Friday, October 03, 2008

"The public isn't clamoring for any more lapdogs..."

A great leader should encourage staff to be intellectually engaged in their work. A great leader should also seek opportunities to be constructively challenged by staff when developing new procedures or seeking to improve the manner in which business is conducted. The alternative is to develop a weak or nonsensical policy and then be publicly challenged by the community. Two recent examples involve cheese sandwiches and the facility use policy.

The current dilemma with the District is that opposition is silenced at every opportunity. People that would otherwise be viewed as organizational experts in certain areas are pounded into submission or driven out of their profession. This does not make an organization stronger or more capable of accomplishing the organizational mission.

Perhaps management has grown tired of pounding staff into submission, because they have apparently adopted the highly destructive strategy of hiring people that are "pre-pounded". If you hire staff that refuse to be creative or lack the capacity to fully understand their jobs, they spend their careers just trying to tread water and have limited opportunities to grow professionally. If such staff do manage to grow, it would be in a direction consistent with the path followed by their supervisor - pounding others into submission.

On the education side of the house, principals claim they are interested in hiring the best and brightest teachers. This approach assumes that students are better off with the best and brightest teachers. Why wouldn't a similar approach be adopted on the operations side of the organization? What sort of credibility does the District have if the operations side of the house doesn't seek out the best and brightest? What are the consequences for our community?

In these difficult economic times, highly qualified people are readily available if you just know where to look and, more importantly, if you don't actively try to limit the list of candidates because you have a friend in mind. Not a friend with meaningful experience, but rather a friend that is in dire need of employment.

The public sector is not the place to cut deals to accommodate the financial needs of friends. Sure, you can "lease" a bunch of pianos and tell people it's legitimate, but ultimately we all know the transaction was a scheme hatched between two friends. One friend that desperately needed to make a sale and the other friend that had the power of a public agency in her pocket without a concern for accountability.


Anonymous said...

Thanks again Mark, and when the time comes, which board position will you be filling? Hey.... we need some help.

Anonymous said...

Do board members get paid?
If they do how much?

Rick Jorgensen said...

My understanding is that the board receives a stipend of $50 per meeting. This doesn't come close to fair compensation for their time but the fact is that the they serve as the elected stewards of the community.

As such, it doesn't appear that they have been acting in a capacity other than to "rubber stamp" the actions of the paid District Officials. There are few (if any) penetrating questions and never a dissenting opinion. Their "customary practice" is to allow the Superintendent to speak for them when questions are raised from the public. This is wrong. Our elected officials have an obligation to state their positions and opinions so the community can understand their advocacy. We may not agree with them, but they have an obligation to be accountable to the public - not just the media when THEY make an issue important.

Anonymous said...

It must infuriate Marla/Nick to know that the blog is watching everything they do. Gone are the good old days for them.

All I can say is, "Thank goodness for the blog!"

Anonymous said...

Accountability can be a bitch.

Rick Jorgensen said...

It does. I had a conversation with one of the board members (I'll keep the name confidential because I didn't receive their permission to reveal it) that the blog is seen as "political" and my posting on it created the board to negatively view my position on the Facilities Use Policy.

Anyone reading my contributions knows that I try to keep things to the facts (ok - I think once, I got frustrated, sue me). How a forum for communication is "political" is beyond me.

While there are a great number of personal attacks, the main purpose of providing visibility of important issues to the public is a vital service the promotes accountability.

The fact the the board has not yet figured out how to connect with the public in an efficient manner (that is more than the newspaper writing a story) demonstrates how out of touch they are. If they are not willing to participate in the conversation here or create a credible alternative then they should be replaced. There are far too many important issues that require active collaboration with the public to expect people to show up to a rather predictable board meeting where their concerns are met with "Thank you for you concern" -- and ignored. said...

1.Of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government, politics, or the state.

2.Relating to, involving, or characteristic of politics or politicians: "Calling a meeting is a political act in itself" (Daniel Goleman).

3.Relating to or involving acts regarded as damaging to a government or state: political crimes.

4.Interested or active in politics: I'm not a very political person.

5.Having or influenced by partisan interests: The court should never become a political institution.

6.Based on or motivated by partisan or self-serving objectives: a purely political decision.

Anonymous said...

And of those, it seams that

1) The BLOG supports Definition#1
2) The BOARD supports Definition#6

Anonymous said...

I am very glad that Rick Jorgensen has been posting openly. When you speak the truth, it is important that you are able to identify yourself without fear of recrimination. The board member's reaction is a subtle threat. He has just been placed on notice that his contributions will not be given any credence and he has been placed on the "enemies" list.

When I was finally allowed to bring forth evidence that district employees, in addition to bullying senior faculty, may have planned to become engaged in potential kidnapping, child labor, false imprisonment and slavery, I was also placed on the "enemies" list.

Yes, frequently a lot of anger is expressed in repressive situations; sometimes it shows up in inappropriate ways on this blog. But the blog is all that is left for people to express themselves. If you displease or disagree with your supervisor, a large number of employees understand that they may be putting themselves into harm's way as far as their job is concerned. Old Mafia saying: "Kill one, teach a hundred."

It is not a crime to rant here; the rants don't make the thoughtful contributions of folks like Rick Jorgensen any the less true. Rather than shoot the messengers (Jorgensen or me or anybody else who wants to see things done right), they need to look at what they are doing that harms the district. They need to notice that their actions or lack of actions has lowered their effectiveness in the district. They need to leave. Go find "a wonderful opportunity in the private sector" or some other lie to cover your tracks. The board needs to realize that taking advantage of their position has caused the morale of the district to go to hell in a handbasket. They also need to leave in order for the district to recover.

The sooner the better.