OUTRAGE: Richard Organisciak is a Big, Fat Liar!

Written By: Robert Cox

CA5080FE-E2E5-4C85-A766-DEBDF304713D.jpgI set out this afternoon to write an account of the school board meeting last night where the school board once again declared their unanimous support for yet another fraud-filled, fact-challenged school budget.

I wanted to mention that the turnout was extremely disappointing. After several boisterous, passionate budget workshops, only a handful of those demanding the district cut the budget showed up to watch the vote. The school board appeared to be just thrilled to be playing to a largely empty room. The more I looked at the sickeningly, smug and slightly stupefied face of King Dolt Richard Organisciak the more annoyed I became. I was (and am still) annoyed because Richard Organsiciak sat there last night having gratuitously spit in the face of every New Rochelle resident who took the time to attend those budget workshops and had the gall to “thank” residents for coming to those meetings and providing their input.


For those who did not come to the workshops or watch them on TV, speaker after speaker asked Organisciak and the school board to tell them was was going on with the union negotiations – salaries and benefits account for well over 50% of the school district expenditures. And time after time these New Rochelle residents were told by the board, in particular Cindy Babcock-Deutsch and Richard Organisciak that it was against the law for them to say anything about ongoing negotiations. School Finance Chief John Quinn pedantically explained that it would weaken the district’s bargaining position if they were to say anything about the negotiations. Quinn actually said that the district was protecting taxpayers by not revealing anything about the negotiating position of the district.

This was always a lie and now Richard Organisciak, by his own words, has proved it for all the world to see.

After refusing to answer the same question asked by one New Rochelle resident after another, Organisciak last week answered this very question from hack reporter Aman Ali of the Journal News:

“Everything is tied into ongoing negotiations right now,” Organisciak said. “We’re negotiating all our contracts with the board and our teachers as a part of a big package. You can’t make changes to one without making changes to the other, and vice versa.”

The district is working on renewing a contract with its teachers union set to expire in June. Organisciak said the district doesn’t anticipate implementing any salary freezes or layoffs next year.

I am sure that the teachers union negotiators were quite happy to know that the District is unilaterally conceding that no one will be laid off and that our opening position in the negotiations is that all salaries are going to rise. Apparently, the only negotiations going on are over HOW MUCH salaries will rise. Must be nice to live in a world where the laws of economics cease to exist.

I would hope that other New Rochelle residents – even those who support the school budget – would be outraged that Organisciak would pointedly refuse to answer this exact question when asked by residents at forums set up specifically for them to ask questions and get answers about the budget.

That Organisciak was perfectly willing to talk about the union negotiations with a reporter but not New Rochelle residents just shows that all those many statements by Cindy Babcock-Deutsch and Richard Organisciak were just a pack of lies. When the District believes it suits their purpose they will say whatever they want to this dopey reporter, safe knowing that since he did not attend any of the workshops he has no way to understand the significance of what he was being told by Organisciak.

If you are outraged as I am by Organisciak’s behavior towards all those who attended the budget workshops – repeatedly lying to every single one of us – then you may be interested to read about what happened at last night’s school board meeting in Mount Vernon. More on that below but first let me get to what I sat down to write this afternoon…

Claiming to have listened to the concerns of New Rochelle residents, the New Rochelle school board voted unanimously for a massive $229,462,969 which was “revised” from the preliminary budget unveiled last month for a staggering $230,672,969. So, the District would tell us that they are so concerned about the concerns over the cost of the 2009-10 budget that they “reduced” the budget by $1,210,00 or 0.52%.

The Agenda document handed out at the board meeting was entitled “Seeing is Believing” – See For Yourself. Ironic, considering that no copies of the revised budget were made available to the public at the door nor were they distributed to those who attended the meeting. I obtained a copy only because someone else generously gave me their copy.

Of course there are no actual CUTS in the budget just a restoration of some of the State Aid that was removed by Governor Patterson previously and three accounting tricks.

1) New York State added back $2,277,600 in State Aid

2) $500,000 by playing around with something called the “retirement differential” which was not explained.

3) $495,000 by moving around some money from Westchester County for pre-school special education.

4) $215,000 by not paying all that is owed on some Tax Anticipation Notes during the 2009-10 budget

In the preliminary budget, Revenue from Real Property Tax was set at $180,235,376 which has now been reduced to $176,747,776 by subtracting the $2,277,600 in State Aid and $1,210,000 in accounting tricks.

The net effect is a budget slightly smaller than originally proposed with a slightly projected property tax increase.

The budget increase of 3.75% has been reduced to 3.20%.

The projected tax increase of 4.9% has been reduced to 3.22%.

Of course, the PROJECTED tax increase is based on an assumption about what the assessed value of property will be come this fall after the City calculates the new tax rolls. The District originally assumed a decline in assessables of 1.41% which was almost identical to the previous year’s decline in assessables of 1.40%. After repeatedly defending the absurd assumption that the decline in property values and appeals would result in a near-identical decline in assessed value of property, the District has changed their assumption. They are not basing their budget on the assumption that assessables will decline 1.76%.

It is nice to see that the District has acknowledged our repeated efforts to point out that assuming a decline in property values the same as last year when we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. However, their adjustment is only slightly less absurd and equally indefensible. City Finance Commissioner Howard Ratner told Talk of the Sound that they were assuming a THREE PERCENT decline in assessables. Even that number is conservative. Consider that in White Plains which has already been through their tax appeal process, the number of filings was up 300%. Just about everyone who bought a home in New Rochelle over the past 5 years is going to be lining up with an appeal as property values have plummeted off their highs.

Of course, all of this is money around the edges of what are the real sources of out-of-control spending in New Rochelle – corruption and incompetence. I have been recently pointing out reports that there are hundreds of children in New Rochelle schools that do not belong here. People simply do not want to believe it. I am told that the school board and administration are well aware of this which makes people even more incredulous because people cannot understand WHY any school district would permit hundreds of students from other districts to attend school in their district.

The goings on in Mount Vernon last night, as reported in the Journal News have served to clarify this issue:

With just days left before a budget has to be filed with the state, the Board of Education last night rejected the superintendent’s recommended budget with a 6-2 vote.

Superintendent W.L. “Tony” Sawyer told board members that the district next year stands to lose some 800 students, many of whom were found to have been wrongly enrolled in the district in the first place. As a result, he said, the district doesn’t need as many teachers.

The budget recommended the elimination of about 50 teachers, though some of those positions could be transferred to other departments where the district needs more employees, he said.

Get it? The more students you have the more teachers you need. This whole game is about keeping the teachers union fat and happy by sticking local residents with the bill for teaching other people’s children.

Organisciak alluded to this mentality during the last budget workshop where, in answer to a question from a resident as to why the school district was not proposing cutting staff, he said that the district employed 2,200 people (making it the largest employer in New Rochelle) and that he was mindful of the need to keep all those people employed so as not to further increase unemployment in New Rochelle. Laughable, I know, coming from a guy who lives in Long Island, who has appointed a lawyer from Manhattan to negotiation with a union boss from Yonkers on best to divide up the assets of New Rochelle residents.

As I have talked to people around town about the fact that there are hundreds of students in New Rochelle schools who do not live here they simply did not believe it could be true. I hope it will serve as a wake up call for them to realize that when a school district like Mount Vernon reports that they found 800+ students from other districts in their schools, it is not hard to imagine the same going on in New Rochelle Schools. Our schools may not be Scarsdale but they sure are better than Mount Vernon.

I have been told that a very conservative estimate is that more than 2% of the kids in our schools do not live here. That comes out to be more than $4 million a year – some estimates are far higher. You can rest assured we will have more on this in the coming weeks.

21 thoughts on “OUTRAGE: Richard Organisciak is a Big, Fat Liar!”

  1. I spent several hours this
    I spent several hours this morning thinking about the dilemma new rochelle faces by simply not facing up to issues that impact our growth, our substance, and our moral base. I say the latter because there is no evidence that the city administration, the council, the oft-published city critics whose names appear so often in opt ed or letters to the editor, and the average citizen based on past voting trends, are willing, able, or unafraid to tackle what likely is the most important issue facing the city’s present and future along with the well-being of our children in terms of their abilities to get the best we have to offer. we spend enormous time and energy talking about armories, dog parks, congestion, traffic, abatements, but no time publically having a conversatiion about the school tax issue that consumes two-thirds of our tax base and the drivers of that tax, a school board and administration that requires a strong dose of public service responsibility, house cleaning, transparency, and simple honesty.

    Bob, you stand almost alone in your dedication to this issue and I applaud you for your courage and dedication. I spent this morning looking at the twists and turns our nation is taking on the issues around torture, national security, transparency re: same and so on and it is really an aggrandizement in many ways of this local issue we face. We have both a business issue comparable to the nations legal issue regarding the above, a political issue based on the need for honest involvement and public disclosure of where our leaders stand, and a moral issue based on why so many of us either can’ due perhaps to fear or apathy or won’t due to sticking ones head in the sand or selfishly embracing the credo that since it is “for the kids”, the policies and practices followed by this board and administration must be ok.

    but they are not ok — we know that explicitly and implicitly and you have a great job in pointing this out to us. yet, people won’t or can’t follow up on this so, as I have said previously, “people get the government they deserve.” Nationally we may be less safe and our children’s children may have to pay down huge deficits — locally our council representatives will ignore this lest they lose votes, the mayor and his staff will soft pedal the findings and through a lack of concern or even critical thinking,, will fail to see the direct relationship between a strong and open school district and a vibrant growing community.

    Others see it outside of new rochelle as you have mentioned. we can only hope that the security of the ballot box allow for the “can’ts and won’ts” to feel safe enough to follow both their reason and their sense of right and wrong. Given the voting process, they will have to have the courage to do this twice.

    Martin Daly has a brighter political future than the limitations imposed by his profession given his skill and audacity that you cover nicely in your rejoinder to my early points. I respect how he has accomplished this, not what he has done. But given his viewpoint of his role in the world, he should not be faulted.

    I wish with all my heart that we lived in a more altruistic society where doing the right thing, believing the right thing, or at least not playing Pontius Pilate or worse, rationalizing choices with significant moral implications, did not exist. but, being human, we are weak and few of us have the sand to go the limit and recognize that without support of the city administration, elected officials, district personnel, and the commmunity we will be left with what we have once more— a divided city, an extraordinary and unaddressed issue that consumes our pocketbook and threatens the future educational advancement of our children, and a city that will not be able to grow and develop in ways that it would like and need.

    Maybe the real tragedy is that there are so many good people who have stakes in this matter. city administration beginning with Noam Bramson are good, decent people for the most part. I think the same is true of the council. I know a number of the perennial critics of the city and they are strong public advocates who are decent folk who somehow don’t want to embrace this issue. They can but they won’t. There are plenty of good, decent, and skilled school staff at all levels; many of whom I am sure see what is necessary to bind wounds, contribute past gains in contracts for the greater taxpayer good. And, yes, the city is full of honest, hardworking, and good neighbors who would come to the aid of their fellow citizen if they could cross that last threshhold and suspend belief that all district actions are “good” because it is for the kids.

    And, there are others — people who are closed to transparency, not above patronage, willing to take “contractual” guaranteed raises…. what is the use of beating a dead horse.

    My last words on this subject. I need to clean up my anger and, at the risk of sounding a little disingenuous, follow Archbishop Dolan’s advice and pray on the matter.

    Warren Gross

    1. If you vote the taxes down
      If you vote the taxes down the property values will drop, but minorities will then be better able to afford houses in the north end (and all over New Rochelle). Isn’t diversity important?

      1. We do not get to vote on
        We do not get to vote on “taxes” in New Rochelle.

        Perhaps what you meant to write is that if voters reject the school budget (which this year includes a 3.22% property tax increase) then property values will drop.

        If you are in the least familiar with current economic events you would know that property values have dropped dramatically over the past couple of years while taxes of every sort have been climbing – school, city, county, state, federal and all sorts of other variations of taxes and fees. There is no correlation between increasing property taxes and increasing property values. If that were the case EVERYONE who owns property would demands BIGGER tax increases.

        As for the rest, your comment is either a lame attempt at humor, uninformed or simply racist. “Minorities” can buy homes anywhere they want regardless of price. Lower-income people cannot buy homes because they do not have enough money. Your comment is based on the premise that minorities do not have money and therefore cannot buy homes.

      2. No, you implied that with
        No, you implied that with your statement which is inherently racist. Your comments are inciting racism in our amazingly diverse city. Not only ethnically diverse, but politically and socioeconomic as well. Where did you go to college cox? Or did u smoke ur brains out the night before that class?

      3. Another well-reasoned
        Another well-reasoned “argument” by the apologists for the New Rochelle School District. Thanks for serving to illustrate why we need to make changes in how our school district is run. With “friends” like you, the administration of the school district does not need enemies. 🙂

      4. Property values may actually
        Property values may actually rise if the tax burden were less. Who wants to buy a $500k house if the real estate taxes are $15,000? But if the same house had real estate taxes of $5,000, the property value would be much higher than $500,000. I don’t think the schools will suffer, every organization needs to prune the dead branches once in a while.

  2. The administrators do not
    The administrators do not belong to FUSE — all administrators and supervisors -except the superintendent and assistant superintendents belong to the Administrators & SUpervisors Association, (A&S) which is headed by Bill Evans of Albert Leonard MS.

  3. This man [Marty Daly] cares
    This man [Marty Daly] cares about the district and our city more so than anyone else I know.

  4. Richard Organisciak gets a
    Richard Organisciak gets a automatic 13,000 raise on top of his quarter million dollar salary?
    No way to freeze such things?
    This is sick!

    1. Do you seriously believe
      Do you seriously believe that a guy from Long Island cares the least little bit about giving back a salary increase when that money goes to inflating his own pension which he will get from the day he retires to the day he dies? He is not a member of this community. New Rochelle is just a paycheck to him.

      Quite frankly, I seriously doubt that there is enough political will to do what is necessary to accomplish the sort of change that is needed in New Rochelle with the school system and Organisciak and the rest of the pack of liars who run things know it.

      The current system is a corrupt political bargain between a relative handful of people who derive personal benefits – cash or power or both – from the system “as is”. These people have tremendous resources at their disposal and they are quite adept at using them. The people of New Rochelle have to contend with the well-funded New York State Teachers Union, the political machine in Albany which supports them.

      As Marty Daly noted in Buffalo a few weeks ago, ALL of the district employees are in the FUSE bargaining unit including the administrators of the school district. As Organisciak noted about the deal with all of the different groups of employees “You can’t make changes to one without making changes to the other, and vice versa.”

      In other words, the administration is actually negotiating with itself. Think about that for a moment.

      [NOTE: Several readers have pointed out that Daly’s statement was not entirely correct because the Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendents have their own separate contracts with the District. His claim was cited here because, although slightly exaggerated the point remains the same, the “negotiations” are less about the district v. the union and more about the district/union v. New Rochelle residents. None of the people involved in the negotiations (Daly, Kehl, Pecunia, Quinn) live in New Rochelle.]

      There is more. The PTA is actively involved in get-out-the-vote efforts to support the school budget and elect school board members who support the budget, who support the union and will turn a blind-eye to the hundreds of students from other districts who attend school here in New Rochelle. Why do you think that is? How about because the PTA is run by the head of the teachers union. According School Board President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch New Rochelle is the ONLY DISTRICT in New York State where the PTA is run by the head of the teachers union. Am I the only person who finds this to be a rather blatant conflict of interest?

      Worse, the people of New Rochelle have to contend with the lawyer for the district, Jeffrey Kehl. According to the New York State Comptroller, Jeffrey Kehl wrote the contract for the school district that the district then turned around and signed with Kehl. Am I the only person who finds this to be a rather blatant conflict of interest?

      The Comptroller’s audit of New Rochelle Schools criticized the District for not having held any competitive bidding for legal services by the district for well over a decade. The board points out that they are not required to do so, by law. Fine but that is not the same thing as saying they are prohibited from holding competitive bidding for legal services. Don’t they have a fiduciary obligation to the taxpayers to at least CONSIDER alternatives? Given the attitude of the school board it should come as no surprise that the district’s law firm has been paid MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars by the New Rochelle School District.

      Why so much? Challenge the board or administrators and they will invariably seek to evade responding by falling back on the line “we will seek advice from counsel”. What does that mean? It means that the administrators we are paying to making executive decisions do not make them but instead defer those decisions to a Manhattan lawyer who rarely if ever sets foot in a school board meeting.

      On top of this, the school district can use taxpayer money to buy votes with giveaways like free laptops to 10 year olds, using school functions to register parents disposed to support more goodies from the school district at taxpayer expense, and using scare tactics like telling young parents that if they do not support the school budget they will not get full-day Kindergarten for the kids.

      Last but not least you have New York State laws which give near absolute power to school districts and build in all sorts of protections for unions.
      Against the full force of government power and behind-the-scenes self-dealing what can one person alone do to bring accountability to the school district? Not much — and the power brokers who run the district know it.

      They are laughing at you.

      As a result, the school budgets go up and up, the taxes go up and up, the unions grow more powerful and the entire monstrous creation is balanced on the back of local residents who are constantly told that if you do not support our Frankenstein Monster of a school district when you are “against the kids”.
      Does anyone in New Rochelle actually believe that a union boss from Yonkers, a lawyer from Manhattan and a Superintendent from Long Island care more about kids in New Rochelle than the people who actually live here? Yet, this is the presumptuous conceit of our so-called “leaders”.

      The only time I have ever heard anyone on the school board really afraid is when they talk about the possibility of the budget vote failing twice resulting in New York State taking charges of district spending by implementing a contingency budget which takes decisions out of the hands of the school district administration. I have never understood WHY exactly they would be so afraid of this. This year the State contingency budget would be for a 4.1% increase in the budget which is more than originally proposed (3.75%) and more than was just approved by the school board (3.20%). Why would the school district leave 0.9% of $222 mm or about two million dollars on the table? They could vote against their own budget and get MORE money than they are asking for.

      Mount Vernon shows why they are scared. If the State came in and did the same sorts of evaluations they did in Mount Vernon, the District would lose a large number of students. If Mount Vernon has 800 “wrongly enrolled” students then New Rochelle likely has more. And when the Mount Vernon Superintendent proposed a budget cutting 50 teaching positions for the rather obvious reason that there were 800 less kids to each, the board voted down their own Superintendents’ budget which shows where the board’s priorities are – protecting the teachers union by keeping on dozens of teachers the district does not need at a cost of millions of dollars.

      The amount of money involved DWARFS the current proposed budget increase for 2009-10: 800 kids x $18,000 per pupil cost translates into $14.4 mm per year.

      Time and time again I hear the same thing — people have given up fighting the school district. Even the most determined adversaries including current and past school board members have given up. We have ceded control of our City to a union boss from Yonkers, a bureaucrat from Long Island and a lawyer from Manhattan.

      Warren is right. We get the government we deserve.

      1. Bob you continue to make a
        Bob you continue to make a powerful case. A year or so back I tried to get the State Superintendent to intervene in this district. I was told that it is only done when there is cause — facts that are over and above simply “business judgment.” You have these facts; you are showing, among other things, conflict of interest, not bargaining in good faith (sweetheart contracts), “padding” district results, possibly even withholding of residency demographies (a basis I think for state funding), etc.

        You might consider bundling your findings and sending them up to the new superintendent with a copy to the attorney general. At the very least, you will get a case number/response and maybe the district will stop the insanity of blocking people from getting information or going through the tortuous FOIL route.

        Great job

        warren gross

      1. funny how the most important
        funny how the most important part of my post was cut out.

      2. As is our policy, anonymous
        As is our policy, anonymous comments may be edited or simply not published at all. I tend to doubt we would publish anonymous comments which consist primarily of the sort of puerile invective and ad hominem attacks that have little to do with the subject of a particular post. Such “drive by” anonymous comments have become the hallmark of the handful of individuals who have appointed themselves “Defenders of the Faith” for the administration and board of the New Rochelle school district.

        If you or anyone else wishes to have your comments appear unedited and without moderation you can do what everyone else is required to do in order to have that privilege here – register for an account.

        Until then, such comments will be published, edited as we see fit, only when it suits OUR purpose.

        Have a nice day.

      3. I work hard too, but I
        I work hard too, but I didn’t receive a raise this year and my salary is being cut back 20% this summer so no I don’t think he deserves a raise.

        And btw, I don’t think any of the teachers deserve a raise. Most of our teachers are making more than $100k and think they should make more. They should probably be making 1/2 what they do and without the pension. That would probably drop my $9000 school tax bill a bit. The school district is just out of touch with reality.

  5. Richard Organisciak is a
    Richard Organisciak is a great man and the budget is amazing! Congrats to New Rochelle for having very bright people to create an incredible school district.

      1. I’m a tax paying citizen of
        I’m a tax paying citizen of New Rochelle and actually think our district is doing an excellent job.

  6. Bob Cox has done his
    Bob Cox has done his homework as usual and tells any reasonable reader what that reader should do —namely, vote down this monstrous injustice to the taxpayer and demand the dismissal of richard organisciak while further demanding specific insight into how the board of directors is actually representing its base via the negotiations. They won’t because Cox has hit the nail on the head. Student headcount is directly related to school district staff and the number of school district staff relates to the sizable war chest in funding held by FUSE.

    A wise man once said, “people get the government they deserve.” Parents, you got the government you deserve. If you think your children are well served in New Roc think again. Go beyond the tax burden — look at classroom size, the overcrowding of many of the facilities, the deterioration of student results via comparision to peer groups, the ever decreasing graduation rate numbers — but Mr. Organisciak will chide you if you dare compare our results to his predecessor’s accomplishment —after all as he says, our “diversity” demands that we be comnpared to other districts with similar demographics. That is a rotten and unfair message to both parents in our city who ought to be able to smell a veiled racist comment when they see one to the city administration who should be in the business of extolling the virtue of our school system to attract new residents and businesses to our city. It is the school system stupid! This is a major component of why people move to a city! Yes we are 45 minutes from broadway and we have a lovely sound view, but… the voters in this city have been snookered for years with the mantra, “its for the kids.” Wake up — what is really for the kids is a competent, transparent district that produces quality results; namely students ready to compete in an increasingly complex world. This district is not prepared to do that and there is little doubt that Bob Cox has nailed it when he questions how many students here actually share with Organisciak the demographic of being a resident outside of New Roc.

    Why don’t people attend these meetings? Likely because of the frustration involved in being marginalized and diminished by the drivel spewing from the lips of school district board members and administration. Take the remark that the negotiations are held to some form of secrecy. Wake up voters — that is camoflauge for the opacity you have become accustomed to for so many years. No one has asked to see the minutes of the negotiations. Quinn could easily give at the least an overview of what the hell is on the table — for example, are there “givebacks” under discussion, etc. You can get more as any labor attorney can tell you — you have standing being a taxpayer, but you get the government you deserve. And this nonsense about Organisciak and his “contract.” I suppose the many district superintendents who either deferred, reduced, or refused to take an increase or, in some cases, even opted to cut their salaries — I guess they had no contracts. Show me a damn superintendent with no contract and I will show you a functionary in Belize or some other country. How can this individual, his staff, his overseers have the temerity to counch this as an “untouchable” during these times? But, parents, again, you get the government you deserve.

    Finally, put more blame on the city administration. Why in the name of God are these men and women silent? Where is the Mayor, the City Council, the City Manager? Not a word, never a word. They fail to see the relationship between the district and city growth, between the tax base and the citizen? Don’t they realize that school taxes are two-thirds of your tax base? Of course they do! They may be divided on less important issues like the armory or main street, but they are a band of brothers and sisters on the school district. Parents and voters alike, you do get the government you deserve.

    Maybe Martin Daly should run for office as like it or not, this man is doing what he was elected to do. It is almost sad to admit that, but he cannot be faulted for being good at his job.

    Bob, I am literally too old, too frustrated, too angry, and too depressed over the rationalizations and psuedo intellectual defenses put forth by the defenders of the school board and its functionaries to attend any hearing. This is shorthand for I give up and I respect you for still competing in the lists.

    warren gross

    1. Warren wrote: “Martin Daly
      Warren wrote: “Martin Daly should run for office as like it or not, this man is doing what he was elected to do. It is almost sad to admit that, but he cannot be faulted for being good at his job.”

      Martin Daly did run for office TWICE in New Rochelle – and won both times.

      He ran and was elected President of FUSE, the New Rochelle Teachers Union.

      He ran and was elected President of the New Rochelle Parent-Teachers Association.

      Both of which are amazing accomplishments considering that he lives in Yonkers.

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