How many roads must a man walk down – oh, wait… Sorry, wrong opening.

How many acts of fiscal irresponsibility will it take for the school board club to realize that they cannot count on the district administration to make sound decisions? How many will it take for the board to realize that these people are drowning and taking the board with them? (In an election year, no less.)

Apparently, there is no such thing as too much or too many. The latest economic and administrative fiasco is the Estancia baseball poles – the story that won’t die. Contrary to what taxpayers were told when the poles were removed, they have not been repurposed but have been sold at auction. The money that was received from the sale will go into the general fund and is not enough to cover the expense of this mess.

Up and down the chain of command, the pole problem is typical administrative bungling.

It started with the decision to plant the huge, unsightly poles just a few feet from the backyards of the homeowners on Joann St. in Costa Mesa. Faster than you can say, “vote out the incumbents,” the residents complained to the district and the project was stopped. The poles were removed, then stored at Costa Mesa High, then sold.

Ready! Fire! Aim!

Taxpayers saw this same mismanagement style with the Estancia pool – drained before a firm construction contract was in hand. That cost over $100,000, a lot of wasted water, and the ruining of an aquatics season for many student-athletes.

And speaking of the pool… There was supposed to be a fake investigation into who pulled the drain plug and we’ll get to the bottom of this and don’t you worry, we’ll handle it and blah, blah, blah. But as usual, there has been no follow-up; no superintendent report telling us that the fake investigation has been completed and the guilty party or parties have received the appropriate discipline.

Why no follow-up from the super? Because this board does not compel him to do so, that’s why. They are content to let this mess die as quiet a death as possible so they can proceed to the next one, which would be…

A stadium. Or not. 

The proposed athletic facility at CdM High is now approaching four years since this thing was first proposed. Since then, the district has been walking on eggshells trying to find the perfect solution to make sure that every single resident in the area gets exactly what he or she wants. Nothing less than perfect will do.

That’s not a reflection on the Eastbluff residents – I don’t blame them for wanting to preserve the peace and quiet of their neighborhood. It’s actually about a school board that is the proverbial deer in headlights: Surprised at first, now frozen in place. So while they study this and examine that, residents have lived with the prospect of a facility that could bring more traffic, trash, and disruption. Or not. The point is that they don’t know after all this time because the school board club is too timid to decide.

The only winners in this mess are the project’s consultants.

My unsolicited advice to the school board club: Stop seeking perfection. Stop trying to please every man, woman, and child in the area. Make the best possible decision based on the information you have and move on. Or don’t. It’s hard to say. Maybe it’s best to wait until after the elections in November. Or not. I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s time to hire a consultant to help us decide. Or not.

Fake Meeting Tomorrow Night

There’s another school board club meeting tomorrow night. As usual, what is not being said is more interesting than what is on the agenda.

  • There will be no update on the fake EHS pool investigation
  • There will be no update on the fate of the CdM stadium
  • There will be no description of the benefitst to our students derived from district travel to a lot of conferences, including one in Costa Mesa titled “Violence Prevention: Human Trafficking and Teen Dating Violence”
  • There will be no description of the travel expenses related to the many past and upcoming trips listed on the TAR (travel) report. And why should there? After all, this is the money in the section of the budget that Trustee Vicki Snell called “a drop in the bucket” in 2014.

And so on. Business as usual.

Steve Smith
Tapayer, N-MUSD