Trash Talk

As you may have read recently, City Council has been discussing our contract with Waste Connections, the company that has provided your weekly trash pick-up service since 2002. Though their contract still has five years remaining, the company asked council to consider waiving the competitive bid process to give them an additional five years. When … Continue reading Trash Talk

My Response to Matt Bailey RE: The MTAS Investigation

I submit the following in response to Mr. Louis Matthew Bailey’s public accusations against me. Mr. Bailey has marginalized the concerns of both our police officers and our citizens by claiming that I’ve overstated the police department’s turnover. In reality, the HR Director, Penny Sissom omitted the names of at least two known departures, thereby … Continue reading My Response to Matt Bailey RE: The MTAS Investigation

Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now

Sixteen years ago, Partners for Progress successfully lobbied the city to spend over $15 million of your (the taxpayer) money to launch a major development on the West End of Oak Ridge. The promises were enough to make people starry eyed. There was to be a picturesque subdivision of nearly 4,000 homes along with an industrial complex that, when … Continue reading Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now

Vote for Garcia Garland for City Council – She won’t sell out

Please consider voting for my friend Anne Garcia Garland for City Council. Though we come from different ends of the political spectrum, Anne and I work very well together to ensure transparency and accountability. I respect her beyond words for being a woman who stands solid on her convictions. You can vote for her with … Continue reading Vote for Garcia Garland for City Council – She won’t sell out

Letter to the Editor of the Oak Ridger: Correction of my statement about the Chamber of Commerce

To the Editor: I misspoke during our August 11th city council meeting and wish to make a public correction. Per a recent article in the Oak Ridger, I stated that “We pay the Chamber of Commerce $275,000 per year, compared to Farragut who pays $7,000 per year to be a member of their chamber.” While … Continue reading Letter to the Editor of the Oak Ridger: Correction of my statement about the Chamber of Commerce

Afterthoughts on the 2015 Budget Discussions

A lot of incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, information has been disseminated to the public regarding the FY2015 city and school budgets. Such inconsistencies compound citizen frustrations as they begin to feel the impact of both bodies’ decisions. I would like to offer some clarification along with supporting resources which are hyperlinked below. First, let me … Continue reading Afterthoughts on the 2015 Budget Discussions

2015 Oak Ridge School Budget Alternatives/Considerations

My last in-depth analysis of the school budget was in 2011. It's interesting to see what has changed and what hasn't. You can read for yourself here. Dr. Borchers and Members of the Board of Education: I have reviewed your budget proposals and would like to share my thoughts for consideration in your final deliberations.  I … Continue reading 2015 Oak Ridge School Budget Alternatives/Considerations

March 2014 Oak Ridge Schools Safety Update

Since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Oak Ridge Schools and the Oak Ridge Police Department (ORPD) last August, a number of significant safety improvements have occurred within our schools including physical security upgrades, leadership adjustments and increased police presence. As you may know, this time last year, we had only … Continue reading March 2014 Oak Ridge Schools Safety Update

The Oak Ridge High School Debt Chronicles – How a $40 Million Project Will Cost Taxpayers Over $126 Million (So Far)

NOTE: The Oak Ridge City Council will hold a special non-voting meeting on February 27, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the Municipal Building to discuss the high school debt resolution as well as a request received by the BOE on 2/26/14 to approve an amendment to their annual budget in the amount of $1.75 million. … Continue reading The Oak Ridge High School Debt Chronicles – How a $40 Million Project Will Cost Taxpayers Over $126 Million (So Far)

Why It Will Cost Even More To Flush & What You Can Do About It

On September 9th, your City Council will likely vote to approve additional water/sewer rate increases. When combined with the last two increases, the average user’s bill will have spiked 62% in just 34 months. Subsequently, should council adopt the fully proposed schedule through 2019, most residents and businesses will be paying double what they were … Continue reading Why It Will Cost Even More To Flush & What You Can Do About It

Open Letter to Dr. Bruce Borchers, Oak Ridge Superintendent: Protect Our Students and Teachers

I will post the referenced materials (the memo from the chief of police, the FERPA communications and documentation on the ousted principal) shortly. If you are one of the parents, school staff or students, past or present, that has experienced the problems I've referenced, please contact  Russel Langley at russl68@gmail.com.  ---------------------------------------------------- Dr. Borchers, Shortly after the … Continue reading Open Letter to Dr. Bruce Borchers, Oak Ridge Superintendent: Protect Our Students and Teachers

Changing the Game of Economic Development in Oak Ridge: Part 2

The topic of city council’s work session this month was Economic Development. Since the city manager’s initial presentation to council on the subject in January, the two most heavily funded organizations (of the Economic Diversification Fund) have made multiple attempts to persuade council to continue funding them at nearly the same levels as in the … Continue reading Changing the Game of Economic Development in Oak Ridge: Part 2

The Rest of the EPA Mandate Story/Final Plea to My Fellow Councilmembers

Since I first published this article, council has increased sewer/water rates multiple times and is poised to do so again in 2016. To date, rates, on average have increased by over 100% for water and by approximately 135% for sewer. The following has been submitted to all local newspapers for publication: Last month, Oak Ridgers … Continue reading The Rest of the EPA Mandate Story/Final Plea to My Fellow Councilmembers

ALTERNATIVES TO INCURRING ADDITIONAL DEBT

I submitted the following to the Oak Ridge City Council in an effort to explore alternative funding of the EPA mandated changes in our sewer system. Upon learning of an error, I've made a correction regarding ownership of the Chamber of Commerce building. ALTERNATIVES TO INCURRING ADDITIONAL DEBT -         As suggested by Trina Baughn 1/14/2013 … Continue reading ALTERNATIVES TO INCURRING ADDITIONAL DEBT

Does Oak Ridge Have a Revenue Problem or a Spending Problem?

My opponents have repeatedly stated that we have a “revenue problem.”  They do not see our debt as a problem and believe that the solution is to simply increase revenue. Translation: They want MORE of your money. The truth is, revenues aren’t down. They are actually up by $55Million for the last 10 years. The … Continue reading Does Oak Ridge Have a Revenue Problem or a Spending Problem?

Twenty Four Years of Payments and Decades More to Go!

At under 45 minutes, this month’s city council meeting may have been the shortest meeting they’ve ever held. While it was a nice change from the normal 3 hour meetings, I wonder why council didn’t take the opportunity to discuss anything of significance given our city’s various, not to mention serious, problems.  After all, they … Continue reading Twenty Four Years of Payments and Decades More to Go!

More of the Same – Column Update, Contact Info and City Manager Letter & Resolution

NOTE:  The email from the city manager as well as his proposed resolution that I referenced are included at the end of this post. A majority of council have indicated that they will not approve the resolution that I referenced in the following column/post. This begs the question: Now what? Council should absolutely stand their … Continue reading More of the Same – Column Update, Contact Info and City Manager Letter & Resolution

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right on Senior Center

On August 8th, city council unanimously approved a resolution to pay $15,000 to an architectural and engineering firm to study the need for the construction of a new Senior Enrichment Center. The City of Oak Ridge website has a time table posted entitled “Projected Schedule for New Senior Enrichment Center.”  According to the Recreation and … Continue reading Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right on Senior Center

Recommended Adjustments to the OR BOE 2012 Budget

For the Oak Ridge schools' 2012 budget, the Board of Education is requesting a 7.32 percent increase in funds from the city, $1,059,171 more than last year.However, it is critical that we maintain, not increase, funding, given the serious state of our economy, our extremely high tax rate, and the overwhelming level of debt we … Continue reading Recommended Adjustments to the OR BOE 2012 Budget

Proposal for the ORSB FY2010 Budget Adjustments

I submitted the following to the ORSB this evening. The formatting isn't as pretty as it should be, but it's been a very long day, so this is what you get.------------------------------------RECOMMENDATIONS Propose that all staff be afforded a 1% pay raise in lieu of a step increase and that the school system forego the $135,000 … Continue reading Proposal for the ORSB FY2010 Budget Adjustments

LTE 12-13-07 How well are we meeting the needs of the overall student population?

http://www.oakridger.com/stories/121307/opi_225055606.shtml“Oak Ridge Schools only care about the best of the best.” “Unless you are super intelligent or a superstar on the football team, you are nobody in Oak Ridge Schools.” Have you ever heard statements like these? Have you ever said them yourself? Have you ever had an experience that supported such opinions?Generalized statements like … Continue reading LTE 12-13-07 How well are we meeting the needs of the overall student population?

Aug 23, 07 LTE (Observer) School Attendance and Spending

Because the school funding campaign has already begun with the numerous articles about the need for a new preschool (and you can bet a new administration building will be thrown in again as it was a few years ago), I decided to respond to the articles recently run about how enrollment is up and how … Continue reading Aug 23, 07 LTE (Observer) School Attendance and Spending

Jul 20, 07 LTE (Oak Ridger) City Council’s Obligation

Should City Council inquire about specifics in the OR School Budget?There have been a lot of public statements made that our City Council has “no business” even looking at, let alone questioning, specific line items in the School Budget. For the life of me, I cannot understand the basis of this belief. Our City Charter … Continue reading Jul 20, 07 LTE (Oak Ridger) City Council’s Obligation

Jul 16, 07 Submission to City Council – BEP Discrepancies

After having received a substantial increase in funding from council and having received $1.9 million unexpected dollars from the state’s new BEP plan, the OR School Board still cites insufficient funding for the 2007/2008 school year.On July 11, 2007, the school board held a work session to discuss the $1.9 million BEP funds. Their attached … Continue reading Jul 16, 07 Submission to City Council – BEP Discrepancies

Jul 5, 07 LTE (Observer)/Jun 28, 07 Statement to ORSB

For many years now, the Oak Ridge School Board has requested additional funding from the City Council while inferring that our schools are in jeopardy. While certain members have indicated that they do not desire “to pit one city service against another” year after year, this is exactly what has happened. When council cannot meet … Continue reading Jul 5, 07 LTE (Observer)/Jun 28, 07 Statement to ORSB

Jun 18, 07 LTE (appr) / Email to ORSB RE: Return of Funds to CC

With the signing of the new BEP by Gov. Bredeson last week, the OR School Board has indicated that the Oak Ridge Schools will receive $1.9 million additional dollars for FY2008. This amount will more than cover the $140,000 cited shortfall as well as the reinstatement of the bus transportation previously cut to students living … Continue reading Jun 18, 07 LTE (appr) / Email to ORSB RE: Return of Funds to CC

Jun 3, 07 Email to ORSB – Confirmation of No Intent to Reinstate Transportation in 08

I've sent the following to all members of the school board. I believe I know the answer, but wanted to be certain that I understood correctly. Maybe this is something everyone but me had already understood, but, then again, maybe not. ORSB Members, In my continued quest to understand the budgeting process and thus, participate … Continue reading Jun 3, 07 Email to ORSB – Confirmation of No Intent to Reinstate Transportation in 08

May 31, 07 LTE (Observer) – The Big Picture – Pre Election

There’s a lot of uncertainty in our city’s future and our struggle to find answers continues. We lack a consensus on what factors are essential to our vitality. I don’t claim to have the answers as to what those factors may be, but I do know that increased taxes and increased debt DO NOT make … Continue reading May 31, 07 LTE (Observer) – The Big Picture – Pre Election

May 18, 07 LTE (Oak Ridger) Opposition to increased Property Tax

Loudest to be heard at expense of others As an educated, school-supporting, taxpaying citizen of Oak Ridge with children in the Oak Ridge School System, I am voicing my OPPOSITION to the proposed property tax increase to be voted on May 21st. Do I support our schools and our educators? Yes — as I’ve stated … Continue reading May 18, 07 LTE (Oak Ridger) Opposition to increased Property Tax