Category — Bob Kiss
September 7, 2012 Comments Off
May 28, 2012 3 Comments
(Via Joe Reinert at Mayor Kiss’s office…)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2012
PUBLIC FORUM ON THE BURLINGTON BIKE PATH RESTORATION
Updated Bike Path Feasibility Findings to be Presented
Burlington, VT. The Burlington Bike Path Task Force, appointed by the City Council, will hold a public forum to provide feedback on the recently completed Burlington Bike Path Improvement Feasibility Study:
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
5:30 – 7:00 PM
Contois Auditorium in City Hall
The Task Force will present the most recent findings from the rehabilitation study which includes cost and funding opportunities to save the 7.5-mile bike path.
Community input from the public forum will be incorporated into the Task Force’s final recommendation, to be presented to the City Council later this spring.
A fact sheet detailing the restoration plan will be available at the public forum. To read the feasibility study and preview the fact sheet, please visit: http://www.enjoyburlington.com/Parks/BikePath1.cfm
For more information, contact Task Force Chair John Bossange (802-578-7468) or Parks & Recreation Director Mari Steinbach (802-864-0123).
March 12, 2012 Comments Off
Today Mayor Bob Kiss vetoed the Marketplace Smoking Ban passed by the city council 8-6 Monday. Thank you Bob. I agree!
“Yana” says thanks again for the flag pin and the maple syrup!
January 13, 2012 Comments Off
Bob Kiss announced on the Charlie, Ernie and Lisa show that he won’t seek a third Tramadol term. Story from WCAX here: http://www.wcax.com/story/16152601/burlington-mayor-kiss-not-seeking-re-election
Thank you mayor Bob Kiss for your service to the city.
November 30, 2011 3 Comments
The Name “Dottie Cross” is sprinkled throughout my childhood memories because she was friends with my mother who would mention her from time to time. I finally met Dottie and her husband George on May 22, 2005 at the Sheraton Hotel. They happened to be sitting directly behind my mother and me at the speech by Ann Richards there that day. Boy I miss my mother. We used to do cool things like that together. When I was eleven she took me to my first political rally. That time it was Geraldine Ferraro at Memorial Auditorium when she was running for vice-president. Ferraro didn’t know that day that her son would eventually be under house arrest just a few blocks away from there. The last movie my mom and I saw together was Sicko by Michael Moore. Ironic since my mother was dying of cancer. Just a few months before she died we went to a dinner held by the Society of Mayflower Descendants where my mom was inducted as a member. It’s smart to wait until right before you die to join the Mayflower Society. Saves on dues.
Where was I going with this? Oh yes. Jeanne Collins emailed the school board tonight to let us know Molly Walsh from the Burlington Free Press was asking about the proposal to shift retirement costs for non-teacher school employees from the city to the school department. I’d better scoop Molly. This cost shift and other measures were recommended to the Burlington City Council on June 22, 2010 by Dottie’s husband George Cross who was hired as a budget analyst a year earlier by the Democratic city councilors who pooled their meager operating budgets to pay him.
Now in April of 2009 when Cross, a former teacher was hired, I was pleased to see the city council empowering itself in such a way. The Burlington Telecom scandal had just broken and it seemed logical that the plurality Democratic council would have its own guy to counter Jonathan Leopold. I thought he was just going to help the council interpret the budget, so they didn’t have to rely entirely on the JPAL. I didn’t know he was actually going to make recommendations, or that those recommendations would have legs with both the council and the administration. I also had no idea at the time that I would be elected to the school board a year later and be forced to deal with the ramifications of those recommendations.
There’s the “be careful what you wish for…you just might get it” philosophy. There’s also the “it doesn’t matter what you wish for, something bad always happens” theorem. I like the way David Letterman put it best: “Life is just one disappointment after another, isn’t it?”
Some of reccomendations of George Cross’s “final report” (here’s a draft of the report which is similar to the final version) presented as a memo to the council June 22, 2010 first came to my attention a few months ago when Dale Tillitson told me Leopold was working them. I asked Jeanne and Keith if they knew why a somone might be asking me about this and they gave me a breakdown of how the retirement works right now. The proposal to change it wasn’t discussed, but how it works now is as follows.
School Department employees come in two types- folks licensed as educators by the Vermont Department of Education, and everybody else. The licensed educators pay into and draw from the State Teachers’ Retirement System (STRS). Everybody else- food service, para-professionals, custodians, after-school staff, business manager, grants manager, diversity director- they are all considered municipal employees by city charter and draw from the Burlington Employees Retirement System (BERS) which the city pays for. Also- until now they city has always cut the School Department a check to reimburse it for the FICA tax (Federal Insurance Contributions Act of 1935) for these non-teacher employees, which pays for their Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Cross has 3 main recommendations to the city with regard to its financial relationship with the school department 1) Stop paying the non-teacher FICA tax. Make schools pay it. City saves estimated $550K; 2) Stop paying into BERS for non-teacher employees. Make schools pay it. City saves estimated $792K 3) Move crossing guard services from the Department of Public Works (DPW) to Schools. City saves estimated $216K. These were estimates for FY11.
The School Board’s Planning Committee was made aware last month that the city is planning to move on these recommendations as soon as possible. Since then there have been two meetings about this between city and school officials which took place on October 12 and November 3 at the mayor’s office. Present 10/12: Me, Alan Matson, Jeanne, the school department’s financial manager Karen, Bob Kiss, Bill Keogh, acting CAO Scott Schrader and another city money guy named Rich… I think that’s it. Present 11/3 were all the same people plus Keith, the school board chair.
The Cross report and the city officials explained several arguments in favor of this cost shift- 1) Act 68 which says “funds received by a municipality other than a school district may not be used directly or indirectly for education expenses” which is meant to prevent so called “gold towns” from shifting school costs to the town to keep their school rate lower; 2) Cleaner accounting. It’s hard to know true school costs if city is paying for some of the school department’s retirement. 3) shifting the cost to school taxes and gives tax payers the benefit of school tax income sensitivity (it socializes those costs across the state).
Bob and Bill both seemed resolutely in favor. From my perspective, I can see no up-side of doing this for the school department. Even if this is a good idea, timing matters. Right now it looks like the city’s broke and it wants to cannibalize money from the schools… from the kids. Plus the schools are losing stimulus funding this year, and this hit compunds the problem. I argued a little bit, and Bill Keogh warned me if the school board fought, there would be political fallout… Then I was like “that’s not a fair political fight for the council!” Then Bill stood up, shook his fists and yelled “You want a piece of me?!”
Schrader tried to argue we’re at risk of a lawsuit from a taxpayer seeking income sensitivity, but I found that argument silly. We’ve been doing it this way forever and nobody has ever sued. The arguments in favor of the shift appear to make sense on the surface, but however much the city lowers their dedicated retirement tax rate because of the cost shift to the schools, the savings will appear invisible to the taxpayers because they’ll inevitably be swallowed up by increased spending elsewhere. That’s as sure as the sun rising. Nobody’s going to really feel that decrease, but people will feel the increase on the schools side, which will not be the only one coming, by the way.
In any event, it appears this is how it appears it’s going to play out…
Next year the city council isn’t planning on cutting that FICA check to the schools which will mean another 411K the schools will have to ask from the taxpayers for FY13 .
The BERS cost will be tougher for the city to pass on to the schools because it will require a charter change and the cooperation of the school board. We’re going to kick that can down the road for now and see how the elections pan out.
Jeanne says the proposal to move crossing guards from DPW comes up every few years and it always gets beat back. This one will probably get punted indefinitely.
There are a lot more ins, outs and what-have-yous, but there’s a little background for you to compare to the Free Press story on this if Molly writes one.
November 16, 2011 9 Comments
Here is the video of Jonathan Leopold telling Matty Tanner and “Mike Jones” that the Board of Finance was briefed in May of 2008 about Burlington Telecom’s inability to get financing and of its continued use of pooled city cash in violation of its certificate of public good. May 2008 was about a year before the story broke and almost a year before the re-election of mayor Bob Kiss. If Kurt Wright had wanted to, or had been smart enough to, he certainly could have used that information in the last election, and he probably would have won. You may recall that at the time the Board of Finance was made up of the following five people- Mayor Kiss, Chief Administrative officer Leopold and a city councilor from each party. Democrat Andy Montroll, Republican Kurt Wright and Progressive Time Ashe.
Assuming Kurt Wright is the Republican nominee- he’s going to have to answer for this soon enough, but right now the Democratic party has a choice to make in about a week. Are you telling me they’re going to be stupid enough to nominate Progressive Tim Ashe with that kind of baggage? Jesus Christ! I almost dare the Dems to do it because it would be so comically self-defeating. First of all, he’s not even a Dem. Duh. Secondly he would lose! Given the choice between Wright and Ashe, many moderate Dems and Indpendents like me would vote for Kurt. People feel the city needs a change and a shake up. Tim Ashe loudly proclaimed Kiss, Leopold and BT to be resounding success stories when he nominated Kiss for re-election. He’s about as far from “change” and “shake-up” as it gets.
And Where’s Lloyd Benson when you need him? This week the Vermont chapter president of the American Federation of Teachers called Ashe the best choice saying “Tim Ashe is a young Bernie Sanders.” That’s like saying The Phantom Menace is as good as the orignal Star Wars. Ridiculous on its face. Somebody’s got to say it…
“Senator, I served with Bernie Sanders. I knew Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Bernie Sanders.”
November 6, 2011 9 Comments
October 28, 2011 Comments Off
October 19, 2011 7:10 PM
“Ashe said he’s running as a Democrat but would accept the Progressives’ endorsement if offered…” -from Shay’s Fair Game column today.
Hi again Tim,
For the record, would you please explain or reconcile the quote from Seven Days above with what you wrote to me 47 hours ago (” if i don’t win the caucus, i am out of the race… “) vis-a-vis the possibility of your continuing in the mayoral race even if you are not the Democratic nominee? It appears to be a direct contradiction.
Actually- It’s only a contradiction if we don’t assume Tim Ashe will be the Democratic nominee. The fact that the statement isn’t quilified in the quote is a curiosity. He should have said either “If I win the Democratic nomination, then I would also accept the Progressive one,” or “I would accept the Progressive nomination only if the Democrats nominate me first” or something like that.
For him to tell me “if i don’t win the caucus, i am out of the race…” (sic) and then tell Shay simply that he would accept the Progressive nomination gives me the impression he presumes he’ll win the Democratic nomination.
Maybe he will win the Democratic nomination, but there’s at least an appearance here that he’s counting a second chicken before the first one has hatched.
Are we also to assume the converse? That if the Democrats don’t nominate Tim Ashe, then the Progs won’t either? I guess so, because based on his statement he’d presumably not accept their nomination if that happened, even if the Progs offered it.
So let’s say the Democrats nominate Tim Ashe. If that happens are the Progs going to run Brian Pine or Emma Mulvaney-Stanak and split the left? Kurt Wright probably hopes so.
So this is what I think- If Ashe wins the Democratic nomination, the Progs will nominate him too. Then it’s Ashe vs. Wright. If Ashe does not win the Democratic nomination then the Progs might run somebody else preferring to split the left and elect Kurt elected over an actual Democrat.
So are these our choices to replace Bob Kiss? Already this early we know them? Tim Ashe or Kurt Wright? Oy Vey… forgive me if I don’t start break-dancing.
From: Tim Ashe
To: Haik Bedrosian
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 11:09 PM
Subject: Re: Re:
Do I still need to respond to this or is it now clearer? I would accept the P nomination IF I am still in the race having won the D caucus.
Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:08 AM
Well, that is a response. Thank you, I guess,
And let’s say you don’t win the Democratic nomination, and the Progressives re-nominate Kiss. Under that scenario, whom would you support… the Democratic nominee or Kiss?
October 19, 2011 Comments Off
I can’t really blog from wherever it is I work, so you can’t expect me to break every story. Anyway I’m home now. It has been reported by VT Digger and WCAX that State Senator Tim Ashe will seek the Democratic nomination for mayor at the Party’s caucus November 13.
I don’t know how I feel about this. Maybe it’s the cold rain outside today, but I have to admit that I feel a tinge of melancholia. This news almost certainly means Bob Kiss is not running which in and of itself means the end of a certain era, the passage of time and the continuing of my own personal journey toward certain death. I really like Bob Kiss, and had very high hopes for his administration when he took over almost six years ago. There were some good good things about his terms. The roads got better. He negotiated a lot more payment in lieu of tax from UVM. His Pension Task Force made some important recommendations. The city council began to find a voice of its own on Bob’s watch in a way it never had before. But in the end everything else about his administration is eclipsed by the shadow and consumed by the gravity of what happened with Burlington Telecom, which I had high hopes for also in 2006.
So now Tim Ashe is in the race, probably hoping Miro Weinberger, Jason Lorber and Bram Kranichfeld split their support and allow him to storm the gates of Demland with as many supporters as he can muster, Progs among them. Remember the Democratic caucus is open. As long as he hasn’t voted in another party’s caucus by 11/13, you could potentially even see Bob Kiss vote in it.
Anyway… so I just wrote to Tim Ashe with a pretty obvious question. And he wrote back and answered it by promising not to run as in Independent or Prog if he fails to win the Democratic nomination…
FROM:Haik Bedrosian TO:firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 17, 2011 7:07pm
Please add my email to your mayoral campaign distribution list. Quick question for the record- If you don’t win the Democratic nomination on 11/13 is there any chance your name will appear on the March ballot for mayor anyway?
TO:Haik Bedrosian Message
Monday, October 17, 2011 8:11pm
will do. if i don’t win the caucus, i am out of the race…
So I guess this leaves Bob a little theoretical leeway to run again if Tim Ashe does not get nominated, but it still seems unlikely. The mayor told me he’d announce in “early” November. Presumably that would be before the Dems’ caucus on the 13th. But I guess he could announce on the 14th, and it would still be in the first half of the month, which might be considered the early half, and thus “early in the month.”
We’ll see, but after watching some videos of Tim Ashe at Anne Galloway’s YouTube page positively singing the praises of Burlington Telecom, Bob Kiss and Jonathan Leopold, I find it hard to believe Tim Ashe didn’t coordinate his announcement for mayor with the mayor.
October 17, 2011 6 Comments