It’s keystone cops time in Durham, and this Herald-Sun editorial calls for the man at the center of it — Durham Schools Superintendent Eric Becoats — to go. Becoats’ troubled history with the system is well known: using a school bus for his family’s personal shopping outing and questionable uses of the system credit card. The latest fiasco involves the system’s rainy day fund, which either no one is watching, or they’re watching it and keeping the balance hidden.
Last spring, during budget negotiations, the school board pushed back hard at County Manager Mike Ruffin’s recommendation to allocate the same amount in local funds (the bulk of the school’s funding comes from the state) this fiscal year as last.
Pointing to a fund balance of only $4 million, which they thought was dangerously low, school officials pleaded for, and got, another $2.4 million.
Turns out, though, the system’s end-of-the-year audit showed a balance of $19.7 million.
As JLF’s Jon Ham pointed out here, the revelation is outrageous and shows there’s plenty of incompetence to go around.
The newspaper’s recommendation is this:
This is a broken relationship. Becoats’ performance as superintendent has become a serious distraction in a district that can afford nothing less than laser-like focus on improving its instructional results. It threatens the school’s standing with the purse-string-holding commissioners.
It is time for him to go.
Everybody’s pointing fingers today after it was learned that the Durham Public Schools had a much larger reserve fund than anyone claims to have known.
County commissioners say they never would have given the schools any extra money for this year if they had known the figure was actually $19.7 million and not $10-$12 million. School board members said they didn’t know they had so much money. They thought it was $4 million, which is what they told the commissioners. They’re trying to blame the Supt. Eric Becoats, who is on the hot seat for various reasons.
No matter how you look at it, this shows mass incompetence by all involved, including the media, which, in the past eras, would have been the ones to notify everyone of the incompetence long before the county manager could spill the beans publicly.
Board of Commissioners member Ellen Reckhow said, “Now we may have to do more due diligence in the future and require more verification.” Uh, yeah. Too bad that wasn’t done before now.
Every party has expressed concern for a loss of credibility and trust with the others involved. I haven’t heard anyone worry about a loss of credibility and trust on the part of taxpayers.
Stockton, California spent, borrowed, and promised its way into bankruptcy.
City leaders had also gone on a construction spree during the flush years, building a new sports arena, a minor-league baseball stadium and a marina. Citizens still bitterly mention the 2006 concert that opened the arena, where Neil Diamond was paid $1 million to perform.
And through it all, the pension costs for city workers — particularly for police officers and firefighters, who can retire early and draw on those pensions for decades — kept going up.
And now — surprise, surprise — bondholders are about to take it in the shorts while outrageous public pensions are going untouched.
Two Franklin funds hold about $35 million of bonds that Stockton issued in 2009 and are now in default. Stockton is proposing to pay the two Franklin funds just $95,000 to discharge all the remaining debt on those bonds, amounting to less than a penny on the dollar.
Douglass Wilhoit Jr., chief executive of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce, agreed that “the elephant in the room is the pension stuff.”
I recently spoke with Jane Shaw of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy about the student loan default problem and whether or not universities should assume some responsibility for it. Here’s part of our Carolina Journal Radio conversation.
Martinez: Do universities have any risk at all? Is there any skin in the game when a student defaults on their loans?
Shaw: There isn’t any. There is a slight reprimand if a school has 30 percent of its graduates within a two-year or three-year period default. Then they get into a little bit of trouble with the [U.S.] Department of Education. And maybe once a year, there are a couple of schools that are dropped from the federal program. But by and large — no. For the 4,000 or so schools that we have in the country, there is no skin in the game.
Martinez: I mentioned 375,000 students defaulting in 2010. Is that a lot? What percentage are we talking about here?
Shaw: Well, that’s about 9 percent, and that means that within two years of their graduating or leaving school, they’re allowed a six-month kind of hiatus, I guess, and then they have to start paying. And so by two years after they graduate, 9 percent have not — nationally — have not been able to pay. And yet, a definition of default is, I think, six months of nonpayment. So that means you have to be in a pretty bad situation to get that. The Department of Education is now expanding that to three years, so within three years of graduation, the figure is higher. It’s more like 13 percent.
Martinez: What about in North Carolina?
Shaw: It’s very hard to get default rates actually, because some schools apparently don’t reveal them, but in the University of North Carolina system currently, the figure is about 6 percent.
Martin Bashir has left MSNBC following his vile, disgusting verbal assault on former Gov. Sarah Palin. So where are the feminists when a conservative woman is degraded in this way?
Note Gov. Palin’s comment (emphasis is mine).
Echoing her response to Bashir’s comments and apology last month, Palin added that those attacks are usually targeted toward conservative women and said there is an “obvious” double standard.
“As I’ve said before, the target of the attack is usually more significant than what the attack, the articulated words used, actually are and that’s part of that double standard,” Palin said, adding that she hasn’t heard from any feminist groups or organizations.
Make no mistake — today’s feminist movement is about Leftist politics, not empowering women.
The Wall Street Journal lays out what’s to come should President Obama and other assorted liberals across the country succeed in their continuing push to raise the wage floor.
Democrats are even proposing to more than triple the wage floor for the nation’s three million or so workers who receive tips as part of their pay. The minimum (not counting their tips, which can often average $10 to $20 an hour) would rise to just over $7 an hour from $2.13 an hour now. This could hammer the job market for waiters, waitresses, bartenders, bus boys and valets. A 2012 study in the Southern Economic Journal concludes that “it is unusual to find any other occupation where cash wages have a stronger negative effect” on hiring than for tipped workers.
These increases would all be phased in through 2015, which is when ObamaCare’s employer mandates finally kick in. This creates a double burden for small businesses with more than 49 employees. If these employers don’t provide health care and instead pay the penalty of $2,000 per full-time employee, the cost of a minimum-wage worker would rise by the equivalent of another $1 an hour. Workers who used to cost $7.25 an hour would cost closer to $11.10 in 2015. If employers start to provide ObamaCare-approved health benefits, the cost of hiring an additional minimum-wage worker would rise further.
Exactly what we don’t need is more destructive economic policies.
Terry Stoops, the John Locke Foundation’s director of research and education studies, takes on the latest media narrative about teachers.
Some left-wing commentators have speculated that a sizable number of public school teachers are leaving North Carolina to teach in states that are, presumably, more hospitable to the profession. They want the public to believe that policies instituted by Republican lawmakers are to blame. It is the kind of baseless cause-and-effect claim that too often passes for fact in the mainstream media.
The truth is that relatively few North Carolina teachers leave the profession to teach in other states. Moreover, this trend has been consistent for years, no matter who was in charge of our political institutions.
According to the annual teacher turnover report from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, every year between 300 and 500 of the state’s approximately 96,000 teachers said they left the state to seek greener pastures.
I suspect the reasons teachers leave the state, as well as the destination states themselves, vary considerably. Unfortunately, DPI’s turnover report offers little detail. That fact, however, has not stopped some advocacy groups from highlighting a handful of dissatisfied teachers who attribute their exit to budgets and legislation passed by Republican majorities in the General Assembly since 2011.
Uninsured Millennials — also known as the young invincibles who are key to any hope of success for ObamaCare — aren’t really interested in ObamaCare. From the Harvard University Institute of Politics poll:
1. MOST MILLENNIALS BELIEVE ACA/OBAMACARE WILL BRING HIGHER COSTS, WORSE CARE
Among the 18- 29- year olds currently without health insurance, less than 1/3 say they’re likely to enroll in the exchange (13% say they will definitely enroll, 16% say they will probably enroll); 41% say they are 50-50 at the moment.
Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas is one of those Democrats in a Red State taking heat for supporting Obamacare enthusiastically in the heady days of 2009 when Obama was riding high and Democrats owned the House and the Senate.
But, like our own Sen. Kay Hagan, he’s now trying desperately to find a way to mitigate that bit of insanity, inspired no doubt by the impeccably-pressed creases in the president’s pants, or his cleanliness and his articulate speech delivery.
In his latest ad, Pryor resorts to the ultimate desperate ploy: using the Bible as a political ad prop. In the words of the excellent HotAir.com headline by Allahpundit: “New Mark Pryor ad: If God can forgive me for voting for ObamaCare, why can’t you?” Here’s Allah’s first paragraph:
I’m paraphrasing, natch, but there’s a reason why this ad is heavy on human imperfection and verrry light on party identification. Pryor’s rightly worried about how the Democratic agenda’s playing at home in Arkansas, and by “agenda” I don’t mean raising the minimum wage. Odds that a future ad will include the phrase “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”: 95 percent.
How long before Hagan begins accusing North Carolina opponents of being the modern equivalents of those who wanted to stone the adultress in John 7-8?
Here’s the Pryor ad, if you’re interested.
President Obama has given the American people many reasons to doubt his Ivy League educational credentials. OK, maybe the famous “57 states” blooper was just the result of campaign exhaustion. But “corpseman” and “secretary of states” were not. They were evidence of simple ignorance.
Well, we’ve got another one. Here’s what Obama said yesterday to critics of Obamacare:
That seems to be the only alternative that Obamacare’s critics have. We’ll just go back to the status quo, because they sure haven’t presented an alternative. If you ask many of the opponents of this law what exactly they’d do differently, they’re answer seems to be well let’s go back to the way things used to be.
As anyone with a mediocre liberal arts education knows, you can’t go “back to the status quo.” Status quo means the situation as it exists NOW, not EARLIER. There’s another related term that applies to what happened before the status quo. It’s status quo ante, a Latin term that any pre-law student should know, much less a graduate of Harvard Law School who edited the law review.