Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And Then There Were Four (okay . . . five)

After a prolonged hiatus (mine, not his), I’m finally posting the most recent couple of bye-kus from James Taranto’s “Best of the Web Today.”

Mike Gravel:

Pentagon Papers
He served against Vietnam
Much like John Kerry

Mike Huckabee:

In Hope, Arkansas

Was born a smooth governor
Whoever he is

Of course, the four remaining major party candidates are Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republicans John McCain and Ron Paul (not to mention newly-minted Libertarian Bob Barr).

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Friday, May 9, 2008

CCSD Budget Jumps 12%

And the hits just keep on coming. At its voting session last evening, the Clarke County School District finally got around to releasing some information about its "tentative" FY 2009 budget. The total budget comes to $134,719,257 ($124,725,232 for the general fund budget, $9,244,025 in an uncommitted reserve, and $750,000 in contingency funds - see "Budget Summary"). This represents a staggering increase of $14,450,042, or 12%, over the current budget of $120,269,215 (see "Budget Reductions"). Even if one allows for an increased student population and inflation, this is still a massive jump in spending.

In the Banner-Herald article, District officials cited climbing fuel costs as one rationale for the budget increase:

This year, the district spent about $200,000 more on fuel than it had budgeted, according to Ted Gilbert, assistant superintendent for district services. And Thursday night, the school board approved a tentative $134 million budget that includes $106,000 in increased spending on fuel.

Fair enough. The fact that the CCSD horribly overspends on transportation is nothing new, however, and this trend is a longstanding one. I previously noted that, according to Georgia Department of Education figures for FY 2007, the District spent almost 75% above the state average (it spends considerably above the state average on the other six categories measured by the DOE as well).

Transportation is an obvious area in which to cut back. That observation, though, merely prompts the obvious follow up question - what about the other $14 million and change?

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Thursday, May 8, 2008


The Clarke County Board of Education meets this evening for its May voting session. At that time, the public will get its first glimpse of the tentative budget for the upcoming year in the form of item 12 under New Business (see page 59 of the PDF, which appeared on the District’s web site late yesterday or early this morning), though just how useful that glimpse may be remains to be seen. According to item 13 under New Business, the tentative millage rate stays constant at 20 mills (see page 60 of the PDF). Unfortunately, that is the extent of the information available to the public at this time.

I have the sneaking suspicion that the District would love to increase the millage rate but, according to the state Constitution, it cannot do so without the passage of a countywide referendum to that effect - and with property owners already facing increased assessments and a proposed millage rate increase on the part of the Unified Government, this is certainly not the year to try that.

Nonetheless, the schedule for the three public hearings on the budget mandated by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights had been released. Copies of the budget will be in the schools next week, though nothing is mentioned about the budget being available on the web.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

So Where Is The CCSD Budget?

The Clarke County School District’s budget for FY 2009 (or 2008-09 as the District typically terms such things) goes into effect a mere eight weeks from today.

So why is this a problem? Because, as of this morning, there is absolutely nothing on the District’s web site about the budget, absolutely nothing about the public hearings on the budget mandated by state law, and absolutely nothing about the District’s proposed millage rate. Nor has there been anything in the Banner-Herald about these matters in its coverage of the Board of Education.

According to the HTML version of the agenda for last Thursday’s agenda setting session that was on the District’s web site, the Board was slated to discuss the budget and millage rate proposed for 2009, though the PDF version of the agenda and supporting materials made no mention of either. Now, however, even those no longer can be found. What gives?

If past practice is any indication, even when the budget is made “public,” it will be available only in a summarized and incomplete form. So just how is the public expected to make informed judgments on the budget when it has no meaningful access to it.

I give the Unified Government a hard time on a variety of issues, deservedly so in my opinion, but this is one area in which City Hall gets high marks. Though I think they spend far too much on questionable expenditures, the folks behind the rail have their full budget available for public inspection at a variety of places around the community, have the document on its web site, and have published the schedule for its public hearings.

Why can’t the District do the same? And no, the answer is not that it lacks the money to do so.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Paul Broun Campaign Update

Some recent snippets from the Broun campaign:

Congressman Paul Broun, M.D. (R-GA), received a major boost in his bid for re-election with the endorsement of Paul Weyrich. Mr. Weyrich is known and respected as the patriarch of the American Conservative Movement. Therefore, he is a leading shaper of opinion, not only in the nation’s capital, but among conservative activists and donors across the nation. Weyrich is Chairman of the Free Congress Foundation. Since 1977, FCF has been the leading pioneering conservative publ policy organization in the nation. Mr. Weyrich is also well-known in Washington, D.C. for his role as host of a weekly gathering of conservative members of Congress, members of the Executive Branch, business leaders and representatives of think tanks and conservative advocacy groups. The gathering is called the Coalition for America.

U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) will serve as host of an upcoming fundraising event in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the re-election of Congressman Paul Broun, M.D. GOP Leader Boehner’s commitment adds momentum to Broun’s determined fight to win his battle for re-election.

Chief Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) Every Republican is Crucial (ERICPAC) has contributed $10,000 to the Broun campaign.

COLEPAC, the leadership PAC of Tom Cole (R-OK), has given Congressman Broun a $3,500 contribution for his campaign. Cole serves as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Conservative Victory Fund, the nation's oldest conservative campaign committee, endorses for reelection Congressman Paul Broun for the U.S. House of Representatives 10th District in Georgia. During his tenure as a Congressman, Paul Broun has proven his conservative credentials on issues ranging from border security to cutting spending and lowering taxes. Paul Broun is also fights for family values. He has introduced or cosponsored bills that support the right to life. Congressman Paul Broun represents the conservative values of Georgia. Conservative Victory Fund is proud to support him. The late conservative leader Congressman John Ashbrook founded CVF more than thirty-five years ago. CVF works to elect a conservative majority to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Congressman Paul C. Broun, M.D. achieved a perfect score on the Immigration Reduction Report Card issued by Americans for Better Immigration. ABI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization which lobbies Congress for reductions in immigration numbers. Broun’s 100% score is the highest in the entire United States Congress, and he is the only member of Congress to have achieved a perfect score for his legislative career. The “subjects” Broun was graded on include Chain Immigration, Visa Lottery, Anchor Baby Citizenship, Border Control, and Interior Enforcement.

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