Thursday, September 03, 2009

Nothing To Fear But The Fear Of Facts Themselves

Shelby County Board Chairman David Pickler has scheduled four more meetings to spread his myths about single source funding of public education.

His fear offensive is being seen by many people outside Memphis for what it is – disingenuous, misleading and one-sided. Seldom have been numbers mangled as much or facts warped as cleverly as Mr. Pickler has done in his presentation.

Meanwhile, a reader emailed us to suggest that Memphians - who pay twice for schools while every one else in Shelby County pays once - should show up at these dog and pony shows on September 21 at Bartlett High School; September 22 at Millington High School; September 29 at Southwind High School; and October 5 at Arlington High School.

After all, Memphians pay roughly 65 percent of the costs of county schools, and Mr. Pickler should have to answer questions from the people who pay most of his bills.

Here’s some of ours:

1) What is fair about Memphians paying twice for public schools if no one else does?

2) Why shouldn't public education be funded the same way through the entire county - from the largest tax base, county government's?

3) Why is it that you are always the one who finds impossible to be a collaborative partner in any effort to improve our community?

4) Why do you portray this as a “we versus them” issue when all of us are county taxpayers and we all should be treated the same by county government?

5) Why is it wrong for Memphians to ask to be treated just like “county” residents?

6) Can you spell “fairness?”


Anonymous said...

7. Why should we have two school systems in a consolidated government?

Anonymous said...

Here's another question to David Pickler:

How can you stand up in front of people all over this County telling lie after lie and be able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning? Have you no decency sir?

Anonymous said...

Agreed, but perhaps more productive than a post calling Pickler an idiot would be a post explaining why his position is wrong, rather than simply asserting it.

Smart City Consulting said...


We opined yesterday on how we think people have the context for what we're writing, but who has time to keep up with context these days.

We've been writing for two years why his position is wrong and in detail.

antisocialist said...

Demagogue much?

Smart City Consulting said...

We operate on a simple premise: every one has the right to their opinion. No one has the right to be wrong on the facts. Pickler knows he's twisting the facts but his listeners don't.

As we said, we've been writing about this for five years and about the single source funding process for two years.

Anonymous said...

I know you've been writing about it for a while. But I hate it when you guys lapse into snark. You are too smart for snark. I'd rather read the 201st article about why he's wrong that one that asks him if "he can spell fairness."

Anonymous said...

ask Pickler how he got such a sweeetheart deal to be a preferred provider of selling annuities to county teachers.

hectorspector said...

"No one has the right to be wrong on the facts."

You are correct no one should be wrong over and over again.

"After all, Memphians pay roughly 65 percent of the costs of county schools,"

Ooops. If you live in the City of Memphis not one penny of your taxes fund the Shelby County School System.

Rural school bond revenue(2008) - $3,321,407.07
This is paid by everyone in the county outside of Memphis and is .05 of the property tax.
.01 of tax on residents in the county outside Memphis=$664,281.14
2.02 of tax rate for schools=$134,184,845
Total county prop tax collected for schools. - $361,288,00
MCS share - $256,485,000
SCS share - $104,801,000
County residents outside of memphis paid - $134,184,845
SCS recieved - $104,801,000
County residents outside of memphis sent a subsidy of $29,383,845 to MCS

"Meanwhile, a reader emailed us to suggest that Memphians - who pay twice for schools while every one else in Shelby County pays once - should show up at these dog and pony shows"

Please do show up and thank the county only residents for subsidizing MCS.

antisocialist said...

Thanks, Hector. I thought this had been straightened out months ago when I provided this same calculation.

antisocialist said...


Is there an error in Hector's data or in his calculations?

If there isn't, then. . . well. . . I think you see where this is going.

Anonymous said...

I've been a long time reader of this blog, and I believe Mr. Pickler is only fooling himself in this argument.

We as citizens of Memphis (as citizens of Shelby County) foot much of the bill in county taxes for the Shelby County School system. This much we do know. But the argument Mr. Pickler is trying to make is somewhat misleading in regards to single-source funding.

The notion we've heard in the media is that city taxes would likely go down, and county taxes would likely go up, and he's using that simply as the "fear" card for county residents outside Memphis to not support it. Has he forgotten that Memphians pay county taxes just like every other municipality?

Any decrease in city taxes and any increase in county taxes as a result of single-source school funding would still impact those living in Memphis about as much as those living outside of it. Any "savings" citizens in Memphis would see on their tax bill would be the result of the new tax rates set aside for both city and county services, which combined could end up being small if not negligible.

Bottom line: Memphians would still be blunting more of the burden in taxes than those living outside the city limits in the county, though the burden wouldn't be as big as it is now.

Smart City Consulting said...

As we keep saying, it's not a math equation. It's tax equity. And we'll let you argue with Memphians who see 35% of their taxes appropriated to county schools according to the trustee's office.

Smart City Consulting said...

PS: We thought we were being pretty calm, not snarky. But we can sure get snarky over Mr. Pickler and all that he represents.

Anonymous said...

These people who think that the suburbanites who've driven up all of our taxes are victims are just sad. There is no city money and no county money when taxes are collected. And the city pays the majority of all taxes. A consultant for county government some years ago said the same thing - but I think the county share was 70% back then.

Smart City Consulting said...

Thanks for reminding us. We'll dig out our copy of that report.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone say with a straight face that it's right of Memphis taxpayers to pay twice for schools? Every one tries to change the subject but no one can back up Pickler's idea that county taxpayers are a privileged class of people.

antisocilaist said...

I do not understand what you mean regarding tax equity. The rural school bond collection reveals the truth, whether you like the results of the calculation or not.

County residents outside of the City of Memphis, subsidized Memphis City Schools to the tune of $29 million in 2008. This is a fact.

It really doesn't seem equitable at all for non Memphis residents to provide such a hefty subsidy to a corrupt and failing school system.

Is it equitable that residents of Crittenden County, Arkansas and Henry County, Tennessee aren't directly subsidizing the Memphis City Schools too?

Smart City Consulting said...

Shelby County is required by the state constitution to provide public education and fund it within its borders.

The point is that all money in the trustee's office is co-mingled. You want to make it a math question. It's not, as the county's consultant said years ago. And Fayette County wouldn't fund Memphis City Schools because they are not in its county. Otherwise, they would be required by law to do it.

There is no major city in Tennessee funding two school systems, and there are no people in Shelby County except Memphians who are.

That's as simple as we think it can be explained.

And you may not like some of what goes in Memphis City Schools (we don't like what goes on in both districts) but it's rash to label it as corrupt. It's as inefficient and cumbersome as most other $1 billion bureacracies.

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