Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tarnished Deeds 3: Who Knew?

Disclaimer: First, let's be clear. What we present here can be viewed negatively. This will probably bring on yet another story time from Cap'n Tim about "Builders and Wreckers". Unfortunately, some of the nicest looking woodwork hides termites beneath it. Sometimes, the crowbars have to come out to save the rest of the structure.

Here is clear documentation that Phil Frei, double-checking on his statements at the public hearing, says there are no such things as class fees.

Phil Frei: There are no class fees.

[SP-EYE is seeing images of George Bush saying, "Read my lips..."]

Board member Terry
Shimek: There are no fees

Board member Al Slane:
There is a fee in the SCO bylaws, but they are working to remove that...and besides....they haven't charged a fee in the past 6 years.

Oh...and no fees (which haven't been assessed in the past 6 years) were used to pay for the playground equipment.

After obtaining documentation that the class fees DID exist, we shared that information with Slane and Shimek and again asked for their comments

Slane: OK...I guess there WERE fees...but they were only used for good...not for evil.

[Anyone seen 'True Lies'? Remember the scene at the end when Arnold Schwarzenegger 's true identity as a secret agent becomes clear to his wife (the lovely Jamie Lee Curtis)? She asks him if he's ever killed anybody, and his response is "Yes...{pause}...but they were all bad people". Sorry, we digress]

Shimek (acknowledging existence of class fees):
The fees shouldn't have been mandated.

[ long as they are not MANDATORY, they're OK??? Come on, Terry!]

Here's the bottom line, folks:

The FACT is that Principal Coulthart knew about the fees. That means District Administration should have known about the fees, because Coulthart would have known such a thing would raise red flags. And once Admin knew about the fees, the school board should have been notified, since it is from their ivory towers that the cries of "We must have equity in our schools" are shouted. The FACT is that board member Jim "McSeaBass" McCourt did know about the fees because he is the Eastside liaison and was present when the fess were discussed (unless he was snoozing at that moment).

It is also FACT that Deputy District Administrator Phil Frei and school board members Al Slane and Terry Shimek, due to their personal connections with Eastside, also --at the very least--had numerous opportunities to become aware of the fees (although they claim no such knowledge).

So why didn't anyone take action to put a halt to the fees?
Was it because this was a nice way to get needed things for the schools without raising the mill rate? Phil Frei's own logic would day that such an argument is silly because $17,000 would not even raise the mill rate by one penny.

Did they not even THINK about ramifications this information would have once it came to light? About how it flies in the face of the equity issues they've preached about in the past?

Is it just arrogance in believing that what the SCO was doing served 'the greater good' and therefore they could look the other way?

Or is it just that this is yet another indicator that this school board lacks the chutzpah --or simple motivation-- to keep an arms length between themselves and the district, to hold the district accountable, and to take action when necessary? To basically act like an employer, not a subordinate? Sure they can point to things like employee Richard Stackhouse's dismissal following his sexual encounter last spring. But that's a no-brainer, folks. It's these less clear-sided issues on which the board MUST take swift - and consistent- action.

As Tom Cruise's character in "A Few Good Men" put it, "All good questions.."