Friday, February 29, 2008

Could the state auditors be reading the blog?

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It would appear as though someone is doing a lot of reading. Could it be the audit team?

For the times, they are a-changin?

From: Mark Zandberg []
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 8:04 AM
To: Christina Siderius
Subject: Edmonds School District


Lynn Thompson had mentioned that you have taken over her reporting area, which includes the Edmonds School District. I am not sure if you are already aware of what has been going on in the District. There is the official position and then a series of stories we are investigating on the blog at

The blog is primarily focused upon the facilities side of the organization, which through questionable practices, has reduced the financial stamina of the District and weakened organizational priorities which ultimately impact the education of children.

There was also a story on King 5 last week that touched lightly on one of the many topics
the blog has been investigating.

I also wanted to let you know that a town hall meeting is planned for Brier Terrace Middle School this Saturday at 1:00 PM. This meeting will be an opportunity for our district community to formally request an objective investigation into the climate and conduct at the Edmonds School District.

Welcome to our neck of the woods.

Mark Zandberg

Hi Mark, thanks for the note. This is literally my sixth day working up here, so I'm in a bit of a whirlwind of new faces and issues at the moment... however, I'm interested in your blog and plan to set aside some time to give it a good look. Let me know how the Saturday meeting goes.

Christina Siderius
Seattle Times Reporter
p: 425-745-7813 e:
Continuous news at

Things that make you say "Hmm":
1. Lynn Thompson had been receiving updates from the blog, but did nothing other than claim there were a few inaccuracies.
2. Marla Miller claimed Lynn Thompson as a friend, until she ran the story about spending $18,000 for senior year.
3. King 5 ran their story on February 11th and within days, Lynn Thompson had been relocated to another bureau.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spinach, pet food, beef and board members.

There is an alternative to waiting for the next election cycle: RECALL. It is a provision allowed in a democratic society. It's sorta like impeaching a federal official, but it's a tool reserved for the PEOPLE to make mid-course corrections in their local elective officials.

Choose the two or three most vulnerable board members and begin a recall campaign to remove them from office. Local papers would HAVE to report the movement; it is news, after all. With the recall campaign in the minds of the public, there would be a better opportunity to raise these ethical, if not criminal, missteps and affect change.

Thank you for the suggestion.

RCW 29A.56.110
Initiating proceedings — Statement — Contents — Verification — Definitions.
Whenever any legal voter of the state or of any political subdivision thereof, either individually or on behalf of an organization, desires to demand the recall and discharge of any elective public officer of the state or of such political subdivision, as the case may be, under the provisions of sections 33 and 34 of Article 1 of the Constitution, the voter shall prepare a typewritten charge, reciting that such officer, naming him or her and giving the title of the office, has committed an act or acts of malfeasance, or an act or acts of misfeasance while in office, or has violated the oath of office, or has been guilty of any two or more of the acts specified in the Constitution as grounds for recall. The charge shall state the act or acts complained of in concise language, give a detailed description including the approximate date, location, and nature of each act complained of, be signed by the person or persons making the charge, give their respective post office addresses, and be verified under oath that the person or persons believe the charge or charges to be true and have knowledge of the alleged facts upon which the stated grounds for recall are based. For the purposes of this chapter:
(1) "Misfeasance" or "malfeasance" in office means any wrongful conduct that affects, interrupts, or interferes with the performance of official duty;
(a) Additionally, "misfeasance" in office means the performance of a duty in an improper manner; and
(b) Additionally, "malfeasance" in office means the commission of an unlawful act;
(2) "Violation of the oath of office" means the neglect or knowing failure by an elective public officer to perform faithfully a duty imposed by law.

RCW 29A.56.120
Petition — Where filed.
Any person making a charge shall file it with the elections officer whose duty it is to receive and file a declaration of candidacy for the office concerning the incumbent of which the recall is to be demanded. The officer with whom the charge is filed shall promptly (1) serve a copy of the charge upon the officer whose recall is demanded, and (2) certify and transmit the charge to the preparer of the ballot synopsis provided in RCW 29A.56.130. The manner of service shall be the same as for the commencement of a civil action in superior court.

RCW 29A.56.130
Ballot synopsis.
(1) Within fifteen days after receiving a charge, the officer specified below shall formulate a ballot synopsis of the charge of not more than two hundred words.
(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, if the recall is demanded of an elected public officer whose political jurisdiction encompasses an area in more than one county, the attorney general shall be the preparer, except if the recall is demanded of the attorney general, the chief justice of the supreme court shall be the preparer.
(b) If the recall is demanded of an elected public officer whose political jurisdiction lies wholly in one county, or if the recall is demanded of an elected public officer of a district whose jurisdiction encompasses more than one county but whose declaration of candidacy is filed with a county auditor in one of the counties, the prosecuting attorney of that county shall be the preparer, except that if the prosecuting attorney is the officer whose recall is demanded, the attorney general shall be the preparer.
(2) The synopsis shall set forth the name of the person charged, the title of the office, and a concise statement of the elements of the charge. Upon completion of the ballot synopsis, the preparer shall certify and transmit the exact language of the ballot synopsis to the persons filing the charge and the officer subject to recall. The preparer shall additionally certify and transmit the charges and the ballot synopsis to the superior court of the county in which the officer subject to recall resides and shall petition the superior court to approve the synopsis and to determine the sufficiency of the charges.

I will discuss this with the blog's legal counsel.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good news is getting harder and harder to come by.

Please join me in congratulating our excellent food service staff, under the leadership of Director Barbara Lloyd, for an outstanding report from the just completed federal audit! The auditor said she has NEVER given such a clean audit report, and we can take great pride in knowing our students are receiving nutritious, safe, and efficient food service from highly qualified, professional staff. (I became a little nervous when she started talking about how they could have a great consulting business helping other districts get up to speed!)

Imagine such a gushing letter being written by the Superintendent about the financial audit of the District. First off, there cannot be a clean audit and no one will take pride in the findings. No one will be seeking advice from Business and Operations - unless they seek to abuse staff, give away millions, favor friends and relatives and avoid following board policy while staying in control of a district.

As a district, we have one area that requires corrective action – products available in ASB vending machines and student stores during meal periods were found to be out of compliance with federal regulations. Barb will be working with Ken and the appropriate secondary principals to develop an action plan to address those concerns.

Remove the offending vending machines and send them back to the distributor. Sort of like the removal of corrupt officials. Pack them up and send them to an organization that appreciates rotten teeth and guts.

It’s great to have good news to share, and to get to brag about the results of a lot of very hard work and close attention to detail on the part of Barb and her staff. Please join me in thanking them!

Yes, good news is getting harder and harder to come by.


Don't hold your breath for the Auditor's report.

My first experience with the State Auditor’s office occurred in the mid 1990’s when I taught continuing education classes at Lake Washington Technical College. Our secretary’s husband was a seasonal grounds worker for the campus. One night he mentioned to his wife that the grounds crew was sent over to the then college President’s residence to remove and install a new hot tub. The old hot tub was subsequently transported to the Director of Facilities’ home. Shocked at the implications, our secretary reported it to the State Auditor. When the investigator showed up, the members of the grounds crew lied to protect their boss, the head of grounds who was caught in the middle. There were no records to review. There was no action against the President or the Director of Facilities.

I tell this story because I do not see how the State Auditor, who is strictly looking into financial wrong-doing, can thoroughly investigate the Edmonds School District. Many of the issues at the District relate to competence and ethics which is not their purview. After all is said and done, their books may have the appearance of propriety (i.e. since they’ve have taken the opportunity to shred many key documents). The heart of the matter is how the leadership chooses to spend the dollars they have and how they conduct themselves.

Currently the state legislature is contemplating a bill to expand the types of crimes committed by teachers that would trigger decertification; including poor professional behavior. There is nothing in place created for check and balances on school Directors and Administrators who are the stewards of millions of dollars and are the examples for the rank and file.

I bring this up now because in April when the Auditors report will be published I know it will not be enough. For after he left Lake Washington Technical College, the Director of Facilities was accused of again of wrong doing at his new place of employment, the University of Washington Bothell Campus. Only this time he was caught and dismissed. The President retired without any consequence to his action. I urge that OSPI intervene and investigate. The students, parents, staff and taxpayers at Edmonds should not have to wait until the current leadership moves on to become a problem elsewhere in the system or retires. Education dollars are too precious to waste.

Claire Olsovsky

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Help Wanted: Public Records Requisition Specialist

In the interest of saving the District some money, our board of directors at the blog has authorized the creation of one new position.

Position Summary:
Edmonds School District Weblog (ESD15.ORG) is one of the region's strongest and most dynamic blog sites committed to taxpayer advocacy and the elimination of corruption in school district administration. specializes in the acquisition, investigation and tracking of inappropriate use of public funds in the Edmonds School District. Our eight-month tradition of success is attributable to the bright, driven professionals at Creative, responsible, customer-oriented people are drawn to's advocacy strength, our dynamic workplace (your computer) and the exceptional opportunities for personal and professional growth (we can meet for coffee and chat). offers a no tangible salary, no training reimbursement, no education reimbursement, no certification bonuses, and no real comprehensive benefits package (aside from the satisfaction you may feel from helping expose poor choices by public officials and employees). has an immediate opening for a Public Records Requisition Specialist located in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Woodway or unincorporated parts of Snohomish County.

The candidate shall have at least five minutes of acquisition support experience. The candidate will be responsible for making requests for public records from the Edmonds School District. prefers that the applicant have absolutely no connection to current district management. Preferably you should not be related to Marla Miller, Nick Brossoit, or any member of the Board of Directors.

The purpose of this position is to make requests for public records directly to the Edmonds School District and thereby avoid channeling requests through the District's legal team at increased expense to district taxpayers. The successful applicant should know how to send email, including blind copies of requests to management.

If you are interested, please email:
Mark Zandberg,
Executive Director of Blog Content Development

Meeting our legislative representatives.

On Saturday, February 23rd, we had an opportunity to voice our concerns to our legislative representatives. While a delegation from the blog had already met with Rosemary McAuliffe earlier this month, this meeting offered an opportunity to meet and present information on matters of importance to the Edmonds School District - at least the taxpayers that support it - to Mark Ericks and Al O'Brien.

One of the memorable statements of the meeting was made by Mark Ericks, "There is a difference between a school board making unwise decisions and making illegal ones." I provided him with a long list of the District's unwise decisions. Whether illegal or unwise, the taxpayers of the Edmonds School District deserve a lot more than they are currently getting.

We also heard that OSPI has been provided with the same list and has started their own investigation. Since the current audit team is wrapping up their evaluation, the extent and direction of the OSPI investigation will be determined, in part, upon the conclusions drawn by the state auditor.

There was also a discussion about the quality of education being offered in math and science. The termination of a highly-regarded math teacher at one of the District's flagship schools is but one of the many powerful examples where our district has drifted from their mission. The Edmonds School District, like many districts in our region, appears to be fumbling around in the dark while state and federal officials discuss math and science standards. Of course, while fumbling, our students move through their foundational academic careers without direction or guidance.

A member of the audience, during the first town hall meeting, asked about introducing an income tax targeted specifically for the benefit of public education. Representative Ericks then offered a very brief summary of our state's success in passing income tax legislation. It was very brief, because it has yet to happen.

Another interesting question from the Brier Terrace meeting had to do with sales tax revenue. Why do school districts and other public agencies pay sales tax? It does seem peculiar and when faced with budget shortfalls, like in Northshore and Edmonds, the shortfall seems to approximate the amount of sales tax paid annually by these entities. Of course, there would still be budget problems if board members fail to read their Capital Facilities Plans.

Clock hour requirements for board members was also discussed. While real estate agents, for example, have to complete 30 hours of training to renew their licenses with the state, board members are trusted to attend conferences and seek out their our form of enlightenment. They seldom do. Of course, real estate agents don't spend $170,000,000.00 in public funds every year.

There were a lot of other topics discussed and it was encouraging to see Northshore school board members at the Bothell town hall meeting, while disappointing that not a single administrator or board member from the Edmonds School District appeared at Brier Terrace. Perhaps they couldn't find the place.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Auditors get more than a map from King 5.

Sadie Armijo forwarded me your concerns as she is no longer the Audit Manager for the Everett office. Thank you for expressing your concerns regarding the Edmonds School District. We will take these into consideration during our next audit of the District. We will let you know of any results we find related to your concerns once the audit is completed.

When is the next audit?

We do not have a scheduled time to begin the audit yet. Traditionally, the audit concludes and the report is published sometime from March to May. This year’s audit is likely to be in the same timeframe.

You should take a look at the office space at the ESC being used by non-profits. Powerful Partners has never paid what they have been billed and they call it a donation on their I990.
See attached.

Thank you for bringing that issue to our attention. We will include this with your other concerns in our risk assessment for the upcoming audit.

How are things going with the audit of the Edmonds School District. Did you see the King 5 story?

We did see the King 5 story, but thank you for passing along your concern to us. We are still in the fieldwork stage of the audit and cannot discuss any audit results yet. We will respond to the concerns you have forwarded to us once the audit has completed. At this time, we expect the report to be issued sometime in April.

A few quotes to consider.

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group.

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.

"We, and all others who believe in freedom as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.

Franklin Roosevelt

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The time for meaningful change is now.

I realize that many of my former co-workers harbor some deep-seeded concerns regarding confrontation with their employer. While it may be uncomfortable to voice an opinion, you must admit that your discomfort comes as a result of the District and how they treat others. It is understandable that you don't want to be in the District's crosshairs. No one wants that unique experience.

This blog has been a powerful forum. While many of you have expressed appreciation for its existence, it exists for no other purpose than to bring about change in the District. The change we have in mind is purely positive.

We want district management to stop conducting business in the shadows. We want district management to treat employees in a manner that respects everyone for who they are and what they contribute. We want district management to be held accountable for their actions without casting blame on others. We want district management to stop expanding their ranks with people who lack talent and experience. We want an end to the dumbing down that has been taking place whenever the opportunity presents itself. Most of all, we seek the appropriate use of public funds.

Spending money wisely means hiring the best and brightest. When they don't apply, seek them out. Spending money wisely means inspiring staff to work hard toward a common purpose. Singling people out for abuse only creates an atmosphere of distrust and hatred. Spending money wisely means following adopted board policy. Earlier board members developed and adopted policies to help guide the District and those policies should be followed even when it might be a little uncomfortable.

The District has changed a lot since 2004. What used to happen quietly, behind closed doors, now happens out in the open without regard for what others might think. There is no threat of detection and no consequence for the abuse of power. When challenged, district management claims they are doing a noble business and are above reproach. The time for meaningful change is now.

Attend the town hall meeting at Brier Terrace Middle and support our efforts with your presence. You do not have to speak out, there will be others that will do so. Our state senators need to know that we care about our district, that we care about our teachers and staff and, most importantly, we care about our children and the future of our community.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A great leader would have it no other way.

Dear Nick,

Senator Rosemary McAuliffe will be holding a town hall meeting at Brier Terrace Middle on Saturday, February 23rd at 1:00 PM. I would like to encourage you to draft a letter to be sent home through kid mail, encouraging all parents to attend this town hall meeting in a show of support for the District. In showing their support, the District should encourage these parents to demand a full and objective investigation into the accusations made on the blog.

All staff should be encouraged to attend as well through an "All Edmonds" email. Afterall, no one wants to work under a cloud of suspicion or to think that their employer is not spending public money wisely. District employees deserve to take pride in the organization for which they work.

The best way to diffuse suspicion is to confront it head on. A great leader would have it no other way. Please join me in encouraging our community to attend the town hall meeting to demand a complete and objective investigation.


Mark Zandberg

Monday, February 18, 2008

Community must demand an investigation.

I am already getting a lot of email from district employees wondering how they could attend such a town hall meeting without losing their jobs. Here is the position you take.

As a district employee you have the right to demand the protection of your employer's reputation. You are not attending to support the blog or to support Mark Zandberg, you should be attending because you want these unflattering accusations investigated. No one wants to work under a cloud of suspicion. If there is no corruption, as Marla and Nick claim, then they should be supportive of a complete and objective investigation.

By attending this town hall meeting, and joining the many other voices in the room, you can help motivate the State Senate to look into the many accusations that have been surfacing on the blog.

If the blog has been manufacturing stories, for no other purpose than to attack Marla Miller and the Board, a full and objective investigation will prove this to be the case. In fact, Marla and Nick should be encouraging the State Senate to investigate so as to destroy the blog and its stories once and for all.

By attending the town hall meeting, you will be there to support your employer, the superintendent, and the board. Every great employee should be there.

Spread the word. See you there.

Town Hall meeting at Brier Terrace Middle School

OLYMPIA – Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, the senior member of the 1st District delegation, will join other 1st district legislators Rep. Al O’Brien and Rep. Mark Ericks for joint town hall meetings Saturday, Feb. 23 in Brier and Bothell.

McAuliffe says both meetings serve as a time for citizens and the legislators to discuss issues important to the local community as well as broader statewide issues. McAuliffe is chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

Town hall meetings:
Bothell: 10 a.m. at the North Creek Events Center on the Cascadia Community College campus, 18345 Campus Way NE.
Brier: 1 p.m. at the Brier Terrace Middle School cafeteria, 22200 Brier Rd.

Editorial: Unfortunately, if current members of district staff choose to attend this town hall meeting, they may have to wear disguises. Here is the link.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Granite Falls school superintendent search falters.

The school board decides to pass on three finalists

GRANITE FALLS -- The search for a new Granite Falls School District superintendent has hit a snag. The Granite Falls School Board couldn't find the right match among three finalist candidates Wednesday night.

"The board wants to be sure the right person is hired," said Siobhan Sullivan, the school board president. "We take our responsibility for hiring the superintendent position very seriously and after careful consideration, decided we need to continue our search.

"In a press release, school district officials said: "After thorough research and listening to all involved parties -- students, community, staff, administrators, union leadership -- the board did not feel the three final candidates met the board's expectations and goals.

"The board will meet with search consultant Wayne Robertson next week to figure out the next step. "The whole range of options are on the table," Robertson said. That would include continuing a search with different candidates or hiring an interim superintendent for next year while the board does another full-blown search.

Granite Falls received a dozen applications to replace Superintendent Joel Thaut, who is retiring in June. It whittled the list to three finalists, all with Snoho­mish County ties. They were Ken Limon (pictured above), an assistant superintendent with the Edmonds School District; Robert Manahan, executive director for teaching and learning in Lake Stevens; and Christine Burgess, a former Lake Stevens administrator and superintendent for the East Valley School District in Spokane.

Robertson said all three have solid credentials. "They want somebody who can do it all," he said. "These are good candidates. They are people who will get jobs. It's all about fit and chemistry.

"Kathy Grant, a school district spokeswoman, said the five-member board just wants to get the right match for Granite Falls, even if it means taking more time. Three board members have served more than 10 years and four have hired a superintendent before. "They are a cohesive board," she said. "They are going to want to sit down and talk about it."

Editorial: Finally, a school board that takes their job seriously. This article appeared in the Herald.

Wishful thinking is one thing, and reality another.

What is so terribly difficult to understand about the free ride Powerful Partners has been getting? Let me break it down for the few stragglers in our community. I know we would all love to think the District has our best interests at heart, but sadly, this is not the case.

I have recently heard that people believe money was donated by private parties to Powerful Partners for payment of rent in the ESC. While it may be true that Powerful Partners may claim that these donated funds were for the payment of rent, and they may go as far as to claim as much in their tax returns, but this does not change the actual lack of payment to the District. No money has ever been collected by the District, from Powerful Partners, for the payment of rent in the ESC.

Imagine if you decided to rent a beautiful apartment overlooking the Sound and the lease required that you pay $2,000.00 a month. Imagine what would happen if you decided to give all of your money to the homeless and not pay rent at all? What would you expect the landlord to do? The landlord expects to collect $2,000.00 a month and instead hasn't been getting a single dollar. Would you think the landlord would continue "renting" the space to you? Sure, giving money to the homeless might be an honorable cause, but you are giving away money that should be going to your landlord.

You could wash your landlord's car, run errands for him on the weekend, or provide other professional services, but it doesn't remove your obligations under the terms of your lease. You have to amend the lease to accommodate such a change in terms.

In no way am I suggesting that Powerful Partners in not a "noble" program, but the evidence shows they are being "shielded" from the obligations under the terms of the use agreement. Also worthy of mentioning, is the fact that the District agreed with the purpose of Powerful Partners and offered a "use agreement" as opposed to a lease. The use agreement meant that Powerful Partners only had to pay for actual costs incurred by the District. There was no "base rent" and no opportunity to make a profit at the tenant's expense.

I can appreciate that people might be offended by my reference to Powerful Partners as Power Parasites, but if an agency does not pay their share of expenses, as the use agreement required, they are living off the charity of their host - a host that is supported with public funds.

It is also worth mentioning that I specifically requested any and all evidence that demonstrates that Powerful Partners actually paid anything toward their rent obligations. The District responded by claiming they do not keep copies of checks and that it was my responsibility to collect the rent. While still employed with the District, I complained numerous times to Marla Miller about this non-payment and she always assured me that she was working on it.

Public servants should accommodate the public.

The Edmonds School District school board follows Robert’s rules at their meetings. They strictly adhere to their agenda where time for comments from the public is scheduled at the end of each meeting. Each person is limited to 5 minutes.

Tuesday night, after the King 5 broadcast informing the public of the District’s decision to purchase land for the New Support Center at 70% more than its value, several citizens went to the meeting. They left shortly after they were informed they would have to wait up to 3 hours to address the Board. Many went away angry.

A meeting agenda is not written in stone. A few years back I attended a couple of my own city’s council meetings as there was an issue that concerned me. I was not alone; the board room was packed with my neighbors. A council member made a motion to change the order of the agenda to accommodate the public. It was seconded, and passed. We were placed next on the agenda and we began to address the council. Another motion was passed to continue discussion of the topic at the next board meeting since everyone had not had their chance to speak.

This is how a body of elected officials behaves when they take their constituents seriously and are interested in their concerns. They did not use the agenda as a shield or an evasive tactic to avoid uncomfortable questions or the ire of those they serve. Would it not make sense for the school board to do the same?

Editorial: Thank you to Claire Olsovsky for this contribution.

After four years, they made it to the picture on page 6.

Imagine my surprise to open the Enterprise (I was building a fire) and discover that not one, but two assistant superintendents for the Edmonds School District have acknowledged that student enrollment is actually decreasing. If they read the 2004-2009 Capital Facilities Plan, adopted by the Board on October 5, 2004, they would have known that a decrease was coming. They could have made adjustments to programming and budgets, slowly and over time.

Ellen Kahan is quoted as saying, "Enrollment is expected to continue to decline in the district as a whole."

Marla Miller is quoted as saying, "We will need to make some reductions every year as enrollment declines unless we get an influx of additional funding."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

Robert Hume, Brier resident, obtained public documents from the County Assessor's office related to the three parcels of land the District acquired for the new support center and was the topic of a King 5 TV Investigative Report that was broadcast this week. He encouraged the Board to research the documents related to the assessed valuation, the previous sales of the land that had occurred, and he offered to share his evaluation of the number analysis he had done related to the property sales to the Board. Superintendent Brossoit encouraged Mr. Hume to meet with Assistant Superintendent Marla Miller to review his documents and obtain answers to his questions.

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."

More goose-stepping from the local rag.

The following letter appeared in the Edmonds Beacon.

Bus barn relocation
Editor:We at the Edmonds School District understand a news report aired Monday evening questioning the purchase price the school district paid for the property where our bus transportation and maintenance services will be relocated.You may recall that two weeks ago, we sent all staff and parents of our district a letter explaining the facts about this purchase. This letter is available to read on the district’s website at Please share it with other community members who may have questions.

If anyone wishes to ask questions specifically about the purchase, please contact Marla Miller by calling (425) 431-7036 or by email at

Laurie Parker
Edmonds School District

It would stand to reason that if something was entirely false, there would be no reason to run an ad indicating as much. If someone suggested that the Superintendent was actually a Martian, there wouldn't be a news release refuting this claim. If someone suggested that the ESC is made of green cheese, there wouldn't be a news release refuting this claim.

Why would the Edmonds School District spend so much time and energy denying something that is true for no other reason than to divert attention away from the people giving public money to their friends.

Since the Beacon won't run my letters...

With all due respect to the honorable Ray Wambolt, I am troubled by his conclusion that passage of the Edmonds School District's technology levy would be a reduction in property tax. While it is misleading to suggest that passage would mean a slight reduction in our tax obligation, rejection would be a reduction in property tax that you might actually feel. More importantly, it would result in something the District might feel.

No one would argue that technology isn't an essential ingredient in the modern classroom, but the sheer volume of equipment being carted off after dark is enough to make one's heart shudder.

The Edmonds School District seeks your approval because they love spending your money. To convince you to pass this levy, they tack on anything and everything that might tug at your emotions.

In the coming days, you will discover a number of reasons not to support this levy. Until the current management model is eliminated, I won't be voting in favor of any district proposals.

Mark Zandberg

Ray Wambolt's letter to the editor encouraged voters to pass the District's Technology Levy. I won't bother linking it here. It isn't worth reading. Of course this forum appears to have more readers anyway.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Logic of Lemmings

For those of you who quickly side with the District, regardless of the many crimes they commit against taxpayers, your lack of critical thought is shockingly obvious. Try to follow along, if you can.

There was a pivotal meeting at Reid Middleton in Everett where it was decided by everyone in the room that the 11.3 acre site (now known as the District Support Center) is contaminated and should not be purchased. In the room that day was one lawyer, one property appraiser, one environmental consultant, one civil engineer, one licensed real estate agent, one district director with a Masters degree in Public Administration and, despite her claims to the contrary, Marla Miller.

Marla claims that she has never been to Reid Middleton's office. If that was true, how would her information be more reliable than the summary provided by a person who was actually in the room? Why would Marla allow a meeting of that caliber to take place, regarding such an important topic, without being in the room? I am not saying she was qualified to be in the room, but by virtue of her position, it would be professionally responsible to be there.

If my meeting summary was false, how would it violate attorney-client privilege? Even Marla's lawyers have confirmed that the meeting happened and that my summary of that meeting was true enough to suggest that I violated attorney-client privilege.

However, I am still a little puzzled as to how Marla's lawyers could think that I violated attorney-client privilege. I was not the attorney or the client. I was a District taxpayer that also happened to serve a clerical function with the District (according to Nick and Marla's rebuttal to my initial letter in the Edmonds Beacon in March of 2007).

That meeting at Reid Middleton resulted in a unanimous conclusion - the property is contaminated and should not be purchased for anything greater than $3,300,000.00.

Why can't Nick and Marla just admit that they were taken for a ride? Raskin knew the District was drooling over his contaminated piece of dirt and he is a seasoned property developer. He bought the site in 2001 for just over $1,000,000.00 and sold it less than four years later for $5,600,000.00.

The moral to this story: A fool and her money are soon parted, especially if it isn't her money that's departing.

Levy doesn't add up to tax decrease.

Mr. Wambolt wrote a letter to the editor 2/1/08 encouraging me to vote for an extension of the Edmonds School District Technology/Capital Levy this May. His argument was that we get to pay a tax decrease if we pass this levy.

I looked up my property assessments for taxes payable since 2004.I paid the Edmonds School District for their "special" levy $137 in 2004, $148.77 in 2005, $170 in 2006, $203 in 2007 and $238 in 2008. That is a total of $896.77.

Projecting continued increases in property assessments (and why not?), you are asking me to pay The Edmonds School District an additional $1051 over the NEXT five years. Wow! That is some tax decrease!

Pass the levy? I ask you, for what? Energy efficiency? I need new windows too. Outdoor facilities? I need a new deck. System upgrade? I don't even own a computer! Safety and emergency preparedness? Their parents should be buying them their life preservers. Not me.

Judy Stead

Editorial: This letter appeared in the Enterprise.

A few entries from the King 5 blog.

Any appraiser will tell you finding the true market value of a piece of property is part art, part science. Human beings do the work. They have to inject their personal opinions and analysis into the ultimate finding. But when we came upon a transaction where the Edmonds School District paid $2,300,000--70% more-- for a piece of land than their own appraiser said it was worth in the market place, it seemed as though more science and less art needed to come into play.We found that when 2 appraisals are that far off, a government body entrusted with public funds will typically hire an appraisal review, or insist on a 3rd independent appraisal. What was the property worth, exactly?

Back to the art and science of it all. What is clear is the stewards of taxpayer dollars in this case did not follow standard practice to make sure they were getting it right.

Mark Zandberg said:
An incredibly alarming story. Thank you for your effort in bringing it to our attention.
February 11, 2008 5:50 PM
[This entry was actually written by me.]

David said:
The story portrays the Edmonds School District as ignorant of property appraisals and land value. [The District had qualified staff at the time and access to great consultants and lawyers, Marla just decided to over-rule everyone else's position.] The viewer is left with the impression that district officials were careless about the expenditure of taxpayer funds. Nothing could be further from the truth. [Your truth, I suspect] The core real estate transaction was the negotiation for the purchase of a piece of property well publicized as desired by the school district. Public/government entities must reveal the plans they have for projects creating a challenging marketplace negotiating land purchases. [Read board policies. There are plenty of ways to negotiate from a position of strength, like the fact that no one else was waiting to buy this property] The story fails to reveal the core issue of this transaction. The district wanted to centralize maintenance, transportation and administration in one location. The seller knew that, and kept pressure on the district to pay a higher price. [No, the seller kept pressure on Marla, once she was separated from the herd. Ask for copies of all communication between Raskin and Miller and you will see.] Simple exploration of surrounding area (core downtown Lynnwood) would have revealed shocking prices for the sale of property that connects to the redevelopment of Lynnwood. [Like the long line of developers seeking to buy the Old ESC site or ground lease the current bus barn. You need to keep up with a story before you manufacture supporting evidence.] So let me get this straight, KING TV says the district paid too much. [They actually said the District "may have overpaid millions". Reading without retention is unfortunate.] So, would KING TV beat on the school district if the district had used emminent domain to force the sale of the property at a lesser value? I think KING TV is simply trying to make a story where there is no story. [I suspect King 5 knows a scam when they see one. They have been winning awards long before Marla started handing out district money to friends and associates.] Reality in real estate is if you want something, you pay! [Duh, but if you are the only one in the store and the item is damaged, you may have more bargaining power if you actually use it.]
February 11, 2008 5:56 PM

David said:
How fitting that Mr. Zandberg would be first to comment on the story. [I may have known it was coming.] His reputation in this subject area is WELL KNOWN! [You don't know anything about me, but thank you for your interest.] Now it makes sense how KING TV got duped into running the story. You would think a major local new station would have the saavy to check out the source of idiotic observations! [Idiotic or not, King 5 investigated the issue for six months and arrived at their own conclusions. Their work clearly had an effect on you.]
February 11, 2008 5:59 PM

Charles Henry said:
Why in the world would the largest school district in Snohomish County let an unqualified and inexperienced person like Marla Miller negotiate a land deal? She has wasted millions of dollars that could have been used to benefit students. What else is going on at Edmonds School District?
See for highlights.
February 11, 2008 6:00 PM
[I did not write this entry, but I think I know who may have.]

gary noble said:
Well, David, at least he published his full name. What have you got to hide? Where do your loyalties lie?
February 11, 2008 6:04 PM
[I suspect Gary Noble did not write this. He would not defend the path of taxpayer advocacy.]

mark zandberg said:
Sounded to me like King 5 did their homework. David's arguments make no sense. It is probably less than two miles from the current adminstration site to transportation and maintenance. Is a $2.8 million overpayment justified for "centralization"?
The real story is where are Raskin's (the seller's) ethics? He took advantage of a poor, old, school district with administrators who should have hired experts. But wait, they did, and ignored their experts, because Raskin wouldn't lead them astray! Shame on him and the school board. I'm voting no in the election.
February 11, 2008 6:13 PM
[I did not write this entry.]

David Hill said:
Amazing - simply amazing. And people do not believe in conspiracy theories. Look at all the wonderful support for this story. [Lemmings, or perhaps just a band of Marla's friends waiting for their turn at the trough.] Centralization is bad because it only eliminates two miles? [Not sure where this came from, but if you are already in the center, any adjustment toward centralization may not take you far. The growth is in the northeast quadrant and that two miles is in the wrong direction.] Gary Noble is asking for my last name? I happened to KNOW Gary Noble, [most people at the trough do] and posting in his name making comments he would not make, are clear evidence of the malformed minds that are involved here. Gary Noble has been one of the targets of these idiots. [So, you can't read board policy either? How have you managed to construct these sentences on your own?] This whole thing is a contrived game of malcontents who have contributed NOTHING of value to the Students in the Edmonds School District! [Perhaps our collective contribution is not feasting at Marla's trough. Read about the Piano Scam.]
February 11, 2008 6:41 PM

James said:
Has anyone noticed how small the property space is?
February 11, 2008 7:03 PM
[Do you mean before or after the District distorted the property boundaries for their $6,000 parent letter?]

charlas said:
What about the people that lost there jobs over this mess? Nick & Marla should loose their jobs over this! How can we trust anyone in the district or board members! What about the cover up at the warehouse, porn & leave reports. Mr Penney should loose his job to!
February 11, 2008 7:04 PM
[I believe Marla and her friends decide when people have to leave.]

ledog3 said:
Now, THIS is the kind of investigative journalism that KING should spend money on. Not stupid idiotic stuff about cars running red lights. I know that news media is traditionally scared of looking too deep into state, local governments and related administrative "irregularities" because they don't want the door slammed shut on them when its interview time about some mundane topic like a pothole not getting fixed on I-5. They want their calls returned. Show some guts you guys. Believe me, advertisers might like the idea of local media bravado with intelligence instead of Greg Forman standing in front of a wind storm at Ocean Shores.
February 11, 2008 7:33 PM
[There are other networks. Of course, I have my favorite.]

lars lindgren said:
Thank You Marla Miller for making children the lowest priority. Make sure the winery in Woodinville gets all the bells and whistles. You directly and negatively impacted my family. Please resign effective yesterday. We need a new beginning.
February 11, 2008 7:50 PM
[I did not write this entry.]

david hill said:
Sorry David, Gary Noble is not your friend. Are you the aromatherapy guy?
February 11, 2008 8:16 PM
[I did not write this entry.]

Editorial: These are just the first 12 comments. There were at least 21 before the site was taken down. Running a blog is not an easy thing. At, we get a significant amount of material that we cannot post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Now is the time to write to your legislator.


I am writing to request an investigation into the manner in which the Edmonds School District does business. I recently saw a report on King 5 that contributes significantly toward what I already knew about the District. There have been abuses by management in human resources, property management, capital construction and business and operations. The place is swimming in scandals and there is an atmosphere of dishonesty that needs to be corrected.

If all of these things are purely works of imagination, the District deserves to have their name cleared so they can get back to business. The District claims they have done nothing wrong in giving money away to friends. The Auditor claims that such government waste is "executive privilege". What hope does the taxpayer have if our rules and regulations cannot protect us from thieves and scoundrels.

We thought the school board was an obvious cog in the wheel toward a meaningful solution, but they have violated at least a dozen board policies in an effort to maintain their corrupt regime and stay in power without regard for common sense or decency.

Please help us get to the bottom of these scandals.


Now is the Time

The King 5 story is just one of several that show a pattern of incompetence and abuse of power by management, superintendent staff, and school board of the Edmonds School District.

We at believe there can be change. That is why we met with state Senator Rosemary McAuliffe on February 2nd to discuss our concerns. Senator McAuliffe’s service area covers Brier and the city of Mountlake Terrace. She also chairs the legislative committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education.

The meeting with Rosemary lasted one hour and she listened carefully, asked meaningful questions, and took copious notes. She was given the summary of issues posted on the blog on February 11th as well as selected Edmonds School Board policies that have been blatantly disregarded by the School Board and Superintendent staff. Our message to her was as follows:

We do not have faith in the School Board to self regulate. They have continually flouted the policy and procedures that govern them.

We do not have faith in the Auditors Office. When first informed of the inflated price paid for the New Support Center, they indicated management had “Executive Privilege.”

How do we effect change when our normal course of action seems hopeless?

When citizens can not take action at the local level, they may ask their elected representatives for help. Rosemary reported to us that under direction from her office and that of the education committee, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction would be directed to conduct an investigation. The wheels are now in motion.

But this still is not enough. The blog is just a platform, it is you that makes the difference. There is strength and validity in numbers. Use your right to contact and inform your legislative representative of your concerns. The District does not have access to correspondence sent to them. So let your voice be heard.

If you are an Employee, Parent and/or Taxpayer:

Email Senator McAuliffe, and tell her you support the investigation of the Edmonds School District by OSPI. If you have a particular issue of concern, tell her. Give her your story. If you feel compelled to ask for removal of Marla Miller, Nick Brossoit, or Board Members, do so. This is your chance. Cut and paste from entries from this blog if you have trouble finding the words. What is important is that she knows the constituents care!
District Voicemail:
(425) 481-7459
Olympia Office:
Rosemary McAuliffe
403 Legislative Building
Olympia, WA 98504-0401
(360) 786-7600

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Damage Control

An Editorial by Claire Olsovsky

I for one am tired of the tactic of "spinning" a story in recent years by elected officials to convolute issues, deflect responsibility, and point fingers at the messenger rather than to honestly take on the responsibility of resolving problems and righting what has gone very, very, wrong. So here are a few suggestions for the Board to actually address the issues that plague the Edmonds School District.

1. Request Marla Miller resigns or face mandatory termination. I can not speculate about her motives, but her incompetence has cost the District millions of dollars not only directly from her poor judgment in business dealings, but indirectly from the toll of lost productivity from the low morale caused by the favoritism and culture of intimidation she has fostered with her leadership.

2. Scrutinize the performance of Nick Brossoit. Is he really the leader he purports to be? He was lazy enough to be duped from the very beginning by Marla. Anyone who is paid to be in charge of a large organization with an operating budget of nearly 170 million dollars should be cautious enough his first year to be involved and scrutinize the process. Trust must be earned, not given out to the first person who will get you off hook of doing the math and keeping track. Put him on probation until he can prove he can be a leader and clean up this mess.

3. Read the policies that govern you. Do not continue to thumb your noses at those who served before you and were wise and dedicated enough to provide you a roadmap to run the District. Stand on their shoulders instead. I do not see how Gary Noble and Pat Shields can continue to honorably sit on the Board. They must resign.

4. Read the Capital Facilities Plan you adopted. Use it to make thoughtful decisions with the tax money you spend. You are not Enron. Do not squander the tax money away for delusions of grandeur.

5. Be transparent. I challenge you to no longer hold closed executive sessions. Let them be open to the public. Some cities broadcast their executive sessions on public access television, why can not you open up your doors for interested parties?

6. Reopen the investigation into the pornography scandal at the Warehouse. Bring in someone from the outside if you have to so since Human Resources is fraught with nepotism. Ah, forget the investigation; just terminate Chuck Penney for time fraud for not submitting leave reports for a whole year!

7. Investigate Human Resources; oh forget it, there is scandal in all of the Departments. Set up an Ethics Department to develop policy and standards for progressive discipline for infractions. Let everyone know what line they can not cross, what the consequences are, and enforce them. Include an ethics hot-line.

8. Make policy for individuals hired in a supervisory position to have experience or set up a probationary program while they get training. No one should have to suffer through incompetence and unprofessional behavior.

9. Hire a real property manager that actually does the work listed in the job description and stop outsourcing the key job responsibilities to Shockey Brent and the City of Lynnwood (e.g. they are going to do advertising for the District). Hire someone who will protect the District’s assets who will not be strong armed by the cities. With the advent of ground-leasing, you need someone who actually KNOWS the real estate business.

10. For God’s sake, get back to making meaningful decisions about the future of the District.

11. Concentrate on the students, their achievement, and their quality of life while they are in school and quit the stupid games. You are the stewards of their future. Stand up, shake it off, and act like the adults you are suppose to be.

Son comes to the defense of his mother.

Mr. Zandberg, is there possibly a hint of bias in this story or not? It seems to me that you are focused primarily on becoming a martyr, slain at the hands of the "pathetic" Marla Miller, the woman who acted in perfect parallel with the expectations of her position and with the complete support of the elected officials at every turn.

Its rather obvious to me what is going on here. One doesn't need to go far in order to find a crowd throwing curses to the wind about our government's injustices. First they faked the lunar landing, then they burned down the twin towers, followed by an invasion of Iraq for no sake other than oil, and now they are throwing taxpayer's money into the hands of property owners because the district wants to have as small of a budget as they can.

If this is really coming down to name calling, why has it been left unsaid that the flag waving martyr who has been the catalyst for the entire ordeal is not really the victim he wishes to be portrayed as?

I would just like to point out that if the $6,000 that was spent putting out a newsletter is an injustice against the taxpayers, one should consider the expenses that have been a direct result of this investigation and the complaints raised by the man who seems only to want more hits on his blog.

[Mark Zandberg]
Blog hits are very important. It is like counting children and forecasting enrollment in a capital facilities plan. Of course, unlike the District, I am not paid by the state for the number of hits I receive. And unlike the District, I care about numbers and pay attention to where they are heading.

Hits also indicate the number of "children" coming to "class". It doesn't mean that actual learning takes place. The children may have been sent to class without breakfast. They may come from an abusive or dysfunctional family. They may be suffering under incredibly low salaries paid to their parents who are custodians or teachers in the District. There may also be a couple of trust fund babies that show up without any educational priorities or objectives whatsoever.

Clearly, the only way you could possibly get your information on this topic is from your mother, who is paid by the District, or from reading the blog, which clearly threatens that paycheck. If there was a bias to be had, I think you understandably have it.

Editorial: Nothing pulls tears from my ducts faster than a son protecting his mother.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The accomplice to corruption is our own indifference.

Capital Facilities Plan was adopted but wholly ignored by the Board and district management in planning for student enrollment. Student numbers dropped significantly, as predicted by the CFP, but no adjustments were made to prepare for this drop and the District was left with a very large budget deficit.

● During the resulting “budget crisis” of more than $5,000,000.00 the District approved large raises for all district administrators with a net increase to payroll in excess of $550,000.00 every year. At the same time, departments within the District were tasked with making substantial cuts to their operating budgets.

● The Edmonds School District spent $5,600,000.00 for a property that their own consultants reported as contaminated and their own appraiser placed a value of just $3,300,000.00. The final purchase price was every penny of the appraisal supplied and paid for by the seller. No review appraisal occurred and no negotiations were conducted in an effort to reduce the total of $5,600,000.00.

● In violation of Board Policies 1260, 6810 and 9200, Gary Noble serves as a member of the board while his wife teaches at the current Lynnwood High School. Gary Noble was an outspoken proponent of building a new Lynnwood High School in what is currently known as Bothell or unincorporated Snohomish County. This new construction is taking place without regard for long-term planning which suggests that enrollment is trending downward.

● In violation of Board Policies 1260, 1270 and 9200, Pat Shields started a pet project called Powerful Partners and agreed by way of a lease to pay rent for prime office space in the District’s administration building. Not only has rent never been paid, their tax records show that the value of the space was described as a donation. Public assets cannot be donated.

● In violation of Board Policy 1245 and 9200, Bruce Williams was allowed to seek re-election for a seat on the Board despite having moved from his director district long before the filing date to become a candidate. The Superintendent lied numerous times in claiming that Bruce was just “modernizing” this second residence while maintaining a presence in his primary address that was used for filing purposes. However, Bruce had a restraining order filed against him by his wife, making it impossible to live at the address where he was claiming residency. Bruce Williams resigned on September 11, 2007.

● The current Warehouse Manager, also the husband of an employee in Human Resources, was found to have downloaded a huge amount of pornography on a District computer during working hours. The District's version of an investigation was conducted and despite irrefutable evidence, the District did nothing to address this misconduct. This manager has since created a hostile environment for staff assigned to his location.

● The current Payroll Manager recently hired her sister from the clerical sub list and then processed a salary modification moving her from the standard rate of $10.50 an hour to $18.50 an hour. No justification for this action has been provided. Investigation in progress.

● The District entered into numerous interlocal agreements (ILAs) with local city governments and then refuses to collect payment. Over the last several years, invoices have been sent to the City of Lynnwood and the City of Mountlake Terrace only to have their obligations waived by the Assistant Superintendent.

Marla Miller also struck a deal with Seattle Piano Gallery that has been characterized as a “scheme” by legal counsel. Marla agreed to lease 14 pianos to avoid procurement processes. She did not competitively bid the acquisition of these pianos but just handed more than $76,000 to her friend and owner of Seattle Piano Gallery, Arnie Tucker. At the end of the one year “lease”, Mr. Tucker was to sell the 14 pianos and refund a portion to the District to defray their initial investment. However, before the end of the lease arrived, Marla provided a check to Mr. Tucker for just under $40,000.00, the threshold for bidding. This check was retained by Mr. Tucker and the District asked for it back. To date, those funds have never been collected.

● The District has also allowed staff to take vacations during contractual work periods while paying their salary and a stipend and not deducting the days away from work. Investigation in progress.

The District sold property to Snohomish County and City of Lynnwood for no less than 90% of the appraised value, as required by state law. However, when the initial appraisal was offered to the City, they complained because the City was receiving the property from the County, but only up to a certain dollar figure, anything more than that figure would have to be covered by the City. Staff was directed to redefine the manner in which the appraisal was performed. Essentially, the appraiser was instructed to view the wetland buffer in the most conservative manner allowed and then add additional buffers. This reduced the overall acreage available and reduced the value of the site. Approximate loss totals more than $50,000.00.

● The District has reported, through their legal counsel, that they do not retain copies of checks, despite evidence to the contrary from current and former staff. The District has used this response to mislead residents in the District into believing that rent is being paid by municipal partners and other non-rent paying occupants in the administration building.

● The Edmonds School District routinely hires managers without applications or interviews. One business manager was “gifted” his current position. One Assistant Superintendent was “gifted” her current position, though the title has been slightly upgraded.

● In response to an increase in public records requests, district management has actively destroyed documents rather than provide them to the public. Several eye witnesses have reported seeing documents in specific locations and then the District hired a clerical substitute without training or expertise in the retention of critical documents to dispose of a large volume of materials prior to filling requests for them.

● The District is also aggressively hiring totally unqualified people to fill key roles that may otherwise have objected to mismanagement. One recent hire earns $58,000.00 with minimal knowledge of Word, Excel, or basic email applications and will certainly never detect poor choices in property sales or acquisitions.

● The District has also allowed an atmosphere of professional bullying to take root and flourish, resulting in an exodus of highly-qualified teachers and staff. When Nick Brossoit said he was going to change the Edmonds School District, we thought he meant in a positive way.

For more information regarding these issues and many more, please use the navigational labels in the column to the right.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

District distorts reality to accommodate their message.

Small children are frequently challenged to look at two similar pictures and identify how they are different.

If you look at the letter mailed to parents of school district students, you will quickly see how impressive the lower photograph is. It shows an inflated amount of property by comparison to what is depicted as "Old Cedar Valley School Property". It also shows a small, ski manufacturing business in the lower left as belonging to the District.

Now, if you look at the reality of their $5,600,000.00 purchase, the upper photograph, you quickly see that the newly acquired piece of contaminated property is significantly smaller than what the District initially wanted parents to believe. You will also see that the business in the lower left has been eliminated from the outline.

This is clearly a distortion of a physical certainty to accommodate the message of a corrupt administration.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.

Leadership is the topic of countless books, articles, research projects, etc. It is a tangible yet difficult concept to fully define. The following represent important aspects of leadership. I know there are more; however, these are essential.

Leaders need to know themselves and their followers. They need to understand at the deepest level the values and vision held by themselves as well as others.

Leaders build trust by being trustworthy and promoting the same virtue in all people. Communication, collaboration, and community all flow from trust.

Leaders show a high concern for both people and productivity; relationships and results matter.

Leaders hold to a constant and noble focus, such as our quest for student learning as a North Star compassing point for decisions and work. However, leaders also know each situation and have the skill and courage to vary behaviors accordingly.

Leaders concentrate their time and energy on those things that will make a positive difference.

Thank you for being a leader. In all, we appreciate everyone’s service on behalf of our purpose of student learning!

Editorial: This entry was written by Nick Brossoit, Superintendent of the Edmonds School District. It seems to capture the vision and intent of the blog.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A nickel's worth of free advice: Hire Up.

If you want to talk about a strategy that is 100 percent related to less worry, this is it. The concept of hiring up is critical to your success. Essentially, hiring up means you hire and work with people that are more qualified than you. That's right, better than you.

It won't come as a surprise to very many of you that the factor that prevents people from subscribing to this philosophy is fear. The fear that "I can be replaced" or "someone might be better than me."

Do you ever wonder why so many businesses operate as if no one knows what they are doing? Sometimes the answer is that no one really does know what they are doing. Take a typical small business that is based on fear. Picture the manager who is responsible for hiring the people she works with. If she's frightened of being replaced or overshadowed, she's likely to hire people who aren't quite as bright or competent as she is. In all likelihood, she won't even be aware of her hidden agenda to keep the business down, but that's precisely what she'll do. She was hired not so much for her expertise in running the business but for her efforts in building a successful business. But what she's doing is surrounding herself with people even less qualified than herself because she believes she'll look better. Businesses based on fear are doomed to failure.

As you let go of worry and "hire up," some magical things begin to happen. You begin to get out of your own way and allow success to unfold. One of the turning points in my career was when I realized that, although I believe I'm an excellent writer, I'm not always such a great editor. As I let go of the fear that an editor could change my essential message, I began to experiment with working with various editors. I started to "hire up." Guess what? They didn't change my message, they improved it. And to top it off, a good editor could clean up my writing in a fraction of the time that I spent struggling with it, giving me far more time to do what I do best.

As you let go of fear, you will find that you will be rewarded for your willingness to reach out. Rather than losing your job, you'll be praised for contributing to the success of your business. The truth is, if you can become one of the few people who operates not out of fear but out of a sincere willingness to do what's in the best interest of your business, you'll become an indispensable part of that company's success. And if for some strange and unlikely reason your good faith efforts are not appreciated and rewarded, you will know beyond any doubt that you aren't working in the best possible environment. Don't worry. When you're thinking in "hire up" terms, another, better opportunity is just around the corner.

A good definition of entrepreneur is someone who can achieve predetermined goals through the efforts of himself and others. Why not raise the standards of those results by hiring up? The quality of your work will improve, and your profits will explode.

Editorial: This entry was taken from the #1 bestselling author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson, Ph.D.