average police pay well over $100,000 — plus lavish benefit packages — in many downstate departments.

Cuomo has dismissed Triborough reform as a "political nonstarter," since it requires changes to a permanent law— but he can’t dodge the arbitration issue, since that provision is due to expire in the middle of next year.

A straight extender of the law is virtually certain to end up on his desk within the next eight months. Will he bold enough to say no?

If he is, recent history suggests he can make it stick. The renewal of "temporary" laws benefitting unions was long treated as routine in Albany — until Gov. David Paterson broke with the pattern in 2009, refusing to rubber-stamp a continuation of the then-default pension plan for New York City police officers. The Legislature never tried to override Paterson’s veto, and the city can now look forward to significant pensions savings as a result.

Mulling his options on arbitration, Cuomo might also look to New Jersey, which has a similar law (and similarly high police and firefighter pay levels). In 2010, Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic majorities in his Legislature followed up on their own 2 percent property-tax cap by enacting arbitration reforms, including a 2 percent cap on arbitration pay awards. It’s far from perfect — but New York’s local officials would probably welcome it as better than nothing.

So far, Cuomo hasn’t said what he’ll do about arbitration, although he’ll no doubt keep pointing to his own example. "I had to go back and balance my budget myself . . . that’s called life," he said last week.

But as New York’s chief executive, Cuomo also has a responsibility to recognize when the state’s collective-bargaining laws are working against the public interest — and to do something about it. That’s called leadership.

E.J. McMahon is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for New York State Policy.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

NYS Mandate Relief - Support Castelli Assembly bill

Mandate Relief.  Let's be specific.  What needs to be repealed to give school districts and municipalities the most mandate relief? The answer is the Repeal of the Triborough Amendment.  Support the Repeal of the Triborough Amendment, which allows Automatic Step Raises and all expired contract clauses to continue after a contract is expired and the parties are still negotiating a new contract.  Triborough makes it impossible for school boards and municipal leaders to negotiate more reasonable contracts that we taxpayers can afford.  The Triborough Amendment law is causing the destruction of our NYS school districts and municipal budgets  right before our eyes.  Tell your NY State Assembly and Senate candidates to support the Robert Castelli bill, which would Repeal the Triborough Amendment in the NY State Assembly.  Let's start talking specifically about supporting the Robert Castelli bill.  Otherwise, just saying "mandate relief" falls on deaf ears.

Monday, October 1, 2012

To Kingston Council - Fix Budget, not Climate

Keep Climate Change Out of Kingston.  We do not want Kingston Council people to join the Federal Government and Mayor Bloomberg in NYC in Over-regulating our lives.  The Kingston proposal talks about limiting single occupancy cars.  Stay out of this area.  To the Kingston Council, I have something for you to work on.........Let's hear some serious debate about solving Kingston's degrading budget problems by cutting the Kingston Fire Dept. $8 Million budget in HALF to $4 Million by transitioning to a Fire Dept. which uses PAID fireman firetruck drivers and VOLUNTEER firefighters. Come on Kingston Council, start talking about financial "Game Changers" to save the City of Kingston from further decay.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

School Competition Breeds Success

Let's push Repeal of Triborough Amendment, push Charter Schools & Parent Vouchers for choosing schools. The current government monopoly with teacher union control is unsustainable. Financing with income tax instead of property tax is not the answer, since the same open-checkbook mentality will rule.

We need many elementary schools and high schools in an area including public, private, and parochial schools to compete with each other as there is competition among public and private colleges. At the college level, parents and students have access to loans and Pell grants to allow students to choose competitively where they want to go for education.

Competition promotes Excellence.

Monopolies promote Decay (Remember old AT&T phone monopoly with very little innovation in phone technology for with phone competition, ie. Apple, Blackberry, AT&T, Verizon, Samsung, we have marvelous new phone technology.

We should stop holding back our children with a monopolistic public school system.....Open up education with vouchers and charter schools. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kingston Schools - A touch of the Soviet Union

We Kingston citizens do feel like we are living in the former Soviet Union.  Albany politicians will not move School Board elections to November's election day, but insist on keeping the elections in May when only teachers' Friends and Family can easily vote. This May school board election day keeps most good candidates from considering a run for school board.  Also, Albany politicians refuse to repeal the Triborough Amendment which allows Automatic Step Pay Raises for Teachers to continue to accumulated EVEN after the teachers' contract has expired.  Also, in Kingston, it is unthinkable to let a principal to sit home for 2.5 years for a quarter of a million dollars.  Do you agree with my Soviet Union analogy?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

City of Kingston has problems. Here is one solution.

Let's be specific.  Cut the Kingston Fire Dept. budget in half from $8 Million to $4 Million over 3 years by using paid Firemen to drive the fire trucks and volunteers to ride the trucks.  Look at what a wonderful Volunteer Fire Dept. the Town of Ulster has in Ulster Hose.  There is no shortage of volunteer firemen and women at Ulster Hose, because these volunteers are welcomed and appreciated by the Town of Ulster.  To the Kingston Common Council, Let's get to work on this idea.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Solution to Failing Education

Problem Stated - Our Public Schools are Failing.  Our new teacher college graduates are sitting home unemployed or are working in Hannaford, etc.  Here is the solution.  Get rid of the Federal Dept.of Education.  Get rid of teacher's unions.  Hire many, many new young teachers at lower starting pay.  Our new teachers will work for less pay, since they have a calling to teach young people, not to make a lot of money.  Set up classrooms whereever possible, with one teacher and maximum of 10 students per class.  Forget about Large Taj Mahal Learning buildings and Learning communities.  One teacher, 10 students, lower pay, strict oversight of teaching programs by caring and sincere principals, who will evaluate and pay teachers according to the children's progress.
All in Favor.........Say Aye.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kingston Freeman is Right-Cuomo is Secretive

I agree with the July 29, 2012 Kingston Freeman editorial that Cuomo is overly secretive.  He appears on Fred Dicker's Albany radio talk show, but he does not take calls from listerners.  His positions and public relations with tax payers are extremely scripted and controlled.  For example, nobody in state govenment seems to know what Andrew Cuomo's position on the Repeal of the Triborough Amendment, which keeps state, municipal and teacher union contracts in place (complete with scheduled annual step raises)?  If anybody can find a reference to his position on this important Mandate Relief, please send it to me at

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Decentralize Schools for Success

Comparing the USA and Finland demographics is like comparing apples and oranges.  I am not in favor of Educational programs centralized with the Federal Government as in Finland, and in the USA to some extent.  The more decentralized your schools are, the better.  Home Schooling in USA is the best example of decentralized success.  Then comes voucher education where parents are given grants or vouchers and choose which public, private or parochial school they wish their children to go to.  Then comes charter schools where the unions have less control and the teachers are highly motivated to innovate new education techniques.  In last place is the traditional consolidated public school system which we have now.  Trying to improve things in a traditional consolidated public school system, where the teacher's unions are in control is fruitless.  The results are higher local school taxes, less economic activity moving in, less school population, closing of schools, more higher taxes, and on and on.  That is what we have now in Ulster and Dutchess counties and NY State.  Think decentralization.  Think lots of independent schools paid for by parental school vouchers.  You will have involved parents who are carefully choosing the correct schools for their children.  You will have lots of teaching jobs for our unemployed college graduates who want to be teachers.  You will have lower school taxes, and you will have companies wanting to come and locate in Ulster and Dutchess counties again.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Triborough Amendment is about Step Raises Not Strikes

The following was posted by E.J. McMahon on June 20, 2012 on the blog.

"Unions have long claimed that there was a link between Triborugh and the strike prohibition.  But this is simply not true.

'As explained in our recent report, “Triborough Trouble,” the law was not enacted pursuant to any “agreement by unions not to strike.” Public employee strikes have never been legally permissible in New York. They were explicitly outlawed by the Condon-Wadlin Act in 1947, a full 20 years before unionization and collective bargaining in the public sector was authorized on a statewide basis. In 1967, the Taylor Law reaffirmed the strike ban, weakening some of the more draconian Condon-Wadlin strike penalties.

The Triborough amendment was enacted in 1982, based on a “doctrine” cooked up by a state labor arbitrator a decade earlier. In the mid 1970s, the state Court of Appeals ruled the Triborough doctrine did not require payment of automatic “step” increases after expiration of a contract, which is why public employee unions fought for the stronger law. They got it,'

So therefore the Triborough Amendment is all about Step Raises and nothing about unions ability to strike.

Three Points in Favor of Repealing Triborough

1)  New York State is the only state in the USA that gives municipal, state and teachers unions the unfair advantages of the Triborough Amendment. 

2)  The overwhelming majority of government union contracts in NY State have Automatic step raises in them.  Try getting these provisions out of these contracts.  With Automatic step raises for everyone across the board including poor performers, NY State with the Triborough Amendment has truly rigged labor negotiations in favor of the government unions.

3)  Private company unions do not have a Automatic step raises guaranteed to continue after contracts expire.

The government unions are going to have to give up this Triborough benefit or the only alternatives are school district and municipal bankruptcy which would cancel all current contracts

See 3 bankrupt cities in California.

See Kingston Schools Superintendant Padalino's comments in a past Freeman article (June 13, 2012) which states that the Kingston Schools are facing "Education bankruptcy".

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Support Assemby bill to Repeal Triborough Amendment

After 5 years, the $25 Million savings from closing 4 Kingston Schools will have been spent on Automatic Teacher step raises, pensions and health benefits. They are closing schools so they can keep the "rigged" game of unsustainable teacher benefits growing. If we citizens of NY State want to do something serious about this disaster, ask you NY State Assembly and Senate candidates to support Westchester Assemblyman Robert Castelli's assembly bill A01329, which would Repeal the Triborough Amendment. With this bill, no longer would teacher, municipal and state unions have the Unfair advantage of continuing Automatic Step Raises after a contract has expired. We really need this bill.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kingston Schools - Bold Plan with Blinders On

The recent Kingston Schools plan to close 4 elementary schools is a Bold Plan with Blinders On...........The Blinders are giving teachers Automatic Step Raises.  We must privatize and charter-ize our public schools or in 5 years the Kingston District will be on the rocks again due to Teacher Automatic Step Raises eating up the school closing savings and breaking the budget once again.  Take the Blinders Off and see that the funding of the Kingston School district is benefitting the teachers, not the students.  With Private schools or Charter schools, the teacher's unions will have less influence.  We should pay each teacher according to their yearly performance.  Every teacher should not get the same raise.  There is no incentive for teachers to do well if they are guaranteed an Automatic Step Raise.  Please take the blinders off and save our schools, save our local economy and our children's future.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Health Alliance Problems are Screaming Lawsuit

The main reason Health Alliance has severe red ink is the $10 Million Medicare Reimbursement Unfairness with Dutchess County.  This year and going back at least 8 years, Ulster County's hospitals get reimbursed $10 Million less than Dutchess County for the same proceedures.  The federal government, ie. Congress and the President have damaged Ulster County in the Medicare Reimbursement laws on the books.  Over the past 8 years, our politicians of both parties have failed big time to correct this unfairness.  As a direct result of this unfairness, one of the hospital campuses might close. There has been severe ($80 Million) damage done to the citizens of Kingston and Ulster County over the past 8 years by the Federal government.  This situation screams for a lawsuit by Health Alliance against the Federal Government.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our public schools are sinking like Titanic

The Triborough Amendment, which destroys Collective Bargaining with teacher unions and all municipal unions.  For example with Triborough in place, teacher union contracts always start with the last signed contract as a floor.  These unions rarely give concessions unless they get something back.  If you get rid of Triborough, each contract could give the school districts and taxpayers a clean sheet to write a new sensible budget.  HOWEVER, school districts do not have to wait for repeal of the Triborough Amendment..........They can get rid of step pay raises for seniority which kick in every year.  In the Kingston Schools, step raises increase the budget by
$1.2 Million each year...........So what do we have to look forward to if we do not reign in teacher's unions......more closing of schools, less teachers and eventual bankruptcy of our school districts.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Teacher Union Raises Force Schools to Close

Let's be honest with ourselves. Keep giving automatic annual step raises to teachers, and your children and grandchildren will continue to suffer with school closings and consolidations.  The teacher's unions are slowly destroying our school districts right before our eyes.  Look at what they are proposing in the Kingston district.  They want to split up a families elementary children across 2 schools, so parents will have to bring their K to 2nd grade children to one school and their 3rd grade to 5th grade children to another school.  Parents and taxpayers in Kingston better start making some noise between now and June 1st before it is too late.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Quality of Life is Kingston's secondary goal. Lower Taxes are primary.

Quality of Life is a secondary goal.  Kingston's and Shayne Gallo's primary goal is to negotiate very lean union contracts which will allow substantial property tax decreases over the next 3 years.  Without property tax decreases, the business and residential property tax rates will both continue to chase businesses and residents out of Kingston.  Since IBM left Kingston 16 years ago, nothing has been done to structurally fix the union contracts to match Kingston's 2012 population which is much less affluent.  We will reserve judgement on Shayne Gallo's progress when the first union contract terms are made public.  In many ways, Kingston's taxpayers should be clamoring for affordable union contracts and lower property taxes instead of being distracted by "quality of life".  The demographics of Kingston's population is eroding.  Time is running out for Kingston.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Open Post to Tony Adamis - Kingston Freeman Editor

Thanks for shining light on the facts about the unsustainable contracts and pensions that the local taxpayers are paying for. We the taxpayers would like more light shined on the secret talks between the unions and City of Kingston and with the Kingston School District. I know you have unsuccessfully tried to get into the negotiations so you can report back to we taxpayers what is being discussed about contracts with unaffordable giveaways before it is too late. It is too late after the first draft of the contract is agreed to and reported to the public. Let's be honest. This secret negotiation nonsense is just a ploy to promote politicians and union leaders at the expense of taxpayers. This is why NY State is last in growth and economic development. Can you suggest what we taxpayers can do to force the contract negotiation process to be opened up to newspaper reporters so you can tell us what is going on? "

Friday, February 3, 2012

Helpless in Kingston

Parents and taxpayers have the deck stacked heavily against them.  It is difficult to get just one conservative elected to the Kingston School Board, much less a majority of 5 needed to change anything.  Look how public opinion on reducing health benefits, eliminating step raises, and keeping Meagher School open, moving 9th Grade to the Middle Schools to allow neighborhood elementary schools to stay open, etc. are all IGNORED by the Kingston School Board and administration.  We parents and taxpayers feel HELPLESS IN KINGSTON AND IN NY.  Bottom-line, we need NY State legislature to promote school choice and competition by giving parents school vouchers to all parents to send their kids to any public, private, parochial school.  That is how you involve parents.  Give them a voucher and let them study and select a school for their children, just like parents and children select colleges.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Luxury Housing Poughkeepsie Waterfront versus Kingston Waterfront

Why is housing and building on the Poughkeepsie waterfront going "gangbusters", but the Thomas Perna Hudson Landing Riverfront project on the Hudson River in Kingston is delayed for at least a year!  Notice that the Poughkeepsie building projects rarely get bogged down with lengthy delays from Scenic Hudson types.  Remember the long debates and delays from Scenic Hudson and the complaints about possible "View" problems for the residents of the other side of the river.  Kingston and Ulster County taxpayers are losing out again in the housing and economic development wars.  Someone at Hudson Landing should explain why their project is delayed another year while Poughkeepsie continues to build and dominate the upscale housing market.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kingston Schools are broke - Cancel $90 Million Building Program

The Kingston School District is broke.  It is closing schools and laying off teachers.  It is closing schools within the City of Kingston.  This is destroying city neighborhoods.  The district has no business pushing a building plan that spends close to $90 Million on the KHS complex, demolishing buildings and building new buildings.  Let's move the 9th Graders from KHS to Bailey and Miller Middle Schools and move the 6th grade from Bailey and Miller Middle Schools to the Elementary Schools.  This will use the unused space in the elementary schools and allow them to stay open, especially in the city. It will also allow us to use the KHS complex, as is, without spending money that we do not have on a major KHS building plan.  The Kingston School District is in survival mode.  It has no business starting a $90 Million building program.  NY State could be on the verge of taking over the operation of KHS due to the poor graduation rates and the poor progress in improving KHS.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What is missing from Cuomo's Education Budget

What is missing from Cuomo's Education Budget are simply the following 2 reforms.

1)  Repeal of the Triborough Amendment (which practically guarantees teacher's & other unions at least the same contract as the last one).

2)  School Voucher Grants to Parents which lower education costs via competition among public, private & parochial schools. (This grant system has created healthy competition & worked for years at the college level.)