Earlier Letters to the Editor
On the global warming scare, follow the money
Many call it settled science; I call it a convenient lie.
It was once called man-made (anthropogenic) global warming; now it is called climate change. Carbon dioxide emissions are the supposed culprit.
Since it has been scientifically documented there was no appreciable planetary warming in the last 16 years, there had to be an appropriate name change. We all know the climate changes, right? That way any so-called anomaly in the weather can be attributed to climate change. How convenient. If it's hot, the problem is climate change. If it's cold, the problem is climate change. If we have a hurricane, it must be due to climate change. All the environmental leftists, to include Al Gore, and the media are running from the term global warming.
Speaking of Al Gore, who produced the global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, he lives in a mansion (20 rooms and 8 bathrooms) located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, which consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service. I prefer to call this lauded documentary A Convenient Lie. It's convenient because a whole generation of people and educators have been duped into believing a fanciful fabrication, which has become very profitable for those involved in the global warming industry.
Follow the money. The global warming scare perpetuates government funding for grants to university professors in bed with radical environmentalists, who manipulate climate models to produce the conclusions they want. As a result, more tax dollars are funneled to additional bogus research projects. It funds carbon credit scams, which make millions of dollars for green energy shadow bosses who want to stifle corporate production, fossil fuels, and real energy development.
Additionally, billions of our tax dollars have been wasted by our government funding bankrupt renewable energy boondoggles like: Solyndra ($527 million), ECOtality ($96 million), Abound Solar ($60 million), Fisker Automotive ($139 million), A123 Systems ($132 million) and the list goes on and on. Finally, it's a redistribution of wealth scheme that wants to take money from rich nations and redistribute it to lesser developed countries in the guise of economic fairness and social justice.
I could look at this from a Christian perspective and say these environmental alarmists are nothing more than earth worshipers. They prefer to worship the creation rather than the Creator. God tells man to subdue the earth and take dominion over it. He punished nations in the Bible for worshiping nature. I like to say I am a conservationist; I am not an environmentalist. I define the terms this way.
Conservationists love trees. Environmentalists love trees more than people. You get the point.
However, let's look at this from a slightly more scientific perspective. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas. It is a small part of the atmosphere, yet it sustains all life on earth. It is not a pollutant; it is food for plants and trees. Plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide, and through the photosynthesis process, release oxygen which we breathe.
Over 31,000 scientists have signed a petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine stating that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide will in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere.” You never hear this in the main-stream media, because to them it is “settled science.”
Well, it is not. Every shred of so-called evidence for man-made global warming comes from climate models. Let's apply a little common sense. If your local TV weather-person can't predict an accurate forecast two weeks from now, how can we believe climate models that span 30 years? You can't.
I believe many of these models are manipulated by agenda-driven scientists who tweak the results to support their flawed theories. This was recently substantiated by the disclosure of hacked emails generated by the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit between climatologists who appeared to admit to each other they had manipulated climate data in an attempt to suppress critics.
Just like United Nations Agenda 21, Common Core State Standards, Sustainable Development, and all of the progressive left's agendas, the ultimate goal of global warming alarmism can be summed up in one word: control. The elitists and academics who approve of these mandates believe big government knows what is best for us and we are not smart enough to run our own lives. These liberal belief systems have led our country into its current mess.
Don't buy the climate change lie. Our earth will be here just as long as God wants it around and we can all learn to be good stewards of His creation without the hysteria and ridiculous government controls.
Park Hill no longer needs your yes vote
Great news—our school district no longer needs your vote for a proposed tax increase!
The USS Park Hill has dramatically shifted course and is now navigating toward the smoother waters of fiscal responsibility and transparent communication. The distress signal issued to parents and taxpayers has been lifted and replaced with a more composed message in recent weeks.
It appears that school safety is NOT, after all, contingent on the passage of this levy. After the last board meeting, a significantly-revised press release noted “the district will fund the safety improvements from our regular budget but the April 8 levy will allow us to kick-start the projects to finish them sooner.”
In short, district leaders are acknowledging that there is no crisis and that they have the money needed to make some adjustments to safety plans. Not sure what they mean by “kick-start”—I'll be discouraging my kids from telling me they've saved up for a new iPod but would like some money from me to “kick-start” their purchase. Sounds mostly like district leaders are apologizing for “crying wolf” and using school safety as a marketing strategy. I believe they're an earnest and well-meaning bunch--apology accepted.
It appears district administrators now believe they can implement the technology initiative successfully without additional funding, too. Friends and colleagues in Park Hill tell me the superintendent has quietly communicated that they will proceed with the FLiP initiative regardless of the levy outcome, and he's asked his leadership team to begin “battening down the hatches” of their respective budgets.
That is precisely the right thing to do and not surprising—months ago the district leased 2500 of the needed 10,000 laptops they plan to distribute to kids. If this effort is rolled out judiciously, there is no reason, short of wasteful financial diversions, that our kids can't have access to the recommended technology. Only time will tell if it will be used in ways that truly impact teaching and learning, as promised.
Now that the manufactured crisis has subsided, it is critical board members and district administrators turn their attention to the real dangers that threaten successful passage of our district into the next decade. A meaningful school option for alternative or suspended students, full funding for remediation programs like Smart Start and summer school that help kids with greatest need, district-wide implementation of anti-bullying programs like Olweus, equitable wages, training and benefits for support staff on par with those of their certified colleagues, and a fair and rigorous education for all kids regardless of zip code. No need to loosen the life rafts, but navigating these waters will require “all hands on deck.”
VOTE NO on April 8th for the tax increase proposed by the Park Hill School District. Now that the fog has lifted, let's put this issue behind us so we can all begin our focus on more important challenges ahead.
Former Park Hill
Back to basics program, not laptops, needed
Recently I had the opportunity to listen to Park Hill Superintendent Dr. Scott Springston speak about the upcoming levy question coming up on the April 8th ballot.
Of course, Dr. Springston and his group of student spokespersons expressed how great the new Future Learner Project is going to be if the levy passes. As it was explained, this program will offer ongoing technology based education to students in an effort to make them more likely to succeed in a job market that is becoming more technologically oriented. According to Dr. Springston, talks with local businesses revealed a desire for future employees to be tech-savvy and have a good working knowledge of computers and technology.
To pay for this program, the school is asking the district residents to pick up the tab in the form of a levy. Like many other school projects and programs this idea sounds good in theory, however there is a bigger problem at hand here that the Park Hill district and many other districts are overlooking.
As I see it, tech-savvy students are not the problem. Most kids know their way around computers and technology quite well, but what they don’t know how to do is read and write. I am reminded of this fact every time I review a job application from a recent high school or even a college grad. To say that many of them are appalling would be putting it nicely.
Instead of a technology training program that costs taxpayers a great deal of money, how about a back-to-basics program that forces students to master the basic skills of communication, math, science and history with very little or no additional cost to the district taxpayers? I suppose that would be too simple and not progressive enough.
The second issue with this levy is that they have tacked on upgrades for school safety. This is a trick right out of the politicians’ playbook. Tie school safety onto anything and it is hard for the public to say no.
I must say that I will probably end up voting for this issue but not because I think that a Future Learner Program is the way to go, or I think that the safety in the district is derelict. (Truth be told, Park Hill has one of the best security systems and protocols of any local district.) I will vote for this because it is my opinion that the district has already made up their mind about the program and they will implement it no matter if they get the levy or not. The difference will be the funding. They will either fund the program with taxpayer money or they will take it from somewhere else in the district, like faculty and staff salaries. I would much rather pay for an unnecessary program than potentially risk the salaries of the great teachers and district workers that we have.
Just food for thought!
--Trevor J. Ballard
Consider ‘no’ on Park Hill laptop levy
I'd like to extend this “open letter” to Park Hill teachers and staff. I know that the district marketing machine is now in full swing, and you have no doubt been inundated by district administrators with newsletter highlights, video segments, and staff meeting presentations in favor of the upcoming levy issue. These are, of course, only “informational” and in no way intended to influence you to vote “yes” for this tax increase.
I won't presume to tell you what to do—that's an individual decision each of us makes in the privacy of the voting booth. But as you weigh your vote, I would ask that you simply CONSIDER NO.
If you have struggled to help a class of kids when the wireless connection (or email or software program or. . .) didn't work, and you long ago gave up hope of getting meaningful, “real time” tech support to fix the issues —CONSIDER NO.
If you know your students and suspect most will quickly grow uninterested in a district-provided laptop with significant restrictions on software, downloads and Internet accessibility—CONSIDER NO.
If you can't imagine how district infrastructure is going to handle 10,000 additional computers when it has never functioned consistently and effectively—CONSIDER NO.
If you've struggled through the adoption and implementation of a technology-based program (e.g., Digits), and couldn't get a common sense fix for the myriad of technical problems—CONSIDER NO.
If you've watched as millions of dollars have been wasted on “quality” initiatives that have never impacted your job as a teacher or support staff —CONSIDER NO.
If you saw, for months, a blank television screen in your school's office where recorded security camera footage was supposed to be monitored, and thought, “I hope to God nothing bad happens before the district gets its act together” —CONSIDER NO.
If you are appalled to learn the superintendent recently spent $47,000 remodeling the board room at central office for meetings held a few hours each month when this money could have been put to good use purchasing educational technology for classrooms—CONSIDER NO.
If you are a parent or taxpayer in the district but don't believe you're obligated , as an employee, to blindly support every initiative and tax increase proposed by district administrators—many of whom don't live in this school community and will never pay a penny out-of-pocket for this tax increase—CONSIDER NO.
If you feel fortunate to work in a great district like Park Hill, but have, at times, thought taxpayers would be upset by the waste you've seen around you—CONSIDER NO.
As a district employee, I asked questions and challenged practices but often felt I didn't get meaningful answers or solutions. Now all of us have a way to be heard that can't be ignored.
CONSIDER NO as you vote on the upcoming Park Hill District tax increase.
Former Park Hill
Demand public input on proposed sewer deal
Once again, the Parkville board of aldermen goes down a path of a major financial transaction, avoids the public, and attempts to present an image of being in control of a situation spiraling out of control.
The city's latest charade is to sell the sewer facilities to pay the Brush Creek NID debt. I probably spent less time analyzing this transaction and its impact on sewer rates than city staff did preparing the various documents to hire outside experts. Perhaps they knew the outcome would not be favorable to sewer customers. And since their real motive is to rid themselves of the NID debt, better to dress a pig for auction than to show the real pig.
This proposed transaction is a smokescreen and a shell game. It is an attempt to hide the cost of a high risk annexation and NID development project inside sewer rates, which would serve as a cover-up of yet another failed board initiative.
The Parkville board won't admit it, but there is panic inside City Hall. It wants a definitive agreement before June 1, 2014. This means that in a period of less than 90 days, the board will have investigated, evaluated, and agreed to transfer to a third party assets that have been under city control for decades, if not longer. All without any request for public input.
Last week's Landmark presented significant background and facts. Additionally:
•Under the 2006 Cooperative Agreement between Parkville and PCRSD, Parkville assumed 100% of the debt risk while PCRSD assumed no debt risk. After being approached by PCRSD, Parkville assumed 100% of the cost ($13,500) for an expert report. Who is negotiating for Parkville?
•Parkville failed to disclose in the 2013 budget the degree of risk on this NID. After having been called out on the matter, they changed their disclosure for the 2014 budget.$317,000 is being added to reserves in 2014 to bring the reserve to $1.4 million.
•The annual debt service on the $4,935,000 NID, assuming a 20 year term and 3% annual interest, approximates $330,000. Ignoring any collectible assessments, Parkville essentially has sufficient tax revenues to service the NID debt. This transaction is not necessary.
•PCRSD is burdened with significant long term debt, which is the reason for their high fixed charge per customer of $26.22 in comparison to Parkville's $11.86. To fund the purchase, PCRSD would have to issue debt for 100% of the purchase price, adding more debt to an already debt burdened balance sheet. In addition, debt issued by PCRSD may carry an interest rate 50% higher than Parkville due to PCRSD not being rated.
•Assuming PCRSD paid an amount equal to the NID debt, substantially all of Parkville's customers will see their rates increase, some by more than 100%.
An underlying assumption being made by those involved is that the sewer assets of Parkville have a marketable value. In fact, there is none. This is a flawed assumption. Sewer charges are nothing more than a cost recovery mechanism. There is no “profit” in municipal sewer charges as any excess of revenues over costs is used to offset future costs. If there is no future profit, there is no market value to be determined. The only value in a municipal transaction is the cost of assets being included in the service charges. This does not require an outside expert report.
Consider yourself the buyer. Would you pay $5 million for an asset when the only amount you can generate in return is the $5 million you paid? On its own, this is ludicrous.
A further significant concern with the proposed transaction is that it would allow Parkville to free up hundreds of thousands of dollars of excess contingency reserves so the board can continue spending at will on unnecessary pet projects. Parkville generates significant excess tax revenues because it taxes everything that moves (read the second bullet point above again). In spite of excess revenues, the board has the gall to attempt to play a shell game with $5 million.
Parkville residents should be incensed. Call your alderman and the mayor. Stop this transaction and demand some input. There is more at stake than individual user sewer charges.
Opposed to development east of I-29
Your position, pro or con, on the “long coveted” development east of I-29 is unknown to me. My position is decidedly con, for the following reasons.
Platte City is a decidedly unique community within the Kansas City metropolitan area. Unlike all the other periphery communities to KC, Platte City lacks the plethora of brand name box stores and morass of seething shoppers. The “un-likeness” is the very beauty of its situation. All of the shopping and dining opportunities available in the KC area are a mere 10-minute drive to Zona Rosa.
Meanwhile, small town advantages still apply to Platte City, and a trip to the country begins just across the HH overpass.
When noses are counted for expansion east of I-29, the outcome is predictable from thousands of preceding examples throughout the country. The developers will come, hungry with fervid anticipation of the money to be made and total disregard for any results save the profits in their pockets. The city’s officers will slobber all over themselves, and the developers, in an effort to please the big money. Even the mini-me Donald Trumps of the world have the power to awe the Offutts of the pastures. The politicians will see dollar signs, and parks named after them.
The majority of citizens will be only casually aware of the background details, lulled by expectation of their own Walmart, and oblivious to the loss of their current instant big city access and simultaneous remoteness.
The promise will be more jobs, a rising rate of development (a euphemism disregarding precise, accurate description), an increased tax base (erroneously suggesting taxes will go down), and a plethora of only positive results.
For too long, the paradigm has been that only growth can stave off decay. How about a new paradigm stressing maximizing what exists? Pursue development of quality within the existing structure instead of quantity of the structure. The false promise of “new” is a consequence of pursuit of “better.” New, or more, is not a guarantee of better.
Instead of bankrolling developers in acquisition east of I-29, how about spending those dollars on projects improving and protecting existing development, thereby really obtaining “better” for existing citizens?
Park Hill using 'safety' to manipulate voters
Safety and security are basic human needs. But safety and security of our children are among the highest priorities of any parent or community.
I am always dismayed when the issue of safety is used to manipulate others. But I am deeply troubled when a school district, entrusted with the safe care of our children, “plays politics” with the issue.
In an effort to raise money to fund a technology initiative, the Park Hill School District has tacked on some safety upgrades to a proposed tax increase. District leadership is telling parents and patrons they need money to make necessary upgrades to improve the safety of our schools. In reality, they have simply chosen to spend millions of dollars on other projects. District administrators decided not to come to voters to approve $800,000 in spending on central office remodeling or a $500,000 canopy over the soccer stadium; they had little confidence that these would make for a “sexy” marketing campaign.
Instead, they've decided to tell our school community, “If you don't approve a tax increase, safety might be impacted. And none of us wants that, do we?”
Imagine telling an older parent, “Mom, I got your car inspected and they said you need brakes. But I decided to wait to get these fixed until I could ask if I'm going to be 'well-represented' in your will.”
Those with the means and responsibility to protect others should never wait to do the “right thing”—they should act with a sense of intention and urgency.
If Park Hill district leadership is aware that safety issues need to be addressed in our schools, I implore them to take action immediately, using available reserve funds, if necessary. Failure to act now, regardless of the levy outcome, would be nothing short of negligence. I can only hope that no tragedy befalls any of our schools or students because of the inaction of those we've entrusted to keep them safe.
I encourage parents to contact the school district (816-359-4000) to tell school leaders to act immediately to make recommended safety improvements. And if you attend the school board candidate forum at Park Hill High School on March 24th, at 6:30 pm., ask those seeking election how they would take action to address these safety issues if voters decide not to subsidize this costly technology initiative through a tax increase.
Former Park Hill
Ron Schieber made the right move
This is in reply to Sue Lange’s letter to the editor in last week’s issue of The Landmark.
Ms. Lange, I can understand your personal choice of one candidate over another for Platte County's Presiding Commissioner. But, keeping Park Hill School fixed to a septic system rather than hooking into the city's sewer system seems like 1960 ecology.
Thanks for pointing out that Ron Schieber voted to move our school into the 21st century.
Then, your editorial noted this septic deal was some sort of deception. But, wouldn't the awful results have been from school plugged toilets and flooded bathrooms of foul sewage? Old septic systems leak; modern sewage systems work better with larger populations.
Further, I am a taxpayer shelling out tax dollars for our Platte County schools. Would you please provide cost/ratio data demonstrating how “our kids suffer?”
No doubt the teachers union wants more tax revenues to spend; no doubt political experts and special interest groups will spend lots of promotional monies to get your programs. How much more taxes will they cost me?
Please note: both candidates are really good, but your assertion that “our kids suffer” does not match with Park Hill’s high educational ranking in the state.
County doesn't need a rubber stamp
So Ron Schieber wants to become presiding commissioner of Platte County,
just like Jason Brown did? Well now, if that isn't just what this county needs, another career politician wanting a government funded salary, (whopping $65,755 as of 2011), without sacrifice from his family.
I admire a family man but we need an employee who is able to earn that
money. That wasn't Jason and it's not Ron, either.
I'd like to remind voters out there that Ron Schieber served on the Park
Hill School District Board of Education during what has to be one of the
most egregious spending boondoggles of the century, the Union Chapel
Interceptor Sewer. That's right folks; he was one of the board members who voted to put in gravity fed sewers to solve a problem that could have been fixed for a million dollars less.
I spent countless hours researching the problems and goals the school
indicated they wanted to accomplish. I found numerous errors and flaws
in the solution they were presented with. First and foremost was the
idea that MoDNR was forcing them to install sewers. This was simply not true.
Admittedly their septic tank was aging but the bulk of their problems stemmed from abuse and lack of proper maintenance. The fact is that system they claimed was 'on its last legs' back in 2008 is still operating within proper effluent guidelines today and was recently recertified by the MoDNR to continue to operate. They did not need sewers then and to this day still do not.
I went to meetings and wrote letters pointing out the deception and
discrepancies. It fell on deaf ears. I contacted outside experts who
proposed alternative cheaper solutions, and was still ignored. Not one lazy person on the school board at that time, including Mr. Schieber, took it upon him or herself to read the facts or research them independently. With $1 million at stake, that's a travesty.
As a result, our kids have suffered. In recent years they been unable to
get new text books, and currently they can't get new computers. I have no respect for anyone who sat on the PHSD school board at the time of the Union Chapel Sewer decision. By voting to install that sewer, every one of them, Mr. Schieber included, contributed to the fiscal challenges the school now faces. He has proven that his priorities are confused and he hasn't got the stomach for the hard choices.
Platte County needs someone who will take time to research the facts,
rather than rubber stamp whatever the administration puts in front of
him. We've had enough of that already with Jason Brown.
Mr. Schieber's track record on the PHSD board of education makes it very clear: he's Jason Brown II and he is not the person we need.
There is an agenda behind the green mask
Have you heard of the United Nations (UN) Agenda for the 21st Century or Agenda 21? You probably have not. That term is purposely not used in the United States. You may be more familiar with terms like Sustainable Development or Smart Growth. It is important that every patriot understand this global plan that is being implemented locally across our nation and the consequences for our liberty and freedoms. This is not a partisan issue and we will all feel its impact. It is time to expose what is behind the “green mask.”
Background. In 1992 at the Rio de Janeiro UN Earth Summit, the U.S. and 178 other nations signed onto the action plan to implement sustainable development across the globe. The UN called it Agenda 21. The chairman of the summit is quoted as saying the current lifestyles of the affluent middle-class that involve high meat intakes, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable. The plan also cites the affluence of Americans as being a major problem which needs to be corrected. It calls for lowering the standard of living for Americans so people in poorer countries have more. In 1993, the plan began implementation in the U.S. by the President's Council on Sustainable Development. By 2002, a legislative guidebook was written which defines the blueprint for every city, county, and state to implement Agenda 21 in America.
Purpose. Although dissenters can be expected to be labeled conspiracy theorists, the purpose of Agenda 21 (Smart Growth) is quite simple: control. The ultimate goal is to move people out of the suburbs and rural areas and into the cities or so-called islands of human habitation. This opens up the rural areas to become wilderness, wetlands, etc. Smart Growth has three pillars: environment, equity, and economy, in that order. The environment or ecology is listed first because it drives Agenda 21.
From the agenda's perspective, human population and private property ownership are a blight on the earth. These factors drive climate change, consume scarce natural resources, and tend to concentrate wealth among the very few. As a result, a “balance” between man and the earth must be achieved. The economy is considered last because it is the least restraining factor when it comes to “saving the planet.”
Finally, equity or social equity is a redistribution of wealth from the rich nations or people to the poorer nations or people. All of this is implemented for the common good to advance social justice. The rights of the individual are sacrificed for the rights of the community or collective. Heard that term before?
How. Across the nation, in large cities and small towns, identical programs are being rolled out. Land use restrictions (eminent domain), ordinances reducing energy use, smart meters, school programs, and candidate training are designed and implemented without your vote. You may be invited to city visioning meetings, but the outcome is decided before you ever enter the room. Your taxes at the federal, state, and local level are supporting this. This dramatic revolution in private property rights will extend into every facet of our lives: education, energy, food, housing, and transportation.
Follow the money. This rescue mission for planet earth carries a huge price tag. Besides being subsidized by our property taxes, your state and county may only receive federal transportation and housing dollars if they agree to Smart Growth initiatives. Sustainable redevelopment programs will steal property tax dollars. Public-private partnerships will emerge and redevelopment corporations will make billions of dollars from government-mandated Smart Growth projects. The model is to think globally, plan regionally, and act locally. For example, Platte County is already a member of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) made up of 9 counties and 119 cites with a vision for “creating sustainable places.”
Do your own internet research on this topic. This is not a conspiracy theory; it is a conspiracy fact. What is going on in your community? Attend local county and school meetings; get involved. Tell our politicians we don't want Agenda 21 in Missouri. Your ears should perk up when you hear code words like: sustainable, vibrant, connected, green, bikable, walkable, wildlands, regionalization, climate change, Common Core, balancing, mixed use, mass transit, smart meters, visioning meetings, blight, sprawl, and eminent domain.
Be forewarned, there is an agenda behind the green mask. A great web site, believe it or not, for information is: www.DemocratsAgainstUNAgenda21.com
Chapel Ridge lawsuit irrelevant
Jason Brown and his surrogate(s) are in the local papers declaring that his Chapel Ridge vote was not "for sale!" This isn't the first time such declarations from Mr. Brown have been necessary.
In 2012, Jason Brown voted to give the lucrative community centers expansion project to JE Dunn, even though there were several lower bids (for construction management services). The county acknowledged that they received 10 bids for the project and all were quality bids. JE Dunn's bid was $350,000 over the low bidder—almost 40% higher.
After questions arose regarding the bid, Brown was forced to acknowledge in the press that he had been placed on the Dunn payroll for two 6-month stints including the six months he was campaigning for presiding commissioner. He stayed on their payroll until being sworn in as commissioner.
He was also forced to acknowledge that Dunn had hosted a fundraiser for him and given contributions to his campaign.
Chapel Ridge is not the only time Brown has put himself in the middle of an ethics controversy, it's merely the latest. The debate over what can be proven in court by the Chapel Ridge attorneys is irrelevant for Mr. Brown's political future, should he decide to seek re-election. His political future will be decided in the court of public opinion and Chapel Ridge was the last straw.
in Platte County
Left wages war on poor with minimum wage push
The Road to Washington may be paved with good intentions, but good intentions don’t always translate into good policy. Just ask the millions of Americans who liked their health insurance plans, were told they could keep them under the Affordable Care Act, but recently found out they’ll be losing them. Ronald Reagan once said that “the nine most terrifying words in the English language” are “I'm from the government and I'm here to help.” Those words are as true today as they have ever been.
Our government’s tendency toward crushing kindness is a big reason why Americans should resist the push to raise the minimum wage. We’re often told our collective compassion compels us to increase it, and on the surface, the idea sort of sounds good. No one gets rich with a minimum wage job, and we all want to help one another. But increases to the minimum wage do not help the poor as some might think.
First, most minimum wage earners don’t actually live in poverty. Two-thirds of minimum wage earners come from households making at or above 150 percent of the poverty line – in other words, they’re not technically considered poor – and just more than half of minimum wage earners are 25 years of age or younger. And more than 60 percent of those young people are still in school.
Second, the number of people paid the minimum is not especially high. Today, less than five percent of hourly workers are paid the minimum. Among all U.S. workers, minimum wage employees constitute just three percent of the American workforce. Not only are relatively few people being paid the minimum technically in poverty; relatively few people are being paid the minimum at all.
Moreover, the general consensus among economists is that minimum wage hikes are ineffective at fighting poverty. Christina Romer, who led President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, openly conceded in the New York Times last year that there were questions about “whether a higher minimum wage will achieve better outcomes for the economy and reduce poverty.” Romer even panned the idea that a hike in the minimum wage would be a sort of economic “stimulus.”
The problems don’t end there. Consider that even the most stalwart minimum wage advocates aren’t trying to raise the wage to $150 per hour, or $100, or $75.
Why? Because proponents know that as they force the cost of labor up increment by increment, the cash that businesses have to pay for labor will remain about the same – forcing employers to raise prices for consumers, cut back on the number of people the company employs and the hours they work, or some combination of the two.
The awful truth embedded in this fight, which is rarely mentioned, is that there will be collateral damage among the low-skilled and the poor as a consequence of these wrong-headed policies.
How many jobs are boosters willing to destroy in their quest to increase the minimum wage? What level of government-imposed suffering is acceptable to them?
Human compassion compels us to promote policies that support job creation, not policies that undercut it. The problem of poverty in this country would be best addressed by making jobs more available — not making jobs more scarce.
And I could compare today’s $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage to past levels – I could remind proponents that the first federal minimum wage instituted in 1938 was the equivalent of $4.07 today, and that the inflation-adjusted average since is actually below the current wage – but that’s not even close to the best argument against their plans.
A minimum wage hike is a bad idea because it hurts the very people we should be helping. Isn’t that reason enough to oppose it?
--Patrick J. Ishmael
The Show-Me Institute
Enrollment projections need to be continually updated
This letter is in response to Mr. Holden's "letter to the editor" printed on January 29.
While we are happy to provide a response for The Landmark as requested, we have no intentions of making it common practice to speak with a patron through the local media. We welcome patrons to contact district leadership with questions and/or concerns. We have policies and procedures in place to assure patrons are able to seek answers to their questions. We take great pride in serving the public and look forward to speaking with caring community members.
The general assertion in the Jan. 29 letter suggests information is being manipulated and/or withheld by district leadership in an attempt to fool members of the public. In reality, the public has been routinely presented with the most current and best information available to the district. The Citizens Advisory Committee is no exception. The enrollment projections shared with the committee were the most current available and provided the CAC with part of the necessary information to consider growth management options.
Enrollment projections will need to be continually updated for our foreseeable future because the useful life of such a study is relatively short due to our rapid growth and perpetually changing factors such as the state of the economy and housing market trends. Whether considering the projections in 2010 or 2013, the implications are relatively consistent: continued growth and overcrowding. To focus on differences in the two studies that will naturally vary over time, would be to focus on the wrong information which could prove costly to our students and our taxpayers. We encourage you to contact members of the CAC to determine their opinion of our integrity and if their opinion has changed due to the presence of an updated study. In the interim, here are a few more points to consider:
•Our reported capacity numbers did, in fact, change after determining a scientific method was needed to calculate and report capacity. Prior to this, district leadership used numbers that were provided by past administrations. It should be noted, that through this process some buildings increased capacity and some decreased capacity. Overall, net capacity increased as a result of this process……hardly an effective strategy for overstating need. More importantly, we know how our buildings are being used and that, above all, tells us that overcrowding must be addressed.
•Growth and capacity, which appear on the surface to be substantially more concerning at Barry and Pathfinder, can be misleading if you ignore our community created Long Range Plan. The LRP calls for the closure of Rising Star and the eventual annexation of Paxton School by PCHS which removes space for almost 600 students at the elementary level. Consequently, capacity is concerning at both ends of the district at the elementary level if we intend on addressing overcrowding at PCHS in the coming years. You may also recall that a boundary line study is intended to follow an election to maximize the use of all facilities. Our Long Range Plan was created by community members from North and South and is designed to take care of all kids throughout the district.
In closing, we welcome questions regarding information we share with the public and rationale for strategic decisions. We are more than prepared to field such inquiries and would consider the opportunity a gift. Simply put, if ignoring growth and overcrowding was a viable strategy we would gladly share this good news with the public. Unfortunately, this would only cost taxpayers more and prove detrimental to our students.
--Dr. Michael Reik, Superintendent
--Gary Brown, Board of Education
and Citizens Advisory Committee
Platte County R-3 School's growth projections have lowered significantly
Over the past two weeks the Platte County R-3 Board of Education has emailed and published an open letter to the patrons of PCR-3 School District on why they are waiting another year to ask us for a levy increase.
First, I was a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) that is mentioned in the board’s letter and mentioned so many times by the board and Dr. Mike Reik.
I want to point out the 16-member committee was given the "old" 2010 enrollment study numbers to work with. This would not be a big deal, but the difference between the high numbers in this study compared to the low numbers of the 2013 study just completed are around 1200 students lower.
That's right, 1200 or about 50 classrooms lower by 2018.
We (the CAC members) were not told a new study was being done or that the current numbers were much lower than the projections we were working with.
This year according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website, the five schools located in the Platte City area had a total growth of 1 (one) student, while the southern two schools increased by 52.
Barry and Pathfinder Schools need help now. Instead you have a "natatorium" (swimming pool) at a cost of over $1.3 million and $25,000 per year while those kids are in trailers. The study we were given showed growth of 150 to 200 students.
One other thing that seemed out of line was the capacity numbers we were given in the CAC for each school. The information presented to the CAC and the board by administration showed lower capacity numbers than what was listed in the studies.
Rising Star Elementary has had more than 200 students several years in the mid 2000's. It is currently down to 166 students, but the capacity given to us for Rising Star was 175. Why? Other information from the district shows its total capacity of 184 and 189.
The CAC was given a maximum student capacity at Siegrist of 550 but in the current study it is 596. Paxton was off by 15, Barry School numbers given to us were 71 lower.
Of the seven schools looked at, two were the same with only Paxton being higher in capacity as to what was given to us to make our decision on how the district should proceed with its growth.
Why would PCR3 administration want to show lower school capacity numbers to the group of people trying to decide for the community if we should try to fund a new school or not? We should have had the most up to date numbers. Things that make you say hmm.
Remember, the CAC presentation to the board and the new study were done just months apart.
Please do not continue to push the CAC findings off on us anymore. I was in the group of 15 and we were dealing with flawed enrollment information, the most important information I needed to base my recommendations on how to handle growth.
One last thing I found humorous was the statement in the letter from the board that "Overwhelmingly, patrons are generally supportive of expanding our facilities" then listing support from a recent survey at 59% (+ or - 5%). The same survey was done before the last election and showed support at 54% (+ or -5%). Then the levy was defeated 56 to 44%. So much for slanted surveys paid for by the taxpayers.
Here is an excerpt from the most current survey:
“In looking back at the 2011 study, $114 a year was the lowest of the three tax levels presented then, whereas it is the highest this year. In 2011, the results were 54% combined “strongly favor/favor.” This means that the results this year – for this tax level – are statistically identical to the results in 2011.)” --Patron Insight 2013 Fall Survey.
The lack of student growth in the northern part of the county along with this comment from the most recent survey most likely shows the real reason we will not see a proposed levy until 2015.
Get ready for lots of marketing this year from the district on anything done in the water. Documentation is included with this letter showing all of the information above.
Common Core means a federal takeover of schools
A few months ago I submitted a letter to the editor concerning Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Since then, I attended two local presentations, both presented by educators with multiple advanced degrees, one a PhD. Each have heightened my concerns. Although its proponents will swear the states had input developing the standards, this is completely untrue. As a matter of fact, when Governor Nixon unilaterally agreed to accept federal funding in June 2009, standards were not even developed. The Missouri Board of Education had no review or input. Under a Missouri revised statute (160.514.2), the law states that teachers shall be used to develop standards. It did not happen.
This should be of concern to students, parents, teachers and administrators alike. Our CCSS English and math standards were developed by the Federal Department of Education and the National Governor's Association in cohort with progressive private organizations like Achieve, with lots of funding from familiar personalities like Bill Gates. Most of the states “sold their souls” to get millions of dollars in Race to the Top stimulus money and signed contracts to adopt Common Core standards sight-unseen. Now, many states and their legislatures are having second thoughts.
What are some of the real dangers of CCSS? First, it violates our state Constitution by removing local control of education. CCSS is wrongly named. It should be called: Common Core Nationalized Standards. In actuality, it begins a federal take-over of our school systems. Second, it permits non-educators to politicize our education system. As the science and social studies components are added to the reading and math modules, you can probably guess what agendas will be included. I assure you from what we have seen so far, it will not have a conservative leaning or world-view. Third, there will be a massive student information collection and tracking effort fed into a national-level database.
Follow the money. Many of the major supporters of CCSS will make billions of dollars implementing the program by selling new books and computers to every child. In addition, the database can be shared with chosen corporations and agencies that benefit from knowing a person's habits, emotions, opinions, educational potential, family history, etc. It will even keep record of a student's disciplinary actions. All of this data will be tracked “cradle to career.”
I closed my first letter to the editor by stating I fear the government is trying to teach our children what to think and not how to think. I can now add another caveat to the CCSS morass. CCSS is not designed to produce a nation of thinkers; it is designed to produce a nation of workers. Does this scare you? It should.
Please start your own internet research on this topic. Attend local meetings and seminars. Inform your school board members. Many other Common Core consequences require exploration: lowering standards, cost, testing, technology replacing teachers, the impact on private schools and home schooling, etc. Get informed and don't believe all the spin you hear from the government. It is time for voters in Missouri to register their disapproval to state representatives, senators, and the governor. Missouri legislators are beginning to take notice. For our children and our state, we should all want Missouri out of Common Core.
Park Hill patrons: Don't let sentiment cloud your judgment on levy question
Good schools serve as a pillar of any community, and great teachers touch our kids' lives in amazing ways. But school districts are government agencies, and without an active and vigilant electorate, they are prone to misdirected and wasteful spending. As parents and taxpayers, it is important not to let sentiment and positive regard cloud our judgment or deter our oversight.
For example, the Park Hill School District spent nearly a half million dollars on a canopy to cover the bleachers in the soccer stadium at the same time that they were fundraising in the community to pay for Smart Start, a summer program designed to help remediate struggling learners. Sadly, kids' learning is the very mission of the district and should have been the moral imperative and spending priority.
The Park Hill central office administration and school board have been working for months to determine the best time to “hit up” voters for a tax increase. They say without millions of new tax dollars, they simply can't prepare our children for the future.
In reality, they've spent millions in taxpayer funds on technology infrastructure and new devices in recent months. A review of school board approval and spending records reveals the following expenditures in just the last year:
·$220,000—wireless infrastructure improvements (January, 2013)
·$100,000—new electronic employee management system (April, 2013)
·$552,000—new technology department office construction and upgrades (May, 2013)
·$306,000—561 new desktop computers (May, 2013)
·$59,000—two new vehicles for use by district technicians (May, 2013)
These costs don't include the tens of thousands of dollars spent to fly district staff around the country for professional development or other “soft costs” (e.g., salaries, classroom leave, substitute pay) associated with teacher training for various technology initiatives. Nor do these reflect the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to create new instructional and support staff positions focused on technology usage in the district this past year. In short, Park Hill is gearing up to spend millions more in taxpayer dollars, and they are counting on the trust and generosity of a community who has rarely said “no” when asked for money.
We all want to support our children and our schools. But being a good parent sometimes means doing the right but difficult thing—and the same is true of a good taxpayer. Overindulgence and entitlement are unattractive and unhealthy, in kids and in government. It is time to kindly but firmly say “no” in April to a Park Hill tax increase.
Former teacher and
Editor 'sounds like a liberal'
I read your Twitter post about how we need more Qwik Trips and lots of rooftops (such as Chapel Ridge) because Parkville is in deep trouble financially. Your line of reasoning escapes me.
We here in the county did NOT run up Parkville's debt. We here in the county did not benefit from Parkville's expenditures that got them into so much debt. We owe Parkville nothing, and certainly should not have to forfeit years of savings invested into large lot housing so we could escape the city, only to have the city forced on us to fix Parkville's budgetary problems.
Whatever happened to personal responsibility, the buzz-word-phrase of the Tea Party that you champion? How do you figure that persons who did not run up the debt (and can't vote in Parkville, thus had no say) should suffer loss in order to free those who did?
I've seen you say and do a lot of noble things. Your steadfast support for Jason Brown when he's clearly in the wrong with regard to Chapel Ridge is admirable as a friend even though misguided as a journalist.
But the idea that county residents should bail out Parkville because her citizens failed to keep check on their duly elected leaders? With all due respect, you're starting to sound like a liberal there, Ivan, and hypocrisy is unbecoming of you.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I admire Ms. Lange’s spunk but question her reading comprehension. Ms. Lange is arguing against a position that was never taken nor implied. Judge for yourself. The Jan. 16 posts dealing with Parkville’s financial future are still available for public viewing at Twitter.com/ivanfoley. The posts are free market observations and do not state nor imply anyone should ‘bail out’ Parkville from the Neighborhood Improvement Debt it faces. Thanks for reading.
New legislative session begins
The 2014 legislative session began on Jan. 8. It was mostly a day of formalities, but before the week ended several bills were referred to committee and now the real work can begin for the second regular session of the 97th General Assembly.
While January marks the start of a new year, it also marks the beginning of our task to craft and pass legislation that protects citizens and prepares Missouri for the 21st century. Approximately 500 bills already have been filed by the House of Representatives and Senate. If history is an indicator, nearly 2,000 bills will be filed by springtime and most will fall to the wayside when the session ends in May.
This year I have several priorities. Reforming certain tax credits that annually wreak havoc on the state budget is near the top of my list. As senators have sought tax credit reforms for several years in a row, this year may see a break in the logjam with the help of Missouri’s governor. Also related to tax policy, the General Assembly plans to revisit legislation that would provide a modest cut to the state income tax. I intend to support such a measure.
As the state unemployment rate steadily goes down, Missouri’s tax revenues will be up this year. Many special interests will be anxious to spend those tax dollars. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will work closely with legislators and staff to monitor the spending of what is expected to be hundreds of millions of new dollars in the state budget. I don’t want a single dollar misspent.
As a physician, I take seriously the ongoing challenge of ensuring quality health services are available in Northwest Missouri and throughout the state. I’m currently working with representatives in the House to jointly propose a healthcare package intended to remove barriers to the free market, while reducing the role of government at the same time. I’m convinced we can lower the costs of healthcare if we can get government and special interest groups out of the way. My hope is that the Legislature will come to a consensus on what is best to reduce medical costs.
If you have any questions about the upcoming session, you can visit the Missouri Senate website (www.senate.mo.gov), where you can review legislation, keep track of important dates, and review hearing schedules for Senate and House committees. If I can be of assistance or can answer any questions, please feel free to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-2183.
–State Sen. Rob Schaaf
Park Hill should 'suck it up'
The Park Hill School District is at it again - asking for more money after spending $500,000 for a soccer stadium canopy, so spectators would not get hit by errant foul balls from the baseball field.
I've been denied a pay increase for the 5th time in 6 years, because I'm a public servant and times are tough. I don't have the spare change the Park Hill Schools want - suck it up and absorb it in your budget.
They should have been forced to choose between this and the stupid soccer stadium canopy, and we'd see the importance of this newest idea. Quoting this from an email sent out by the district:
“The ballot will ask voters for authorization to increase the levy by 32 cents, but the board plans to only take half of that amount from 2014-2016. Because we are implementing FLiP slowly over several years, the district will not need the full amount right away, and the Board has a history of only taking what we need and no more. Park Hill's levy is lower than most other districts in the area, ranking 11 out of 12. For the owner of a $200,000 house, this will mean an increase of $61 a year for the first two years, or $5 a month. After that, it could mean up to $122 a year, or $10 a month.”
Kansas City in
Others deserve tax relief that was offered Boeing
Missouri lawmakers have returned to Jefferson City this month with a jam-packed agenda in tow. One issue that has the potential to dominate all the others in 2014 is the issue that dominated 2013 – tax relief.
That fact came into sharp focus over the last month. Just weeks before Christmas, the Missouri Legislature decided to play Santa to Boeing with nearly $2 billion in tax incentives – that is, your money – to attract about 8,000 jobs. The state’s plan didn’t work; Boeing decided to manufacture its 777X in Washington as planned, rather than bring those jobs here to Missouri. Throughout this process, the Show-Me Institute heavily criticized the push to deliver special tax benefits to a single, powerful company.
But the legislature’s quixotic quest for the Boeing project has produced something remarkable: it has put practically every legislator in the state, including many who opposed last year’s tax cut, on the record as supporting a tax cut as a way to boost growth.
If the Missouri House can vote 127 to 20 for a handout for one company, shouldn’t those 127 legislators support tax relief for the rest of Missouri’s entrepreneurs? If not, what makes Boeing more deserving of tax relief than the family businesses in our communities? Expect those questions to be answered in the coming months.
For earlier letters to the editor, click here
Earlier Letters to the Editor