SWS Exchange with Councilor Flaherty: "A question regarding your $5 million figure"


 

Editor’s note: Below are 16 emails exchanged between Save Westfield Schools and Councilor David Flaherty. The subject of the email was “A question regarding your $5 million figure”


EMAIL 1

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Councilor Flaherty,

You have stated that the new contract would cost the city $5 million.
I can't understand how you arrive at this figure unless you make the
very broad assumption that the contract remains the same over the next
40 years or so and would never get renegotiated. Is this the
assumption you have made? If so, can I ask why wouldn't you make this
assumption explicit?

If you did not make that assumption, can you please carefully explain
how you arrived at a $5 million for the FY2011?

Sincerely,
Steve

========================================================

EMAIL 2

Editor’s note: this email was sent as a follow-up to the previous email.

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sat, Sep 4, 2010 at 7:51 PM

And just to clarify my question: Is the $5 million cost you cite
spread out over the next 40 years or so?

=========================================================

EMAIL 3

From: David Flaherty
To: Steve Dondley
Sat, Sep 4, 2010 at 10:43 PM

Steve,

I quickly calculated a rough number using cycle time for 500 teachers who work from year 14 to year 30. Didn't count the additional tax obligations that are tied to income, nor the additional retirement obligation ($5,000 to $7,500 depending on years of service, length of retirement, and return on investment of the retirement fund). I know the number of teachers will likely drop over time as our population changes, but neither I, nor anyone else, know exactly to what level. I picked 500 because it's a round number and significantly lower than our current level of teachers.

Regarding the future... I think it's fair to assume that these raises will not be negotiated out of future contracts - the steps are the big problem I've been talking about, and there seems to be no flexibility from the union related to softening these steps. I'd be thrilled if the union could come up with a scale that is more closely synchronized with the city's capability to raise revenue (prop 2 1/2). I'm actually shocked that the school department agreed to step raises after hearing all the concerns from earlier this year (guaranteed high % steps are putting financial pressure on schools that lead directly to cuts in staff and programs), and after taking the "no salary increases" stand with school administrators and various support staff groups.

How'd you get 40 years? I think it's less than 30 not counting retirement and taxes. Even shorter if you add in the net present value of the retirement obligation.

Did anyone from the school department or union give you information that could justify saying "there were no salary increases"?

Did you find any public statements made during June, July, or August that discussed the increase in salaries specifically related to clause 2(c)?

Can you tell me how the WEA came up with $534,000 (website) and the school department came up with $570,000 (press releases)?
FYI, superintendent sent the mayor an email last week saying the number was $374,600.

Don't you think it's misleading (if not a lie) to say that "there were no salary increases" when in fact everyone in Unit A will get a salary increase this year (unless there are some very rare circumstances like step freezes that haven't been made public that I don't know about)?

Don't you think it's misleading (if not a lie) to talk about over $500,000 in savings without talking about the very heavy future obligations?
For example, lets say I sell you something we both agree is worth $1000. If you paid me $600 today, and agreed to pay me $100 a year for the next 20 years, would it be fair for me to say I gave you a concession of $400? I wouldn't think so, and I don't think the majority of citizens would either. Same type of thing happened with this latest WEA contract - just on a much bigger scale.

Did anyone from school department, school committee, or unions give you a statement of support for Mr. Brown's committee suggestion? The website talks about it, and sort of takes credit for the idea, but I don't see anything about anyone other than the council making a move. Where's it stand from your perspective?


Regards,

Dave


PS. Another councilor and I asked the school department for their estimate of the costs associated with 2(c). They haven't responded yet. I'll also be making public record requests so that I can have very accurate individual salary history numbers, years of service, current track and step, and other information as needed for future calculations and potential public release (I wouldn't release personal names and incomes). The state of Mass summaries and city budget numbers are very good, but do not contain enough detail to accurately forecast or calculate everything. When possible, I will ask the school department of city administration for their own forecasts (they've been very resistant to doing this).

PPS. When calculating and giving out numbers, I tend to estimate on the conservative side and use round final numbers (for example, I know the exact value of a furlough day for a teacher isn't $300, but it's really close). If I tried to get too specific, I'd get nit-picked to death. None of the numbers I get from the school department or state are so exact that I could accurately calculate to the penny, plus there has to be some speculation involved with lifespans, growth rates, interest rates, return on investments, etc...

$  900 year 14
$ 8000 years 15-30
$ 1200 furlough buyback
======
$10,100 potential per employee

========================================================

EMAIL 4

Editor’s note: This email was modified from the original to correct the incorrect URL given for the video. In a subsequent email, Council Flaherty was sent the proper link.

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 12:13 AM

Councilor Flaherty,

Please see my responses to your email below.

> I quickly calculated a rough number using cycle time for 500 teachers who
> work from year 14 to year 30. Didn't count the additional tax obligations
> that are tied to income, nor the additional retirement obligation ($5,000 to
> $7,500 depending on years of service, length of retirement, and return on
> investment of the retirement fund). I know the number of teachers will
> likely drop over time as our population changes, but neither I, nor anyone
> else, know exactly to what level. I picked 500 because it's a round number
> and significantly lower than our current level of teachers.

I re-reviewed the video from Thursday night's council meeting. You
stated very clearly that this contract would cost $8400 per teacher
over the life of the contract. See
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCBfwcnSwRQ#t=1m25s

Since the contract is only one year, your statement was clearly not
accurate. Also, nothing in your email indicates that the $5 million is
cost out over 30 years.

I suggest you issue a press release identifying that your cost
estimate of the $5 million is over the careers of all the teachers
currently working for Westfield. That's a far cry from $5 million for
FY 2011.  You have grossly distorted the figures with your statement
that is part of the public record and I strongly encourage your to
correct your misstatement immediately.

Furthermore, if you are going to assume that the longevity increase
remains the same for 30 years, then you also assume that the rest of
the contract would remain the same as well. That would mean that
teachers would receive no increase in salaries or benefits for the
first 14 years of their jobs and only an $8400 increase over the
course of their careers. That would be a pretty pathetic wage increase
and put them in the poor house once you factored in inflation over a
30 year period.

But the larger point is it doesn't seem to make sense to extrapolate
figures 30 years into the future using a one year contract as your
basis. It does not make any logical sense to do so. It also seems to
me that the reason contracts are of limited duration is so that they
can be renegotiated and adjusted for the resources available for the
foreseeable future.

> How'd you get 40 years? I think it's less than 30 not counting retirement
> and taxes. Even shorter if you add in the net present value of the
> retirement obligation.

If you review my email, you'll see I actually said "40 years or so." I
assumed a teacher would start work at 25 and retire at 65. Some might
start at 35 and retire at 60. No teacher's career is the same, as you
know.

>
> Did anyone from the school department or union give you information that
> could justify saying "there were no salary increases"?
>
> Did you find any public statements made during June, July, or August that
> discussed the increase in salaries specifically related to clause 2(c)?

Let's not conflate terms. It's important to be clear. The money is
part of the "longevity benefit" which is completely different from a
"salary increase." I notice you have a tendency to not be exact in
your language or your figures. This is not conducive to productive
debate particularly when you are in a leadership position and people
follow your every word very closely.

> Can you tell me how the WEA came up with $534,000 (website) and the school
> department came up with $570,000 (press releases)?
> FYI, superintendent sent the mayor an email last week saying the number was
> $374,600.

Yes, I heard you mention this at the last City Council meeting. In my
opinion, the disparity between the two figures are not far enough
apart that they could not be attributable to the complexities of
putting together a $52 million budget with many moving parts. I am far
from an expert on the intricacies of the school budget. I do not have
the wherewithal to investigate and account for how every dollar is
spent. Hopefully I'll get a better sense for the school budget after a
few years of running SWS. I suppose I have more faith than you that
most people in government are competent and while not perfect, they
try to do their best to run things in an ethical and above board while
carrying out their missions.

My number one priority for the budget debate back in July was to make
sure that the money that was recklessly removed from the school budget
was replaced come hell or high water, not analyze every single detail
of the debate. Now, thanks to you, my goal for September will be to
make sure that money stays there.

> Don't you think it's misleading (if not a lie) to say that "there were no
> salary increases" when in fact everyone in Unit A will get a salary increase
> this year (unless there are some very rare circumstances like step freezes
> that haven't been made public that I don't know about)?

I don't understand how you think every teacher will get a salary
increase. First, there was no salary increase. Second, the longevity
benefit only goes to teachers who have been working more than 14 years
for $500. Third, $250 was cut from professional development. Fourth,
they each lost $300 this year because of a furlough. Fifth, when you
factor in inflation, they will actually take a 1 to 3% pay cut. When
you add up those five factors, it seems to me that all teachers are
actually losing money this year.

Can you please carefully spell out how you think every teacher made
money for FY 2011?

>
> Don't you think it's misleading (if not a lie) to talk about over $500,000
> in savings without talking about the very heavy future obligations?

Again, you can not extrapolate this year's contract into the future.
And I would not consider an extra $500 per year a "very heavy"
obligation for our seasoned teachers but that's largely a matter of
opinion. We can agree to disagree on that.

> Did anyone from school department, school committee, or unions give you a
> statement of support for Mr. Brown's committee suggestion? The website talks
> about it, and sort of takes credit for the idea, but I don't see anything
> about anyone other than the council making a move. Where's it stand from
> your perspective?

No one has given me anything from either side about the ad hoc committee.

From my perspective, I think there is a lot of mistrust between the
school committee, the school department, the WEA and the City Council.
Many of the false accusations and grandstanding that went on at the
City Council damaged any healthy relationship the school department
and City Council might have had. So I can understand why they would be
a little hesitant about jumping at the chance to work with the body.

And I'm sad to say that I think what you have done this week has set
us back much further. Calling people liars and accusing the school
department and the teachers union of a covering up the true costs of
the contract cuts the chance for all future dialog off. In the future,
I hope you will think more about the repercussions of your statements
and actions and try to build bridges before immediately reaching for
the torch and burning them.

So I strongly urge you to make a statement to help try to repair the
damage as best you can, otherwise, things will just get worse. In my
humble opinion issuing a public apology for your inflammatory
statements would go a long way to helping us get on the right track.
Please don't dig your heels in on this. You're not helping the
situation right now.

Sincerely,
Steve Dondley

=========================================================

EMAIL 5

Editor's note: The spreadsheets mentioned by Councilor Flaherty can be downloaded from the links at the very bottom of this page.

From: David Flaherty
To: Steve Dondley
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Attached are spreadsheets that show the salary increase before this proposed
contract and after this proposed contract, along with the affect of the furlough day.
As you can see, after this contract everyone got an increase in salary.
"No salary increases" is clearly misleading.

By the way, Unit A contract calls these salaries in appendix A, and states that longevity
will be added to salaries (making the salaries larger). Dictionary defines "salary" as
"fixed compensation for services, paid to a person on a regular basis".
This is clearly the case here, therefore these gross wages or earnings are
considered salaries. Enough with the name games.

As far as what teachers deserve, I'm not questioning that. They have a tough job
and like all employees they want increases in pay over time. I completely respect
what they do and am thankful that we have so many wonderful, caring teachers
in Westfield. However, the city cannot afford to keep giving out raises that
exceed our ability to pay for them.  The city and school department are cutting
teachers, programs, and services in order to pay for these raises. We have to slow
down the rate of growth in order to save our schools.

Regards,

Dave

=========================================================

EMAIL 6

From: David Flaherty
To: Steve Dondley
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Steve,

I'll be issuing a public statement to clarify, and will have several others review it
to make sure I don't phrase something in a way that would lead to
confusion.

Are you suggesting that this contract only is for one year? I believe the contract
clearly says it will automatically stay in force and roll-over from year-to-year
unless a new one is negotiated. Since there is no language in 2(c) that says
these increases in salary will be removed after this year (like there is with clauses
2(b), 3, and 4), it's quite fair to say that these additional step increases will be
around for a while. It's also a fair assumption given that the union has shown no
movement on slowing the rate of salary increases that are included in the step and
longevity components.

Regards,

Dave

=========================================================

EMAIL 7

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Editor’s Note: This email is in response to EMAIL 5.

On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM, David Flaherty
<flaherty.westfield@gmail.com> wrote:
> Attached are spreadsheets that show the salary increase before this proposed
> contract and after this proposed contract, along with the affect of the
> furlough day.
> As you can see, after this contract everyone got an increase in salary.
> "No salary increases" is clearly misleading.

Mr. Flaherty, with all due respect, I don't think you took much time
to consider what I wrote to you. But perhaps the way I presented it
was not clear. So let me restate what I mentioned above with some
added clarification:

1) The memorandum of understanding calls it a "Longevity Extend
benefit." Since this is a more specific description of what the money
is for, I will continue to use the term "longevity benefit" and I
think you should, too.

But more importantly I'd like you to address each of the next four
specific points separately so we can determine where we can find
mutual ground:

2) The longevity benefit only goes to teachers who have been working
more than 15 years for $500. That means everyone else gets $0.
3) Third, $250 was cut from professional development for each of the
teachers. You fail to make mention of this in any of your public
statements. If you are going to be fair, you can't just count what the
contract gives the teachers, you also have to figure in what the
contract took away.
4) They each lose approximately $300 for the furlough day *this year.*
It makes absolutely no sense to calculate in the the buyback money, as
you have done, unless they stop teaching *this year.* For you to
insist that the money is party of the money they make this year is
clearly wrong. The cost of the buyback program is spread out over 40
years (assuming a new teacher starts this year at age 25 and retires
at 65). Only a handful of teachers are going to leave this year.
Therefore, the buyback program results in a net savings *this year.*
5) You have neglected to factor in inflation. We'll be generous and
assume only a 1% increase in the cost of living.

Now, when you factor in all of these costs for *this year,* all
teachers will end up losing money, even those that receive the extra
$500 longevity benefit:

+ $500 for longevity
- $250 in professional development
- $300 for the furlough day (approx.)
- $500 for inflation (approx.)
=============================
$550 net loss for the year for teachers with the longevity benefit

For teachers without longevity pay, they'll have a $1050 net loss this year.

It looks to me the teachers took a pretty heavy hit.

=========================================================

EMAIL 8

Editor’s Note: This email is in response to second paragraph in EMAIL 6.

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Again, I don't think you took the time to consider what I wrote
carefully. But let me again restate what I wrote earlier:

If you insist on using this one year contract as a basis for
extrapolating costs over the next 30 years (even though your method is
obviously not correct, I think it's pretty save to assume the contract
will be renegotiated) then you also have to assume *all other parts of
the contract remain the same as well.* You can't cherry pick which
parts of the contract will remain the same and which will change
because you cannot see into the future. So, if we assume that the
present contract remains in effect over the next 30 years, that would
mean that the only increase the teachers would get over their entire
career is $8400. I would presume that you don't think an $8400
increase over the span of an entire career is a good deal for the
teachers, especially after factoring in inflation. If you factor in
inflation, then the teachers end up with a massive pay cut over their
careers even if you factor in the buyback program.

Also, assuming the contract remains in effect for the next 30 years,
you have to assume teachers will lost $250 per year in professional
development money each year for the next 30 years.

So do you see why I think your figures don't provide a sound basis for
rationale argument from my perspective? Do you think there is
something obvious I'm missing?

> Are you suggesting that this contract only is for one year? I believe the
> contract
> clearly says it will automatically stay in force and roll-over from
> year-to-year
> unless a new one is negotiated. Since there is no language in 2(c) that says
> these increases in salary will be removed after this year (like there is
> with clauses
> 2(b), 3, and 4), it's quite fair to say that these additional step increases
> will be
> around for a while. It's also a fair assumption given that the union has
> shown no
> movement on slowing the rate of salary increases that are included in the
> step and
> longevity components.
>
> Regards,
>
> Dave

=========================================================

EMAIL 9

Editor’s Note: This email is in response to first paragraph in EMAIL 6.

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 11:25 AM

On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 10:42 AM, David Flaherty
<flaherty.westfield@gmail.com> wrote:
> Steve,
>
> I'll be issuing a public statement to clarify, and will have several others
> review it
> to make sure I don't phrase something in a way that would lead to
> confusion.

Thank you for this. And please consider retracting the strong language
you used earlier this week. You have essentially called many
professional people a bunch of scheming liars. Even if they were, that
kind of smack talk gets no one anywhere. It just makes things worse.

=========================================================

EMAIL 10

From: David Flaherty
To: Steve Dondley
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Editor’s Note: This email is in response to EMAIL 8.

Steve,

See the contract...
The PD is clearly stated as a one-year item, the furlough
day is clearly stated as a one-year item, and the bi-weekly
pay and long-term sub is clearly a one-year item.

The salary increase is not, and my contention is that this
is not by accident. It clearly says from years 15 and up.

Your $8400 is not accurate. They get 4% on average every
year for the fist 15 years or so, then 1 or 2% after that - assuming
there are never an adjustments to the rates. 4% is higher
than the 2.5% we can raise from local taxes, therefore other
programs and services have to be cut in order to balance
the budget (100 teachers over the last few years!!).

In my remarks before council I did say that PD was part
of the deal that they announced to us. I also adjusted the $8900
down to $8400 to cover PD and any other small variances
that may be raised.

Dave

=========================================================

EMAIL 11

Editor’s Note: This email is in response to EMAIL 10.

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Councilor Flaherty,

I had asked that you please address each of my 4 points separately.
Now you are introducing additional arguments into the equation which
will confuse things. I think we should explicitly determine what we
agree on and what we disagree on. Once we do that, let's discuss any
additional points you wish to bring out.

So can you please address each of my 4 points separately? I'm not
trying to be ornery here.

Thanks,
Steve

=========================================================

EMAIL 12

Editor’s Note: This email is in response to EMAIL 11.

From: David Flaherty
To: Steve Dondley
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 12:18 PM

1) If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck
- it's a duck. The federal and state governments count this as salary
when figuring benefits and taxes.

2) The employees below 15 did not get the additional $500 yet. However,
they did get a raise this year, this raise more than covers the costs of
the furloguh, and they will get the $500 for each and every year after 15.

3) I did mention PD in my remarks to council and I discounted the
$8900 to more than make up for it.

4) The buyback is an obligation that won't go away. $300 today,
is worth $600 tomorrow (if they were to retire or leave tomorrow).
If they wait until later in their career, it will be $1200-$1500 depending
on track and years of service.

I did talk about this fiscal year with regard to short-sighted savings, but am
much more concerned about the long-term costs. You want to completely
ignore them. The city can't do that. Taxpayers are on the hook for this.

Turns out now that we are getting the $1.4 million from the state, the whole
thing could have been avoided. No need for furlough, no need for these
new clauses. I'd like to undo the whole thing. Work under the old contract,
reimburse teachers for the furloguh day, have the city recover the
extra money they sent to the schools to make up for the cut from
the state, and leave all programs as they were before. Take the extra
and use it to improve the schools.

5) Inflation works both ways. Future COLA's will take inflation
into count - unless you've found a clause or precedent that
I don't know about. FYI, last year there was a negative cost-of-living
rate, yet the city couldn't adjust the pay rate downwards, the
employees only want to get COLA's that increase their pay.

Your math assumes they will get only one $500 payment. Step 14
gets $900 (when they we already compensated at a double
step for 13), and years 15+ get $500 more every year.

Dave

=========================================================

EMAIL 13

Editor’s Note: This email asks the same question that was asked in EMAIL 3

From: David Flaherty
To: Steve Dondley
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Don't you think it's misleading (if not a lie) to talk about over $500,000 in savings without talking about the very heavy future obligations?
For example, lets say I sell you something we both agree is worth $1000. If you paid me $600 today, and agreed to pay me $100 a year for the next 20 years, would it be fair for me to say I gave you a concession of $400? I wouldn't think so, and I don't think the majority of citizens would either. Same type of thing happened with this latest WEA contract - just on a much bigger scale.

Dave

=========================================================

EMAIL 14

Editor’s Note: This email is in response to EMAIL 12.

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 1:20 PM

On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 12:18 PM, David Flaherty
<flaherty.westfield@gmail.com> wrote:
> 1) If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck
> - it's a duck. The federal and state governments count this as salary
> when figuring benefits and taxes.

Cute saying, but we disagree on this. A longevity benefit is given for
different reasons than a salary regardless of how the IRS taxes the
income. It's clearly different because only teachers who have been
working 14 years or longer are eligible. So SWS will continue to use
the term "longevity benefit" and will continue to admonish you for
using the inexact phrase "salary." We think it's misleading to use the
term "salary."

> 2) The employees below 15 did not get the additional $500 yet. However,
> they did get a raise this year, this raise more than covers the costs of
> the furloguh, and they will get the $500 for each and every year after 15.

OK, so please make this clear in your statement. Also, I recommend you
make clear that not all teachers work for more than 15 years (some
quit, some move on, some get laid off). It would take a quite a bit of
work to determine what a more accurate figure might look like. It
would have to be based on the past history of teacher careers. Also,
please mention that estimating the cost becomes difficult because of
the shrinking population that is expected to occur over the next 30 to
40 years.

There are many, many moving parts to this equation, as you can see. If
we are going to present all the facts to the public, we should include
all the asterisks and unknown factors. I think it's important to not
present figures that appear to be cut and dry when they are not.

I do understand the the $500 extra is received each and every year for
teachers with more than 15 years.

> 3) I did mention PD in my remarks to council and I discounted the
> $8900 to more than make up for it.

OK, the cut in the PD money should be mentioned in your statement as well.

Per point 2 above, the $8900 (or $8400 after some unknown fudge
factor) for the longevity benefit is very questionable and it would
take research before we get a more accurate figure.

>
> 4) The buyback is an obligation that won't go away. $300 today,
> is worth $600 tomorrow (if they were to retire or leave tomorrow).
> If they wait until later in their career, it will be $1200-$1500 depending
> on track and years of service.

OK, so we agree the buyback program is spread out over the careers of
all the teachers currently employed, correct? Please feature this fact
prominently in your statement because I think it's a very important
point.

Let's set the $1200 to $1500 figure aside for now.

>
> I did talk about this fiscal year with regard to short-sighted savings, but
> am
> much more concerned about the long-term costs. You want to completely
> ignore them. The city can't do that. Taxpayers are on the hook for this.

I have not ignored the long-term costs of the contract. But that is a
separate discussion for another time. Hopefully it can be addressed in
a rational manner without unnecessary confrontation. For now, I'm
focused on trying to get clarification on the figures you have
presented and determine the veracity of the serious accusations you
have leveled against the school department and the union. Because
before we can address the long-term costs you are worried about, we
have to try to repair the short-term (hopefully) political damage
you've done by hurling fire bombs into the debate. It's going to be
very difficult, however.

Again, I urge you to make a very strongly worded apology in your
statement to try to patch things up. I see that as the only hope for
turning things around at this point. Do you have other ideas?

>
> Turns out now that we are getting the $1.4 million from the state, the whole
> thing could have been avoided. No need for furlough, no need for these
> new clauses. I'd like to undo the whole thing. Work under the old contract,
> reimburse teachers for the furloguh day, have the city recover the
> extra money they sent to the schools to make up for the cut from
> the state, and leave all programs as they were before. Take the extra
> and use it to improve the schools.

This is a new development. Will this idea be incorporated into in your
statement?

>
> 5) Inflation works both ways. Future COLA's will take inflation
> into count - unless you've found a clause or precedent that
> I don't know about. FYI, last year there was a negative cost-of-living
> rate, yet the city couldn't adjust the pay rate downwards, the
> employees only want to get COLA's that increase their pay.

Are there COLA increases built into the contract? If so, I'm not aware
of them. Can you please point out where in the contract a COLA is
mentioned?

If they aren't there, why are you willing to assume COLAs will be
renegotiated but not longevity benefits? In some cases you want to
seem to extrapolate the contract out and in others you don't. You
can't argue it both ways.

Also, when presenting new factual information, I'd appreciate it if
you'd cite your source. I'm not disagreeing with your assertion that
there was a negative cost-of-living increase last year, but it would
save me time if you told me where you discovered that information.
Again, the more common ground we find, the more productive our debates
will be. It helps everyone to help determine how you have arrived at
certain conclusions.

>
> Your math assumes they will get only one $500 payment. Step 14
> gets $900 (when they we already compensated at a double
> step for 13), and years 15+ get $500 more every year.

My math does not assume that. As stated earlier, I had assumed that if
the contract stayed the same for the next 30 years, the only pay
increase they would get over their entire career from the longevity
payment would be about $8400 (your figure). As mentioned above, that
$8400 figure still needs a lot more investigation.

We can debate whether or not that is, in fact, their only increase and
if the other increases are justifiable in a separate discussion. For
now, I ask that you now please address my questions above before
introducing additional evidence and facts into the debate.

Sincerely,
Steve Dondley

=========================================================

EMAIL 15

Editor’s Note: This email is in response to EMAIL 13.

From: Steve Dondley
To: David Flaherty
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 1:28 PM

I will reserve judgment on this point until the school department
releases their statement to see how they handle this accusation. I do
not have enough information to go on.

But again, to talk about "lies" and "snookering" people is
counterproductive, even if you think it's true.

Despite strongly disagreeing with you, I have not passed any judgment
on your character. It gets us nowhere.

On Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 12:23 PM, David Flaherty
<flaherty.westfield@gmail.com> wrote:
> Don't you think it's misleading (if not a lie) to talk about over $500,000
> in savings without talking about the very heavy future obligations?
> For example, lets say I sell you something we both agree is worth $1000. If
> you paid me $600 today, and agreed to pay me $100 a year for the next 20
> years, would it be fair for me to say I gave you a concession of $400? I
> wouldn't think so, and I don't think the majority of citizens would either.
> Same type of thing happened with this latest WEA contract - just on a much
> bigger scale.

I had already addressed this

=========================================================

EMAIL 16

Editor’s Note: This email responds to EMAIL 15

From: David Flaherty
To: Steve Dondley
Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 2:30 PM

Thanks. I'll send you more as we move along. I too am waiting on Mayor and School Dept.
I'll respond to WEA point by point as well in the near future.

Please post my spreadsheets.

This too is not personal for me. I believe you are a fine man who truly cares
about our schools. Me too. I just happen to believe the only way we can
sustain and/or improve them is to address the very contentious issue of
pay raises that grow faster than our ability to pay for them. These pay raises
are a big contributing factor in the termination of teachers, programs, and services.
As mentioned several times, I have no issues with teachers, and have the utmost
respect for what they do to improve the lives of our children. My issue is solely
related to costs that are growing faster than our ability to pay for them.

In this case, I'm so angry because of the messages we received. Nowhere
in any public statement were increases in steps mentioned. At no time in any
conversation I had with the mayor or union folks were increases in step mentioned.
They focused on the sacrifice of the furlough day, and the "no salary increases" line.
To now find that in reality there were salary increases, and that they are
potentially locked in for life, is a big surprise, and a game changer.

Regarding asking for the info... I spoke to a union rep the day the deal was
agreed upon, I spoke to several union members that day and shortly thereafter,
and I spoke to the Mayor that very afternoon. I also asked several times for
information or documentation directly from the school department and received
such answers as "it's not available yet", "we'll give it to you after the school
committee gets it", etc...

Regards,

Dave

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