Making out-of-school programs a priority

An important message about after school programs.    Children are our heritage.

Making out-of-school programs a priority.

Here, there, and everywhere

$700,000  County Building Plaza Project

$700,000 County Building Plaza Project

Lots of things have been happening here, there and everywhere.   Hot topics include Indiana’s surplus, education and local city & county events.  Let’s go on a journey.

In 1998, Indiana had a record surplus of $2 billion, taxes were cut and then Governor O’Bannon increased spending for K-12 and higher education, and additional expenditures.   Circa 2000 the State of Indiana saw the surplus depleted and on the way to losing 120,000 manufacturing jobs.  Tax revenue fell and there was no cushion for Indiana to lean on.

Fast forward to 2014 and a budget surplus.  The Democrats are mad as heck about this, claiming the books are cooked.  Well, we’ll see if we are still operating in the black in 2016, unlike 2000.  I suppose the good old days of being broke are more attractive.  I dunno.

The biggest complaint?   The education system not properly funded.  However, according to the latest NEA report:

PERCENTAGE OF REVENUE FOR PUBLIC K–12 SCHOOLS FROM STATE GOVERNMENTS, 2012–13  Indiana ranks 13 nationally. Or up two points from 2011-2012

PERCENTAGE OF REVENUE FOR PUBLIC K–12 SCHOOLS FROM LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, 2012–13  Indiana ranks 36 nationally.  Unchanged from 2011-2012.

According to NEA reports, teacher’s salaries began to decline as far back as 1997.  No time to sift through the data on administrative salaries and to be honest,  the time it took to read the current and previous reports was excruciating enough.

One indicator showing improvement with Indiana Public Schools came from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book.  Indiana is up eight points from 34 to 26 nationally.  Do we still have room for improvement?  Absolutely!

If past educational reforms don’t produce, examine why, make the changes and continue on.  Funding is beneficial,  but, without an action plan, it’s just spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

Governor O’Bannon wanted all day kindergarten.  Even with the increased funding under his administration, it never materialized.  You need strong legislative leadership for change to an antiquated educational system.  People don’t like change.  In fact, every living organism must change to survive.  Education can be considered a living organism.

Further advancements included eliminating the “deghoster” funding and legislative changes:

These programs, while beneficial for districts with declining enrollments, left less money to be distributed among the remaining districts. Because the formula was using an average of past enrollments, instead of current enrollments, to determine per pupil funding, the money was not directly following the students. Therefore, the formula disadvantaged school districts with quickly growing enrollments. In short, Indiana school districts with rapidly growing student populations found themselves receiving less General Fund money per pupil, while simultaneously experiencing higher costs.

Source: Eliminating K-12 Public School Student Transportation as a Cost-Saving Measure Author(s): Lori G. Boyland and Walter D. Bourke Affiliation: Ball State University and Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents

 

Poverty plays a big part in education, and education plays a major role in successful economic development.  Indiana lost 120,000 jobs circa 2000 with Delaware County seeing 12,000 over one decade.   We must get our people working again.  It’s not an either or thing, it is two important components required to make the State of Indiana more attractive, education more effective.  Regardless of what you hear, data, reports and economists overwhelmingly agree, education and economic growth go hand-in-hand.

Delaware County, is hovering on the brink, in fact may already be arrived at financial disaster.  It’s been brewing since 2009.  Borrowing $4 million just to keep the doors open, with payback using money we don’t have.    We are in big trouble and there is no plan, has been no plan to pull us out of the rut. We’re standing still and going nowhere.

Even with the gains we have seen elsewhere, Central Indiana is singled out:

But progress is fragile, particularly because of the continuing economic challenges that exist in central Indiana with high rates of child poverty and unemployment numbers that for the past several years have consistently exceeded the statewide average.

Source: High child poverty casts pall over gains in Hoosier schools

The City of Muncie seems to be the only area unaffected and personally, after reviewing data, I’m not sure how that’s possible.  So much is happening so quickly it reminds me of the year before the housing bubble burst.  It’s a concern for some, others applaud it.

Not much transparency in our local government on how this is all being funded, no information on why the city wanted to buy school property.

Speaking of transparency, most of us were aware of the transparency portal detailing local budgets and Indiana has launched a new website promising to be more detailed, more user friendly.   The previous website could be a little difficult to navigate at times, still if offered what local governments did not, a look into city and county budget information.

The new website serves as an expansion of Indiana’s focus on transparency. The state’s website was recently named the most transparent state government site by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Baltzell said that, while it is nice to be the most transparent, the website still needs to be more user-friendly.

State Launches New Website In Hope Of Improving Government Transparency

Click here to view the new website.

Muncie Community Schools $6.5 million referendum

That’s all for tonight, folks.

LRWD vs. MSD Something really stinks!

If you live in Liberty Township, you may have recently received a letter from Liberty Regional Waste District.  Better known as LRWD.  It appears the Muncie Sanitary District (MSD) had increased LRWD’s rates by 25%.

MSD processes the township’s waste.  For a fee.  LRWD is claiming MSD is not just charging for processing exclusively, but for such incidentals as the Federal mandate to separate Muncie’s sewage from rainwater and other undisclosed charges.  All of which is unrelated to LRWD fee of processing sewage.  LRWD believes this violates their contract with Muncie Sanitary District.

It was early 2012 when the MSD raised the rates and taxes on Muncie property owners to cover the cost of separation of stormwater from sewer flow.  Just a few months ago, MSD bonded $300,000 of stormwater funds to build a compressed natural gas (CNG) station.

One might ask, why the MSD would invest funds that were DESIGNED to fund the separation and instead build a CNG station?  Simple.  Because they can.  No elected city official will question it.

LRWD, on the other hand, will and has questioned paying for services totally unrelated to their legal contract.  I don’t know much about the LRWD, but it does appear they have placed their priorities on the residents of Liberty Township over being charged by MSD.

Here is the letter sent to LRWD customers.   Liberty Waste

 

 

Choo choo – the saga continues

train leftThe train has just pulled into the station and its tooting its horn.  All aboard for the ride.  Here we go….

The newspaper reported June 26, 2014 the city is wanting to implement a “quiet zone” at a cost of approximately $4 million.  This doesn’t include the $237,000 study on the project.  But, wait a minute, didn’t the previous administration ask Muncie City Council to consider permanently closing  9th & 10th street crossings?  Wasn’t there a possibility  of $4 million in funds?  Yes, I think so.  I won’t bother you with a lot of details, the city council would not even entertain the idea.

Read about the August 2011 council meeting here.

A committee laying dormant since 2007 was resurrected after the August 2011 meeting.  The Land & Traffic Committee went into full swing.   Councilperson Mary Jo Barton, representing District 3 for 16 years,  was appointed to one of five positions on the committee.  9th & 10th streets, the proposed closed crossings, resides in District 3.

Talk about a speeding locomotive.  The Land & Traffic Committee scheduled their first meeting two weeks after the city council meeting.  Before the first public gathering started Councilperson Barton was working the auditorium.  She had lots of questions and it was more than obvious she was itching to fight for those crossings to be reopened.   A few minutes past the hour, the  meeting canceled due to no public posting.  You can read what transpired at this meeting and the subsequent meetings.  Search the blog for Choo Choo or click the links below.

Choo Choo meeting #1

Choo Choo meeting #2

Choo Choo meeting #3

For months one of the biggest campaign issues was the railroad crossings closing.  Of course, it was so big they were wiling to toss out the quiet zone and $4 million  bucks.  That just shows how important this issue was to Muncie City Council.

Of course, after the election, the train jumped the tracks and it no longer mattered.  The Land & Traffic Committee stopped meeting.   I don’t believe they have met or done any land and trafficking business since 2011.   Now that the paper has reported 9th street may be permanently closed, will Barton put on her armor and fight for her district? I am guessing no.

On January 2nd, 2012,  after six months of very little activity, the ordinance was tabled.  The reasons, we were told,   parking and legalities concerning the ordinance.   I would think six months be plenty of time to straighten out the issues.   It really was just politics as usual at the expense of the citizens.

President Dishman asked Mayor Tyler his thoughts on the street closing.  A short moment of silence and the mayor gave his answer.  He followed what the paper wrote and “other” things and said  he was certainly willing to look at it.

The June 26th article quoted Tyler  “This the boldest project to improve our quality of place in the city of Muncie in many years,” Tyler said. “And it’s the right thing to do for Muncie.”

I’m going to respectfully disagree with the mayor.  This is not the boldest project to improve our quality of life.  Boldness would have been for the Muncie City Council to put aside their politics and carefully consider the possibility of $4 million, and pursuing a quiet zone.

Three years have passed, no movement on the closings, no quiet zone and the taxpayers will be funding at least $4 million for this project.  That’s not bold, that’s business as usual.

Final Choo Choo meeting 1-2-12

George Will – Stopping a lawless president

George Will – Stopping a lawless president

George Will out did himself in this column.  Love or hate George, it’s hard not to be impressed with his skills.

“If you analyze…

“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals — if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”
― Ronald Reagan

Been on sabbatical, enjoying some much needed free time.  Taking a break on writing political prose.  Like most of us, I get fed up from time to time, yet still maintain the eye on what’s happening.   After the dismal 2014 local primary, and considering the outcome and events leading up to the primary, sometimes think you may be spinning your wheels.  After all, you can lead a horse to water, but sure can’t make the horse drink it.   Feeling disenchanted can actually work to the good of your soul.  

~See you all soon~

Saturday ramblings: The Impeachment of a President

The year was 1974, and what a year it was.  With allegations against the President of the United States and subsequently the impeachment of President Nixon, the nation was in peril.  We survived.  Perhaps a little scarred, a little less trusting of our government, a little more wise or at the very least angry enough and intelligent enough and willing enough to see it through to the eventual resignation of the president.

The Impeachment can be found at:  Nixon Articles of Impeachment.

So, where are we today?  We know our Fourth Amendment rights have been violated.  We know our First Amendment rights have been trampled upon.  You would think the American Citizenry would be up in arms with using the Internal Revenue Service to intimidate conservative groups and inhibit their rights to free speech.

All which looks an awful lot like what we saw during the investigation into Richard M. Nixon.

Violated the First amendment rights of persons to freedom of speech, and violated the Fourth amendment rights of persons to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.

We have an ongoing investigation into the Benghazi attack, with no information, no immediate interviewing the survivors , no intelligence gathering,  We learned within days, the consulate attack stemmed from a YouTube video.  A global manhunt ensued for the producer of the film.    And the people were pacified…but not all.

We are in the midst of repeating High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature…. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.
James Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, 1877

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Patrick Henry, American colonial revolutionary

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
Patrick Henry

If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.
Samuel Adams

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
Thomas Paine

Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.
Daniel Webster

Saturday ramblings: Primary elections

Primary Voting

 Delaware County

voting image

If you were wondering about the 2014 Primary election being the worse turnout in the county’s history, you may be right.   So how did we do? In 2014 Delaware County had a whopping 10.87% voter turnout.  Not much enthusiasm for this election.  In fact the ballot was sparse with many uncontested seats.

Party backed Republicans and Democrats easily won their respective race, including the darlings of Team Democrat.   Team Democrat is known for running their own campaigns outside of Democrat Headquarters. And  for the most part, have churned out winning candidates.

This year, the incumbents of Team Democrat are not opposed.  Of course, this could all change if the political parties pull some candidates out of the hat.

My opinion is the judges are pretty safe and secure.  The sheriff race would follow the same.  History of elections, even outside of Delaware County, seem to favor the incumbent sheriff.

So, let’s take a look at the primaries and throw in  Muncie special election for good measure.

Primary percentages 2006-2014

Darn tooting, it was a dismal turnout.  Trending on twitter that day,  a tweeter from Indy wrote: “Those that wanted to vote, did vote.”

But, but, but, you can find some interesting information if you look hard enough.  For example, 2008 primary saw nearly 41% or twice the percentage of the other elections.  Looks like the Voter ID didn’t stop people from voting, at least in Delaware County.  “Those that wanted to vote, did vote.”

Muncie’s primaries for 2007 and 2011 so close you couldn’t slip a hair between ‘em.   Both of these elections saw a full slate of candidates, too.    Only 16.30% showed for the 2013 referendum vote, just slightly less than the primaries.

The special election saw people clucking their tongues at the low voter turnout.  Although, it seems typical for the City of Muncie.

You can find election results for 2008 through 2013 here.

2014, 2007 and 2006 are not available on Delaware County’s site as of 5-9-14.  Although a minor complaint, let’s hope the next clerk can clean up the website.  2007 election results have been “coming soon” since 2007.

Delaware County Election Results Primary 2014

Election Summary Report 2007 primary *

Election Summary Primary 2006(2)

*  I apologize in advance for the difficulty in reading the results.  The election information has never been on Delaware County’s website and the data was taken from another site.

Yes, this post may seem boring to many.  It should be a warning the trend in voter participation is waning.   This has been a major concern, still if you don’t participate it could mean you aren’t involved or informed enough to cast a vote.  The latter being beneficial in staying away from the polls.

There could be hundreds of reasons and plenty have been brought forth by far more politically savvy pundits.  Those that have followed the trends, candidates and political powers for decades having a wealth of information at their finger tip.

 

Woman survives driveway shootout

A Detroit woman fought back against criminals in her driveway.

via Woman survives driveway shootout.

Delaware County May 6th Primary

Here is the unofficial vote totals.  Turnout was 10.87%. The PDF has links to the precincts’ totals.

Delaware County Election Results Primary 2014

Currently working on a comparison of the past Delaware County primary elections.

Stop back in when you get a free moment.

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