Not much. It was the usual predictable meeting with rubber stamping and the avoidance of anything controversial.

The highlight was the award given to Deputy Superintendent Paul Reed for the many years of service to the district. Reed has done a good job managing the district’s finances over the years.

Many years ago, I was helping a friend move from Orange County to the Inland Empire. On the drive to his new home, he said that he had a very good dentist and was going to miss going to him, to which I replied, “You may find a better dentist.”

Reed has done a good job, but is he the only person in the nation who can do as good a job? Of course not. That is illogical. Is there someone who can do a better job? Is there someone who can do a better job for less money? We’ll find out, but that is the goal. With Reed gone we’re already saving the tax dollars we were paying him not to retire, which was a bad decision by an administration with insufficient business sense.

In a well-run district, the administration would have been looking for a replacement the moment that Reed announced his retirement. That would have given them the luxury of time to choose someone who was the best possible candidate. Instead, the super waited until September to make the announcement public. Why? Perhaps it’s because he is not really interested in searching for the best replacement because he already has someone in mind – someone with whom he has a prior relationship.  That would be consistent with the other new hires he has recommended.

The questions now are still hanging out there… Why did Supt. Frederick Navarro wait five months to make a public announcement of Reed’s retirement? And have taxpayers been paying him not to retire since Reed told Navarro back in April?

Not everyone agrees with my take on the Reed replacement. One reader wrote:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I strongly disagree with you. Yes, another employee will be hired, but it is far more responsible and responsive to have a CFO who only manages money with a small staff than one who also manages Operations.

Because of Dr. Reed’s strong background, it was appropriate for the district to have a Chief Business Officer position, CBO. However, as a general policy, it neither serves taxpayers, nor shareholders. CFOs shouldn’t be responsible for projects; just seeing that the money is well spent.

I did publicly advocate for this.

While I do appreciate your concern for saving taxpayer dollars, please consider posting a rebuttal. Your fairness is well known; even to those who disagree with you.

So there you have it.

My prediction is that the district will go through the motions of collecting resumes and conducting all the due diligence required for a good public show, but in the end Navarro is going to recommend a crony. Remember: Past behavior is the best indicator of future performance.

During the presentation, Reed introduced his wife of 39 years. That is a remarkable accomplishment – one that dwarfs anything he has done in the district and I commend both Reed and his wife for their success in one of life’s most important roles.

Reed also had the good sense to dial back the trustees when they started asking far too many questions about an update on a feasibility study that was presented. I kept wondering when it was going to end when Reed stepped in and offered the proper perspective.

There was even some wisdom offered by the superintendent. During the feasibility presentation, which involved the process of creating city parks out of school fields, Navarro said, “[Costa Mesa does not] have enough parks. We are their parks system.” And he went on to advise the board to proceed cautiously – to think 10 or 20 years down the road – because “You’re going to be inheriting this.”

It’s all true, but I could not help but wonder where that sentiment was when Costa Mesa’s youth groups were battling the school board for more field time.

Swun Math + Inconsistency = Ineffectiveness

The only public speaker last night was Erica Roberts, who has been the Swun Math watchdog for many months. Roberts has faced the same delays and inconsistent communication experienced by many others, but the difference is that Roberts isn’t letting go.

From my perspective, the math alternative pilot program that has been set up has been set up to fail. This is another public show, one that has all the earmarks of a properly planned test, but it’s not. If it were, there would not be the communication confusion that Roberts and others are experiencing.

Navarro responded to Roberts’ agenda request with a few bureaucratic bingo phrases including “pivotal role” and “looking forward to blah, blah, blah.”

Musical Chairs

Yesterday was the day that the three incumbents who won their elections were sworn in and the new board officers were chosen. Karen Yelsey, who is in her final two years of service due to her belief that no one should serve more than 12 years, is the president. Vicki Snell, who was elected only two years ago, is vice-president, and the clerk is Charlene Metoyer, also elected just two years ago.

What does it mean to you? Nothing.

Consent and resolution calendars were rubber-stamped as usual.

No word on why the Mariners’ Gold Ribbon application is taking so long and no update on the area representation process.

Not that I expected them.

Steve Smith

Taxpayer, N-MUSD