Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pooling will help save on health costs is NOT proven to work!

This is in response to Sen. Wayne Kuipers and Sen. Patty Birkholz's letter to the editor on May 22, 2007.

Pooling is not the answer.

Sen. Kuipers and Birkholz say pooling is the answer to the State of
Michigan’s public employee insurance costs (HS 5/22/07) and tell us to
support the Michigan Public Employee Health Benefit Act (SB 418).

The bill cited by the senators is just a slightly tweaked version
of Senate bills 895-898 that was defeated last year by a bipartisan

The truth on the new bill is that there is no proof that it will save
employees money while having the same benefits. No actuarial study of
the legislative proposals to substantiate the claims savings has been

The bill proposed is actually anti-pooling because of the requirement
that all pools release group-specific medical claims data upon
request. This is creating the tool by which insurers could tear pools
down. There will be constant churning and adverse selection in the
market as groups come and go from pools as they please. For-profit
insurers will use the data to undercut the pools by agreeing to insure
only the best risk. Pools will be left with the high risk, most
expensive employees. As a result, premiums for many public employers
could actually be higher than they are today.

I am also concerned about a major loophole in SB 418. In addition to
allowing public employers to join together to form these new "public
employer pools," SB 418 also contains language in Section 11(d) that
would allow employers to pool together under any "written agreement."
There would be no regulations, state oversight, reserve
requirements or consumer protections required to pool under this
subsection. This is a huge loophole that would allow pools to be
created outside of the state’s existing consumer protections. It would
leave many public employees dangerously unprotected and exposed to
huge liability from unpaid medical bills.

It’s time to set politics aside and address the real health care and
benefit problems Michigan faces – the growing number of uninsured,
cost-shifting from under-funded government programs, quality, family
bankruptcies from medical bills, the long term costs of unhealthy
lifestyles, government mandates, fraud and the ever-increasing cost of
prescription drugs. The Senators have failed to address the real
issues behind the costs. Their bill will only add to the misery and
should be defeated.

AL Friend

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Opportunity Missed!

First, I would like to thank all those that helped in whatever way to make a change in the Holland School District. Your efforts were greatly appreciated and well done!

Final Results:

Holland Schools School Board
2 Candidates to be Elected

Susan DeJong

Stephen Grose
Mary Yedinak
Al Friend

Interesting that Steve and Susan ran as a slate and she got almost 700 votes more than him! If we were running last year, we would have been elected!

Since I have been involved in the politics of Holland I would like to give you my take on what happened.

First, Steve's playing the "Evil Union" card and saying that union members were clock watchers and implying that only non union teachers were professionals last Friday plays well in Holland. I do not think this helps convince any parent that they should send their child to our schools though. Susan says it all about kids/programs and she will always vote for the programs. Imposing is her name of the game and with no plan to keep and attract great teachers, says that anyone can teach her programs. Is privatizing teachers next?

I think the high turnout for a school board election was also driven by some other subtle but very important factors.

The influence of charter and faith based schools parents and Administration was a factor. In my discussions with some of them it was evident they were not for me and for a reason. What better way to keep up enrollments and hold down teachers pay and benefits than watching a public School board and Administration belittle the professionalism of their staff! Great Stuff!

There are also those in the State that had a serious interest in keeping the leadership status quo because they hold up Holland's imposing contracts as the way of the future! I believe some outside money was use to pay for two very expensive mailings and other cards.

Then there were the voters I talked with that did not feel there was a problem and that teachers were HAPPY with the board leadership. They said that only a few teachers spoke out against them and they were the "evil union" types. They also said that most would be NONUNION if given the chance. Interesting.

What do I see for the future? It seems from the statements made in the paper that you are in for four years like the last two. The Board leadership is looking at it is as a mandate to impose more and give less in all areas.

The missed opportunity of this past election will haunt the community because of the attitude of leadership is not one of reconciliation but imposing and without a strong public school system we are in further economic trouble.

Can you make a difference? Bring civility back to the district?


But you, and by you, I mean everyone has to step up to the plate and support the efforts of your leadership. The Board's leadership style is to divide and conquer. From my toadstool, they are winning.

The future of the Holland School District has ALWAYS been in your hands-IF YOU WANT IT!

Thanks again and GOOD LUCK!

AL Friend

Monday, May 07, 2007

Corrections and the Truth (“Negotiations key issue at Holland forum “Holland Sentinel 5/4/07)

Clare Friend’s submitted letter to the editor 5/5/07

First, I spell my name Clare Friend not Clara. For 12 years I proudly served as the chief negotiator for the teachers not the district as stated in the article.

Why was I mentioned at all is confusing to me when you did not mention Steve Grose’s or Susan DeJong’s spouses and their professions. I am not running for office.

In my 12 years of negotiating we had our difference, but we were a community and settled in peaceful ways. Much was given back to the district to retain benefits that the membership felt they needed. This is called negotiating. Steve and Susan do not understand that principle. Maybe that is because in their world they decide what is good for the employees and impose just like they tried to do to the teachers. Playing the “evil union” card, questioning the professionalism of teachers who are members of the union, as they did on their joint radio interview Friday, clearly points out they are the problem not the solution for better relationships.

I can assure you of my husband’s passion for all the children of Holland to have the best education possible and his desire to rebuild the school district’s working relationships that this leadership has destroyed in their two short years. That is his only agenda.

This discord is costing us already in recruiting the best teachers for the future. Other districts have hundreds of candidates for a position where we have only 12 for a similar position as stated in a Holland Sentinel article this week!

Vice-President DeJong wants to save programs at all cost! Does she not realize that it takes great teachers to teach those programs?

My question for President Grose is what “shared sacrifices” is he talking about? The Administration is above average in pay in Ottawa County while the teachers are the lowest.

My husband understands the real issue. It is about quality working relationships that will attract and keep great teachers. Steve and Susan have no plans to build for the future.

I do not want another four years like the last two that is why Clare Friend will NOT be voting for Steve Grose and Susan DeJong.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Holland Public Schools Needs New Leadership

On Tuesday, the Holland community has a significant opportunity and responsibility to ensure that Holland Public Schools regains its reputation of excellence within our community.

We certainly have the exceptional teachers, programs, parents and community support to do that, but a lack of leadership has kept us from fully realizing that potential.

What better way to make sure we do what is right for the students than by electing leaders who recognize and want to utilize those strengths? Recent decisions by the school board have undermined the unity necessary for Holland Public Schools to overcome the challenge and demonstrate the excellence that has never stopped being a daily focus for teachers and students.

Al Friend and Mary Yedinak have the experience and ability to bring new ideas to the school board. Their experience in the classroom as well as Friend's as a parent and administrator gives them the insight necessary to navigate the tough decisions ahead. They will help create a common vision and long-range planning process that includes all members of the school community and will help us to move forward together.

It's time to make sure that Holland Public Schools builds on our many student successes instead of diverting attention from what matters by magnifying unnecessary conflicts. It's time for a change. It's time to allow new voices and new ideas to impact the direction of our schools. It's time to roll up our sleeves and face the problems together. It's time to vote for Al Friend and Mary Yedinak.

Lisa Hofman