Family Is Everything

Posted by jsaino on May 26, 2014

 

May 26, 2014, Memorial Day

 

Family Is Everything!

I get discouraged when I read day after day about the destruction of the basic unit of our culture, the strong family. Most of our national problems (education, poverty and crime) can be traced to the breakdown of the strong family unit.

Then on the eve of memorial day and after attending church, I ran into a high school classmate, Joe Garbuzinski and he told me the following remarkable story.

He had just returned from a graduation ceremony at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His twin grandsons, Zachery and Alexander Johnson, had both just graduated. They grew up in Memphis and attended Christian Brothers High School. They were top students and both were state wrestling champs.

While at the Naval Academy, they attended summer training camps for Navy seals and finished in the top 5% of those classes. Now after graduating they will enter into the notoriously difficult Navy Seal training.

Joe is very proud of these wonderful grandsons and I am thrilled at their accomplishments. Joe and I both feel that the majority of this country still loves America, thinks that America is special and that there is hope to turn the culture back to freedom, individual responsibility and love of country. With young people like Zachery and Alexander, there is cause for great hope for the future of this wonderful country.

 

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A Heartbreaking Story About Education And Opportunity!

Posted by jsaino on May 21, 2014

May 22, 2014

A Heartbreaking Story About Education And Opportunity!

I have known a lot of great teachers. They are very important in improving the education of our children. However politicians and heads of teacher unions do not always act like their slogan, “Put The Children First”.

Take a few minutes to watch this video. It is heartbreaking.

It tells the true story of an actual ongoing event in New York City. Here you have the new mayor of New York, Bill de Blazio, acting to close down three charter schools in Jamaica, Lower Manhatten and Harlem. It is tragic. Watch this true story about a mother of a young girl who won the lottery for Success Academy. http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/05/08/will-cain-exposes-nyc-mayor-bill-de-blasios-war-on-charter-schools-in-new-docuseries/

These parents pray for a miracle (a lucky draw from a parent lottery for limited positions in these prized schools). Watch her tell her story about winning and then her reaction to the Mayor and his plan to block three of these charter schools.

Mayor de Blazio, who is Mayor due to the full support of the NY City teachers union, is closing 3 of these great schools. Look at the contrast. The math proficiency of the school that her daughter would have to go to, if the charter school she won is closed, is 3%. Her selected charter school has a math proficiency is 82%. 105 NY City schools have a math proficiency of less than 5%. It makes me mad to see such actions. Why do they do this? They cannot stand the competition and the exposure of their education failure.

What do you think?

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An Open Records Update

Posted by jsaino on May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014

An Open Records Update

During the last 10 years I have been an advocate of open records. I have had my ups and downs with the City of Memphis, Shelby County, the old Memphis School System, he MLGW and any number of other affiliated organizations. Here is my open record scorecard.

  • Shelby County and MLGW                                                                      A
  • The Old Shelby County School System                                                            B+
  • City of Memphis                                                                                         C
  • Old Memphis School System and the new SC School System       F

I have never had to file a lawsuit against Shelby County, the MLGW or the Old Shelby County School System. I have filed 5 lawsuits successfully against Memphis and the Old Memphis School System. The City of Memphis has become less responsive and difficult about providing access to information. The new Shelby County School System (SCS) seems to be little different from the old Memphis School System.

I am asking Memphis and SCS for information and will take whatever action is necessary to enforce my Tennessee citizens’ legal rights and access to information.

Now I see the Common Core as the greatest threat to our freedoms and the future of our local education. I am asking the public to join with me in a debate on common core and how it is being implemented locally. I will publish a series of questions and provide answers to be debated and facts provided.

The basic purpose of common core is to impose thru a national program a uniform curriculum on K12 public schools. As a result of this uniform common core, they want to collect an immense amount of student data and use it to plan each student’s future education (university, community college or trade school) and eventually their slot in society. This plan would disregard the parents’ and the students’ rights and desires. This amounts to Federal control of education, freedoms and parental rights.

I agree that public education needs upgrading as we have had over 60 years of failure of public education. I agree that there should be a rigorous broad based national testing standard to which students, schools and teachers should be measured. However I believe in competition. Each state and even each City and County should develop their own curriculum and teaching methods with the full involvement of parents and taxpayers. Those states and cities that measure up and surpass the national measure should share their programs with others that do not measure up. Let the best ideas and results win. More federal money and one size fits all is not the answer. Let there be no less than 50 state experimental education laboratories competing with each other for top student achievers. Let education flourish in public, private, home schools, church schools with parents making a choice financed by taxes and vouchers. Let the competition begin with parental choice of what is best for their children, not what is best for Bill Gates, Pearson Publishing or DC politicians.

In future posts I will point out hard facts about common core, who is financing it, and who benefits. I welcome your comments.

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The Handling of Appointed Positions

Posted by jsaino on May 13, 2014

May 13, 2014

The Handling of Appointed Positions

 

As the Memphis City Council discusses the problem of unfunded liability and possible solutions I hope they do not forget the handling of appointed positions and their action in January 2001 and their action in 2004. But more on that later.

 

What are appointed positions? I recently asked Shelby County Government for their list of appointed positions. As you will see this goes from the Assessor’s office all the way to the Trustee’s office for a total annual salary of $36.6 million. The latest list that I have from the City of Memphis shows a total annual salary of $21.7 million for appointed positions.

 

The difference here is that in January 2001 the City Council proposed and passed a resolution that allowed elected and appointed people to retire after 12 years regardless of age. This disastrous decision by the City Council and the mayor has added millions of dollars to our unfunded pension liability. After a city council member stated that this resolution would help keep and retain good
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Pension Comparison, City Vs County

Posted by jsaino on May 06, 2014

May 6, 2014

Pension Comparison, City vs County

I have put together the essential information on the pension provisions of the City of Memphis pension plan and the County pension plan. This is shown in the attached spreadsheet. These provisions are in the new county plan D (adopted in 2012) and the new City plan adopted in 2013. I will comment on various provisions in the City plan that still need to be changed. However here is the bottom line.

The annual cost per retiree at the City of Memphis is $32,518 versus $19,218 at the County.

The unfunded liability at the City of Memphis is $709 million versus $161 million at the County.

The ratio of retirees to active employees at the City of Memphis is .79 versus .57 at the County.

The inescapable conclusion is that City of Memphis has had a loose system with rules that allowed too many people to get pensions for too much money and the County ran a much tighter system. The January 2001 pension resolution allowing elected and
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Does Your Child Belong To You Or To The Government?

Posted by jsaino on Apr 29, 2014

April 28, 2014

Does Your Child Belong To You Or To The Government?

I and some of my friends have been asking questions about Common Core. I asked the Shelby County School System for the following information.

I would like to have access to and view all data requests regarding data that the school system is collecting on the students. I would like to know if this data is requested and collected from the students directly without parental involvement or if the parents are requested to furnish this information or data and if this information is voluntary or required of the students or parents.

There answer was the following. “Your request is not granted because it is not understood.” Such arrogance.

I want to recommend that you go to www.mommabears.org  and read through some of this information. This is a great organization and they are having an effect. I was immediately struck by this report. Click and read this report on what is in the library of a local school. http://www.mommabears.org/1/post/2014/03/alert-is-this-in-your-childs-library-at-school.html

 

I want to find out more about this from the school system but I cannot even get them to answer a request for an appointment. I will keep trying but I need feedback from readers who have children in public schools.

The federal government does not believe that your child’s education should be the responsibility of the parents. They believe they are the professionals and they know better. We need to let them know that they work for us, not the other way around.

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The Upcoming Primary Election Information

Posted by jsaino on Apr 22, 2014

April 22, 2014

The Upcoming Primary Election Information

There is an election coming up on Tuesday, May 6th 2014. It is a primary election and it will give you an opportunity to vote in either the republican or democrat primary. The offices are the District Attorney General, the County Mayor, the 13 County Commissioners, the Sheriff, the Assessor of Property, the County Trustee, The Circuit Court Clerk, the Criminal Court Clerk, the Juvenile Court Clerk, the Probate Court Clerk, the County Clerk and the Register.

These are very important positions and you need to vote and let your voice be heard.

After the primary election on May 6th, 2014 there will be a general election for these Shelby County positions on August 7th 2014 which will also be the primary election for state and federal positions. Here is the information from the Shelby County Election
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OPEB-City of Memphis vs. Shelby County and MCS vs. Old Shelby County Schools

Posted by jsaino on Apr 15, 2014

April 15, 2014

OPEB-City of Memphis vs. Shelby County and MCS vs. Old Shelby County Schools

This is a very interesting subject and shows how badly the City of Memphis has been run, both the school systems and the general administration.

Look at the following attachments

A)    Shelby County CAFR from 2013 showing an unfunded liability of $306 million. DOWN $13 million from 2008 to 2013.

B)    Shelby County CAFR from 2008 showing an unfunded liability of $319 million.

C)    City of Memphis CAFR 2008 showing an unfunded liability of $857 million.

D)   City of Memphis CAFR 2013 showing an unfunded liability of $1.29 billion dollars. UP $433 million from 2008 to 2013.

E)     Old Shelby County Board of Education 2011 showing an unfunded liability of $334 million (June 2010)

F)     City of Memphis Board of Education 2011 showing an unfunded liability of $1.16 billion dollars.

So it is obvious that Shelby County has been much better run than the City of Memphis and congratulations to past Shelby County
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PILOTS-Are They Paying Their Way?

Posted by jsaino on Apr 10, 2014

April 10, 2014

PILOTS-Are They Paying Their Way?

I am not talking about Malasian flight 370 but they are just as mysterious. “PILOT” stands for Payment In Lieu of Taxes. A company opens a business here or expands a business here or moves from one place to another and asks for abatement of taxes for the next 5, 10, 15 or more years from the City or the County or both.

They go to EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) run by Reid Dulberger and 5 will get your 10 that they will get the tax abatement for 15. According to the EDGE website “The impact of the program since 2008 includes: 14,500 new jobs with $581 million of new annual payroll, $3.88 billion new capital investment, $464 million new Minority/Women-owned business receipts and 17,900 talented individuals attracted/retained.”

WOW. Who could be against those numbers? But wait, why does it not show up as additional income for Memphis and Shelby County?

Here is what their database says. “To date, EDGE projects have generated $1.6 billion in projected capital investment, 6,676 new/retained jobs, $545 million in projected new tax revenue and $344 million in MWBE/LOSB spending commitments.” WHERE IS THE BEEF?

Here are my thoughts on what needs to be done.

Attached here is David Lenoir’s (Shelby County Trustee) 2013 In-Lieu Properties Annual Report. Total tax exemptions stand at $49.9 million at the end of 2013. Section VI shows contractS aged by expiration date and Section VII shows In-Lieu delinquent tax notices.

It is my understanding from Mr. Lenoir that this shows only in lieu information from the county, not the city. Therefore the $50 million annual tax abatement is probably more like $75 million total city and county.

Here, in my opinion, is what needs to be done to restore some confidence to the EDGE program.

1)    The City of Memphis should publish a similar annual report showing their figures as the County does in the same format.

2)    Both the County and the City should show a report showing all the past Pilots that have been completed (Section VI) and showing the abated tax amount and then the actual tax amounts for each year after the end of the Pilot for the property so that the
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What Memphis Must Do

Posted by jsaino on Apr 07, 2014

April 7, 2014

What Memphis Must Do

We are coming down to crunch time at the City of Memphis concerning the 2015 budget. I have researched and written on the City finances ad nauseum. Now is decision time. Do we kick the can down the road (the past favorite for many years) or step up to the plate?

Shelby County is the model for what should have been done in past years. However the leadership from the past and present city mayors and city councils has been abysmal. Too many people on the pension rolls (remember the January 2001 pension resolution which gave pensions to elected and appointed people with just 12 years of service regardless of age), too many people on retiree health care, too many people with line of duty disabilities, too many people on the payroll, too many days not working due to excessive sick days, vacations and paid days off. The county and the city have much the same governmental formats (except in the case of line of duty disability) but in the past, the county just made the hard unpopular decisions and had a clear vision of what future costs would be. The City’s vision was the next election, not future cost control.

Here is what must be done at The City. Health care reform for active and retired employees by lowering the city’s costs dramatically. Pension reform by going to a defined contribution plan for all unvested employees. Turn line of duty disability
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