I’m starting with an apology to long-time readers.

Thanks to a couple of recent plugs by school board club member Karen Yelsey, this blog has a lot more readers. To help give them some context for the subject of this post, I have to repeat a recurring theme:

Strong people, true leaders, have the strength of character to admit their mistakes and apologize. Weak people do not.

That’s not my opinion, that is fact, and in past posts I have cited reputable sources to support this position.

At yesterday’s funeral for Sen. John McCain, his friend and fellow Senator, Lindsey Graham, said, “If you forgive, people appreciate it, and if you admit mistakes, you look good as a stronger man.”

I’m amending that here to read “stronger person.”

The Sad, Long, List

I have pointed out the superintendent’s and the board’s inability to apologize as evidence of weak leadership and proof of why we need some new people as trustees – people who do not have the baggage of years of status quo behavior that prevents them from ever admitting they made a mistake.

The funny part is – and I learned this in a corporate setting years ago – if you make a mistake, everyone knows you screwed up so the best way to get past it is to admit it and move on. Otherwise, the mistake is always there, hanging around for some blogger to keep dredging it up time after time. As in:

  • No apology from anyone – the super or the trustees – for draining the Estancia pool prematurely, ruining the school’s aquatics program, then refilling it at a cost of about $100,000.
  • No apology for the chronic rat problem plaguing campuses. Pun intended.
  • No apology for paying the former Dept. Super hundreds of thousands of dollars of your money to keep him from retiring. OBTW, his replacement is doing just fine.
  • No apology from the superintendent for co-signing the Gold Ribbon application filed by Mariners Elementary in 2015, which contained “untruths” and “inaccuracies,” according to the teacher union. Instead, the principal got thrown under the bus and the super got a raise.

On the application, the super signed that he “… reviewed the information contained in this application and, to the best of my knowledge, it is complete and accurate.”

Here’s his signature on the application:

  • No apology for Swun Math, a faulty math program that was replaced only after years of complaints by teachers, parents, and students that were ignored by the district.  Only after an intense campaign led by Newport Beach parent Erica Roberts did the district finally change math programs. Forget the apology – Roberts did not even receive a single “Thank you for bringing this to our attention” from the super or any school board club member.

There are so many more. If you want to read them all, here is a link to “The List.” But be careful because after reading it, you’re going to be either really mad or really sad.

I’m sorry about that…


Steve Smith

P.S. If you want to learn more about the district’s blunders, mismanagement, and fiascos, and learn more about the candidates who want to fix things, here’s another list:

Ashley Anderson is running in Area 7 for the seat being vacated by Trustee Walt Davenport. Her online info is at:

Website: www.ashleyandersonNMUSD.com
Facebook: www.fb.me/AshleyAndersonNMUSD2018


Michelle McKnight Barto is running in Area 5 for the seat vacated by Judy Franco. Her website is at:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michellebarto


Dr. Gina Nick is running in Area 4 against incumbent Karen Yelsey, who told us in 2006 that she would serve 12 years but has flip-flopped and decided that she needs at least another four years:



Michelle Murphy wants to replace Trustee Charlene Metoyer in Area 2. Murphy’s links are:

website: https://murphyfornewportmesa.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/murphyfornewportmesa/


There are three other candidates running: Paul Hillson in Area 5, Bertha Rodrigues in Area 7, and Diane Ruorock in Area 7. As soon as I learn of the campaign-specific URLs for each, I will post them. Updates to all challenger information will be made as quickly as possible.


The Newport-Mesa Community for Students is a grassroots parent and taxpayer organization dedicated to improving district performance standards:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NMactivism4education/
Website: nmc4s.com


John Caldecott is the district’s former HR head. Shortly after he questioned compensation to a district employee, he was fired after 10 years of exemplary service. Caldecott has made great strides in increasing district transparency. His progress can be followed at his website:



Costa Mesa Brief has a lot of relevant videos, including the  excellent Sandy Asper interviews and exposès. I particularly like the video regarding the Estancia pool debacle. This is the with the details on how the district ruined the aquatics program at the school by closing the pool prematurely.