That Was Not a Special Meeting.

(Note to new readers from Costa Mesa Public Square and Costa Mesa Voice. This blog began as a communications tool for my school board campaign of 2014. Back then, I promised that win or lose, I would continue. Comments are welcome and all are printed anonymously unless you provide approval. This is done to protect teachers from possible district retaliation for speaking out.)

Agenda item No. 9 for last night’s special meeting of the school board was labeled “Discussion/Action Calendar” and focused on the selection of one of two options for new trustee area boundaries, perhaps the most significant issue placed before the board since its inception. Bigger than any academic program, bigger than term limits.

But there was no discussion.

Ten people spoke during the public comments section and were met with board – or bored – indifference. Four of the trustees routinely paid little or no attention to the speakers. The trustees made no comments to the speakers and anyone who went three seconds over the three-minute time limit was approached by the security guard and asked to stop – this on a pre-arranged signal he was looking for from board president Karen Yelsey.

Most of the board paid no attention to the speakers because they did not care what they had to say.

After they suffered through the public comments section, several members of the board proceeded to read from prepared remarks about why they favor “Mystery” Map G over the community-preferred Map B. Then they voted unanimously for G.

No discussion. Little attention to and no dialog with the speakers. Prepared remarks. A special session instead of adding this to the regular board meeting. Short notice of this very important meeting. No trustee discussions at any of the “public hearings” held to gather community input. Going outside the established process to create a new map.

Add it all up and you have a sham – the most subverted action this board has taken since I have been writing about them, which is three presidents ago.

And as if pounding the community into submission were not enough, it was reported to me that following the meeting, two board members made highly inappropriate comments to a taxpayer.

During their comments, a few of the trustees wanted the audience to know how much attention they have been paying to Costa Mesa’s Westside schools. They want you to know about the events they attend, the staged tours they take, and the overall time they have invested.  (Has it not occurred to any trustee over the years that it’s a little strange that during these tours, there is never a hint of any bad news?) Why, Yelsey even offered that she spends more time on Westside matters than on issues in her own area! And trustee Metoyer even spoke a little Spanish! Yay! Trustee Dana Black mentioned the ELAC people who were invited to Sacramento!

Listening to these Westside comments, and more, I could not help but feel a condescending attitude, as though the board wants us to know that they are watching out for, as the late Leona Helmsley may have said, “the little people.” And there lies the root of this problem.

So let’s see what all of that time and attention has gotten students. According to the results of the 2017 Smarter Balanced Assessments, here is the percentage of 6th grade students who have NOT met the standards at three Westside schools:

Scores

Deplorable. (Note to the board: As long as the scores are this miserable, I wouldn’t be crowing about all the time and attention you’re paying to the Westside. Bad for business.) The Westside has been suffering with poor test scores for decades, and despite their claims of more attention and time spent, they have not figured out how to crack the code. That alone is enough to advocate new faces on the board.

Oh, and there were three people from a law firm present, too, at least two of whom are lawyers. One of them got up and spoke for nearly ten minutes, giving us a history of the entire process.  He wanted us to know, among other things, that the board has seven members and that each are elected to a four-year term and that the terms are staggered by two years. Just in case you didn’t know that. Neither of the other two people spoke but I am sure taxpayers will be getting a bill for their time. (BTW, and he pronounced “Rea” – Ray – as “Ray-uh”)

Trustee Judy Franco told us she would not be running for re-election next year, and offered that this should bury specific criticism over Map G.

This was not a special meeting, it was a formality.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

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I Can’t Make Up Gems Like This

A recent e-mail from one of the district’s legal teams (yes, there is more than one) to a local taxpayer provided some clarification on the process to hold meetings – sorry, public hearings – to decide new trustee area boundaries. The e-mail contained this passage:

Additionally, the Superintendent did not encourage the Board members to attend the first two meetings to allow the public the freedom to speak and ask questions without offending any of the Board.

Yes, that is correct…”…without offending any of the board.” Oh, and the lawyer got it dead-on accurate with the phrase, “…allow the public the freedom to speak and ask questions.”

Unfortunately, the public did not get that opportunity at ANY of the meetings, not just the first two.

This is not the lawyer’s fault – he is only reporting the facts. But to think that the superintendent did not encourage them to attend meetings on this monumental issue because they might get their feelings hurt…

It makes sense that the super would say that. This year, we have had two board members who wasted valuable time muttering lengthy speeches about how much they are not appreciated, how they do all this work for so little compensation, and how dare some people criticize them when those people are not running for office.

My dad once fired the nephew of the owner of the large company for which he worked. He didn’t ask the boss, he just did it. Years later, I asked my dad where he found the courage to do that. He told me that he was in a leadership position and said – I can still hear him saying it –  “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Thanks, dad.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

The Value

Shortly after 6 p.m. tonight, the school board will ratify Mystery Map G, their preferred map choice for drawing new boundaries for trustee Areas. This is as certain as the sunrise.

They will do so with little internal discussion, preferring instead to just get it over with. That’s one of the reasons they’re taking the vote in a special meeting tonight and not during the regularly scheduled board meeting just a week away.

The board’s public discussion on the merits of the map choices has been almost non-existent. The “community meetings” they held were labeled that way to give them the freedom to stay mum during the entire series of events. Imagine… An issue this big and the board purposely chose to refrain from any public comments during any of the meetings.

If anyone needed just one reason why more people are getting fed up with this school board, that would be it.

All of the talking prior to the vote will not change their minds – the fix has been in since Mystery Map G was created. But there is still tremendous value in showing up and speaking. It is valuable if only to let them know that they are not fooling all of the people all of the time, and to let them know that there is a growing group of people who are fed up with their irresponsibility and lack of accountability.

6:00 2985 Bear St., Costa Mesa. There should be plenty of parking because the notice of this meeting was issued only last Friday. And that’s another issue…

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

Call It What You Like, Two Superintendents, and an Almost-Secret Meeting

I’ve been saying “drain the swamp.” Perhaps you like “time to clean house.” Your preference for a summary of the need for new faces and new attitudes on the N-MUSD board is your choice, the bottom line is that we get it done.

You know the drill – I’ve been writing about it here and in the Daily Pilot for so long that three presidents have served in the White House. Nothing has changed since I started writing about the mismanagement of your tax dollars. The rubber-stamping, the bungling, and the arrogance are still part of the district’s DNA. If you need recent examples of the arrogance, look at the bus that was set up to take Costa Mesa’s Westside Latino residents to an Area boundary meeting that affects them the most. Look at the reason for these meetings – many years of stiff-arming the California Voting Rights Act and being forced to change things only when the threat of a major lawsuit came about.

Look at the process: These are not “meetings,” they are being called “public hearings,” – a matter of semantics being used so that trustees do not have to participate. Imagine… What is arguably the biggest decision in the history of the school district and the trustees declined to take questions or have discussions at any of the meetings.

Look at the map that will be approved tomorrow (more on that meeting below), a map whose suspicious origin was originally raised not by me, but by a growing collection of people like me who are fed up.

Look at the huge waste of money to erect poles with netting at Estancia’s baseball field without checking with neighbors to see if it was a good idea. And why were the poles and netting needed? Because the school board rubber-stamped the position of solar panels, which just happened to be located in prime foul ball territory, causing damage to the expensive panels.

Look at the enormous amount of money spent on legal fees – so much of which could have been avoided through even slightly better leadership.

Look at Swun Math – a program so bad that teachers denied their usual fear of retaliation by the district and spoke up for years about major flaws. It was only until a dedicated group of parents provided additional support that the board had to scrap the program. That took years and even now, the process is not complete.

Look at the stink at Estancia that has been going on so long that my 25-year-old son remembers it when he was at the school. People complained and some got sick but the district did nothing.

Look at the recent musical instrument scandal – a situation so disgusting that some media outlets still cannot describe it exactly. Who ordered those instruments or chose to participate in the program? Has this person received any disciplinary action?

Look at the firing of whistleblower John Caldecott. Look at the notice for many of the “special sessions” which have been posted just 24 hours prior – the minimum required by law. Look at rats at CM and Newport Harbor High Schools.

Look at authorizing payments to a former district official so he wouldn’t retire, using the excuse that no one else could do as good a job. But according to the public comments from the board members, we seem to be doing just fine without that guy. So, where do we go to get our tax dollars back?

Look at the “F” the board gets in communication. Google anything related to “keys to a successful school district” and one item is sure to be “community involvement.” Taxpayers don’t get community involvement here, they get a district that holds public hearings or community meetings just for show – going through the motions so they can claim they are reaching out to the community. The truth is that they don’t really care what you have to say. If they did, none of aforementioned issues would have happened.

There is so much more. I could write for another 30 minutes about the board’s bungling, mismanagement, and lack of accountability and I still would not be done.

So, Vicki Snell, before you begin another failed attempt to pin the Estancia swimming pool disaster on me, or blame me for the poor performance at Adams Elementary because I never took a tour (A recent independent analysis: “Test scores at this school are about the same as the state average, though still below the top-performing schools in the state. Because test scores in some states are so low, many students at this school may not be performing at grade level.”), or before you try to put the monkey on my back for whatever else is wrong, address each of the issues I’ve listed and tell us why you did nothing.

Tell us why you chose to be on the board if you’re not going to bring any new ideas to the district or consistently raise your hand and question that which is presented to you. Tell us why you are better than just staying at home and allowing the secretary to automatically record your “yes” votes on nearly everything that has been presented to you.

You won’t tell us because you can’t. There is no defense for allowing students and teachers to become sick at school, or subjecting our youngest students to a failed math program for years, or for any of the other major issues in the district. You won’t tell us because you never learned that good leadership means taking ownership of mistakes. Instead, you used valuable board time last April to complain about the lack of respect you were receiving – respect you deserved because you are only making a few hundred bucks a month plus health care coverage to rubber-stamp everything.

(And you conveniently forgot to mention that you used approximately $21,000 of your own money to secure a position that pays her roughly $450 a month.)

The time has long passed for point out all of this, for noting the arrogance, the absurdity, the irony, the bungling, and the lack of accountability. We need new people on the school board. We need to clean house, drain the swamp, get a new broom to sweep it clean, or whatever you wish to call it. There are four seats up for grabs next year.

Two Superintendents

On August 22, Supt. Frederick Navarro fell and he has not returned to his desk. Moments after Navarro’s fall, the school board gave deputy Russell Lee-Sung a raise in pay that amounted to the difference between his wages and Navarro’s. The thought was that if he is going to act as the super, he should be paid for it.

I took issue with this at the time, arguing that in the private sector, this would not happen: When the no. 1 person is out, no. 2 steps in. That’s it.

But now, nearly two months and the wisdom of hindsight later, it has dawned on me that the board acted so swiftly giving Lee-Sung the raise because they knew Navarro’s condition was serious.

Taxpayers wouldn’t know because there has been no update on Navarro’s condition. At the very least, there should be a notice on the website. Well, Steve, what would you have done? Easy: I would post a notice on the website telling taxpayers his status. You can do that without violating any HIPAA or confidentiality rules. And I would have created a message board for him to receive well wishes from the community.

But the school board is so used to burying anything even close to controversial that they cannot think this way. Everything is scrutinized for damage control. What little communication does emerge is so scrubbed that it borders on the absurd, such as the late notification last year that a custodian died in an accident at TeWinkle. The official statement noted that he had “passed away.”

The superintendent (the real one) will be paid for a long time, having accumulated sick days for many years. This is not a bad thing. The superintendent, apparently, is very sick and that’s what this money is for.

The Almost-Secret Meeting

Tomorrow night at 6 p.m., the school board is holding a special meeting to approve Map G as the new Area Boundary map. That’s not what it says on the agenda, but that’s what is going to happen. I am as sure of that as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

But, you ask, isn’t it kind of soon? I mean, Steve, they just held the last public meeting only 8 days prior to the meeting tomorrow night. How can they make such an important decision without deliberating at length and in public? And how come they aren’t voting on this at the next regular board meeting, which is only 7 days away?

My answer: Start at the top of this blog and read again.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

 

Who’s in Charge Here?

Supt. Frederick Navarro has been out since August 22, recovering from an as yet undisclosed medical condition. My criticisms of his performance in no way mean that I do not wish him a full and speedy recovery.

In the meantime, the district is being run by Russell Lee-Sung, who is the assistant something-or-other and next in the line of succession. Lee-Sung is getting a pay raise to the level of Navarro’s salary while the superintendent is out.

The superintendent’s absence highlights many concerns, the largest being the handling or non-handling of certain public information.

  • On the district’s website, there is no mention of the superintendent’s absence.
  • There is also no mention of the musical instrument scandal, which has made the national news. The Daily Pilot has also covered it, so it’s odd that the district has not issued a statement to the effect that “student safety is our most important blah, blah, blah.” The time for that is long past due.
  • The video from the state-of-the-schools breakfast is not up, and there is no mention of when it will be available. (That’s the $32 breakfast that few on Costa Mesa’s Westside can afford so they get the crumbs of a video on the district’s website but that’s OK because none of the past breakfasts have revealed any substantive state of anything so it probably doesn’t matter and besides, it was “sold out” even though historically at least a third of the attendees have been district employees.)
  • The superintendent – the Navarro one – gets an automobile allowance of $750 per month. Since he is not driving his car, is he still getting the money? (Paid sick time is another story…)
  • The district’s home page has a link to a “Board Meeting Brief”… from the meeting of Sept. 12.
  • Then there is a link to the schedule of “public hearings” regarding the new Area map for the election of trustees by district instead of at-large. Two meetings have been held and the last one is on Oct. 9 at the district HQ. The hearings are supposed to gather input on which map is better, B or G. Map G is the so-called “mystery map” because its origin is a bit sketchy. I’m wagering that the fix is in for map G as it more closely favors the status quo. But, as we know from history that these meetings have to be held to satisfy a requirement so the administration has to go through the motions and pretend they are really concerned about what you have to say.

They want map G – watch it get voted in.

What I really want to know is why this map is labeled “G,” that is, what happened to C, D, E, and F? I can’t help but notice that “G” – the map the district favors – could stand for “Good” while the one they don’t like – B – could stand for “Bad.”

Why is the Daily Pilot reporting on the meetings but the district is not? Read the Pilot story here: http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-school-board-20170929-story.html

When you do, you’ll read nuggets such as this:

“The district arranged for a school bus to take attendees from the Westside’s Rea Elementary School across town to Costa Mesa High, but as of 5:45 p.m. — 15 minutes before the start of the meeting — the bus had no riders.”

I warned about this; about the insensitivity of asking Westside residents to get on a bus to go to a meeting that is really all about their representation. Congratulations, N-MUSD, your plan worked: No one got on the bus.

And…

“Map B was the preferred choice of a nine-member committee chosen by Supt. Fred Navarro.”

And…

“District officials say Map G was created in response to community input at two meetings earlier this year. Some at Thursday’s hearing argued that Map G has a mysterious origin unduly influenced by the school board.”

Actually, there is no mystery about map G. It’s just the usual attempt to preserve the status quo.

Business as usual on Bear St.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

Taking a Knee? I’m Not Impressed.

Athletes, it’s your right to take a knee to protest whatever you want. Go ahead, have at it. But if you think for a minute that taking a knee is a substitute for action, it’s not. And there is at least one fan who wants you to know.

He wants you to know that taking a knee is equal to talk: They’re both cheap.

So… You take a knee for three minutes, then you play your game, collect your big check, and go home and watch yourself on TV. That’s it? That’s all you got?

Welcome to the world’s wimpiest protest.

How about this? How about you make a real commitment, maybe something like marching against injustice, discrimination, and racism? How about making a big donation to some organization fighting for the causes? How about doing some free public service announcements? How about standing in front of Target circulating petitions to be forwarded to Washington? How about asking your sponsors to do any of these? Oh, yeah, I forgot: Getting too controversial by getting your sponsors involved could void your fat contract.

How about doing anything beyond just taking a knee for three minutes?

What’s that? You say that taking a knee is raising awareness? Yes, but you got our attention the first time. Every time after that is just cheap. There is no real sacrifice – particularly when all of your colleagues are doing it, too.

OK, you’re taking a knee. We get it. We got it two weeks ago. Now, it’s just old and wimpy. Now, it’s time for Phase 2. Here’s what Phase 2 looks like…

Erica Roberts, Laurie Smith, Sandy Asper, Ashley Anderson, Martie O’Meara, John Caldecott, Wendy Leece, Jennifer Brooks, and a growing cadre of concerned parents, taxpayers, and activists have been openly protesting the injustice perpetuated by the Newport-Mesa Unified School District for decades: Since its founding 51 years ago, there has never been a Latino member of the school board despite the fact that one of the two cities served, Costa Mesa, has had a significant Latino population for as long. Today, approximately 34% of the city’s residents are Latino.

Those people I just mentioned are holding regular meetings with agendas and everything. They attend all public school district meetings and speak up. They build awareness by regularly posting news, opinions, and updates on social media outlets. They’re alerting the Spanish-speaking population  to another injustice: Redrawing trustee boundaries to preserve the status quo. One of those people, Sandy Asper, has produced a series of videos defining the cause.

And they’re just getting started. Oh, and if it matters to you, they’re all white. Many of them don’t even live in Costa Mesa, but just like you, they’re fed up.

Go ahead and take your knee. It’s your right and no one can tell you you can’t. But when you do, just remember these people in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa who are way ahead of you and committed to their cause each day, not just once a week for three minutes.

They’re not taking a knee, they’re taking action.

Steve Smith
N-MUSD Taxpayer

 

Proof of Justice Denied

At the beginning of the board meeting of August 22, President Karen Yelsey read the following statement to a district employee:

“You’ve requested to address the board in open session to address the charges filed against you. The causes listed for your dismissal are:

  • Incompetency* 
  • Inefficiency* 
  • Insubordination
  • Inattention to or dereliction of duty* 
  • Discourteous treatment of the public or your fellow employees* 
  • And any other willful failure of good conduct intending to injure the public service, or willful, persistent violation of the provisions of the Ed Code, and/or rules, regulations or procedures adopted by the board of education or the personnel commission, and dishonesty and the charges relate to your inappropriate and harassing conduct.*

“The specifics are provided in the statement of charges, which has been provided to you and is available here for review.”

“The board has reviewed the charges and you will have up to 10 minutes to address the board at this time. As stated in the notice that was provided to you with the statement of charges, the board will deliberate on the charges in closed session.”

Some pretty serious, charges, wouldn’t you agree?

The employee got up and spoke but I had not yet arrived and did not hear what he had to say, nor did I listen to his comments when I reviewed the archived video of the meeting.

I didn’t listen because my focus was on the clear evidence of injustice against a different employee a few years ago.

As I’ve written countless times, ex-HR head John Caldecott was fired by Supt. Navarro via text and e-mail after ten years of exemplary service to the taxpayers of Newport-Mesa. Caldecott was fired not long after he started asking questions about specific financial maneuvers undertaken by the district.

At the time, Caldecott requested time to speak before the board to address the charges against him, just as this fellow did last month. So why did this guy get ten minutes to address the board while Caldecott was denied the same right?:

Because there is injustice in the district, that’s why. Serious injustice, in fact, and it has been going on for a long time. Not long ago, they had to have the threat of an expensive an embarrassing lawsuit to fix a violation of the California Voting Rights Act that has been ongoing for 16 years.

Had the board allowed Caldecott to speak – which is all he ever wanted on his way out the door – the district could have avoided prolonged and expensive legal battles fighting Caldecott’s repeated requests for documents.

You and I would have allowed Caldecott to speak because, just like this guy on August 22, everyone should have their day in court. Everyone except John Caldecott. That was justice denied and yet another example of the inconsistent application of district policies and procedures.

Oh, and those asterisks after most of the charges listed above? Just as in the Caldecott case, I am declaring the district guilty of those charges without a hearing.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

 

 

Insensitive? Yes. Business as Usual? Yes.

Moving to election by area instead of at-large is being conducted by the district simply because they were forced to do so. Without the threat of a lawsuit for violating the California Voting Rights Act, this would not be on the district’s radar. That is the plain truth and everything else is just nonsense.

Ratchet it down and we realize that the issue centers around the Westside of Costa Mesa, an area in the district with a significant Latino population. This part of the district is all that the issue is about.

As part of the required process, the district has held two “initial public meetings in March 2017 to review trustee area boundaries and receive public input.” One of those was at Rea. I was at that meeting as well as the one at CdMH.

Three more have been scheduled but none on the Westside. If you live on the Westside, you’ll have to travel to Costa Mesa High School to attend. If you don’t have transportation to CMHS, you can get a ride on a district bus from Rea.

At this point you may be asking, “So if they are anticipating Westside people showing up at Rea for a bus ride, why don’t they just have the meeting at Rea again, Steve, and save taxpayers a lot of money? After all, this whole thing is about Westside representation, right Steve?”

Yes, this whole thing is about Westside representation. I doubt anyone anywhere else cares very much about the issue. Most voters probably don’t even know the name of their current area trustee.

And since you asked why they are busing people to CMHS instead of having the meeting at Rea, here’s the answer: Because this is perhaps the most insensitive government body we have ever seen:

  • Teacher Steve Crenshaw speaks at a recent board meeting, describes his deteriorating physical condition due to district incompetence over the stink at Estancia and not one trustee offers a word of sympathy.
  • A respected, 26-year classified employee of the district dies in an accident at TeWinkle and the only recognition he receives from the board is adjourning a meeting in his honor.
  • John Caldecott was a highly respected HR guru who dared to question some financial maneuvers and was fired via e-mail a few weeks later without the chance to address the board over what he uncovered.
  • And more…

Instead, we get indignation from the trustees over why they are not getting enough respect.

Now, they want Westside Latino residents to get on a bus to go to a meeting which, at this time in our country, is so horribly insensitive that it is a new low even for this board. It is nothing less than an evil, shameful attempt to disenfranchise and intimidate what will soon be an important bloc of voters.

I have no hope whatsoever that the district will do the right thing and either change the meeting to Rea or add a fourth meeting to be held at Rea. They would have to be shamed into it and there isn’t enough time between this blog post and the meetings for them to make it seem like that was the plan all along.

Of course, Trustee Walt Davenport, who represents the Westside, could demand a Rea meeting, but he won’t. As a trustee, he has done nothing for years and as we often write here, past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.

Steve Smith
N-MUSD Taxpayer

Aside

Just sayin’…

Jose Fernandez, Supt. of the Centinela Valley School District, has just been charged with a dozen counts of corruption. From the news story:

“Prosecutors say he manipulated the school board and its policies to dramatically increase his pay, and unlawfully created supplemental retirement programs to benefit himself.”

Among other illegal activities, Fernandez is accused of burying a 910,000 home loan in the Consent Calendar.

The Consent Calendar is a batch of items on which school boards – ours included – votes as one. I have written many times that I doubt that most of the trustees know what they are approving or why and simply go along with staff recommendations. As we see from the Centinela example, this is no way to be operating.

Here’s the private sector example: Let’s say you are the president or owner of the World Wide Widget Corp. Each month, when it’s time to pay your bills, the CFO gives you a long list of payables – things like the water bill, electricity, lease payment, etc. It’s a big list that you don’t have time to pore over. But you trust the CFO and so you approve whatever is handed to you and the CFO goes off and signs the checks.

That method of operation is an invitation to fraud and/or increased overhead and you’d be out of business in no time flat.

But for the school board, it’s standard operating procedure. The trustees don’t scrutinize the accounts payable because:

  1. a) They trust the staff
  2. b) They have neither the time nor the desire to investigate this minutia
  3. c) It’s not their money so if something goes wrong, there is no personal financial loss and no risk of being fired

In other words, there is no accountability for anything, anywhere

Where is the accountability for paying for Deputy of Finance or whatever he was called Paul Reed not to retire? When Reed left, the district moved Jeff Trader into his place and by the comments coming from the dais, it seems as though he is doing an excellent job.

The district didn’t need to pay Reed to retire. So why did they? See the three items above. And who will be held accountable for spending tens of thousand of tax dollars on this? No one.

The worst enemy of any organization is complacency. If you are complacent, you don’t care. Complacency creates sloth, errors, and opens the door to competition. But there is no threat of competition to the district so they don’t really care about that part. And their budget is guaranteed each year so they never have to worry about spending.

Unfortunately, complacency is exactly what taxpayers have from the current trustees. You can see it in the major foot-dragging to fix the stink at Estancia, in the failure to include Costa Mesa’s Westside in the three public hearings that have been scheduled to receive community input regarding draft boundary maps for new trustee zones, and in the failure to address the problems with Swun Math when they first appeared years ago.

Complacency sets in for several reasons, some of them personal, some professional. People may become complacent because they have been doing the same job for too long and are bored. They may become complacent because there is no supervisor inspiring them to higher levels of performance. They may become complacent because there is no consequence to their indifference, i.e., no accountability.

There are other reasons, but it doesn’t really matter – complacency is bad.

I have consulted for a number of complacent organizations across the country. In each case, it has been my observation that the least expensive and most effective way to end complacency is to get rid of the people who are complacent.

As the headline stated, just sayin’.

Steve Smith

N-MUSD Taxpayer

 

A Reader Writes

(NOTE: Most comments are printed without identifying the author. This is done to protect writers from possible retaliation.)

Here’s a comment I received over the weekend in response to Odorgate at Estancia High. This information has not been confirmed.

“There were reoccurring mold problems at College Park School because sink drains were NOT connected to the sewer line during Measure A upgrades, so waste water pooled under the kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms. Repairs were made but I don’t know who paid for them, the district or contractor.”

Assuming this is true, it’s bad on a couple of levels. First, there’s there poor workmanship involving someone asleep at the wheel – again. It’s the use of tax dollars to upgrade something that was made worse. Then there is the question of who paid to fix the problem. As I noted awhile back, the district seemed prepared to pay for rain damage to classrooms in three schools – damage that was caused by another contractor asleep at the wheel.

Everyone understands that mistakes will be made. But there is a pattern developing that is alarming not only for its administrative shortcomings but also for the cost to taxpayers.

Blaming inspectors who sign off on the work is not enough. If this information is true, the problem is deeper than just the odd construction mistake. We need to know if the same company was used at Estancia and College Park. If so, this company should be forced to pay for any repairs and should not be allowed anywhere near any other campuses.

Any questions?

If a contractor does shoddy work, they pay to fix it, not taxpayers. Anything else is malfeasance and potential grounds for recall. But don’t look for a trustee to suggest opening an investigation into any of this or even just to ask if it was the same contractor. That’s icky business and it’s a lot more fun just to throw tax dollars at the problem to make it go away.

Steve Smith
N-MUSD Taxpayer