Stonebraker’s letter makes it clear he ‘really, really hates paying taxes’

Whew — that Jim Stonebraker sure had a lot to say about Micheal Ocello and the Mehlville Board of Education in his recent letter to the Call.

I’m glad he got that all off his chest. I can only imagine how powerful his letter would have been if it had made any sense.

He begins by noting that Mr. Ocello has asked that public-input forums for the school district not be politicized by people who want to attack the board; then he ominously lists the times Mr. Ocello has participated in politics. I’m sorry, when did volunteering to serve on a public board mean that one gave up one’s right to participate in politics elsewhere?

Until Mr. Ocello starts campaigning for his favorite candidates during school-board meetings, I fail to see the problem.

He is at his questionable best when he suggests, without really saying, that Mr. Ocello and other board members recently granted School/Community Relations director Patrick Wallace a 6-percent raise as payback for his “alleged” campaigning for “selected school-board members.”

Alleged by whom, he doesn’t say. Which board members, he doesn’t say. But it beats making actual accusations that he’d have to back up with proof.

Mr. Stonebraker further accuses Mr. Wallace of an “odious ethical lapse” for allowing his office to send out letters to Call advertisers noting that advertising in the Mehlville Messenger was cheaper than advertising in the Call. Isn’t that just doing business?

Mr. Stonebraker laments how much the Messenger costs to produce. You’re right, Mr. Stonebraker; they should do something to defray the cost — like working hard to sell advertising. You probably don’t see the contradiction, do you, Mr. Stonebraker?

He then accuses the board of trying to trick us into supporting a tax hike by asking for our thoughts and opinions. I guess he doesn’t remember that when the last tax question failed badly, it was largely because people felt their input wasn’t important to the board and administration.

The best thing that has happened with the reinvigorated school board is its outreach to parents. The process seems pretty transparent to me. They want us to be more involved. Yes, they may soon ask us for more money, and at that time we’ll have to decide.

But when we do, we’ll be far less able to cry about how left out we are – and I think that’s a good thing, come what may.

Mr. Stonebraker also accuses the board of having “an orgy of spending.” Central to this “orgy” was the lurid offering of pay raises up to 6.88 percent last year to our teachers. Imagine. He also doesn’t like the idea of our beginning teachers’ salaries being competitive with other area districts. Let’s decide what we want to pay them, he suggests, and let the market sort it out.

Good idea, only it doesn’t take a master’s degree in economics to tell you exactly what “the market” would decide in such a situation. Then, on top of all that discussion of the orgiastic misuse of money for paying teachers, he says that none of the money has gone to improving academic performance.

If there’s a world where teachers have nothing to do with academic performance, I think Jim Stonebraker is the king of it.

He winds up his rather breathless screed noting that he “could make many other points,” but I wonder. It must be hard to think of ways to say one thing and contradict yourself in the same paragraph over and over again.

The one point Jim Stonebraker makes with force and clarity is that Jim Stonebraker hates paying taxes. He really, really hates paying taxes. And people like Micheal Ocello, who may be able to rally public support for a tax measure, scare him senseless.

Tom Cooper

Oakville