Superintendent has no idea when the final report will be issued.

After an utterly exasperating exchange of emails spanning nine days, Supt. Frederick Navarro informed me that the long-awaited report on alleged “untruths and inaccuracies” in the Gold Ribbon application at Mariners El – the one that I was told would be available in “early October” will not be available anytime soon.

And BTW, when it does become available, you won’t be able to read it.

The exact reference I received yesterday was, ” I checked with the attorney firm that is conducting the investigation.  They are not able to provide me with a definitive date for a finalized report.”

Would that be the attorney firm of Stifle, Stall, and Stymie?

But seriously, folks, there are serious issues with this on at least two levels. And the e-mail exchange is worth reading.

It started on Oct. 26, when I sent an e-mail to the super and copied school board club members Dana Black and Vicki Snell. I copied Black because she is the club president and I copied Snell because she is my area representative. I wrote:

Dear Supt. Navarro:

Please let me know when taxpayers can expect the investigative report on the Gold Ribbon application by Mariners Elementary School. 

Thank you.

Steve Smith

On Oct. 28, I received this reply:

Mr. Smith,

The report has yet to be delivered to the district.  The contents of the district may or may not be disclosable.  This is a confidential employee matter and employees have a right of privacy.

There was no close, no signature, and Black and Snell were not copied on the reply. There is, it appears, a typo: The word “district” should have been the word “report.”

Millions of dollars in payroll and not a competent proofreader in sight.

But the most important part of this response is this: I did not ask whether the contents were going to be disclosed, I asked only for the ETA. The fact that the super chose to tell me in advance that the Mariners parents, the teacher union – which initiated this whole thing – and the taxpayers of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa may not know who did what, if anything, tells us that we should expect the district to hide behind that rationale when the report is issued. It was a trial balloon that did not float.

So when will the report be issued? Ugh. I tried again. On Oct. 28, the same day I received his reply, I emailed this to the super, once again copying Black and Snell:

Dear Supt. Navarro:

Thank you very much for your prompt response. It is much appreciated. 

My question, however, remains unanswered. I would like to know the approximate time when the report will be delivered. 

Thank you very much. 

Steve Smith

Keepin’ it simple, right?

Now imagine that you’re the super and you’ve got this pesky taxpayer/blogger/watchdog sticking his nose in your business and you’ve already made the mistake of answering a question he didn’t ask. What would you do? Your obvious choices are to

a) Ignore the request
b) Answer it

Navarro chose “b” and replied the same day with:

I do not have that information.

That’s it. That’s all I got. Oh, BTW, Black and Snell were not copied. Again. And the niceties are all gone.

My options at that point were to:

a) Give up
b) Try again to get the answer to a very simple question

Yes, I chose “b” and replied on October 31 with:

Dear Supt. Navarro:

Thank you for letting me know that you do not have the ETA on the Mariners Gold Ribbon report.

A simple phone call or e-mail to Nicole Miller and Associates will answer this question. I would be more than happy to make this contact on behalf of the district to help save staff time. If this is of interest to you, please let me know.

Otherwise, I will expect that someone on your staff will be communicating with them immediately to find out the answer to this simple question and let me know as soon as the answer is obtained so that I can report it to the many people who wish to know.

Thank you.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

Pretty simple, yes? Just call down there to the agency or law firm or whatever and say, “Hey, Bob, it’s Fred. Can you give me a ballpark on when you expect our Mariners Gold Ribbon report to be delivered?”

That’s what you and I would do, but that’s not how it works at the N-MUSD. Remember: Stifle, stall, and stymie and eventually, it will all go away.

I gave the super a reasonable amount of time to either make or delegate this 3-minute phone call but when I did not receive a reply, I wrote on Nov. 3:

Dear Supt. Navarro:

I would appreciate the courtesy of a reply to my e-mail of Oct. 31 requesting the estimated delivery date of the investigative report on the Gold Ribbon award application at Mariners Elementary School.
Thank you.
Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

And you know the drill: I cc’d Black and Snell

Here’s the complete response I got yesterday:

Mr. Smith – my apologies for not responding in a timely manner.  I checked with the attorney firm that is conducting the investigation.  They are not able to provide me with a definitive date for a finalized report.  As this is an active investigation, I cannot comment any further regarding this case and can only speculate that the elongated timeline is a result of a commitment by the firm to be thorough and accurate with the information that will be contained in the final report. 

At least this time I got a salutation. Oh, and this time Black and Snell were copied.

Here’s what

That response is consistent with the entire way that the district operates. No one in the administration is held accountable for anything and so the very idea that they would hold this agency or law firm accountable is beyond them. The super is not holding their feet to the fire because the school board club is not holding his to the fire. Navarro could have asked the agency/law firm the reason for the “elongated timeline” (that’s edu-speak for “delay”) but he didn’t. Instead, he speculated. Speculation is what passes for action in the N-MUSD. And because it’s only taxpayer dollars, there’s no sense of urgency to save any money.

Why didn’t he press them for an ETA? Because it’s stifle, stall, and stymie time once again.

I’ve got a secret to tell you but you have to promise not to tell anyone. Ready? I know when the report will be delivered. And just to prove it, as soon as I finish this post, I am going to e-mail the time to myself so that it will be on the record.

Everyone loses

This report will take longer to produce than it took the FBI to issue it’s ruling on Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

It will have taken longer to produce than it will take the Cubs to win their next World Series once the baseball season begins.

The district overplayed this hand in a big way and it will end up creating more problems when the report is issued – problems that they don’t realize and which I am choosing not to disclose now.

Instead of stifle, stall, and stymie, they should have issued the report in 30 days. That would have been long enough before election day so that everyone would have forgotten about it. Instead, they inadvertently kept it alive so that it is now a hot topic of conversation behind the scenes of this blog.

But wait, there’s more!

The losers in this farce are many. Taxpayers lose because they are paying this agency/law firm/whatever to generate a report that is dragging on for much too long.

Teachers lose because they are forced to recognize that the delay is yet another sign that the district does not care what they think about the Gold Ribbon application – We’re going to take our sweet time about it and you’ll get it when you get it so just get back to work, OK?

This report management has been so badly managed and the community communication so pathetic that in the private sector, the person in charge would have severely reprimanded or demoted or fired. But this is not the private sector – despite the CEO analogy that Snell used in a candidate forum – this is the N-MUSD…

Masters of stifle, stall, and stymie.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

P.S. I tried to resist saying “I told you so,” but I can’t. I told you weeks ago that this report would be issued after election day.

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