Thursday, March 25, 2010

Greece Schools Responds To FOIL Request After 10 MONTHS!


Their own documents PROVE they withheld the info since August!

Worse yet, the BOE Prez. is a LAWYER!


In May of 2009, former BOE member Charlie Hubbard requested information related to GCSD's attorney's opinion regarding GTA's "Release Time." (Documented here)

Although GCSD had the response from the attorney dated August 25, 2009, they did NOT provide it to Mr. Hubbard until March 2010! So much for "Open Govt" in GCSD.

WHY THE FOOT-DRAGGING??
GCSD Seems To Be Emulating Town Hall: Closed, Clubby & Corrupt!




   (Click image to enlarge)


27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the more telling part is that since the BOE didn't stop the practice when the contract ended, we are now obligated to continue it.

Great work by the BOE and the Administration. If anyone had the smarts to actually read the contract back then and stop funding the items which were not required, we could have realized some savings. But since they just kept it as business as usual, we get to foot the bill for some good old GTA BUSINESS.

Great!

Anonymous said...

What did the opinion say?

Anonymous said...

The BOE has a history of giving away the taxpayers' money (Steve Walts lifetime insurance, for example). Maybe the answer is to require that the BOE members pay a "double assessment". If they paid twice the taxes as the rest of the tax base, they might be more motivated to be responsible with our dollars. Obviously they are not motivated to be frugal with their current tax liability.

Charlie Hubbard said...

Some clarification on this item.

The reason I brought this up was the Tribourgh amendment to the Taylor law (continuation of contract) and how 'this' item fits within the intent of this law.
Administration was well aware of the reasoning for questioning 'this' item being covered by the Taylor law as was attornies with the prior law firm. This unsigned legal opinion DUCKS the issue I had raised. Aside from the fact of taking near 1 year it is now obvious the powers that be have no interest in honoring my request.

This does however demonstrate a lack of committment on the part of the powers that be to CLEAN UP these contracts. In this case we are talking about a part of the gta contract that costs taxpayers over $100,000 every year for people to do nothing but 'union' business and with absolutly NO OVERSITE - a give-away with no benefit to the district and no benefit to taxpayers. It is this type of give-away that prompted the Comptroller to include in the audit of 2008 page 30 item 17 that prior to approval of a new contract by the board that 'the benefit to the district' be shown. 2 contracts have been approved since the audit and that recommendation has been snubbed.

In this case 'this' item has NO educational value and has no reason to be covered by the Taylor law. Unfortunatly the TAXPAYERS take it on the chin AGAIN.

Any readers interested in leaning more about this item feel free to contact me. I can assure you it won't take near a year to get you an answer.

chubbard@rochester.rr.com
775-6015

SCATS said...

To 10:08AM ~~ Indeed that is very telling. Just like 10:16AM mentioned, the BOE has a history of giving away taxpayer money. They lack a history of accountability.

I hope EVERYONE reads and understands what Charlie Hubbard is making a point of with all of this. An unsigned "legal opinion" that ducks the question raised ... I wonder how much we paid for this??

SCATS said...

To 10:16AM ~~ Click on the photos and the pages enlarge so you can read them ;)

SCATS said...

From my email:

The info contained in the posting regarding union "release time" makes no mention of a very critical and very LEGAL fact. The contractual language authorizing release time STAYS in the contract UNTIL a NEW contract is negotiated and ratified. Neither the BOE nor the administration has the unilateral capacity to end release time even though the current GTA contract has expired. The Triborough amendment requires that all existing provisions of the contract remain in full force until a NEW contract has been achieved.

Mr. Hubbard is correct in saying the time has come to end "release" time. It IS a legitimate subject for the GCSD's negotiating team to resolve. Saying it, wishing it, wanting it, demanding it will NOT make it happen until a new contract has been negotiated absent that provision. Like it or not that is the prevailing law in New York State. It will take an act of the New York legislature to put an end to Triborough in its current form. The fact that most state legislators are very beholden to the public employee unions for their campaign financing makes a change highly unlikely! Citizens of this state will have to begin demanding action for change!

As to why it took all this time to get Mr. Hubbard his answer, I have no idea. The letter was received by BOE members only this past Friday, March 19, 2010. Obviously a colossal screw-up!

You may pass my remarks along to your readers for whatever they may be worth.

Frank Oberg, BOE

SCATS ~~ As I asked earlier, I wonder how much we paid the lawyers for an UNSIGNED "legal opinion" that took months to get and not only ducks the question raised but ignores the critical legal issue Oberg mentions: " The contractual language authorizing release time STAYS in the contract UNTIL a NEW contract is negotiated and ratified."

Anonymous said...

I may not be a fancy lawyer type but here we go anyway:

With all due respect to Mr Oberg, who is one of the only voices of reason the current board, it is apparent that; if the BOE had any interest in looking out for the public interest they would have known and enforced a "sunset" to the provision of "1.0 F.T.E." of release time for union leadership.

According to the document provided from Harris Beach, in the last paragraph of page 2, the district would have been in a good position to end this practice at the end of the aggreement. Since the district continues funding this ridiculous waste of taxpayer funds for a further three years, we NOW lose our ability to claim that this provision was only valid until the end of the agreed contract.

Great work looking out for the average Joe.

Charlie Hubbard said...

2:37 brings up a good point. It is part of my frustration because I am just as responsible as any.
My problem was I was concentrating as the board rep on negociations that included our attornies on how this item may not be covered by the Taylor law.
I am guilty for overlooking 'this' part of the contract and it was never brought up by the attornies. Our dicussions were strickly in reference to Tribourgh to try to strenthen our negociating position.
The part identifying the wording (as decribed by this attorney) of the contract was never dicussed.

I must take responsibility for not having seen this. I spent over 70 hours in negociations with the gta as the board rep. I had plenty of time to see it - i did not.
When I left the board I assumed the inquiry by the attorneys would continue - I was wrong again.

Anonymous said...

As I unionized state employee, I am shocked that Greece taxpayers pick up the tab for GTA union business. I know for state employees, the state pays the initial tab, but the union must then reimburse the state every dollar spent on an employee doing union work. Why should the GTA be any different?

SCATS said...

Why are we paying hundreds of thousands of $$ to lawyers who don't watch out for the interests of the TAXPAYERS? They should have caught this upfront when the contract expired. They should have responded to Hubbard's letter within the timeframe the law dictates. I think the BOE should cut the district's lawyer expenses by 2/3 for next year. Spending all that they are on legal opinions isn't yielding us results, is it?

Anonymous said...

The attorneys DID respond within the time frame (Note the date on the memo). It's the DISTRICT that withheld that information for over 7 months.

SCATS said...

To 3:18PM ~~ The date on the law firm's memo (8/25/09) is MONTHS after Mr. Hubbard's original request was made. You can't tell from that memo how long the district's lawyers had the request. It is absolutely certain though that the district's lawyers did NOTHING to protect us from having to continue the Release Time practice.

Anonymous said...

The lawyers work for the district. If the district didn't bring that issue up as an item for change during negotiations, it's not the lawyers job to do that. Their job is to provide guidance relative to the items the district raises....the continued inclusion of this in the contract falls solely on the shoulders of the board of education who ratified the contract. And, of course, the union members who wouldn't bring that up as a concession they were willing to make.

SCATS said...

To 7:19PM ~~ Of course GCSD hired them. Why shouldn't they protect the district by telling them "Hey, this part of the contract has expired when the contract expired and you can take action now?" It's not the district's job to be the legal expert. It's the lawyer's job!

Anonymous said...

In this relationship with a law firm, it is NOT the lawyers' place to point out what areas of the contract the district may/may not want to address. THAT is the job of the Superintendent and the negotiating team. Once they have identified what they want to address, the lawyer provides the legal opinion. YOu think Greece is the only district these lawyers work for? Come on....be reasonable. You KNOW that the district (including the BOE) allowed this to continue and now you want it to be the lawyers fault. I'm sure Harris Beach would take on the complaint, but the fact that it has been allowed to continue beyond the expiration of the last contract does not place the district in good stead.

SCATS said...

To 3:56PM ~~ I think you ignored my question, not to mention the part where I said it's the job of the lawyer's to give the legal advice. Just because it's "always been done that way" or because "it's how everyone else does business" doesn't make it right.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Scats. Next time you go to your lawyer to do something for you, sit there and wait for him or her to tell you what to do BEFORE knowing what your desires are and THEN providing his/her legal opinion. I forgot, you are always right. It's a typical employer/employee relationship, but that concept seems lost on you. Meow.

SCATS said...

To 6:09PM ~~ Could you be any more silly? Probably. Last time I went to my lawyer, I said I need to update my will. I was given a lengthy questionaire to complete followed by an indepth discussion of my goals and the pros and cons of doing things one way or another. This isnn't rocket science. The BOE should hand a copy of each contract to the lawyers and tell them: "We want to cover ALL our bases. What do we need to do to protect our (and the community's) interests as these expire?" If can think of this, certainly a school board led by a LAWYER can!

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding the board went right back to the same law firm who helped write the contract.
Who do you think they are looking out for.
Bad judgement by the board. This law firm should be given their walking papers asap.

SCATS said...

To 7:36PM ~~ Good point. I really don't recall the timing on all the different lawyers they sent packing and then called back. If I'm not mistaken, HMO originally sent one group away. Then the Boily group rehired them, right? How does that mesh with the contract expiration date? I'm not completely sure.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for making my point, Scats. YOU were given a QUESTIONNAIRE by your lawyer. This is how it works -- the lawyers say to the district, review the contract and let us know what areas you want addressed during this negotiations. AND THEN the lawyer addresses THOSE. Just like YOUR lawyer did. Sorry to alert you to this news flash but the lawyers don't work for the COMMUNITY'S interests. That's the Board's job. The lawyers work for the DISTRICT and unfortunately, they are being given direction for changes by a group of individuals who clearly don't know what they want and/or need. I give Charlie Hubbard credit for acknowledging his oversight on this issue....but he was only one of 9 members who should have been minding the store. Sorry, Scats - I know you want to argue minute points of EVERYTHING, but you're kind of off base on this one.

SCATS said...

To 8:35AM ~~ At 6:09PM yesterday, I responded to "Ok, Scats. Next time you go to your lawyer to do something for you, sit there and wait for him or her to tell you what to do BEFORE knowing what your desires are and THEN providing his/her legal opinion."

Today, you are saying, I made the point for you and then you go on with: "This is how it works -- the lawyers say to the district, review the contract and let us know what areas you want addressed during this negotiations."

You really need to make up your mind and settle on what scenario you want to try to defend, instead of trying to win an argument over some "minute point." ;)

Charlie Hubbard said...

Scats; for what it's worth!!
When HMO were sworn in one of the first items on our agenda was to get rid of the law firm responsible for contracts in particular the Walts lifetime medical. That was Harris Beach.
We then hired Harter Seacrest.
Right after Joe and I left in 2008 the board hired BACK Harris Beach.

I am more than a 'little' concerned in this case how we hire the law firm responsible for writting the contract to also write a legal opinion on that same contract. (unsigned)

You and a prior posting are correct about ANY law firm. They pretty much will do nothing without direction.

SCATS said...

Charlie ~~ Thank you for clarifying the law firm timing issue. I see your point about how absurd it is to ask the law firm to comment legally on their own contract! Of course they see no problem ;)

Anonymous said...

We are just asking the law firms to do to themselves what the board spends most of its time doing while we watch.

SCATS said...

To 9:12AM ~~ Do we need 3-D glasses for that?