Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apparently the job pays $171,600 plus expenses and immunity

To some, the uproar over the $5000 desk that public School Superintendent Romain Dallemand bought for himself using school funds is much ado about nothing. But if squandering $5000 is “nothing” -- especially while our kids go without paper and pencils in the classroom (that’s what levy supporters tell us, anyway) -- then we have bigger problems.

Still, let’s be clear. This is not about a desk. Considering the Herculean effort it took on the part of vigilant taxpayers to get the district to even admit to this purchase, a reasonable person could only presume this is merely the tip of the iceberg and that the level of waste in the district is immense. But because it is the only charge of so many that will stick, the desk will be the undoing for Dallemand and his high-priced cabinet of friends/advisors; the district kids will suffer, as well, as area stakeholders withhold any additional funding.

But if it’s not the desk, what is it? For starters, it’s the fact that Dallemand “hid” the desk offsite once the public got wind of his ENRON-like expenditure. Then he shot the messenger who brought the act’s illegality to his attention (“Dallemand acknowledged that her termination was based in part on her reporting about the desk.” -- CORYEA v. ROCHESTER INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT #535). That whistleblower case is working its way through the courts and ultimately the taxpayers will pay the price for the board’s inability to nip this in the bud.

The real tragedy, however, is this: “Dallemand allegedly had instructed employees to delay hiring a wellness coordinator from a pool of qualified nonminority candidates in order to find and hire a minority candidate.” This egregious, albeit alleged, act of discrimination was thrown out because the claim was apparently filed too late. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

If it’s true -- and we ought to find out – then it’s unfortunate Dallemand preferred to hire someone based on the color of their skin. It was wrong when the board did it in 2007 and it's wrong now.

Read more here:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It’s levy time again

It’s levy time again friends and you can catch a sneak-peek at the district’s new billboard here:

But seriously, a lot of this sounds like what I hear children say at Toys R Us, "if you really love me, you'll spend money on me." Most of the studies show that more money does not translate to better graduation rates; especially that poor school performance generally parallels an unstable home. That can't be fixed with levy dollars. But, the district administrators may be right about one thing. It is fair that all of our kids get the same financial support. So one would have to concede that giving the highest levy districts a cut to match the lowest is just as equitable as giving the lowest levy districts a boost to match the highest; And, because kids are our future and this is all an "investment" in them, charter and private schools deserve equal funding, as well.

Oh, and hold-off on your, "you are obviously a racists, gadfly" retort. Consider this nugget from the Department of Education (,
"More money is spent in districts with the highest percentages of minority students compared to districts with the lowest percentages of minority students. Although minority students in poverty are often viewed as those least served by current systems of public education funding, these findings suggest that while inequalities may remain for students in poverty, they do not appear to be driven by minority status."

Do you really want to help our kids? We need to bring more male teachers into the classroom. Right now, only 10% of grade school teachers are men. In fact, because the absence of a male role model is so often cited as a problem for at-risk children today, this disparity seems like a greater priority and one, when addressed, more likely to make a long-term difference in the student's life and tighten the opportunity gap.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Know your memorials

A little pet peeve of mine is that none of the Rochester “Know your new neighbors” or “Know your new neighborhood” orientations include a tour of the Soldier’s Field Memorial. The first time I saw this magnificent tribute was in the evening. Lit-up, it rivals anything I have seen. Indeed, it is a humbling space and standing in the circle’s center, one can’t help but feel unworthy of the sacrifices made by our military.

So, it is with that aforementioned awe that I report an unfortunate exchange with a Post-Bulletin blogger. ( There was reprinted a poem from the memorial. A very poignant one. And in agreement with its sentiment, I said:

“I am humbled and unworthy. We are so much more grateful for those who put their lives on the line than for those who put their trite words and rants in letters to the editors.”

… which the blog owner chided as a “pitiful and tasteless” comment. Quite honestly, I was thrown aback. Huh? So I read, and re-read my words. I still didn’t get the objection. Doesn’t everyone appreciate the sacrifices our soldiers have made? Did the blogger think I was referring to the poem? Who knows? So I clarified:

“Only a misunderstanding of what I was trying to say could be construed as ‘pitiful and tasteless.’ My point was that Belau's words remind *us* that what we do here in these spaces, our little rants and partisan squabbles, are insignificant compared to the efforts and sacrifices put forth by our troops.”

Maybe that’s the end of it as far as the blogger's concerned. I don’t know. But it’s not the end of it for me. I stand by that sentiment unapologetically and with infinite humbleness and appreciation.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Boo-Hoo! Swimmers can't afford expensive swim suits.

The Post-Bulletin came-out today in support of a ban on high-tech swimsuits. I don’t agree with that, but maybe there is some common ground. Ban the high-tech Speedo!

But seriously. The PB (and others) are complaining that these high-tech swimsuits give the wearer an unfair advantage against which economically-disadvantaged swimmers can’t compete.


Private coaches offer an advantage. So do two-parent households where one is free to shuttle kids to practice. That’s life.

Hendrix couldn’t afford a proper left-handed guitar, he managed. My brother couldn't afford goalie equipment, he found something else he enjoyed: science. As a cross-country runner who couldn’t afford proper spikes, I couldn’t compete with those who did, but you know what? I completed against myself. If I bettered my previous time, then I won. Either way, life went on.

The playing field will never be level. Deal with it! But first deal with much larger issues like the fact that 20% of the world’s population doesn’t have potable water. Or, more than 40% of our urban high-schoolers are failing the classes they need to survive in our society.

Fix those inequities, *then* maybe we’ll find time to listen to the whines about proper swim attire.

If Healthcare is a right, why should we have to pay for it?

We don't pay a poll tax to exercise our right to vote and we don't pay for a license to exercise our right to free speech. So, if healthcare is a right, why should we have to pay anything at all for it? Shouldn't liposuction and hiatal hernia surgery be as cost-free as that “right” Minnesota guarantees in Doe v. Gomez?

Well, the answer is this: as it turns-out, we might *not* have to pay anything ... anything more than we do already. Here’s why. Most states already bridge insurance coverage to make it accessible and more affordable. In Minnesota, for example, this year’s budget for the “Health Care Access Fund” is $1.103 billion. With the federal government owning this responsibility, the state will need to collect less taxes, Significantly less. More than a billion less here in Minnesota.

Has anyone calculated this savings to state taxpayers? Probably not because most state legislators see this as a general fund windfall which they’re free to spend elsewhere. Let’s not let them.

No conversation on national healthcare should exclude a discussion on the state money that no longer needs to be collected for that same purpose.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bush was better at "Creating or Saving" jobs

If President Obama and congressional Democratic leaders insist on their disingenuous “created or saved” jobs nomenclature, isn’t it only a matter of time until someone points out the obvious: more people were working under the previous administration, 3.7 million to be exact, then thus-far under the current. Wouldn't that mean President Bush was better at “Creating or Saving” jobs than President Obama?

Figures lie and liars figure.
Update. I was ranting about the Obama administration taking credit for jobs saved when all the while I should have carped about their misrepresenting the number of jobs created. Yesterday (10/29) the AP reported that the number of jobs “created” by the stimulus was overstated by as much as tenfold. “... the AP found ... jobs credited to the stimulus program that were counted two and sometimes more than four times...” They found more dubious things, as well, for example “the Child Care Association of Brevard County in Cocoa, Fla., reported that the $98,669 ... received in stimulus money saved 129 jobs ... though the cash was used to give ... 129 employees a ... raise.” And, “Officials at East Central Technical College in Douglas, Ga., said they now know they shouldn't have claimed 280 stimulus jobs linked to more than $200,000 to buy trucks and trailers for commercial driving instruction, and a modular classroom and bathroom for a health education program.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Open mic night

Jesse Jackson said he wanted to cut President Obama’s you-know-whats off. President Obama called Kanye West a “jackass.” Courageously anonymous Democrat Senators and House Representatives booed President Bush during his State of the Union address. Former President Carter called Republican Joe Wilson a racist. Wilson said Obama lied. Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the CIA liars.

Though they’ve all set bad examples, only one was *made* an example of: the Republican.

If there is a clearer example of Democratic partisanship, I haven’t seen it, but then again, I could be lying.