And so I say about the media in Seattle on Seattle Schools, why bother?
If any of you listened to the KUOW 10 am hour today, you probably heard my frustrated call. (They do a news roundup every Friday and couldn't resist passing up the Silas Potter story.)
Look, I vaguely know Knute Berger. I've talked with Joni Balter at the Times one time about a school levy. I don't believe I've ever met Eli Sanders from The Stranger. They are not dumb people but, for whatever reason, they all talk about SPS like they know it. They don't and I suspect that 80% of the people at this blog know more than they do.
They are all absolutely entitled to talk or pontificate or analyze what events might mean to SPS or the School Board elections. They are all absolutely entitled to do whatever work it is for their organization to endorse candidates.
But it drives me wild when they mix their process or analysis with a lack of factual information.
Joni started off with "this is such a professional Board." She was so impressed with how they all sprang into action AFTER all the **** hit the fan. They all seem to believe there was no way - no signs, no red flags - that could have led anyone on the Board to see this coming. That is wrong but no one at the Times has bothered to really look into the timeline or what was happening.
Joni was trying to defend what is yet another almost indefensible editorial. They start by - gasp! - trying to be fair and balanced on their assessments of both Pottergate and the MLK, Jr. bldg sale.
MLK, Jr. sale: But a lack of criminality doesn't mean the board and top officials are not guilty of serious mistakes.
That may not rise to the level of legal violations, but considering the real-estate deal lacked transparency and was rife with interference from state lawmakers and potential conflicts of interest, it is easy to see how the public lost trust.That may not rise to the level of legal violations, but considering the real-estate deal lacked transparency and was rife with interference from state lawmakers and potential conflicts of interest, it is easy to see how the public lost trust.
Pottergate:Blame must be shared again by the board and district leaders for allowing, tolerating, inviting — pick your verb — a district culture of indifference and dishonesty. Board members showed too much confidence, or a stunning lack of curiosity, about the superintendent's management.
Great, huh? This is not what we have heard in the past and very different from other editorials.
Then they get to their continued propping up of the incumbents:
Many factors inform endorsements. The Times believed the incumbents are most knowledgeable about the inner workings of the district and best able to repair the damage. History offers little assurance that new faces will prevent another Pottergate. Not that many years ago, a different board was at a loss to explain how it didn't know the then-superintendent had overspent by $35 million.
The solution is not another round of musical chairs, but a strong accountability system that works regardless of who is in office.
So according to the Times:
- all incumbents should be reelected because they know the lay of the land. Why EVER elect anyone new for ANY office?
- they talk about the Olchefske debacle without pointing out their (former) love of that "professional" Board. That Board promised it wouldn't happen again. We had one Board in-between (loud but no financial scandal and no exiting of a superintendent) and here we are again, in the same place.
- their rationale is that this Board is so professional, they now have it all figured out and those new people wouldn't/couldn't. Even though, four years ago, ALL these incumbents were newbies.
- elections are not "musical chairs" - they are the backbone of our democracy. Sorry that those pesky elections and our pesky Constitution get in the way of the Times believes should happen.
One, that the entire Board and the Superintendent could have red flagged Silas Potter just by looking at the budget from 2007-2010. They would have seen the dramatic rise in his budget. This is one of the few sole jobs for the Board - to review and approve the budget. And yet, all of them missed that line in the budget (or saw it and said nothing). That the Superintendent said nothing again shows she didn't pay attention or didn't care, take your pick.
Two, I got to say that the story on the sale of the MLK, Jr. bldg was only half-told in the Times. The other half is the narrative and what a messy and odd process was used to get to this sale and that many players were trying to game the system and get what they wanted. (I'm thinking that - really - the only people who got what they wanted was First AME Church. Not taxpayers, not students, not even the legislators. And, they got it for cheap on their part.)
How this escapes people who are the real journalists in this town, I don't know. But they don't mind getting on the airwaves and talking about something they really don't know about in any kind of factual depth.