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The Tentacle


April 23, 2009

You’ve Found Your Voice. Use it!

Joan Marie Aquilino

I’m guessing that by the time this article makes it to print there will others already out there about the Tea Party. I also suspect there will be as many different angles to that day as there will be stories.

 

For me, the silent majority emerged from their cocoon of compliancy and silence, and found their voices on April 15. They spoke and, for the vast majority, spoke well and firmly, with a strength and confidence many thought we'd lost.

 

Those who attended (me included) felt a sense of awakening after a very long apathetic nap. I got the same feeling I do every year as I make my Christmas Cash for Kids donation at the WFMD-AM offices. Many will know exactly what I'm talking about: that warm feeling that works it way up from your belly, touching your heart and ends by drawing the corners of your mouth up into the best smile in the world.

 

The general theme for Frederick’s Tea Party was pay attention and listen. It’s already blatantly obvious the Frederick County Board of Education is neither listening, nor paying attention. Time will tell if the other elected officials heard us.

 

These officials must stop expecting us to pay for their mistakes and/or irresponsibility. They must stop spending our money to bail others out. They must be accountable. And last, but not least, sometimes those who fail need to fall the whole way down and either stay there or pick themselves up. I'm all for teaching them how to do that, but I am not for bailing out failure.

 

The Tea Party was, hopefully, not a one time thing; we're awake now, so let’s keep up the momentum. All governments and agencies are working on their budgets right now. Keep them on their toes, and let them know it's not only time to stop spending, but it’s also time to make deep cuts as well. They must bring their costs back into a realistic framework.

 

The naysayers keep asking, what was the purpose? I, for one, can't say there was a single reason. Simply, the purpose was to be heard. There were several overriding messages, but the main one for me was to stop the spending. I can’t seem to repeat that too much.

 

There were as many personal reasons for being there as there were people. After asking numerous attendees whom I didn't know why they were there, I got an overwhelming feeling that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired of the wide array of 'activists' bullying and threatening on any number of topics from development, global warming, trash, buyouts, stimulus and so many others I can't even list. They are tired of being responsible, paying their bills, saving a little, saving for and buying homes, things, cars, etc., within reason. And then they’re told they have to ‘give’ more to help those who couldn’t make it.

 

Anyone with a modicum of responsibility would be hard pressed to say “yes, keep spending,” “yes, raise my taxes” and “yes, bail everyone out.” The very loud ‘sky is falling’ groupies have nothing to argue, so they attack. They have nothing else.

 

The school board was in session the day of the rally but made it obvious they were afraid to show their faces, short of Donna Crook, who – rumor has it – was raked over the coals as being remiss in her duties because she spoke to us.

 

Remiss in her due diligence is a joke. The absolute arrogance and complete dismissal by the other board members came across loud and clear. The way they closed ranks, belittled, dismissed and verbally assaulted any and everyone that dared to challenge them is bordering on criminal if I made the call.

 

On their agenda that day was a discussion on the waiver to the Maintenance of Effort money they could lose. In other words, losing some of their cash cow. Unless you actually witness them at work, which isn’t exactly easy because of so many closed-door meeting, it’s difficult to believe.

 

Oh, and let’s not forget they had very important deliberations to be made on cutting swimming and freshman sports, raising ticket prices and athletic fees, all items coming directly out of parents pockets. Direct hits on the children again. Nary was a word spoken about cutting salaries of our superintendent and the vast administrative staff, or taking furloughs or pay cuts? Not a word.

 

Had the school board found it within their soul to step outside their ivory tower and listen, they might have heard the discontent, absolute frustration and utter disgust with the manner in which they feel compelled to spend our tax dollars with reckless abandon.

 

The Board of Education was nudged, then gently pushed, more vigorously pushed and ultimately shoved into a corner to stop spending and make cuts, yet they still come back with threats and bargains.

 

The false bravado of back slapping for making some employees 11-month instead of 12-month employees, hiring freeze, etc., is just what you think. It's a smoke screen. Before those job freezes, how many positions were 'created' and filled?

 

Every discussion begins and ends with, 'if this has to happen it's going to hurt the children.' Hello, school board members! What you are doing is a deliberate and conscious effort to raise the greatest outcry, and not one that is required to make ends meet. As always you are allowing the parents, teachers and children to do your dirty work.

 

You’ve brought this upon yourselves. Stop the TERC accounting. I’d like to see a school board member explain the full budget without staff help. Stop playing the shell game and show us which one is hiding the pea.

 

The public hearing on the school board’s FY 2010 Operating Budget is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, 2009, at 7:00 P.M. at Walkersville High School.

 

The next joint meeting of the Board of Education and the Board of County Commissioners is scheduled for Tuesday, May 19, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. at the school board’s Administrative Building, 115 East Church Street, Frederick.

 

You’ve found your voice. Use It! Tell the county commissioners that unless they stand firm on its Maintenance of Effort waiver request, you want them to adopt the constant yield and give you a hand out, too.

 

Tell the commissioners to cut the school board budget to the lowest possible dollar allowed by law.

 

Tell the Board of Education to stop inflating construction costs and then using the extra monies as bargaining chips.

 

Tell the commissioners to accept the waiver if given and cut the Maintenance of Effort money the full $9 million first suggested, which is only half what could be taken.

 

Tell the school board to make the needed cuts from the top and to stay out of our school buildings.

 

And, finally, tell all these taxpayer-funded agencies that if furlough days are required, they need to be taken across the board – Frederick County Public Schools, Frederick Community College, and the county government, not one without the others.

 

’til next time…

 



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