October 18, 2014
“Don’t go up the down stairway” was the golden rule for New Trier’s class of 1964. The center hallway stairways were packed like cans of sardines, and especially the west stairway (the up side) moved between periods like single a blob of humanity.
Fast forward to 2014. Voters are being asked to approve an $89 million property tax hike for 25 additional classrooms – as enrollment declines and is projected to decrease more in the future. The 6,558 students enrolled at the two New Trier campuses in 1972 are now a distant memory; in 2013, total enrollment was 4,208 and in 2014, 4,094. John Kasarda, the demographer District 203 has used for decades, projects that between 2012 and 2020, total enrollment in the district is most likely to fluctuate between 3,927 and 4,215, then dip below 3,900 through 2026.
Letters in the Wilmette Life supporting the tax increase have only the highest praise for the school board that responded to the last (failed) referendum by reducing the tax increase by half. Parent groups and the League of Women Voters (a reliable teachers union cheerleading squad) are happy that this building scheme is “for the children” – additional classrooms, a new cafeteria and additional teaching and practice space for the arts. They worry that no major renovations have occurred since the time of Herbert Hoover; given the content of history curricula, it’s surprising that anyone has heard of President Hoover. What was his stand on Common Core, by the way?
October 17, 2014
New Trier High School is back on the ballot November 4th with an $89.4 million property tax increase referendum. An elegant Wilmette taxpayer told me recently that she would be voting “yes” because her “husband and kids graduated from New Trier” – enough said, at least on the North Shore.
After all, this is the district that polls for fiscal responsibility, but elects and re-elects Barack Obama to bring us free stuff, as well as Ebola-gate, ISIS-gate, IRS-gate, VA-gate, Benghazi-gate and, of course, the real prize, ObamaCare. The economy is recovering – well, sort of – does your son or brother-in-law actually have a full-time job? The New Trier School Board, including at least two fiscal conservatives, voted unanimously to go for the current tax increase proposal; it’s a 50 percent reduction from the previous, failed referendum that aimed at building an underground parking garage and fitness facility for the kids.
But this $89 million tax increase, still for New Trier’s building and grounds, is being sold in the neighborhoods as symbolic insurance against the decline in New Trier’s reputation as a first class high school. Translation: supporting a little spending on the facility will prop up property values long enough to allow you to escape from the state due to the astronomical tax increases coming after November 5th from the (bankrupt) state of Illinois and (pension-beleaguered) local governments. Gov. Quinn (or a “reluctant” Gov. Rauner) will have to make the 66 percent income tax increase permanent, shift the cost of teachers union pension obligations from the state to local school districts, and institute income redistribution through a graduated income tax – as promised by politicians such as State Senator Dan Biss and State Rep. Laura Fine among others on both sides of the aisle, who actually will be making the decisions.
Even though my kids and I all graduated from New Trier, I look forward to voting NO.
September 24, 2014
Maybe it’s time to abolish Wisconsin’s “unusual” legislation regarding secret John Doe prosecutions, used effectively to chill free political speech during the Scott Walker run for governor. Will this be a priority for a successfully reelected Governor Walker? Case in point @LegalInsurrection.
September 10, 2014
Scott Walker, Supreme Court
The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free expression is at risk as the Wisconsin case works its way through Federal appeals and towards the Supreme Court. It’s worth reviewing the facts as they have evolved here.
The prosecutors (all Democrats) have been trying unsuccessfully to throw a wrench into the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision by linking Gov. Scott Walker to issue ads run by conservative groups in Wisconsin. A Wisconsin judge seemingly put a stop to the proceedings recently when he held that
coordinated ads can constitutionally be regulated only if they contain “express advocacy” or its “functional equivalent.” That’s campaign-finance-law jargon for a clear appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.
Today news came out that Milwaukee D.A. John Chisholm considers it his personal mission to put a stop to Gov. Walker’s union reforms – was it because they made his teachers union wife cry? All of this adds up to Democrat efforts to unseat the Republican governor in November’s election. And Gov. Walker does deserves re-election. His reforms should be an inspiration to Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner in neighboring Illinois, who hesitates to come up with any concrete reform ideas in the state with the worst economic/union/pension record in the country.
The heroes are not always the people who run for office. Even with the courts ruling against them again and again, the Wisconsin prosecutors have been backed by media outlets providing fuel for the public union discourse ad infinitum. The Club for Growth is only one of the conservative Wisconsin organizations that has been chilled to the point of paralysis during the election. And Kelly Rindfleish is a former Walker campaign staffer who knows what it means to be the “collateral damage” of the Democrat prosecutors. Whether these foot soldiers set out to save the First Amendment or not, their stand will have repercussions of Biblical proportions. Scott Walker may end up winning this November election in Wisconsin, but he is not the real hero in this story.