I am a proud member of the Newport-Mesa Community for Students (NMC4S), a grassroots group of citizens concerned about the lack of accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility in the school district.

What I find most interesting about the NMC4S is that there is only one regular meeting attendee with kids in the district. Everyone else is just mad as hell.

That should have been a huge red flag to the trustees and the administration, but as with so many other signs, they missed it.

They also missed the signs with Swun Math and with John Caldecott’s tenacity (I warned them over three years ago!), to name just a couple of others.

Now, they are missing them again with their fumbling of the district’s school security plans.

A few weeks ago, NMC4S member Sandy Asper – a former board candidate – thought of the brilliant idea to host a forum for the nine school board candidates running for the four open seats.

From the start, Asper was determined to have a moderator and panelists who were the most impartial she could find. Despite the fact, for example, that I am very knowledgeable about district affairs, I was not asked to be the moderator or on the panel, nor was any member of the group.

That was Asper’s call and it was the right one.

So, everything started to come together. Asper thought to call it “Toes to the Stove,” a take on the “Feet to the Fire” forums that are held for other, higher, positions.

Apparently, the threat of the public finding out just how badly the district has been run for the past several years was too much for current school board club president Vicki Snell. On Facebook, she recently wrote:

“The Newport-Mesa Community for Students (not affiliated in any way with NMUSD) should not be putting on this school board candidate forum as they are biased. They are supporting a slate of candidates in conjunction with NMFT Union. For that reason, they have had several panelists drop out including PTA. I encourage candidates to not participate as the intention is to highlight their candidates and not present a fair and unbiased forum. I believe PTA/League of Women Voters are working to put together a forum that presents all candidates fairly.s all candidates fairly.”

There is so much here to dissect, so much that is wrong, so much hypocrisy, and so much that is frightening, that I hardly know where to begin.

So, I will start with a “thank you” – a huge thank you to Snell – for the free publicity and for raising community awareness of the existence of our group and of the forum. In one message, she has invited a lot more people to visit our FB page and our website to learn more about why we are challenging the status quo than we could have attracted in a week’s worth of outreach.

Out of all that she wrote, it is this passage that is disconcerting:

“The Newport-Mesa Community for Students… should not be putting on this school board candidate forum as they are biased.”

Should one laugh or cry over Snell’s hypocrisy? I choose to laugh because I know that she is clueless as to the absurdity of this statement.

Besides the fabulous name recognition support she has given the NMC4S, this unprovoked attack has also told the community that the trustees are scared. The status quo is being threatened by a formidable foe and lashing out this way is a sure sign of insecurity.

I’ve written before that Snell should take a cue from her school board club colleagues and remain silent on almost everything. It is an operating procedure that has served them very well.

Unfortunately for her two colleagues who are up for re-election, Snell’s inability to stay in her lane has just cost them some votes.

Steve Smith

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