Kasich budget hits Grandview hard, treasurer Collier tries to dance around bad news

Published February 24, 2017 by justicewg
collier-cut-head

Collier had her head cut off in the TVN photo

It has to be tough working for the mostly republican school board in Grandview, you have to deal with constant cuts from the republican controlled Ohio government, while whistling a happy tune and pretending everything will be OK.

School Treasurer Collier had an article in the TVN about the cuts in state funding on the way for the district, she explained how Grandview lost the most annual funding on a per-pupil basis – $684 – among all Franklin County districts. She tried to explain the cuts as a result of funding formulas that she said were hard to understand, or as she says, “Complex, isn’t it?”

No, it isn’t complex. Kasich and his republicans want to force small schools to merge with larger schools, that’s why Grandview was hit the hardest. If you want to keep Grandview from being forced to merge with another district (probably U.A.), you should be speaking up, denouncing the Kasich plans, speaking the truth about what republican plans will do to our school in the long term. But since the board members don’t want to hear that, we will be listening to the whistling past the graveyard.

Deception on taxes

Collier tries to pull a fast on on us by specifying the school tax rate, and claiming it is “one of the lowest”. First, our school millage is second only to Bexley. Second, our total property tax rate (school plus city, etc.) is the highest in the county. If you are going by the effective rate, Grandview is not at the top, so that is what the school wants us to look at, and ignore the other parts of the tables. Effective rates are important, but the total rate is where we know how we stand as far as taxing ourselves. We have passed the most tax millage in the county – we have no reason to expect voters to push taxes even higher.

City Total prop. Tax rate Effective rate, 2016
Grandview Heights 143.37 77.89
Bexley 141.65 73.76
Upper Arlington 133.06 75.03
Reynoldsburg 121.42 92.91
Westerville 123.92 95.41
Columbus 106.29 74.71

(Addendum) You might ask, why not link to the school website, shouldn’t they have the above data posted somewhere? And yes, under past Treasurers, there were charts showing mills voted and effective rates for the major school districts in the county. Treasurer Collier wiped this info from the website, then refused my request to replace and update the information. Then she changed her mind, and sometime around Dec 2015 she re-posted some of  the data. But as you see from looking at the data now on the school website, that fiscal information has been sitting unchanged since 2015, left to rot.

More loony plans from the Gov.

There is a second article in the TVN that covers much of the same news about the budget proposed by Kasich, and in this one Collier is not so pollyannaish. She is quoted saying about the state funding “That will be a pretty significant dropoff”. Funny, the other article made it sound like it was no big deal.

Kasich is pushing for a program of requiring teachers to take“externship with a local business”. The article makes it sound like a mystery plan with no clear reason for starting, but all republican plans can be understood if you listen to their constant bleating to “run government like a business”. They think that forcing teachers to spend time in local businesses is going to imbue them in the entrepreneurial spirit. Even when it makes no sense to push teachers with no students who could be in those businesses (any teacher under HS level), the R’s want to waste teacher time with social engineering.

Even superintendent Culp is quoted saying “It’s the local school board who knows what’s best for the teachers in their home schools and community.” I expect him to be hearing strong criticism from his bosses on the board over that weak opposition to republican plans.

More on Kasich and budget cuts from 2015.

(Addendum) I’ve had some people saying “so what, a cut of  $684  per pupil is not much for a year.” The problem is that as the 2015 post linked above shows, this isn’t a short term problem. The state might make another cut next year, and the year after that, then change the rules,  until Grandview Heights has no choice but to merge with another school system. And our school board might not be able to do much about it, but at least they should stand up and say “This is wrong”.

(April update) The Ohio House is planning to make some changes to the school budget, but Grandview is still singled out for the same cuts that Kasich wanted. The Senate is unlikely to help us. At least the wacky “externship” plan from Kasich has been dumped. Still no public announcement from the Grandview school board that criticizes the GOP or asks for parent groups to protest the cuts.

Study projects little growth in schools

Published February 16, 2017 by justicewg

We all pretty much knew what the results of the study would be. A consultant group for the school delivered expected results – the only growth area in Grandview is the Yard, and the kind on people living in that area tend to be DINKs and young people with no kids.

Still, it needs to be noted for the future, the school board has gone public with the results, and they are not going to be able to use an increase in student numbers to push for new school buildings.

Culp is quoted in the TVN story saying that enrollment in Grandview has declined by 4 percent, or about 46 students, over the last decade. In truth, enrollment has been dropping since the 1960’s. The current student-teacher ratio, 16 to 1, is one of the better ratios in this county. The school expects to be able to absorb any increase in students without hiring new staff.

Truett Falsified Meeting Notes on HPG Break

Published February 10, 2017 by justicewg

truett-at-visioningThe early morning board meeting at which the school board announced the break with Harrison Planning Group (a facilitates consultant) was the most important meeting of the year. The data that was produced by Harrison will be the base numbers that will be used for all future planning of the facilities at the school, they will also be used in future attempts by the board to push for high tax increases to build at the schools. It is vital that the community understand the relationship between HPG and the board, in order to know where those numbers came from.

The 10/18/16 morning meeting (Pdf link), one of the special meetings normally attended by no parents, was quickly noticed and alerts sent out, motivating 13 community members to show up. The meeting was video recorded by me. You would expect the board would be very careful to set down the full record of the meeting in the notes that are the official record. But new president Truett didn’t look good at all in the video of the meeting, as I pointed out in a past post. Truett’s solution? Falsify the meeting notes to removed important sections of the meeting, cuts that completely altered the record of the most important words spoken at that meeting.

Truett’s hack job on HPG

There was obviously some very bad conflicts between Truett and Harrison. Truett said HPG “took request for change personally, attacked members of the board and the task force in an unprofessional way, and said he didn’t want to continue working with us”. We don’t know if that is true, but it was the words of the member of the school board who was on the facility committee who worked closely with Harrison, and his report on what caused the break is the official explanation given to the rest of the board members, and the community. We are not going to hear HPG’s side of the story, he has no reason to re-litigate a bad ending. If what Truett said is true, it casts a shadow over all of the work produced by HPG – if he really is “unprofessional”, how can we trust anything produced by his company?

The way Harrison was attacked also throws Truett in a bad light, he comes off as petty and vindictive. He could have given the facts of why they disagreed, and left the personal attack out of his report.

Truett’s solution to a bad appearance in the meeting notes? Delete any mention of his attack on Harrison from the official meeting record. As president of the board, he has complete control over how the meeting is recorded.

The written record of the meeting gives some reasons for the break, but as Truett said at the board meeting, “we worked though those issues, and got to where we wanted to be”. Looking at the video of the meeting, it is obvious that the conflict with Harrison was the most important fact that lead to a break with HPG. By deleting it from the record, Truett has falsified the official record, and is deceiving the community.

https://youtu.be/PIPeDsfHNLU?t=2m51s

(the above video should bring you directly to the section where the conflict with Harrison is talked about, if it doesn’t skip to 2m 51s. Note, this YouTube video is a re-upload to a new account made for this blog, the original video had over 181 views.)

Any criticism of the board is bad decorum

Two different parents spoke up at the 10/18/16 morning meeting, and without personally insulting a board member, pointed out the poor choice in holding a special meeting on the same day as a regular board meeting, in what (correctly) looks like an attempt to hide information from the community. The words of those parents were recorded in the meeting notes, in a short but fair summary.

Truett sat in an uncomfortable 10 seconds of silence after hearing the criticism, and said the following: (Starts at 12m 32s)

You know at this point, I want to be cautious in the decorum of our meetings, I an certainly happy, and any board member will have those discussions off-line. I don’t wana … I don’t think a debate at the board meeting is the proper setting. I do feel that ah … I don’t want to enter that debate, I don’t want to get defensive on that … Jessie Truett

The official record of the meeting deleted those words – carefully chosen by Truett, after a 10 second silence. That was the official position of Truett as board president – criticism of the board is bad decorum, any critic should speak to the board members “offline” (where it can be ignored and swept under the rug).

Good luck finding full truthful info in board meeting notes

I have mentioned it often in the past, the board does a terrible job of recording meeting notes for these special meetings, often summarizing hours on discussion in a few short paragraphs, with no record of which member said the recorded words. Under Truett, if it is possible, it will get worse – we can’t be sure that he will delete anything that might show him in any bad light, not matter how much the facts of the meeting are distorted by his deletions.

Truett has a role model who has a similar disdain for the facts, it’s pretty discouraging to see public officials act this way. There is a difference though, this isn’t Washington DC, it is little Grandview. You can make your voice heard, and it might be possible for the words to register. If you don’t want to see more of this deception going on at the board meetings, call, email the board members, let them know you are watching, let them know you care.

Postscript – The board holds special planning meetings near the start of every year, spending hours in planning the long term future of the schools. Like other special meetings, the notes to these meetings are short and lack the names of the members who are proposing big changes for the schools. I asked Truett to make an audio recording of the meeting, the same way the board make audio recordings of monthly meetings. His response?

“Today’s meeting was not recorded and as in the past, we do not intend to record future work sessions. “ Jessie Truett

What a surprise. If you can’t get off work to spend a weekday attending a special meeting, you will be denied a recording, and they will never make a recording of their special meetings, because … they can get away with it. They will tell you to get lost, and the fact that they are ignoring open meeting laws will not stop them from telling you to take a hike.

Bomb threat at PNC Bank closed 1st Ave, schools locked down (with update on suspect)

Published January 31, 2017 by justicewg

first-closed-bombA bomb threat at the PNC Bank on First Ave. caused the closing of the street and lockdowns at all the school buildings in Grandview Heights this afternoon.

The schools were put in lockdown at 1:45 PM, the robbery must have occurred shortly before. The Columbus bomb squad was on the scene to determine if a bag left at the scene contained a bomb (the debris from a ripped apart bag was seen in front of the bank, I assume that means that it was a false alarm).pnc-bank-bomb

The school called off the lockdown at 3:45 PM, allowing a late return of kids from the schools to their homes.

From CH10 TV – “Police described the suspect as a white male who walked into the bank demanding money and said he had a bomb. The suspect then left a bag at the bank.”

Ch28 has photos of the suspect who robbed the bank then left a bag.

More info posted on the Grandview City blog.

Feb 14 update

The Grandview Heights police announced they have a suspect in custody. Karl Schlenker, 60, of Cranford, New Jersey, was arrested at his home without incident.

Lots of questions about this guy remaining – why travel all the way to Grandview? He doesn’t fit the profile of your average bank robber (most are younger), if the quick search I did was correct, he used to have a  Senior Sales and Marketing Leadership Position at IBM Corporation. How did he get found so quickly? My guess – he drove a car to Columbus, then parked it somewhere east of the bank (he was reported to be heading east). Possibly he walked past a surveillance camera on Grandview Ave. with his hat off and no sun glasses, and they got enough of a picture to match him on some database. Maybe he parked wrong (any parking east of Grandview Ave. is permit only), and someone took notice of his out of state license. More to come on the grey-haired bank robber.

karl-schlenker

I searched and found a Karl R Schlenker, 60, of Cranford, New Jersey, who is listed as the owner of the house at 818 Springfield Ave. I may be wrong, but I think this is his home, as of 2015 on Google maps.

schlenker-home

A very nice home, in a good neighborhood, any of the homes on this street would fit into Grandview with no problem.

(Feb 16 update) Schlenker was returned to Franklin Co.,  posted bond, and has been released. Normally someone who is released from serious charges is required to stay in the area, so Schlenker may be walking the streets of Grandview.

karl-schlenker-indited(Feb 23) Karl Schlenker was indicted on two counts of robbery and inducing panic. That stare into the camera – is he saying, “yea, I robbed yus bank, so what?” (trying for a New Jersey accent).

Thieves stealing Grandview car wheels in daylight

Published January 19, 2017 by justicewg

Police in Grandview have reported that thieves stole the wheels from 5 vehicles in the past week. What makes these thefts unusual is that most happened in full daylight, on streets and parking lots that were open and in view of any passing car. I have some theories about how the tire heists were done, but first a solution that will keep your wheels safe (probably).

Wheel Locking Lugs are inexpensive

wheel-locksThe cheapest way to secure your wheels is a set of locking lugs, $20 to $30 will provide moderate security (if thieves want your expensive rims, they will find a way). The lugs are easy to install by yourself, just remove one nut from each wheel, slip the locking key on top of the replacement lug, and tighten to specs. for your car. You will need to keep the security key in a safe place (not the glove compartment, thieves know to look inside). You will also need to use the key to remove the wheel if you break down on the side of the road, so don’t lose it!

Guessing the M.O.

The news reports listed some similarities in all of the thefts, this gives us some clues to understand how they got away with these bold tire ripoffs.

Both wheels on one side of the vehicle were taken. There were bricks or blocks left under the cars. And the daylight thefts would have required speed – they probably had the wheels off and were thrown into the getaway car within a few minutes. I’m not an expert, but I have changed enough tires to make some good guesses.

The getaway vehicle was driven up to the side of the target car, and parked. They could have used a van, and opened the side door, to have quick access to the tools. Parking close to the target gave them some cover, and blocked the view for 180 degrees.

The first guy pulled a floor jack out and placed it under the side of the car, centered between the wheels. This allowed him to lift the whole side of the car in one motion, and allowed the removal of both wheels on one side.

The second man was working on the first tire while the car was being jacked up, popping off the hub caps and loosening the nuts. He probably used a battery powered impact driver, which could have the nuts off within a minute (something like the air wrenches used in garages, but quieter). As the jack man finished, the wrench man moved down to the second wheel and started on that set of nuts. Meanwhile, the other guy was finishing removal of the tire and throws it into the van. The nut removal guy finishes the second wheel, and moves it out of the way. The jack man has been placing blocks under the exposed brakes. They throw the second tire inside, drop the car onto the blocks, and slide the jack out and into the van.

Total time might be no more than 5 minutes for a well practiced couple of thieves.

I’m not too sure how they avoided setting off car alarms, most of them contain tilt sensors that are triggered by lifting the car. Possibly the thieves check for alarms before they start? And how can they avoid being seen by passing cars? Somebody is going to see something, and report to the police the make and model of the getaway vehicle. I’m guessing by that time the crew will have moved on to the next city.

No matter if these guys are caught, you need locking nuts to protect your car, if you don’t want to walk out one morning and find your wheels missing.

(April 11 update) GHPD caught a tire thief in the act, he had already removed the tires from one car and was in the process on a second when the police caught him. I’m surprised this was one person, he must have been really good at removing wheels to get away with it by himself.

(April 27 update) The same guy was allegedly dragging a cop while he attempted to flee in his car, and was shot and killed by the officer.

Grandview board selects controversial Truett for President

Published January 14, 2017 by justicewg

truett-at-visioningThe Grandview school board voted to place Jessie Truett into the president position at the January 2017 organizational meeting. This is a completely nonsensical move from a board that should be avoiding controversy while they gear up for requesting the community to build new schools.

Truett is the most controversial member of the board, due to his resignation from his job as the high school principal back in 2011. The short version – Truett suddenly resigned with a weak explanation about personal and health reasons, later it came out that he started an affair with an 18 year old student while he was a 23 year old teacher at Westerville. State law says that sexual conduct with a student, regardless of the student’s age, is considered sexual battery, and could lead to jail time. Truett voluntarily surrendered his teaching license to the state board of education.

Mr Truett now works for OAPCS, promoting charter schools. Ohio had many scandals involving charter schools, some observers think that the top reason that Kasich failed his run for president was the constant news of fraud and failure from Ohio charter schools. Truett’s job is to push for more charter schools, and weaken public schools.

Watch Truett in action at a board meeting

What will it be like with Jessie Truett in charge of the school board? We have a video that allows us to see direct evidence of how he will conduct the business of the school, and how he will respond to comments from the community, All of the links in the following take you directly to the section of the video being discussed.

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Top Watching Grandview stories of 2016

Published December 30, 2016 by justicewg

Although there is some correlation between the number of hits on a story on this blog and the importance to the future of the city, it isn’t always a good match. This year the hits and the importance paralleled. Here are the top stories, followed by some thoughts about “fake news” and how we can fight it here in Grandview.

School board breaks with Harrison Planning Group

board-meeting-10-18-16-special-morningIt wasn’t just the two-faced way that the school board handled the end of the relationship with Harrison Planning Group, tearing him to pieces in a school board meeting, while praising him in later emails to the community. It was the attempt to sneak this scandal past the public with a special morning meeting, while the board had a regular meeting the same day. They knew that the special meetings are not recorded, and rarely attended by anyone, so the board acted like three year olds and tried to hide their mess.

No explanation or apology has been offered since the split with HPG. Although there were two community members who spoke up at the special meeting, critical of the board for attempting to hide the important news with the morning meeting, the only response from the chair of the meeting was a comment from Jessie Truett that he didn’t think criticism of the board is good decorum at the board meetings. The board has never apologized – the board has never made apologies for any mistake they make.

There is no question about what was said at the board meeting, I made a video recording. I had a good number of views of this YouTube video, but I think many of the views might be from HPG’s lawyers in preparation for a lawsuit against the school board. If you have any interest at all in the schools at Grandview Heights, please take the time to watch the video.

The followup post about the replacement for the facility consultant continues this story.

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