There I was, tallying up six straight rubber stamping 7-0 votes when – Wham! – Martha Fluor votes “no” on something.

It’s not just her “no” vote that was memorable, it was the issue she opposed. The vote was for a feasibility study for the new stadium – sorry, sports complex – at CM High. The city was giving the money to the district for the study and there was no commitment to anything – it should have been a routine vote to commence a study that had very little chance of any downside. Ultimately, the kids at CM High would benefit, particularly the athletes.

But Fluor got a little animated in her opposition and I could not help but wonder why. I mean, this was a no-brainer if there ever was one. Then I thought that perhaps this wasn’t about the number of permanent seats, or the team rooms, or any of that. I thought for a moment that Fluor’s opposition to the feasibility study was a personal jab against CM city councilperson Katrina Foley who is one of those leading the charge for the improvements. I could be wrong, but that’s what occurred to me at the time.

During the silly discussion over the study – silly because the district wasn’t shelling out any money and there was no commitment to anything – I actually felt sorry for Superintendent Frederick Navarro. That occurred right around the fourth or fifth time he had to explain what a feasibility study meant.

Then it passed.

Another precedent was broken last night, one perhaps even greater than Fluor’s “no” vote. During the stadium discussion, school board club member Charlene Metoyer asked Superintendent Frederick Navarro, “What do I do if I don’t like [whatever that thing was – I can’r read my own writing].”

Navarro: “That’s just speculation.”

Metoyer: “Yes, it is.”

It wasn’t just what Metoyer said, it was how she said it. It was refreshing and I hope we see more of this attitude.

Now, don’t hold me to this next one, but I thought I heard a sharp but appropriate comment by Black to Fluor during the stadium dust-up. Flour said she was opposed to the new proposed number of permanent seats at CH High and I thought I heard Black say, “We have other people in this town.”

If she said it, good for her. I’ll watch the archived video later and confirm.

There was something else that was different last night, too. On a few occasions, the board got into some lengthy – OK, lengthy for them – discussions about stuff. One member of the public was called back up to clarify something and one time school board club president Dana Black said, “This isn’t on the agenda” but allowed the discussion to continue.

Watching it, I thought, “This is what we need to see more of. Agendas are fine, but if a conversation takes us someplace else, it is important to go there.” And Black did on at least a couple of occasions.

During the public comments, a few Eastbluff residents again expressed their dismay over their own stadium – Oh, geez, sorry, sports complex! – and how the process thus far has been less than satisfying. The residents were polite, but they did say things like, “greatly distressed,” “numerous outrageous errors,” and “[our] concerns have fallen  on deaf ears.”

Welcome to my world.

A few folks opposed the pending outsourcing of the adult education program and were reassured by whatever-her-title-du jour is Susan Astarita that a “robust” program would be in place when the dust settles. This is from the same person who told Costa Mesa residents in 2014 that the reason the fence design around Adams El had been changed was because “[the district] changed our minds.” So, as far as I’m concerned, there is no robust adult ed program until it starts.

One speaker connected the dots between paying another deputy superintendent for something-or-other Paul Reed to not retire, the high salaries of the do-nothings (or do-littles) in the administration and class size. “Teachers are overwhelmed,” she said.

So why, I thought, aren’t teachers speaking up? Then I remembered that they did not want to be Caldecotted, that is they didn’t want to be sent to teach in Siberia for questioning something.

The school board club member reports yielded nothing in the way of plans for improving academic performance or improving teacher morale, just more worthless recaps of where they went since the last time they told us where they went.School board club member Vicki Snell wanted everyone to know, for example, that she attended the Newport Mesa Schools Foundation dinner and went to Estancia High’s “O Show.”

Oh, boy!

Steve Smith

 

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