Yesterday’s secret special meeting had one person in attendance – a 32-year resident of Costa Mesa who for a long time has been disturbed by the school board’s astounding lack of accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility.

How is it that in 2018, when government agencies across the country are tripping over themselves trying out out-transparency one another, that the N-MUSD is still spending precious tax dollars in legal fights to prevent residents from seeing what they have a right to know?

How is that despite never having won a decision in any of John Caldecott’s CPRA requests, that the district keeps spending education money trying to prevent him from shining a light on their activities?

And how is that despite the longest and deepest – by far – string of blunders in the district’s history, that not one person in the administration or on the board has ever taken ownership of anything and said, “I’m sorry.”

Saying “I’m sorry” is not hard. On Tuesday, after she reported incorrect job figures for U.S. African-Americans, presidential press secretary Sarah Sanders said it, clearly and directly: “I’m sorry for the mistake…”

That’s what strong, secure people do.

So there I was, in the empty audience section, save for one fellow in the back row who appeared to be there on district business and was clearly not going to give the board the what for.

So, I did it. Prior to speaking, I was asked by board president Vicki Snell whether I came to speak on the agenda item. In my head, I’m thinking, “Um, yeah, why else would I be here?” and “I’m the only person speaking. Even if I take the full three minutes, so what if I want to get up and talk about hummingbird feeders?”

After some mutual chuckling over the required introduction to the public comments section, I said to the trustees, “Thank you. Good morning. I don’t want to assume that you are aware of this, so I want you to know that notice of this meeting was posted at 2:41 p.m. on Monday.”

Then  I left.

I was not there to change minds; to have a trustee suddenly jump up and say, “2:41 p.m. on Monday? That is an outrage! We need to have a roundtable discussion on how to provide more notice so that we can get more members of the public to attend these secret special meetings!”

I’ve been down the “do the right thing” on this issue with the board multiple times. Called ’em on it and even got into what I thought was a productive exchange earlier this year.

Silly me. Nothing has changed and nothing will change unless and until we get new trustees who understand why the word “trust” is in their title.

Steve Smith

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