Sunday, April 29, 2007

Overrider Rage in Downtown Amherst

As a passive aggressive sparky school supporter was driving thru the downtown around high-noon Saturday she rolled down the window and leaned out shouting while shaking her fist: “You should be ashamed of yourselves!”

A split second later she rear-ended the SUV in front of her. Stan Gawle, without missing a beat (after he stopped laughing) exclaimed, “God is on our side!”


rick said...

You SHOULD be ashamed of yourselves.

Let's just pocket the Bush and Romney income tax cuts and to heck with the next generation. Let them figure out how to dig out of the deficit we are leaving them, and while we're at it, cut their education to make it even more of a challenge for them. Nice.

There used to be a time when people would plant a tree, not because they would ever see the fruit, but because future generations would. I thought Amherst was one place in America that still had some of that left – I guess not.

maryd said...

Ha,reminds me of the lady screaming and yelling at us about peace as we held flags on that same corner. Her young son was later arrested at the high school for having knives and an air-soft gun. Irony.

LarryK4 said...

Starting to sound a tad defeatist (raging) Rick.

rick said...


Huh? And there is a connection how between some screaming lady and what I said?

You seem to assume that people who are pro-education are automatically anti-conservative. I'm not.

I am certainly against the Iraq war – a colossal waste of life and money for no reason at all – but I voted Republican all my life (a mistake) until Bush 2 completely wrecked the party and made a mockery out of the true meaning of "conservative" (true conservatives go to war as a last resort, and they don’t run huge deficits). I believe strongly in small government. But I don’t believe the way to get there is to just cut taxes and then tell people to just "figure it out" which is what Romney did. The right approach is to attack spending and inefficiency not just cut taxes. That is much harder work to do that requires really digging in to find out where the money is spent.

I have done as much digging as I can in my spare time in the school system. I was figuring to find lots of fat to cut. I didn’t. I wanted to find it. It would be so much easier as there would be then be a simple solution. But I didn’t.

Before just chucking out our very good school system you should really think hard about whether you really know for a fact that there is fat to cut. Have you really looked?

rick said...

Am I really "raging" Larry? I thought you were used to the "rough and tumble blogosphere" (your words)?

LarryK4 said...

Rick, Rick, Rick. You gotta chill my friend (have some wine and cheese). Obviously you lost (if you ever had) a sense of humor, and the only thing your displaying greater than naiveté is desperation.

maryd said...

Wow Rick, two times in a row that you have made the assumptions about me. My comment was on the ORIGINAL post, if it was meant for YOU I would have said so! Just because you posted first doesn't mean all other comments are for you.

Maybe you should take a couple of deap breaths and not rage so needlessly. I certainly didn't deserve that tirade.

rick said...

Yes, this stuff is not humorous to me. Laughing at education cuts and car crashes isn't my thing.

LarryK4 said...

And obviously running an important political campaign is also not your "thing."

maryd said...

Rick, there is fat to cut and as usual it is floating at the top.

jpo said...

That's right, maryd, there's a whole lot of fat to be cut. Let's look, for example, at the elementary school budget - no doubt brimming with waste and excess. How much are we spending on all those fat-cat administrators in our elementary schools? Probably half our budget, right? No? Well, it has to be at least 20% or 30%, right?

Wrong. The 2008 administrative budget for the elementary schools accounts for 9.3% of the overall budget (that's down from 9.9% in 2005). Let's say we try to trim the fat by firing every single administrator in the elementary schools. Start at the top with the superintendent, and work your way down through the curriculum director, the school principals, assistant principals, and other office workers, all the way through to the secretaries. Throw in the entire IT staff, the HR staff, and the business office staff (they're part of the administrative costs too). Forget about salary freezes or salary cuts. Just fire them all. When you're done laying waste to the entire fat-cat administrative structure of the elementary schools, you'll have saved less than 10% of the total operating budget.

Let's try to have an informed discussion here, instead of vacuous statements about "cutting the fat". The budgets are readily available. Take a look at the elementary school budget and the regional school budget, and tell us where to find all this fat that is "floating at the top" of the budgets.

- Jonathan O'Keeffe

maryd said...

Holy Cow! Fire them all! Way to go nuts there. Informed discussion? I'd be happy with calm and civilized.

Popular opinion among parents suggests starting with one of the co-principals at the middle school.

jpo said...

Popular opinion among parents suggests starting with one of the co-principals at the middle school.

An excellent start, assuming that doesn't shift too much of the administrative burden onto the teachers. Now keep going - you've still got another $1.43M to go in order to close this year's budget gap.

LarryK4 said...

Well...let's gut Leisure Services, privatize the golf course, get rid of a few department heads of do-nothing departments, hold the line on everybody's COLA and Step increases and then, if needed, tap the $4.3 million we have in reserves.

jpo said...

I don't know if I'd want to "gut" Leisure Services, but I agree with the general consensus that this is not the highest priority in tough budget times. Even if you were to cut it in half, however, you're only talking about a couple hundred thousand dollars in tax support. You're not going to close the budget gap through LSSE.

I'm in total agreement on Cherry Hill. But again, the actual tax expenditures here are a drop in the bucket.

Cutting department heads? You need to be a little more specific. One man's "do-nothing" department is likely providing vital services for someone else. Who are you going to cut, how much are you going to save, and what is going to happen to the people that are depending on those services?

Cutting COLA and step increases? Now you're talking desperate measures. Even if that were to work this year, what are you going to do next year when we're facing the same budget situation? And the year after that? And the year after that? Shall we hire all the teachers who are willing to work for years at a stretch without a salary increase? That will be the real cream of the education crop.

Spend more reserves? Fuggedaboutit. That's about the most reckless financial gambit I could possibly imagine. Your wallet may be pinched right now, but don't forget, these are the good times. We've been spending our way through the reserves while the US economy has been growing for the last 5 and a half years. We should be putting money into the reserves right now, not taking it out. What are you going to do when the next recession hits, state aid goes into the toilet, and we're looking at $3M in our piggy bank?

chris said...

More things to cut from town budget:

Senior Center: 198,866
Community services: 70,477
Veterans Services: 132,902
Leisure services: 637,704
Golf Course: 207,835

total: 1,247,782

jpo said...

Chris -

If you're going to wipe the costs for Cherry Hill and LSSE off the map, you have to remove their revenue also and account for how you'd replace it.

As for the other items, I wonder how many of us want to live in a town that completely turns its back on its elderly, its veterans, and its neediest citizens. I don't think that even Larry has proposed cutting veterans services.

- Jonathan

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, Jonathan I would not be in favor of abolishing Veterans Services especially since it is a state mandated position. Just as we shouldn’t even remotely consider laying off 5 firefighters because we have already consumed $350,000 of the Federal Grant used to hire them that would have to be repaid. Seems a tad stupid to pay back $350,000 in order to cut $80,000 from FY08.

LSSE, according to the Big Budget Book (page 99) requires $297,099 in “taxation” and that is, of course, what they want you to think they cost the taxpayers in total.

However their employee benefits ($175,148) and Capital ($38,000) come out of a separate part of the budget for a grand total of $510,247.