Chariho School Parents’ Forum

October 5, 2008

Sneak Peek for CSPF’ers

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 1:51 pm

One of the projects at my day job is a transparency website that contains just about all public information – such as budgets, payrolls, contracts, contract evals, and check registers.  We even cover legislation and political donations (later coming soon). 

The Transparency Train at www.transparencytrain.com

Part of this project is an interactive page that allows viewers to pick school districts and compare them on a variety of measures  – this section will be called “RI Schools”.  We are still working out some bugs and deciding what data will be included (acknowledging the limitations of our budget) but I thought I would throw it out to you for input.  Let me know what you think and how it could be improved.  Thanks

http://www.sunshineonschools.org/RhodeIsland/District_Comparison.aspx

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24 Comments »

  1. Very interesting information!I recommend it to everyone that uses this site.

    Comment by George Abbott — October 5, 2008 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  2. Amazing stuff…although I did have to use the older portal to get to Chariho’s check register. The school comparisons is interesting, although if you want details you have to dig deeper. The great thing about OSPRI’s Transparency Train is the tools are there in one place if you want to use them.

    Chariho’s August check register shows details on where our money is going. Unfortunately, and probably unavoidably, you can’t tell with specificity the nature of most payments. For instance, in August we paid around $33 thousand to Prentice-Hall and nearing $90 thousand to Scott Forsman. I kind of assume the expense is for textbooks…hopefully math, but you can’t tell for sure.

    My employer uses budget codes for expenses. Even this isn’t necessarily detailed, but at least you can get a better idea why the expense was incurred.

    Mr. Felkner you have done the citizens of Rhode Island a huge favor should they decide to take advantage and check up on how our money is being spent. I hope you see an increase in donations as more people learn of your efforts. This can’t be inexpensive to put together and maintain.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 6, 2008 @ 10:22 am | Reply

  3. Overall I like the information it gives us. I have a difficult time thought for posting names on the payroll, couldn’t it be just job title? Why do I need to know line by line for each employee what they are being paid? Other than that, it’s looks like it could be a very useful tool.

    And before you start taking off on me, CR, I have my reasons for saying that. But I do prefer not to discuss it on this or any blog.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 6, 2008 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  4. You have to take that up with the administration of Chariho, they are the ones who can dictate what information is used to identify employees. Most corporations use employee numbers without reference to SSN’s, addresses, etc. Even most unions use member numbers. If it’s not your information being posted, why would you give a hoot, let the ones who have concern worry about it. I for one am not concerned about the privacy aspect of the payroll list for Chariho, that is the concern of the ones affected. If they do not like this information being public, then they can work to change it, just as those of us who have been in similar situations have asked our employers to do. Not “taking off” on you CP, but as an overburdened taxpayer, I have more concerns than worrying about Chariho employee names being listed.

    Comment by RS — October 6, 2008 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks for the input. We rely upon the public to give us feedback on the data. As an example, we were notified recently about a check register that didn’t have certain information on it that it should have (missing checks).

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 6, 2008 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  6. I’m not sure where CP is seeing names. I didn’t come across this information. I don’t doubt it is there.

    Without giving it much thought, I do like having names of government employees available. Some of the biggest problems in Rhode Island and local government are nepotism, patronage, and backroom dealings. Transparently sharing the names and salaries of government employees makes it much easier to research connections. I want to know if people are using our money to enrich their buddies. I want to know if politicians and administrators are using our money to advance themselves.

    I might be convinced otherwise if there is logical reason for not specifying employees making a living off our earnings, but it would have to be more compelling than privacy. I believe our rights to follow our money down the government drain is more important than someone’s right to take our money anonymously.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 6, 2008 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  7. CR, check Westerly’s Payroll information. OK, I’ll give you a bit of information as to why I don’t like it. Say someone is involved in a divorce proceeding, why should one spouse have an advantage of knowing exactly what the other is making? I had a stong suspicion that my ex lied about her income but because she worked for a private company I couldn’t prove it easily the day we got into court so I had to let it drop. Why should I have been able to easily find out that information because of a town’s payroll being posted? Yeah, it probably would have been an advantage to me to find it but is it right?

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 6, 2008 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  8. Come on CR, were talking RI here, of course there are backroom deals, nepotism, etc, etc. Look at the latest with the mayor’s brother. We don’t need the names to know this, but we would need them to demand accountability. But half dozen citizen’s asking for accountability will not get results, and I’m afraid most people just don’t seem to care, or are part of the great give away.
    I’m not neccesarily picking on the mayor, but it is the first corruption news that popped into my head while typing this. Some will later ask me about my paranoid delusions of corruption in this state, so thought I would throw an example out there to quelch the criticism. By the way, if you simply google “Rhode Island corruption”, you get 889,000 hits…I know they are not all corruption cases, but i’m sure we could all agree 2 or 3 must be legitimate cases of corruption.

    Comment by RS — October 6, 2008 @ 2:31 pm | Reply

  9. RS, I didn’t even look specifically at Chariho payroll information, I hadn’t noticed it there. I had noticed the payrolls for a few of different towns. I did notice that Hopkinton didn’t have theirs posted and I think Richmond was another town that didn’t have it posted either. Charlestowna and Westerly did though.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 6, 2008 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  10. I empathize with the divorce scenario, but in reality, you are legally obligated to supply correct information in court proceedings. Your ex-wife committed perjury if she falsified her income.

    I realize the courts don’t always care. Bill Clinton perjured himself in a sexual harassment case and half the country didn’t care. Regardless, the problem isn’t with telling us who is receiving our money and how much they are getting; the problem you describe is something else entirely.

    I agree RS that most people don’t care about the corruption and mismanagement. Richmond and Charlestown demonstrate this all too clearly every time we are forced to re-vote on the bond without anything changing. Maybe no one will ever pay attention, but Mr. Felkner certainly has made it easier for anyone who might care. It’s worth a try. Probably won’t halt our steady erosion into socialism, but he’s given people a chance to learn. I’d like to leave my child something other than a society rotting from the inside out. If we do nothing we are sure to fail.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 6, 2008 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

  11. Divorce scenaro = simply silly. Would only apply if the 2 parties are filing separate returns, and any lawyer worth their fee will simply demand the tax returns of the other party. I agree some liquid assets could be hidden, but income is not one that could be hidden from the process of a legal separation.

    Comment by RS — October 6, 2008 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  12. RS, is it simply silly? Have you lived it? I willing to be you haven’t. After going back and forth for 2 plus years on the divorce proceedings and then realizing that the tax returns she supplied were not the most currents as I had supplied, my lawyer asked if I wanted to bring it to a halt, but I didn’t want to. Live it, RS, see what it’s like, then it isn’t simply silly.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 6, 2008 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  13. Ref #4, I believe you’re wrong when you say “You have to take that up with the administration of Chariho, they are the ones who can dictate what information is used to identify employees.” I did some checking around and was told that the positions and names we asked for by the OSPI so according to Open Records Laws, they had to provide it. Mr. Felkner can correct me if I’m wrong.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 6, 2008 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  14. Get another attorney.Simple.One that can read tax forms with the large font year printed on them.

    Comment by RS — October 6, 2008 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  15. Like I said, RS, live it, then you might have a different opinion.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 6, 2008 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

  16. I’ve heard the average divorce in Rhode Island takes about a year and a half from initiation to finalization. This would presuppose that many divorces, especially contentious divorces, are extended out beyond two years. I’ve heard income verification is difficult especially if self employed or working for a sympathetic employer. CP may be prone to hyberbole, but I’ve heard many horror stories so I suspect his claim is valid.

    By the way, finding a lawyer worth his/her fee isn’t very easy…at least in Rhode Island. They are no more scrupulous than any of the other government leeches who promote and perpetuate misery to enrich themselves.

    Back to the topic at hand, regardless of the legitimacy of CP’s claims, employees paid for with our money should not expect to have the details of their compensation hidden from their taxpaying benefactors. The divorce problem needs another solution unrelated to us knowing how our money is used.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 6, 2008 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  17. The one fact I do know about a divorce is there are 3 sides to the story, his side, her side, and the truth.

    Comment by RS — October 6, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  18. Oh yeah, excuse me. I forgot that RS knows everything about everyone.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 6, 2008 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  19. Lighten up dude, it’s an age old joke…guess you haven’t heard that one.

    You never fail with the personal attacks though….go figure.

    Comment by RS — October 6, 2008 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  20. Did I see Mr. Abbott (and maybe Mr. Hirst) walking the streets of Hopkinton over the last few days? Perhaps he was shaking hands looking for votes. Nothing wrong with that. I’m hoping he can give us insights into what the man/woman on the street is thinking in regards to Chariho?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 7, 2008 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  21. We tend to campaign in the afternoon when parents are waiting for their kids to be dropped off by the school buses.Comments about Chariho have been generally positive.One bond opponent did complain to Scott about the re-vote.Parents of elementary school students seem to support the proposed improvements to the buildings.Most of parents did not seem to be overly concerned about Charlestown’s tax advantages on comparably valued properties.
    One parent did express his support for development around our interstate highway exits as a means to lower our taxes.

    Personally,I would support a development that includes a bank,a supermarket and a drug store.Hopkinton residents should not have to drive to Westerly or Richmond for these services.

    Comment by george abbott — October 10, 2008 @ 11:16 pm | Reply

  22. I have noticed scores of abandoned or unoccupied homes in most of Hopkinton neighborhoods.The # is very large.I hope that will not have a largely negative effect on our town due to unpaid taxes or by attracting squatters that tend to have negative consequences on neighborhoods.

    Comment by george abbott — October 10, 2008 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  23. I guess if we’ve already lost a lot of homeowners due to the economy, perhaps those left behind won’t be concerned about the free-spending ways of Chariho.

    Sounds like Mrs. Thompson did a great job putting together a comprehensive presentation on the effects of Chariho irresponsibility on Hopkinton families. Maybe parents are willing to accept whatever Chariho does but others will be less tolerant of the drain Chariho puts on Hopkinton taxpayers. Time will tell.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 11, 2008 @ 12:00 am | Reply

  24. Where does a tax lien fall in the pecking order of liens?

    Comment by RS — October 11, 2008 @ 12:11 am | Reply


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