There is disturbing news coming out of Lebanon, Ohio that arrived to my ears late Thursday as I was trying to enjoy the first pleasant day of spring-like weather in 2011. The information isn’t surprising as I had been thinking along these lines all week. An aspect to that thinking is in leadership which Doc Thompson discusses in this broadcast.
I’ve mentioned in many words on these pages why some leaders are better than others, and exactly what makes a leader, “good.” For a clear definition of what makes something of quality, and why some people are “better” than others I refer your inquisitive mind to the great book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. That book is one of the best, most thorough works of philosophy on quality and leadership done since the pre-Greek age. The capacity to be, “the best” is within all of us. But certain traits certainly jump out as contributory factors.
What brings all this up is the need for leadership in school systems, and the apparent lack thereof. The current system seems to be a nightmare scenario from an Ayn Rand novel and I say that without exaggeration.
I wondered how school boards were going to react to S.B.5 once it’s signed into law. After all, they are now empowered to negotiate on behalf of the community. I thought of the Lakota Levy when I’d go to school board meetings and see our elected officials all wearing Yes Lakota pins and actively promoting the passage of a school levy. Taken at face value, this seemed acceptable to me. But now, on the eve of a real management measure like S.B.5 that will give these school boards real teeth, I wondered if it was appropriate for school board members, who are elected by the community, to openly promote school levies.
That’s when the information arrived to me from an employee within the Lebanon School System that Mark North had been meeting with the union at Lebanon and informed them to have their contracts turned in by the conclusion of business March 17, to avoid S.B.5 ramifications. The reason is that S.B.5 will honor all existing contracts, so any deals made prior to law will be recognized. Lebanon is planning to make the announcement to the press that the union has agreed to a “pay freeze” but the step increases will be held in place and kept under the radar.
This is disturbing news to me, and it’s not unique to Mr. North from the Lebanon School Board. No school board member should ever be on such cozy terms with any member of a union. They are a member of management and that requires them to be distant and impartial. If school boards were truly management on behalf of the tax payers that elected them they would not pass along information to unions informing them to get their contracts turned in before the passage of a new law. The school board should be looking to avoid a tax levy by using S.B.5 to bring their costs down. Such revelations are an enormous contributor to the current funding problems that all these school districts have.
School board members attempt to start off representing the community, however immediately in November they are sent to the OSBA Conference in Columbus. They do this once a year and the goal is to bring school board members in cohesion with the aims of the education unions that are really in control within the state. At these conferences the new board members “bond” with other board members and learn the ropes. Immediately school board members are eating out of the hand of the union. School board members that question this process are labeled “radical” and pushed out of the “group” mentality.
Now, before anyone says that I don’t know what I’m talking I know quite a few school board members all over the state, and this is how I learned about this story. It’s not a secret. Such ceremonies are no different from the “hazing” rituals in college fraternities. The intent is to unify everyone into a “collective team.”
That whole process needs to stop. School boards are elected by the public and need to represent the public. S.B.5 puts school boards in management control, the way people always thought they were, but the reality is like what has been reported on the activity of Mark North of Lebanon. They will never publicly admit that they are more loyal to unions than the public that elected them, but their actions prove otherwise.
At a minimum, no school board member elected by the public should ever wear a pin or carry a sign lobbying the community for increases in taxes. Because in doing so they are publicly admitting that they do not have management control over the school system and are not able to do the job.
S.B.5 will change the rules and the weak managers in the system, (and there will be many) will have to be removed and strong managers put in their place that will not go to the OSBA Conference in Columbus every November, but will truly represent the people who elected them.
And a warning to Mr. North and all those like him. Be careful what you say to people. The difference now is that when a whistleblower says something to the paper, and it falls on deaf ears, there are now groups like this one and others that are emerging, that will carry the story. So hiding behavior under a rock or behind closed doors will no longer be a valid way to hide improprieties to the taxpayer. And there are plenty of leaks. Believe me.
Now, for further evidence that it’s not only schools that are in a rush to ratify their contracts before S.B.5 becomes law here is the news for the Butler County FOP contract that’s been bouncing around since February 2010 . And to get an idea how much these guys make see my article, Oh, What Big Teeth You Have. What this article means is that they knew just as Lebanon knew, to take what they could get before the governor signs the new bill. It’s not a coincidence that this contract mysteriously was agreed upon yesterday.
Butler County commission signs off on FOP contract
Butler County Sheriff’s Office deputies have new agreement.
By Michael D. Pitman, Staff Writer March 18, 2011
HAMILTON — Butler County Sheriff’s deputies and supervisors will get a raise, but they’ll have to wait until next year.
The Butler County Commission agreed Thursday to ratify the collective bargaining agreements for members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 101.
The contract, which expires Feb. 9, 2013, had to go to a conciliator in November for the six items on which the union and administration could not come to terms.
“This is how the process is supposed to work,” said Sheriff Richard K. Jones, an opponent of Ohio Senate Bill 5 that passed the Senate and is in the House for debate. “We couldn’t agree, so we went to arbitration.”
Sgt. Jeff Gebhart, a spokesman for the FOP, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
According to the new contract, union members will get a 2 percent raise next year; $1,000 cash payment in lieu of a uniform allowance; and new top step effective in February 2012 to be set 2 percent higher than the current top step while deleting the lowest step.
The union also wanted similar pay scales for court services deputies and road deputies; the ability for supervisors to bid on positions; and a uniform allowance in 2010. The conciliator did not grant these requests.
“We want our people to have the best they can negotiate for; it’s not a battle,” Maj. Norman Lewis said. “But in these economic times, with the way the budget has been slashed, it’s a process that had to take place.”
Lewis said the collective bargaining process started in February 2010, but the six items of disagreement needed a conciliation hearing.
The contracts with corrections officers, corrections supervisors, clerical and dispatch unions are being finalized and likely will go before the county commissioners in ensuing weeks, he said.
Jones said the collective bargaining process works for the administration and the unions, and has worked well for the 34 years he’s been involved in the negotiations.
This is proof that the money was flowing like water and nobody cared to turn it off at the facet, and access to that easy money is really what collective bargaining has always been about. It’s easy to spend other people’s money. It’s hard and takes real leadership to have discretion. And what we’re learning is that our political officials are greedy and lack leadership in every way we feared and suspected.