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Thursday, January 06, 2011

School Board Meeting

I am watching and reviewing the School Board meeting on Tivo.

I need to listen again to Jessica de Baros presentation on the TIF grant. Michael DeBell questioned her about some issues relating to sustainability. I was baffled by her answer but he left it at that. Not Kay (who is a lot nicer than I would have been or at least I would have been more direct) who asked her again. Didn't clear it up so the Superintendent jumped in. I got so confused that I will have to go over it again. Nothing like baffling them with BS. I think the bottom line really is that at a future point, some 3-5 years hence, the district will be taking this on as an expense. How we will do that seems to be a mystery.

A few announcements to take note of:

Sherry; the Greenwood Neighborhood Center has closed due to city budget cuts. That's where she had been having her neighborhood meetings. She is now at the Bethany Church right across the street from Bagley Elementary.

Peter: took note that Congress did not pass the DREAM act and hopes it will be enacted in the future (me too Peter but you know who is running it now, right? He also said he will not be asking for his yearly stipend because of the severity of budget issues.

Harium: is changing his community meeting date to mid-month so look for that. He has never taken his stipend and won't be this year either.

Steve: also lost his meeting place but will have a new location at the website soon. Also, will not be asking for his stipend.

Betty: changing date to end of month, last Saturday of month but same location and time.

Kay: same location and date for January but will have to move to another location after that

There was some discussion over the additional $800k+ costs for BEX. I listened to what Mr. Martin, the head of Facilities, about this issue and he said at least 3 times that things are delayed. How are we on-time if there are delays? He said Hale was supposed to get done by January and yet it will be July. I'll have to ask the Board about these contrary statements.

Sadly, I missed taping the public disclosures so I'll have to ask for those from the Board office.

17 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Forgot to say - bravo Charlie. You should post your testimony.

Anonymous said...

How is Sundquist losing his meeting place? It's at the High Point library? What a tool.

Scoffer

suep. said...

Hi Melissa,

According to the board meeting agenda on Weds. morning (since updated), the public disclosures were postponed until Jan. 19.

(I saved a copy of the text:
JAN 19
IV. Board Comments
(The Annual Disclosure of Financial/Conflict of Interest has been moved to January 19, 2011.)


-- sue p.

Anonymous said...

MGJ needs time to submit those other board resignations.

Scoffer

MAPsucks said...

Hey Charlie, let's pile on. I'm sure I can find another ethics complaint layin' around here to nail 'em with...

Charlie Mas said...

There are additional ethics complaint opportunities.

Let's not forget that Michael DeBell was also on the board of the Alliance for Education and the Council of Great City Schools, and Steve Sundquist, now that he is School Board President, will be appointed to those boards.

Could there be other boards on which Dr. Goodloe-Johnson sits?

Anonymous said...

If there are, we'll find 'em.

Juana said...

Melissa, you can watch any school board meeting on the internet as well. Here is the link to the latest meeting.

http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=4736

ttln said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ttln said...

Do you think that the board and these other groups understand why there is a conflict of interest when a public official sits on their board?
I have to wonder if they do since some of these organizations might have created these automatic membership positions in the past, when they were more about "support" and had no partison or specific "interest"-where membership wasn't problematic but a means of helping meet the general/financial needs of the district- therefore "disclosure" was unwarranted because it came with the job and was no big deal since the interests of the organizations were only to help the district meet the district's goals. whereas now, these same organizations have evolved into "reform agents" and therefore have a vested interest in pushing a particular agenda- they support the district IF the district's goals are the goals of the organization- thereby eliminating their non-partison or non-interested party status. Where membership was once an obvious means to an altruistic end, it is now a conflict of interest since objective altruism is no longer an attribute of these groups. Memberships still come with the positions.

Wait, now that I think a bit more...

(If it is a given, do they need disclosure? Perhaps the ethics issue isn't with the disclosure it is with the automatic membership to agenda driven organizations. The automatic board placements need to cease because they create the conflict of interest. It is no longer okay for non-partison public officials to sit on boards with specific political agendas.)

I have stuff to grade.

Charlie Mas said...

State law requires the disclosure.

State law dictates how the disclosure must be done.

State law makes no exception for the Alliance for Education or the Council of Great City Schools or any other organization that automatically offers seats on their board to the superintendent and the president of the School Board.

Even if the Alliance or the Council of Great City Schools offers the seats, there is no presumption that the superintendent or the School Board president accepted the board seats.

Even were it common knowledge that the superintendent has a seat on the Alliance board, it still has to be disclosed in the manner required by state law.

Moreover, the law prohibits the superintendent from participating in any decision about contracts with the Alliance. She did participate in the decisions, so the ethics complaints could be enforced for those reasons.

ttln said...

Perhaps we need some sort of "awareness" about the matter, then. "Awareness" can be defined as ambiguously as we want and therefore take shape of...

A golden eagle!

An Ice Bridge!

or an ethics complaint...

;-)

Charlie Mas said...

As for my testimony, I didn't save a written copy.

A number of people came to me afterwards to ask what I was talking about. I had to tell the whole little story. It took no more than a few seconds to explain. Everyone hearing the story was astonished.

Charlie Mas said...

ttln,

Was that a Wonder Twins reference?

Shape of... a bucket!

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a bit of interesting reading.

This is the little statement that is in the minutes of the Board meeting of January 6, 2010, the last time the Board made their Statements of Financial Interest and Potential Conflicts of Interest.

A few interesting points about this scrap of paper:

1. None of the actual statements are included or attached. Consequently, none of the Board members or district officers made any effective disclosure since their disclosures are not, in fact, part of the minutes.

2. This document makes it very clear that the ethics provision also requires board members and officers to decline to vote on or participate in official District business in which the individual has a remote interest as defined by state statute, RCW 42.23.040. The document specifically acknowledges that "remote interest" includes serving as a non-salaried officer of a nonprofit corporation, such as a board member.

3. The document acknowledges that "A contract made in violation of RCW 42.23.030 may be deemed void and subject the officer to a civil penalty of five hundred dollars." That isn't quite accurate. Here's the law. The law says "Any contract made in violation of the provisions of this chapter is void" (emphsis added), not "may be deemed void". And there is a civil penalty, due to the municipality for $500, but that's "in addition to such other civil or criminal liability or penalty as may otherwise be imposed upon the officer by law."

So this is an interesting point. The superintendent owes the DISTRICT $500 for each offense. That's $500 for every contract with either the Alliance or the Council of Great City Schools.

The CGCS did the external evaluations of the bilingual program, nutrition services, operations, procurement, and transportation. That's five contracts. The Board voted on an agreement with the Alliance on September 2, 2009. That's a sixth one. I reckon she owes the District $3,000 from those alone.

The Board has a fiduciary duty to try to recover that $3,000. Don't they?

Maureen said...

I'm beginning to understand why the Board hired an attorney for the new Board Manager position as opposed to a Policy Analyst (as the job description implied). I wish her Good Luck!

MAPsucks said...

Don't the $500 for the first MAP contract in 2009. No recusal, an interest not "remote" in any sense of the word, no sole-source justification (except after the fact).