Letters to the Editor
May 14th, 2009

To the Editor:
May 8, 2009 FUTA Staff, This is an open letter to staff, one which I hesitate in writing, but one that is needed at this time as I am confronted with inaccuracies originated and published by the current FUTA leadership. There has been one change this year that represents the difference in the tenor of the District as well as the tone in relationships within the District. That change is the current FUTA leadership, who, unlike their predecessors, have been unwilling to work to create a harmony in all matters relative to the teachers they are supposed to serve. Selfless collaborative leaders are needed to ensure teachers’ rights are upheld; leaders who are willing to move away from the turmoil this District faced in prior years. My hope for this year was for current FUTA leadership to build upon the momentum generated from prior leadership. This momentum generated a new vision, brought salary parity, and forged an agreement between FUTA and the District to move our teachers from the lowest salary in the County to the median in 2007-2008. Prior to 2008-09, we had established a new mutual trust. Albeit cautiously, your leaders courageously and accurately represented teachers’ needs. It was more than the task of finding the money for a raise: it was the development of a new relationship that bridged the differences, allowed people with varied perspectives to heal, and to create a new FUSD. Unfortunately, over the course of this year, the leadership who led the District the prior two years were no longer considered and their practices that led to a harmonious environment have been eliminated. Whereas “trust and openness” were the watchwords of the prior two years, those words have been replaced with skepticism, secretiveness and animosity. Where our processes were interest-based, now the tone is adversarial. This year, you have been deluged with half-truths seemingly intended to polarize our employees, deceptions of how poorly the District is treating its employees, and a classic misdirection of facts that creates turmoil and keeps everyone wondering who is telling the truth and who is not. The new FUTA president came in with a process uniquely hers. Eliminated were weekly meetings between the FUTA president and Evalene Townend, our chief negotiator. Gone were the emails that went to all members of the negotiating team. Instead, a demand from the FUTA president was made to send emails only to her and she would decide who received the information, eroding the openness of communication and the sense of trust that was created in the two prior years. There are other changes.
Despite devastating budget cuts, FUTA’s leadership demanded more money during negotiations. Regardless of the cuts removing programs, reducing staff’s hours or days, or eliminating positions, the FUTA leadership wanted more money for their members. Although the rhetoric from the FUTA president is that she supports classified staff, she has not offered anything from the largest employee group in the District (68% of employees) to offset reductions. And instead of addressing what many are talking about, she frequently shares inaccurate and misleading information about salary raises for upper management in conjunction with a restructuring plan for the District Office. That plan was based on faulty information and was presented to the Board on the night the Board approved our final reductions. Again, classic misdirection which steers everyone away from the fact that FUTA leadership has not worked with the District regarding the current budget crisis. The FUTA president’s use of salary data in the Gazette article is inaccurate. She states, “The Superintendent in Fiscal Year (FY) 2007-2008 received a 25% salary increase from $117,000 to $147,000.” All District salaries are verifiable and public information. When I was hired in the District, the Board signed a three-year contract with me for approximately $145,000. Currently, my total salary is approximately $152,000. This is not a 25% raise. It is less than 5%. In comparison to other superintendents in the County my salary is ranked 14 out of 17. The references to the assistant superintendents’ salaries in the Gazette article are equally inaccurate. Please continue to carefully listen with intent, verify facts, determine the possible motivation for the information, and confirm it with those you trust. We are constantly bombarded with choices. Our Board was faced with many choices as they were forced to reduce $1.7 million. The Board studied several solutions in dealing with this deficit. Since discussions began in January regarding these reductions, all updates have been consistently posted on the District web site and sent out via email. In addition, the Board sought out suggestions from staff and community members via a District-wide staff survey, personal contacts and public comments. All suggestions were reviewed and considered prior to the Board’s final decision. Our District is at a crossroads as we are called to make painstakingly difficult choices. Our Board has already made many difficult decisions necessary to balance our budget. Unfortunately, there may be more reductions coming as our state’s economy does not seem to be improving. All of these possible reductions will prompt our District’s change, forcing upon us additional choices as we adjust our instructional program due to fewer services and programs. You are at your own set of crossroads. I hope that you will listen to all, inquire about areas that do not make sense, draw your own conclusions, and do not accept the opinions of just the loudest. “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it is indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it is indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it is indifference.”- Ellie Wiesel, holocaust survivor It is not too late to stay involved, make a choice, and choose your own way.
Jeff Sweeney
Superintendent, FUSD

To the Editor:
Re: David Reeves Letter
Mr. Reeves is correct in that I did receive a copy of the survey taken in 2007. He should take another look at the results because it shows 69% of those who responded were in favor of rent control, and this is only 30%± of the spaces in the park, which I believe constitutes a minority. I was living in the park at the time of the survey and was never contacted or even aware of such a survey even though I live next door to one of the leaders of Pro Rent Control. This makes me wonder if they were being selective of whom they wanted responses from. Maybe Mr. Reeves would like to “retract his ludicrous ill-informed letter” after reviewing his survey.
Fred Carpenter

To the Editor:
This will be the ONLY response to those who find the need to voice their opinions publicly about the Voice of El Dorado Homeowner’s Association. As usual, the facts in those letters are incorrect, probably because those persons writing do not read the HOA’s frequent, written correspondence reporting ALL Board activity (which has NEVER included pursuing Rent Control), and/or participate in the running of the HOA and attend general meetings. In addition, every HOA Board member has always been available to clarify HOA positions and answer questions.
The Board of Directors once again invites all El Dorado residents who are interested in the truth, to participate in the next planned HOA general meeting to be held in the Club House on Sunday, May 17 at 6 PM. The agenda will cover a recap of HOA business and events during 2008, a review of tools/supplies for the Block Captain Program, and information about Condo Conversion at El Dorado; what it is, and how it could affect you! We will attempt to answer all reasonable questions pertaining to the noted issues.
Thank you,
Voice of El Dorado,
Board of Directors