The LuLac Edition #326, Oct. 17th, 2007
Political differences appear to be all in the family for Dick Cheney and Barack Obama.The Vice President is an eighth cousin to the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential hopeful. Cheney's wife Lynne stumbled across the connection while doing research for her recent memoir about growing up in Wyoming, "Blue Skies, No Fences.""This is such an amazing American story that one ancestor ... could be responsible down the family lines for lives that have taken such different and varied paths as Dick's and Barack Obama," Lynne Cheney told MSNBC during an interview on Tuesday. Ginny Justice, a spokeswoman for Lynne Cheney, said that Obama is adescendent of French Huguenot Mareen Duvall. Duvall's son married the granddaughter of a Richard Cheney, who came to the fledgling United States from England in the 1650s, settling in Maryland. An Obama spokesman had this to say of the ancestral link between the two pols: "Every family has a black sheep."
State Senator Robert Mellow has been touting legislation to stop teacher's strikes. I grew up in a family of teachers and I saw first hand how hard they worked. I was a substitute in two districts in the early 90s and saw very good educators and others who were mailing it in. What struck me was the factory mentality some of them had toward the students, if they didn't get paid, they rarely volunteered. Then there were those teachers who threw themselves into the student's lives without regard for compensation. The current strike at Lake Lehman hinges on health care and copays. No one gets free health care anymore, and teachers by pushing for that this in these hard economic times are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. I have disagreed with Senator Mellow on many things but on this, I say, "go Bob". Here's his statement and justification for his legislation.
I was disappointed to hear that children who attend Lake-Lehman School District are being victimized by a teacher’s strike for the second year in a row. Without pointing fingers or taking sides, this divisive strike in Lake-Lehman underscores the need to end school strikes in Pennsylvania.
The sad fact is that we are one of only nine states that permit teacher work stoppages. Last year, more than 30,000 children were affected by school strikes in Pennsylvania. Statewide, there are three ongoing school strikes keeping more than 10,000 students out of the classroom.
Meanwhile, there are 76 school districts operating without teacher contracts. An additional 110 contracts are set to expire at the end of this school year. It is important to note that many of these labor impasses drag on for several years – resulting in huge retroactive contract awards and massive property tax hikes.
My bill, Senate Bill 20, would impose strict negotiation parameters and a reasonable timeline for both sides to reach an agreement through a variety of means — including a non-binding arbitration panel. Once this process is exhausted without any agreement, both parties would submit their last best offer to an impartial common pleas court judge who would then ratify one of the two final offers as the final settlement plan.
It is a way to avert strikes, keep teachers teaching, protect taxpayers, and assure our children that their education will not be needlessly disrupted. My bill is fair to all sides and encourages settlement over confrontation. Equally important, it eliminates retroactive pay packages and prevents the consequential large spikes in property tax rates.
If my bill remains bottled up in committee, I plan on offering it as an amendment to the first viable education bill that reaches the Senate floor.
Prohibiting strikes honors the dignity of the teaching profession while protecting our children and community from this senseless and needless divisiveness.
The Luzerne County Commissioners debate takes place Thursday night starting at 7PM at the Burk Auditorium, King's College McGowan Business Center. Hope to see you there.