Sunday, April 26, 2015

Who will be selected?

During tomorrow's Commission Discussion Session,

A. Interviews with Ward 3 applicants: 

6:05 p.m. Elaine Gillen 
6:15 p.m. James Cannon 
6:25 p.m. ____________ 
6:35 p.m. Edward Goslin 
6:45 p.m. Coleen Vuono 
6:55 p.m. Andrew Reinhart 
7:05 p.m. Steve McLean 
7:15 p.m. Raymond Pan 
7:25 p.m. _____________ 

B. Discussion regarding applications

I should have mentioned that the evening will start with ten minutes given to our deer doctor, Sandy Baker. Yes. Ten. Minutes. 

OK, getting back to the applicants. I'm up first. I have a better shot at winning the lottery. James Cannon is Josephine Posti and Jim Cannon's father. I don't know Edward Goslin. At 6:45, former Commissionette and Pro Kill Coleen Vuono. 6:55's Andrew Reinhart is the Democratic hopeful running for Ward 3, while Steve McLean at 7:05 is running on the Republican ticket for Ward 3. I don't know Raymond Pan. 6:25 and 7:25 backed out. I don't know who they were.

My guess is that the new Commissioner for Ward 3 will be Democrat Andrew Reinhart. You heard it here first.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Earth Day 2015

The rain (and the snow!) held off today for Mt. Lebanon's Earth Day celebration in Main Park. I hung out at Sandy Baker's booth which was beautifully "landscaped" with all deer resistant plants generously donated by Jim Jenkins.



Commissioner Kelly Fraasch with Wayne Jones, Parks Advisory Board

This booth wanted to be right next to Sandy Baker's booth, but unfortunately, it didn't work out for them. I'm not sure why they were even allowed to attend since they are not big on coexisting with nature. 

In fact, the biggest deer hater would not face me when I took pictures. She wouldn't allow me to photograph her. Hey! Just like He Who Shall Not Be Named!



None of the people at their tent would face me. I guess they are ashamed of their behavior. Their big thing was kill the deer to protect our ecosystem. 

I learned so much today from Sandy Baker. Free seminars are set for the Mt. Lebanon Public Library Sunday, from 2 to 4 p.m. and Monday, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Hope you can all attend.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Of course it was Kip's UPDATED

A Right To Know was filed on March 16, 2015 asking for "All emails, text messages and written communication between any Mt. Lebanon employee and any employee of Wildlife Specialists for the period between February 15 - March 11, 2015 regarding the deer management program currently being conducted in Mt. Lebanon."

The RTK was partially granted and partially denied and sent in two files. Steve Feller's cover letter includes an explanation.

Highlights from the redacted Right To Know file include:
  • Wildlife Specialists mapped out 1,000' buffers from school buildings instead of measuring from property line of schools. Only one school needed to be adjusted. This bait site was the one vandalized. Page 18.
  • "This new issue about the school SAFE act is all empty because the act states that all "unauthorized" individuals may not possess a fire arm within a school safe zone. If you are licensed by the state or the local authority to do so then you are authorized. Why is this not clearly obvious to the commissioners and Police Department? Otherwise, the police would not be allowed to come near a school." - W.S.
  • Per John Bendel's suggestion, Steve Feller was feeding Merlin Benner questions that were going to be asked at the Discussion Session. Page 19.
  • Page 21. Concordia was upset with Brian Benner concerning use of their property. Concordia did not grant permission to cull the deer on their property.
  • Page 25. Feller notified W.S. that the sites previously chosen at Markham, the golf course, and McNeilly are all within the 1,000' buffer.
  • Page 28. A female lawyer warned W.S. if they did not call PA One Call by 11 AM that day, that she would call and report them. Merlin suggested that they make the call. This woman spoke with our police chief who did not understand that bullets are considered explosives.
  • Page 30. Merlin Benner threatens a resident with harassment.
  • Merlin tells Coleman that they will comply and limit work on site to the two approved by the PA Game Commission. See letter from the Game Commission. Page 33.
  • W.S. blamed Kelly Fraasch for sharing Kip's information on page 38. W.S. said that Kip and his wife were very worried about their safety and for the business.
  • Page 39. More "harassment" from a Mt. Lebanon resident toward Kip.
  • Page 41. Kip had been identified in one of the "activist blogs."
  • Amendments to the application begin on page 54 to include adding more men to the permit, allowing semi-automatic rifles, and use of a Scott Township property owned by Mt. Lebanon (Twin Hills).
  • Page 61. Since McNeilly is off the table, W.S. wants to use Williamsburg and Main Park. W.S. also tells Feller that they have written permission from Concordia.
  • Page 65. Facebook announcement of the February 28 protest on Connor Road.
Highlights from the other RTK file include:
  • Brian Benner says that hopefully all shooting will be under the cover of darkness. Page 6.
  • A fourth name was not on the amendment request. Game Commission said that a new request must be submitted with all four names listed. Page 9.
  • Coleman reports to Benner about debating with a citizen on page 16. See photo here. 
    Baiting begins. Benner heard that one of his co-workers saw a feeder photo in an article and was concerned that they were trespassing. He realized that the photo could have been taken from a distance. What a squirrelly bunch!
  • Page 17. No feeders at Twin Hills.
  • Page 27. McNeilly was doused with urine. How do they know?
  • Pages 30 - 45. PA One Call reports.
  • Gene wanted to know how or why information was disclosed about shooting. Aaron Lauth told him that Merlin Benner shared it with a Trib reporter. Page 46. Squirrelly!
  • Page 47. First Church of Christ did not want their lot used for parking or access for deer killing. W.S. had called the police on members of the public who tried to tell them that they did not have permission to be there!
  • Deer were captured and killed without incident. They were pleased that there was no protester interference. Page 48.
  • Wildlife Specialists wanted to use cross-bows at McNeilly, Bird, and the Golf Course since it would not violate the 1,000' federal school law. Thankfully, Steve Feller said thanks, but no thanks. Page 50.
  • Page 51. More on PA One Call.
  • Page 55. Coordinates of "Trapping Sites."
  • The Health Department called and had not approved any wild game processors for food banks. Page 64.
  • Page 65. Request to use lawful firearms for big game was denied.

Another RTK is due on or before May 5. Now that my heart is racing again and am all fired up remembering all the unrest the deer killing had caused, I want to remind everyone that the municipality is bringing in Sandy Baker this weekend, to share her recommendations for non-lethal methods of deer management. 

Update April 24, 2015 3:05 PM The final report from Wildlife Specialists has been posted here. Six deer were processed at Kip's Deer Processing yielding 183 pounds of venison all donated to "Link in the Chain Ministries."

Update April 25, 2015 9:20 AM I did a quick calculation and figured that the meat came to $81.97 per pound of venison. ($12,000 for the deer management plan + 6 deer at a cost of $500/deer.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

More bunk about ticks, deer and Lyme Disease

John Shumway interviewed someone from Ehrlich Pest Control in Peters Township in his report,  Expert Offers Tips For Protecting Against Ticks & Lyme Disease.  Dr. Gore claims:
Deer are their [ticks'] favorite mode of transportation. “They are a huge mammal that goes through the woods and grasses,” says Dr. Gore, “and they’ll pick up and drop off ticks all over the place.”
Mr. Shumway, when you interview an exterminator about ticks, he is going to tell you to that "hiring a professional to treat your yard for tick prevention may be the most effective line of attack, but there are products you can buy to treat your own yard." On the PA Game Commission's website, you will learn that "There is no clear relationship between deer density, tick abundance, and Lyme disease incidence." Lyme Disease & Deer Revelation or Red Herring  Rats, mice and chipmunks are the main carriers.

Your report says that you were in Peters Township, but you close with, "In Mt. Lebanon, John Shumway KDKA News." Did the Mt. Lebanon pro deer killers have anything to do with that? Why are you perpetuating a myth about deer and lyme disease? I know that the deer haters have been submitting some pretty nasty comments about Sandy Baker who is coming to Mt. Lebanon this weekend.

Smart Pizza lunches!

Mt. Lebanon students are eating Domino’s Pizza at school these days. Here is the deal though: it has to be the Domino’s Smart Slice version that has been formulated to meet the national standards for school lunches and it MUST be served with unlimited fruits/vegetables.

http://www.mtlsd.org/foodservices/middleschool.asp

Here is the meal that Timmy offers:

https://twitter.com/mtlsdsuper/status/588406864599195648

The Super includes Domino's Smart Slice, cookies, and water or milk. Maybe he just doesn’t know the rules about the fruits and veggies.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education anticipated that changing food habits, in light of the obesity epidemic in children, could be tricky and created a "Fact Sheet for Parents" on how to recognize accomplishments without compromising health and nutrition. In our case, our superintendent is just recognizing that the children go to school. So maybe they need to create a “Fact Sheet for Superintendents” on how to work in education without compromising the health and nutrition of the district’s students. Links to the fact sheets are provided on their food and nutrition page.

http://www.pde.state.pa.us/food_nutrition

At least, the superintendent offers milk with the Domino’s Smart Slice. That’s because milk and Domino’s go together, with Domino’s benefitting from a $35 million dollar partnership with the Dairy Checkoff Program between 2009 and 2011.

http://www.eatdrinkpolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/SimonWhitewashedDairyReport.pdf

Why does Domino’s get to serve pizza to students every Wednesday in our middle schools? It might be the same reason Caribou Coffee is available for high school students every day. Nobody really knows. So here’s some background on the Smart Slice:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/11/dining/the-dominos-smart-slice-goes-to-school.html?_r=0

The Colbert Report covered Domino’s creation of the Smart Slice - how did we miss it? Colbert highlighted how much kids must need these name brand food products in our schools and felt he was missing out because the Smart Slice isn’t sold in Domino’s stores - only in schools. Watch below:

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/445utq/thought-for-food---domino-s-smart-slice---doritos-jacked

The superintendent has decided what to include in his Domino’s Pizza lunches and must feel that fruits or veggies are not necessary. The USDA federal mandate that Mt. Lebanon is required to meet is for others to consider - not him and certainly not for after school fundraisers. And heck, only some kids get the invite to his lunches after all.* So really, why worry? At least, he shares his photos.

* If your kid has celiac disease, he or she is really out of luck. The Mt. Lebanon School District recommends a bagged lunch from home.

Happy Earth Day!

Don't forget that Mt Lebanon municipality is hosting a variety of options this weekend to learn about garden plantings, deer strategy and behavior to help you with your gardens this Spring/Summer.

Sandy Baker, organic gardener, consultant and "Deer Doctor" will be visiting Mt Lebanon and talking with residents about her experiences and knowledge about gardening.

Join Sandy at Earth Day in Main Park on Saturday, April 25th from 11-4 PM (Rain [snow*] or Shine)

OR

Join Sandy at one of her seminars, "Deer Proof Your Garden" on Sunday, April 26 at 2 PM in the Mt. Lebanon Library and Monday, April 27 at 10 AM or 1 PM in the Mt. Lebanon Library.

No RSVP necessary.

If you attend one of the seminars, you get a free copy of Sandy's guidebook, "How to Deer Proof Your Garden."

-Sponsored by Mt Lebanon Municipality

*I can't believe it is snowing outside as I am typing this.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Under 50º and wearing shorts? Recess denied!

I would not do well as a Lincoln Elementary parent. In their latest newsletter,
Recess Temperature Reminder 
As we have entered the spring weather season, we want to remind our students about what they need to wear during outdoor recess. Anytime the temperature dips below 50ºF, students MUST wear a jacket (of some type) outside. Students that choose to wear shorts will not be permitted outside for recess if the temperature is below 50ºF. It is a family decision, but we would suggest that students not wear shorts on days when temperatures are forecasted to be below 50ºF. If the thermometer dips even lower (let's hope it doesn't), students should be prepared to wear hats and gloves during outside recess. We typically check AccuWeather and The Weather Channel apps for the current local temperature at approximately 11:55 am.

What about girls wearing skirts or dresses? Are they denied recess, as well?
Are girls allowed to wear skirts and dresses throughout the year? Must girls wear long pants during the winter? Is there outside recess in the fall and winter? I'm just trying to understand the rules. I never experienced this when my kids were in school.

I also see why parents are starting to opt out of PSSA testing. Talk about high stakes testing!

PSSA Testing Information The 2015 PSSA testing window continues this week. Our students in Grades 3-5 will take the PSSA MATH tests on April 20-22, 2015. Grade 4 students will complete the PSSA SCIENCE tests on April 28- 29, 2015. Please understand that during the testing window, preapproved absences will not be granted for students in Grades 3-5. 
Though we have been exceedingly diligent with our instruction and interventions since school started, and we are confident in our students' abilities, these tests still bring a heightened level of anxiety to everyone. Teachers are anxious for students to do their best. Students are worried that the tests will be too hard. Administration is anxious that we will not do as well as we have in the past. All of this anxiety is certainly understandable, but more importantly, it can be minimized. Here are some easy ways you can help us to be at our best during the PSSA test window: 
  • Be sure your student(s) get a good night's sleep. 
  • Insist on a good breakfast before school. 
  • Send your student(s) off to school on time. 
  • Instill a sense of confidence and a desire for your student(s) to do their best no matter how hard the tests may be. Let them know how proud you are of their abilities and their effort.
What easy ways are recommended for teachers and Administration to minimize anxiety?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"We deserve better."

Elaine:

This morning’s PG includes an article on the upgraded High School. A $110 million upgrade at Mt. Lebanon High School

An issue that caught my eye is the continued cadence from the District that this year’s anticipated tax increase is to due solely to rising contributions to the retirement system (PSERS). 
 
In the article, the District is attributed with the following: “…this year all of the projected tax hike will go to pension increases…”

Simple math demonstrates this mantra is disingenuous, at best. The local burden for PSERS is only approximately 40% of the total expenditures increase projected to fall on Mt. Lebanon taxpayers*. 
 
In fact, if all other increasing expenses (excluding debt service) remained flat, we would not require a tax increase, in spite of the mandatory PSERS increase. I fully recognize this not reality, but neither is the District’s characterization.

We deserve better.

Bill Matthews

*The State’s PSERS contribution and related expense is excluded from this calculation.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

The consumer flu that won't go away

"It seems like there is no effort to reduce the debt, reduce expenses, sacrifice a little... just increased taxes and incessant fundraisers in every direction -- pretzel sales, KONA ice trucks, the uptown taste fest, sports team shakedowns from the Blue Devils Club (6 months after the raffle you better pay us $25 for your unsold ticket) yada, yada. I feel like I am under constant pressure to buy something. It's like a consumer flu/plague that won't go away."
When this comment came through last night, I thought it deserved its own post. I don't know much about pretzel sales, ice trucks, or the Blue Devils Club. [Why am I thinking of this song as I type?]

But I do know about the Taste of Lebo: Battle of the Appetizers. Today, Mt. Lebanon Foundation of Education is hosting the first annual Taste of Lebo. 

Local Lebo restaurants will be offering special appetizers for participants to enjoy as they stroll up and down Washington Road while listening to the best of our student music ensembles. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for Seniors Citizens and students. Throughout the afternoon, students in the 5th grade chorus, the Jefferson Middle School jazz ensemble, the elementary strings group, the double quartet, and a number of percussion ensembles will entertainment our savvy tasters. 
This event is sponsered by the Mt. Lebanon Foundation for Education. The foundation provides funding for extraordinary and innovative learning opportunites while expanding the boundaries of learning by supporting teacher-driven projects. Visit our site atwww.mtlsd.org/MLFE
To order tickets go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/taste-of-lebo-battle-of-the-appetizers-tickets-15528605477 
For more information, contact Alyssa DeLuca at adeluca@mtlsd.net or 412-325-8201.
I am curious about the "sports team shakedowns," if anyone has more information about that.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

High School Contingency Fund Accounting ...through March, 2015

Lebo Citizens reader and Mt. Lebanon resident Richard Gideon has been keeping meticulous records of the high school project change orders. The list that I have in the sidebar has items that have been moved in and out of the contingency fund and then considered part of a different fund. The list will be corrected in the near future. Thank you, RG, for your update. - Elaine

High School Contingency Fund Accounting
...through March, 2015 

Since the beginning of the high school renovation project to 16 March 2015, the Mt. Lebanon School District has spent $5,000,165.57 on change orders (CO's) whilst receiving refunds and/or insurance settlements of $682,131.66, resulting in a net total CO expenditure of $4,318,033.57. CO's are paid, with some exceptions, out of a contingency fund (CF) that was initially established at $4,276,000; however, the fund was theoretically exhausted in March, 2015, at which time the District infused it with $538,000 from other accounts, bringing the CF account total to $4,814,000.00. The following figures have been calculated through the end of March, 2015: 
Total spent on CO's: $4,318,033.57
--breakdown--
Average expenditure (includes refunds): $16,544.19
Median expenditure (includes refunds): $10,002.00
Number of CO's & refunds to date: 261
Number of accounting periods (months): 34
Average cost per period: $127,000.99
Number of CO's: 243
Average CO: $20,576.81
Median CO: $10,921.00
Number of refunds/adjustments: 18
Average refund/adjustment: -$37,896.22
Median refund/adjustment: -$7,645.00
Contingency (initially $4,276,000.00 – add $538,000.00): $4,814,000.00
Balance: $495,966.43
% CF used: 89.70%
---
The following figures are estimates based on the Construction Update for April*:
Projected April CO's: $47,356.00
Projected April CO total: $4,365,389.57
Projected CF Balance, April: $448,610.43
Projected total CF used, April: 90.68%

*I would caution readers not to assume that the announced CO's for any given month will be paid out of the CF until they are actually paid. The District has been shifting more and more of the costs of the new high school to other funds; such as "soft costs." In addition, it has happened that a particular CO is disputed, and therefore, even though it is "announced," it is not paid until a later date, is negotiated down, or is shifted to a different fund. Only the official list, published in the month following the CO's, shows what CO's were actually paid out of the CF.
---
Last year I had predicted that the District would run out of money in its CF in either February or March, which is exactly what happened - although I was certainly not the only person to make such a prediction. With the infusion of new cash into the CF, and at the current rate of expenditure, it is likely the District has purchased four or five additional months of time.

Richard Gideon

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Clocked in at 71 mph on Washington Road

Finally! Traffic enforcement effort targets speed-related crashes along PA Route 19
Route 19 is known as Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon, where the speed limit is 35 mph. However, one ticketed driver on Sunday clocked in at 71 mph, Fisher said. 
Violators are local drivers as well as those commuting from the South Hills into the city, he said. 
“A lot of times our violators are people that live in the actual neighborhoods,” he said, “and they're just familiar with the streets so they get a little too comfortable.


Update April 15, 2015 6:46 PM Mt. Lebanon joins federal crackdown on speeding

Monday, April 13, 2015

.42 mill increase (less was not possible)

The agenda for tonight's April 13, 2015 School Board Meeting:
2015-2016 Proposed Final Budget: RESOLVED, That the Board approves the Proposed Final Budget in the form presented in the amount of $91,643,749 at a millage rate of 23.57 mills, a .42 mill increase. The Board approves making this Budget available for public view until the meeting on May 18, 2015 when a Final Budget will be approved with any changes the Board deems necessary.
This was the resolution from one year ago:
2014-2015 Proposed Final Budget: RESOLVED, That the Board approves a Proposed Final Budget in the amount of $87,924,509, at a millage rate of 23.15 mills, a .54 mill increase from 2013-14, utilizing $750,000 of the fund balance in the form presented.
Furthermore, the Board intends to vote on a Final Budget with such changes as it deems necessary at its May 19, 2014 meeting.

As it stands, we won't know until May 18, 2015 if Dr. Steinhauer and the administration were able to develop a budget with less than a .42 mill increase to cover the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) rate increase, use $750,000 of the fund balance, and make approximately $582,000 in budget reductions to balance the budget. A .42 mill increase is $42 a year on a home assessed at $100,000."


Every year, the Board, Dr. Steinhauer, and Jan Klein are less transparent.

  • No Budget Forum again
  • No cost savings worksheet published again.
  • Capital Projects List is only for 2015-2016. This includes: Paint lines on turf for lacrosse and field hockey(annual) 5,000.00.  Last year's 79 page report was for 2014-2018. The Capital Project List for 2014-2015 was on pages 78 and 79 which included the infamous Trophy Case. The five forecast included turfing the Rock Pile. (Turf for upper practice field.)

Behavior Lesson by the Mary Larsen Party of Six

Dear Mary Larsen and five other Mt. Lebanon residents,

Looking back at those dark times in 2006-2008 and again in 2014-2015 when Mt. Lebanon was trying to kill deer, I would like to comment on the behavior of some of the commissioners, excluding Dan Miller, Keith Mulvihill, and Kelly Fraasch. 

Our elected officials took it upon themselves to play God. They decided how many deer should die in Mt. Lebanon. The commissioners ignored scientific data. They put residents in danger by permitting the use of weapons in our community. One commissioner urged residents to take matters into their own hands.

This particular commissioner was rude, interrupted residents, and quite often lowered herself to personal attacks. Frequently, she would email commissioners with "dirt" on those who would disagree with her during citizen comments. She went after people's professions and backgrounds. Ironically, she was elected promising to cooperate, communicate, and collaborate.

Through the years, Kristen has lied to constituents, violated the Sunshine Law, and treated her colleagues and constituents in an unprofessional manner. This was the final straw for me. In a never before published email exchange, Kristen Linfante was over the top. Since then, Kristen Linfante resigned from office, citing health problems. 

So you see, Mrs. Larsen, the behavior lesson should be directed toward our commission. Notice too, Mrs. Larson, I made no personal attacks toward you or the five others who allegedly signed your letter. I am a law abiding citizen, exercising my constitutional rights. You are correct, Mrs. Larsen. We should all be willing to play by the same rules.

Elaine Gillen
Mt. Lebanon

Behavior Lesson
Looking back on the brouhaha that was the deer culling in Mt. Lebanon, we would like to comment on the behavior of some of the people, especially those opposed to the deer culling as proposed. 
Our elected officials should not have to put up with rude and boisterous behavior. Shouting will not make them change their minds. Interrupting does not make a point more valid. Personal attacks prove only that one has run out of legitimate arguments. And all of this was part of the public meetings. 
Each elected official represents hundreds of voters and is generally aware of how those voters feel. They set aside time at each meeting so that other points of view can be made. They listen to you in silence. They usually don't interrupt. They will seldom lower themselves to personal attacks. 
As fellow human beings, we should all be willing to play by the same rules. 
Mary Larsen
Mt. Lebanon 
This letter also was signed by five other Mt. Lebanon residents.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Happy Easter

To all my Orthodox family and friends, "Χριστός ἀνέστη!"

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tuesday's Commission Meeting Canceled

From:LeboALERT <noreply@mtlebanon.org>
To:EGillen476 <EGillen476@aol.com>
Subject:LeboALERT: The Mt. Lebanon Comm...
Date:Fri, Apr 10, 2015 9:17 am

This is an important notice from LeboALERT.


The Mt. Lebanon Commission has
cancelled the Discussion and Regular Meetings scheduled for April 14, 2015.  The
next meeting will be Mon., April 27,
2015.


There wasn't a quorum. Interviews for Ward 3 Commissioner will be held at the April 27, 2015 meeting. An appointment will be made on the same evening.