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In Regard to TaxFACTS, I Told You Thusly!

If you back people into a corner often enough, they're bound to come out fighting!

After being accused of some intemperate columns lately (who me?), instead of issuing my trademark “I told you so,” I’ll simply echo Sheldon Cooper’s milder Big Bang Theory refrain, “I told you thusly.”

Though I have to say that wasn’t nearly as much fun.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve tried to teach you people, as even fictional physicists will attest, for every action in this life, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Unless, of course, you write a column about or , in which case some reactions are more equal than others.

And it’s this very regard that I’ve tried to warn y’all about the . While they certainly performed a valuable service by sounding the runaway School District spending alarm, like most folks who vastly overestimate their importance, that group has no clue as to when to back off and let the pendulum complete its swing.

As my good friend and occasional WRMN Left, Right and You radio co-host Tim Elenz likes to say, “It took years to get the state into this mess, and it will take years to get us out of it.” And the same thing goes for that .

All that said, especially when you consider their host of challenges, I think this School Board iteration has made the mental shift much more quickly than most.

But back to my self-righteous meanderings.

My regular readers already know my longstanding supposition has been that the TaxFACTS group’s inability to moderate and adjust their approach to an evolving situation will ultimately make the School District versus Geneva citizen situation even worse.

And now it has!

As evidenced by where District 304 teachers, dressed in highlighter green “United We Teach” T-shirts, came out in force to urge the board to “"ignore the bullies,” and give teachers “the respect and compensation that we all deserve.”

So I’ll reiterate my equal and opposite reaction argument while reminding you that I told you thusly!

While I may not completely concur with their logic (we’ll cover that on Wednesday), I don’t blame those teachers for ratcheting up the rhetoric one bit. Especially when you consider the increasing number of parents who , I would be sick and tired of that insistent hammering a group who tend to be bullies on their best day and something else entirely on their worst.

Fed up and figuring there was nothing left to lose, my somewhat unmeasured response would be something along the lines of “The heck with you, I’m going for everything I can get in these contract negotiations!”

Trust me, those teachers were mild by comparison.

What actually did manage to amaze me about that board meeting wasn’t the green shirts, but the TaxFACTS group’s blisteringly oblivious reaction to coming face-to-face with a healthy dose of their own tactics.

One of ‘em had the nerve to say, “I’m kind of appalled that you guys are wearing these shirts in the schools. I would recommend that you make a motion as a board to disallow that messaging. These teachers are here to teach. They’re not here to give propaganda. It’s just not right.”

I’d say something about pots and kettles, but I’m guessing you’re way ahead of me on that one. Ain’t it funny how, whenever anyone stands up to the them, bullies always run right to mommy.

But the utterly incomprehensible cake topper had to be this one. TaxFacts founder Bob McQuillan, with a straight face, said he’s been attending School Board meetings for six years and “there has been no harassment of any School Board member.”

The only thing that could surpass that kind of chutzpah would be GOP Senate hopeful Todd Aikin writing a book on the female reproductive system.

First, we watched previous Board President from that position after succumbing to a frightening cardiac reaction that came as a result of all the TaxFACTS falderol heaped upon him.

Then, board member Mike McCormick, the man who was supposed to bring TaxFACTS balance to the District 304 budgetary force, received anonymous threatening letters labeling him a “turncoat” when he realized Rome wasn’t built in a day. And then someone threw dog poop on his front porch.

And we’re not even talking about their persistent emails, their use of FOIA laws as a bludgeon, and that general board meeting badgering.

Again, I’ve always said their message is a reasonable one, but the messengers clearly aren’t. In fact, they’re the ones who are creating this equal and opposite reaction, and now we’re going to have to pay for it, literally.

Just like it is with the national stage, this is exactly what will happen when we allow a small group of loudmouths dominate the debate.

“The district is not in a healthy situation,” McQuillan said. “This display tonight is not about the students; it's about compensation and a Cadillac benefits package. Why is it so important that every teacher receive a salary increase every year? Why is it that teachers cannot understand that this is not 2009 anymore?"

For the answer to that question, Bob, all you have to do is look in the mirror.

G.Ryan September 03, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Then you pay for them. Your comment on "cheap labor" is so exaggerated. Geneva teachers and their administrators are definitely not CHEAP LABOR!
Max September 03, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Did you have an opinion on D-304? And which school system taught you the Red Herring ploy for use in camouflaging your lack of a reasoned position?
Robert Jr. September 03, 2012 at 03:35 PM
christine... stewardship of tax payers' funds is a legal fiduciary requirement...
Winston September 03, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Jef Ward wrote: " we watched previous Board President Tim Moran step down from that position after succumbing to a frightening cardiac reaction that came as a result of all the TaxFACTS falderol heaped upon him." Uh-oh, Mr. Editor might have a talk with his cub reporter about libel and defamation
Robert Jr. September 03, 2012 at 03:42 PM
first grade teachers are valued...longevity of service doesnt increase the value in unlimited amount...there is a cap to the amount that position is worth, as with all public positions.
Robert Jr. September 03, 2012 at 03:44 PM
teachers should not get pay increases just based on longevity...they should have pay grades similar to military, based on merit and difficulty of subject matter
Jeff Ward September 03, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Winston, I would encourage you to look up the definition of libel as well - you might be surprised! Jeff
Jax September 03, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Is the Drivers Ed teacher who makes 123K a year (plus insurance and pension) cheap labor? Or the Shop teacher making 123K? Or the PE teachers making 118K, 107K, and 105K? Or the librarians making 110K, 109K, and 105K?
Amy September 03, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Sally, please tell me you understand the flaw in your argument. The difficulty of the subject matter is relevant to the audience. Teaching a first grader first grade subject matter is as difficult as teaching a high schooler physics. Just because it may be easy for you to understand a first graders work, it's not for a first grader. A first grade teacher needs to work as hard as a physics teacher to make the concepts understood.
Jeff Ward September 03, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Jax, Or is it the guys on Wall Street who don't make anything and took down the economy and then got 7 figure bonuses when they profited from the stock market crash they created? Or is it professional athletes who get paid exorbitant salaries to drop a football? Or is it a construction flagger who gets paid $50 an hour to hold up a stop sign? Jeff
James Parnell September 03, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Jax, That Drivers Ed Teacher and one of those librarians retired last year and no longer work in the district http://geneva.patch.com/events/reception-for-school-district-retirees
G.Ryan September 03, 2012 at 05:07 PM
If it was so difficult why did you chose it? The subject matter is repetitive after awhile is it not? Also, Mr. Parnell we still pay their pensions do we not?
Amy September 03, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I don't understand your comment g. Ryan. I'm not a first grade teacher or a teacher at all. But I sure wouldn't want to live in a world where everyone chose only easy careers.
Robert Jr. September 03, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Amy...we will agree to diagree on the merits of paying $105,000 for a first grade teacher when there are plenty of capable teachers who can provide an improvement in educational productivity. Perhaps it is the union' s responsibility to prepare first grade teachers with more broad teaching capabilities rather than pay union stewards.
G.Ryan September 03, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Amy, please elaborate on what you don't understand? My point is if they think it is a difficult job they can always chose something else. It is that simple.
Amy September 03, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Sally, I wasn't arguing the merit of paying a first grade teacher $105,000. I was addressing your comparison of a first grade teacher to a physics teacher, of which you didn't respond.
Jeff Ward September 03, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Dear Readers, State Sen. Chris Lauzen wrote a very interesting piece in the Beacon-News today on his 6 week experience of being a middle school math teacher: http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/opinions/14805207-474/guest-view-lauzen-has-summer-stint-as-teacher.html Everyone who thinks teaching is easy should read it! Jeff
Carolyn Zinke September 03, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I have just read Jeff Ward's opinion piece and am cheering at his comments. Thank you so much, Mr. Ward.
Jeff Ward September 03, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Carolyn, Again, though I appreciate the praise, you might want to wait until Wednesday before doling any more out. Jeff
Dwight Swartwood September 03, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Jeff, TaxFacts is not the blame for Geneva's financial problems. Or is it the blame for our crummy economy. Certainly it's not the blame for our home prices being 30+ % down and going lower. And it's not the blame for our state's retirement and insurance funds being nearly $100 Billion under water. Some people, including TaxTacts, are trying to get the mess turned around. Other people seem to think it will just disappear on it's own. You seem to think we can nambey-pamby our way out of this financial mess. Everyone must help out, even our teachers (good ones and bad ones). If they are unwilling, then so be it and let the chips fall. The financial correction here in Geneva, like gravity itself, will be shared by everyone. Including the here- to-for untouchable teacher's salaries.
Jeff Ward September 03, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Dwight, You're right, but cooperation works better than contempt. The TaxFACTS folks have show a complete inability to behave. And once you get hammered enough, you don't care about the other side. The shift is occurring and it's actually happening much more quickly than the process of getting us in this debt mess. Sometimes you have to back off and give it time. Jeff
Bob McQuillan September 04, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Everyone has the right to their opinion but I thought even opinion writers were professional enough to get quotes right. The writer obviously watched the video of the last board meeting and still got my quote wrong. What I said was "every citizen of Geneva has the right to address the school board. We have not singled out individual school board members. The school board acts as a group and there has been no harassment of any individual on the school board." That statement is true. Then two outrageous comments are made; that TaxFACTS caused Tim Moran's health issues and that we wrote anonymous letters to Mike McCormack. Of course there is no proof of either statement. An opinion writer's only goal is to convince you he knows everything, with no regard for the truth. Don't be fooled. He evens tires to blame TaxFACTS for the teachers demands to be treated with "the respect & compensation that we all deserve." Sorry but the teachers have always made this demand. Their issue is that the school board has finally stood up to their demands. Amazing how quickly teachers turned on the board! In the writer's mind, those who speak out are labeled bullies, just ask city aldermen and administrators. If being a bully is standing up for what you believe in, then my mother taught me well. He saves the best for last, again accusing TaxFACTS of persistent emails and using FOIA laws as a bludgeon. I guess he has forgotten that both those statements were already proven false.
G.Ryan September 04, 2012 at 02:09 AM
And please don't forget Mr. McQuillan if stay home mothers can home school their children how is it that teaching is or can be so difficult? Oh! I forgot because politicians say so. Guess I will need to contact the American Heart Association to add to the list that Taxfacts group is now one of the leading causes of clinical cardiac symptomatology.
Pat September 04, 2012 at 02:43 AM
When I read some of these rants by the resident bloggers blaming Taxfacts for everything from Tim Moran's health issues to feces left on a board member's porch, I think of a line from Kipling's famous poem, "If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools," You've got a lot more self-restraint than I do, Mr. McQuillan - thanks for doing the heavy lifting and making the information available. Sunlight, as they say, is a great disinfectant. Cheers.
Max September 04, 2012 at 02:56 AM
You must be joking, Jeff Ward. Where does "easy" fit into pay considerations? We should probably be paying combat soldiers some significant multiple of what our highest paid D-304 teachers make, if that is your line of reasoning. Let's try to stay focused on the issues, shall we?
James September 04, 2012 at 04:10 AM
If the radical TAXFACTS people are so worthy, why is it that none of them can get nominated a seat on the board? I have many assumptions but the key one is a lack of process thinking through viable solutions. All I see is a lot of hypocrites with nothing better to do than whine and complain, learn the terms sunk cost and move towards solutions.
Max September 04, 2012 at 04:20 AM
1) To say that the Teachers' Union tactics are an appropriate reaction to TaxFACTS personalities is rather low-brow misdirection, even for a Patch "Opinion" blogger. As far as I can see, TaxFACTS is just trying to keep us from getting into any deeper financial trouble. If TaxFACTS were really being aggressive, they'd be looking at possible legal remedies for what this School Board has done to tax-payers. They are not doing that, so we should applaud their restraint. 2) The Green-shirt group and other rah-rah posturing of the so-called "Education" Association is right off the typical union menu. Any time a union gets significant resistance to their whining about "fairness", they do the cheer-leading "solidarity" T-shirt/Bumper Sticker ploys. After that fails, personal attacks on high-profile members of the opposition, some less subtle than others, inevitably follow. The more scared the union gets, the more offensive they become. It can be quite entertaining, for those who remain out of the line of fire. 3) Remember, though, that 10,000 tax-paying families and businesses CAN'T GET OUT of the line of fire here. There is nowhere to go, unless one can find a sucker to buy ones way out of the mess that the School Board has gotten us all into.
Max September 04, 2012 at 04:21 AM
4) And remember this: the teachers are not a party to the contract. Neither are the tax-payers. The contract exists between the Union (Geneva Education Association [NEA]) and the School Board. < http://bit.ly/OJC25H > 5) Everything the Union does is done in order to make the Union look good to potential dues-payers. What motivates the School Board is sometimes more difficult to discern, but rest assured it is aimed at making their jobs easier, no matter the cost to the taxpayers. If it were otherwise, would they have lied to us? 6) If voters are not exercising effective control over the School Board (and from the looks of our 300+ million high-rate debt, we are not), then we are all just hapless passengers on this rudderless Titanic known as D-304. We must not allow the Board to knuckle-under to the "Education" Association. The Board have already proven that they need lots of adult supervision. Without it, who knows what they will give away this time?
Max September 06, 2012 at 01:21 AM
"Hammering" is also a well-known technique for inducing an opponent to do something stupid (like wearing green shirts to class, for example) out of frustration. What will the GEA think of next, in order to divert attention from their representation dilemma? The GEA must establish a reputation for reasonableness -- they will need it. This economy will not turn around significantly during the term of a new contract. If the GEA think they are being hammered now, they will REALLY be surprised a few years from now when they come back for another bite at the apple. Go along to get along, GEA. It could get worse.
John R September 06, 2012 at 04:00 PM
@ Mitotero the guy pacing around at the back of the room was probably Bob McQ. He normally paces in the back or sits on the edge of the stage, resting his head in his hands, directly behind the podium. I actually find it a bit unsettling. I like Jeff agree that the taxfacts folks have some valid concerns. But for some reason they don't want to hear it. Especially, if you disagree with some of the ideas floated on these threads. Or God forbid stand up for the school board. And don't stick up for the teachers as they have plenty of disdain for them as well. If you want first hand accounts reach out to a board member. Come to a meeting and witness it first hand. This Board is very conservative. They are good people from our community who have spent countless hours volunteering for this board. It's a shame that they have been subjected to such intense community bullying. And even more of a shame that so many sit back and witness it and don't say a word. Thanks for speaking up Mitotero. I'm hoping to make the next meeting. I normally sit in the back left hand corner. Feel free to introduce yourself. John Rice

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