School superintendent cap would affect about half of districts, Schenectady fires another cop, performances now free of popcorn noises

Andrew Cuomo released his proposal to cap the salaries of school district superintendents. The size of the cap would slide according to the district's enrollment. About half of the current superintendents in the state would be affected if the cap is approved. It would save about $15 million total. Said Shen superintendent Oliver Robinson ($198,689 in 2009, according to SeeThroughNY) in response to the proposal: "I put 150 percent of my job, my time, my effort into my job, and I don't apologize for that because I was hired to do that, and quite frankly I think should be appropriately compensated for that." [NYT] [Daily Politics] [TU] [AP/Troy Record] [YNN]

Jerry Jennings on a property tax cap: "Two percent would allow us to raise two million dollars more, when I'm facing a 20 million dollar deficit next year. I've used most of my surplus last year. We eliminated about 150 positions last year. We're talking, probably, 250-300 positions in order to balance a budget with a tax cap." [WNYT]

Brian Stratton announced that Schenectady has fired another police officer. The termination process against Darren Lawrence started after a 2006 incident in Colonie where he was accused of driving drunk and crashing a car (he was acquitted of the criminal charges). He was then allegedly involved in a bar fight in 2008. [TU] [YNN] [Daily Gazette] [Fox23]

The Town of Bethlehem's bid for the Normanside Country club was not successful. The bank that controls the property won't say who was the winning bidder. And the town won't say how much it bid in case it gets another chance at the property. [YNN] [Fox23] [TU]

The UAlbany student association says the final fee for Bill Clinton's appearance this week hasn't been nailed yet. The former president often gets more than $100k for a speech. [Daily Gazette] [Washington Post]

Back from a Congressional tour of Iraq, Afghanistan and Bahrain, Chris Gibson says Iraq is making progress -- Afghanistan somewhat less so. [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian]

A letter signed by a group of elected Democrats across the state -- including Albany common council members Leah Golby and Cathey Fahey -- criticizing Andrew Cuomo's proposed cuts to education and health care funding caused a small stir yesterday. The head of the state Democratic Party of the letter: "I looked at the list and recognize only some of the names and I am the Executive Director of the Democratic Party." Golby responded: "It's not about name recognition, Mr. King. It is about the needs of the people I represent..." [Fox23] [State of Politics] [State of Politics]

People with free E-ZPass from the state Thruway Authority rack up $569k/year in uncollected tolls -- though the authority isn't exactly sure how those people are using the passes. [WNYT]

The Bethlehem highway department employee who made about a third of his almost $98k in salary last year is the son of the highway superintendent. [TU]

The owners of Savannah's/The Dublin Underground have been indicted for allegedly assaulting a man at the downtown Albany club. [TU]

The Colonie woman accused of taking $95k in improper welfare benefits allegedly told investigators she didn't know she had to declare $50k in savings and the more than $2k/month she was making off the books. [TU]

Former state health commission Richard Daines has passed away. He was 60. A spokesperson say it appears he suffered a heart or stroke while he was taking down Christmas decorations at his family farm in Dutchess County. [TU] [NYT]

Headline of the day: "Fracking to-do-list tops environmentalists' agendas"

Noted: Proctors doesn't sell popcorn during live performances because the sound of munching it is distracting. [Marv Cermak]

Comments

"I put 150 percent of my job, my time, my effort into my job, and I don't apologize for that because I was hired to do that, and quite frankly I think should be appropriately compensated for that."

Teachers put 150 percent of their jobs, their time, their effort, into their job too. I guess Mr. Robinson thinks 40 or 50k (or 30k or less starting) is appropriate compensation for them.

$15 million isn't a big portion of the overall budget or even the budget gap. But $15 million saved in the education system, instead of $15 million worth of cuts to school funding that will directly affect students, is kind of a big deal.

Not only do teachers put 150% into their jobs, each and every one I have ever met spends his/her own money on supplies their students need.

That said, salary caps are a bad idea, especially if they are not adjusted for regional cost of living.

Supers making 4x what teachers make also strikes me as a bad idea. But if the market will bear it, well, isn't that capitalism?

RPI Dr. Daines. Great guy and a great commissioner. Boggles my mind that a guy how stands at his computer and has a treadmill under his desks dies at 60 the same day I read this article in the times: http://nyti.ms/eikACd

I don't see how firing 250-300 people is any less offensive than taking another 18 million dollars out of tax payers pockets...fire away Jerry!

The problem with Mr. Robinson's statement is that it's really not up to him what he 'deserves' to be making.

Salary caps are necessary. When it was deemed necessary for Atty Gen. Cuomo to launch investigations of the school districts on Long Island for their financial abuses, it became pretty clear that public school administrations couldn't be trusted to do what was best with the public's funds.

A few thoughts on school superintendent salaries: Shen's annual budget is about $90 million, with 1,800 employees. In the private sector, the median pay package for a CEO for a company of 500 - 1000 employees was $263,000 in 2008, according to Inc. Magazine. Is the Shenendehowa superintentent's job somehow less complex, less challenging, and less important than a comparable private sector job and thus deserving of lower compensation? Is a salary of less than $199,000 for a large school district superintendent really out of line? Or is the effort to cap salaries really about something else other than saving expenses?

Bob, thanks for that comment, I didn't consider the comparison to a CEO. It's food for thought.

Some more food for thought: your comment is based on the assumption that the CEO pay is reasonable, and that pay is based on how complex, challenging, and important a job is.

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