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Monday, June 18, 2007

Peter Maier

I'm very troubled by Peter Maier's campaign for School Board.

On his web site he says that he will bring three essential qualities to a new Board:

"» Leadership.
The School Board's role is to set policy in a steady and consistent manner - insisting that every student has an opportunity to be what she or he wants to be.
» Responsibility.
Once policies are set, the Board must take responsibility to see those policies are carried out by the District staff and in the schools across the city.
» Accountability.
Our District faces long-term financial problems. The Board must hold the District accountable for the funds being spent, and the Board must engage with the community, the Governor and the Legislature in pushing for solutions.
"

Unfortunately, he doesn't really have any plan or, if elected, any means for fulfilling any of these promises. No supporting details appear anywhere on his web site.

How will the Board assure that every student has an opportunity to be what she or he wants to be? Not even their parents can do that. What does that even mean?

How can the Board enforce their policies when it is a well-known fact that the Board has no mechanism for doing so?

How can the Board hold anyone accountable for spending when the Board has little or no say in spending? The Board has no role in writing any of the budgets. After they are written, the budgets can all be freely changed without Board vote. The Board only votes on the maximum total expeditures for each budget, not any of the line items.

Peter Maier makes promises he cannot possibly fulfill. That troubles me. It makes me seriously question his integrity. Mr. Maier, when questioned on Linda Thomas' blog would not say how he could or would fulfill his promises - promises that were clearly outside Board authority. He just wouldn't answer direct questions.

He says that he will provide "the leadership we need", but I think we need honest leadership that communicates forthrightly with the community.

I'm sure there are a lot of people who know and admire Mr. Maier and support his candidacy. If so, see what you can do to either get him to explain how he's going to fulfill his promises or get him to make less ambitious promises. The way he's going now makes him out to be a liar and makes it appear that he has a very poor opinion of the electorate. Maybe he reckons that fooling some of the people some of the time will be enough for him to get more votes than Sally Soriano. Maybe he thinks that he has such a lock on the election that it doesn't matter what he says or does. I don't know what he thinks.

31 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

I nearly forgot to mention...

I wrote to Mr. Maier with my concerns.

Here is what I wrote on May 29:
"Dear Mr. Maier,

I have visited your web site and I read what you would hope to accomplish if elected to the Seattle School Board. Much of what you write, however, remains unclear to me.

For example, you wrote: "Once policies are set, the Board must take responsibility to see those policies are carried out by the District staff and in the schools across the city."

You claim that you will bring this to the Board, but it is unclear to me how, exactly, you will do it. For example, there is a policy, B61.00, that requires the Superintendent to make annual reports on District programs. Another Policy, C45.00, also requires the Superintendent to make an annual review of all schools and programs, complete with criteria which, if not met, will trigger progressive interventions by the Superintendent. None of this, however, is actually done.

How will you, as a single Board member, make the Superintendent adhere to the requirements of these Policies? What tools will you have to manage the Superintendent?

On your web site you write that when on the Board you will "hold the District accountable for the funds being spent". How exactly will you do that? Will you review the warrants report and potentially vote against approving it? The Board does not have a role in writing the District's budget, nor does the Board vote on line items in the operating budget. The Board does vote on contracts and capital budget expenditures, but I find it difficult to imagine you voting against either a contract or a capital expenditure as part of holding the staff accountable. What did you really mean by this?

Finally, I don't see any statements about your positions on any of the controversial issues facing the District nor do I see any specific solutions for District problems. All is see are platitudes and unsupported accusations that the Board is off course and unfocused. Did you believe that the Board was off course and unfocused when you lead the campaign for the school levy and the BEX III bonds?

You write that you welcome my interest and support. You certainly have my interest, Mr. Maier, but you haven't given me any reason to lend you my support.

- Charlie Mas
"



Here was his response of
Wednesday, June 13, two weeks later:



"Charlie-

Sorry I haven't responded to your email of a few weeks ago. My days and evenings are full, as you can imagine.

I am still in the process of developing my website. I will be adding more content on my views on issues facing SPS. FYI, I will be on Linda Thomas' PI blog in a few days.

Best wishes,

Peter Maier
"

Anonymous said...

Charlie, sometimes I think what you say is border line slander. To call Mr. Miaier a liar?? I would like you to prove where he lied. Isn't that a bit harsh? Your Ceaseness is showing.

Perhaps he just doesn't know it all yet. I think that Mr. Maier has good intentions, and has whown his strong commitment to public education. He takes leave from his job as a lawyer for a couple of months to work full time on the bond/levy campaigns and volunteers full time. He has been succesful getting both levy's passed.

Sally sure doesn't know it all. She is a dissenter on the board. Her lonely NO votes don't mean much though (thank goodness) because she and Mary are the lone dissenters. So no harm done, except for the fact that she is unwilling to work as a team player. Being a board member you have to be unbiased and work for the good of the district as a whole. You can't work just for CEASE issues as Sally does. I do see why you favor her. I would too if I were a member of CEASE. She is an extreme left winger, and somewhat unreasonable. She joined a lawsuit against the district (with Mary). Do we need this on the board??

We sure don't have a lot of people stepping up to be board members, and now I see why. People like you just chew them up, tear them a part and don't even give them a chance. Charlie, you make this site negative. It is starting to feel like a CEASE blog, and quite frankly, I think I am going to stop posting here. Beth, this blog used to be filled with a broad range of posters, but the scales have tipped. Many of the mainstream readers are moving on. I'm sure Charlie loves that.

Anonymous said...

Do you not think Mr. Maier's days are filled? Do you not think he is busy? Is he lying again?? Did you want a full report from him? Do you think he should make time to answer every qestion in detail to every single person who emails him?

He answered your question. He said he will update his website, so please look for it. Stop harrassing him. You complained a few months ago that the current board members stopped replying to you too. Could it be that you harrass them?

Anonymous said...

Charlie,
My primary concern about your thoughts on Mr. Maier is that they imply that you prefer Sally Soriano. I haven't seen Sally provide the leadership, vision, or consensus building I believe to be paramount to being a school board member.

If you want to endorse Sally, that is up to you. But coming so harshly against Peter is unwarranted.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would just say that Mr. Maier is being vague. If that's okay with you, vote for him but you really won't have any idea what you are getting or how he will be able to make good on his pledges.

Sally was the Board member who pushed the clean water issue the hardest. I hope you give that some credence in making your decision. She made it job one and our kids have cleaner drinking water because of it.

For the last time, she and Mary are NOT part of the lawsuit. They were asked to write an summary of what occurred during the time period in question as part of the court record and they did. This happens all the time in legal cases (ask Mr. Maier). Was it a good idea? That you can pass judgment on but please don't say they are suing their own district because it is untrue and wrong to keeping saying it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Melissa we will have an idea what we are getting. We are getting rid of Sally!

Anonymous said...

Interesting......
I just looked at Sally's website, she is no less vague than Peter Maier. I see nowhere that she shows in painful detail what she will do for her next term, nor hos she plans to accomplish it. Would that make her a liar too, Charlie?

OK Melissa, Sally and Mary didn't bring suit against the district. But, they were the only two board members that wrote that summary. The other directors chose to refrain.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I think it is disrespectful to use Peter Maier as your avatar. And, it's just kind of creepy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it took him so long to respond to your e-mail because he read the glowing endorsement you wrote for Sally Soriano that is posted on her web site.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,
Can you give a couple of examples of how Peter Maier did not answer direct questions on Linda Thompson's blog? How he was evasive enough for you to question his integrity? I read it, but didn't see what you saw.

Will Sally be a guest blogger on Linda Thompson's site? I'd like to hear what she has to say too.

Anonymous said...

I agree with an earlier poster, that this blog has taken a turn for the worse. It really should be re-titled "Charlie Mas' Pedestal."

Agree, too, that it's creepy to use people's images whom you are deriding - Charlie, you've lost my respect with your words and actions as of late. From here on out, I'll be disregarding your posts.

DG

Anonymous said...

We may not know what we are getting with Peter Maier, but we know clearly what we are NOT getting in Sally. If after several years, you have one triumph (water policy) under your belt, but have been a constant source of friction and dissent then that must be weighed. Sally has seemed useless to me. She's way out there, and quite frankly, she is a lot of talk but VERY little action. My vote is definately going with Peter. I think he does have integrity, and I think he will compliment the board well.

Anonymous said...

Charlie wrote about Peter Maier:

"On your web site you write that when on the Board you will "hold the District accountable for the funds being spent". How exactly will you do that? Will you review the warrants report and potentially vote against approving it? The Board does not have a role in writing the District's budget, nor does the Board vote on line items in the operating budget."

Charlie, have you looked at Sally's website lately? Here is what she promises.

"Keeping the budget focused on student learning"

It seems that the same things that you bash Peter M for, Sally is doing too. Hmmmmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,
Why can't you just say that you like Sally Soriano, endorse her, and praise the qualities that you like about her? Why must you bash Peter Maier? This is why CEASE gets so little respect from anyone. You don't have to slander and bash one candidate in order for the other to look better. That's bullying.

Charlie, you and many CEASE members are bullies. Be nice.

Anonymous said...

Woah, woah, woah... While I may not agree with Charlie's logic for endorsing Sally over Peter, we should absolutely not resort to name-calling and CEASE bashing. That is completely inappropriate.

Let's have honest debate about the candidates! That will actually help us make informed decisions both in this race and in others.

Let's talk about the issues!

Anonymous said...

"For the last time, she and Mary are NOT part of the lawsuit. They were asked to write an summary of what occurred during the time period in question as part of the court record and they did."

No Melissa, she and Mary wrote affidavits in favor of the lawsuit, most of which were unsupported speculation. Thier actions were contrary to the Board ethics policy that states that "Members shall take no private actions that will compromise the Board or administration."

They disagreed with closure. They had the opportunity to voice the disagreement. They lost the vote. They never called for the issue to be revisited. Instead, they cost the children of this district by making sure that the District spent its money on lawyers rather than kids.

That is what is truly offensive about Sally and Mary, they put thier own personal agendas above all else, include the ethics policy and good judgement.

Brita said...

Hello all,

For the record, a lawsuit was initiated against the School Board regarding school closures. I was asked by our district counsel to write an affadavit of my recollection of the process (as board president, I was the board point person for Phase I of the closures, resulting in a 5-2 vote last July 30 to close 7 schools). I believe that Cheryl Chow, VP at that time, also wrote an affadavit for the district.

I do not know who asked Directors Soriano and Bass to write affadavits or appear with those suing us at their press conference.

Anonymous said...

Checked out Linda Thompsons blog. Charlie it appears that you use screen name coolpapa, and it also appears that Mr. Maeir responded to several of your questions. Of course, none of his answers satisfy you, but they were not vague in any way. On the contrary, I found him to have good solid ideas that I have not heard other candidates talking about, especially in regard to the math curriculum and getting the proper training for teachers to implement the new curriculum, a district intervention plan for failing schools (wow, that would be a first), and having an intervention plan for 9th graders who at risk to drop out.

How is he vague again???????

Anonymous said...

Charlie, your taking a beating here. Maybe you need to scale down your attacks a bit? Calling Mr. Maier a liar? Saying that he has no integrity? It's a bit much, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

ANother Charlie quote
"How can the Board hold anyone accountable for spending when the Board has little or no say in spending? The Board has no role in writing any of the budgets."

So just how does Sally plan to "keep the budget focused on student learning" ???????????????????????

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

It sounds like you are holding different people to different standards, and you are clearly AGAINST Peter Maier, for reasons I (and others) don't understand.

You’ve written elsewhere in this Blog that the Board need not be experts at mgmt, finance, law, or education since they simple deal with policy and oversight. In fact, you concluded they mainly need “communication skills and public relations skills. In short, the political skills of coalition building, consensus building, and persuasion.”

And YET, when Peter lays out areas of oversight, you cry foul if he can’t list implementation details. By your own criteria, why is that necessary? I thought holding the district responsible for results was all that is necessary? (I think you said it was so simple that anyone who could read the CACIEE report could do it.)

So while you rudely GRILL Peter in some areas you claim aren’t important, what about those traits you said were most important? How would you rank Sally vs. Peter at communication and public relations skills? I think Sally is a wonderful person and I appreciate all that she has done, but I don’t think she would fare well against Peter on those criteria. And, going down your list, you certainly cannot claim she has succeeded at coalition building, consensus building, or persuasion… at least not amongst her peers. Do you disagree?

Most importantly, you are doing a great disservice to the education community by being so negative toward one of our most generous volunteers. Win or lose, Peter has devoted countless hours to the levies, state funding initiatives, and his local PTAs over many years. We are incredibly lucky to have citizens like him – Harvard lawyers can easily get more than zero dollars for their time. Why must you call the man a LIAR?? I read the questions you posted for Peter up on Linda’s blog and the tone is one of attacking, and I give Peter credit for daring to respond to you when it seemed clear from your questions that your mind was already made up. We’ve seen too many examples how a few radically negative individuals can make any of our lives miserable and de-motivate us. Volunteers deserve better.

We have different opinions about what skills are necessary for the Board success. I’ve had the pleasure of working with both Peter and Sally. I like them both, but I’ve endorsed Peter because I believe his skills and commitment to teamwork are a better fit for the Board. But I am not AGAINST Sally in any way. Regardless of the election, I hope both Peter and Sally remain involved in school district issues… the district is definitely stronger from their involvement. So, let’s cut the mudslinging, please…

I noticed your name on Sally’s web site. Does that mean you’ve already endorsed her? (Before even writing this blog post? Before even questioning Peter on Linda’s blog?) Are you volunteering for her campaign? I think you should make that clear up-front when you make posts that may appear to others as objective.

Charlie Mas said...

Y'all need to check yourselves.

I really don't understand the perception that I have written harshly of Mr. Maier. I did not call him a liar. I only asked him how he intends to fulfill his campaign promises. He has yet to answer.

I have been accused of "bashing" Mr. Maier. Since when does asking a candidate questions about his campaign promises equate to bashing him? That's really undeserved.

I did not call him a liar. Read what I wrote:
"The way he's going now makes him out to be a liar and makes it appear that he has a very poor opinion of the electorate."

I didn't call him a liar. I said that promising to do the impossible without revealing how he will do it makes him look like a liar. If he knows some way these things can be done, then we'd like to hear about it, both to help him gain support and to show that his is not trying to deceive the public. Believe me - I'm not shy about calling people liars. If I had meant to do it, you would have known.

It has been suggested that Mr. Maier may not know just how he will accomplish all the things he has promised. Personally, I would have preferred if he thought it through before he made the promises, but I'm okay with it the other way as well. If that's the case, then why didn't he say that? When I asked him how he would do these things he didn't say "Gee, I haven't figured it all out yet", instead, he said that the blog format prevented him from answering in detail. This suggests that he has answers. So let's not presume that he hasn't figured it out yet.

I, too, think that Mr. Maier has good intentions, and of course he has shown strong commitment to public education. That's not in dispute.

I think it's pretty funny that the same writers who are angry with me for questioning Mr. Maier on his campaign promises, and criticize me for tearing him apart lest people choose not to run for school board, don't hesitate to speak ill of a sitting School Board Director. There's a lot of irony there.

I find it funny that the people who speak ill of Diretor Soriano are accusing me of trying to make this site negative. I'm not. I'm trying to make this site informative. Unfortunately, in the case of Mr. Maier's plans, there is no information available.

I am sure that Mr. Maier's days are full. I'm sure that he is very busy. That's not in dispute. Has he taken time off from his legal career to devote it to running for school board? Great! Good for him! Then maybe he will get around to updating his web site sooner and he will explain how he intends to fulfill his campaign promises.

Did I want a full report from him? Yes, I did. That would have been wonderful. Wonderfu, but a bit much to expect. I was just looking for something more than the headline. Do I think he should make time to answer every question in detail to every single person who emails him? No, but I think that he should be able to give us some idea of how he will fulfill his campaign promises. Is that an unreasonable expectation?

He did not answer my questions. Let's not pretend that he did. He did say that he will update his website, and I will look for it. I look for it every day. Nothing yet, but I will keep checking. And I will report it here when he puts something substantive there.

I am not harrassing him. I sent him one email - if that's harassment, it sets a very low standard. I asked him specific questions on a blog about his own campaign promises. He practically invited me to do so in his reply email. On the blog he chose not to answer the questions. Fine. That's his choice. He has yet to update his web site. That's also his choice. I have only reported those choices here. It's not like a post a daily message to him and to this blog that says: "Still no word from Peter Maier on how he intends to fulfill his unrealistic campaign promises" Now THAT would be harassment.

I did not imply that I prefer Sally Soriano. You may have inferred it, but that would have been on scant evidence. This isn't about Sally Soriano - she has a record to run on. Love her or hate her you know who she is and what she does. If you like her so much that you don't think anyone could do better, that's your choice. If you dislike her work as a School Board director so much that you would prefer Mr. Maier despite the fact that you don't know much about what he intends to do if elected, that's your choice.

Personally, I think there's room for improvement. I happen to think that Peter Maier could step into that room; so far he has not.

The quote from me on Sally's web site was lifted from a blog, not written for that specific purpose. It's in the public domain and she is free to make use of it. I stand by every word of it, but I didn't write it as an endorsement for her.

No matter how vague Director Soriano's web site may be - and I haven't read it so I don't know if it is or not - that fact would not make Mr. Maier's web site any less vague.

Look, it comes down to this:

If asking questions about a candidate's promises constitutes "bashing", then where does that leave our democracy? Please review the actual content of what was written. Note that I am never uncivil with Mr. Maier. No, I'm not particularly gentle with him, but I don't slap him around either.

Remember that Mr. Maier has made some pretty extravagent campaign promises. He hasn't promised us Coke in the drinking fountains, but he does promise to make District staff adhere to policies. If he has a way that the Board can do that I really want to read about it. Don't you?

Note the fact that I have given Mr. Maier ample opportunity to fill in the blanks. I have written to him - without result. I have waited for him to update his web site - to no avail. I posted questions to him when he was guest blogger - he sidestepped them. I continue to wait for him to update his web site.

Peter Maier apparently expects to win this campaign without having to disclose much about his plans or policies. The number one thing he has going for him right now is the fact that he is not Sally Soriano. That alone may be enough to seal his victory. I just want something more.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't want to bash Mr. Maier, I just want information, so I have an offer for all Peter Maier fans who have complained about me. Just answer these three questions, and I'll issue a full apology:

1) Mr. Maier wrote that if he is elected the Board will take responsibility to see that Policies are carried out by the District staff and in the schools across the city. This has not proven possible to date. How will Mr. Maier do it? How will he compel District staff to adhere to Policy when no other Board member can do it?

2) Mr. Maier wrote that if he is elected to the board, the District will expand and replicate successful programs. How, as a Board member, could he make that happen? Will he and his fellow Board members direct the Superintendent to do it? Does the Board have a proper role in these decisions? Wouldn't that constitute micro-managing?

I note that when Mr. Maier did provide some detail on how the 9th grade transition program would work, it turns out that there isn't a role for the Board in it. He wrote very clearly that "Of course, it would be the Sup't, not the Board, who would develop and carry out such a program". The meager role that he said the Board could play would be to decide whether this would be a priority and allocating resources to the program. There are only two things wrong with that answer: One, the Board used to vote on annual priorities, but the staff ignored them all. Two, the Board doesn't allocate resources - the Superintendent does. The Board doesn't control any resources.

3) Mr. Maier writes that the Board must hold the District accountable for the funds being spent. When asked for greater detail on how they would do this, he wrote that the Board would hold twice-yearly fiscal reviews to learn how the revenues and expenses are running. As a consequence of this review, he suggests, the Board might learn if they need to defer a contract. This does not strike me as any form of accountability as I know it. Does he suggest that the Board should dictate spending decisions - decisions that are made by the Superintendent. Wouldn't that cross the line into management?

I will say it again, just in case another repitition will help. I don't have anything against Peter Maier. I'm sorry if my tone appears gruff or "attacking". I don't imagine that I have scared Mr. Maier - or anyone else - away from running for the Board. If he has to be treated more gently than this, he has much greater problems than questions about extravagent campaign promises.

I am looking for specific answers to specific questions about the Board job that Mr. Maier wants to do. I think that Mr. Maier was perfectly specific when he described his ideas for 9th graders. Of course, none of that was the Board's job. Mr. Maier raised an excellent question about whether the District had allocated enough to professional development in the new math curriculum adoption. That's great, but it isn't the Board's job to second-guess the CAO and the Superintendent on that sort of thing, is it?

Anonymous said...

Charlie are you loosing it? In the post above you say you didn't call Peter a liar.

PLease re-read your original post. It says, and I quote "The way he's going now makes him out to be a liar and makes it appear that he has a very poor opinion of the electorate. "

You're loosing credibility fast here Charlie.

Anonymous said...

Charlie writes "I have been accused of "bashing" Mr. Maier. Since when does asking a candidate questions about his campaign promises equate to bashing him? That's really undeserved."

No Charlie, it's not undeserved when you call people liars, say that they lack integrity, and ask antagonistic questions, THAT IS BASHING.

Perhaps, a more constructive, approach would be better.

Anonymous said...

This is something my 9 year old would say, to get of being in trouble. It's actually hilarious.

"I didn't call him a liar. I said that promising to do the impossible without revealing how he will do it makes him look like a liar. "

Anonymous said...

Just for the record Charlie. Here is the diffence between asking someone a question about their campaign and bashing.

A question: Mr. Maier how do you plan to institute the 9th grade drop out program?

Bashing: The way he's going now makes him out to look like a liar. He lacks integrity. He is vague. He thinks he can fool all of the people some of the time but not some of the people all of the time.

Get it?

Beth Bakeman said...

Yikes! I just checked my home e-mail for the first time today and saw the flood of comments on this post.

This discussion is going nowhere fast, so I'd like to ask for a "time out" on this one.

I'll create a new post about the School Board candidates today where the discussion can continue but, hopefully, will be more focused on issues and positions.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, why not ask Mr. Maier to meet with you to answer some of your questions? I'm sure he would. It would be so much more pleasant than asking him to defend himself, and answer all of your questions on a blog. Then (with his permission) you can share the results of your conversation with us. This would be very civil, don't you think?

Charlie Mas said...

Okay. I'm convinced. I was wrong.

I was unduly negative about Mr. Maier. I see it now.

I'll try to do better in future.

Please forgive me.

Charlie Mas said...

I contacted Mr. Maier to apologize and to seek an avenue of communication.

He wrote back kindly and promptly and I think we'll talk.