Letters to the Editor


Letters to the Editor


Date: November 30, 2011
by: Observer Staff



+ White elephant indeed
Dear Editor:

Rod Thomson’s column on the high-speed rail project was excellent.

The long-term consequences of accepting federal funds and building this rail line far outweigh the immediate effects of approving that project.

We would have had federal funds to assist in the construction costs and temporary construction jobs. The result would have been a white elephant for the Florida taxpayers to subsidize for years into the future.

Those are not going to be years when we need more costly and ineffective “good ideas.”

From the minute I heard the proposal, I thought the same thoughts that Thomson expressed so well. One of the main reasons the country is in the fiscal position in which we now find ourselves is the application of short-term thinking to long-term projects.
John Rich

+ Scrap lobbyist contract
Dear Editor:

There appears to be an arrangement between the Manatee County School District and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce regarding lobbying efforts.

The chamber has an agreement with John Ray Consulting LLC, a lobbyist in Tallahassee, to obtain assistance providing state-government relations and economic-development strategies in support of the Technical Center Equity Funding Project.

The chamber has an agreement with the Manatee County School District to pay for these services. The contract is for a six-month period and has a fee of $36,000. This contract is being renewed for another six-month period.

This item was never presented to the school board because it is under the $50,000 minimum set for inclusion in its agenda. When the information came out that there is another contract within a one-year period, this would make the item $70,000, which should have been put on the agenda.

How these payments were discovered was by looking at the check register and questioning a $5,000 payment made to the chamber and many emails and phone calls. The school district said this money is being spent on getting more funding for MTI, but if so, why hide it in the chamber records?

The reason given for putting this money with the chamber is that they were hoping that other schools would contribute to this fund for lobbying. But because no other school district participated, why are they renewing this contract for another year?

We elect representatives to represent our interests in Tallahassee. Why do we need to spend more money in representatives? Also, why couldn’t this be handled by our lobbyist that we pay every year?
Let’s put this money back into the classroom.
Peggy Martin
Manatee County


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Currently 1 Response

  • 1.
  • There have been many allegations that the Manatee County School District is top heavy. That is, they have too many administrative positions.

    The Manatee Education Association (the teacher’s union) have issued a report comparing similar School District’s administrative expenditures per UFTE. That is the Unweighted Full Time Equivalent students which is defined by the Florida Statutes as one student in membership for one year.

    The results of this report were very revealing:

    The 12 districts that were compared were Manatee, Clay, Sarasota, Escambia, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Collier, Lake, Marion, St. Lucie, Osceola and State.

    For the last three years, Manatee has shown to have the most administrative expenditures by far over all the other similar districts or the state average. Manatee county in 2009-11 spent $671.82 per student in administrative expenditures. The next closest was Clay with $564.60. All the rest were lower with the state average at $511.45 and the lowest St Lucie at $421.87.

    The only way to affect change in the School District spending is to replace those board members who are ineffective at controlling expenses or getting cooperation from the school administrators. The School District has shown that they are unwilling to cut costs at the higher level but more than happy to cut the teachers and maintenance personnel.

    The solution is simple --- vote out every Member of the School Board who is on the ballot this Fall.
  • Steve Vernon
    Thu 8th Dec 2011
    at 10:00am
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