Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Promised a U-Village. Delivered a Big Box.

Athletic fields
Rhonda Hampson stated she was unhappy the fields are gone. They are not gone.
They moved to 184th and North road in Bothell at the New Lynnwood High School. Please get your facts straight before printing these articles. The school district put exactly what they had at the old site at the new site. Also, I have children who have graduated and two who are still at LHS. This is a wonderful plan and my kids are safe in a new building.
The school district gets money for 50 years for other building sites and we as tax payers don't have to come up with funds
for upkeep and new buildings. Yeah for us all. Get over the change, it's a win, win.

Carrie McAfee

Community Resource Lost
Carrie McAfee's assertion that this community resource was not lost, but rather just relocated is absurd. Sure, she isn't complaining because they moved this community resource to Bothell, just a couple of blocks from her house.

Please enlighten us as to whether the City of Lynnwood will be managing the fields or will that task fall upon the District's Athletic Department - now managed by someone with zero experience in athletics.

The real loss to the community is not in a patch of Field Turf or the adjacent grass but rather the deception inflicted upon the community by Marla Miller and her board of puppets that sold us a University Village and delivered a severely under-utilized plot with yet another "big box".

Marla's legacy will forever be remembered with this new and unexciting development, "Miller's Double Crossing".

Manufactured Demand

Ground lease is for 99 years

Get it right. The ground lease is for 99 years and if you believe the District will ask us for less than you probably believe what flows out of Brossoit's mouth.

The contaminated lot that was purchased for $5.8 million from a shmuck that bought it four years earlier for $900,000 is the site to watch. The District re-graded the site for millions and now it just sits there, waiting for another handout from the taxpayers.

Where is the New Scriber Lake High School? Where is the ground lease for the transportation center next to the mall? What is happening with the site across from the Lynnwood Convention Center? The District is just waiting for the right set of circumstances for their friends and political allies to financially flog us.

We need competent leadership, not a board of like-minded do nothings, easily hypnotized by the rhythmic sway of Marla's kooky hair.

Manufactured Demand

Talking to Manufactured demand
To Manufactured Demand, You are so insecure about your thoughts that you don't even use your own name. I said 50 years because have you ever seen a building last more than 50 years? They build the big box stores cheep. Then we will be watching them change the idea of what to do on that site. I do know that the school district used the 99 year term as an end date to buy it back. The next thing I would like to address is the new LHS is near my house. But it is also near the old LHS site around 3 miles east. That being said you must know me manufactured demand because I did not say where I lived in my article. Lets talk about Marla Miller, she works her butt off for us. Our district is better off than most in our area. So get off your high horse and help out at the citizens planning committee. Where you will see that the Scriber Lake High school is temporarily at the old Woodway Sr. High. Then it will be moved to the building next to Edmonds Community College when the new site for the bus barn is ready and the district offices move to that site at the Old Cedar Valley Elem. It's a great plan to use what we have and to make sure we keep the district in the black. Then you stated the site across from the Convention center... that site was set to be a high rise and the city of Lynnwood held that construction up. The school district does not get the final say in our choice of what goes on to each piece of property we are trying to get rid of. I also want to tell you that the City of Lynnwood has the last say in what they do or do not do with fields they may or may not maintain. Look at their budget and show us where they have money to do these types of things. LHS is gorgeous and the fields are sitting there under the snow waiting for our use. Last you are just negative. Dr. Brossoit is a great asset to our school. If you helped out instead of just bitched you would see that.

Carrie McAfee

Carrie McAfee...
Why would the District "buy back" their own site?

As for a building lasting more than 50 years, have you ever been to Seattle or any urban area for that matter?

The New Lynnwood High School is not even in Lynnwood. It isn't only about distance but also about jurisdiction.

Marla Miller is a criminal and you are blind.

So, Scriber will move from Former Woodway High School to the current Administration site when the Transportation site leaves the Alderwood Mall area and into the contaminated site? Would that be before or after the District seeks another construction bond from the public?

New Lynnwood High School was designed by architects for no other real purpose than to impress simple minds and fatten the resume of the architectural firm. That school should have been more utilitarian. Gee, I wonder if you have even looked at their utility bills.

And as for serving on the CPC, I refuse to be part of the problem. You are obviously blinded by the self-obsessed. The Board is a band of fools, Brossoit is a monkey whose greatest accomplishment to date was to outshine Ken Limon and Ellen Kahan in his interview with the Board (see above).

As for Marla, she has been steering district money to friends for years and has zero business sense. I suggest you read a little more - start with that blog site written by one of Marla's former pawns (

Time will catch up with Marla. Her day is coming.

Manufactured Demand

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New entries are password protected for now

There have been a number of topics that have been set aside for discussion outside of this public forum. Since it really wouldn't make any sense to cover these issues while they are still officially unresolved.

For a select few individuals, I have been providing usernames and passwords, so that healthy and open dialogue can occur without concern for the whole community watching. Sort of like "Executive Sessions".

Thank you for your support and I look forward to continued discussions "off the record" until the air is clear and I can start posting the accumulated entries.

The site may be found at

All the best.

Mark Zandberg

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is anyone surprised that print media is failing?

For readers of the blog that are tracking all of the clear evidence illustrating the close ties between this local rag and the District, here is a rather vivid case in point.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 8:48 AM
To: Jocelyn Robinson; Eric Stevick
Subject: Questions for Candidates

I was just informed that the Enterprise published a Q and A article regarding the candidates for Edmonds School Board. I was also informed that you have no information from me and that I "did not respond".

May I ask just how exactly you attempted to contact me because no one has ever had any difficulty in doing so? Is this fair and effective journalism for our community?

While it is true that I was in Ethiopia for the month of September, my calls and email were monitored every day and I was still responding to every inquiry - even from Addis Ababa.

At the very least, all of my biographical information and my views on every issue imaginable are freely available on the internet.

Mark Zandberg

Hi Mark,

We sent the letters and questions through the mail to the addresses listed on the Snohomish County auditor's website.

I've attached the questions we sent to Edmonds School District candidates. If you can get these back to me by Monday, Oct. 26, I can include them online. I can't guarantee that we'll be able to publish the entire answers in the newspaper, but we will at least include a referral to the website.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Jocelyn Robinson
Enterprise News Editor

I returned from Ethiopia on October 3, 2009, the day after the Public Forum hosted by the City of Edmonds. There was nothing in the mailbox from the Enterprise and no telephone messages or email from anyone at the Enterprise. There was nothing ever mailed to me from the Enterprise to the address where I was living at the time I filed as a candidate, nor was anything from the Enterprise forwarded to my address in Edmonds.

Clearly, the Enterprise felt it would be beneficial to allow Ann McMurray and Susan Phillips to get their messages out in their small newspaper while maintaining the illusion that they were being fair and effective.

What newspaper, in this day and age, sends questions out in snail mail? One could naturally assume that if something was mailed to a candidate, the responses could be mailed back. The "journalist" (and I use the term loosely here) would then have to have the questions and answers typed up. Why not send the questions by email? After all, our email addresses were included with our physical addresses when we filed as candidates. And of course, any real journalist wouldn't have any difficulty finding contact information for the moderator of a blog with more than 400,000 page views.

Why wouldn't this "journalist" follow up with a telephone call or an email? "Gee, I noticed that you did not respond to the letter that I mailed. Did you ever receive it?" Of course, I cannot respond to a letter that was never mailed.

What is funny is that after I "complained", I was given an opportunity to respond but not given any real chance to appear in print. There was a notation at the bottom of their web article stating that my responses were submitted after the original article was published. As if to suggest that I would copy the written work of the other candidates (assuming they actually wrote their own statements).

Is anyone actually surprised that print media is failing?

Scams uncovered on the blog are "too complicated"

When I met with King 5 (contaminated site), KOMO (frozen cheese sandwiches) and the Herald, everyone was telling me that the scandals I cover in the blog are just "too complicated" for their intended audience. They couldn't possibly explain the nature and impact of each scam in a way that could be easily understood. While the blog has made an effort to reveal the feculence seeping from the operations side of the district and infecting the education side, it is clear that we need to start catering to a wider audience.

On a bright note, when I explain these real estate transactions to the many commercial brokers with whom I mingle, they immediately understand and quickly express shock at how a school board can be so blind to such blatant malfeasance.

In the very near future, the blog will be taking its message to YouTube. Our mission will not be to explain every last detail, but rather give our community a taste for the schemes being unleashed by management at the expense of the public.

The mission will be to provide a five minute snapshot of each questionable attack on our senses by district management. The viewer can watch one video in the series or all of them. They will be able to watch them in any order and watch them multiple times so some of the details will start to make sense.

Along with the use of this new platform, the blog will be revamped, restructured and revitalized with a long list of issues that have been piling up while I was in Africa.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This community needs a proactive school board.

The most efficient way to cover the long list of material covered on this blog is to read the "Summary" section and then drill down to individual topics for greater detail. You can get to the "Summary" page by clicking right here or by clicking on the word "Summary" in the margin to the right.

While I can appreciate there are a lot of topics covered here, the overall trend clearly demonstrates that our current school board cannot provide the oversight they have been elected (or appointed) to provide. They may collectively claim to be doing their best, but "their best" is not good enough.

It all comes down to whether this community wants a reactive board that lacks the tools and experience to resolve problems or a proactive board that has a history of recognizing problems before they happen and has the skill and resources to prevent the problems that plague us now.

With the long list of issues covered here, just imagine how much more effective district leadership can be with the right person asking the right questions at the right time. This community cannot afford more of the same.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and please remember to vote.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"He didn't disclose something confidential."

If you have been following my departure from the District, you may recall that Marla Miller and her minions were spewing the concept that I somehow violated the public trust by revealing something confidential about the Old Woodway Elementary transaction.

For those of you who still cling to the statements made by questionably-motivated managers, please review the following, simple facts.

Before the Old Woodway Elementary site was sold, it was advertised in the Herald as being a surplus site and it was marketed to developers in its entirety. That means, it was made available for purchase as a complete site of 11.2 acres. The fact that such a declaration was made in the Herald (albeit just once, not the legally-required twice) and that the site was advertised to developers as 11.2 acres means that no portion of the site was obligated to anyone and certainly not the City of Edmonds. Making such a declaration in a Letter to the Editor was just restating publicly-known facts. If any portion of the site had been committed to anyone else, then the entire site would not have been available to developers.

For those of you who still choose to cling to the statements made by Marla Miller, I advise that you read her own words here in this transcript of her own words and approved by her lawyers. Line 14 on Page 141. The rest of her transcript will be posted later.

So, why would Marla Miller, Nick Brossoit and the Board take action to constructively terminate a highly-praised employee? Clearly they wanted to silence the only voice of reason in a real estate transaction that was far more complicated than it needed to be and that resulted in millions of dollars lost for the District. Remember that the Old Woodway Elementary transaction happened right on the heels of the District's purchase of the contaminated site - a site purchased without the Board-mandated Site Acquisition Committee.

I say again, since I have said it numerous times before, Marla was gravely concerned that the manner in which district funds were being squandered, through poorly-crafted real estate transactions, would deeply upset the community. What she failed to understand is that our community doesn't have the time or energy to study the issues that come before our school board. That is precisely why we elect board members who create and maintain board policies. Our community believes that their elected board members understand the consequences of their decisions. Unfortunately, the current board is not capable of the oversight they have been elected to provide. Susan Phillips may "pledge to do [her] best for our students and District" but, quite frankly, her best is not good enough.

Change is needed on the Board. In electing even one board member that has the intellectual capacity to articulate consequences before they happen, never again can our school board claim to be uninformed or refuse to accurately assess circumstances before they devour us. One voice of reason would be a great start to a total board transformation that must happen sooner rather than later... for the sake of our children.

Blog: Photo acquired through flickr and pfly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

School Board candidate returns from Africa

I am fairly confident that if the school board election were held today, in Ethiopia and Kenya, I would win by a wide margin.

For the many of you that have been writing in during my absence, I would like to thank you for filling my inbox. There are so many things to discuss and so many questions to be answered. An email that I received today served as a valuable reminder as to why it is so important to have a strong school board with inquisitive, analytical minds at work for the taxpayers of our district.

I am including this most recent email here and will respond more fruitfully once I have explored the issues raised. The email is as follows:

Hi Mark:

I don't know if you're still actively maintaining your watchdog blog (last update: June 30) but I wanted to know if you were aware of this:

Parents got a mailing recently from ESD Transportation Department urging them to make sure their (eligible) kid rode the school bus this week, October 12-16, as a student headcount will determine the amount of state funding for the department.

The card says:

"Already, we use local levy dollars (about $4m last year) to backfill the gap in transportation funding because the state's formula does not cover actual costs. The levy dollars also directly fund classroom expenses, such as curriculum and salaries. So by ensuring all assigned bus riders are on the bus during the 'count' week, our District can recoup the maximum amount of transportation funding to which we are entitled - and preserve more dollars for the classroom."

I'm asking:

Is it legal and proper to raid the local levy fund to keep bus service at full strength at the further expense of classroom ops? Parents already get incredible 'wish lists' from teachers, asking us to contribute the most basic classroom supplies... why are they so ready to strip the classroom experience to the bone and beyond to keep the bus fleet running?

If maximum ridership is so politically important, why did ESD rule this year that no kid within a radial mile of his/her school can ride the bus? Surely this policy is costing us state money.

Why is ESD in the transportation business anyway? I've wondered this for years. Fueling and operating 100+ buses is far, far outside ESD's core competency, and it's a major drain on capital. In the private sector you'd look at the Transportation Department as a natural candidate for sell / leaseback, outsourcing or spin off action. It strikes me as completely insane that ESD has such a fetish for buses (but so little apparent skill at running them) and now is actually raiding the classroom-funding bucket to keep the "bus business" whole. It's like an airline cancelling flights and laying off pilots to keep the kitchens making its in-flight meals running at full strength.

Would we not be better served by selling the ESD bus system's assets to a private contract operator (that knows something about fleet management, fuel hedging, personnel management, etc.), banking the proceeds, then tying the contractor's pay rate to performance metrics? One of the really frustrating things about the current arrangement is that there's no way to sanction bad performance. We have buses run late or not at all... kids standing in the rain and darkness for 20, 30, 45 minutes...substitute drivers get lost... and the Transportation Department just shrugs and says it wishes they could do better. If they were a contractor performing this way, they'd have to do more than shrug.

This "buses first, classrooms second" line is especially frustrating considering the giant salaries ESD leadership is earning...

Thanks, and I'd sure like to know what you think about this. Please keep me anonymous if you use this on the blog.



Blog: The State does not reimburse transportation costs for students living within one mile of their school. There have been discussions outside of board meetings that involved students walking away from their schools to bus stops just outside of the one mile restriction. Such a student would be counted but the practice is clearly contrary to the intended policy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

District response intended to mislead the Public

The District continues to dodge the real question that must be asked. Of course, this question can be asked many times and the responses are normally not connected to the question.

The Edmonds School District continues to peddle the argument that their team of assistant superintendents are compensated in a normal, reasonable fashion. However, the question that must be answered is how many assistant superintendents do other districts have? More revealing would be to ask, "How many people in other districts earn more than $100,000.00 per year?" I suspect the result would be rather troubling.

I would never suggest that an assistant superintendent or "deputy" superintendent should not be paid $150,000.00 a year. Yes, it seems rather excessive when you compare such a salary to average salaries within our community, but if this assistant superintendent was a powerful force for educational empowerment and motivated our community to take greater interest in producing great students, I would readily argue that the salary was not high enough.

Part of the responsibility of the Superintendent's Office is to build upon the successes achieved in the classroom and nurture support from the community to strengthen the District's mission. If we had a superintendent that successfully accomplished this goal, with an appropriate number of assistants, that would be newsworthy. Unfortunately, we have assembled a team of six assistants while other districts work with far fewer.

Here are a couple of rather telling documents provided by the Edmonds School District. First, there is a direct comparison (here) with other school districts in our region and the level of compensation provided to their assistant superintendents. Notice the absence of real information, like how many assistants work at these districts. Notice also that Bellevue has no "deputy" superintendent. How is that possible? Based upon the Edmonds model, they should have at least five.

Second, there is a document (here) that reveals the financial impact of having so many assistants, each of them receiving a cost of living increase on an annual basis. If our district had just one assistant superintendent, the financial impact would be significantly less. Unfortunately, we have six assistants. Every couple of years, the COLAs alone would fully fund yet another assistant. Of course, that same series of adjustments could add capacity to the number of teachers.

Third, there is a rather interesting document (here) that illustrates just how many assistants are dining at the trough of public funds. While there may eventually be an initiative to reduce the number of "assistant superintendents", there will never be a downward adjustment in the number of dollars spent on these employees. Titles may change, but salaries will continue to move onward and upward.

How is it possible that so many other districts can survive with so few "assistants" and "deputies"? I have said this many times before and I will mention it once again. During periods of financial challenges, when raises cannot be handed out to upper management, titles are used to make people feel better about themselves. When funding improves, these managers start wondering how people with such powerful titles can be earning so little - raises come flooding in. These raises come at a direct cost in the number of teachers, paraeducators and librarians.

Make no mistake, it is a club and until our community is prepared to address the senseless gluttony demonstrated by these bloated salaries, we will continue to struggle financially.

District will meddle in school board election

For those of you that may think our electoral process is free and impartial, let me caution you now. We have only to look at the record to see just how far the District is willing to go to protect their own.

It is only through having an unengaged crop of board members that management can force through poor property decisions and illegal procurement practices.

Bruce Williams
Shortly after Bruce was compelled to leave his home through the filing of a restraining order, the Superintendent contacted me to have Bruce's director district redrawn. The intent was to have a rather elongated portion of Director District 4 reach across Director District 1 and include the apartment on Edmonds Way where Bruce Williams was living at the time. Of course, I knew it was sheer lunacy and didn't even pursue the matter, and in the process tell the world we are a collection of fools.

Nick Brossoit even expended considerable effort researching WSSDA recommendations as to the validity of Bruce Williams' status - not that WSSDA governs anything or has any influence in the manner in which the District is held accountable to its voters. Clearly, Nick was prepared to chase the issue to the end of the earth to save Bruce from a premature departure from the Board.

Gary Noble
The matter surrounding Gary Noble was made very clear to the Board and the Superintendent and yet they spent public money hiring attorneys to unsuccessfully reinterpret the English language. Board policies made it very clear that his occupation of a board seat was improper and his position as a board member was unauthorized under the terms of board policies.

This forum reported the issue to the State Auditor and the Board was directed to adhere to their policies or change them. The Board elected to change board policies to allow clear conflicts of interest to occur. They also went as far as to review all board policies so as to suggest to voters that the need for changing the restriction upon Gary Noble was something they discovered on their own.

Oddly, even though the Board had gone through a review of all board policies, they had missed the policy regarding the filing date for school board candidates - a point raised by this forum. The change was immediately adopted because it was characterized as an issue coming from a member of the public. Had it been revealed that the blog made the suggestion to revise the policy, there would probably be a flurry of legal briefs generated and untold fortunes spent on lawyers.

Pat Shields
The issue surrounding Pat Shields has more to do with his affiliation with Powerful Partners and the protection the program has been provided. Despite having signed a lease, Powerful Partners refused to honor their obligation to the tax-payers of this district. When the matter was brought to the attention of the State Auditor, Powerful Partners had mysteriously changed their name to Powerful Tutors, though still used their original name to endorse the District's ballot action.

The refusal of Powerful Partners to pay the rent was particularly painful since it had been happening for more than seven years and the District was in the process of redefining their facility use policy and seeking to pass along rental obligations to casual users of community facilities - particularly parent groups and fund-raising activities in support of district schools.

Susan Phillips
No one is saying that Susan Phillips is a bad person. On the contrary, her willingness to continue her involvement in the community should be applauded. Unfortunately, this district needs someone on the Board that cares about the financial stamina of our public schools. We need someone that knows what enrollment forecasting is all about. We need someone that knows a scheme when they see one. We need someone that knows how the District works from the inside. We need someone on the Board that isn't afraid to speak up for tax-payers and ensure that public funds are spent appropriately.

Unfortunately, that person is not Susan Phillips.

The District needs someone on the Board that understands facilities issues. We need someone on the Board that knows about the legal requirements of public procurement. We need someone on the Board that knows what a Capital Facilities Plan is and the impact such a document has on an operating budget. We need someone on the Board that is significantly more critical of how dollars are spent on education than a group of five people with an irrefutable belief that any money thrown in the direction of education is money well spent.

In times like these, we need to be a little more particular and much more targeted in our approach to funding.