Teachers & PSERS, veep goes South (watch out Europe you’re next) , and more in today’s Big Talk

CHAMBERSBURG – Every weekday morning on First News, the local – live morning radio information show with Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen features the big talk topics and opinion from local Attorney Clint Barkdoll.

On June 24, topics covered by the Big Talk on First News were a Supreme Court decision on a PA cheerleader, an alleged hate crime being investigated in Adams County, the vice president is going to border, the media narrative of January 6, PA teachers are actually going after PSERS, parents can opt to hold their kids back because of COVID and a Hong Kong newspaper gets shut down.

Listen to the full audio here: https://soundcloud.com/newstalk1037fm/24-june-atty-barkdoll-1

PA cheerleader has the right to free speech

The US Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, found in favor of the cheerleader who got a little heated on her social media accounts after she didn’t make the team.

The girl got cut from the tryouts, went home and took to Snapchat where she used very derogatory terms about the school and coaches and the school punished her for that. They said her speech was so obscene that it required consequences.

She fought it and the case made it to the US Supreme Court where the judges said that students have an absolute right to free speech for conduct they’re engaging in off campus as long as their speech is not disruptive to a classroom.

Barkdoll said, “In this situation even though the Supreme Court said the language she used is offensive, very off color, there was no evidence that is was disruptive to a classroom setting, so it was protected. This still leaves the door open for school districts to punish students if they engage in some kind of out of school conduct that is influencing or disrupting the classroom environment. In that respect it hasn’t really settled a lot of questions.”

Both Justice Alito and Breyer wrote that school districts need to proceed very cautiously if they’re looking to punish a student for something they’ve done off campus, but they don’t totally rule it out either.

Jansen said, “I find this really disturbing because we know with this new ideology sweeping the country they really stretch the limits of things that could be interfering with a classroom or disrupting people’s peace of mind. I find that worrisome. Why does the Supreme Court keep doing this over and over again?”

Justice Thomas was the one dissent and he wrote that he thinks the court is continuing to engage in decisions that are not clarifying how someone should do something.

Barkdoll said, “You’re going to see guidance be issued to school boards and school administrators across the country in light of this decision. It does certainly give a green light to students. If they want to post things on social media, as long as it’s not deemed quote unquote disruptive, the court is saying it’s absolutely free speech.”

Adams County may be looking at a hate crime, according to some media outlets

When Phoenix Counseling Services in Gettysburg found offensive language splashed across the front of the building in regards to LGBTQ issues, a number of newspapers jumped immediately to a hate crime.

But is it really?

Barkdoll said, “Any time I see the spray paint cases I just say just proceed cautiously. Maybe it is someone that did this that had bad intentions and if that is the case, they need to be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But as you’re pointing out we know historically a lot of these spray paint cases, there’s much more to it. It may not be what the media is painting it to be. People just need to keep an open mind. Let the investigation play itself out. There could be much more to this story. If it is a bad actor, they need to punish them. They need to be prosecuted and it needs to be addresses.”

Barkdoll pointed out, “When this came up yesterday it seems like the media outlets out of that Harrisburg/Lancaster market, immediately it was there’s a hate crime that’s occurred here and you saw the statements from the counseling center. Maybe it is but I also think there needs to be another side of this saying keep an open mind until the investigation is finished.”

Vice President Harris will finally make a trip to the border

Vice President Kamala Harris will make her first trip to the Texas/Mexico border tomorrow. And the timing might have an interesting reason behind it.

She may just want to beat Donald Trump there.

Barkdoll said, “The relevance of this of course is months ago she was appointed to oversee this task force to address border security and legitimately people are saying she hasn’t even been to the border to do an eyes-on site investigation. This will be a very scripted, staged event. They will have some things set up creating the appearance she’s that doing whatever to look like she’s doing her due diligence. This is totally in response to pressure from the media, from the public. She wanted to get in front of Trump because she did know that he was going to be going there shortly. Whether it does anything as far as her role in overseeing this group that’s supposed to be studying the issue remains to be seen. She still has not held one press conference about this specific issue and they still have not rolled out a specific plan on what is it they want to do to clean up this issue at the border.”

Is calling the January 6 incident an insurrection actually accurate?

The first defendants in the January 6 riots at the US Capitol are making plea deals and the framing of the story by some of the media outlets is a little worrisome.

Has anyone actually been charged with insurrection?

Barkdoll said, “Insurrection in and of itself is not the crime that these people are being charged with. The Indiana woman for example it was a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. There are different charges against different people. If you look at the media reports most of the headlines talk about they’ve entered a guilty plea to insurrection or participating in a riot but when you dig down into the charges that’s not what they were actually charged with or what they entered the guilty plea to.”

Jansen pointed out, “It’s one thing for the media to do it but then the US District Court judge said he was giving her a break but didn’t want others to think that probation and not a stiffer sentence would be the norm. Most are going to be charged the way she was. To think that he would make a statement like that when we’ve had people who actually rioted last summer, who burned buildings, who stole and looted and got no punishment whatsoever and were actually funded by the group (the now vice president backed) to get out of jail and you have a judge making a comment like this to a woman who didn’t really do something. They even admit these people were pretty clueless, they just kind of followed along. You have the media calling this an insurrection which is incorrect, you have the judge making a statement like that. Even the guy, the head of the one so-called conservative militia group, he’s even only being charged with — it’s not insurrection — he’s being charged with conspiracy.”

Barkdoll said, “In spite of the judge’s comments from yesterday I do think that this woman’s sentence has to be a precedent. There were roughly 500 people charged and many of them have the identical charge of disorderly conduct. If I’m someone in that group and I enter a guilty plea to the same charge, I think the judge is almost going to have to give them the same sentence, barring some other exacerbating factor. I don’t see how they couldn’t do that, so I think the fact that she was given a fine and probation, it is setting a precedent for any other similarly situated defendant is going to get when they go into court for their sentence as well.”

PA teachers are going after PSERS — finally

A lawsuit was filed yesterday in a Philadelphia County Common Please Court where a Pennsylvania teacher is launching a class action suit against the Pennsylvania School Employee Retirement System (PSERS) for mismanaging funds.

PSERS is the largest retirement system in the state and the lawsuit is targeting the fund managers.

Barkdoll explained, “The basis of the claim is the PSERS fund has been completely mismanaged. It has underperformed every metric, every benchmark that you can find in the market. They’re saying not only have they mismanaged it…they had a million and a half dollars in just travel expenses from 2017 to 2019. They point out that the head of PSERS is the highest paid state employee in Pennsylvania.”

The PSERS engaged in what seem to be bizarre investments over the years including everything from pistachio farms to trailer parks to pay phone services in prisons.

Barkdoll said, “The angle that the teachers are using, which is interesting, is the teachers are now being required to pay more money into the fund because we know it’s underfunded and it’s not performing the way it should. They’re using that as the leverage in their lawsuit. They may have a point here. It remains to be seen what a judge will do with this but it’s an interesting case to keep an eye on.

Jansen said, “I’m very angry at this, actually. You and I and others have been talking for years, me for a decade now, about how mismanaged this is. all the waste of money that they’re citing in their lawsuit. We’ve been screaming from the rooftops about this and the teachers only notice when their pockets get picked. Our pockets have all been getting picked for a long, long time now. But all the sudden now that they have to pay a little bit more now they’re in a lather about it. That really bothers me.”

Ryan pointed out, “How much does this investment firm get? Don’t they get paid a billion dollars and their performance is horrible and didn’t they just get their contract renewed too?”

Barkdoll said, “So there are multiple investment mangers. They get tens of millions of dollars in management fees. The problem is they’re getting those fees even though the investment portfolio is underperforming the broader markets, which of course causing problems of underfunding in general of the entire system.”

PA parents can hold their children back because of COVID

A unanimous vote in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives yesterday could give parents the green light to have their child repeat the last school year — and it could mean a mess for local school districts.

The PA Senate passed a similar law a few weeks ago, also unanimously.

What that means is even if the governor would veto it, the state Congress could easily override the veto.

Barkdoll said, “Under the language yesterday, parents would have until July 15 to notify your local school district if you want your child to repeat the school year. School districts need to be planning for this. It’s hard to say how many parents would take this option but this could have a big impact on local school districts.”

Jansen said, “The idea that we had to pass a law to allow this kind of thing to happen? We know kids lost most of this last year and the idea that schools do not hold children back anymore. We just keep pushing them forward and forward whether they’re ready or not. I hope parents consider it seriously. There’s no social stigma to this. These kids were really shortchanged. If my child’s future and wellbeing was at stake here I think I’d go ahead and I’d opt for the repeat.”

Barkdoll pointed out, “Take Chambersburg that was at home for roughly a year in a virtual learning format. We heard from parents all over how awful it was. It really has put them behind the eight ball. You wonder what the long term effects of that will be. I think if you were a parent in that situation, you imagine the decision that yes I want them to repeat, do the whole year over again live, in-person and the districts are going to have to sort out how to handle this.”

Pro-Democracy newspaper in Hong Kong gets shut down

The Apple Daily, a pro-Democracy newspaper in Hong Kong rolled out its last edition yesterday.

The big question is will the mainstream media even notice the real ramifications of this?

“This is what happens when you cozy up with the devil,” Ryan said.

Barkdoll said, “People all over the place buying that last edition. The company said that it was because China was cracking down on dissent within the city and they froze the newspaper’s assets that they had to shut down.”

Some US government officials have commented on this. It’s another example of China’s overreach.

Barkdoll said, “Whether anything comes of it remains to be seen. It seems like over the years you see so much lip service paid to doing something about these situations but nothing really happens. This maybe is a little different because it is a media outlet and it is being shut down and there’s nothing that’s going to step in to fill that void in Hong Kong today.”

Ryan asked, “I wonder if any of the geniuses in the institutions for higher education will be using this as a discussion point instead of worrying about what’s happening with bathrooms or what’s happening with indoctrination in these colleges and universities. I wonder if any of those mass communication people, like my communications teacher who I didn’t know what the hell his sexuality or his politics was, it was about communication. I wonder if they’ll actually get it through their thick skulls to JUST TEACH.”

Jansen added, “We want to turn kids, K through 12, into activists based on a far-left progressive agenda? This is what this leads to.”