Monday, December 29, 2008

Something worse than "pesky" I'm sure.

The District has been getting a lot of practice cutting millions and millions of dollars from their operating budget every year. Due to poor leadership and the inability to read board adopted documents like the Capital Facilities Plan, our district is looking at yet another year of deep cuts.

However, this latest budget disaster has more to do with the District's dependence on state funding and since enrollment has been declining for years, the net impact is slightly less disasterous than if it was left solely in the hands of district management. But then they always seem to find a way to cripple their own mission by making cuts in the classroom and never in the glass palace known as the ESC.

Of course, management is completely safe because Mr. Nick's grand plan appears to be the maximization of management and the minimization of actual teaching staff. Even his own Human Resources director, Cathy Birdsong, readily admits that district kids are "pesky". With this grave news out of Olympia, the Birdsong-Brossoit approach can be fully implemented. Like many of our readers, I find it odd that the kids that actually stay in our district and remain in our schools have been labeled "pesky". What does management call those students that have opted to leave the District entirely? Something worse than "pesky" I'm sure.

So, where will these new cuts be made? The blog has been recommending for years that Facilities Operations should be condensed considerably. Have Bob Hansen and George Marschall report directly to Marla Miller and eliminate the Planning and Property Management Specialist and the Director. The current occupants of these positions have proven that these functions are not essential to the mission and are ripe for a reduction. Safety can move to Human Resources, where similarly-qualified staff reside.

While the District launches their latest campaign to plead poverty and beg for more funding from voters, the rest of us, that actually care enough to track their countless devastating choices, will try not to pass out from witnessing all of the bloodshed. Darker days are coming.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Perkins Coie using Rippers 0 on Boxing Day.

26 Dec, 14:06:49, Rippers 0
Seattle,Washington, United States
Perkins Coie, Llp (

Because my server only archives the last 500 page views and dumps anything older, I periodically review traffic to determine the origin of users. Well, imagine my surprise when Perkins Coie was found cruising the blog on Boxing Day. While the rest of us might be at home, recovering from the chaos of Christmas Day, fighting with relatives or playing with our new toys, this law firm spends their afternoon reading tidbits from a website with a rapidly-growing fan base.

Even more surprising is their use of Rippers 0. This could only mean one thing. They must be interested in copying the blog for some other purpose. Gee, what could it be? Could it be they are planning to publish the site in an alternate format? Maybe they plan to incorporate the blog into some training opportunities for other school districts. Perhaps they plan to have such a seminar outside, at Safeco Field, in bone-chilling weather. Send me an invitation and I would be happy to help with the presentation. Just let me know how many hats, jackets and scarves to pack.

I recall attending a few of those seminars and fighting the urge to fall asleep when their keynote speaker had me convinced I was developing a case of narcolepsy. Whenever a Perkins attorney opened their mouth, my eyelids would slam shut.

My records indicate they are most interested in the month of January 2008. Perhaps our readers would like to review the month and help the rest of us see what has them so captivated.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays from the Blog.

It has been a productive year. While I know the blog has been running fewer articles these last few weeks, I can assure you that 2009 will be very illuminating. We have been working on a number of things that will be rolling out next year. Your patience is much appreciated.

Stay safe, keep warm and have a great and prosperous new year.

Mark Zandberg

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reaching out to our community leaders.

I attended the last [Edmonds City] council meeting but didn't stay very long. I was under the impression that the presentation by the Edmonds School District might be a little more informative. Boy, was I mistaken.

As many of you may have already noticed, the District's 2008-2013 CFP does not include Student Generation Rates. Such information is vital in obtaining an objective assessment of enrollment trends. Without them, it is essentially a guess as to the direction enrollment is heading.

Student enrollment is important to evaluate because it determines the level of financial support from the State. The District's recent budget problems have much to do with the fact that their board adopts the Capital Facilities Plan without discussion, questions or even reading the document. Unfortunately, this recent CFP demonstrates a further weakening of planning priorities and it is unfortunate that elected officials do not place much value in what was once an important document.

Please take a few minutes and read about many of the other questionable decisions made by our school district.


Mark Zandberg

Your assessment of the ESD does not match mine; I am very well acquainted with their operations and I believe that they have a highly competent and diligent management team. I will not comment on the School Board Members, as I have no personal knowledge of any of the members.

I have previously not heard of the term "Student Generation Rates". If it refers to "Student Enrollment Projections", that data is in the CFP.

Thanks for bringing your concerns to us.

[Name Withheld, Edmonds City Council]

I totally understand your position regarding the management of the District. The Old Woodway Elementary transaction probably defined your impression. However, if you remove yourself from your elected perspective and look at the transaction objectively, you will see that every taxpayer in the District suffered, except the residents of the City of Edmonds.

The site was declared surplus and made available for purchase. Developers were encouraged to make an offer for the site - all 11.2 acres. I personally met with many developers, in my private capacity, to drum up interest in the site. Those developers indicated that they could not make an offer on the site because they did not have the expertise or staff to demolish an old school filled with hazardous substances.

Burnstead was deemed to be the highest bidder for the entire site. Then, after Burnstead was selected, the site was divided and Burnstead was offered the vacant half. I know for a fact that many developers would have jumped at the chance to buy a vacant piece of land near Woodway, but they never had the chance. In the real estate market of 2006, the District could have gotten a lot more for that vacant half. Of course, the unsuccessful bidders are probably rejoicing now.

I remain convinced that this tactic was employed to artificially deflate the value of the site - especially the half eventually purchased by the City. As a resident of Edmonds, I am happy for the City in getting such a great deal. As a former employee of the District, having worked there for six years, I am terribly saddened by the obvious fleecing of district taxpayers.

Thank you for your response and thank you for your service to our community.

Mark Zandberg

Sorry for my belated response, Mark. But, I thought I’d let you know I appreciate that there is a ‘watchdog’ for the district. Every government needs one. I came across your blog some time back so I knew generally about some of what you’ve been up to. Keep at it.

[Name Withheld, Edmonds City Council]

I don't agree with many aspects of your information but I sure enjoy reading them and look forward to additional information. I have [found] the information to be helpful and informative.

[Name Withheld, Edmonds City Council]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Evergreen gets a temporary stay of execution.

On the Board's agenda this evening was a second action involving the closure of Evergreen Elementary. Unfortunately, the item was dropped from the agenda because, according to Nick, adequate public notice had not been provided through the Everett Herald. It was felt that the District met the notification requirements with all of the discussion provided in the paper, but they had not provided adequate formal notice.

The matter will be taken up in March of 2009.

I find it odd that Nick Brossoit is concerned about the provision of adequate notice when closing an elementary school but not when declaring district property surplus. Old Woodway Elementary was supposed to be declared surplus through a formal notification that was to appear in the Everett Herald. Unfortunately, the formal, District process for notifying the public of the action to declare the site surplus was not followed. Count how many times the notification appeared and compare that number with the actual total required.

Now that Nick has demonstrated that he knows what proper notification entails, perhaps he would be kind enough to inquire as to the process involving Old Woodway Elementary. I would love to be proven wrong.

While I am pleased that Nick is honoring the process regarding the closure of an elementary school, I am saddened that less of a concern was shown to the residents around Old Woodway Elementary.

Blog: Woodway Elementary was closed since adequate notice was provided regarding the closure of that school.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is cybersquatting against the law?

[Perkins Coie and Mark Zandberg discuss "cybersquatting" in PC-1, MZ-1, PC-2, MZ-2, PC-3.]

When is it OK to buy up an expired domain name?
By Christopher Beam

The George W. Bush Library Foundation has
retrieved its domain name. A small Internet company had bought for less than $10 after it expired and then sold it back it to the library for $35,000. Is that legal?

Probably not. Cybersquatting, the practice of buying up a domain in order to profit from a trademarked name, is prohibited under the 1999
Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act as well as a set of international guidelines called the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. (Disputes are usually mediated by the National Arbitration Forum or the U.N.'s World Intellectual Property Organization.) Both systems were created to protect companies, celebrities, and even Joe Schmoes from having their names exploited online for commercial purposes. To sue someone for cybersquatting, you have to show that they acted in "bad faith," meaning they deliberately registered a certain domain in order to profit off your name. For example, if someone buys and puts ads up to generate income from random visitors, that's considered bad faith. Same with trying to sell the site back to its rightful owner for a hefty profit, as in the case of the presidential library. (An example of "good faith," meanwhile, might be registering as a nonprofit repository for articles about the president.)

There may be added protection for domains that are named after celebrities. In most states, famous people have a
right of publicity that prohibits anyone else from profiting off their names or personas. Celebrities can also argue that they have common law rights to the trademark of their own names. In 2000, Madonna won a lawsuit against a cybersquatter who had bought and set up a porn site. (The same guy registered, among other names, Likewise, Hillary Clinton won a case in 2005 against an Italian woman who had bought the domain name (See a list of domain name disputes here.)

The First Amendment makes it legal to grab even a famous person's domain name in some situations: You might not get, but you could register if you're planning to use it for nonprofit political speech. You may also be able to use an established name if you're setting up your own, unrelated company. If the domain name for Delta Airlines expired and you bought it up for your competing airline, that would be against the law. But if you were promoting a very different kind of company—Delta Plumbing, for example—then you'd be within your rights to use As long as you're not profiting off a person or company by misrepresenting them, you're probably OK.

Indeed, there's a whole industry of so-called domain "tasting," whereby companies buy up recently expired domain names, test their traffic ratings, and estimate their profitability. (Sites like and will tell you when certain domain names are about to expire.) If a site is deemed a moneymaker, the company will hold on to it. If it's not, the company will give it back within the five-day grace period. The practice is legally restricted to domain names that use words you can find in the dictionary. But some companies will buy up variations or misspellings of other well-known sites—like, say, Those sites aren't legal, but they can still turn a profit before the trademarked party notices.

Got a question about today's news?
Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks Enrico Schaefer of Traverse Legal and Hank Burgoyne of Kronenberger Burgoyne.

Christopher Beam is a Slate political reporter.
Article URL:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Crowded classrooms coming to a school near you.

The Edmonds School District, like most, will have to cut to operate next year, even without new state cuts this session, officials said.

Officials declined to be interviewed, saying it was "too early" to talk about the subject, but responded to some questions via e-mail.

"If the state cuts us even more, it will result in us having to make further reductions," Debbie Jakala, district spokesperson, wrote in an e-mail. "While we would do our best to work with our staff and community as to how best do these, the magnitude of the reductions based on further state funding shortfalls could be extreme."

Last year, the district cut about $3 million, with cuts to special education and more. The year before, it cut $4.5 million and closed teaching positions.

Losing I-728 money would be devastating, as it would for all districts, Jakala wrote.

The district received almost $9 million in I-728 money last year, which funded about 78 full-time teachers. Mostly it goes to reducing class size, and the rest goes to teacher professional development and extended learning.

I wonder what sort of losses would be taken if Marla's Marsh was sold on today's market. I suspect the District's appraisal of $3,300,000 would be way too much. And that valuation assumed the absence of contamination - which was a theoretical assumption taken as fact by the Superintendent and the School Board.

I predict an increase in sales of frozen cheese sandwiches.

Blog: Read the rest of the article in Lynnwood's best newspaper, The Enterprise, by clicking here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What happens when a dummy dumbs it down?

There was a seminar on Friday, December 5th where custodians were gathered together and provided with handouts. They are accessible here by clicking handout 1 and handout 2.

I find it rather humorous that the Director of Facilties Operations does not believe staff beneath his level are qualified to call the police and yet the Lynnwood Police spoke at this seminar and directed staff to call the police at any time - even if it is just a suspicious vehicle. If the Director had his way, all such calls should be channeled through him so that he can make contact with the police. Like he isn't paid a lot of money to do anything better.

The handouts that were presented smack of condescension. The author is either a kindergartner, lobotomized chimp, brain dead zombie or believes that custodians are illiterate morons, unable to construct or understand simple sentences. Look at the title of her presentation. Even the word "efficiently" is spelled incorrectly. In this day and age, we have spell check and access to co-workers that can proofread the work of imbeciles.

The blog has also received numerous complaints about the waste of paper. There was no reason to use such a large font size. People were not interested in your message because Human Resources doesn't follow their own direction. Printing it in a larger font doesn't make it any less hypocritical. Ms. Birdsong would be better off to share her presentation with her own department and let custodians get back to the reasons why they work for the District - and it isn't the charm and magnetism of its administration.

I nearly fell out of my chair at Ms. Birdsong's suggestion that custodians "use "I" sentences, I feel…" and of course, like "I hope this Carmel@ is different than our existing one."

I also find it mildly amusing that someone decided to deface the banner of appreciation with a rather unsavory expletive. Perhaps next time, people in management will double check the names they use and refrain from showering appreciation on people that have died years before. It would have been much better to express your appreciation while they were still alive. Shame on you for waiting so long.

Word on the blog is that the banner of appreciation has been hidden in shame. I am not surprised. Now, if they will just start getting rid of those shameful employees.

Recent film has much in common with our district.

We went to the movie Changling last night. We were expecting a mystery, but got something much larger. We saw our lives at Edmonds School District from 2003-2006 when we “left.”

The lead character, a single mother, returns home from work to find her son has disappeared. We assumed that we would see the unfolding of the police search for this child. Instead, we saw a corrupt organization, the L.A. Police Department, applying psychological pressure to the lead character in order to cover-up the fact that they had “found” the wrong child. The lead character claims that the replacement child is not hers, but the police pressure her by telling her that she is mistaken, she is wrong, she doesn’t see that her son has changed during his ordeal. They begin to call her an unfit mother, because, now that the child has returned, they claim she wants to get rid of him because she wants to be free of the “responsibility” of motherhood. When she refuses to go along with the police, they bring even more psychological pressure to bear, essentially declaring that she is mentally unbalanced and is therefore not a credible person, not a good mother. She is whisked off to an asylum without cause and without proper judicial procedures; she is essentially “disappeared” from the community. Her supporters had warned her that because she was potentially an embarrassment to the police, they were likely to move against her; she believes that the police are good and would not do such a despicable thing. The actions of the police prove her wrong.

As all good movies do, this one circles back to the lead characters’ central philosophy: never start a fight, but if you get into one, make sure you finish it. As the police continue to pressure her (and some of the tactics brought groans of disbelief from audience members, even though it is clearly noted at the beginning of the film that this is a true story), she doesn’t bend or give in. She has self-doubts but she continues her fight with the assistance of others who are interested in eliminating the corruption in the L.A. Police Department. And she continues the search for her son.

The parallel to the District is clear. If you disagree with management, you are labeled a “disgruntled employee,” even to outside agencies that might be drawn into an investigation of the actions of the District, potentially tainting any investigation they might conduct. It is made very clear to all other employees that if they stand up against District actions (or inactions, as the case may be), they will suffer the same treatment as the “disgruntled employee.” If you object to the way you are being treated, there are a variety of ploys the District has to minimize your ability to bring those concerns to light. When you take your complaints public because the administration has failed to deal with them through proper channels, the District suggests that you are mentally unbalanced. If you try to explain to a colleague that their concern for the safety of the bullies is misplaced because victims of bullying are 5 times more likely to harm themselves than the bullies, the District reacts by issuing a no trespass order against you, and they assemble your former colleagues and they lie, calling you a threat to the safety of the students and faculty. And there is no one brave enough to speak up in your defense because it is clear that they will be treated the same as you if they speak up. Oh, and remember, you are still under a no contact order with any past or present employee, so you are not legally able to tell your side of the story to any of your former colleagues.

This is the Kobayashi Maru scenario; the no-win situation. No matter which course of action you choose, you will fail. This is what the District has done to us. Stay in the situation where students and older faculty are being bullied by the principal, office manager and their allies or try to get the District to stop the bullying; but they, unknown to you, are openly or tacitly approve the behavior. Either choice will end with bad results. I was encouraged that among the several e-mails excoriating me for my actions (these writers were never disciplined for electronic bullying which is banned by Board policy) there was one faculty member who gave me the benefit of the doubt and suggested that my actions were uncharacteristic and there must be something else going on that others were not aware of. Chris was not in a position to tell others what had happened; she would have been open to greater bullying (which ultimately did come her way even after [or perhaps because of] asking Osborne to make sure that the next principal be made aware of the truth of the situation) and, theoretically, I could have been additionally charged with violating the terms of the administrative leave that I was placed on in that I was not to talk to any present or former district employees. (I asked Tam how that was supposed to work since I was married to a staff member who was perfectly aware of everything that had gone on; he had no suggestion.) So, just as the lead character in the movie, I was “whisked away” from sight, unable to talk to any potential allies; unable to say “good-bye” to my students; unable to clear my name; unable to tell the truth to colleagues or the public. I was branded a “disgruntled employee,” as if that were MY fault. Actually, I was perfectly happy until I was set up for failure by Houser and watched as he went about harassing other staff as well.

To state this again, I was not the one bullying staff members of a certain advanced age; I was not the one bullying students; I was not the one who would do nothing to stop the bullying or make excuses for it or to warn the bullies that I was on to them so that they could bully me more. No. That was Houser, Bradshaw, Limon, Wilson, Woods, and Osborne.

How much higher in the system does this behavior go? Read the blog; it will soon be clear to you that it is a behavior pattern that is endemic to a significant segment of the administration. It is not a valid argument to call my sanity, or anyone else’s, into question just because I am opposed to this behavior from my superiors. Issuing a “no trespass order” against BOTH of us without going through the court system is neither fair nor appropriate nor in the spirit of the Constitution. Name-calling of employees (disgruntled, crazy, lazy, old, traitor, worn out, old-fashioned) who oppose the administration is not appropriate. Placing targeted employees on administrative leave with a gag order is not democratic behavior; what about freedom of speech rights? Administrators often bully employees that they cannot control in order to get rid of them so that they can hire others who are then beholden to the administrator for their job and who will therefore do as they are told (especially if they are related or socially connected to the person hiring them). Every time someone leaves the employ of the District, willingly or unwillingly, administration has the opportunity to hire people who will bow to their every desire.

That is the object; to hire sycophants who will never question the authority figure so that the authority figure doesn’t have to explain or defend any of their stupid moves.

This is a bankrupt management style. This is management by intimidation and coercion. It is wrong. It is not the model that should be presented to our children. Somebody needs to stand up to it.

Look guys, I didn’t start this fight. But I intend to be around to end it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Property Management website needs to be updated.

First of all, I thought it was Facilities Operations. Not Facilities AND Operations. Not Property Management. If the District wants people to find the appropriate website, they really should use the proper names for their departments.

Second, the tax parcel number site hasn't been updated in two years. The Old ESC site is no longer pending. That deal fell apart when the City wanted to build their own hotel next to the convention center, instead of across 196th. Where is that hotel anyway?

Third, Old Woodway Elementary is described as Surplus and not as Sold. Gee, I thought the District "sold" that site?

Fourth, the North Road Property really should be called New Lynnwood High School.

Fifth, Scriber Lake High School is incorrect.

Sixth, Woodway and Evergreen will need to be updated shortly, as well.

Of course, updating a website cannot be a task that moves upstream like the rest of the responsible person's work. The talent isn't upstream. It will have to move downstream and downstairs to Community Relations.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Celebrating staff from a decade ago.

CELEBRATION (5 minutes)

The School Board will recognize individuals and groups that have contributed to the children and staff of the District. Nominees can be an employee, a parent, or a community member that have supported students and staff in exceptional ways.

The following will be recognized at this Board meeting: Maintenance, Custodial, and Capital Projects Departments related to the varied summer projects.

The tip line received a call regarding the December 2nd board meeting where these people were "honored". Apparently, a banner was produced and the names of exceptional staff were clearly written upon that banner. Unfortunately, it was a list of names from years ago. Wouldn't it be nice if the actual employees currently on the payroll were the ones being honored? Someone was assigned the task of compiling the list of names and no one bothered to double check.

Is it that management doesn't actually know the people with whom they work? Is management just sloppy? How does a school board honor staff but then not even take the time to confirm that the names cited are still employed - or even alive. Gee, that must have been more than a little embarrassing. Good thing only a handful showed up to be "honored".