September 27, 2007

NEA "Pay Cut" Analysis Hostage Day Count: Day 6

Donald B. Hawthorne

Still nothing from the NEA so the "pay cut" analysis hostage day count continues. Day 6 is now history.

We eagerly await a response! The offer to post it here on Anchor Rising remains open.

Here is our blog post describing how there is NO "pay cut." It even includes spreadsheets with documentation of data sources and assumptions for public scrutiny!

Prove us wrong and we will admit to it. Or 'fess up that your claim about East Greenwich teachers taking a "pay cut" is false. It is crossroads time for the NEA.

Until we see a quantitative financial analysis response from the NEA, we will continue with daily blog posts noting that their "pay cut" analysis is being held hostage at NEARI against the wishes of East Greenwich taxpaying residents.


Ken offers some rathering "interesting" words in the Comments section, to which I offer this reply:

Ken conveniently ignores that it was the NEA who first turned this claim about "pay cuts" into a PUBLIC debate. They did it in the context of trying to influence public opinion during a labor contract negotiation.

They made it public when some of their member teachers made and continue to make PUBLIC claims about "pay cuts" to East Greenwich residents via strike signs, comments to parents at open houses, letters to the editors, etc.

They started a PUBLIC debate but now that they have been called on it in an equally public way - and been asked to justify their public claim - they have gone into hiding. How convenient.

So perhaps Ken can explain why he is comfortable letting the NEA off the hook after THEY started the PUBLIC debate.

It is also a fantasy to claim that the same labor negotiation process which allowed them to make PUBLIC claims to town residents in the first place suddenly restricts them from responding publicly to justify their position. Perhaps Ken can justify why NEA members can still write letters to the editor as recently as last week reiterating their "pay cut" claim but he thinks labor negotiations restrict them from providing analytical proof to support the ongoing PUBLIC claim they continue to make right now in public forums like newspaper opinion pages or in quotes for interviews found in newspaper articles.

And isn't it interesting that some people are so eager to question the legitimacy of an activist concerned citizen digging into issues by researching and gathering together publicly-available information? Isn't that exactly what America is about? Isn't that what self-government is about?

I am further struck by how negative responses like Ken's love to use phrases like "made up figures" and "slanted facts." Instead he will only find satisfaction in words from politicians and government bureaucrats - as long as it is delivered on their letterheads!

But nobody, including Ken, can offer any specific fact-based comments which identify what exactly is made up or slanted in my analysis:

  • Is it when I copied 10 historical salary numbers for 2006-07 from 1 salary table in the recently expired and publicly-available contract?

  • Or copied 2 historical co-pay percentages for 2006-07 off that same contract?

  • Or asked the School Department for publicly-available information on the actual 2006-07 and 2007-08 costs of family and single person health insurance premiums for teachers, a total of 4 additional historical numbers?

  • Or used the School Department's assumed annual growth rate for health insurance premiums during the next two years, another 2 numbers?

  • Or took the latest School Committee 3-year offer for salary step increases (3 numbers, 1 for each year) and co-pay percentages (3 more numbers, 1 for each year), as quoted previously in a public newspaper, and used them after confirming they were accurate?

Bluntly, those are the ONLY essential pieces of information needed to do the analysis and derive the NO "pay cuts" conclusion I did. 24 confirmable data points, 16 of which are documented historical data, all of which came from just 3 sources. It doesn't come any more easily verifiable than that! This is not rocket science.

In other words, some analyses are built on assumptions about assumptions and are, therefore, subject to analytical manipulation.

This analysis debunking the "pay cut" claim is most certainly not that kind of analysis. Which means that anybody could independently confirm every primary assumption used in my analysis. And the analysis could be done by any student who successfully passed Finance 101.

Instead, all the opposition can do is engage in name-calling.

And yes, Ken, I did make it through 5th grade! Even made it through Finance 101 at business school!

So we return to the issue at hand: The NEA has made and continues to make its "pay cut" claim central to its PUBLIC relations campaign in East Greenwich during the current contract negotiations time period. Their "pay cut" claim has been shown to be false here on Anchor Rising, using verifiable data from public sources - not just unverifiable words like the NEA prefers to use. Anchor Rising has invited the NEA to back up their public claim with facts, even to post it on this blog site. They refuse. Yet the NEA is known nationwide for its ability to play hardball politics well. So if the NEA really had the data which discredited an outspoken public critic, why would they hold back sharing it publicly? What could the NEA be afraid of? Could it be that maybe - just maybe - their "pay cut" claim is false and they know it?

The ball is in the NEA's court.

Or, to have a little fun with this from a musical perspective, the NEA is at a crossroads.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

An interesting excerpt from an MBA text on organizational behavior. Does this description remind you of any work force(s) in Rhode Island (hint: think people whose paychecks are derived from tax revenue):

"However, evidence suggests that in collectivist cultures. especially in the former socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, employees expect rewards to reflect their individual needs as well as their performance. Moreover, consistent with a legacy of communism and centrally planned economies, employees exhibited an entitlement attitude - that is, they expected outcomes to be greater than their inputs."

Posted by: Tom W at September 27, 2007 11:02 PM


As you have publicly advertised to justify your comments and existence, YOU ARE A FORMER EAST GREENWICH SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER and implied and published town hall names of elected, appointed or hired members that have provided you with inside town hall track to supposed real current contract information which you gleefully embellish into outer space with no reality.

Get real Donald! Publish info with Town of East Greenwich Letter head and school committee signatures not you’re made up figures and slanted facts! Hopefully you have graduated from fifth grade?

If you are so good at what you do, why are you not actively serving on the current East Greenwich School Committee now?

You remind me of a lawyer that created more teacher strikes in the state of RI that no school committee will hire him anymore. He is shunned in his own community by residents.

I guess you have been sent to the corner for time out by RINEA too many times.

You and most everyone else understands the information you are requesting will not be provided to you for posting on the world-wide-web while labor contract talks are on going.

You might as well demand the information from the State of RI Superior Judge, RI State Labor Relations Board, Mediator, a named current East Greenwich School Committee member or Chariho Regional School Committee member William Felkner.

I am not a union member, RINEA member or a teacher. Just government/military retiree and a taxpayer but as I read your blog and read responses, I am beginning to see reasons why I should not stay in Rhode Island and East Greenwich has a nationally ranked high performing school department and student population.

You should be working for the RI Economic Development Corporation trying to get corporations to build business in the state of RI.

Posted by: Ken at September 28, 2007 1:32 AM


This is all quite simple. The NEA's own paid liars Ducky and Walsh come here and make representations about contracts and contract talks. The only thing Don is requesting of these people are actual facts to back up their claims of a 'pay cut'. A pretty simple and straightforward request don't you think? Yet they can't produce anything to back up their claim. Why? Because it's a lie and they've been caught in it and in a very public way. The NEA hasn't put Don into 'time out' at all, they've run away like the spineless hacks they are because Don's challenged them to 'put up' so they 'shut up' and run away. What men! lol
Don should ban Duckey and Walsh from any participation on this blog until they address and 'confess' on this matter.
Btw your disclaimer re: union loyalties on this is very humorous Ken. Disclaimers are always a big big red flag.

Posted by: Tim at September 28, 2007 7:38 AM

One cannot produce that which does not exist. There are no pay cuts.

I suspect that Don that knowing there is nothing behind the claim, Mr. Walsh has been forced to order his manservant (or is it idiot savant) to shut his yapper and spend more time actually doing work!

Posted by: Ben at September 28, 2007 7:52 AM

Ken, please show us where Donald is not using direct source numbers.

Posted by: Monique at September 28, 2007 7:53 AM

It should be noted that the entire basis of these "supposed" salary increases stems from an informational leak of "supposed" raise offers. According to the agreement between the school committee and the teachers' union specific details are not to be released. While I personally do not agree with this policy, I find it amusing that this entire argument is based on unofficial numbers.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where 30 second news segments and single column newspaper articles provide us with "the facts" with which we form our opinions - how sad for all parties involved...

Posted by: Robert S. at September 28, 2007 5:31 PM

As I indicated, Donald has not presented any copies of information with Town of East Greenwich or East Greenwich School Committee letterhead dated 2007 during current negotiations..

He provides a somewhat convincing argument but then he goes off on a tangent against RINEA and retreats to his old spreadsheets.

As a former manager, I understand when entities enter into a judicial mandated State of Rhode Island labor relations contract negotiations, there are rules each party must follow or the party not following those rules can be found in violation of the laws by the presiding judge and prosecuted.

Donald knows this as a former East Greenwich School Committee member and maybe this is why he is trying so hard to use this Blog to discredit RINEA and get RINEA to respond to his Blog thereby breaking the judge’s instructions to all parties involved.

That is why I indicated to Donald, under the RI open records law demand the RINEA info from the presiding judge or RI Labor Relations Board Mediator.

I had coffee with a couple of teachers this pass weekend and my eyes were opened. My next step is to hear the other side.

There is a foul taste in my mouth from third party use of public Blogs to bate entities into violating judge’s orders and labor relations negotiation rules.

At least one thing is positively good, all posting on the world-wide-web Blogs are archived and can be recovered for later court use.

Posted by: ken at September 28, 2007 10:14 PM

Thank you, Ken, for proving (yet again, sadly) that public sector union negotiations in Rhode Island resemble nothing so much as a bad Sopranos re-run..."Donnie, your blog posts are archived, capice?"

Posted by: John at September 29, 2007 12:10 AM

Donald, your [words deleted by Hawthorne].


Please note that having an open Comments section on Anchor Rising is a privilege that exists under an informal Honor Code whereby all of us agree to retain a basic level of civility. Hard-hitting comments are fine and welcome; obscene comments are not.

We do not permit the use of inappropriate words in the Comments section and will continue to delete them when they occur.

We will do this whether they are directed at us personally - as this one was - or they are directed at others.

For example, I recently deleted one such comment directed at Bob Walsh of the NEA. It is certainly well known that Bob and I disagree vehemently on many issues but it is the intent of Anchor Rising to ensure our disagreements remain focused on the substantive policy and political issues without having to resort to obscene language.

Thank you.

Don Hawthorne

Posted by: Michael Pompilli at September 29, 2007 1:04 AM

ken, so is your wife a teacher?????

and you enjoy paying higher taxes? and do your kids go to the public schools?

Posted by: johnpaycheck at September 29, 2007 3:22 AM


I am struck by how your latest comments are all twisted up in a layman's attempt at legalese regarding the NEA possibly being baited into making public comments to justify its "pay cut" claim.

Your comments both miss the point about what is important in this debate and completely misconstrue the role Anchor Rising is playing in this public debate.

As I have written previously, we are a new media outlet doing investigative reporting and opinion writing, in this case on the NEA's quite public claim of "pay cuts." Our investigative efforts were triggered by the NEA's public actions and our opinion writing grew out of the results of our investigative reporting. What we are doing is simply living an American tradition under the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights!

In that context, your insistence on us producing official documents on letterhead is really just an attempt to play games. After all, I am sure you are not simultaneously writing the Washington Post or Wall Street Journal to tell them that you will only accept their investigative reporting efforts if they first publicly disclose 3rd party documents on official letterhead to "prove" their points.

Nonetheless, what is striking in your response is how you choose to ignore a core point: The NEA started this PUBLIC debate on its own by making the "pay cut" claim in the first place - and they did it during the labor negotiation period, no less.

Did you see anything on their letterhead to justify such a public claim or are you giving only the NEA a free pass on public comments without proper formal documentation?

You speak about seeking information from both sides. That begs two questions:

First, are you going to file the kinds of legal actions you mention to get the NEA's supporting materials or are you just going to take the informal words offered by several teachers? And, if you only take their informal words, how did you convince yourself that the information they shared with you was not the very "slanted facts" and "made-up numbers" that worry you so much here at Anchor Rising?

Second, may I suggest you start your information search of the "other side" by confirming the 16 publicly available historical data points and the 2 projected health insurance cost increase numbers central to my publicly available analysis? The good news is that you don't have to file all sorts of legal nonsense you mention in your comment because the information I used in the model is all publicly available to concerned citizens. An earnest call/meeting or two - like I did - is all that is required. When you publicly confirm you have sought and received that data, we will know you are truly serious in your comments and not just playing a baiting game.

Plus, once you have that data (and I assure you it will be identical to mine), you can then go back to my model available here on-line for everyone to review. You can walk through each table of the model to see how the data you confirmed as valid forms the basis for the analysis in it. I can promise you that effort will directly refute your earlier words that the model is based on made-up numbers and slanted facts!

To address RobertS's earlier comment, you can even vary the step increase numbers and copays for the 3 years - try 2%, 1.75%, and 1.75% with a 20% copay in all 3 years, which was publicly disclosed in the media as the School Committee's original offer - and show yourself how even that does not yield a "pay cut."

What you report back will tell us a lot about your intentions. It will tell us whether we truly have a dialogue here or just a subterfuge game aimed at derailing the public debate.

I hope you show all of the Anchor Rising readers that you are genuine and willing to do the work to confirm the facts. If you do that, I can state with certainty that you will be pleasantly surprised by the validity of the Anchor Rising analysis and reporting.

Posted by: Donald B. Hawthorne at September 29, 2007 8:24 AM