NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Former school board member David Lacher is a documented liar and thief.
Any normal person, having been caught red-handed misappropriating $13,500 from the school district while President of the BOE — and then lying about it over and over, on video tape, would hang their head in shame, and leave town. The shameless Lacher prefers instead to continue to paint himself as a victim as he lingers around the fringes of board of education meetings like an uninvited house guest that won’t leave.
In an apparent reaction to criticism of the school board leadership by this reporter, David Lacher, as is his wont, is once again out attempting to re-write history, this time to defend the repeated board failures regarding the so-far non-existent “budget” for the 2019-20 school year.
What’s really going on here is that David Lacher is still mad that having single-handedly recruited Brian Osborne in 2014 to be Superintendent, Osborne turned his back on Lacher once he took the helm in July, 2014 just as David Lacher was being booted out as Board President after he was exposed by this reporter for having used taxpayer money to pay his personal medical expenses. Lacher is determined to both pretend he had nothing to do with Osborne’s hiring (a process he controlled on his own from start to finish) and exact revenge on Osborne by dancing on his “grave” by portraying this year’s budget process a great success despite, to this point, there being no process at all (the first item on the 2019 budget calendar is next Thursday). Hell hath no fury like a failed, corrupt Board President scorned.
The board leadership should consider that when you are reduced to relying on Lyin’ Lacher to cover for your failures you have hit rock bottom.
Our well-documented criticism over the past 4 weeks has been based on comparing and contrasting the practice of the past 10 years (much of that time with Lacher on the board) with the current year: a budget season calendar was published each January (this year it was published March 15th), there were 1-2 community input sessions starting in early February (there have been none so far), and that there were three highly-detailed budget presentations made each March (there have been none so far). We have done this by posting images from last year’s budget calendar and otherwise linking and documenting each point with information from the District web site.
Readers will note, Lacher offers no documentation to support his assertions, we just have to take Lyin’ Lacher’s word for it.
When David Lacher says “trust me”, check your wallet.
For those new to him, Lacher is a sophist – a person who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments. It is a nice way of saying David Lacher is a first-degree bullshit artist (pardon the language), a “degree” he earned through years of practice and study culminating in his using taxpayer money to pay his personal medical bills then making himself out to be a victim. His claim at the time was he had to take the money because his law practice had suffered because he was devoting so much time to the school board in 2013 and 2014. Setting aside that it was Lacher who insisted on becoming Board President so he could run the 2013-14 Superintendent search, Lacher’s law practice had suffered long before 2013 because he has a reputation around town as a poor lawyer. He has been off the school board since June 2015 so how does he explain his meager law practice over the past few years?
So now to the animating point of this article, Lacher recently published the following statement:
We didn’t have a full budget last year until April. How does no one remember that? Neither the Board nor the public knew that the proposed budget would break the tax cap until just before the Board had to vote to adopt the budget in April. Last year was presented in pieces week by week – looked like it was being made up as they went along. You don’t remember that?
Tom Ryan already has presented a more complete picture in his very thin initial report than we got during the entire month of March last year. There is a revenue projection, a total spending projection, spending increase, projected tax increase, and a commitment that the tax cap will not be broken. The sections need to be fleshed out for sure, and hopefully this will be done this week at the budget workshop on 3/21. But last year at this time we had no totals for anything.
Really does no one remember this?
Anyone familiar with Lacher’s mendacious ways know you need to take a moment to deconstruct his bullshit to lay bare the lies, so we will take it line by line.
“We didn’t have a full budget last year until April,” says Lacher.
This is a classic Lacher Red Herring. We have never said anything about a “full budget” or that the board has failed to produce what Lacher calls a “full budget”.
After decades on the school board Lacher knows the process and the terminology. There is no such term as “full budget”. There is a “Superintendent’s Budget” (what the administration proposes) and an “Adopted Budget” (what the board votes to use as the basis for the budget referendum in May). Along the way, the board and community are shown a “Preliminary Budget” so they can be informed as to how the budget is shaping up and provide input.
Our concern is that there is no preliminary budget, that there was no plan to present one and, now that a budget calendar was made public on Friday, we can see there is no intention to ever present a preliminary budget but rather whatever is determined to be a “highlight”.
I recall in past years several occasions where members of the public stood up at the line-by-line budget review sessions and pointed out flaws, miscalculations and other sorts of errors in preliminary budgets: the names Adam Egelberg, Amy Ecker, and Amy Moselhi come readily to mind. That will not happen this year because, ironically, Egelberg, Ecker, and Moselhi, having gotten a seat at the table in the proverbial backroom, are pulling the ladder up behind them by supporting a plan that eliminates all of the line-by-line budget review sessions.
“Neither the Board nor the public knew that the proposed budget would break the tax cap until just before the Board had to vote to adopt the budget in April,” says Lacher.
David Lacher was not on the school board last year so how does he know what the board did or did not know?
How does Lacher explain that the school board adopted Osborne’s Superintendent’s Budget and Board Members went out into the community to advocate for what then became the Board’s Budget?
Lacher hired Osborne so if he believes Osborne was so terrible he can start casting blame by looking in the mirror.
“Last year was presented in pieces week by week,” says Lacher.
OMG! This guy is utterly shameless.
For the entire time Lacher was on the school board, the administration presented the proposed budget in 3 evening sessions over a period of about two weeks. This is how it is done in Districts throughout Westchester and beyond. In his decades on the school board and in the years since, this is the first Lacher is complaining about a process he presided over including three terms as Board President.
“Tom Ryan already has presented a more complete picture in his very thin initial report than we got during the entire month of March last year,” says Lacher.
This is utter nonsense as we documented the night Ryan presented what he fancifully called a “status quo” budget that it was utter garbage.
“There is a revenue projection,” says Lacher.
As Ryan explained, he simply multiplied last year’s budget by the maximum allowed under the tax cap.
“a total spending projection,” says Lacher.
As Ryan explained, he carried forward all of the contractual obligations like salaries under the union contract and state requirements like pension contributions. Ryan did not include community input (as there has been none) and principals requests for programming (arguably, the most significant spending of all), among far more.
“spending increase”, says Lacher.
Classic Lacher baloney, any spending increase is implied in a spending projection and, as noted, Ryan’s spending projection is just carrying forward existing contractual and state obligations.
“projected tax increase,” says Lacher.
Ryan received the tax levy cap calculation from the NYS Comptroller and proposed spending up to the maximum of the allowable tax levy cap. This is not exactly sophisticated budgeting now is it?
“a commitment that the tax cap will not be broken,” says Lacher.
Ryan was told by board leadership to propose a budget that did not break the tax levy cap and he did so without identifying what revenue will be or where it will coming from. Ryan said, for example, he assumes the Governor’s budget will remain as originally proposed even though Cuomo announced weeks ago that he would have to revise his budget due to lower-than-expected state tax revenue. Ryan makes various assumptions about PILOT revenue apparently unaware that the City’s PILOT revenue never lines up with the school budget.
With the revenue side locked in at $277,721,000 on a tax levy rate increase of 2.24%, the budget will need to be balanced on the cost side. No one, not even Ryan that night, knew what that was because he had not incorporated the Principal’s requests nor completed the salary projections nor received input from the school board or the community.
Input by school board members has typically occurred during the line-by-line budget review sessions but those have been eliminated. Nowhere in the process announced Friday night is their an opportunity for board members to address specific budget items in a public, line-by-line, review prior to voting whether to adopt the budget other than what Ryan, under the direction of Board President Jeffrey Hastie, chooses to show them on April 9th
“The sections need to be fleshed out for sure, and hopefully this will be done this week at the budget workshop on 3/21,” says Lacher.
Fleshed out? Ryan offered a few bone fragments of a skeleton. We need bones before anything can be fleshed out.
No idea what Lacher is hopeful about but there is no “budget workshop” on March 21st or any other time. There is something entitled “Café-style School Budget Review Session”, the stated purpose of which is for “personnel to answer residents’ questions and take input”. So where is the “workshop”?
Last we heard, Ryan said he would be in Florida from March 15 to March 25 (he lives in Florida). There is no budget to review so no idea why this event is entitled a “Budget Review Session” but it is certainly not a “workshop” and unless his plans changed Ryan will not be present.
“last year at this time we had no totals for anything,” says Lacher.
Holy Cow! Absolutely, demonstrably false.
According to the District website “The District administration presented preliminary budget information in a series of public sessions on March 13 (technology, operations & maintenance, transportation), March 20 (student support services) and March 27 (educational program)”.
And those dates were pushed back from the scheduled dates of March 8, 13, 20 due to severe weather (Nor’easters).
There was a high-level of detail that went line-by-line through each section of the budget. You will need to hurry before they delete it but here is an example of the level of detail from just one of those budget review meetings:
- 2018-19 Budget-Demographic Enrollment Analysis_3-13-18
- 2018-19 Budget-Enrollment Long-Range Planning Study_3-13-18
- 2018-19 Budget-Preliminary Budget Operations – Student Support Services
- 2018-19 Budget-Preliminary Budget Slide Presentation – Operations 3-13-18
- 2018-19 Budget-Preliminary Budget Supporting Details – Operations
If you act fast you can see the line by line detail in the “2018-19 Budget-Preliminary Budget Supporting Details – Operations” but here is an illustrative image from one of the 43 pages in that one preliminary budget document.
Why anyone would give credence to anything David Lacher says is hard to fathom but he is apparently counting on a collective memory lapse as word is Lacher is out collecting petition signatures to force a Democratic Party primary in District 5. As a helpful reminder to those voters, we offer some of Lyin’ Lacher’s greatest hits:
New Rochelle Board of Education President David Lacher ran up a five-figure debt to the school district over the past two years by failing to make timely payments for medical insurance he obtained through the District’s Group Health Insurance program. Lacher was late paying his bills for all but one one of the twenty-one months he has had coverage through the District going back to August, 2012. On average, Lacher was $6,342.30 in arrears each month since his current coverage began and often exceeded $10,000. He was not charged interest. By February of this year (2014?, when Lacher was asked about his medical insurance at a school board meeting (by this reporter), he was seven months behind on his payments. As of February 26th, Lacher owed $13,488.06 to the District and had ignored repeated payment demands from the District sent by certified mail.
David Lacher claims that a person inside City Hall “fed” his personal information to Talk of the Sound. This is not the case. Lacher told me about his obtaining medical insurance through the District at the SEPTA dinner a year ago. I have no idea why he would have done that, especially given our history, but he did. Here is what happened.
A personal situation has arisen which I need to share with you today, because this surely will become public and the only question is when those who have the information will choose to use it to their best advantage.
Records show Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration John Quinn granted Lacher what was, effectively, an unauthorized revolving line of credit funded by taxpayer dollars. The arrangement between Quinn and Lacher raises serious questions about the board’s ability to function in an oversight capacity with Lacher dependent on Quinn to repeatedly pay Lacher’s insurance bills using District funds, extending Lacher credit and retaining the ability to retroactively terminate Lacher’s insurance at a moment’s notice, recoup the money paid to NYSHIP, and make Lacher liable for all costs paid for under the insurance.
By broad definition, a government official, whether elected, appointed or hired, may violate the law when he/she asks, demands, solicits, accepts, or agrees to receive anything of value in return for being influenced in the performance of their official duties. So, what about David Lacher?
New Rochelle Board of Education President David Lacher was unable to gain board support for a second term as President in the wake of revelations by Talk of the Sound that he had run up thousands of dollars in debt to the District and so announced that Tuesday’s meeting would be his last as President. Lacher had lobbied board members for a second term on the grounds that having recruited incoming Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne to New Rochelle he ought to remain President to guide Osborne through his first year. His board colleagues rejected this argument setting the stage of Board Vice President Lianne Merchant to rise to the Presidency at next week’s meeting.
In my speech on August 5th, I noted that is has been the past practice of the board for many years that the exiting board President move to the far end of the dais, stage-right, facing the audience. My remarks were later picked up by Jeffrey Hastie who has been relegated to the seat that rightly belongs to Mr. Lacher. The following exchange occurred:
Jeffrey Hastie: I want to add I appreciate you Mr. Cox bringing up about Lacher I already did that with Liz when I walked into the room and saw the seating and your right the past practice has been that the ex-President sits here [seat at far end] so I already addressed that with Liz and that should be resolved by the next meeting
Valerie Orellana: That’s not true.
Jeffrey Hastie: That is true. That is true.
Valerie Orellana: No, its not. I saw there…
Chrisanne Petrone: No..
Jeffrey Hastie: Yes, it is.
Chrisanne Petrone: Dee Polow has sat there (point to seat occupied Lacher).
Valerie Orellana: I sat at that end before (sharing her head).
Jeffrey Hastie: Just after she left she sat there…
Rachel Relkin: Really?
David Lacher: (throwing up his hands, looking at Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne) What do you want us to do?
This is about as good an example of the deliberate, near-comical dissembling and willful forgetting by certain members of the New Rochelle Board of Education as one could hope to find and so we present it here as another example why, as a rule, board members are not to be believed when they speak. The problem with the efforts by Orellana, Petrone, and Relkin to dismiss my remarks, and those of Hastie, and once again defend David Lacher, is that there is video tape.