Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is the STAR Now Quietly Endorsing Welke?

Last week, the STAR offered weak endorsements of the school board incumbents:
STAR 3-26-09 Endorsements

"If this is an ideas campaign, then Welke's opponents have him beat ..."
[SP-EYE: Really? WHAT ideas? The school board hasn't pushed any scheme that wasn't hatched by Tim Culver or district administration. Name ONE board initiated idea.]

"...and frankly, they've done nothing within the past year to warrant being cast off of the school board".
[SP-EYE: We've seen stronger endorsements supporting Michael Vick's return to the NFL! How about asking what the incumbents did to REMAIN ON the board? Oh...and about that co-head coach fiasco and possible additional violations of Open Meeting Laws...]

Terry Shimek "has demonstrated a willingness to investigate issues despite the thoughts of his fellow board members."
[SP-EYE: We agree; Terry asks the right questions, and expresses appropriate concern when warranted. Where we part ways is the follow-through. When has he voted AGAINST any of the things he has concerns about? When has he followed up questions/concerns with action? Maybe a motion? ]

Al Slane "is far from the administration's board member and has worked hard in his first year on the board."
[SP-EYE: On what factual basis is that claim made? Slane has voted in support of every administrative recommendation. He also supported eliminating the objective metrics part of Tim Culver's evaluation in favor of a subjective assessment. Like Mr. Shimek, Slane occasionally expresses concerns but never votes against a motion nor makes a motion or amended motion to reflect his concerns on a given issue. ]

John Whalen has demonstrated during his board tenure that he does his research and comes to his own conclusions.
[ SP-EYE: Ummmm...could you cite an example? For 3 years, Mr. Whalen's repertoire of board table comments consists largely of , "I'm good", "This is a really good thing...", or a shake of the head to indicate the lack of a comment. What "research" has he done exactly? When did he come to a conclusion that wasn't that of district administration or Tim Culver? ]

What a difference a week makes!
This week, the STAR absolutely slams the board for (yet another) incident of questionable closed door session, which could be argued to be another violation of Open Meeting Laws.

STAR 4-2-09 OpEd column

The process used to make the decision.
The board posted a questionable closed session notification (using the incorrect statute number, 91.85 instead of 19.85) to "review performance evaluations of and consider employment of a public employee; consider the possible discipline of a public employee; and discussion and action on preliminary staff layoffs [Wis. Stats. 91.85(1)(b), (c) & (f)]." Unless the coaches were to be laid off, using this notice to discuss the disposition of the co-head coaching position is a suspect -- some might even argue illegal -- use of the Open Meetings Law.

Culver said it would only be one year agreement
District Administrator Tim Culver explained it would only be for one year per the agreement between the board and the Sun Prairie Education Association.

The arbitrary nature of the decision.
By not including the public in a discussion of the continuation of the position as a co-head
coach position, the school board failed in its duty to steward the public's money
[Hmmmm...John Welke has used these exact words in several addresses to the board] and use its own common sense to reach an objective that had already been pre-determined because it was due to expire after one year.

The public's lack of involvement
...DESPITE the board's insistence on transparency in almost every other avenue of its decision-making processes.

So, Chris...
(1) You leave out any mention of school board endorsements this week (although others are repeated).

(2) You had this information LAST week, but did not use it. Hmmmmm.

(3) You make some of the same points that THIS BLOG made a week ago.

(4) You chastise the board for violating the very things on which John Welke has built his platform.

(5) Your only "knock" on Welke was not filing nomination papers in time to get on the ballot. Please! Mr. Welke was able to assemble 500 signatures on a petition in less than a week last year after the board laid an egg with the boundaries. Do you really believe he couldn't have EASILY obtained 100 signatures? Asked and answered.

(6) You even chastise the board for failing in its "duty to steward the public's money ", a phrase which John Welke has used on several occasions. As long-time STAR readers, we don't ever recall you using that phrasing before.

(7) You end your School Board endorsement section with, "Welke has demonstrated his ability to research issues and has actually presented situation reports to the board on various subject matters and we believe he also would be a competent board member." sure sounds like you and the STAR are quietly endorsing Welke. 'Fess up!