Dan Walter: School officials and school unions are teaching students that it’s all right to run up credit card bills, blame others for overspending and then cross their fingers that someone will bail them out

11 Feb

After I wrote my analysis of CARD’s use of their expensive Cal Park Lakeside Pavilion facility, I read this piece by Dan Walter:

https://calmatters.org/articles/commentary/school-districts-set-poor-example-for-students/

Walters is talking about various California school districts, but what he says also applies to our local recreation district – ” it’s all right to run up credit card bills, blame others for overspending and then cross their fingers that someone will bail them out.”

That’s becoming standard public agency policy these days, and it’s not just the pensions, but poor spending decisions by policy makers. I mean, blatant decisions, like spend $385,000 on a remodel for council chambers, or paying a million borrowed dollars on a crapped out old building and then several hundred thousand fixing it. 

But most poor spending decisions seem to involve public salaries and benefits. Walter reports ” In 2017, when Sacramento Unified’s teachers were threatening to strike, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg mediated a new contract that gave teachers an 11 percent raise. Later, it emerged that the salary increases would come from a reserve set aside for pension fund payments.”

In Chico, both the city and CARD have set up “pension trust” funds, allocating money from other city funds, to pay down their pension deficit. this is in addition to what taxpayers already pay toward pensions on a monthly basis. We pay their payments monthly, and then we’re on the hook for an annual payment that increases every year – this year, $7,598,561.  Former CARD finance director Scott Dowell now runs the city finances, so he set up both funds. He says these funds save money by avoiding penalties from CalPERS. What it amounts to is embezzling money from one fund to another so you can spend it any way you want. 

In Sacramento, contrary to the  rules for one of these “trusts”, they spent the money to give their teachers an 11 percent raise. Of course, you know what those raises are going to do to those teachers’ pensions, right?

As soon as Chico Unified passed Measure K in 2016, district finance mangler Kevin Bultema told the board they were still looking at deficits caused by raises given teachers. He told me in an e-mail that if they didn’t get more money they’d cut programs. 

Walter’s point in this piece is that the schools are setting a poor example for the kids. I’d say,  government in general is setting a poor example for everybody. 

 

11 Responses to “Dan Walter: School officials and school unions are teaching students that it’s all right to run up credit card bills, blame others for overspending and then cross their fingers that someone will bail them out”

  1. bob February 11, 2019 at 8:34 am #

    The politicians are puppets of the public employee unions. Heck, often the politicians are members of these same unions.

    They have every incentive to continue this outrageous behavior and no incentive to end it. And what do they care? It’s not their money they are spending.

    You can bet they will be back demanding higher taxes and more debt.

    • Juanita Sumner February 11, 2019 at 1:26 pm #

      I can’t remember whether it was Walter’s or Greenhut who reports many legislators are past union members and public workers.

  2. Jim February 11, 2019 at 9:02 am #

    Yes! They don’t teach money management in high school school. Then the school councilors encourage students to borrow the limit on student loans. I’ve heard the stories from professors. Then the dumb shit student goes out and buys an new truck with no idea how to make the payments. Then 6 years later when they graduate, they can’t find a job and can’t pay back the student loans. It’s so ridiculous.

    Clearly most committee members, city councilors, school board members also have no idea how to manage money. But they have no worries. The taxpayers are on the hook for their bad decisions.

    • Juanita Sumner February 11, 2019 at 1:32 pm #

      I actually know former dumb shit students who used their student loans for inappropriate purposes, dropped out of school, and flaked on their loans. No accountability there either – a fellow we know was able to finance his new house despite having never paid his student loans – he was let off for a fraction of what he owed and his credit was restored.

      A friend of mine always reminds me, our education system is made up mostly of people from our own schools, it’s a downward cycle.

  3. Jim February 11, 2019 at 10:07 am #

    For example the Chico taxpayers just spent $17,840 in 5 days for a warming tent. While I don’t want to see anyone get sick for the cold, it would have been much less expensive to just open the lobby of City Hall.

    • Juanita Sumner February 11, 2019 at 1:41 pm #

      I wonder whatever happened to opening the fairgrounds buildings during extreme weather. Those buildings should be adequate for any emergency situation. We have too many agencies jostling for funding, this has created an expensive piecemeal system that doesn’t serve anybody except the bureaucracy.

    • bob February 11, 2019 at 5:57 pm #

      “… it would have been much less expensive to just open the lobby of City Hall.”

      And with all the hot air coming out of the politicians and bureaucrats they wouldn’t even have to turn on the heat! 🙂

      • Juanita Sumner February 12, 2019 at 6:11 am #

        Speaking of hot air, read Chico First founder Rob Berry’s conversation regarding council member Scott Huber.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/chicofirst.org/

        I like to call Scott “Flipper,” cause when he was a realtor he bought clients’ houses for cheap and then sold them the same day for skads more. He’s also the city attorney for Oroville – don’t you love a carpet bagger? Who takes this guy seriously? Well, he knocked Coolidge out of the seat, I’m okay with that.

  4. Juanita Sumner February 11, 2019 at 4:56 pm #

    Wow, KNVN news reports that 74 million Americans have more debt than savings.

    Thank a teacher!

  5. bob February 12, 2019 at 7:06 am #

    Great American tax ripoff…

    • Juanita Sumner February 12, 2019 at 8:00 am #

      My first reaction to this story is, “wow, there’s hope for America’s youth!” Great book, maybe that’s out next “Book in Common”!

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