Register Citizen story on FCC dismissing Goncalves complaint 1

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http://www.registercitizen.com/articles/2012/04/02/news/doc4f79ffc43086d217704283.txt?viewmode=fullstory

FCC sides with WHDD in complaint from Region 1 Schools administrator

 

Monday, April 2, 2012

By REGISTER CITIZEN STAFF

 

The Federal Communications Commission on March 30 sided with Sharon-based WHDD radio and its co-founder, Marshall Miles, in a complaint filed by Region 1 Schools Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves.

“This was an attempt by the Region 1 administration to bully,” Miles said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “They might be able to get away with it in their own school system, but they’re not going to bully us.”

In the complaint, filed on December 5, 2011, Goncalves contended that on multiple occasions Miles broadcast on-air endorsements of specific candidates running for public office and also criticized specific members of the Region 1 Board of Education. She contended that such action were a violation of the Communications Act of 1934, and specifically Section 399 of that act. That section specifically states, “No non-commercial educational broadcasting station may support or oppose any candidate for public office.”

On January 13, Miles filed opposition to the complaint by Goncalves arguing that the specific section cited in Goncalves complaint addresses endorsements or opposition by the station itself. Miles counter-argued that his on-air endorsements stated at the beginning and at the end that the endorsements were his personal opinion and did not reflect that of the management, underwriters, staff or WHDD. He cited legal precedent to back his argument.

Gonclaves responded to Miles’ opposition with confirmation that he did use a disclaimer of personal opinion to accompany the endorsements, but that they came only at the end. Additionally, she said on the station’s most recent ownership report that the stations officers are Miles and two appointees. She argued that Miles involvement in the station equated to him being a spokesman for the station as an entity.

The FCC letter from Mark L. Berlin, Policy Division of the Media Bureau, clearly sided with Miles on the issue of criticism of school board members. The letter states, “At the outset, Ms. Goncalves’ contention the station criticized various members of the Region 1 Board of Education on the air is not prohibited by any law or policy.”

The letter goes on to cite a 1973 opinion on Section 399, stating, “…we concluded that it would be an unnecessarily broad construction of Section 399 to prevent all personal expression of views on public issues by employees of a noncommercial educational broadcast station.”

On the issue of endorsements, the letter concluded, “We also believe that your endorsement of certain school board candidates on the air was permissible – as long as you clearly indicated that it was your personal opinion and not that of the station. Section 399 applies only to formal station support or opposition of a candidate for public office, and you should take care in the future that your personal views over the air continue to be clearly labeled as such.”

Miles said the word ‘continue’ in that last sentence adds validity to what he has been doing all along. “The FCC, with that one word, validated what we’ve been doing and said we’re following the rules,” he said.

He added that the decision came as no surprise, but it came at a cost.

“This was a free speech issue,” Miles said. “I’m not surprised at the decision because the FCC’s rules clearly state that employees or hosts at independent, not-for-profit stations can make personal opinion statements. But the ruling came at a cost to us. We had to hire a lawyer to fight this.”

 

FCC SIDES WITH FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND TRI-STATE PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS IN REGARD TO COMPLAINT BY DIANE GONCALVES … 2

The Federal communications Commission today rejected the complaint by Diane Goncalves against Marshall Miles, and Tri-State Public Communications asserting that

FCC rules were violated when Miles spoke out against certain Region One school board members, and endorsed candidates in the school board elections.  And the FCC went on to clearly state that the practice of personal endorsements can continue by continuing to state and label the opinion as Miles own.

The administration of Region One may be able to bully and muzzle opposition in the school system, but not out in the real world where free speech, and free thinking is not restricted and banned, but cherished.

Attached please find the FCC decision.

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In Phil Hart’s case, whats good for the goose is NOT good for the gander…. Reply

From this mornings Republican-American….

Rancor over support for  budget carries into planning of agenda
A lengthy discussion ensued at last week’s special meeting of the Region 1 Board of Education on the upcoming budget process.
Chairman Philip Hart of Cornwall, anxious to see the budget pass in the six member towns of
Canaan, Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, Salisbury and Sharon, polled the members on how to seek support. His idea for a letter signed by all six members was nixed when two of them, Gale Courey Toensing of Falls Village and Marilyn Yerks of Sharon, said they couldn’t put their names on such a piece of correspondence. Hart then cautioned members that they may express their opinions on the plan, but when talking to constituents cannot tell them how to vote, looking directly at Toensing.
She was outspoken about the rights of board members who don’t have to follow lock step with the majority when their views differ, and was quick to respond to Hart’s admonition, saying, “I won’t do what you did last month.” When Toensing asked to add an item to the agenda at that meeting about board procedures and goals, Hart told his fellow members, “I encourage you not to vote for this.”Image

Jonathan Moore, Vice Chair of The Region One Board Of Education thinks we can’t add! We just HAD to showcase his hapless attempt to justify a 6.26% rise in the superintendents salary/annuity line as a separate story, with our answer! 3

Here is Mr. Moore, Vice Chair of The Region One Board of Education, replying to the fact that the salary/annuity line in the superintendents budget line has increased by 6.26%…

“Once again this information is wrong. I guess you have to read the first part of the line where it says Salary/Annuity. You all asked last year for that to be added to the salary line hence the 6%. Her salary did not increase by 6%, the line did due to the requested change.”

Our response….

Salary/annuity/call it what you may…it still is ADDING 6.26 percent to the bottom line….

For our esteemed member of The Region One Board from Kent…here is some more reading material

1) There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. – Mark Twain attributed this to B. Disraeli
2) It has long recognized by public men of all kinds … that statistics come under the head of lying, and that no lie is so false or inconclusive as that which is based on statistics. – H. Belloc
3) Figures don’t lie, but liars figure. – Samuel Clemens (alias Mark Twain)
4) If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment – Ernest Rutherford

By the way, regiononereport.com will have more to say on Pat’s “annuity”, it’s history, it’s earlier cover-up and more at a later date..

Please let Mr. Moore know the Region One taxpayers were not born yesterday, here is his contact information.

Mr. Jonathan Moore, Vice Chair
6 Elizabeth Street, PO Box 903
Kent, CT 06757
Phone: (860) 927-4580
E/M: jmoore@region1schools.org

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 Figures don’t lie, but liars figure (Samuel Clemens (alias Mark Twain)- a perfect description of  Jonathan Moore, Vice Chair of The Region One Board Of Education

Here are some COLD, HARD, FACTS that can NOT be disputed! 3

This year’s Region One budget for the Superintendent’s Office

Look at all the figures, then….look at line 17, follow it across to the right…it’s a 6.26% raise for the Superintendent this year $9,265.00 INCREASE!!!! Send this link to as many people you know who vote in Region One….this is disgusting….please read our posting on the salaries for other Superintendent’s around Region One at the following link

http://regiononereport.com/2012/03/31/mr-harts-numbers-vs-the-real-numbers/

…ours is not underpaid….and does not deserve a 6.26% percent raise in these economic conditions, with almost every barometer of success DOWN in Region One…. lets buy some new microscopes with that money! DEFEAT THE BUDGET till the administration raises are pulled, and they all honor their existing contracts.

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Mr. Hart’s numbers vs. the REAL numbers 2

From the Litchfield County Times:

Mr. Hart said that the ABC Committee’s work in developing the pay recommendations had been “solid.”
“I can speak for the thoroughness of it,” he said. “When 45 people come together and evaluate performance and say the superintendent is doing a fabulous job, it’s hard not to be in agreement with that.”
He said there is no way Region 1 can divorce itself from what is happening in other school districts, which pay their administrators higher wages. “We can’t ask them to sit here and not have an increase when it is all around us,” he said, adding, “I realize people beyond the school certainly have questions, but many feel our administration does an admirable job and should be compensated.”

Here is the REAL information regiononereport.com found out about adjoining school districts in Connecticut as compared to Region One…..

Here is the real truth about salaries around Region 1:

Winchester Public Schools, Superintendent $135,480 (No assistant superintendent)  1,452 students

Region 6, Superintendent $162,000.00 1.035 students
Region 7, Superintendent $147,000.00 NO RAISE THIS YEAR (No assistant superintendent)   1,160 students
Torrington School District $142,500.00 NO RAISE THIS YEAR  4,349

Now, lets compare….the figure shows our pay is right in line with the adjoining regions without the increases.

Region One Patricia Chamberlain a 2 percent increase, a one-year contract extension to 2015, five more vacation days, amounting to 25 days total, and three more personal days, for a total of five. The proposal also continues to pay the annuity included in her salary. Her salary will be $160,407.  Around 1,000 students
Region One Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves will earn an additional 2 percent, bringing her salary to $135,502, a one-year contract extension to 2015 and a $2,500 annuity ( $138,002 total salary).

Our Assistant almost makes as much as Torrington’s and Region 7’s Superintendents!

Once again mis-information or, better yet, dis-information from our Region One Board Chair…

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To Region One Board Members….the tide has turned……remove the new contracts for the administration if you want to pass the budget. 1

Last year was no fluke…if the administrator’s NEW contracts are not pulled from the budget, it will be defeated!  If the administrators honor the contracts they signed last year, the budget will pass…and then take the money we  save and buy new microscopes like Scooter Tedder spoke about. Lets spend any extra money on the kids, not the administrators who already have binding contracts!

Please click on the link to see a history of results…

ReferendumResults

Statements for Region 1 Board of Education Special Meeting March 28, 2012 –Gale Courey Toensing 14

On “Chair Comment” (to Phil  Hart)

Now that you’ve set the precedent of providing one member of this board with the opportunity to be on the agenda to comment in public, from this time forward there must be equal time set aside for any one member or all members to be on the agenda to comment in public.

Without provisions in the statutes or our own bylaws giving special status to any one member – and there are no such provisions – then all members are necessarily equal with equal rights of participation. If there’s time set aside for one member to be on the agenda and comment then there must be equal time set aside for every other member to be on the agenda to comment.  If one member has that privilege, than all members must have that privilege otherwise you’re violating 500 years of common law, parliamentary law, state statutes, our own bylaws, and the equal protections rights of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

On Pay Raises and Contract Extensions:

I will vote again, as I did last year, against pay increases, more days off, and contract extensions for the administrative staff  because to vote for these increases, in my opinion and according to my conscience, would express alack of consideration for the taxpayers of Region 1. The recession has not gone away. We are still living in a time of economic and political peril. There is instability, uncertainty and saber-rattling in the worldm making it impossible to know what the next few years will bring even in terms of the cost of fuel. We know there are some very wealthy taxpayers in Region 1. We also know the majority of people are not among them. The majority of people are hardworking employees, some of whom have lost their jobs, some of whom have lost or may lose their homes, many of whom make well below the middle class median household income of around $50,000 for a family of four, and most of whom have not had raises for the past few years, or whose raises have not even met the almost 3 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index. By contrast, there’s no hardship in the administrators’ present compensation packages which range from over $100,000 to more than $160,000. Region 1 taxpayers will be asked to bear an additional tax burden for necessary and mandated repairs to the high school building. To ask them to pay for raises for people who already earn so much money is, to me, unthinkable. Any budget increases at this point should be directed toward improving student learning.

On Free Speech; Advocacy and Opposition

The Region 1 Board of Education is a body politic and a corporate political subdivision of the state and therefore it is governed by the political process in the same way that the state is.

With respect to the people who participate in the political process, there can be no proper restraints placed on them with regard to speech or advocacy or opposition to public policies.   Our budget is a public policy. In fact, ourpolicy book says:  “The Regional School Board regards its annual budget as a basic policy document through which the District’s plans for the improvement of the secondary school program are expressed.”  To claim, as some people have claimed, that once a majority of this board votes on an issue then everyone on the board is required to “speak with one voice” is as unconsidered as it would be to say that a member of Congress or the Senate could not advocate against a majority vote that passes legislation – or even to try to overturn legislation after it passes as we see this week in the SCOTUS oral arguments over the  health insurance law.

Also, when we’re elected we take an oath of office to represent our constituents to the best of our ability. With respect to the oath of office we have a duty to advocate as we see best.  Oaths are about truth. So it’s not that we’re just permitted to speak the truth as we see it, we have a duty to do so. In other words, if you think something is wrong you have a duty to your constituents to stand up against it. History buffs may recall Abe Lincoln’s Cooper Union address during a presidential election when he said words to the effect that if he, Lincoln, did what Senator Douglas thought was right, he’d be perjuring himself on his oath of office.  Douglas wanted to extend slavery into what they then called the territories and Lincoln was against it.

To say that a person on a board has to advocate for the majority vote, that a minority view has to shut up and not express and, yes, even lobby against a majority vote that he or she is against, is in fact a seditious notion.Additionally, there are numerous lawsuits that have been lost over attempts to gag school board members from exercising their right of free speech to advocate against majority decisions by their board colleagues;.