Apr 9, 2015

Incited Allentown School District Race

Someone or something has incited a crowded school district race, and I believe that it's Scott Armstrong. Thirteen candidates are running for five spots in a race that normally barely has enough candidates to cover the spots. To the ire of the Teacher's Union, Armstrong has consistently and loudly identified the pension issue as the financial problem of the school district. Understand that although it is well known that pensions are bankrupting the school districts and the state, Pennsylvania failed to enact any change, even with a previous Republican Governor and both chambers of the State House. Understand that the failed proposals for change protected all previous and existing employees, and only affected future hires. Never the less, the unions are so strong that nothing more than lip service is ever implemented. Pleading children are used as props to protest teacher and program cuts, resulting from budget realities. While Armstrong has the courage to articulate the facts at the meetings and in editorials, he became a scape goat for some operating only on emotion about music and art programing. Ironically, Armstrong himself was schooled in fine arts, and his work is first rate. Truth is a heavy coat to wear in politics, but Armstrong carries the weight well. If the burden isn't heavy enough, Pawlowski is attempting to influence the results. He and the districts two lightweight state representative, Michael Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer, have started a PAC to push their hand chosen candidates. Out of thirteen candidates, Armstrong offers the homeowners the most mettle for their tax dollars.

UPDATE: The last sentence above as been modified since being published early this morning.


DreamingOfJustice said...

Even if you change the contracts clause, you still can't use it to change to any pensions for existing employees - doing that would violate the state AND US Constitutional prohibition against ex post facto law.

No matter what changes you make - existing employee pensions enjoy absolute protections into perpetuity.

Anonymous said...

Comrade Molovinsky,

Who needs art and/or music programming?

We have the luxurious $ 177.1 million dollar Pawlowski Palace of Sport!


Col. Viktor Tikhonov
Soviet Red Army (ret)

Bernie O'Hare said...

I suspect that many are turned off by Armstrong's divisiveness. It has to be his way or no way. For example, he was so angry at Dent for imposing a government shutdown that he stopped supporting him. Good government requires compromise at the end of the day. You can take a strong position, but in a democracy, you need to listen to all sides and sometimes take what you can get. I question whether Armstrong understands that, though I would likely vote for him bc he is very dedicated and cares.

Another problem I have with people like Armstrong or Gerlach is that they are both partisans. Comments and various op-eds have made that clear about Armstrong. In Gerlach's case, we know she blindly supported a state house candidate simply bc that person was a Democrat. But I certainly would not replace them with other partisans who are also rubber stamps for Pawlowski.

Anonymous said...

Just a note, in Pennsylvania, the teacher pension plan for teachers WAS sharply reduced back in 2010. By now, those reductions probably reach one-fourth of the existing ASD employees.

Also remember, each teacher paid into their own retirement account AT LEAST one-third of their accumulated final total. The biggest growth factor over a typical 30-35 year plan was likely due to the time value of those regular investments. Add in the reality that for about a decade, the state and local school district chose not to follow their own prescribed payment plan.

Yes, for those who managed to last the full 35 years, the final payout is strong. But really, why would it not be?

The issue is controversial, for sure, but it has been addressed. Just not enough for some. In any event, the 'outrageous' sums some see simply won't happen again.

I do receive a state teacher pension, and don't feel the least bit guilty about doing so. I honored my part of the plan.

Anyway, I fully support Scott Armstrong. He's an important part of that school board and has the courage to stand right out front with his opinions. That's a rare quality in any representative. I'd really like to see Scott run against Charlie Dent. That's a whole other story, of course.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

People read Bernie’s blog because he writes from an informed perspective. His post toda, however, reflects the fact that Mr. O’Hare has never to my knowledge attended an ASD Board meeting while I was a member of the board. If he had, he would have witnessed respectful disagreements and general courtesy amongst the board members. He would have seen a board coming together to address issues such as school uniforms, afterschool programming, dropout prevention initiatives, and KOZ zones. He would have seen us working together to bring an innovative teaching program of real promise to the district (Building 21). He would have witnessed this “divisive,” “ my way or the high way,” “partisan” support a substantial tax increase last year in a compromise budget. Those who label “Armstrong” as divisive do so for their own reasons, namely because there is not supposed to be a person on the board pointing a finger back at the teachers’ union as part of the problem. Equally “divisive” is Armstrong”’s constant reminder that the real blame for the school district’s problems is the city’s failure to address the issue of exploding poverty rates. Apparently people don’t want to hear that kind of truth coming from the dais.
It will be up to the voters as to whether I serve another term. I will be fine either way. I have used my time in office to be true to my beliefs and serve the district’s best interests. I will continue to do so if I am re-elected.
Scott Armstrong

Guy Williams said...

I believe Scott deserves another term. Their is nothing better than a healthy debate. I for one do not like his partisanship and disagree on many issues but his voice needs to be heard. I like that he stands up for what he believes.