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I called Galectin to ask how many jobs would be in their headquarters in Gwinnett. I was told they are a small company and there would be only 3-4 people here. We welcome Galectin to Gwinnett.
The following comment proves why you are right when you said, "This guy ain't got a clue."
"For Suwanee residents, while the Buford Highway project was well-known, Williams said the project with the most impact on the transportation referedum project list for Gwinnett residents wasn't even in the county.
"Buford Highway was the closest, but in terms of impact, I don't think Ga. 400/(Interstate) 285 can be overstated as far as its impact on metro Atlanta," he said. "People have business meetings, medical needs and the top end perimeter is really the No. 1 issue that people in Gwinnett County have."
I do not know who R is, but I find it surprising that rocknroll wrote this:
"He will continue to claim he is just a concerned citizen but no one spends as much time as he does just because he is concerned."
There are a lot of people in my group who spend a lot of time trying to learn more about local government because they are concerned citizens. If we had more concerned citizens, Gwinnett would not have re-elected Balfour. Are you saying that average citizens should not get involved? Leaving government to the "professionals" has not worked out real well for Gwinnett, has it?
No one is suggesting that Wilbanks should not be paid. The issue is that if the school board can be creative with the superintendent's sick leave policy, they can work hard to try to find an equitable solution for this teacher. I know that it is not just a matter of saying yes, as there are other considerations, but they have already set a precedent by creating a sick leave policy for Wilbanks that is not offered to any other superintendent in the metro-Atlanta area, and probably not in Georgia.
If you think this is normal, please give me the name of just one other school system in Georgia that pays salaries of employees at their Chamber of Commerce. If this is normal, why is the Financial Review Division of the Georgia Department of Education looking into this? Would you pay salaries for an outside organization with no contract, and no way to evaluate what you got in return? If it is normal for GCPS to make payments like this, we need to look into other areas of their budget. If this is normal, why did GCPS release a statement saying Wilbanks discussed this with the school board, they approved it, and asked for the benefits to be analyzed on an annual basis, but there are no minutes of any meeting where this discussed? Would you not expect minutes for a meeting where the school board made a decision to make multi-year payments of salaries to an outside organization that totals approximately $900,000 on a no-bid, no-contract basis? If the school board asked for an annual benefit analysis, why was that never done? If this is normal, please join our organization, as we are going to need more volunteers than ever to file open records requests and review documents.
If it is all good, we would be happy to review the documents to substantiate the $6 million GCPS claims to have received. There is absolutely NOTHING to support that claim. The math doesn’t make sense even if they did have paperwork. Please find any businessman in Gwinnett, in Georgia, or anywhere in the country who will tell you that it is reasonable to hear a claim that 2 employees generated $800 million in economic activity.
My question, once again: If GCPS was only interested in a return on investment to provide more money for schools, why didn't they buy a McDonalds franchise that has a proven track record and can easily provide financial statements to show the amount earned down to the penny? Why didn't GCPS require a contract? There is no list of deliverables outlining what the chamber was to provide. GCPS admitted they have never even asked for a cost benefit analysis. How can they claim with a straight face that they received $6 million? I would be happy if they showed us they broke even and got back the amount of money they spent on salaries.
GCPS is not the only Gwinnett organization giving tax dollars to the chamber. The county, the cities, the Gwinnett Conventions & Visitors Bureau, and the CIDs have all given to the chamber. The chamber claims they have brought 280 businesses to Gwinnett, created 12,000 jobs and generated $800 million of economic activity. In numerous meetings, telephone calls and emails from elected officials, we have been promised records that would support those claims. Six months later, we are still waiting. Why are there no records to CLEARLY show what taxpayers got for the millions paid to the chamber? Why are WE the ones asking? Why didn't our elected officials REQUIRE this information before now? Is it acceptable to give taxpayer money to the chamber when they cannot prove what they did in return? If GCPS cannot prove they got $6 million for paying chamber salaries, why are they still doing it? If the chamber cannot prove their claims, why don't they repay the taxpayers' money?
If you would like to evaluate the records and decide for yourself if your tax dollars are being used properly, go to the website at www.GwinnettPetition.com .As long as you remain quiet, the school board will continue to spend your money in this outrageous manner.
We started asking questions 6 months ago about why GCPS has been paying chamber salaries since 2007. GCPS claims it is a good investment because they have received $6 million in return for the payments. Open records requests show there is NOT ONE SHRED of documentation in their files to support that outlandish claim. If GCPS was only interested in making an investment with education dollars, why did they decide to fund chamber salaries instead of buying a McDonalds franchise? How did the school board decide that investing in chamber salaries was a wise use of education funds? There are no minutes of any meeting where this was discussed, even though GCPS released a statement saying Wilbanks discussed this with the board and they approved it. If paying the salaries of 2 chamber employees did return $6 million, why don’t they pay the salaries of 10 chamber employees and get $60 million? You would think that if this investment had honestly done what GCPS claims, they would be bragging about it instead of refusing to answer questions. All parents of GCPS students should ask their school board member to explain why education dollars are paying chamber salaries instead of educating their children.
If Mary Kay Murphy was creative enough to figure out how to revise the policy for Superintendent Wilbanks, maybe she can be just as creative in revising the policy to help this teacher and his wife.
A 2010 article in the AJC detailed the unusual sick leave policy that Gwinnett’s school board created for Superintendent Wilbanks because he is hard-working: “That includes payments twice a year for unused leave time, a perk that's unusual among superintendents in metro Atlanta and unavailable to most teachers, at least until they retire. In July, Wilbanks was paid for being healthy. He received $176.15 an hour for about a dozen unused sick days, adding up to $18,143. This month, he is eligible for another $28,360 payout for 20 unused vacation days. In addition, he received a retirement supplement of $42,000, a reimbursement for his contribution to his own retirement plan of $17,077 and a monthly expense allowance of $2,700 to cover transportation and business costs. And when his two-year contract was re-negotiated in 2009, the board agreed to allow Wilbanks to spend 10 days each year telecommuting. "I've never seen a more hard-working individual in charge of 22,500 employees," said Mary Kay Murphy, school board chair. "It is something that he requested and it seemed reasonable."
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