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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bangor School Board: The Mystery Science Theatre 3000 of the LV

Bob Cartwright
Most of you know that, as a rule, I don't do school boards. In fact, I don't even understand them. I've been forced to cover a few school board meetings in Bethlehem, and they don't even speak English. Not Spanish, either. It's bureaucratese, and I'm usually lost in thirty seconds. So the last place I want to be on a Summer night is at a school board meeting. But that's where I was last night. Until nearly midnight. And that's thanks to my pal, Ron Angle.

Angle promised me I'd be out of there in no time. So I came up. Little did I know that they were deciding on the frickin' budget for next year.

Thanks a lot, Ron.

I decided to stay and watch what is reputedly one of the most dysfunctional bodies in the Lehigh Valley. In fact, Bruce Cameron made that observation himself, and he's a Director. They were nutty, interrupted each other, argued and pontificated. But at the same time, they laughed at themselves, traded barbs with the peanut gallery and seemed to be a genial bunch in spite of themselves.  I liked them.

Mike Goffredo
Fortunately, one of my favorite people, Mark "the bastard" Thatcher attended the meeting and sat right behind me while Angle was in front.

Thatcher, you might recall, is the same guy who some months ago grabbed Toni Lynch's cell phone and tossed it into a loaded toilet at the Mount Bethel Diner. Angle tried saving it in a bowl of rice, but alas, it was too far gone.

The person whose cell phone was flushed is Toni Lynch, a School Director.

Thatcher and Angle were acting like the guys on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. As Directors gave speeches, Thatcher, Angle and Directors would pop off wisecracks.

Director Mike Goffredo: "No one here can speak on behalf of the auditor general!"

Thatcher: "I can"

Director Bob Cartwright: "What about the little guy that's eating Roman [sic] noodles?"

Thatcher: "Fuck the little guy."

Angle: "You don't eat the seed corn."

Thatcher: "You're eating something."

Toni Lynch
Eventually, after an exchange among Angle, Cartwright and Goffredo about who really shops at the Dollar Store, one parent had had enough. He told Directors that he really does not appreciate the rude comments he's hearing ... and then he looked right at me.

Then somebody's phone, probably Lynch's, went off with the ESPN jingle.

They did pass a budget last night, right before midnight in something of a miracle. They had rejected budgets that call for 1.74%, 2.7% , 1.74%  (again) and 2.2% tax hikes. They finally compromised at 1.89%, mostly because Cartwright said it reminded him of a Wal Mart number. It was a 5-3 vote supported by Cartwright, Cameron, Goffredo, Ken Brewer and Steve Bussenger.

All budgets called for spending the same $54 million. The only difference was how far they wanted to dip into the cash reserve. The 1.89% tax hike deficit spends $340,000 and will result in a 52.29 millage rate.

Before the first budget vote, Lynch pulled out a speech and began reading for about 20 minutes. He later pointed out that he's trained in jungle warfare and desert survival. He then said, "A drip of water at a time will kill you."

It certainly killed his cell phone.

I later learned that Lynch did serve his country,possibly in Vietnam, but shot himself in the foot while cleaning his rifle. He claims he has a Purple Heart.

Occasionally, I'd get fed up and leave for a breath of fresh air, especially since Angle said this would be a quickie. There was an attractive female police officer outside. I asked her if she did mouth to mouth and she tased me.

"Leave me alone, Thatcher! I've been warned about you," she said, as I pulled the wires out.

I walked back in to see the Board vote to send the King Spry legal bills over the last two years for review by the auditor general.

Goffredo was the sole No vote there. He claimed the bill for last year is really just $157,352, and things have been "blown out of proportion" by Ron Angle and Cartwright. He pointed out that Angle himself has told him that law firm squandered the $40,000 left in his father's estate until there was just a few dollars left.

Angle reported that is precisely why the bills should be reviewed for overcharges. He also pointed out that Goffredo is represent by King Spry.

Attorney Don Spry, who was present, had little to say. Angle began questioning him about his actions concerning a former teacher who was stealing boys' underwear, referring to a Grand Jury report in Dauphin County in which King Spry was criticized for not involving police sooner. Spry said he cannot discuss that matter because it involves personnel.


Anonymous said...

Give blowhards a little power, a microphone, and control over money that is 99.99% not their own, and you'll hear flippant remarks all night.


Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

This is what you get when there is no tax payer oversight or control. These people write their own checks and the public be damned. Just raise taxes whenever you feel like it. Insanity!

Anonymous said...

How many people were in attendance? The main reason school boards spend and waste is because the public isn't watching. The screaming about tax increases (or some other anger inducing situation) lasts only a brief period and the same people are elected over and over again.
They should approve budgets and expenditures 2 weeks before election day. Then people might remember who is on the board and how they voted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There were about 15 spectators. Hard to tell who were residents and who were teachers.

Anonymous said...

Great blog Bernie, and reference to MST3K.

Anonymous said...

This sort of behavior happens when people don't vote and don't attend meetings.

Reading the account you almost think these people were intoxicated. I'm embarrassed for them.

Anonymous said...

That was a gut busting laugh Bernie, especially were you were tazed? You and Angle have these meetings on edge, just stay away from any women with a tazer?

patent pending