Friday, March 15, 2013

Glenview School District 34 to Parents: Buzz Off -- SD 34 Teachers' Salaries Listed

Whenever we hear reports of declining academic achievement, the immediate response of the unionized teachers is "It's not our fault - the parents need to get involved." or "We can't be educators, nursemaids and surrogate parents -- the parents need to get involved."

Glenn Farkas & Family: The Glenview SD 34
establishment told him to "Buzz Off"
Just Google the term "Parental involvement in schools" and hundreds of articles and even full blown studies come up -- many from the teachers unions themselves -- talking about the vital need for parental involvement in the schools.

Not so in Glenview Public School District 34.

The megabucks education establishment there is telling area parents: Just shut up and pay your taxes.

Were referring here to the absurd Machiavellian lengths that the Glenview District 34 school establishment went to keep one parent, Glenn Farkas, off the ballot when he put his name forward to serve on his childrens' school board there.

You see Farkas has two kids in the Glenview government schools and he wanted to get involved in their education by offering himself for the school board.

So he went about the laborious process of collecting signatures of area voters for the requisite nominating petitions and filing them at the prescribed time to qualify to be on the ballot for the April 26th election.

But the insiders of the District 34 education establishment were having none of that.

They didn't want their cozy school board gigs upset by the complications posed by an election. And just who is this upstart parent anyway?

So the incumbent SD 34 board members and their staff pulled every bit of Chicago-styled-ward-heeler chicanery they could muster to disqualify Farkas.

SD 34 School Bd. Political Boss and
svelte fashion plate, Martha O'Connell

First, one Martha O’Connell, the svelte fashion plate, chief political enforcer and President of the District 34 Caucus -- (the political party of the incumbent educrats) -- challenged the authenticity of the signatures Farkas submitted.

This consummate political hack even challenged the authenticity of the signature of Farkas' own wife.

The Cook County Clerk told O'Connell she was blowing smoke and ruled that Farkas' petitions were OK.

So then, Boss O'Connell said Farkas should be thrown off the ballot because his 11 pages of petitions weren't fastened with a paperclip.

Farkas said his papers were fastened with a paperclip. An office clerk whose salary is paid by SD 34's said there was no paperclip - as required by election law. Farkas said there was a paperclip when he gave it to SD 34's hireling.

So the dispute went to the SD 34 "Board of Elections" which consists of incumbent School Board members from the very Caucus that Farkas wants to run against -- School Board members Julie Schechtman and Sue Ellen Bohae Galligan --- as well as one of their paid employees -- Dawn Scaramuzza, School Board secretary.

That panel had all the objectivity of a Stalin-era Soviet Star Chamber.

Bd. Member Julie Schectman voted to
keep Farkas from running against her
own party's incumbent board members

And SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE! -- The SD 34 kangaroo court declared Farkas’ candidacy was invalid -- because his petitions had no paperclip.

So now, concerned parent, Glenn Farkas, faces the far more daunting prospect of running as a write-in candidate. But to his great credit, he's going to take up the challenge and is now organizing for the April 26th election.

And make no mistake about it, that Glenview School District 34 is badly in need of new blood.

The District has 2 middle schools, Attea and Springarn and 6 others for the lower grades, Glen Grove. Henking, Hoffman, Lyon, Pleasant Ridge and Westbrook.

And the district is on the verge of going broke.

The current school board and its political "caucus" are in the thrall of the powerful teachers unions who are fighting any kind of meaningful spending cuts, tooth and nail.

And why wouldn't they? After all, they're in fat city at the taxpayers expense.

Here are some highlights of the SD 34 salaries which have resulted from the school board's cave-in to the teachers' union:

-- $88k for a grammar school art teacher (no starving artists here)
-- $90k and $96k for  social workers at Lyon's Elementary and Westbrook
--  $91k and $97k for kindergarten teachers
--  a cool $100k to teach French to 7th graders
--  gym teachers pulling down $104k and $102k (but the one at Pleasant Ridge has a PhD. -- just how does one go about getting a PhD in kickball?)
-- $78k for a grammar school drama teacher (Did they manage to snare Stanislavsky?)
-- $101k and  $80k to teach ESL to grammar school students
-- a $92k grammar school librarian

And of course, there is the usual array of six figure salaries for the administrators, tops being  the superintendent's $298k.

Here from the Family Taxpayers' Foundation, which filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, are the names and latest available salaries of all employees of Glenview School District 34. You can get particulars, such as specialty and years of employment by clicking on the individual's name:

Employee Salaries - Glenview CCSD 34 - 2011 

Abram, Diane $62,966
Allen, Elizabeth $82,083
Alonzi, Mary Rose $58,019
Amaden, Karin $71,737
Anderko, Colleen $50,288
Andrews, Paulette $83,678
Armorer, Aliya $78,250
Aronow, Natalie $81,080
Asplund, Sara $24,774
Astorino, Elissa $88,052

Sunday, March 10, 2013

From Handel to Ellie Goulding: The Sad Musical Decline of The British Royals

Ellie Goulding was the musical command performer at
the Prince William/Kate Middleton wedding reception
Britisher Ellie Goulding has sold a lot of records and for the life of us, we cannot figure out why.

She can barely sing and she seems to delight in employing a sound that at times can only be described as a shriek.

This girl is truly annoying and her commercial success is a living testament to the fact that these are truly vacuous times in which we live.

But to top this off, word now reaches us that when the heir apparent to the British throne, Diana's son Prince William, tied the knot with the steely-eyed but gorgeous Kate Middleton in April of 2011, this aphonic abomination supplied the music.

Ellie Goulding was invited (or I guess they command over there) by the dynastic duo to be to be the sole musical contributor to their  private wedding reception held at Buckingham palace.

George Freidrich Handel composed the
immortal Water Music for King George I
There Goulding heaved up a cacophonous version of Elton John's Your Song (to which the young royals danced their first dance) which she followed by shrieking out her hit song Starry Eyed.

Now this tells us that the British monarchy is not just in decline, but is spiraling into the abyss at the speed of a Harrier jump jet.

To put this in perspective, previous British Royal courts (under Queen Anne and King George I) commanded the musical efforts of no less a musical personage for the ages than George Frideric Handel.

And now they are reduced to boogeying to the caterwauling cacophony of this pink haired strumpet.

Oh how the mighty have fallen!

These are wicked times in which we live.

Here Ellie Goulding heaves up Elton John's "Your Song" This reached #2 on the charts in the UK and she actually performed this at the wedding reception for Prince William and his photogenic bride's first dance. Pay special attention to the shrieking near the end:

Here is Ellie Goulding's "Starry Eyed" It was a big hit in the UK and was performed for the Royal newlyweds. It is truly awful:

Several centuries back, when the sun never set on the British Empire, the British monarchs could exclusively command the musical endeavors of the immortal German composer, George Friedrich Handel. Here is Handel's Water Music, written expressly for King George I:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chicago's Growing Cigarette Black Market: Cook Co. Increases Cig Taxes Again

Is Elliott Ness available to fight
the tax-induced cigarette bootleggers?
 Democrat Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle's new $1 a pack cigarette tax goes into effect today.

That makes the government taxes on a pack of smokes in Cook county, second highest in the nation at $6.67 compared to New York City's $6.86. A pack of cigarettes will now cost around $11 in the Cook County part of Chicagoland.

The Hyde Park Obamaite liberal says she needs the cash this will supposedly generate to help drum up another $25 million to pay for the county's skyrocketing health care costs.

But Preckwinkle said during her campaign that she refuses to deny even long-term, non emergency medical care to the thousands of illegal aliens who are clogging Cook County Hospital. The county is, after all, a "Sanctuary county."

God knows what that is costing.

So Preckwinkle today is increasing county sales taxes on a package of cigarettes by yet another $1.

This, back door prohibition of tobacco, like the earlier prohibition on booze has spawned a growing Chicago area criminal underworld in which cigarettes are sold at great profit by unauthorized black market vendors.

Sort of like 21st century bootleggers.

And it's mostly Chicago's black community, Preckwinkle's key political base, that is being exploited.

Just go to the black neighborhood on Evanston's Northwest side.

There a Pakistani Muslim corner store merchant illegally sells neighborhood blacks, mostly youths, single cigarettes for $1 each. At $20 a pack, he's making a tidy profit on black market cig sales.

Cigarette Prohibitionist Preckwinkle
A few blocks away, an elderly African-American man has fashioned a lucrative cottage industry in selling single cigarettes from his home at $1 each or 3 for $2.70.

And he has a regular line to his door at all hours. This sexagenarian cigarette black marketeer has amassed such a tidy sum that he threw a neighborhood Christmas party with free drinks and eats for his neighborhood customers.

Reminds one of the free food giveaways of an earlier Chicago black market entrtepreneur, Alphonse Capone.

And just a few months back, the nearby Walgreens on Chicago Avenue in Evanston was burglarized at night twice within a span of several weeks.

What was taken? Drugs? Cash? Booze?

No -- you guessed it -- the Walgreens burglars got off with multiple cartons of cigarettes.

I don't know if Chicago area gangs have begun trafficking in Newports and Marlboros, but with the legal cost of cigarettes now higher than the price of a comparable number of marijuana cigarettes, that can't be far off.

There's gold in them thar smokes.

One elderly wheelchair-bound entrepreneur hawks single smokes for a buck a piece, right from his wheelchair which can be regularly found tooling around Broadway near Wilson, in Uptown.

Another mom and pop corner grocery store, operated by Arabs, near Lockwood and Chicago Avenue had its license to vend cigarettes yanked for selling untax-stamped cigarette packs.

Unfazed, the Levantine merchants now simply keep tax-free cigarettes in the trunk of their car, off the premises.

When a customer gives them a certain password, they sell them the cigs they want off-premises. So now we have cigarette sales passwords, just like from the good old days of the speakeasies.

In fact, the Cook County Sheriff is already finding entire truckloads of counterfeit cigarettes from China, complete with counterfeit Illinois and Cook County tax stamps.

And a recent University of Illinois study found that around 75% of cigarettes consumed in Chicago were from packs without a Chicago tax stamp.

Oh, and by the way. As part of Preckwinkle's prohibitionist cigarette tax hike bill, she authorizes the Cook County Revenue Department to hire more staff to help stop tobacco smuggling and tax evasion.

Is Elliott Ness still available to head this up?