Posted on 28 October 2011.
Can’t spell Harris without an “S”
Americans are an interesting lot. We are unique in the world with our desire for absolute freedom. We have preserved to ourselves the right to be free to form our own ideas and speak our piece/peace. That said, we are intelligent enough to realize that we must balance this idea of freedom with self regulation; the greatest good for the greatest number. We may have given up our freedom to be free from most regulation but have yet to give up our right to be free from abuse. Measure “S” is abuse by one neighbor upon another. It is morally reprehensible. It is a rigged taxing measure.
Maybe I missed it, but I Googled the words “Measure S” and “Notice” and found nothing that put the two words together with a notice to the 9000 property owners that the MUSD wants to tax. In fact, I could not find any combination of those words except in my own prior complaining. Measure S is our democracy’s original sin- “taxation without representation”. The Measure has been rigged to accomplish this result.
In an effort to stop the abuse of these unnoticed special elections, I have previously attempted to appeal to your sense of right and wrong, and I have provided facts about the District that should put any fair thinking person on the path of questioning the finances and management of the District rather than supporting “S”. Every person to date who wants you to vote for Measure S belies the true financial condition of the District, cries “Wolf”, and appears to simply want more money for the already exaggerated income of the District. There is a better way, than passing Measure “S”, to raise money for the District.
Most properly run school districts have created a non-profit corporation to invite donations. As I previously revealed, the district within which I live in San Diego has the PTA run the non-profit corporation and raises enough annually to make the District immune to state financial incompetence. I’m sure that one of the Mammoth Lakes attorneys will volunteer their time to create the corporation. It is a simple process. Solicitations for donations could then be sent by the non-profit corporation to each property owner. I would certainly “volunteer” a donation each year. Also, each year the parents of children using the school could be asked to donate. Local businesses also realize the importance of good schools would donate. This way, everyone can exercise their freedom to support their local school.
At the same time I would demand that the MUSD make changes. The effort of the District to abuse 9000 property owners is nothing more than an effort to preserve the bulging budget that supports the continuing top heavy administration costs. We now know from the California Teacher Association [CTA] and State Legislative Analyst Office [LAO] that the state will fully fund K-12 education next year so voting “NO” on Measure “S” will probably not be enough to cause the District to cut its waste. The District can actually pay these salaries without the Measure S income. Getting your after school programs and sports programs fully funded will require everyone to put pressure on the District to freeze salaries [to bring them back to near the state averages], cut at least one principal or the superintendent position [1,100 students is actually one small school that can be run by a principal and assistant], and cut the number of teachers [an average class size of 20-25 is reasonable-not the current 16]. Reducing teacher salary and benefits closer to 55% of revenues received (as mandated by the CTA) rather than the 66% now spent by MUSD saves about 1.7 million annually, which more than makes up for the Measure S revenue and also provides revenue for after school programs.
Measure S also contains two curious provisions that warrant further discussion. Art. 3, speaks of reducing the parcel tax if adding the amount of the tax causes less money to be received from the state or federal governments. Why this? Well, the shell game being played by the legislature with school funds takes into consideration the total property taxes collected within a school district. The “S” tax is a tax on property. So if the total tax from the state to the MUSD is to be reduced by the amount of the Measure S parcel tax then why are we even discussing this bogus Measure? Is the District playing its own shell game? Please note, money raised by a non-profit would not fall within this reduction provision.
Next, is the “Senior Citizen Exemption”. Clearly a discriminatory provision. The provision does not apply unless that senior has a “primary residence” within the District. I have yet to see this “primary residence” qualification used in Mono County for any lawful purpose. With this provision, “S” provides unreasoned discrimination between seniors living within the District. If two seniors are living side by side and one lives in his Mammoth residence 183 days in the calendar year, he qualifies for the reduction but his neighbor who lived there 182 days does not. Does that provision make any sense to anyone?
I hope I have provided several reasons to vote NO on “S” and to then question the MUSD budget. Whenever government wants more it is a progressive invasion of our freedom to be left alone. For the teaching of only 1,100 students, the District needs to explain why it spends 50% more than the state average on each student. Also, why does the District need a Superintendent, two principals, adequate staff multiplied by three, and 69 teachers (this figure seems to jump between representations of 65 and 69). Especially when all teachers are paid 12 to 15% more than state averages and more than the average income of Mammoth Lakes property owners. The District also needs to explain why 66% of all revenue received is spent on teacher salary and benefits instead of “only” 55%. If it can, the District has taken the first step in justifying a need for Measure S. Until then Vote “NO”. Until the District has the courage to give those who are being asked to pay the tax notice and an opportunity to vote the issue, Vote “NO”.
Mammoth Lakes voter
Ed. note: While I have been reluctant to weigh in until this point, I have to admit that paragraph four pushed a button, as it shows a lack of familiarity with the community in which he owns a residence.
This community has plenty of non-profit organizations devoted to helping support our schools, and many folks donate several times the amount of the $59/year parcel tax each year.
As just one example, Tom Cage said the Mammoth Chevron fundraiser during the last week of September raised nearly $3,000 for the MHS Boosters sports programs.
The insinuation that Mammoth residents create tax measures to shirk their responsibilities in order to dump the burden on second homeowners is just not accurate.
And his suggestion that district budgets be entirely balanced through a gutting of teacher salaries and benefits is … offensive.
Senior dinners serve success
Thank you for giving so much support to our Senior class. We very much appreciate that you were able and willing to help us advertise our Senior class dinners while also attending them. We were capable of raising a lot of money that will be a huge impact in decreasing the cost for our Senior class trip. Without your contributions we would have never been as successful.
The Mammoth High School Senior class of 2012 thanks you so much!
Erin Le Francois, Dept. Head
Mammoth High School Social Studies
Ed. note: Shogun Restaurant’s Robbie Tani said he served 1,200 dinners over the span of four days.
A toast to Trails Master Plan
On behalf of the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA) staff and Board of Directors, I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to the community members who shared in our Trail System Master Plan (TSMP) adoption celebration on Saturday night, Oct. 22.
A great turnout filled the rooms so graciously donated by the Westin Monache Resort — our newest partner in the Mammoth Lakes Trail System — and we were proud to raise a glass of bubbly in tribute to the hundreds of volunteers without whom the TSMP update couldn’t have been completed.
Now that it’s adopted and the EIR has been certified, the TSMP can begin playing its true role as the master development plan for the Mammoth Lakes Trail System (MLTS). The opportunity for the necessary long-term commitment to the MLTS by the Town of Mammoth Lakes is on the horizon, as is a strong partnership agreement between the Town and the Inyo National Forest that will protect, improve, and sustain the MLTS for generations.
If you have any questions, we can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 760.934.3154.
On behalf of United Blood Services, I would like to thank Joanne Hunt and the Mammoth Rotary for sponsoring the Mammoth Lakes Community drive on Oct. 18-20.
There were 207 units of blood collected during the drive. Since our laboratory is able to make up to 3 products from each donation, your drive will help save the lives as many as 621 patients in the 22 hospitals we serve. I would say this is pretty awesome!
My appreciation to the volunteers who made calls to donors, baked cookies and helped at the drive. I truly enjoy working with all of you!
I look forward to our next drive with the Rotary Club on Oct 23-25, 2012. Have a wonderful winter, Mammoth, you always come through for us.
Donor Recruitment Representative for United Blood Services
Cinnamon Bear hug
The Cinnamon Bear Inn hosted Mammoth Chamber’s October Mixer, and they outdid themselves. A great time was had by all! Thanks to Russ Harrison, owner, and Pam & Jim Maisey, managers, for the fantastic food and tours of the newly remodeled rooms. Don’t miss the November Mixer at Second Chance, Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 5-7 p.m.
Mammoth Lakes Chamber Member
Spinners Bike MS Bay to Bay
On behalf of our team, the Mammoth Spinners (Brian and Kathleen Knox, Donna Feix, Jean Drummond, Sara Morra and Rachel Georgeson), thanks for getting behind us on our Bike MS Bay to Bay ride last weekend. More than 100 local folks coughed it up and helped us walk the talk; we raised almost $8,000! We saddled up with 2,300 new friends, all with a relationship to Multiple Sclerosis, personally or through friends and family, and banked $1.8 million towards improving treatments and finding a cure.
We felt the buzz of being around so many people pulling to move the unmovable.
And it’s not over yet! Our team will continue landing contributions until Dec. 2. Google “Bike MS Bay to Bay” then search for our team members by name. You can also call any team member or stop in Access Art & Business Center to add to our total.