Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cinfici’s Address to the 2015 Reading School Board

           Last week, I delivered a speech to the Reading School Board of Directors.  It was the first time I had addressed the Board, other than at a public hearing, since shortly after my term as a School Director ended in 2013.

            I congratulated the Board President for being elevated by her colleagues to the presidency, which I took as a validation of the work that she, I and others on the previous Board did to balance the School District’s budget, under difficult circumstances, without raising taxes, while producing millions of dollars in surplus.  I praised and thanked the current Board for continuing the previous Board’s practice, which had been my suggestion, to have metal detectors at Board meetings for the safety of the public.  I also praised the new Board for continuing two successful projects initiated by prior Boards: the under-budget renovation of the Amanda Stoudt elementary school and thanked the Board for planning a meeting there for the public to see the renovations and additions, and the repair of the Hampden Park Comfort Station, which had fallen into such disrepair as to be a danger to the public, as well as an eyesore, and noted also its improved security. 

However, I observed several areas, in contrast, where the current Board had failed to make progress or had even regressed.  I noted that the new Board has ignored a number of facilities resolutions approved by the previous Board, numerous suggestions for cutting wasteful spending or improving the collection of revenue that I urged it to consider, a recommendation by the Finance Committee to issue requests for proposals for professional services in order to increase openness and transparency and act in the best financial interest of the District, and the recommendation of the District’s auditor and the Pennsylvania Auditor General to have an “Audit” or “Financial Review Committee” to increase openness and transparency and improve the District’s financial controls.

Finally, noting the criticism of the Auditor General of a prior Board in 2011 for failing its fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers by being “too trusting” of administrators, I expressed my deep concern that the majority of the current Board was also too trusting of administrators, whom I noted are not perfect or all-knowing and usually are not from the District.  I urged the Board to conduct proper oversight by asking questions in order to hold the Administration accountable.  Noting how several of the School Directors on the Board shared my concern, I suggested the way to afford Directors the opportunity to learn what is happening in the District and to ask questions was to return to the practice of having board committees. 

I warned that the majority of the current Board’s failure to conduct proper oversight would result in it, too, failing its fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Nigerian Presidential Elections: Representative Government vs. Terrorism and Other Observations

           Nigerians braved the threat of violence from Islamist terrorists to vote in presidential elections.  The elections were relatively free of violence and irregularities. 

A Muslim who is a former military dictator was elected, winning even some Christian areas in this divided African state.  Despite his record of repression, he won on the promise to do more to fight the jihadists than the incumbent and on his record of honest government, which is an exception in Nigeria, one of the world’s most corrupt states. 

The incumbent conceded defeat and will give up power, which will mark the first transfer from one party to another through elections in Nigerian history. 

Nigerians deserve praise for their commitment to representative government and opposition to public corruption and to terrorism.  May they safeguard their liberty and remain united to defeat the terrorists.

Six-Year Blog Visit Report; Happy Easter

           In the six years since StatCounter has been tracking pageviews to my blog, there have been nearly 6,170 visits to my blog, according to my strict definition of a visit.  Thank you for visiting!

As always, I do not count my own visits and only count as separate visits those pageviews by individuals that are at least one hour apart, as well as not counting visits that are obviously not by individuals or in cases in which it is unknown which page was visited.  Even without these exceptions, counting repeated pageviews of the same page during one visit or the total number of views of various pages per visit would yield a number thousands higher.  Fewer visitors than before are able to be tracked by StatCounter because of privacy protections, as I can judge by the statistics of hits tracked by the blog host, Blogger, as the latter is able to track many more than the former, although sometimes pageviews are tracked by StatCounter and not Blogger. 

There has been no change in the statistical proportions of visits as before.  Visits from American States tend to come from Pennsylvania most, followed by other States in proportion to their population, more or less.  Malaysia, Algeria, Canada and the United Kingdom remain the foreign states which are the sources of the most visits, but with the trend especially more toward Algeria than Malaysia over the previous year.  The visit from the most exotic country last year was from Fiji.  The Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization, with over 1,500 visits, and Commentary on the Roman Influence on America Exhibit at the National Constitution Center, with well over 400, remain the two most popular posts since StatCounter began tracking visits to my blog in 2009, but The Rev. Monsignor Felix A. Losito, Rest in Peace was the second-most visited post over the last year, behind the Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization.  Each of the three posts from 2009-2011 attracted 25-50 visits.  Lepanto, by G.K. Chesterton and Useless Cabinet Departments were the next most-frequently visited posts.  The homepage of my blog was the overall most visited page since my last blog report.

I especially appreciate repeat visitors, public or private followers and those who post comments.  Please visit at least weekly.  Again, thank you for your patronage. 

I wish all my visitors a Happy Easter!