From March until May, dozens of New Rochelle residents came before the school board at so-called “Budget Workshops” to share their concerns about increasing property taxes, out-of-control spending and especially runaway salaries, benefits and overtime for District employees. Residents repeatedly hammered away at two questions during the school board meetings: (1) will there be a pay freeze (2) will there be any sort of giveback on health insurance benefits. Time and time again School Board President Cindy Babcock-Deutsch lied to residents claiming there was a law which precluded any public discussion of ongoing union negotiation to the obvious discomfort of other board members who knew full-well there was no such law.
Back on June 2nd, I wrote about my appearance before the school board:
I addressed my first comments to Ms. Babcock-Deutsch, reminding her that in the months prior to the budget vote many New Rochelle residents asked for information about the status of the then-ongoing F.U.S.E. negotiations. Residents asked about whether there would be a pay freeze, givebacks or an increase in contributions to the health care plan. Babcock-Deutsch repeatedly told residents who appeared before the school board that there was a law which precluded board members from commenting publicly on union negotiations. When residents pressed her to state which law she was talking about she gave the tried and true “I will seek counsel” answer which is code for “I am lying, out on a limb in doing it and need to bail myself by hiding behind my lawyer”. It is school district employees and board members way of “taking the fifth”.
After reminding her of her past statements I pointed out that it had been a couple of months said she told residents she would “seek counsel” and get back to them and so far she never had. I asked her whether she had gotten counsel and could now provide us a citation for a law which precludes board members from discussing ongoing union negotiations with New Rochelle residents. Babcock-Deutsch said that she had only stated that she would seek counsel as to WHETHER she could discuss ongoing negotiations. I pointed out the record was clear that this was not the case, that she had repeatedly stated there was a law that precluded board members from discussing ongoing negotiations. Babcock-Deutsch then asked whether I wanted a letter with the answer to that question. I said that I would like such a letter. Babcock-Deutsch then promised to send me a letter explaining what law precludes the school board from informing the public about ongoing union negotiations [note: I followed up with an email confirming her offer and my acceptance, asking that the letter be provided before the next school board meeting, currently scheduled for June 30th, at which time I will comment on her letter.
Over the weekend I got Cindy’s letter in which she is unable to cite any law that precludes public discussion of ongoing union negotiations.
The letter is definitely worth a read by all fans of irony.
In the letter, Ms. Babcock-Deutsch has the balls to cite the New York State Open Meeting Laws and New York State Freedom of Information Act. This perversion of the law is especially rich coming from a woman who has routinely violated the Open Meeting Law to invoke “executive session” to discuss public business in secret, supported Superintendent Richard Organisciak in pissing all over the Freedom of Information Act and personally defecated on the U.S. Constitution of the United States by tramping all over the 1st, 4th, 14th and 15th Amendments in her tenure as School Board President. More to the point, however her letter is a big, hairy middle finger to every New Rochelle resident who showed up for the budget workshops to ask questions about the then-ongoing union negotiations. To that extent every resident of New Rochelle should be outraged by the childish antics of this prima donna.
Babcock-Deutsch is clumsily attempting to skirt the issue and avoid accountability for her own words by claiming that since the Board as a whole made a decision not to discuss the union negotiations no individual member may contravene that decision. Of course that is the entire point. The board made a decision to be silent. Therefore they could have chosen not to make that decision or, if the had and then changed their mind, could just as easily make a decision to reverse themselves and issue a statement in response to questions from the public. Given that the board CHOSE to be silent it means they had the OPTION to be silent and that is why? Because THERE IS NO LAW THAT REQUIRES SILENCE DURING UNION NEGOTIATIONS.
In fact, this is precisely what Superintendent Richard Organisciak did when he gave a statement to the Journal News which addressed the very questions being raised by residents at the board meetings.
I know it is just one lie on a long string of lies from the board of education and the administration of the school district but it is still appalling to see a grown woman lie like a child with her hand caught in the cookie jar. Even more pathetic is watching people who know better or maybe used to have some integrity sit on that board like the three monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.