Sunday, June 14, 2009

Endorsements come with consequences.

At the risk of upsetting my numerous supporters, I must voice a word of caution to the Edmonds Education Association that invited me to speak for five minutes last week. In this current climate of illogical cuts to district programming, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to rock the boat and allow district management to view your association with anything other than a favorable eye. If such a group were to express any interest in endorsing a candidate who stands for the appropriate use of public funds, district management would likely become enraged.

The fact that current, sitting board members were allowed to sit in your audience demonstrates the Board's keen interest in knowing what your group is thinking. Surely they don't attend with a legitimate interest in understanding your issues but rather to detect opposition before it has an opportunity to form.

While it is true that I am a relative newcomer to the realm of politics and running for school board, my record for defending public funds is without question. A lot of the bad decisions made by district management were endorsed by this current board. Just take a few minutes and read about Gary Noble and how this board had no idea what their own policies required. Even the legal team they hired was completely in the dark. It was only after my concerns were expressed directly to the State Auditor that the Board "decided" to review all of their policies and make changes. But alas, they missed a big one.

Perhaps some of you may recall the most recent change to Board Policy 1235 on June 2, 2009. It clearly specified that the filing period for school board candidates was in July. After I called out the misinformation, the issue was taken up at the next board meeting and corrected immediately. It was a case of simple language and didn't threaten a board member's service to the community. What was mildly humorous is the manner in which the Board tried to characterize the change as something they discovered on their own.

Why wasn't the Noble conflict issue handled as quickly? Why did this board have to hire a team of lawyers to redefine terms and expressions in the English language? It merely proved that the district's lawyers will say anything for a fee and that this board was unable to understand the meaning of their own policies.

Rules were also violated when Bruce Williams filed as a candidate from an address where he was legally prevented from living. The blog pointed out this issue and it was resolved with his resignation.

The ubiquitous Piano Scam is another issue that came to light under the watchful gaze of this forum. It is further proof that this current board is unable to truly dissect a recommendation from staff before rubber stamping it. The District lost a pile of money and even the piano vendor himself described the entire transaction as a "scheme". Read the blog and see for yourself.

The many questionable decisions coming out of Human Resources also shows how detached the current board is from reality. If management was even remotely concerned about having their conduct challenged, they would take a little more time to cover their tracks or work a little harder to conceal misconduct. When there is no real oversight there is never any danger of seeing the consequences of getting caught.

There are many examples of misconduct by district management to be found on this blog. The fact that the current board is either unable or unwilling to hold management accountable clearly demonstrates how disconnected the Board is from the responsible use of public funds. This board would be well-served by having a more inquisitive mind among them - someone with the experience of seeing the misconduct of management from the other side.

I am not suggesting that every decision made by this Board is wrong, but I am suggesting that too much money is being wasted on the wrong choices at the cost of adequately funding the right ones.

I am not asking to be elected to the school board along with four like-minded friends. However, I am absolutely convinced that adding me to this current board would offer something more to the discussions behind closed doors.

Besides, Nick Brossoit keeps telling us that 70% of residents in this district don't have children that attend district schools. Why not have such a person on the Board? Why not have someone on the Board that just wants to see our schools become even better? Why not elect someone that just wants to make sure that public funds are spent wisely before asking the public to provide additional funding for new projects or buildings?

Ultimately, what the Edmonds Education Association chooses to do with their endorsement is their business. I certainly wouldn't want to see an important relationship suffer within the District. As a group you can endorse my opponent, but as individuals I would hope that you would vote differently - after a little research into what this district truly needs to get things back on track.


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that school board members knew about this meeting but I didn't know about it, and I'm a member of the EEA.

The last time I remember the EEA supporting a candidate was when they endorsed Pat Shields over Alan Weiss. I know the EEA had represented several teachers when they had "issues" with Mr. Weiss so it didn't surprise me that they endorsed Pat Shields.

Hopefully they will stay out of the race between Zandberg and Phillips.

Anonymous said...

FYI: I am of the belief that the EEA uses its building reps and not its members to decide who to endorse.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark, I should have identified myself as Nancy Paine-Donovan when I addressed you at the EEA meeting. My twin sister Susan Paine sits on the school board. I'm a teacher at Mountlake Terrace HS and a building rep. Sorry for the confusion.

Anonymous said...

Like my fellow teachers, I vote for the best candidate not necessarily the candidate with the endorsement.

Phillips is good but Zandberg if much better and just what we need.

Trans Gal said...

At least we know you are not a bobble head and really do research on the issues. I would hope that diligence would continue after your election. Maybe you could even sway a few fellow board members to think for themselves, or is it too late for that?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the millions wasted in property transactions. It would have been good to have Mark on the Board back then.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mark, for the information in this message; once again, your writing is done with thought and integrity. I believe there may be SOME Board members who can work with YOU, should you be elected, and bring your expertise and knowledge to the table. I believe the present Board members are brain-washed by Marla & Co., and are afraid to speak their minds. It is my hope that you will be successful in your campaign to make the much needed changes to the Edmonds School District policies and procedures.

Anonymous said...

Who runs this district anyway?
Where is our Board? Honor and integrity as an elected official would be reason enough for any board member to rein in Marla and Co.

Richard Reuther said...

While a union rep for three years, I have sat in on several BR (building rep) meetings where candidates have sought the union's endorsement. My experience tells me that not a lot of real thinking goes into the endorsement process. My own personal experience with EEA indicates that there has been an uncomfortable closeness between administration and union; hopefully new leadership has changed that relationship. It would be in the best interest of their members as well as the district students.

I would be thrilled if EEA endorsed Mark; it would indicate some independence and leadership on their part and some hope of righting the foundering ship that is the Edmonds School District. The current board and administration operates in the best interest of neither the union nor the students; the current board members should not receive the union's endorsement.

PS. Thank you Nancy for clarifying your presence. I can imagine one's reaction to seeing a "board member" at a closed BR meeting asking about Mark's lawsuit against the district as if it somehow makes him an unsuitable candidate for director. The ramifications of such a breach of protocol would be staggering, but oddly, not surprising given the bizarre behaviors of current administration and board. I only wish I could have found a lawyer who didn't have to turn down my request for counsel because s/he was already doing business with WEA (conflict of interest). Otherwise, our cases might be heard in adjoining courtrooms.

In an intended light-hearted jest-perhaps a name tag saying "No, the other Paine" with a smiley face?

Anonymous said...

Herald article on Cypress Equities:

Money quote:

"I think it's bad ... I think they've got themselves a problem for the city. They're going to have a gigantic vacant building."