Friday, May 13, 2011

Questions & Answers from the EASD Region II School Board Candidates

Region II Easton Area School Board candidates work the crowd from left to right: Frank Pintabone, Ronnie DelBacco, and Bill Timmann

Posted by: Noël Jones

Below is my rough transcription of the Region II EASD school board candidates forum held at Cheston Elementary last week. The candidates did tend to ramble a bit, so while I have used mostly direct quotes, I have also paraphrased a bit to get down the gist of each candidates response without typing it all word for word. Region II covers most of the West Ward, and the South Side, so if you are in Region II, please read these candidate responses carefully to determine which candidate you think will best represent you on the school board--and please post a comment as to who you think is best, and why!

EASD 2011 Region II Candidates Forum

Opening Statements:
The candidates each thanked the League of Women Voters for hosting the forum, as well as the resident voters in the audience for attending, and offering the following:

FP: I am 31, born and raised on South Side, am a single father and have a 12 year-old son. I have volunteered in the community for the last 11 years, especially youth programs…
RD: 42, born and raised in Easton, my mom raised us herself and taught us the value of hard work. We have a $14 million deficit in the district...I will be running only for one term, so that half-way through my term you don’t have to worry about me focusing on re-election…
BT: I’m the only one who wasn’t born here, but I grew up in Phillipsburg. Have lived here for 18 years and built a business from nothing.

  1. What are three things you would like to see happen if you are elected to the school board?

BT:  Reduce the deficit—stop spending recklessly. Sports are not funded equally across the board, and we need to look at pay-to-play and more booster club support for sports programs.
RD: Address curriculum, fiscal responsibility—we have to reduce the deficit. The common sense used in the private sector should be used in the public sector. All board members should read through all contracts before voting. It’s commendable that the union is making concessions, because they don’t have to, but that there is so much they are offering now shows that there was a lot of extra in there in the first place.
FP: Like everyone else, our focus needs to be fiscal responsibility. We need to read contracts but teachers are still not paid on par. Sports programs should be funded equally across the board, but not pay-to-play because not all kids from South Side and the West Ward can afford it. But yes, we should look for sponsors, as well as more diversity in hiring.

  1. How specifically do you propose solving the district’s fiscal problems?

RD: We need to read all contracts, and find cuts in the 30% that we can touch [not covered by the teachers’ contract], then we might have no need for pay-to-play. I got copies of our company's contracts and in one contract alone, found 67% in savings.
FP: We need to learn from past mistakes, but fat has already been cut from contracts.
BT: We’re not even close to coming out of this recession. The board needs to come in here and micro-manage and nitpick at the district’s budget line by line and cut 25% of the budget.

  1. Would you support laying off teachers?
FP: I don’t want to cut any teachers….how can our kids learn if we cut more teachers?... Teachers are going to have to make concessions…I had a two-hour conversation with Kevin Deely last night [head of the teachers union] last night. He couldn’t give me any specifics, but they are working diligently with the school board to save the district money… fat needs to be cut, but teachers are not fat. Teachers are our front line. There are many more alternatives before cutting teachers.
BT: Realistically…between last year and this year cutting 25% of our teaching staff would be a joke beyond ridiculous. This is where , again, we really need to micro-manage and figure out how many teachers we honestly needed in the first place—do we have teachers in some classes that are only teaching two or three students at a time [when they could be combined with other classes]? We need to find out where we could merge without putting too much on the teachers and making it too difficult to do their jobs.
RD: I am also against cutting teachers. There is a situation that people don’t understand with union votes and their contract…Teachers get tenured…after, I believe, the third yet …but teachers in their first three years don’t get that right [to vote] once the contract is voted on… the teachers that get cut are the who are in their first three years, and unfortunately, that’s not always the decision of the school board, or because of a budget….the teachers that have tenure vote for their own paychecks, and jeopardize the  jobs of the teachers who don’t have tenure yet. The school board ends up getting the short end of the stick for that, but when you look at how that really happens, no one considers that, but something people need to consider heavily. So, no, I don’t think we should cut teachers. The administration is where we should go first. I’ve been going door-to-door and the number one concern is not taxes--people have been telling me we have a top-heavy administration--$140,000 salary in some cases.

  1. Should we lay off administrators and support staff? 
BT: We are top-heavy…I can’t find out how many of these top positions we have…we’ve got too many of them, we need to either cut salaries or cut positions. We need to trim the fat…if they won’t take pay cuts, then we start looking for administrators that are willing to work for lower rates. I don’t know how many administrators we have, but we have too many.
FP: I do believe our administrators…should lead by example…however I’m a little confused—Mr. Timmann you said you don’t know how many administrators we have, but you feel we have too many, I don’t know how you know we have too many, if you don’t know how many we have? We should get an accurate number. I do feel that we’re top-heavy at the administration level…they need to lead by example and take the cut.
RD: I tried to find out that very number…to do that I called…everyone knows Mr. Kish. His secretary took a message and said he’d get back to me on the number of administrators but he never called back. His secretary called me the next day to say that I could file a Freedom of Information Act request…so I wouldn’t have had this information for another five weeks. That’s the top-heavy administration and how they work for us. I think the administration should lead by example. I think that there can be cuts to the administration…to find out those numbers is going to be important. To find out their salaries is the next step…make sure those administrators are being paid comparable to the private sector.

  1. What do you think could be cut from the teachers’ contract?
RD:  They don’t have to come back to negotiate, so that they are doing that is commendable, because they don’t have to…but that they were able to make so many concessions lets us know right away that there was a lot extra in that budget to begin with. I would ask them to suspend…the reimbursement for college courses. In the private sector there are very few companies that allow that, just because the money’s not there.
BT: We need to beg the teachers to reconsider…let the teachers, not the union reps, decide what to cut. A lot of teachers I’ve talked to know that what they were given was a bit too much, and they’re willing to give back.
FP: Teachers are considering giving $20-$30 million back…we are not the highest-paid in the valley, so did we spoil our teachers? I don’t think so…We can’t keep comparing schools to the private sector.

  1. Would you support the idea of increasing teachers’ contributions to their healthcare and pensions, or are you in favor of the district’s proposal for a two-year pay-freeze
FP:  I don’t have enough information so it would be premature to comment on the issue of increased contributions.
DB: Yes, we should get them to contribute as much as we can get—more in line with the private sector. We need to run the district like a business.
BT: Is two years enough? I don’t know. I am here willing to beg the teachers—can we do more?..Sit down with the teachers. When you’re dealing with the unions, the problem is, we’re dealing with people whose professional job is negotiating.

  1. How do each of you feel about the I (Heart) Boobies breast cancer bracelet controversy, and what can we do to avoid frivolous lawsuits? 
BT: It grabbed everyone’s attention. Great. We can’t necessarily jump and attack every little thing—we need to pick our battles.
FP: We are usually on the defending side, not suing. We have 11 suits pending, and seven of them are racial discrimination suits. We need to make sure our teachers and administrators are respectful and we act appropriately.
RD: The bracelets were just for shock value. I think it was kind of silly. I don’t think it should have been turned into a lawsuit. I don’t think it raised as much money as it did attention. They should have sold pink t-shirts. We also need to approach the state to address the issue of torte reform.

  1. Do you feel we should increase or decrease class size?
RD: Statewide we have decreased enrollment of students by 26,000 students but increased employees by 42,000. That’s unbalanced, so there’s no reason for us to be having large class sizes. I tend to think those employees weigh more heavily on the administrative side.
BT: Two years ago we redistricted to keep the class size to 22 or less. We need a couple years of micro-managing. Are there some classes we could combine? Ideally, class size should stay the same or smaller.
FP: (was skipped on this question)

  1. Do you have any relatives working in the district? 
FP: No.
RD: No.
BT: No.

  1. Would you support ending collective bargaining for public employees? 
BT: Collective bargaining is important…but it protects everybody, be it lazy teachers, be it good teachers—I would like to see a collective bargaining agreement where we’re dealing with the teachers specifically and directly…not the national and regional union bosses and representatives, who do not have the teachers’ interests at heart…they’re looking at what’s going to come back in union dues in the end.
FP: I do not feel that we can get rid of collective bargaining, or the unions. We have a total of 711 teaches. It would be a free-for-all to try to negotiate anything. Unions are there for a reason. I believe in the unions.
RD: When a teacher joins a union, they become part of a group and give up all their individuality. There are also bad teachers in the district that benefit from collective bargaining and it takes years to get rid of the dead weight. I feel there is a place for the union…I would change the way that they collect dues. If I could I would encourage our board members to petition the state…we need to stop automatic dues withdrawal and have teachers write checks for their dues, so that they see that money, and are more conscious of how much their paying and what they are paying for.

  1. Do you support merit-pay?
RD: I do support merit-pay, it encourages individualism…their pay is tied to their performance…it rewards good teachers and encourages bad teachers to make another career choice.
BT: Merit-pay is needed…it is a better incentive like the private sector…Teachers whose students fail shouldn’t get raises. Merit-pay entices teachers to go above and beyond.
FP: Yes, but how do we determine merit? Via PSAs? That’s not a fair assessment—we need another method of assessment. I was one of those students, I had great teachers, but I just didn’t want to be bothered—is that their fault? Merit-pay is a good avenue to look at, however we need to find a way to test our teachers and make sure that their performance is where it needs to be for our children.

  1. Would you support a pay freeze for administrators and other staff, as well as an increase in their pension contributions?
FP:  I will support a pay freeze, but I can’t speak to pension contributions without more information. I will not make decisions without knowing numbers.
RD:  We need to bring compensation more in line with the private sector. I don’t know the numbers on pension contributions either, but it’s less than the private sector.
BT: Is a freeze enough? We need to cut some administrator positions and ask them to take pay cuts, and contributions to pensions are definitely lower than the private sector.

  1. On merit-pay, how would you structure it so as not to have teachers cozy up to the administration and prevent principals from firing teachers out of retaliation?
BT: Teachers need to be cozying up to students and parents. Parent surveys about how their children are doing should decide merit, not administrators.
FP: Mr. Timman’s answer presents the same problem—and like I mentioned before, what sort of testing will assess the teachers under a merit-pay system? Our principals need to be overseeing our teachers…making sure teachers are doing what they should be doing. We can’t afford to micro-manage our entire district.
RD: We don’t need to micro-manage. We need to have a level of trust in our teachers. Parents will not cozy up to the teachers just because teachers are being nice to them. At the end of the day, parents are going to be concerned about how their child is doing in school, and if they don’t, then shame on them. But we can’t micro-manage.

  1. How important are arts, sports and language programs? Should any be cut?
RD:  I was a band geek. I also sang in the choir. I like the arts and feel they have a benefit…they show how to work together in a group, where it’s interactive on a fun level…same with sports. As far as which programs to cut…nobody is going to like what they are… We could cut back on some of the art, but we can’t get rid of all of it…we need academics first, we can maybe cut back on some special language programs…German? That might be one we want to consider.
BT:  I was not a jock, band geek or motor-head in school…but the arts are definitely a necessity, a lot like the sports—they keep kids off the street. What you don’t hear about is the band’s raising money for trips. But when do you ever hear of the football team raising their own money? We should cut some sports—you laugh--I know it’s the sacred cow, but too many of our kids add 2 + 2 and get 5. We can’t cut academics.
FP: Art is important—if you look downtown, Easton is becoming an arts hub. Our athletic program is only $100K of the entire budget, and most of that comes from the Thanksgiving Day game and booster clubs—they do raise their own money. Music is important too. We can’t cut any music, art or sports as they all contribute to becoming a well-rounded student.

  1. Would you support tax increases, pay-to-play, and renting out district facilities to bring in revenue? 
FP: I am in favor of renting some of our sports facilities out. Pay-to-play—absolutely not—unless we’re going to tap the big businesses and get them to support. Many families would not be able to afford pay-to-play. And I don’t want to see tax increases.
RD: I not only don’t want to see tax increases, I will not vote for tax increases. And we can’t rent out facilities unless we get some torte reform because of liability issues. One thing we could do to save money though, is hold graduation at the campus on the hill to save money.
BT: I would love to live in a world of no tax increases, but we should raise taxes only if there is no other way. Minor tax increases now to get us through tough times, if we plan for tax cuts later, would be okay. On pay-to-play, the elementary schools already have pay-to-play, so why not all the schools?

  1. Is there a way to lower taxes?
BT: Pay-to-play and pay-cuts for administrators.
FP: Taxes are capped by the state at 1.7% this year and .95% next year anyway. And Pay–to-play? Absolutely ridiculous for our community. That’s taking the money out of one pocket and putting it in another.
RD: We need to cut waste in the 30% of the budget that we can touch. In the future, we need to align contracts with the private sector. Our teachers can no longer, and our administrators can no longer, live high on the hog just because tax payers are paying for it.

  1. Are you in favor of, or opposed to, taxpayers voting on the district’s budget as it is done in some states like New Jersey?
RD: If we elect officials we can trust, then that’s why they are there. I don’t think a referendum vote from the taxpayers is necessary, however I’m not opposed to it.
BT: Yes. Put it back in the hands of the taxpaying voters.
FP: I would like to have quarterly meetings with all my constituents to get their input, however to put it on the taxpayers, they just wouldn’t be able to get enough information to make a proper decision.

  1. How well is security working in the district?
FP:  I think our security is doing a wonderful job. They know me personally, we joke and laugh, but they check my I.D. anyway, and I’m glad. If they’re doing it with me, they are doing it with everybody. We can’t put a price on our kids safety.
RD: They are doing a good job, but I I think that we can look at how our security is hired. I necessarily don’t agree that it needs to go through the police department—it would be more efficient if it didn’t.
BT: Mr. Pintabone said we can’t put a price on our kids safety, but fortunately—yes you can. There are many improvements that can be made there—they have a better structure in NJ that saves money without losing security one bit.

  1. How important are learning coaches, and The Academy, and do you think that they can be cut?
BT: The Academy is necessary and should not be cut.
RD: The Academy is necessary and should not be cut, but there should be more inclusion.
FP: The Academy is necessary and should not be cut—I got to spend two hours there last week. It’s a phenomenal program that deals with kids in three areas: behavior, attendance and academics. Some kids stay in that program until 6pm just to get a hot meal.

  1. Should the school district provide before and after care programs on site?
RD: If parents pay for it, then yes. It’s not my responsibility to pay for someone else’s day care. Taxpayers should not be burdened.
BT:  I agree—either parents should pay or we should try to get state funding for the program.
FP: It has been proven that before and after care impacts our children positively. I would like to hire a grant writer to get funding and pay them a percentage of the grant to cover that expense.

  1.  Where do you stand on the controversy about whether or not students in Riegelsville should attend Easton or Palisades school districts?
FP: As I walked through Riegelsville, I spoke to a lot of families, and they are literally split down the middle--half want to go, half want to stay. We should do whatever is best for the children.
RD: I think it would be disingenuous to say I’m going to do or do that for Riegelsville. We need to talk to all of Riegelsville and come up with a comprehensive plan that’s going to meet all of their needs, not just one side or the other.
BT: We need to look at what it costs us to transport them up and back as opposed to what we actually get in taxes. And if the majority of them want to go to Palisades, we have to let them go—we can’t hold them captive.

  1. How would you propose to address the increasing diversity of the school district’s student population, especially in light of the reduction in ESL programs in recent budget cuts?
BT: We are failing the minorities. White boys and girls are passing and Latino and black boys and girls seem not quite up to state standards. We have to find out why we are lacking in any specific demographic—There should be no delineation by demographics—all students should be equal across the board in this aspect. Is it a problem with the demographics of the teachers? I don’t think so. Realistically, maybe certain people need extra help, and we need to give them help.
FP: I don’t have the answer, but my son is half African-American, so I am personally invested in that. I have been attending meetings at Shiloh Church with Pastor Phil Davis, Councilman Ken Brown, the president of the NAACP, and a group of minorities from the area to try to figure out this issue. We have a forum coming up on the 21st at Shiloh Church that is open to the public to try to figure out what to do to fill that gap.
RD: I refuse to accept the premise that these kids are failing because of race. There are plenty of minorities in my daughter’s class. Obviously my daughter is white. They don’t talk about race. It’s parental responsibility and engagement that makes the difference. We adults talk about race, not kids. We need to start talking about parental responsibility.

  1. What can we do to retain good teachers and administrators?
RD: Merit pay. If people are working and getting paid for the way they perform, they are going to naturally migrate to where they do better for themselves. If our district recognizes the individuality that each administrator and each teacher…and if we take care of them based on how well teach our students…it goes back to merit pay. We need to pay them what they’re worth, not what the union says we should pay them because they’ve put in a certain amount of time.
BT: Merit pay is a great way to do it, without having to burden the taxpayers more.
FP: Continue what we have been doing—we have been paying our teachers well, to encourage them to stick around. We need to renegotiate the contract at the end of five years. And we need an open door policy between the teachers and the superintendent.
In closing comments, Timmann emphasized the need for pay-to-play and pointed out again that kids pay-to-play in elementary schools, so why not in middle school and high school to save money in the budget? He feels that sports is over-emphasized when it does little for the average kid’s future.

DelBacco spoke about curriculum, pointing out that no questions had been asked about curriculum. He referred to a study where 60% of 8th graders did not know what the Bill of Rights was. Why he asked, are kids reading books that describe how to beat a drug test, when they don’t know what the Bill of Rights is? He had brought a stack of books with him, among them a book by a Navy Seal, that he does think kids should be reading and a copy of Nickled and Dimed, which he criticized the district for using because it has "bad grammar" in the title. He wants kids to be taught about the Constitution, and to read books that teach patriotism and history. He also referred to teaching kids the “truth” about separations of church and state.

Pintabone closed by saying that pay-to-play is not viable for our community because there are too many families who would not be able to afford to pay for their kids to play sports and said to not provide that assistance would be an injustice. He also criticized his opponents for not wanting to address issues of race in the district, saying that racism is still alive and well in the district. He emphasized the importance of not cutting sports or the arts. He announced again that he intends to meet quarterly with his constituents, and told the audience that he has been endorsed by Mayor Sal Panto, Rep. Bob Freeman, and Pastor Phil Davis.

So what do you think? Who of these three should be elected and why?


Frankie said...

Hey Noel, great article. However, I never said I was raised by a single mother. I was fortunate enough to have had both parents in the home.

Thank you,
Frank Pintabone

Anonymous said...

All in all my vote and suport goes to Frank Pintabone. He is smart and if he works half as hard on the board as he is campaigning he will do well for us.

noel jones said...

Frank--sorry--I went back to the audio and cranked it up and realized I thought I heard "I had a single mother" when you actually said "i am a single father"--you were talking kind of fast and the audio was weak. sorry for the mix-up--i've corrected it now. glad you like the rest--it took a long time to transcribe it!

noel jones said...

Anon--while all three candidates made some interesting points, and all three seem very sincere and passionate about wanting to help the school district for the sake of the community, I have to agree with you that Pintabone seems to be putting a lot into his campaign. I don't know if I captured it here, but I noticed that many of his answers were not just his own theories and philosophies, but seemed to begin with, "when i met with _____ last week," or "when i walked the neighborhood last week, residents told me that _____"--he seems to have met with a lot of local residents, local politicians, community leaders, etc., and has even spent hours sitting in on certain classes and programs, like The Academy.

I hope that if he gets elected that appreciation for public input will continue. He is at least promising to hold quarterly meetings with constituents if elected, so we will see.

David Caines said...

This is an aside, but today is the postal workers union's food drive day. Also supported by the AFL / CIO, but I'll admit I almost forgot it.
We all received those brown paper bags in the mail, well today is the day to use them.

Jess said...

Thanks so much for doing this, Noel. I really wanted to go, but couldn't make to the forum.

I think Frank Pintabone has my vote at this point. On the most basic level I agree with his views on the issues. I am against merit based pay for teachers and I think pay-to-play is unfair.

I was home when he knocked on my door a couple of weeks ago and we had good conversation. I asked him if he thought he would have enough time to devote to the position and I believed him when he told me he did. Again if his campaign is any indication, he can really give this job a lot of attention, which it certainly requires.

I really like his perspective of being a community representative on the school board. I hope he would keep his promise of quarterly constituent meetings. And seek as much input as possible from the community.

Frankie said...

Thanks for the support. As for the quarterly meetings, these are something I wanted from our school board members for years. How can a person know what the community is feeling unless they hear from the community. I believe I have the pulse of the community because for years I have been in constant contact with the community. The quarterly meetings WILL happen, so together we can make a difference.

Julie Zando-Dennis said...

Very informative. Thanks for providing the transcript Noel.

I'd like to know more about the candidates themselves. What degrees to they hold, and/or what work experience do they have? What skills specifically do they bring to the table?

noel jones said...

Julie--Pintabone is an insurance broker for Automatic Data Processing. DelBacco is a warehouse manager at New Jersey-based Electronics Design Group Inc., is a Tea Party member and vice chairman of the Easton Republican Committee.. Timman is a small business owner (of a locksmith business).

Frankie said...

Julie, I plan to finish at Northampton Community college with my degree in criminal justice in another year. I also was the founder and director of the SouthSide after school program (created when I was only 20 yrs old). And as an Insurance Broker I specialize in Workers Comp for large corporations which I think is a great asset for our school board since we are self insured and had 37 workers comp claims in March 2011 alone. I can also be reaced at pintaboneforschoolboard@gmail. Thanks for your question Julie.

Ronnie said...

Thank you Noel for the prompt. I also have been out in the neighborhoods knocking on doors and during the rainy days I've been hitting the phones to not miss a beat. I didn't brag about all the conections I've made and all the people I've spoken to simply because we had limited time to answer each question. Who I know for the sake of "name dropping" is not why folks came out to hear us. I also have not accepted any endorsements or mentioned from which groups endorsement offers came. I disapprove of any candidate accepting endorsements since they are akin to "special interests". I will work to represent the voters, not current elected officials, quasi-celebrities, or organizations whith their own agenda behind their endorsement. I will be glad to speak with anyone interested in finding out more about me as well. I can be reached at Noel's transcript does have some mistakes, but she is the only source to try and cover it completely, so I understand the unintentional misprints. The two biggest misprints are as follows: I found waste in our spending at my private job, not in the district's contracts. I tried to get answers to some questions but was told by the Asst. Admin office to file a Freedom of Information form and wait 5 weeks. The second is that Only FP and BT discussed sports to any length. I support extracuriculars in their current form and feel that trimming can be done without a major overhaul. For more info and clarification of my positions contact me directly via the email address provided. I'll give your questions my full attention.
Thank you, Ronnie DelBacco

noel jones said...

Thanks for posting, Ronnie--sorry about those misprints--the audio on the recording was challenging--i'll find it and fix it.

I think it's really cool to have candidates reaching out to voters via social media and offering to communicate with voters directly via email--I hope readers will take these candidates up on it!

Frankie said...

Noel- can you please post this on your site. This is the forum that we have been working on.

Education or Incarceration
Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 10:00am
Greater Shiloh Church, Easton Pa

noel jones said...

Frank, please send me a complete description and all info backchannel at!

Monica said...

Hi Noel, Up to this point I was open ears about our candidates. I attended our SouthSide Easton Forum. Pintabone came across as genuine. Mr. DelBacco came across to me as having bigger , hidden issues with diversity. I have no time to waste. Instead of displaying all the boks he showed us that our children should read, aren't we at a point in the world where we should learn to live in peace with each other? We are only one nation out of many.We need to teach our children how to respect other cultures so that we may set the example, and have all countries respect one another's diversities. Mr. DelBacco can't even get past our local diversity.

dr phil said...

I walked into this forum unsure of who to vote for. Probably not Timann, but the others are viable candidates.
It was interesting to see the answers, but a couple things bothered me. Pintabone had to be reminded 3 separate times just what the question was that he was supposed to be answering. Then when the moderator skipped him, he just sat there wondering if maybe he had already answered. He did not speak up. Can I count on him to speak up when required? He also thinks that he should be elected because Sal Panto and Larry Holmes endorse him. That is irrelevant.
DelBacco is an unknown, like Pintabone, but may be just what we need. I think I will vote for him.

Monica said...

Okay, I meant Books, not Boks...Typo...oh well...but beside Pintabone having to be reminded of stuff because moderators would skip order...I do not think so.Regardless... Pintabone represents our area. DelBacco comes from LALA Land. It's great he's about our constitution & forefathers, but we' ve made progress since. Our communities are a rainbow of colors & so are their contributions.Sorry Mr. delBacco, Black & white is no longer alpha & Omega.

noel jones said...

Monica--thanks for posting and don't worry about typos--you'll never catch up with mine!

I agree that diversity issues are important in our community because, aside from having a very diverse community, we apparently currently have 7 out of 11 pending lawsuits that are discrimination law suits, that could have been avoided if our district took diversity and discrimination seriously, evaluated teachers and administrators, and held them accountable. Joe Kish is about to retire on a fat pension paid by US for the rest of his life, and he's leaving us with these lawsuits to pay for because he just couldn't seem to control his desire to regularly use racial slurs--as depositions have revealed--according to the ET. So even if a voter doesn't care about diversity, and really only cares about the budget and tax increases, EVERYBODY should want this issue HANDLED. It's the 21 Century, for Pete's sake. Can we please stop behaving like we're living in the late 50s?

Now, I have a very mixed bag of liberal and conservatives views, and try to treat everyone's views with respect and represent them accurately. In DelBacco's defense, I think that what he was saying is parental involvement and good teachers are what most affect a child's performance in school, so it shouldn't matter what race is being evaluated. This is true, but what a lot of conservatives fail to admit or address is that racism in society, and in our district, greatly weighs on these factors.

Pintabone understands this, and seems to be going to great lengths in the community to try to find solutions. What concerns me about Pintabone is that he did not really mention anything specific that we was willing to CUT, and we are in a fiscal crisis where cuts MUST happen. At one point he actually said, "we should keep doing what we're doing" which was a bit of a shock.

Timmann had ideas about cuts, but had a hard time articulating his ideas clearly. I had to paraphrase his answers greatly so that they would read clearly here. He needs to work on that, because it makes it hard to feel confident that he would articulate his ideas clearly and be effective in a school board meeting.

So basically, my impression was that all three were pretty earnest and gutsy (unlike in the Region I debate)--passionate about wanting to help the district and transparent about their views and intentions. Also, none of the three have relatives in the district. I like Pintabone socially, but DelBacco and Timmann more fiscally, and Timmann needs to work on his public speaking.

I am still undecided as to who to vote for, so I appreciate any comments here to expand the discussion!

Frankie said...

Noel- I stated that we should continue doing what we are doing NOW. Now we are going over line items 1 by 1 Now we are reading contracts Now we are eliminating waste. Unfortunately it took for us to be in this crisis for the board to do what they should have been doing from the beginning. I completely disagree with A LOT of the decisions the board has made in the past. What they are doing now should have been done from the beginning.

Frank Pintabone

noel jones said...

frank--actually that response was on the collective bargaining agreement question. but i think for any taxpayer that has been attending these meetings for the past year even hearing anything remotely like "we should keep doing the same thing" easily raises eyebrows. however, i understand that you meant that we can't eliminate collective bargaining as they are trying to do in Wisconsin.

as for what they are doing "NOW"--please see my interview with Kerri Leonard-Ellison because it sounds like they have not yet begun a line by line analysis, and that several places in the budget are large dollar figures labeled "Miscellaneous"--if that's the case, then no one can do a line by line until those entries are explained.

Monica said...

Hi Noel. I do enjoy your blogging. You stick to the facts, which is highly important.Regarding Mr. DelBacco's view on race and our children's progress ...continues to be an issue. I do agree with the statement that parental involvement is a key factor in a child's progress. Unfortunately,in ALL races...I see bright children with limited parental involvement. They begin to fall through the cracks if everyone decides to look the other way. It was not until Mr. DelBacco answered the question regarding race and progress that I remembered him a little better. During the past election, he had "difficulties" at two polling locations. Staff at one of the locations had to call authorities. He also turned away a Latino voter, without having the right to do so ( since he was not working for the electoral division)...and without looking into the issues a little further. I believe it was language barrier, although the person knew who they were voting for and what issues at hand were. I was called to assist in the matter. People can change. Unfortunately, the way that particular question was answered...gave me the gut feel he hasn't . Regardless...Good Luck to all candidates because the job they will take on is a difficult one. Just remember...represent all the people in your region.
Good Luck Frankie!!!

Anonymous said...

It has come to my attention that Mr. Pintabone has been lying about a statement made by Mr. Delbacco regarding school lunches. Mr. Delbacco suggested to a EASD administrator since there is a lot of waste in the hot lunches due to the fact that kids throw out most of the vegetables that come with them and yet will eat a lot of the less healthy choices (hot dogs, pizza, etc), why not serve cold lunches with food kids will eat such as fruit cups, Lunchables, etc to reduce costs and maintain a nutritious lunch. Mr. Pintabone when visiting voters gave them the false impression that Mr. Delbacco wants to get rid of the school lunch program when this maybe the only hot meal they have all day. Not only did he intentionally lie about what Mr. Delbacco but it seems he unintentionally accused parents of neglecting their children by not feeding them properly. Shame on you, Mr. Pintabone. If you are willing to lie about such a small thing, what else are you willing to lie about? The voters in Region II need to send a message to Mr. Pintabone that lying is not tolerated by the citizens of our district.

Frankie said...

Anon - I encourage you to view the archive videos from the school board meetings. Mr Delbacco said we" should Eliminate hot meals and feed OUR children peanut butter and Jelly and or lunchables" stating that it works for his kids. If the video isn't proof enough, Ask board members that were there. They were all shaking their heads as he spoke! He never mentioned vegetables. 1 question I must ask. What have either of my opponents done for our children or community ????I have NO reason to lie my work with the community and children are documented !!!

noel jones said...

frank--thanks for directing readers to documentation--i always prefer it when readers do this. if you know which meeting it is and cool pull the link to the video off the EASD web site and post it here, that would be even better.

i want to caution all commenters, and all readers to be aware that when accusations are hurled by Anonymous commenters with no links to back it up, it should be taken with a grain of salt. if people want to speak from personal experience and don't have links, that's perfectly valid--if you put your name on it. if you want to post Anonymously and have people take you seriously, it's most effective post with links to articles, videos, etc., especially with regard to a campaign.

Monica, for instance, posted from personal experience, and put her name on it. I really appreciate that.

noel jones said...

Monica, with regard to DelBacco turning away the Latino voter, I cannot say that I am surprised, because I know that he objects to Spanish translations of articles, etc. from my own personal experience working on the West Word. The most telling moment of the debate with regard to that issue, to me, was when after Pintabone said that he was personally invested in solving discrimination issues in the district because his son is black, DelBacco, in answering the same question, said, "obviously, my daughter is white..." which leads anyone versed in racial issues to ask, why 'obviously'?

Now, here's the real consideration for voters in our community: no candidate is a perfect person. What matters more to us in this particular school board election in the middle of the worst economic crisis in the district's history, where 160 teachers stand to potentially lose their jobs if other serious cuts aren't made? Where someone stands on social issues, or where someone stands fiscally? This is the honest question that everyone has to ask themselves, all finger-pointing aside.

This is a very tough one for me, as I am very passionate about ending discrimination in our schools, our community, our nation, our world. I come from a multi-racial family, where all the kids were adopted, and I have people very dear to me from all over the world. And I don't mean "a friend in school," or "a roommate in college" or "a guy at work," i'm talking about some of my closest and dearest friends. So I am passionate about this issue, and tend to agree more with Pintabone socially.

On the other hand, I have been attending these meetings discussing the budget crisis for over a year now, and i don't even have kids in the district. We are in crisis, and we have to make serious changes about the way we handle our district's finances, or the district will go bankrupt. DelBacco makes the most sense fiscally to me, as I have not heard from Pintabone about any serious major cuts to the budget he is willing to support. He doesn't want to cut sports or arts, he doesn't want to go to pay-to-play, and he is pro-union. So while I like him as far as where his heart is--with the kids, and wanting them to continue to have access to everything kids have had up to now--and it was not lost on me that he has spent 11 years volunteering with youth programs, I have concerns about whether he would support a significant change in the status quo with regard to spending.

We would all like to have candidates that we agree with completely, but we have to deal with what we've got. This is not Hollywood. There are no clear cut good guys and bad guys, superheroes and villains here. There are real choices to be made between people we may like socially, and people whose opinions we may like fiscally.

I have not made up my mind yet, which is why I have not gone to the polls yet. This is a very tough one for me.


noel jones said...


DelBacco is passionate about changing curriculum. I agree with half of what he said with regard to curriculum, and disagree strongly with the other half. I also disagree with his assertion that racism is not an issue in a school district that has depositions on record for 7 suits because administrators were regularly using racial slurs. Unfortunately, racism trickles down from the top.

But part of what I'm trying to ask myself, is what do school board members actually have the power to do? Will DelBacco be able to make changes to curriculum on is own? No.

Fiscally, weighing these issues, I guess the real question is whether or not voters think the district will save more for the budget in cuts, or by avoiding racial discrimination suits? With 7 suits pending, this is a very serious question, and I'm not sure I know the answer.

I welcome readers to tell me what they think...only 10 more hours to make a decision...

Now I am sure that neither candidate is bound to happy with what I am saying here, but at least no one can argue that I'm not giving everyone a fair shake--I call 'em like I see 'em. This is not a clean cut choice, and rather than vilifying candidates over one flaw or another, we need to make a practical choice between imperfect candidates.

noel jones said...

i just found out from a reader that just voted that my part of the West Ward is actually in Region III--which is weird, because i was convinced that my part of the neighborhood was in Kerry Myers' district. a lot of people have been confused as to which district they are in, because the West Ward is apparently chopped up 3 ways between the three regions.

so i will be voting for Kerri Leonard-Ellison, without a doubt. aside from doing a fantastic job, her opponent is the brother of the HR Director, and we already have enough insiders running the district.

the best advice i can give until such time as easily accessible regional maps are made available to the public, is to read up on all of the candidates, so as to be informed before walking into the booth, regardless who shows up on your ballot.

as for Region I, i will be happy if the incumbents Hess and Mandarino are replaced by any of the challengers, who all seem qualified. Hess and Mandarino are not bad people, but they are both safety-cats who do not speak up and participate in important discussions, and both have relatives working in the district, and have either a) not been forthcoming about it (Mandarino), or b) been defensive about that (Hess).

noel jones said...

here is the Morning Call's Voters Guide from last Thursday, produced by the League of Women Voters:,0,2817445.htmlpage

it explains which precincts vote in each region, both for magistrates and for school board members (called "School Directors" in the guide) as well as info on other races and candidates--I wish I had seen this sooner! i got to the polls and didn't see this race on my ballot at all, and yet the candidates' signs for the magistrates' race were outside. turns out that because my polling place has both precincts 6 & 7, the signs were for 7, not 6--confusing!

Bill E. Timmann said...


Thank you for the forum, and the review.

I need to point out one important point. The only reason that I might have been hard to understand, is because I shoot from the hip and speak from my heart. I didn't have any plants in the audience that were submitting questions that I had the answers to on any que cards, like my opponents.

I know my chances and I thank all of my supporters, but I will NEVER compromise myself just to get a few extra votes.

noel jones said...

i agree that you "shoot from the hip."

but that's a pretty strong accusation, Bill. we should all be careful of accusing people of things that we have no evidence to substantiate with. there is a difference between suspecting, and knowing.

even if some of the questions submitted from the audience were submitted by supporters of one candidate or another, all of the questions posed were completely pertinent to this race, and were general enough that any candidate who has been doing research would be able to offer an informed opinion.

noel jones said...

Bill--your best points were on pay-to-play being the norm for NJ, and for our own elementary schools. but it was also one of Pintabone's stronger responses, that pay to play risks excluding poor kids from the South Side and the West Ward that might not be able to afford to play. the common response to that assertion is that we can trust those that care about each sport in our community to raise money to pay for the kids that can't afford it.

so this is the age-old debate between the right and the left in America--whether support for the poor should be voluntary (charity/churches/private fundraising in the community) or forced (taxation). or another way to look at the debate is whether society can be trusted (voluntary charity) to take care of the poor, or cannot be trusted and therefore must be forced (taxation).

i am still working my way through this debate myself...

noel jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crusader for Truth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Crusader for Truth said...

Hey Noel, can you remove my previous post? I tried to post a picture but it did not work. Thanks!

noel jones said...

This from ET's election results live chat:

Comment From Colin McEvoy
The county is now reporting 100% on the EASB Region 3 race, and unofficial results indicate what we've been expecting: Frank Castrovinci has won the Republican race and Kerri Leonard-Ellison has won the Democratic race. They will face each other in November.

noel jones said...

Crusader for Truth--ok, done! And I deleted my duplicate post right before yours as well.

noel jones said...

looks like it will be Pintabone for the Democrats and DelBacco for the Republicans in November--congratulations to both!

thanks to Bill Timmann too, for stepping up to run--the more people run for office, the better our forums, races and choices are in our local elections.

Bill Timmann said...


Frank Pintabone is the best example for what I stood for with Pay to play, and also his worst excuse against it. He claims to come from a poor family, and was a very involved athlete. What happened to him? He became a high school dropout and a teenage father. Now he blames the school for failing him. School sports did nothing for him. So how does his excuse have any merit whatsoever?

I coasted through school and took all of the easiest classes in school that I could, so that I could just coast by. These were my choices, just like Frank's choice to play sports, or have unprotected sex. I built myself and my 2 businesses up from nothing, except hard work. I didn't blame the school for failing me when I made bad decisions.

This is the problem with our society. Too many people think that they are entitled to something without having to work for it or earn it. If more of us would do what is right, rather than worry about if someone else will do what is right, then we can move on in this world.

I would like to add one thought that I avoided during the debate, for fear that I might be labeled the same as Ron Delbacco. One of the big questions was how do we avoid future lawsuits? The best way to avoid them, is to hire THE MOST qualified candidate, regardless of race. When we start making exceptions due to race, then we open ourselves up to these lawsuits. Let me explain it a little better. If we get someone complaining that we aren't hiring them because of their race, then we do hire them, in order to quell the situation, we are opening the door to a future lawsuit. The people that will initially complain about being passed over, even if they are not the most qualified candidate for the job, are feeling the entitlement that they deserve a job, based on their race. This is also known as reverse discrimination. That same person, when later on, gets reprimanded for not doing their job, or doing it poorly or improperly, immediately plays the race card because they hide behind their race.

Racism is alive today, due to the people that won't let it die because they feel entitled to things because their skin is a different color.

It is not just the white people that need to grow up. The people of color need to stop hiding behind it as a shield as need to stop using it to protect themselves from their own shortcomings. Stop the entitlement thought process and we can stop racism in this country. Make EVERYONE be equal and we will be.

noel jones said...

Ok, Bill. Hold on to your hat.

I just had this conversation with someone backchannel via email, so fortunately, I can cut-and-paste on this one, but it is long enough that i'm going to dedicate a an entirely new post to the topic.

thanks for your candor. but all candidates need to remember not to get defensive when they are running for office and make gaffs with regard to racial issues, because the voters have a right to know the truth about the perspectives of their candidates. no one should be trying to hide something about themselves to trick voters into voting for someone they would not want representing their views.

here you have basically admitted to veiling your true feelings about race to let DelBacco take the heat so that you could get more votes. now that you've lost the primary, you are comfortable letting voters know how you really feel.

but voters had a right to know all that when you were running. whether he intended to or not, at least with DelBacco, voters knew where he stood on racial issues.