I pointed out yesterday how three people from one of the district’s law firms were present at Tuesday night’s predictable approval for area boundary map G. Two of them are attorneys – I am not sure about the third.

They were there for the entire meeting, which ran about an hour and 15 minutes. If they bill as many attorneys do, they bill for travel time and prep time as well. (Billing at 50% for travel time is common.)

Keep that information on hold while I relate two more items…

The community has been hearing for years about how we need to get students to be successful in the 21st century economy or society or whatever they’re calling it. That is the basis for distributing laptops and having kids work on computers as much as possible.

Despite that, however, not a single cabinet member uses a laptop at school board meetings, or, I assume, any other meetings. Instead, ALL of them hand write notes, some, most, or all of which eventually have to be transferred to… a computer! Hey!

Second item… I am a member of a city committee in Costa Mesa. At our first meeting in September, Mayor Pro Tem Sandy Genis and City Manager Tom Hatch wanted to give us some important information before we got started. But, darn, they were in Sacramento at the time of the meeting! Gee whiz and too bad? Nope:

They joined the meeting by Skype! That’s Genis on the far right and Hatch next to her.

So why couldn’t the trustees have done this with the attorneys and saved taxpayers some money? They could have – easily. The technology is ancient. But they didn’t because they are not wired that way. They don’t think entrepreneurially as you and I would because they just don’t care to do so. Their budget – a little more or less – is guaranteed each year and there is no incentive to save money. It simply does not occur to them.

It also does not occur to them to be innovative. I have attended most board meetings for a long time and I cannot recall a single time when a trustee made a presentation about some new concept that he or she would like to discuss or initiate.

(Note to new readers: This blog started during my school board campaign of 2014. I promised – and delivered – one new idea a week. Not outrageous stuff, but ideas that were working elsewhere or ideas based on reputable studies.)

For those of you who want to let me know that these attorneys may be on retainer and so the time they spent did not add anything to the legal bill, please allow me to explain retainers, legal or otherwise…

Retainers are agreed upon in advance and lawyers bill their hours against them. When there is no more money in the retainer, clients start getting bills for the overage.

The failure to walk the technology walk and incredible and continuing lack of fiscal responsibility are just two more reasons why we need new people on the board next year. Four seats are up for grabs: Yelsey, Franco, Metoyer, and Davenport. Franco just declared she is not running next year. When Yelsey was elected in 2016, she said 12 years was sufficient time to serve on the board and even though her 12th year is next year, she will run anyway.

Count on it.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD