If a group of crows is called a murder, what do you call a group of nincompoops?

Well folks, if you haven’t had a chance to take a gander at today’s Political Notes , it is a must see. First off, we have a summary of the cell phone discussion  that we touched on from the last meeting. When Jerry suggested that the council hand over their phones during council meetings, Billy yells:

“Why don’t we just use rice paper?”

We can thing of a few places we would love to shove these rice papers.
We can think of a few places we would love to shove these rice papers.

His reaction was as though Jerry suggested we do away with technology altogether. What is wrong with putting the phones away during council meetings? On the other hand, if one is  waiting for instructions from the puppet master it may be a little hard to know what to do.

Next, Kirby so wants there to be a scandal. So he provided the reporter at the News Post with this:

To show his frustration, Delauter forwarded me an email last week in which a staff member at the county’s Office of Economic Development redirected his questions, on behalf of FSK Holiday Inn owner Randy Cohen, to Browning.

Delauter responded angrily.

“That’s total Bullshit………….but then again,” Delauter wrote back. “I’ll have Randy contact you directly since as an elected official we get treated like third graders from the worthless CE,” referring to the county executive.

He then suggested that Cohen contact the employee — who was copied on the email — directly.

“I don’t have the time to spend to go thru the layers of bureaucratic bullshit that CE Gardner has put in place,” Delauter wrote.

Nice, huh? He’s starting to sound all county executivey isn’t he? And what’s Kirby’s problem with third graders? Well, if Kirby isn’t able to have his issue addressed this very second isn’t the whole system just for shit? Here’s what Jan had to say about this:

Gardner said the process for handling constituent service emails was set up between her staff members and the council’s staff members.

Gardner said the executive and legislative branch staffs worked together to create the system, so staff members wouldn’t be overwhelmed by seven separate requests from each council member on one constituent issue.

“It’s absolutely not impossible for them to talk to county staff. This whole focus is about constituent service,” Gardner said, adding that a high percentage of questions get a response within a day. “… I think the system is working for the majority of council members.”

If Kirby can’t circumvent the procedures that were made by both his and the county executive’s staff, aren’t we already at tyranny’s doorstep?

The last section is our favorite. In an attempt to imitate House of Cards, Delauter, Shreve and Jenkins have created something closer to a Shack of Sharts. Just look at this description of an email exchange that someone forwarded to the FNP:

In an unrelated chain of emails forwarded to The Frederick News-Post this week, Shreve and Delauter expressed disappointment not only with county government policies, but also the form of county government entirely.

Republican Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, who was copied on the multiple email messages, suggested that the councilmen and others “push a movement to go back to the County Commissioner form of government. It worked!”

When another person on the email list suggested that a lot of Republicans who supported charter government before Gardner, a Democrat, took office would have to “eat crow” to support a reversal, Jenkins responded.

“I have no crow to eat because I predicted it would be [a] total disaster as it is turning out to be,” he wrote. “But wouldn’t everyone choke down a little crow if things could be fixed? Just take a big bite and swallow hard.”

Shreve also wrote that he would favor a repeal.

Delauter said he didn’t vote for charter government and is frequently reminded why, though he’s still considering a run for county executive in 2018.

“If I was county executive, [charter government] would be great …,” Delauter said, before adding that he was joking. “I’m kidding. That’s the form of government we have, so I have to live with it.”

Better be careful Fellas!
Better be careful Fellas!

Well, well, well, we wonder who forwarded this along! Could it be that someone on that exchange doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid? Or was it one of them thinking this would be a great way to get all this recall charter government nonsense in the news? This isn’t new talk folks, we reported almost a year ago of Blaine’s winds of change. These guys lived in some warped bubble in which they thought Blaine was going to win it all and they would be the Boss Hoggs of the county. So, when that didn’t happen they immediately went into boo hoo, everything’s horrible mode.

I guess people just didn't like ya!
I guess people just didn’t like ya!

Well, we happen to like that an discriminatory language ordinance was repealed. We like that our county has a strong ethics law. We also like that our schools and other services are finally being funded at somewhat reasonable levels. And we are oh so very pleased that the nursing homes are back in the county’s hands. We would also be remiss to not mention that we really like that we have a County Executive who isn’t getting arrested for solicitation of prostitutes. (Thanks Jan!)  So we’ll stick with the Charter government thank you very much. For we remember what it was like during the last BOCC. Shiver.

 

 

Your Yokels’ thoughts and ideas about teacher salaries

We know Whiskas, we know.
We know Whiskas, we know.

I know it isn’t pleasant, but for a moment let’s take a trip down memory lane. Back to the dark days of the BOCC when the education budget wasn’t funded above the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) required by law. People came out in droves to testify before the BOCC, to no avail. This frustration helped usher Jan Gardner into office in 2014. To her word, County Executive Gardner has increased funding for our county schools. This year she allocated $10.5 million over the MOE funding from the previous year. County Superintendent Alban wanted $13.8 million for salaries in order to revamp the pay scale. The BOE slowly shook it’s collective head from side to side and reallocated $7.4 million from the salary pool. We think the title of FNP’s coverage of last night’s meeting kinda says it all:

Board of Education slammed by teachers, community during final budget approval

We know budgeting is hard, and there will be winners and losers. However, the teachers are sick and tired of being the losers. Every single year. And we are sick and tired for them. Friend of the Yokel Casey Day-Kells was quoted in the paper as saying this:

The FCTA secretary, Casey Day-Kells, offered an alliterative description for how teachers are feeling: “disheartened, discouraged, disrespected, demoralized, dismayed, depressed.”

“Not only one, is the scale broken, but at this time, so are many of your employees,” Day-Kells said.

You business people out there know that demoralized employees are not good for your bottom line. And while we know our county teachers are professionals who put on their best face every day, we can’t help but think this will affect how they perform their jobs.We want to help come up with some solutions, unlike some of our county politicians:

2016-05-26

Sorry to have to keep using this one folks. But it's kinda not our fault.
Sorry to have to keep using this one folks. But it’s kinda not our fault.

We are going to try to follow this logic. So since the BoE cut the money from salaries , Tony should have been allowed the amendment to do away with over $6 million from the total budget because that would have made this all better…how? So confused. Are we to forget the past, Mr. Delauter? Are you now painting yourself as a “friend of education” who has no problem raising teacher salaries???!!! PLEEAZZZEE!!! What about all those years you voted to keep the budget at MOE and therefore directly contributed to this problem? And how about that other time when you cut that Head Start program because all the women should be at home with their kids baking your pie? Our memory is long and detailed, councilman. As for the teachers voting on their salaries, we’ll let the above gif take care of that. We can’t keep addressing that issue over and over again. We just can’t. But, it sure seems like a hollow complaint, when the “get rich quick plan” to become Frederick County’s brand new council member teacher millionaire hybrid class is nakedly hogwash. Obvious to literally everyone with two brain cells to rub together is that they are not able to control that money pot.

Now onto our Yokel brainstorm. Since we cannot guarantee that money allocated to the school system will be used to increase salaries how about a special little tax increase that is specifically and only for this purpose?  Now before you get all:

14t3pn

on us, just hear us out. Things cost money people. And yes, the government should do the absolute best job it can spending it wisely. (That doesn’t mean cutting just for the sake of cutting, Kirby!) However, sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to and in order to get what we want we have to pony up!  So let’s say that we have a special fee just for this purpose. Whatever goes into this fund can and will only be used for salaries. The CE, Council, and BoE cannot use it for anything else ever. Kinda like the Chesapeake restoration fee on your water bill. And it wouldn’t have to be much. If every county resident (census prediction is 245,322 for June 2015) paid $41 a year we would have an extra 10,058,202. If you spread that out in monthly payments it comes to $3.42 a month. If you are ready and able to add more, feel free. And if we ever have a year that our teachers are paid a competitive salary, we can take a break from it. What say you, Yokels? If you have any other ideas, please put them in our comment section. Let’s start a dialogue on  how to fix this so we don’t have to have this same cycle of disappointment year after year after year.

What is Blaine drinking? It must be some good stuff!

More delusional than dangerous really.
More delusional than dangerous really.

The things we see on Facebook! Some people should have a breathalyzer attached to their computer to prevent them from typing such nonsense as this:

2016-05-25

You're going to kill Tommy! Never deliver news like that when someone is drinking!
You’re going to kill Tommy! Never deliver news like that when someone is drinking!

But seriously folks, what the everlasting hell? And Blaine, it’s not over when YOU say it’s over. It’s over when we the VOTERS say it’s over. AND IT BE OVER!!! What is interesting about this post is that he is implying that he’s still in contention. He may not be the “lead singer,” but he thinks there’s still a place for him. Or, more than likely, there are shenanigans afoot and he is creating a dramatic distraction. Is that why his compadres have been so quiet? ooh, folks, remain vigilant, this could be bad…

Is he the one that Kirby and Billy text during council meetings? We saw this image last week and chuckled:

image

But maybe there’s more truth to it than we realized.

 

There’s no easy way to say this…..we actually had a pretty nice meeting.

Fetch us our smelling salts!
Fetch us our smelling salts!

With the Facebook and WFMD insults flying around like rice at a wedding we were sure this meeting was going to be a Class A disaster.  Pleasant surprises, or perhaps it’s our lowered expectations, sometimes come forth in the shape of a county council workshop.

There were only two items on tonight’s agenda. Jerry puts forth the suggestion that perhaps everyone leave their cell phones to the side. A good one we think. We’ve noticed two people in particular who seem to have their heads buried in their devices (wonder who they are texting…). The procedures for the council are now up for vote. Even though Billy got some of the changes he wanted, he and Kirby still vote no. Tony’s not on the bandwagon this week so it passes 5-2.

Next up our wonderful county employees give a nice presentation on solar utility fields. If you recall, back in February County Executive Gardner put a halt to this because the county had seen a sharp increase in applications. Therefore, it was deemed prudent to study the issue so the county could have some clear guidelines. We have to say the discussion was pretty nice. Kirby was concerned that the bond that would allow the government to remove solar fields that haven’t been used in over a year constituted illegal government seizure of property. But he took the explanation well and was rather subdued. His demeanor caused a flurry of texts between your Yokel gals; not sure what exactly is going on there.

Everyone else had some good points and questions, even SOME of Billy’s were reasonable. However, he disagrees with the notion that fences should be put up because he doesn’t believe that deer would bother the panels. Even though those who actually have experience with them say they do. And there was some point (and we use that word lightly) about how the Appalachian Trial is high so therefore you can’t hide the solar fields from it.  And why does he always have to act as though he’s an expert on every single subject when he so clearly is not?

The council will think on this and come up with some suggestions before the July 15th deadline. There may even be a public hearing so, if you have a dog in this fight, make sure you check the county website.

 

BOE to teachers: beatings will continue until morale improves

True confession. I am not a teacher. I saw the writing on the wall before I walked into the classroom. I have an English degree that I got at an engineering university. Men there vocally proclaimed that women only study teaching to get that coveted “Mrs.” degree those charming male engineers have to offer. I grudgingly went through the education program to maximize the limited job opportunities available to lovers of the liberal arts. To no one’s surprise more than my own, I discovered that I passionately loved being in the classroom. I am an introvert who likes to “hide behind my keyboard,” but being with students and sharing a passion for learning made all of that fade into the background.

In spite of that, I learned more things as a student teacher that I knew couldn’t live with. It’s an inflexible job. You have copious amounts of tedium to attend to. Parent/teacher meetings. Staff meetings. Continuing education requirements. Individualized Education Programs to maintain. Meeting with specialists who help with IEPs. Documenting everything, everything, everything so that kids with behavior problems or learning disabilities are functioning to the highest extent possible (or to expedite their removal from your classroom, in certain cases, in order for the needs of everyone else to be met). Planning. Grading. Not a single one of these things can be done during the time you are working with your class. Thanks to email and smart phones, the time demands have become more strenuous over time. Teachers are increasingly likely to be in constant contact with parents, many of whom are themselves disrespectful enough toward teachers to blame them for instances of student irresponsibility. Now there’s all the testing and teaching to the test. Volumes have been and will yet be written about this.

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First and foremost a teacher is a mentor, and needs to have human moments with these young people. One of my students killed a pedestrian with a car, and we were asked to actively monitor that child’s psychological condition (not that we would not have been concerned without being told to be, for goodness sake). There were pregnant girls trying to make it though to graduation. One 18 year old had ADHD more extreme than I have seen before or since. He had no friends. He was a constant disruption to class; his immaturity was social suicide. The advantage of being young and new is coming in with fresh patience and empathy that students like this have exhausted in everyone else. There was the gang member who could have done better–and quite obviously wanted to. You work with such young people knowing there is no realistic way of getting them out of a toxic environment. Idealism fades fast. Then there were the other students, largely in the high achieving classes, who had a serious case of the “silver spoons in the mouths”. For them, many of those I just described existed only as abstract, troubled losers they almost never saw.

I arrived on this scene having already been told teachers are dumb. They suck. They work at this because they lack the necessary skills to do anything else, and will need to marry well to have a life. I didn’t want to cope with all of the above workload and emotional investment. On top of that I was up at 5 AM at the latest, after staying up late each night before to accomplish what I needed to for the next day. It is strenuous to plan out lessons for multiple classes and ability levels and maybe multiple ability levels in the same class, and grade piles of homework. In English, journalism, history, and theater classes, this often involves a lot of reading and writing and nuanced response. In exchange for this brutal life, I was unable to make a doctor’s appointment during the day, or have lunch at a restaurant with a friend who works elsewhere, or plan a vacation compatible with my husband’s work schedule.

Early teaching careers are extraordinarily stressful years, because you don’t have an established body of lessons and plans and experience. You’re on your feet all day walking literally miles around your school building. Largely miles logged within the confines of your own classroom. Then piles of work await you when the classroom day is done. All over the country, and egregiously so in this county, people doing at least a job and a half worth of work are told to scrape by on paraprofessional pay. Here, most especially dumped on are the new hires.

Instead of heading into the classroom to make a difference as a semi volunteer (the first year teacher down the hall calculated her salary as hourly wages and said she made more working at Walmart), I took advantage of the late ’90’s dot com environment, even with my allegedly useless English degree. Just imagine how hard it is for someone who is drawn to math and science to be persuaded into the classroom. I walked into my first job interview, nailed it, got the offer, and accepted. I started writing software user manuals, which helps virtually no one. It provides none of the sense of purpose that teaching has. I was a 22 year old with a 26th floor window office with a gorgeous view, a ton of flexibility, and the panache of a tech world where sticking around leads to raises, bonuses, profit sharing, and stock options. Teachers get crapped on by everyone. It’s honestly amazing to me that anyone puts up with it. I have too well developed a sense of outrage to have sailed into that on moral fortitude alone. I remain ever angry on their behalf, and I urge you to stand up for what is right. None of us anywhere would have the jobs we have today, if it were not for the teachers who helped to get us here. Fight for them. We need these people.

You can contact the Frederick County BOE and urge them to reconsider their decision to cut funding from the salary pool at boe@fcps.org. We are beginning to bleed teachers. In the future please pressure Frederick County to continue to improve funding for FCPS so that essential people are not fighting over tiny slivers of the pie. It’s too late for this year. Community engagement is critical. School quality affects everyone’s property value and crime rates.

Did you ever hear the one about the two guys who walked into a workshop?

Oh midnight, you may never come out then.
Oh midnight, you may never come out then.

There’s a workshop this evening and we are a little afraid to watch. There’s been so much animosity this week in Frederick politics we aren’t sure how this is going to play out. (Can we say we feel really bad for M.C, Jessica , Jerry and, to some extent, Tony.) Only two items on the docket: Adopting the amendments to council procedures and a discussion of solar utility projects. We’ll let you know what happens but y’all may owe us a drink or two or three….

Can’t teachers just live off their job perks?

Poor, sweet naive owlets.
Poor, sweet naive owlets.

In a surprise to absolutely no one with a hearty sense of logic, the FNP ran a story today entitled:

Low salary rankings a sticking point for Frederick County teachers

In our previous reports we’ve talked about this FACT.  We also expressed our outrage when BoE candidate Cindy Rose stated that salaries weren’t an issue. Look people, teachers are professionals, college educated and trained. Many go on to get Master’s degrees as well.  They plan day in and day out how to best help our children acquire essential skills, behave and function as part of a larger group. They invest their emotional, physical and mental resources into shaping our future. But you know what? They’ve gotta eat, raise a family and prepare for their own  futures. So if another county or another profession gives them the pay and security that they so richly deserve, what do you think is going to be the end result?  It’s not enough to say we have a cool town or that the personal satisfaction of teaching should be enough. There aren’t many jobs in which you are required to get a four year degree, take licensing tests and within ten years acquire a Master’s degree and still get paid so poorly. If you still think teachers don’t matter, that their job could be replaced by a computer, start reading here and here. We implore the BoE to reconsider their decision to take money away from salaries, for if we don’t have the talent we don’t have anything.