Monday, January 30, 2006
According to the Republicans the economy is the best it has ever been. According to the Democrats it is the worst that it has been since the Great Depression. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
The economy is ok. Our economy is consistently growing by about 3.5%. Inflation is increasing by a little under 3% most years and unemployment hovers around 5%
We face two problems that neither Party discusses effectively nor will they fix: Debt and the Federal deficit and Trade and the Trade imbalance.
The Federal debt is over 8 trillion dollars and growing at an alarming pace. The Republicans are increasing every Federal program that exists and they absolutely refuse to kill ineffective programs. Indiana is in debt to the tune of about 1.5 Billion dollars; which is small in comparison to The Federal government. Almost every City, School District, County, and Municipality is in debt as well. The American consumer is heavily in debt. Foreign investors own more of our economy every year.
The frightening statistic put out by The Commerce Department today should be on the headline of EVERY newspaper, should be the main topic on every talk radio show, should be the main topic on television, and should cause concern through-out America.
Unfortunately, no one cares...
Last year, the overall savings rate in the United States was -.5%. The last time we had a negative national savings rate for an entire year was during 1933, during The Great Depression.
A negative national savings rate means that we spent more this year then we had. It means that as a whole the consumers in this country spent more then they made.
The baby boomers are getting ready to retire, the entire social security trust fund has been spent and this system is projecting a massive deficit, and the Medicare program is in even worse shape.
As a nation we buy more then we sell. We are no longer a nation that builds, we are a nation that buys other country's goods. Out high paying, low skill jobs are disappearing. China will become the second Super Power within the next twenty years.
No one cares about this either. Our government does not have a plan to minimize the trade deficit.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
I will be filing on Monday.
I am extremely happy that Mary Wysong has filed to run. I certainly hope that we can both unseat the incumbents and make some changes to NACS...
Expulsion was right = 8 votes, 11%
Expulsion was wrong = 59 votes, 81%
Not sure = 6 votes, 8%
As I would expect from the people who enjoy my blog, we support Jeff Fraser and think Carroll High School and NACS over-reacted.
WOWO is running a poll as well that they advertised on their radio broadcast yesterday. As of this post 377 votes have been cast on WOWO's website. 60% feel that Jeff Fraser SHOULD NOT have been expelled. 40% feel he should.
I have a feeling this is most likely reflective of the way this community feels. I have talked to 23 people in NACS; many of these people contacted me. As a group they strongly support Fraser.
Since I am so public in my support of Jeff Fraser, I doubt that people who feel the expulsion is the right punishment would ever contact me...
This is going to be an interesting School Board race. I will file my paperwork early next week.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
I could not attend the "closed door" hearing. I asked Doug Horner to attend it and let me know how it went. Thanks for going Doug!
About 50 people were present and waited for the hearing to end... They waited 40 minutes and then got a sound bite, a press release (The press release is on Tracey Warner's Blog at <http://blogs.fortwayne.com/Tracy_Warner/>, and the meeting was dismissed. The crowd was NOT ALLOWED to comment. Shameful...
At the end of the "closed door" hearing Superintendent Yager issued a pre-written press release. The pre-written press release basically mirrors exactly what Nathan Gotsch has been reporting over at Fort Wayne Observed <http://www.fwmn.blogspot.com/>.
The most interesting thing in the press release is a statement that "No further legal action, criminal, or civil, will be pursued or initiated by the parties, and the Parties shall take all reasonable action to ensure any criminal charges shall be dismissed." This tells me that Carroll had charged Fraser with CRIMINAL charges in this event. I had heard rumors to this effect; but, this is confirmation... How shameful... Not only was he expelled, he had criminal charges pressed against him...
It is a disappointing ending to a violation of a Carroll High School student's freedom of speech rights. As I have said many times; the school SHOULD have punished the student for writing the "satire"; however, expelling him for the year and pressing criminal charges was completely unwarranted.
I do not know why Jeff Fraser, his parents, or his attorney (Steve Shine of all people) decided to agree to this resolution; but, they did. If this happened to one of my children you can rest assured that I would not have agreed to it.
There are two things that really bother me about this:
1. The secret meeting that Nathan Gotsch reported occurred before the announced "Closed school board meeting" tonight. I believe that the secret meeting may have been illegal; but, I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY. If it is legal, it is still not the way this situation should have been handled.
2. The original expulsion was approved by FOUR individuals involved with the Carroll High School Administration. This was upheld by our "independent" School Board. How on earth can this many people agree to a punishment that is so unfitting?
I plan on replacing one person on the School Board on May 2nd. I am looking forward to it.
I hope that other concerned parents in NACS decide to run for School Board as well. I think we need several new members...
Cutting Edge reporting on the Fraser expulsion from Carroll High School from Nathan Gotsch over at Fort Wayne Media Notes
Then please read my comment to his post. I posted it to his blog and I am copying it below for your convenience. I will be avidly monitoring all local media outlets tomorrow. If you learn or read something about any new developments please shoot me an email at Mike.Sylvester@Verizon.net.
I have always found Nathan at Fort Wayne Observed (Media Notes) to be a very credible media source and I have to admit that I trust his reporting and his judgment. I would not have started this blog if it were not for Nathan's blog...
I will also be very interested to read what Mitch Harper posts on these developments at his blog over at <http://indianaparley.blogspot.com/> Mitch is a long time Republican and if Steve Shine is involved as Nathan is reporting, I am looking forward to hearing what Mitch thinks...
Mike Sylvester's comment is below:
I have been following this very closely since I am running for Northwest Allen County School Board this May.
I attended the last school board meeting, I have read everything in the media I can, I have written a lot about this expulsion, and I have talked with several people with ties to Carroll High School in the last week and a half.
I fully expect NACS to rescind this expulsion and to decide to reinstate Mr. Fraser unanimously when they meet at their closed door meeting tomorrow. I do not think they can legally vote on the resolution until the next actual School Board Meeting; you can be sure I will be present for that...
I believe that Mr. Fraser has already been punished far more then is warranted and if Steve Shine (Who I do not care for politically in the slightest; but, I have heard is a well respected lawyer locally) is representing The Fraser Family as Mr. Gotsch has reported, I have no doubt that he will prove his worth as a lawyer and Mr. Fraser will be returning to Carroll in the next couple of weeks.
I certainly hope that there are not "Secret Meetings" going on behind closed doors. NACS is a public school system that is funded by the taxpayers. There is no doubt that the specifics of the hearings should be behind closed doors to protect Mr. Fraser; however, any meetings should be announced to the public and should not be held in secret.
I have been very displeased with the expulsion itself and I am becoming even more disturbed by what Mr. Gotsch is currently reporting.
I hope the anonymous source that talked to Mr. Gotsch today and told him the following per Fort Wayne Observed (Media Notes):
"Indeed, a source said Shine was with Fraser today when they met with NACS representatives to discuss an agreement in advance of tomorrow's closed door school board meeting."
decides to contact me because I want to know more about this...
I hope this anonymous source picks up a telephone book, looks up my phone number and gives me a phone call!
Candidate for Northwest Allen County School Board
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I think Jeff Fraser should have been punished for his actions; being expelled for the rest of the school year and being sent to an "alternative high school" for a first offense is clearly an terrible decision. I wonder if being expelled for the year could affect his chances of getting a college scholarship? I wonder if he now has a "record" since he was placed in the "alternative school system?"
It is now reported in today's Journal Gazette that The NACS Board will be meeting in a closed hearing tomorrow at 6 PM. There is no doubt in my mind that they will overturn the expulsion and I fully expect them to overturn the expulsion unanimously. The meeting will be closed (Which it has to be a closed meeting by law); however, the expulsion vote should occur during the next School Board meeting and I believe will have to be a public vote. I will definitely be attending the next School Board meeting and I will let you all know who votes for expulsion and who votes against expulsion.
I certainly hope Jeff Fraser will be reinstated at Carroll and that he will be able to finish his school year at Carroll.
I wrote a 600 word editorial that I posted on this blog last week and that Indiana Parley posted on his blog. That editorial has been published in several print publications:
Jan 25th News Sentinel http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/13708360.htm
Jan 25th Indianapolis Star http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060125/OPINION01/601250374/1031 (Note they cut it down into a letter to the editor.
The IPFW Communicator printed it today as well and Frost Illustrated will print it in their next edition.
This issue has gotten a lot of attention from two other local Blogs, Indiana Parley and Fort Wayne Media Notes.
Assuming The School Board overturns the expulsion it will be very interesting to see what their next step will be. I would think they would next need to determine why the NACS administration made the decision they did...
I had one of the first "bootleg" copies of "The Book." Many people (Including two from outside of Indiana) have contacted me and wanted me to provide them copies of "The Book." I decided that I would not publish it online and that I would not be a general distributor of "The Book."
Nathan Gotsch over at Fort Wayne Media Notes (Link on my sidebar) has decided to post "The Book" online. You will be able to see it over at his blog.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Case in point, the Mayor's desire to raise our City property taxes by 3.9% this year.
The City Council and The Mayor agreed in September of 2005 to raise property taxes by 2.6%, which is bad enough. Consider that our garbage fees are going up $1/month, our water bills are going up 25% this year, and our stormwater fees went up 65% this year.
Now the Mayor wants to go back on the 2.6% increase he agreed to and raise them 3.9%. You absolutely will not believe what his reasoning is.
If they do not raise the levy by the full 3.9% allowed, then by Indiana law they are limited by how much they can increase it next year.
Another way to say this is that they must increase it the maximum this year so they can then turn around and increase it by the maximum again next year.
The miracle is that our "Republican" City Council actually defeated the mayor's plan. I truly expected them to pass it.
As far as I can tell, there is VERY LITTLE difference between our Mayor and City Council. They all want to increase both spending as well as fees and taxes.
I know if we had Libertarians on City Council this proposal would get voted down...
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Interesting criticism of the fact that I enabled "Comment Moderation" on this blog a couple of weeks ago
As you all know I always publish your posts as soon as I read my email. Marie did not even try to submit a post, I think maybe she did not know how "Comment Moderation" works.
Marie has an interesting point of view that I should not allow comment moderation on my blog.
I have never refused anyone the right to post a comment on my blog. Not once!
I enabled comment moderation to prevent spam and profanity a couple of weeks ago.
All you have to do to put a comment on my blog is go and post it. I will publish it! I always do and I always have. I like it when people disagree. I enabled comment moderation for 2 reasons:
1. To prevent spam.
2. So that I would know when someone posted a comment on my blog, that way I can respond to them.
I had a complaint not too long ago from someone that I never responded to one of his comments. With comment moderation enabled I always know when there is a new post.
I fully expect people to disagree with some of my views and I have always encouraged people to post comments that are not in line with mine. A simple review of the past comments posted on my blog will show that to ANYONE...
Heck, at one time I asked Republicans to come on over and post comments on my blog and I asked them to disagree with me about the Contract with America.
Marie PLEASE come on over and post your dissenting opinion, that is what America is all about...
Rest assured that I will happily post any comments you wish on my blog!
I am curious as to what you all think. Would you rather I disabled comment moderation and went back to the way it was a couple of weeks ago?
I really do not care either way.
I enabled "Comment Moderation" to ensure that I did not miss people's posted comments due to a reader complaint.
Please let me know if you prefer the blog with or without "Comment Moderation."
Saturday, January 21, 2006
I attended the Allen County Teenage Republicans meeting this morning and listened to Mark Souder's speech
Mark spoke, and spoke, and spoke. In fact over 95% of the entire event was Mark speaking...
All of my regular readers need to sit down for a minute; I actually agreed with Mark Souder on two of the many things he said.
Mark said that he feels the the upcoming Republican Caucus is a critical moment for The Republican Party and he is right... It is important. The Republicans need to reform and become the Party they promised to become way back in 1994; unfortunately for The Republicans, it will not happen.
One interesting thing is that Mark kept referring to "establishment Republicans." After this term Mark will have been in Congress for 12 years, he is an "establishment Republican."
I feel that the ONLY hope the Republican Party has for meaningful change is to elect Shadegg; who is actually the Candidate Souder supports. Wonders keep happening, me agreeing with Mark Souder again...
Mark Souder made some very interesting comments about how Washington politics actually work, and that segment of his speech was actually quite interesting and insightful. Then he went into a bunch of other topics including:
1. He thinks America should be a two Party system, imagine that.
2. He thinks The Republican Party must change and in his words "Not be the angry white man's party." What this means is he wants to spend more money on minorities...
3. He actually accused the Mayor of Fort Wayne's office of accepting illegal contributions from contractors. It was somewhat slanderous. I hope someone in the press caught this and prints it. It was pretty bad... He was talking about how bad the campaign finance problems are in this country when he switched gears and said that we need to look into the Mayor's office and union contributions to various Democrats...
4. He tried to defend earmarks, and his defense was truly inept and shows how out of touch he is with small government conservatives. Let there be no doubt; he is a LARGE government Republican, as I have said all along. Basically Mark Souder said that earmarks have grown because the newly elected Republicans come from small rural areas and it is the only way they can bring money back to their Congressional Districts. Believe it or not, he said this with a straight face, I was appalled.
5. He ranted about The Clinton administration and how evil it was, pretty much the same old Mark Souder stuff.
6. He ranted a lot about money that Indian tribes are putting into the political process. He said that Indian casinos were the most profitable business in America and insisted that it needs scrutiny.
7. He also spent some time insulting The Journal Gazette.
Jeff Fraser did the welcome and the wind up. His comments were short and to the point (Mark Souder should learn something from Jeff).
"Free Fraser" shirts were available at the event. I picked on up.
I wonder if I should start wearing it to NACS Board meetings?
Mitch Harper from Indiana Parley was present at the event.
State Senator Tom Wyss was also present. As you can imagine we talked about seat belt laws...
Friday, January 20, 2006
Please check it out.
I have a link in my blog roll for you!
Pat White discussed the situation on WOWO and I called in and took Jeff's side in the discussion. Pat White stayed fairly neutral in the topic. He took 5 callers. One was in favor of the expulsion and four of us were against it...
You may vote once per day in this poll.
This poll will remain on the site until next Friday, January 27th.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
There are many options that a school can use to discipline a student who has misbehaved in some fashion; the most extreme is expulsion for the school year. Students who are a threat to the safety of other students or who are continuous discipline problems should be removed from school; however, this student does not fit these criteria.
I find it impossible to understand how a student with no past disciplinary record can be expelled for the school year for writing a ten page “satire,” no matter how offensive it is to the administration.
There are a lot of methods the administration could have used to discipline the student for writing an offensive document on the school computer system. This is more than a free speech issue, because school rules do require considerate behavior from students. So, depending on how insulting or unfair the criticisms were, I suggest that the student be given a written warning, and the student’s parents be required to come to the school and be apprised of the entire situation. If warranted, the student should be required to apologize to those people who he offended. This would be more than sufficient punishment for a first offense.
Instead, the student can no longer attend Carroll High School and cannot be involved with the student activities that he participated in.
I attended the School Board Meeting on January 16th and listened to Carroll High School student Sam Wysong’s statement to The NACS Board. I wholeheartedly agree with his statement that “Expulsion seems like an overreaction to a first-time offender of this nature.” I hope that the school board listened to the statement as well.
I am extremely disturbed by a quote that was printed in a Journal Gazette article written by Kelly Soderlund entitled, “Carroll student expelled for satire” on January 17th. She quoted Superintendent Yager who told her that according to the NACS legal council, “First Amendment rights are not applicable when the violations are committed on school computers.”
I am not a lawyer; however, I have read the Constitution and I think that I have a pretty clear understanding of both what it specifically states and what our Founding Fathers intended. It states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Per NACS procedures, Superintendent Yager still has to approve this expulsion; hopefully, he will over-ride it and investigate why this expulsion occurred in the first place. If Superintendent Yager approves the expulsion, then the School Board will get the same opportunity to review the case.
One of the strengths of this great nation is the freedom of the press and speech. I am a proud military veteran extremely concerned about the constant erosion of our civil liberties. My children will be attending NACS and I will do everything I possibly can to ensure that they attend a strong school system that respects the Constitution.
Candidate for Northwest Allen County School Board
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
The first article was on the front page of The Journal Gazette.
The seond article is from the online Opinion Jounral of The Wall Street Journal.
I attended the last school board meeting and have been collecting information about this situation...
Monday, January 16, 2006
A little about me:
My name is Mike Sylvester and I grew up on the northeast side of Fort Wayne. I spent six years as a Reactor Operator on a nuclear powered submarine in the United States Navy. After being honorably discharged I spent a couple of years as a mechanical equipment operator in a civilian nuclear power plant, almost three years as a journeyman electrician in a steel mill, a year as an automation technician in a food processing plant, four years as the Maintenance Manager at The Halex corporation, and the last 18 months as a Staff Accountant at a local Public Accounting firm. I have an Associates degree in Industrial Maintenance and I will graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Business with a specialty in Accounting from IPFW in May of 2006. I have spent most of my life troubleshooting and repairing problems in a variety of industries.
My wife (Karena Sylvester, a local CPA) and I moved into the Northwest Allen County School District because we wanted our children to attend an effective, safe, and affordable public school system. We plan on living in Perry Township at least until both of our children graduate from Carroll High School. Our daughter Kayla will attend Oak View Elementary School in the fall of 2006. Our son Graydon will follow his sister in the fall of 2008. Karena and I both attended public schools in Indiana.
Why I am running for School Board:
1. I believe that we need to let teacher’s spend their time teaching rather then complying with excessive regulations and rules; teachers need to be allowed to focus on instructing their students.
2. I believe that the School Board needs fresh ideas and a perspective that comes from outside the public school system.
3. I believe that the Northwest Allen County School system can be improved without continuous property tax increases. I believe that the latest tax rate increase will end up increasing our total property tax bill by 14% just for our school district’s portion. Taxpayers have been told to expect similar increases in the next couple of years.
What I will do if elected to the NACS Board on May 2nd, 2006:
1. I will talk to as many teachers, parents, administrators, employees and students as I can. I think the people currently involved in the system are the one’s who best know how to improve the system.
2. I will represent the taxpayers of this district by analyzing the school budget and identifying ways to save taxpayer money. I feel that raising property taxes is the last solution that should be considered, not the first.
How you can help me get elected to the Northwest Allen County School Board:
1. Vote on May 2nd, 2006. Tell your friends, family, and neighbors about my campaign.
2. Get involved with my campaign. There are many things that you can do to help me with just a couple of hours of your time. Please contact me at 260-338-0833 or by email at Mike.Sylvester@Verizon.net.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I have to say it was very nice of him to thank me for speaking about eminent domain abuse... We can make a difference.
I have attached his email below. If you read this blog and want to make a difference in this world, be assured that you can!
I have had the fortune to listen to all of your testimony before the Legislative Study Committee on Eminent Domain and again this past Monday in front of the House Judiciary Committee.
You are a compelling speaker and the fact you do so with no personal dog in this fight gives you even more credibility.
Congratulations on your successes.
N.K. Hurst Company
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Earlier this summer I went down to Indianapolis to testify in front of the sub-committee considering HB1010. Representative Wolkins (Committee Chair and bill author) invited me to come to Indianapolis a testify in front of The Indiana House while they were preparing to vote on HB 1010. I was the only private citizen invited to speak about Eminent Domain! Representative Wolkins liked my testimony and thought I should testify again right before the actual vote.
After I was done explaining Eminent Domain abuse in Fort Wayne I answered a couple of questions from Representatives. My Representative (Phyllis Pond) spoke up and acknowledged Fort Wayne's poor treatment of Belmont Liquors. The Chairman of The Indiana House of Representatives then thanked me for taking the time to come and testify. He commented that I was the only person who came on my own and was not paid to be present.
I then drove north and met with Kenn Gividen in Noblesville. We finished up most of our plans for the upcoming County Chair Convention that will be held on March 4th. Please follow this link to find out the details:
I then came back to Fort Wayne and attending the "Political Bootcamp" seminar put on by Leadership Fort Wayne and The Mike Downs Center.
It was a busy day; but, a satisfying day.
It goes to show you that 90% of success is just showing up!
Sunday, January 08, 2006
There is a 3” thick rule book (1370 pages) of rules that Indianapolis has decided to make our local school corporations deal with. Below are some of the additional laws that our politicians are considering passing this session:
HB 1072, this bill will add teaching students about the Holocaust.
I overall think that this subject should be taught in the Schools; however, I am against a law that dictates this for every school corporation in the State. Many children graduate without being able to read, write, or do math. Why are we adding to our curriculum?
HB 1047, this bill will add personal financial literacy to the curriculum.
Once again, I am overall in favor of this; however, let each school corporation teach what the parents and staff of that school corporation feels is important for their students. I also have to question whether we want the State Board of Education creating the curriculum for personal finance in the first place. The State of Indiana is in terrible debt already and I keep hearing that we need to spend more money…
SB 0111, student nutrition and physical activity. Requires school boards to establish a coordinated school health advisory council to develop a local wellness policy that complies with certain federal requirements. Requires the department of education to provide information concerning health, nutrition, and physical activity. Establishes requirements applying to food and beverage items that are available for sale to students outside the federal school meal programs, including a requirement that a certain percentage of the food and beverage items qualify as better choices. Provides that the requirements do not apply after school hours or to fundraisers. Requires daily physical activity for elementary school students in public schools, with certain exceptions. Allows a school to continue a vending machine contract in existence before the passage of this bill. (The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the health finance commission.)
Needless to say this is another bill that will allow the State to create more bureaucracy and dictate terms to local schools, not a good idea. We need less bureaucracy and more teaching!
SB 0045, fetal development curriculum. Requires each school corporation to include instruction regarding human fetal development in the school corporation's high school health education curriculum.
Needless to say this is more of the same. They are adding more to the curriculum and not removing anything from the curriculum.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Apparently that is not enough regulations for our politicians in Indianapolis. They are trying to add more this session; unfortunately, they are not removing any.
I feel that our School Corporations would perform better if politicians would leave them alone and let "Teachers teach!"
I will post some of the silly laws they are trying to add in the next few days.
I am tired of continuous property tax increases. If we could abolish a bunch of these absurd rules, we could lower the cost of education...
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Needless to say I will attend and testify. I think this is a very important issue. I want to make sure that the Committee members hear about some of the abuses of Eminent Domain that The City of Fort Wayne has perpetrated...
I am looking forward to testifying...
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I would like to thank Josh Kirlin for inviting me to speak at their meeting. I would also like to thank Jeff Fraser for bringing me to Josh's attention. I would also like to thank the Club Adviser Mr. Kent Scholz.
I am glad that Carroll has a Political Science Club and that Carroll High School students are learning about their government.
There were a lot of great questions; however, one sticks with me. A student asked if I was in favor of adding personal finance to the curriculum.
I actually am in favor of adding it to the curriculum of Carroll High School. Most Americans are piling up large and responsible debts. As soon as students graduate from high school they are deluged with credit card applications. I would hope that parents would educate their children about finances; however, many of the parents are not handling their own finances very well so I doubt that they are teaching their children about personal finance.
I believe that anytime you add something to the curriculum you have to remove something else from the curriculum. I am sure that the staff at Carroll can identify several programs that are not needed that can be removed to make room for personal finance.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
It should be a fun time.