One of the worst problems that I have detected in my more than two years of observing the school board is that its members evade government in the sunshine.
The board and superintendent decide everything behind closed doors and then plop it wrapped in coded language on the Consent Agenda. The Consent Agenda is just that: the board consents to this agenda in the privacy of Ms. Elia's office without public discussion.
The one time in recent history that the recently elected April Griffin asked for the no-bid appointment of a former school administrator to a contract to come off the Consent Agenda for open discussion so that the voters could hear it caused Board Members Carol Kurdell and Candy Olson to jump onto Griffin and accuse her of "being disloyal to the staff."
If La Griffin had a lick of sense and any educational sophistication (she has no college degree and a blog festooned with basic grammar-punctuation errors that the teachers labor every school day to remove from students' writing), she would have told Olson and Kurdell that her loyalty goes to the voters, not to the staff.
But Griffin lacked the savvy and courage to fend off these two long-time collaborators (Olson twelve years on the board; Kurdell even longer) with the administration. The two's history includes cooperation with the savaging of one Mr. Erwin for asking that something be done about the graft and theft he found in the administration of the schools. He pushed back when he got no help from the board or administration and won his Whistleblower lawsuit: the voters paid this abused whistleblower a settlement of $165,000 for the administration's and board's criminal attempts to fire him and take away his pension.
Olson was on the board then; she did not suggest firing one person for this criminal behavior on the administration's part, originating from the office of Dr. Lennard. Nobody got punished for outrageous criminality.
Olson's opponent should ask her to explain her silence on this issue and why she did not suggest punishment for somebody, starting with the firing of Dr. Lennard.
April Griffin, when chided by Olson and Kurdell, dropped her attempts at open government with that one effort on a no-bid contract to a former administration buddy and has since cowered in abeyance to the rollover of open government that is standard for the board. Griffin is scared to let out a peep and now does Ms. Elia's bidding, becoming a regular Elia gofer.
Griffin's cowardly behavior does not represent the interests of the voters and students but the continued nail-down of the hegemony of the administration and entrenched board. The schools have a multi-million-dollar budget and the perquisites that go with it; the administration and board get to hire buddies and sycophants to bloated-salary jobs without advertising as the equal-employment-opportunity laws say they should. Board members fly around the country on so-called learning trips that are disguised vacation larks at the taxpayer expense.
Such power is what the board and administration fight to keep.
To ensure open government, board opponents of the three sitting, colluding board members with the administration up for re-election--Olson, Falliero, and Griffin--should demand that the Consent Agenda appear on the Board Web site with invitations to voters to ask questions and make comments about each issue. The board should promise to answer these concerns in open session as an exercise of government in the sunshine.
This procedure would be a big step in open government that the board and current administration now evade so that they can run the schools for their own benefits and convenience without the public's knowing what is going on and without its having a chance to weigh in.
I see Dr. Stacy White says on his election Web site that he will attend to voters' expressed concerns. Let's see how he responds to the above suggestion to implement his promise with available technology.
Computers now make open government possible. Challenging candidates in this election should stress the current incumbents' attempt to hide government and keep it out of the sunshine.
Challengers to current members running for re-election--Falliero, Griffin, and Olson-- should also demand that this Consent Agenda scam stop and that board members make use of technology now available and easy to use to ensure open government.
Call Dr. Steele, head of computers, and ask him about the possibility of this way to get voters open government for a change on the school board. If he stutters for fear of losing his job, just keep talking to him until he calms down. My impression of him is that he is a pretty good guy. He is a recent addition to the administration and its only Ph.D. in it and has not had enough time to become corrupt yet. Apparently not many buddies and sycophants of the administration and board have Ph.D.s. Before Dr. Steele's tenure in this job, a Mr. White held it with an early childhood degree. My inference is that Dr. Lennard put him in the position because he needed a second honcho in addition to Dr. Jim Hamilton to help him torture Mr. Erwin for revealing the administration scams.
What happened to Mr. White? I heard he got the sack for rubbing Ms. Elia the wrong way.
That's the only way an administrator gets fired: rubbing Ms. Elia the wrong way.
Other administrators who mess up are not fired; Ms. Elia creates them a job title paid for by the voters and moves them to the gulag of the Book Depository, where they pare their nails and work crosswords every working day.
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