First, there was the rescheduling of a meeting that was supposed to be held tonight. That’s the rule: Second and fourth Tuesdays of each month for regular board meetings.

Then there was the placement of the agenda’s most sensitive item, #19.e: It was buried so far that it was really and truly the last item before Giggle Time, aka “Board Member Reports.”

Last night’s meeting was so sparsely attended that district employees outnumbered the members of the public. Just how they like it. Trustee Judy Franco was absent.

But that didn’t stop a core group of people from speaking up about the club’s plan to hand the super another $29,500 of your tax dollars. The folks who spoke pointed out the many mistakes made on the super’s watch and how undeserving he is of yet more money.

One of the speakers was Erica Roberts, a true unsung hero who has been shunned by district decision-makers after she dared to challenge a faulty math program. Roberts was relentless and the district finally changed math programs but not after rewriting history to make it appear as though it was their idea all along.

When Roberts spoke on the travesty of giving the super a bonus, she was aided by former trustee Wendy Leece, who held a visual aid.

In many other circumstances, perhaps even most, the top person would want to know what caused people to be so upset. He or she would wonder why they decided to speak up by coming to a meeting on an irregular schedule. That top person would connect at least a couple of dots.

Ah, but this is the N-MUSD and logic does not always apply. During Robert’s comments, as well as the comments of every other speaker who dared to criticize him, the super ignored them by pretending to be doing something really important. Maybe he was counting his money. Here’s a shot of Roberts and Leece being ignored by Supt. Frederick Navarro of Long Beach:

Roberts 11.26.18

I spoke as well. This is what I said: “A review of the board meeting of November 15th showed that there were at least four violations of the Brown Act. These violations are ongoing. By now, the superintendent should have advised you of the needed corrections, but he hasn’t because he is unable or unwilling.

“This is just a small example of how undeserving he is of the additional taxpayer dollars you are about to give him.

“The larger example is that the period of time for which you are rewarding him has been notable not for its successes but for its costly blunders.

“It’s too late for anyone in this room to stop you from giving the superintendent more money. All we can do – all you are inspiring us to do – is elect trustees who understand the value and importance of increased accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibility.”

That was it. No chance of changing any trustee’s mind, just a few words to let them know that there are at least a few people in Newport-Mesa who see that the emperor has no clothes and are willing to shout it out.

Speaking of shouting – or gasping – have you heard about the most recent price tag for the new CdM stadium? It’s now up to $14 million. But there’s some irony there: That massive amount of money does not include upgraded bleacher seats like the ones at Newport Harbor, which are Alaska Yellow Cedar. At CdM, you’ll have to park yourself on plain ol’ aluminum.

$14 million just doesn’t buy what it used to.

When the speakers were done speaking, school board club president Vicki Snell, who never misses a chance to express herself in the poorest possible light, read some gobbledygook about the process of selecting a superintendent and confidentiality and whatever. On and on she droned, reading so deep from a document that she failed to realize that she had completely missed the point.

The point, in fact, is so far over her head that she will never see it.

Oh, BTW,  as I mentioned I count at least four Brown Act violations from the 11/15 meeting. It could be five – I’m waiting on a decision on the fifth. The Brown Act is serious stuff but neither the super or any trustee reached out to me to find out what they are so they could be corrected.

Why? Because they don’t care, that’s why.

Process? We don’t need no stinking process!

For a district so fond of trotting out “the process” whenever it suits them, they seem to have no problem shredding the process when it’s convenient. We saw that recently in the double standard of slamming a few people who were placing flyers on car windshields in a school parking lot. Those people were read the riot act by the super, who closed his e-mail with the statement that, “Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated and will ensure that NMUSD remains a neutral entity regarding political activity and issues.” 

But the process to keep the district neutral in political activities ceased when Snell wrote an op-ed in the Pilot endorsing a (losing) candidate for mayor, and when Trustees Charlene Metoyer and Karen Yelsey used district personnel in their campaign materials.

To them, the super said nothing.

In the end the vote was so predictable that they could have e-mailed it in. No need to meet. The super’s outrageously undeserved tax-sheltered annuity was rubber-stamped, 6-0.

Steve Smith

 

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