Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back to that damn raise 2

Gotta love this post on the antiquated Town Meeting listserve (privately owned by Mother Mary Streeter, also member of the Town Meeting Coordinating Committee--you know the folks who recently told the Town Manager to buzz off when he requested to participate in a public forum on Human Service Funding (maybe they figured he was a Zombie.)

While I understand the concerns some folks have about our financial difficulties and thus the reaction to the salary offered to our new Superintendent, people should understand that others hear your complaint from a different perspective. From Crocker Farm, the reaction of some Latino parents that I have talked to is a deep suspicion that the salary backlash is actually a racist response. Because in their mind the "white guy" who was earning $198k at his present Sup job seemed to be the favored candidate for many and they assume he would been
offered/paid whatever he wanted. Yet the Latino candidate is undeserving of a
competitive salary? In the minds of some, this is an unfair response.
They feel the new Superintendent was deemed worthy to be hired and put in chargeof our school district and was offered a competitive salary. Many in the Latino
community are thrilled to see him take charge (he is Cuban-American)
Just so you know that there is another reaction out there...

-- Cheers, Clare Bertrand

Quite frankly I favored "the white guy" but would not have paid him $158-K plus $15-K housing/transportation for two years. Hell at this point I would take the other Rodriguez (a woman no less) for $135-K (and $10 bucks taxi fare to relocate from NoHO)

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Give me a break. Their just trying to cover their backsides - they should have looked at each candidates existing salary and rejected anyone making more than $125. That way $135 would be a raise.

Anonymous said...

one thing left out of the consideration is that the "white guy" had experience at being a superintendent.

Another thing that is unmentioned in anyone's postings regarding that we had to be competitive and that the housing here necessitates a $15000 housing alllowance---what about our fire, police, teaching personnel....don't they find the housing here in Amherst hard to pay for????
and at lots lower salaries.

I've read the Bulletin and Gazette's articles and would like to see a real journalist look into what housing costs are for the new superintendent's current place of residence and Amherst.


that kind of investigation seems to be beyond the rah-rah reporting we get.

---Elaine

Anonymous said...

Another thing left out of the consideration is that a "white guy" who was a principal in Miami would never have gotten an interview for a position as superintendent in Amherst. Never. That strikes me as the most racist thing about the whole selection process.

Anonymous said...

What you can't get past in this town is that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. A "failed search" would have brought all kinds of criticism onto the SC, with Mr. Kelley most likely leading the charge. The hiring of Dr. Sklarz (or the white guy, as Larry refers to him), with the salary that he would have commanded, would have brought it's own, probably more furious wrath. And we know how it would have played out if we hired a lesser candidate... as we've just been through an unhealthy round of the kind of blood letting that gets wrought around here with any semblance of perceived ineptitude. So here we are, a town full of know-it-alls, who think that we and our children deserve nothing but the best, but who aren't willing to pony up and pay for it; either through tax overrides or competitive salary offerings. What we'd rather do is sit on the sidelines and throw pot shots at those charged with trying to deal, the best they can, with a horribly untenable situation. Frankly, I don't know who would want to enter the quagmire of Amherst town and school politics but I sure as hell believe that they deserve to be well compensated for it. And I sure as hell hope that we can put aside our fractious ways long enough to give this guy a working shot.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 12:22

My comments are a reaction to Ms. Bertrand's statement that some of the community--speaking of a protest against the salary of the new superintendent---- think of it as "racist."

guess what, I was never on the Jere Hochman bandwagon and from the perspective of a parent and public employee, I will tell you that the sun didn't rise and set on him as some would have you think: you know that the very people that hired him (the SC) were his biggest proponents....of course. So even his $135K seemed excessive when you look at some of the problems that came up in his tenure.

My comment had to do with the absurdity of not being "allowed" to critique the new salary (NOT THE CANDIDATE) in this era of economic disaster. (If you don't think of it as a disaster then you're not in the same boat as many of us who are waiting to see how much longer we are employeed and who have family members already unemployed)

It is absolutely the worst thing that Amherst and its elected officials can do is to think any criticism that could at all be linked to a someone who is non-white is racist and to be so afraid of that, that our elected officials tie themselves up in knots.

I question the salary of ANYONE in this economic atmosphere who is publicly funded getting a that much of an increase of the incumbent position....particularly with the explanations that the housing allowance is required due to our higher cost of living.

How do others survive here? We know we pay a premium to live here, and have chosen to do so....just as all the candidates that applied CHOSE to apply here.

So by questioning the salary and housing allowance I can be accused of racism??


What is the comparison of cost of living in Miami to Amherst? I'm curious....


----E.

Anonymous said...

To E. -- I agree with everything you said ... and the reality is, yes, anyone who complains about this salary is now going to be accused of being a racist -- which will effectively shut down the dialogue. I find Clare's email very offensive precisely because that is what it intends to do.

Anonymous said...

From Crocker Farm, the reaction of some Latino parents that I have talked to is a deep suspicion that the salary backlash is actually a racist response.

doesn't seem like her comment has any statistical significance....like everyone else in amherst, trying to make something out of nothing....let's have a rally

LarryK4 said...

Anon: 12:22 PM.

No, Larry Kelley would not have led the charge if the clueless SC had declared a "failed search."

And the reason why I put quotes around the term "white guy" is because (and some other Nitwit does not like that I occasionally use ellipses instead) Clare Bertrand used it in her email to some other antiquated listserve.

So...you don't know anybody "who would want to enter the quagmire of Amherst town and school politics". Hmmm, well nitwit I do it for free. And damn, I could sure use $173-K.

Anonymous said...

Um, I think that means to work in Amherst, not to just be a pain in the butt. Thanks for doing that free of charge.

LarryK4 said...

Um..I think I also work in Amherst--as in tomorrow (when most government workers have the day off) at 5:30 AM for instance.

Anonymous said...

How many of the Crocker Farm parents are actually paying property taxes (personally)?

In other words, how many are NOT living in subidized housing?

Would they feel differently about his salary if their portion of their rent was boosted from the 30% of income/$25/month minimum to, say, 32% of income/$50/month minimum?

Why do I suspect there would be protests if they had to pay $50/month for their apartments???

Anonymous said...

Yeah, aren't they the lucky ones, the people who can't afford a home. Idiot.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that they can *afford* a home as much as anyone else, they just don't have to pay for it.

Hey, if *I* wasn't paying rent, *I* could afford to fly to Purto Rico for a vacation (it is nice there this time of year) and I could have a fancy new car as oppose to my rustbucket, and I could go out and party all night, every night, in Springfield.

Get beyond lablels and start looking at what people HAVE and what they can DO and what they ENJOY and the true idiots are those of us who work for a living.

Anonymous said...

oh the name-calling. so now another thing we're not allowed to talk about is how subsidies do impact financial decisions& disrupt economic growth by creating artificial culture.

from the fields of the plain: US farm subsidies to our international largesse - international aid, (some interesting reading out there right now on how 60 years of aid has weakened Africa and maintained and perhaps increased impoverishment)

So we're forbidden by the name callers from discussing some perpective? How does this community even describe itself as "academic" when ideas are not to be discussed?

It is indeed true that if your cost to live is not affected by the decisions your elected leaders are making you will probably be less concerned with cost. There are other issues with which they may be concerned that are just as legitimate---such as representation of their ethnic heritage in their schools etc.

I agree those that need subsidized housing are NOT to envied, nor ridiculed. However, I put forward that their concern is no more legitimate than mine of cos.

And that discussing ideas should not be ridiculed either.


Too many are too afraid to discuss realities: the defense is to call names: from pinhead to nitwit to racist, it all boils down to the same. Shutting down discussion.

--Elaine

Anonymous said...

"Hey, if *I* wasn't paying rent, *I* could afford to fly to Purto Rico for a vacation (it is nice there this time of year) and I could have a fancy new car as oppose to my rustbucket, and I could go out and party all night, every night, in Springfield.
"

This racism is really repugnant. They are not just giving out free housing. Housing subsidies are income based and you have to be poor. It's not a subsidy based on being Puerto Rican.

Anonymous said...

Im a CF parent and I don't give a crap what this guys race is, the salary is to high during this fiscal crisis. Typical CF BS, cant say anything there or they say its about race. Cant wait til they redistrict.

Anonymous said...

"Im a CF parent and I don't give a crap what this guys race is, the salary is to high during this fiscal crisis. Typical CF BS, cant say anything there or they say its about race. Cant wait til they redistrict."

You are a typical parent? That's rich! I love all the grammatical errors you made in one short paragraph.

IM instead of I'm
To instead of too
Guys instead of guy's
Its instead of it's
Cant instead of can't

Sit down, you made a fool of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the parent posting is posting in a second or third language. If so, she or he may be far more linguistically able than you.

Or perhaps she or he had to drop out of school at a young age to support a family OR perhaps has a learning disability that affects grammar or a physical disability that makes writing difficult.

Or perhaps the writer's values on writing differ from yours.....

How can our diverse community feel accepted to communicate when it is only the self-selected intelligensia who deem themselves worthy of who may speak and how?

Anonymous said...

No reason to teach grammer, punctuation or even the English language. After all, it's just a tool of the evil self-selected intelligensia. We shouldn't teach math either.

Neil said...

Clare Bertrand earned her multi-cultural bona fides long ago so I find it curious that she would pass along accusations of racism without any substantiation, whatsoever.

I don't take issue that people have made the claim that the objection to the salary and living expense is nothing more than racism but I do take objection to the fact they offer not one shred of evidence that supports the assertion other than Rodriguez ethnic background.

In fact, I did not know the candidate was Latino until he was hired and Clare Betrand claimed that the hire was a sign of success of requirements and objectives not stated in the job description - that the candidate be of minority status.

Maybe part of that success will mean that any criticism related to Rodriguez - direct or indirect (such as his compensation offer) - will be rebutted not on the substance but on claims that any criticism is born of racism.

I really wish people in Amherst would dedicate themselves to think more clearly about race than to use it as a knee-jerk reaction to criticism.

Can we deal with criticism on the merits? Can we be prepared to offer evidence before calling fellow Amherst residents racists?

For the record, I thought the compensation package was reasonable.

For the record, I find Clare Betrand's trafficking in accusations of racism without providing substantiating evidence most distasteful, completely unfair, and counterproductive.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah I have a feeling that Clare would like to take back that email.

BUT, like forcing toothpaste back into the tube...

Anonymous said...

I think part of what Clare was revealing in her email was a feeling of dismay amongst some that many of the same people who favored the candidacy of the "white guy" (who would have commanded a far greater salary than the "non-white guy") are now decrying the salary offer of the "non-white guy". And I get that the "non-white guy" had far less experience than the "white guy". That's why he's commanding less salary! I don't happen to think any of this pertains to race. But I can see where the perception could arise that it does. Which is what I think Clare alluded to: a perception.

And as for Larry's offer to run the district for far less than the current salary consideration: I didn't see your hat in the ring at the time of the hire. Was your candidacy screened out in one of the preliminary rounds, or is it only now, when any real test of competency is out of the picture, that you're willing to toot your own horn? Sounds like same old same old to me: a bunch of folks sitting on the sidelines poking pot shots at those willing (and able) to do the real work of running the show. "Only in Amherst", indeed!

Anonymous said...

the reaction of some Latino parents that I have talked to is a deep suspicion that the salary backlash is actually a racist response."Deep suspicion" amounts to strong belief that the backlash is a racist response.

How quick people are to assume that racial bigotry is at the heart of the issue.

Is it not just as likely that the total compensation package seems high in the current market and the current context where the district is planning to close schools to save money, a substantial structural shortfall which we know we can't afford?

How is this charge being addressed? With facts about salary ranges and experience determining where one might be within the range or dead end accusations that pits some Latinos who Clare has spoken with against other people who think he salary is too high for this situation?

OMG Amherst is incapable of think intelligently about race.

Alison Donta-Venman said...

Everyone is just assuming that Dr. Sklarz would have cost the district more money in compensation, but that is just speculation. Dr. Sklarz made it clear in the evening interview I attended that this would most likely be his last position as a superintendent. He has had a long career and perhaps he and his family were looking for a community in which to retire. Given that, it is possible that he might have accepted a salary less than what he is currently making in West Hartford. There are things other than money which attract candidates to a job, and some people are willing to take pay cuts in exchange for other benefits (real or perceived) when taking a new job. I have done that myself! Just to say that I don't think it is fair to state that Dr. Sklarz would have cost us more money when we really don't know that.

Anonymous said...

"There are things other than money which attract candidates to a job, and some people are willing to take pay cuts in exchange for other benefits (real or perceived) when taking a new job."

Like coming to our warm and welcoming community? There we go getting full of ourselves again. It's my understanding that Dr. Sklarz was making close to 200K in West Hartford. How much of a cut do you think he'd be willing to take for the privilege of serving our fair town?

The question I think we all need to ask ourselves is, do we want to be a top performing district, or not? If the answer is yes, then we need to be in the competitive range when it comes to the salary we're willing to offer for district leadership. If the answer is no, and we really do want to be on a different playing field, then lets let our SC know before the head hunters get hired and the search process begins.

LarryK4 said...

Well let's hope when the SC releases their notes and the vote from the Executive Session (s?) concerning this we will have a better understanding of the negotiations.

I'm particularly interested in when and how Catherine Sanderson came to be called a "racist".

Alison Donta-Venman said...

Anon 9:48AM: Oh, I am definitely not "full of myself" and I don't necessarily think that our community IS "warm and welcoming." The Pioneer Valley, however, does have other things to offer a seasoned educator like Dr. Sklarz. The presence of multiple nearby colleges/universities with teacher training programs, for example, comes to mind. And despite how you feel about our lack of warmth and welcome (as a Midwesterner, I would agree with you), the Pioneer Valley is also a beautiful place where many people come to retire. Dr. Sklarz is from Massachusetts (albeit the eastern half) and might be interested in retiring to his home state. All of this, clearly, is speculation but my original point was that posters using the justification of "but Dr. Sklarz would have cost us more," to defend the salary/housing allowance of Dr. Rodriguez don't really know for sure if he would have cost us more! Any more than I know that he would have accepted a pay cut to come to Amherst. Since he was not offered the job, none of us will ever know any of this...it is not a productive comparison.

A more useful comparison might be to look at the salary offered to the new superintendent of New Bedford, the position for which Dr. Rodriguez also applied but was not chosen. She will be making $160,000 in eastern Massachusetts to oversee an urban district of 12,609 students in 27 schools. Dr. Rodriguez will be making $158,000 to oversee 3,230 students in 7 schools.

LarryK4 said...

No wonder you call your blog "Amherst by the numbers." Damn!

Anonymous said...

"How can our diverse community feel accepted to communicate when it is only the self-selected intelligensia who deem themselves worthy of who may speak and how?"



Uh, slam.

Anonymous said...

So, New Bedford didn't hire Rodriguez. Amherst didn't hire Sklarz. Does that make either of them unworthy candidates for hire? If Sklarz were to apply to another district, would we expect that district to say, "Whoops, Amherst didn't hire him, there must be something unworthy about the guy." Or might they be more likely to say, "For whatever the reason, he wasn't a fit for Amherst, but could be a great fit for us?"

LarryK4 said...

But gee, according to Amherst SC Chair Andy Churchill: "Nobody wants these jobs."

Alison Donta-Venman said...

Anon 9:19AM: My point in mentioning the New Bedford superintendency was not to say we shouldn't have hired Dr. Rodriguez because they didn't. The reason I brought that up was for the salary comparison. We might think that Dr. Rodriguez, if chosen for that position, would also have been offered a salary of $160,000 to oversee what seems to be a much more complicated and troubled district (although I am sure Andy Churchill would disagree because he continually points out the trouble with dealing with four towns, multiple budgets, etc--perhaps why "no one wants these jobs.").

Anonymous said...

When one goes into a negotiation with the attitude that "nobody wants these jobs"
it would seem it may undermine one's negotiating strategy.

And if you watch the SC meeting where Mr. Churchill changed his superintendent candidate vote, I think it demonstrates on how strong a stance he will take.

Puff.