Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We're at ShenCon 1!

That's right folks, we're at ShenCon 1, or Shenanigans Condition 1. Like the DefCon scale used to military severity and readiness, Shenanigans Condition 1 is reserved for situations when board shenanigans are imminent or already in effect.

Last night, board president John Whalen almost boasted, "Yes. You're right, [my actions are] this is a violation of board policy", when faced with allegations that his school board committee nominations represented a flagrant violation of board policy.

The school board operates in accordance with policies established (and voted on) by past boards. Board policy is, in effect, the law which governs a school board's actions. Last night, Whalen's actions effectively tossed all rules out the window. His prideful admission that he violated policy clearly announced that he and this board does whatever it wants when it wants. They stand above the law.

What Whalen did
By nominating a citizen who did not even apply for the Finance committee ( and casting aside another VERY qualified person who DID apply), Whalen violated Board policy procedure BCE-R, which states that applicants MUST apply separately (and meet application deadlines) for EACH committee of interest. Pastor Harold Rayford applied ONLY for the Human Resources Committee, to which Betty Collier was appointed.

All applicants shall mail, e-mail to the District Administrator's secretary
and get confirmation of receipt, or deliver to the District Administrator's office a letter containing the applicant's name, address, telephone number and a concise statement not exceeding 500 words of the applicant's qualifications and interest in appointment to a specified committee.
A person may apply by separate letters for appointment to more than one committee but shall not simultaneously serve as a citizen member on more than one committee.

Whalen weakly (almost embarrassingly) justified his violation by indicating that during his interview for HR, he noticed that Pastor Harold Rayford had a strong financial background. Therefore Whalen asked Rayford to submit a second letter--long after the application deadline--expressing interest in being considered for the Finance Committee appointment as well. Geee...did other applicants get asked if they were interested in another committee? Did THEY get to break the rules as well? Good for the goose, good for the gander?

...and 5 other board members supported him!
Adding insult to injury, five (5) other board members followed like baby ducklings and voted to support Whalen's violation. Only David Stackhouse had the intestinal fortitude to lay down the rubber stamp and vote "NO". In fact, Stackhouse also pointed out the specific violation of policy as the reason for his vote.

Putting the Pastor in a difficult position
We understand why Mr. Whalen would want Pastor Rayford to be involved with the school board. He represents a unifying force within the community, and has worked with the board to improve understanding of cultural diversity issues within the district. In fact, that is precisely why SP-EYE (and many community residents) felt that Pastor Rayford was a perfect fit for the ONLY board committee for which he applied: Human Resources. The district has expressed desire to improve minority recruitment, and Pastor Rayford's connections could have provided some awesome assistance in enhancing district recruitment of minority candidates. Whalen could simply have appointed Rayford to HR and avoided all this.

We feel very badly that Pastor Rayford has now been placed in such an awkward position by Whalen's move. OK, maybe it's a little comical to watch Whalen squirm when he stumbles while leading board meetings. But there's nothing funny about this faux pas. People are angry that Whalen and the board---once again---committed egregious violations of their own rules. And the one that got tossed under the bus was Pastor Rayford. Folks are angry that Eric Huemoeller was robbed of an appointment he deserved. A position for which he complied with all the deadlines. A position for which he is extremely qualified. And the one who gets the short end of that stick is now Pastor Rayford, who now has to try to act comfortable in a seat which should feel very uncomfortable...even wrong.

Motive: Why Would Whalen Do Something So Incredibly Dumb?
Did Whalen just want to flex his muscle? To prove the old, "absolute power corrupts absolutely" adage? hat purpose did it serve to so blatantly break rules when earlier it was apparent that Whalen wanted to re-appoint another citizen to the Finance committee. Whalen wisely opted not to do so when SP-EYE (and others) alerted him to the fact that doing so would violate policy.

So...why decide NOT to violate policy for one thing, yet decide to shatter it for another reason? Guess only Mr. Whalen can answer that...and perhaps Dr. Culver. Sources within the district indicated that Culver and Whalen had "had discussions" regarding the committee appointments. Hmmm...anybody else wonder what business in the hell Culver has in having ANY involvement in committee appointments?

Well...we'll offer one plausible explanation. Few will forget how the board absolutely trtampled the citizens from the Topwn of Bristol during the Boundary fiasco 18 months ago. Could it be, perhaps, that Whalen didn't like the idea of having 3 "of those Bristol people" serving on board committees simultaneously? Having appointed John Welke and Patrick Anderson to the FTT committee, even though Eric Huemoeller was the only person left who applied for the Finance committee, perhaps Whalen felt that was too much.

(Rancid) Icing on the Cake?
And exactly which candidates were present for the most important Finance committee meeting of the year and then the full board meeting last night? Only John Welke and the guy that got screwed. Does the board give ANY consideration to who is engaged enough to actually attend meetings when making appointments? We think not.

The requirements and deadlines were crystal clear:
(click to enlarge)