Worse Than it Sounds?

Carla Palumbo is reporting in on her blog to say that the batting down of the F.A.I.R. plan may be much, much worse than I’d thought, because the county may be stuck with the intercept plan without having the benefit of the F.A.I.R. plan’s school tax offset (which is the part that was ruled illegal).

w00t!  This could be bad.


F.A.I.R.well, Foul Law

Great news that’s being reported throughout the Rochester/Monroe County blogosphere: the F.A.I.R plan was rejected by the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, and Maggie’s a-poutin’:

Pouty Maggie

For more on the story, RochesterTurning picks it up, as does Monroe Rising.


Campaign for Fiscal Equity Joins the F.A.I.R. Fight

As stlo7 at RochesterTurning reports, there are new hearings on the matter of Maggie Brooks’ F.A.I.R. plan and whether she and her County Legislature Republican cronies have violated a couple different laws in passing said piece of tripe.  You might remember that, in December, a Judge Ken Fisher ruled in favour of the County.  On the 28th of this month, the schools and NYSUT are beginning hearings in anticipation of appealing that ruling.

And there’s good news for those fighting the good fight for education funding: it seems that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity appears ready to put it’s weight behind efforts to shut down the F.A.I.R. plan.  This is the same organization that sued New York City and the state for proper funding of students in that city.  That agency is already testifying on behalf of Monroe County schools, as you can see in this document (PDF).

There is more to come, as I check out sources I’ve spoken to and get some confirmation of other developments.


F.A.I.R Comes Home to Roost

Now that county tax payers are getting their statements and realizing that, in most cases, there was absolutely no benefit in county tax dollars for having had the F.A.I.R. plan forced on them, budget crunches at the schools affected are starting to hit home with an even worse new reality of budget cuts:

Tough Choices for School Districts –

Wendy Lane said, “You want to cut some of the special-ed services, and then you want to cut some of the higher-education services. Well, what are you saying? You want these students to just be middle-of-the-road type of students?”

And that’s the rub of school tax cuts: no matter what you cut, you are basically denying students a certain segment of their education. High-performers who would be better-educated in honors classes – and possibly fail out of boredom in general-ed classes – might have to face losing their honors classes. Kids who need a leg up just to pass might face losing out on their best teachers. And of course, the music programs always take a hit when budget cuts happen.

And remember: either tax increases or budget cuts are the only options, here. Unlike the Monroe County budget, school budgets are by law restricted from running deficits of any kind for any reason.  So not only do tax payers get no budget savings from the F.A.I.R. plan, but in fact they may be looking at significant tax increases in the near future.

It didn’t have to be like this. It could at least have had the support of the public. But no, that’s not how Maggie Millions rolls, baby. She’s the decider.


What’s That Got to do With it, Jack?

I may not agree with Jack Driscoll on a lot of things, but I’ve spoken with him on a few issues, and he’s struck me as a pretty decent guy. He’s been fairly responsive to this blog, a statement that cannot be made for even a number of Democratic members of the Legislature.

Having said all that, now that the tax bills are in and folks are starting to realize that they either lost County school money for diddly in the way of tax breaks or even a loss, Republicans are starting to cover their bases and spin, spin, spin towards safety. Some municipalities are seeing County tax increases because of a redistribution of the costs of maintaining MCC, based on the number of people from each district attending that school. Jack gives us a mind-numbingly irrelevant comparison:

Homeowners Confused Over County Tax Bills –

The charge is part of a charge back for Monroe Community College, a way of dividing the costs of MCC based on how many students go there from the homeowner’s municipality.County Legislator, Jack Driscoll (R, Henrietta) said, “Some communities had a much higher percentage of their residents attending MCC than other communities.” Driscoll said it’s all part of the county executive’s F.A.I.R. plan, which kept services intact and erased a $50 million deficit.

Driscoll said his bill went up slightly too, but it paled in comparison to the price increases for gas or groceries.

OK, Jack. Should we now start blaming the Legislature for the rise in gas prices, or no?


My Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions

Of course, how trite of me to have a New Year’s Resolutions list, eh? But then, the start of a new year, like any mathematically or biologically significant milestone in the wheel of life, is a good time to reflect on what has been and what you hope should be. I’ve never ascribed to the concept of “resolutions,” in the sense of those silly promises you know you can’t keep. Rather, I prefer to take the opportunity to look out on the new cycle and set some long-term goals which have at least the appearance of achievability, and those whose aim it is to make me just a little bit better off than I was before.

And so, for the sake of both reflection and anticipation, I commit my most relevant political resolutions for the coming year:

1. I resolve to remind myself that “sovereignty” is not a word important only to the United States.

All too often in the discussion of the War on Terror, our entire dialogue happens in the absence of this very basic fact. I thought about this again while watching Pumpkin Head in the last Sunday morning of the Old Year, questioning politicians about the situation in Pakistan. I regret to say that Mike Huckabee did better with his answer than did Barack Obama. But both politicians and Tim Russert all seemed to forget that Pakistan, for all the aid we might have provided them, is still a sovereign nation. When Barack Obama says we need to “be sure” that elections in Pakistan are fair, well, the fact is that we don’t have the right to make that call. We tend to forget that while we get all wrapped up in our own problems.


The D&C Ed Board on the Monroe County Fire Sale

Come ‘n get ’em, folks! They’re almost gone! Everything must go at Crazy Maggie’s Once-A-Year Monroe County Fire Sale!! She’s INSANE!!!!

The Democrat and Chronicle’s editorial board has decided to take up the issue of the latest round of one-off sales that the County Republicans insist will balance the budget. They council caution when choosing prospective buyers, even as one bidder offers 23 million dollars to the County for the Mill Seat Landfill electricity production. At the risk of asking the impossible, I can’t help noticing the disparity here:

No more one-shots || Democrat & Chronicle: Editorials

In efforts to close out the year on a positive fiscal note, Monroe County is exploring one-time revenue options that demand careful examination. The last thing the county needs is to make a decision that it will regret later. After all, while the county could bridge its budget gap of more than $20 million by exercising the options it outlined more than a year ago, there looms the prospect of losing lucrative long-term financial benefits. . . . Here’s where the county must do due diligence. . .

No, no. Let me get this one! The reason they must do due dilligence is because they chose not to when they ganked your kid’s lunch money. I know I should expect no better, but let me ask anyway: why does the D&C insist on ignoring the fact that the F.A.I.R. plan promised to balance the budget, and now we still find ourselves in debt?  Can no one at the D&C do us at least the small favour of asking County Republican why there is this seeming contradiction?

I mean, you could at least ask a softball question and let them give a half-assed answer.  I’d personally appreciate at least the appearance of adequate reporting.


Ex-squeeze Me? Baking Powder?

I’d thought that when Maggie Brooks told us the F.A.I.R. plan balanced the budget (you know, the “R” in FAIR) that meant that the budget was balanced?

Monroe County looking to short-term fix for $24 million budget gap || Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

Monroe County will likely give up future revenue to balance this year’s budget.County budget officials are looking to the one-time revenue to bridge a budget gap of more than $20 million.