Watch those letters …

Hard to believe but I got a call from the Rockaway Township Board of Education today … Seems like some on the board are upset that the Daily Record publishes too many critical letters from one resident in particular, Ted Doty, and that the district is contemplating taking their legal advertisement elsewhere … Sigh
Two things come to mind:  This attempt at intimidation isn’t going to be successful, and more importantly — Why is the district worrying about something as inconsequential as letters people write to newspapers?
Didn’t voters reject the budget? Isn’t that more important than letters?

In

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About fsnowflack
Fred Snowflack was editorial page editor and a political columnist for the Daily Record of Morristown for almost 12 years. He has won numerous awards for editorial and column writing from the New Jersey Press Association and has written a blog on county and state politics for the last three years. He lives in Ledgewood in Morris County.

33 Responses to Watch those letters …

  1. hfa says:

    THey do have a choice where to advertise and they also have a choice of what paper to read. Fred, you should have told them not to read the letters 🙂

  2. seekntruth says:

    or write their own

  3. ChubbyPaul says:

    Today I walked my dog and took a dump. Is that interesting too Fred?

  4. Ed Ramirez says:

    Fred

    You have gone and done it again, now you will have to take another day off without pay. Let me know where you will be that day and I will but you lunch.

  5. P says:

    I guess Teddy must be hitting close to the mark. Noticed you printed a letter from their president that had bogus tax levy info in it just before election day. Did they ask for a correction on that as well?

    Next time Ted sends in a letter, set it in 24 pt type. Make them squirm.

  6. Hi P
    In regard to the “bogus tax levy” you may be right, but at the time i had no way of verifyng it and I wanted to give him his say …

    As for Ed, I do not follow your point. Explain por favor ..

  7. P says:

    CP – Thought you gave up Morris Politics?? If you’re going to stick around could you at least contribute something other than complaining about Fred. We all want to hear YOUR words of wisdom on any of the current topics.

  8. P says:

    Fred – Ted’s 5:07p comment notes that he warned you that Mr. Freidberger was fibbing – http://www.dailyrecord.com/comments/article/20100418/OPINION02/100416067/Critic-gives-wrong-information-on-Rockaway-Twp.-school-budget

    Just checking the advertised budget (which has different 09/10 & 10/11 tax levy info than the president’s letter) and doing some simple arithmetic would have given you the answer.

    Looking at the RTBOE website, the have announced that the BC has cut their budget down to “just” a 4% tax levy increase . . . well, they didn’t say that, but the cut the BC made translates to that level of tax levy increase.

  9. Mark in Rockaway says:

    You got a call from a Board of Education? I was unaware that Boards could talk.

    Could you tell us by name who made the call, so I can make sure not to vote for them next time?

    By the way, on the printed DR edition’s editorial page, near the top is stated (paraphrasing): “We limit letters per person to one a month”. Is this more of a guideline than a rule? Because I’ve seen a few letter writers (including The Amazing Ted) in there more often than monthly.

  10. Mark:
    yes, there are times when we print letters from one person more than once a month. Normally, that is when there is a back and forth with someone else, or if the letter is timely. The bottom line here is that it is our right to decide what letters we print. And FYI, the call came from the board business administrator.

  11. P says:

    How does the old expression go – Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton??

    Time to shine a bright spotlight on a district which has one of the highest per pupil cost of any district in Morris county. Ask their BA (and/or the weasels on the BOE who sent him to do their dirty work) to explain that.

  12. Good Point, P, but there’s no ink involved here 🙂

  13. P says:

    . . . or serve up web sites with millions of hits per day!

  14. Ted says:

    Never cut off your nose to spite your face. My letters so anger the Rockaway Township School Board they voted to punish the Daily Record. Snowflack spoke to RTBOE Business Administrator, James Verbist who said the board is pulling legal notifications because they print too many letters from me.

    Apparently the last straw was a letter detailing how staff reductions aren’t necessary, given a town council’s $1.1 million cut. I also noted the district would have funds to award contracted salary increases.

    Yes, the paper will lose some revenue but consider the cost to taxpayers. First, the RTBOE retained a lawyer to advise them about changing its official paper (I know!). The lawyer was present for the May 3rd board vote: an expensive way to ensure proper voting. In addition, the advertising rate for the new paper is far higher than the DR because legal notices will reach more readers – most of who live outside Morris County. I guess the RTBOE showed me, at taxpayer expense.

    Now imagine you’re a parent of a special needs child and you have concerns about his educational program. Are you going to voice an opinion knowing the Board may seek retribution? I’ll bet you’d think twice.

    Ted Doty

  15. P says:

    Ted – What did the town council recommend be used to fill the $1.1M cut they made – surplus money, specific cuts, . . ?

  16. Ted says:

    P,

    They all had different ideas but generally agreed that there was no need to cut student programs.

    The RTBOE originally asked for $2.7 mil more than the current year. TC cut $1.1 from that leaving $1.6 mil. According to school administration, contractual 4%+ increases plus health care is about $1.5 mil. I think that’s a bit high but go with it.

    A RTEA member, friend who taught my son and currently earns over $80k told me the bargaining unit “can’t” agree to consessions. But why should they? $1.6 mil covers their needs for next year

  17. Ted says:

    Oh BTW the administrators agreed to a pay freeze that amounts to about $50 ,000. But keep in mind, the superintendent already makes $200,000 or $43,000 more than Christie and the business administrator is paid $158,000 or $1,000 more than the governor.

    Fot the record Christie currently makes $157,000 and by law can’t be paid more than $175,000

  18. P says:

    How many supers would retire in a flash if the legislature passed a law capping all public sector salaries at less than the Gov, or even better, his DOE Commissioner?!

  19. Maureen Castriotta says:

    Over the years, I’ve witnessed far too many school officials in Roxbury and elsewhere using forms of intimidation in an attempt to shut down opinions, information,and people they feel portrays them in an unfavorable light so it comes as no surprise to read about Rockaway Twp. school district’s threat. Even so, each and every time this repulsive behavior is practiced by the very ones who are supposed to uphold public education as the linchpin of democracy it boggles the mind and hits a raw nerve. The public should not only be outraged by this unseemly conduct, but also by the time and energy wasted on such reckless actions. Whenever this happens, there should be an outcry for a reprimand and action taken to ensure it doesn’t occur again. This incident points to the very reason we need good citizens like Ted Doty. He not only cares enough about his community and the future of it’s children to selflessly dedicate his time and efforts to closely scrutinizing the school board and administration and making them accountable for their actions, he willingly stands up to the school establishment’s bullying and does so all for the sake of democracy and the greater good. Moreover, it drives home how extremely vital the freedom of the press is to our democracy and how a dedicated journalist like Fred Snowflack should be lauded for his professional integrity and for upholding the Society of Professional Journalists stated belief that “public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy”.

    Maureen Castriotta
    Roxbury Township school board member speaking on my own behalf and not that of the Roxbury school district

  20. Ted says:

    Maureen, the larger issue is the effect on concerned parents. The attack on the DR and me will put fear in the hearts of parents with constructive criticism of the district. Instead of improving their public image, the board tries to stifle discussion.

    It won’t work obviously and they’ll look worse than they do now. The RTBOE appears to be in damage control mode at this point and I’m guessing the BA is getting a earful from board members. Basically Verbist is a cocky guy and couldn’t wait to tell Fred the real reason they pulled the ads. The official line will be different and Verbist over stepped his authority

  21. Ted says:

    My comment about The Star Ledger getting RTbOE ads wis wrong. That business moves to the Neighbor News.

    Since the NN prints my letter more often than the DR, Verbist’s comment is baffling. But that’s Verbist…unless the NN knuckled under. I’ve reached out to them for an answer.

    Since the NN is a free weekly, totally dependent on advertising revenue, RTBOE strategy may have worked.

  22. Ted says:

    The DR limits my letters so if the NN bows to pressure, the corrupt RTBOE wins

  23. Be fair. Ted … we limit everyone’s letters

  24. Ted says:

    it’s not you I’m worried about. It’s that the RTBOE may have taken total control of the NN editorial department. Time will tell.

  25. Mark in Rockaway says:

    it’s not you I’m worried about. It’s that the RTBOE may have taken total control of the NN editorial department. Time will tell.

    This from the same poster who previously thought P was a secret Daily Record operative paid to post on this blog.

  26. Ted says:

    Mark, provoking healty debate on a blog site is quite different than manipulating the Press or impeding a persons freedom of speech.

    On other matters, Michael Friedberger threatened legal action (a slap suit) if I discuss union support for Sue Salny, chief negotiator for BOE. Although technically not emdorsed, Sue’s name appeared on lawn signs with two candidates who were endorse. RTEA endorsement means a donation to purchase signs and I know this because the union offered me funds, which I refused.

  27. P says:

    Time to file an ethics complaint. And what would Mr. Friedberger’s standing be to file such a suit? Does this guy think he is KING?!

  28. Ted says:

    My previous ethics complaint resulted in the rule blocking endorsed candidates from being negotiators for two years…I was also fined $500- Just like Chris Rodgers in Roxbury.

    Basically the education ethics commission is a corrupt entity designed to protect the status quo, rather than change things for the better. The mentioned rule was my and another ex RTBOE member’s consultation prize (she wasn’t fined, I’m far more obnoxious.

  29. Ted says:

    In terms of legal pursuits, I’ve contacted the Election Law Enforcement Commission because the candidates filed no (legally required), reports. Even if the lawn signs were funded with personal funds, the reports are necessary.

    Further, the signs did not identify a treasurer or contact address.

    Finally I contacted Shundler’s office because the election committee was” Rockaway Township, Board of Education Commitment to Excellence “. I’m pretty sure school boards are not allowed to endorse candidates

  30. Telling The Truth says:

    Everyone knows that P is not a secret Daily Record operative, paid to post on this blog. He is actually Fred’s alter ego. I mean, has anyone actually seen the two of them at the same time?

  31. P says:

    The only things Fred and I have in common are – We are both residents of Morris county, and, we both are Mets fans.

    As for never being seen together, that is incorrect. About a year ago Fred and I were at the same event in Morristown when he and Paul Mulshine were discussing the upcoming primary and general elections. Fred has no idea which of the thousands of people in attendance that I was and we were never formally introduced.

  32. Yep, Mulshine and I were in the front of the room as the masses watched from the gallery … P must have been in the cheap seats

  33. P says:

    Actually, I was in the mid-priced seats to your left. 😉

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