Sunday, August 16, 2009

JohnE Doesn't Micro-Manage...but can he manage, period?

John Whalen's school board legacy will be "I Will Not Micro-Manage...".

Of course that's his "Get Out of Jail Free" card for every tough issue that calls for him to put the big boy pants on and actually make a hard decision. All he has to do is say "we're micro-managing...let the district administration do their jobs". That's right, play the "micromanaging" card.

What was truly comical (but sad if you really think about it) this past Monday night occurred first at the school board's Finance committee meeting. The Finance committee (3 school board members) voted unanimously to cancel the subscription. Then, at the school board meeting, the full board stomped all over the Finance Committee's decision and voted to APPROVE the newspaper subscriptions.

The issue
At issue was two checks for $123.50 each to pay for Wisconsin State Journal newspaper subscriptions for the district office and then one for the "Buildings and Grounds" (BG). Hello...they are the same location!! What? is one for the upstairs and one for the downstairs? One for the breakroom and one for the restroom?

95553 WI STATE JOURNAL 07/14/2009 123.50 R DO SUBS

95586 WI STATE JOURNAL 07/14/2009 123.50 R BG NEWSPAPER

Why care?
We've heard about the taxpayer funded, sweet birthday card and a Kit Kat bar for employees' birthdays. We've heard about taxpayer-funded pizza or subs for lunch whenever they choose hold a meeting over the lunch hour. We've heard about the nice tax-payer funded floral memorials whenever a district staffer's relative passes. And did we mention $42 sea bass dinners? Can you say "sense of entitlement"?

What's wrong with this picture
We don't have to tell you this. Does your employer buy you not one but TWO copies of the newspaper to read? If you're like most people, either (A) someone brings in their paper from home, (B) a group pitches in and pays for a subscription out of their pockets, or (C) the proceeds from a pop machine or "honor" snackbox fund the newspaper. But if you work for the state, the taxpayers don't pay for newspaper. Why? because the managers would not allow it. It's not right for taxpayers to pay for non-essentials. And folks...newspapers, KitKat bars, lunches, and sea bass are all non-essentials.

It's not about the cost. It's about what is right...and what is wrong. Wanna know how the rich get richer/ They get the taxpayers to pay for the "little things". These are $100K per year salaried folks who can't shell out $123 for a newspaper subscription?!? We pay Tim Culver $425 per MONTH for "miscellaneous" expenses with no receipt or accounting required. You don't think HE could offer to pony up for a newspaper for his valued troops? Why the hell should he, when he can count on the school board to authorize taxpayer funds to cover it. And he knows that the majority of the community is either clueless, apathetic, or despite frustration and non-belief simply chooses not to speak up.
Community members...your silence is interpreted as acceptance. Hope you can live with that.

The excuse
The only excuse the board/administration has is "we're talking a minuscule expense in relation to a $65,000,000 (can you say $70M?) budget. Awesome! Good comeback! So...why don't we pay to have their cars washed every week? Why not pay to have their clothes laundered? After all...they get dirty while doing their job.


Somebody needs to alert JohnE that the fact of life of school district administrators--not just in Sun Prairie, or even Wisconsin-- is that they like to pad their salaries and they like to live high on the hog. It's a school board's job (remember, people, they are elected by us to DO OUR BIDDING?) to take control over the financial part of the operation. Can anybody even point to ONE instance where Whalen stepped up to the plate and refused to support a recommendation from the administration?

It's also a sad commentary of our school board in action. And that the most that we can hope for is that people in this community finally experience the one straw that will break the camel's back and start speaking out.

Ya know what the school board doesn't get? That until that day comes, we'll be here to call them out on all the ridiculous things that they spend money on. Maybe they can somehow rationalize it in their own minds, but thanks to the world wide web, we can see to it that their weird decisions and spend-happy ways are taken out of the closet and shared for the whole world to see. Eventually, it may make it harder for them to rationalize what they do. We can wait.