Friday, May 23, 2008

[LCSD] A Report From an Anonymous Commenter

A commenter left this account of the last school board meeting that I wanted to move to the front page:

It was a horrible board meeting. Several meetings before someone requested they move public comments to after the consent to the agenda so the public could comment on amendments as well. Josh said the comment period used to be after the meeting was over and he was the one responsible for getting them moved to before the meeting and didn't want to see them moved any further down the agenda. It left people with the impression he had no desire to be transparent since he and Rick are known for popping amendments in at almost every meeting despite Sherrie and Chris repeatedly requesting they call and have them added to the agenda ahead of time so the public can comment.

When they got to the discussion item about charter school negotiations Josh stood up and said he had been "threatening" to do this and now he was going to do it. He passed out the contract he had written to the other board members. He did not even give a copy to Jim or the press until Jim asked for it. Sherrie was stunned and made it very clear she had no prior knowledge about the contract and asked the others if they had. Then Josh said he didn't believe in holding people accountable (not his exact words, he might have said punish) if they broke a contract and thought instead you should hold a carrot in front of them to encourage them to honor the contract. So he intended to give them more money if they didn't break the contract again and the same amount if they did break it. He then asked the motion to be the following: and read the two page contract. Normally there is a discussion period after the motion is seconded. Sherrie and Chris were pointing out the finance director and attorney should have a chance to tell them how much it would cost and the legal consequences. Josh did not offer up the dollar amount it would cost. Jim knew and began to explain and Josh started swirling his hand in a "hurry up" motion to Rick and Debi and they approved it with no further questions. The audience was quickly going from stunned to furious. When Jim explained what they had done Debi made a friendly amendment to freeze the enrollment of the charter school to the present number of 298. Jim said the present number is 280 and she changed it to cap the enrollment to 280. She actually saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing that. Josh's original contract had increased the percentage to 85% and allowed them to increase enrollment by 18 kids every year for 5 years.

Things got worse as they moved down the agenda. Steve explained because of budget cuts they were only hiring 2 more high school administrators instead of 3. and Rick said how could he approve them when he hadn't even seen the applications? (he had just approved the hiring of two other people without seeing their applications) Josh said he wanted to wait until he saw the budget. (coming on the heels of making a motion to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to the charter school before seeing the budget) And the hiring committee and 2 principal candidates were sitting in the audience. Jim tried to explain how they were breaking his contract and Josh made a statement that in the long run will make this the most lucrative job Jim has ever had. It was just a horrible board meeting. At one point the audience erupted in applaud from a comment (the applaud was actually being disrespectful to Josh) and Sherrie slammed down the hammer and said NO! There was dead silence which showed the tremendous respect everyone has for Sherri.

Steve pleaded with the board, not Debi, to contact him in the future if they had concerns so he could remove it from the agenda to avoid what ended up happening. He certainly did not ask them to tell him how they were going to vote. I question her interpretation of the word insubordination. A workplace definition is: a refusal to follow a direct, valid work order -- The order must be clear, it must come from someone authorized to issue directives, and the employee must understand it as an order.

The bottom line is Rick, Josh and Debi gave most if not everyone in the room the impression they had colluded outside of the public eye on matters that were public. Whether they did or not, giving the appearance they did is bad board behavior. I hope we never have another board meeting like that one.

That's a pretty damning account, at least to me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beyond Masculinity

Michael Faris has an essay in a new anthology, and there was at least one little bit that I could relate to:

It wasn't that I wasn't attracted to women. I was and still am. To this day, I can't figure out why I didn't want to talk about women the way I heard other men talking about women... I wonder sometimes if it was because I saw women as so much more human than men. Women expressed themselves, they talked more, they had feelings, and they demeaned other people less — in general, at least. Men, on the other hand, treat each other like crap. Worse yet, I saw them treat themselves like crap. They never expressed themselves and kept their emotions all inside, except maybe for anger.

That has become more true of me over time, I think. Certainly my relationship with masculinity has become a lot more complex than it used to be.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I went for a walk - it was too short and easy to be called a hike - and got ferociously assaulted by mosquitoes, as did my walking companions.

One of them counted 37 bites on her body.

There was, literally, blood.

The worst part? We were looking for a cache and gave up without finding it. Having checked the hint again, I looked in the right area, but missed it. I wanted to stay, but it would be have been inhumane to continue to subject my companions to the onslaught.

%$*#@ bugs.

Dirty Motherfuckers

Multinationals make billions in profit out of growing global food crisis

Speculators blamed for driving up price of basic foods as 100 million face severe hunger

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 4 May 2008

Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.

The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world's poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution.

The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world's richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn.


I'm not going to comment on the content of this editorial, but merely note that the tone is incredibly whiny and anti-intellectual. I suppose it's intended to be a mockery of the state, but to me it comes across as saying a lot more about how Hering sees the world than anything else.

...OK, fine: The editorial contains not a single bit of information on why there are land-use laws and restrictions in the first place and without that it's about as worthless as all that horse shit I stepped over this morning while trying to find this.

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