Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No School Board Endorsements from the 36th Dems

Just back from the 36th Dems Endorsement meeting.  It was a lively evening (made better by a Chair who knew how to keep things moving - bless him).

No school board candidate was endorsed.  Both Sherry Carr and Peter Maier had motions for sole endorsement by the group and both motions failed.  I think the reason that motions for other candidates failed was because they had not been interviewed by the Executive Board and no one knew them.  

There were some interesting things said.  Highlights:
  • Councilman Tim Burgess (who did get an endorsement for his reelection) made the motion for Peter which isn't surprising considering Peter has endorsed him.  (I cornered Burgess about doing that endorsement before even considering other candidates.  He said that the district's work isn't done but they are making progress.  He couldn't get away from me fast enough and frankly, it was troubling because he's never done that with me before.)  He was the first person to say that Peter "works hard."  He also said that there are "no one size magic answers."  Okay, but we are moving more and more towards a one-size fits all district so someone thinks there is.  He also said enrollment was up (as if enrollment is up because of the great work at the district - there could be many reasons for the rise in enrollment).
  • David Edelman, Ingraham teacher, spoke against the motion saying he had spoke in favor of Peter four years ago and now knows he was wrong back then.  
  • Another person spoke in favor of Peter and again "he works hard."
  • Another person spoke against Peter saying that she hoped others would read Diane Ravitch's book.  She said this Board extended the Super's contract and then fired her just months later.  She said we need to have a long overdue conversation about our district.
  • Another person spoke in favor of Peter saying "you can't blame one person for everything that is wrong in the district."  She's right except that yes, you can hold public officials accountable for not doing their jobs.  She also said he works hard.  
(Here's my aside.  I'll be happy to give Peter an A for effort but treading water isn't the same as swimming.)
  •  Sharon Peaslee, one of his challengers, spoke to the group and gave her background and said she hoped more people would try to get to know her as the pro-active, problem-solving person she feels she is.  Kate Martin and Cliff Mass also spoke in favor of her.
For Sherry Carr, the Chair ran through the names of all the challengers, most of whom came on the ballot after their interviews.  The Executive Committee did interview Sherry and Kate Martin but made no recommendation to the group.
  • Michael DeBell's wife, Marie, nominated a sole endorsement for Sherry (but did not identify herself as Michael's wife - maybe they all knew that).  She said something interesting about Sherry which was "she is critical when appropriate."  I wish I could ask her what that means.  
  • Jack Whelan, a challenger, got up and introduced himself as a UW professor married to an SPS teacher.  He said he hears that the School Board just needs more time and said you can't build on a flawed foundation.  Good line. 
  • Heidi Bennett, a member of the 36th, spoke in favor of the endorsement saying that the district was moving in a positive direction and that the Board had "swiftly dealt" with the scandals.  I can't say I believe the first part of the statement and I know the last part is simply not true.  
  • Kate Martin also spoke here and said that Sherry's campaign is "supported by 8 people and they own her."  She also said Sherry isn't using proven strategies.
(If you ever want your student to see democracy in action, take them to one of these events.  It's person-to-person communication and real discussion.  The referendum on the tunnel issue was also voted on and the "approve" passed 33-15. 


Anonymous said...

Holy Cow, 36th! Get with the program! Is the motto still "stay the course"? Until the ship sinks? Hard workers that make bad decisions may as well look for work elsewhere, PLZ!

Mr. Ed

me said...

Hey at least they didn't make any endorsements. That's better than the young dems who endorse all the incumbents except for Harium.

Anonymous said...

Guess they're not the only one not endorsing anyone:

Enfield's report card

Mr. Ed

Anonymous said...

What the 36th District membership really voted to do was to hold off on endorsement until after the Primary and give the challengers a chance to introduce themselves to the public and the membership. Last night's meeting bought time for Sharon Peaslee, Jack Whelan, and Kate Martin.


Anonymous said...

Heidi Bennett is Stand For Children. She has wormed her way into being Legislative Director for the state PTSA. Watch out for her. She is a mean piece of work. She belongs in the Democratic Party like Dennis Kucinich belongs in the Tea Party.

-- Ivan Weiss

Greg said...

Does Sharon Peaslee have a website? I still can't find one for her. I would like to get more information.

RosieReader said...

"Michael DeBell's wife, Marie, nominated a sole endorsement for Sherry (but did not identify herself as Michael's wife - maybe they all knew that)."

Melissa -- I'd like to understand why you think a person needs to identify her husband before she does something at a meeting. Are you going all 1950s on us? Do you think that her marital relationship somehow diminishes her own opinions? Should I know who your partner is and what he/she does before I evaluate what you say? Why is the spouse of a school board member any different? Should I address you as "Ms. Melissa Westbrook" or as "Mrs. John Doe?"

My husband and I don't share a last name. He's a voting member in an organization where I have an elected leadership role. I'm a parent at the school where he teaches. Surely, in 2011, there's no need for either of us to go around the room announcing our relationship before we speak our minds.

seattle citizen said...

Rosie, I think that Micheal DeBell's spouse, Maria, should identify herself as a matter of disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Her husband is a public figure who is a school board member. Yes, she is an independent person making an independent endorsement, and in that sense there is no need to disclose (if her husband was merely a Boeing engineer or something) but because her husband is a board member, there is the obvious potential that she is speaking his opinion.
A simple recognition of this would be appropriate: "My husband is a board member, but this opinion is my own." Not necessary, perhaps, but appropriate. Particulary when many constituents (myself included) believe there is way too much shadow manipulation of the system, back room shenanigans, undisclosed affiliations...It would be helpful and ethical for her to disclose her affiliation and move on from there independently.

Anonymous said...

To even suggest that Marie DeBell is involved in "backroom shenanigans" is ridiculous and offensive.

Signed, wow.

seattle citizen said...

Who suggested that, wow?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ivan, we don't name call here. I know Heidi and while we certainly disagree a lot, I respect her work for the Seattle Council PTSA.

I LOVE Mad Men but no, I'm no '50s housewife. (I also don't share my husband's last name.) I didn't say her opinions were not her own but she alluded to knowing about the district in her remarks and I think she should have made clear why she knows so much. It's a good idea if you are married to an elected official and you get up at a political event and speak, to mention that fact. That's my opinion.

Where did "backroom shenanigans" come from? I didn't say that.

seattle citizen said...

I made the comment about backroom shenanigans, Melissa. I wrote that "there is way too much shadow manipulation of the system, back room shenanigans, undisclosed affiliations...It would be helpful and ethical for her to disclose her affiliation and move on from there independently"
I wasn't saying SHE was a part of any shenanigans, only that some asre suspicious in general, and it would be helpful for her to be upfront about her connections to a Board Director.
Of course, Wow jumped on that as if I were personally attacking the good character of Ms DeBell, which of course I wasn't. Wow was merely practicing the indelicate art of attack to deflect, attack to reduce the credibility of the attackee...old stuff, really.

mirmac1 said...

Duh! If the Mayor's wife showed up at a City Council meeting to speak on behalf of a raise for McGinn, yeah disclose already! Remember, aren't they all about "transparency", paying PR flacks to help them with that?

RosieReader said...

Wow, this is pretty amazing coming from a bunch of progressives. Where do you draw the line? I'm assuming that any live-in partner has a disclosure obligation in your world. What about long-term-committed-but-separate-households. If you're polyamorous, do you have to disclose all the folks your in relationship with, or just the one who's "important" in that particular meeting. What about siblings? Parents? Children?

I envision the meeting of the future -- "Hi, I'm Rosemary. You should completely discount what I am about to say because my ex-girlfriend accepted money from the Broad Foundation, and my sister goes to school with one of Bill Gates' children. But on the other hand my aunt, who lives with me but who has a different last name, works for SmithCo which has had a long standing bus contract with the District for years, so maybe you should give me extra credit for inside knowledge. Anyway, I'd like to talk about the transportation issues at my school."

RosieReader said...

One more thought. I'm assuming that you think the judge who handled the Prop 8 case down in California definitely should have disclosed his same-sex partnership before the start of the trial. Right? 'Cause it's all about transparency?

Anonymous said...

Rosie Reader,
What is the harm in disclosing a relationship if you are going to make a public speech/endorsement on behalf of a candidate? This way there is no doubt. People will still hear you. Better politics and the same goes for handling public funds.


Chris S. said...

My "duh" insight of the day: Carr & Maier have skills that would be very useful on the board of a functional organization. If they were governing a body who would actually go do something when Sherry says "We need to improve our internal controls," she'd be a great board member.

Unfortunately SPS is not such an organization; I don't need to go so far as to call them dysfunctional, but it's pretty obvious they RESIST attempts to be governed, at least by the board. An entirely different skill set is warranted in this case.

Maybe, if you had a real bulldog of a board president leading them, Carr and Maier could be effective. To avoid personal attacks, let's just say we don't have that.

mirmac1 said...

I meant "Duh!" only in the most respectful sense (not directed at you). A number of the leadership, past and present, have the taint of not disclosing fully their affiliations or foreknowledge (and, yes, I would venture that marriage or cohabitation is an affiliation). Fred Stephens and MGJ - FAME; MGJ - NWEA; Stritikus - TFA; Our Schools - S360. Teoh and REA - Broad; etc etc. Guess, we're kinda burned out.

And Wow, your example disclosure statement was terrific!

RosieReader said...

There's no harm if a person chooses to disclose a relationship. But Melissa and SeattleCitizen thinks a person *should* make such a disclosure. That's my concern. When you make it the norm or expectation, then decisions like the Prop 8 judge's decision to keep his personal life to himself become suspect. We assume we have some *right* to inquire into personal relationships just because people choose to serve in a public position. I think the norm, the expectation, should be that people would not disclose such things. The failure to disclose would not result in a comment such as the one in Melissa's original blog post, becuase we accept individuals as such, not as some form of extension (positive or negative) of their spouse.

My concerns are summed up in SeattleCitizen's comment "because her husband is a board member, there is the obvious potential that she is speaking his opinion." Why would you ever make such an assumption. Now, I concede, on many matters is is statistically likely that spouses share the same views, but that one spouse speaks for another? Not in any relationship I've ever been part of.

Even if they share the opinion that she articulates, so what? Attack the opinion, not the existence of the speaker's relationship to someone you don't think well of.

Anonymous said...

Marie DeBell was a school nurse in SPS - and may still be - that may be why she implied (and has) knowledge of the district.

The leg district endorsements are primarily about union issues, and primarily SEA. Given the latter's discontent re TFA and performance evaluations, etc (I should say the latter's LEADERSHIP's discontent - what percentage of the membership actually votes on their positions?) - the leg district endorsements have no meaning for me as a voter.

I agree with wow and RosieReader - this blog (and I'm including comments as much as blog posts) has taken paranoia to a new level.

mom of 4 in sps

Anonymous said...

Board incumbents plus councilmember Burgess were given a drubbing in an article and comments on Publicola this morning.

According to a different Publicola article, on Tuesday the 43rd endorsed Michelle Buetow against Harium Martin-Morris and refused to endorse Carr, though Kate Martin didn't get the endorsement either.

So Carr isn't getting endorsed by former political organization backers, Maier didn't get his counted-on endorsement last night and Buetow is kicking Harium's butt. Perhaps the electorate is paying attention after all?

And what IS up with the SEA putting an ex-SEA president into incumbent Harium Martin-Morris race? I agree that teachers have gotten short shrift in district respect the past few years. But do I want an SEA lackey on our board? Hell no. (And according to Publicola the union was trying to pull a fast one on Tuesday at the 43rd by slipping Dunn into the endorsement process belatedly.)


Anonymous said...

I understand what you mean Rosie Reader, but given the MLK debacle (QA HS sale), where relationships should have been disclosed and vetted, I think the public needs that disclosure. Remember the board voted to approve the sale. It might not seems fair, but it is politic. Because of the stink, we need some fresh air.


Sahila said...

@mom of 4 in sps....

three years ago, when my son entered SPS and I started commenting about what I saw going on, I too was accused of paranoia...

three years later, everything I wrote/noticed has turned out to be accurate....

I'd recommend that you not be so quick to dismiss what's put forward here as "paranoia".... truth has this odd capacity to be stranger (and uglier) than fiction in this district...

Anonymous said...

specifically sahila - what has come to pass?

mom of 4 in sps

Melissa Westbrook said...

I find this discussion about associations very amusing. I have to wonder who is being paranoid here. (It's kind of like LEV's Chris Korsmo going off at the Seattle Channel event without stating her affiliation. I think if she had, a lot of people would have doubted LEV's work.)

"The leg district endorsements are primarily about union issues, and primarily SEA."

The union was not brought up one time nor were teacher issues talked about at the forum. So maybe.

Why do you think SEA put John Dunn up to running?

Anonymous said...

Dunn didn't come up at the 36th forum because they were not endorsing for that race.

Dunn is being backed by the SEA 110% Why? Well that's a bit obvious isn't it? Of course the union would want an ex-union head on the school board.

No doubt he's a nice man. Don't know him. But I don't want an ex-leader from Stand on the school board. I don't want an ex-leader from the Alliance, from Gates, from the UW, from TFA or for any other stakeholder/advocacy group on the school board.

I want people whose first allegiance is to kids and taxpayers. I do not want to be wondering how many strings their ex-organizations are pulling. The district is in bad enough shape with behind-the-scenes influences as is.


mirmac1 said...

Spam blocker must've ate my post (or I'm paranoid)

Anyway, playing devil's advocate here, what if Marie DeBelle had stood up and denounced Peter Maier? Would we be presumptuous to assume her opinions may be colored by her affiliation with what's his name, her husband?

Mom of 4 SPS, just as I suspected. A glance at the New York Times or even the raggy Seattle Times would demonstrate what Sahila's talking about. It's too much to get into here but, suffice it to say, she told us so. I wish this were just a chemical imbalance but there's cause for skepticism (and paranoia, in my case ; )

dan dempsey said...

Dear Skeptical,

How do you feel about former teachers running for school board?

Kathy said...

I hope communities organize and meet with Sharon Peaslee.

I like her positions.

Anonymous said...

mirmac1 - paranoia =

seeing conspiracy on the part of Broad, Gates, TFA, STand for Children,corporations, school district, and school board (have I missed anyone?)

+ suspecting every action by same
+ imputing negative intent

Your generalizations re NYT and Seattle Times headlines are of no use to me - my question was "specifically" but I understand that you don't want to take the time to detail

mom of 4 in sps

mirmac1 said...

You're right, too busy. Besides, this says it all.

Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates

Kathy said...

Here is what Publicola had to say about last night's meeting with the 36th Dems:


Anonymous said...

Dan I am AOK with former teachers running. McLaren in your area is a former teacher isn't she? I haven't looked to hard at her campaign. She has my vote just because she's not Sundquist.

But Dunn is both a former teacher and had the SEA presidency a few years ago. Don't like it. Don't like how I heard the SEA Vice President paraded him into the 43rd and strongarmed the crowd. That's not kids first. That's union first. And it gives me the creeps the same way I had the creeps when Goodloe-Johnson brought in MAP with her tight relationship to the NWEA. No matter how Dunn would vote were he to make it onto the board, I would always fear a hidden agenda.

My own agenda is anti-incumbent. Right now I'm McLaren, Peaslee (if she is not a gadfly), Martin and Buetow.


Anonymous said...

David Brewster over on Crosscut has some "interesting" things to say on the Board elections

Strong Councils
--a reader--

mirmac1 said...

Jonathan Knapp?! Strong-arming?! Not a descriptor I would use with him but you were there, I wasn't.

I'm supporting Buetow, and the former teacher McClaren has demonstrated to me that she is not beholden to anyone or anything other than sound education policy.

Anonymous said...

RosieReader: I think you're way overboard. Any "potential" conflicts of interest should be disclosed. Any. Why? Because when it comes out later, it creates suspicion that discredits the speaker and creates speculation about their motives.

The "appearance of fairness" doctrine is emphasized amongst public officials and office holders because it's important to weigh credibility and objectivity. Nobody is perfect, or above influence. But the more disclosure, the better.

If not disclosing relationships could detract from the weight of one's words and opinions, they should disclose from the outset. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

And yes, I think the judge should have disclosed his sexual orientation before he ruled. It would have pointed out the hypocrisy of the opposition who presume a gay judge can't be fair or objective, but a judge who owns stock in a company can fairly adjudicate a case involving that company, as Alito did while sitting on the Supreme Court. Instead, we gave the anti-gay forces red meat to throw around for the judge "hiding the fact he was gay." Made for good talking points on right wing radio, didn't it?

I'd love to have seen the bigots declare that gay people, per se, can't be fair. The media would have had a field day. The bigots would have looked even more absurd than they already did, IMHO. Disclose, disclose, disclose!


WenD said...

@Rosie: You're spinning so hard you need your own class at the Y.

RosieReader said...

Oh WenD, you are just so funny. Please, please add more of your absolutely hysterical comedic commentary to the blog on a regular basis. Don't bother addressing legitimate points - - like whether there should be a difference in public servant disclosure versus disclosure from a spouse or other family member. It's just so much more fun to direct stupid jokes in the direction of a person who disagrees with you.

seattle citizen said...

Well, Rosie, there's poking fun, as WenD did (for better or worse), then there's putting words in people's mouth: "Attack the opinion, not the existence of the speaker's relationship to someone you don't think well of."

Did anyone say they didn't think well of Director DeBell? I don't see that anywhere. The conversation is (was...) about whether Maria should disclose. Nuthin' in there about not thinking well of anyone. So why did you paint me (or others) as some sort of meanies who "don't think well of DeBell!"? It's unfair and it's a distraction. Worse, in my opinion, than an innocuous joke about "spinning at the Y"

RosieReader said...

Seattle citizen -- you could replace the phrase "you don't think well of" in my comment with "else," if that helps to avoid causing offense. My point would be the same. So the sentence would read: "Attack the opinion, not the existence of the speaker's relationship to someone else."

someone said...

Hmm... not to get involved - oops too late - but I'm really not sure what harm there is in disclosing a relationship - sure one is totally entitled to one's own opinion. But it's disingenuous to assume that a household member of an official might not be privy to different information than say, their next door neighbor. So just by virtue of the existence of the relationship, there is potential for an influence on opinion. Not an assumption of one, but the possibility. And that's the crux of the issue - it does a disservice to everyone to not be open and above board about something small like this - because it can't help but raise doubts about larger issues.

Ah geez - enough - you clearly have a mindset that leans one way RR, and others are leaning the opposite - agree to disagree - and get back to the real issues - what candidate best serves the interests of the students. That's all I really care about - because I think they have been so totally lost in all this.

seattle citizen said...

Thanks, Rosie, removing an attribution of ill-thought from your quote does help. Not that I was offended, but it was misleading. I don't think you meant to do it, I was mainly just commenting on how all of us get into these sorts of pissing wars, one way or the other. But thanks.

Yeah, I agree Someone Said, we've strayed....mea culpa...
Luckily, there will be many more threads about the upcoming board elections.

mea culpa, WV's sulpa...not a clue what that means, but as some commenter recently noted, WV comes up with AWESOME words!

Charlie Mas said...

I think the question about whether someone should disclose a relationship or not hinges on whether the relationship represents an interest in the outcome - does it constitute skin in the game or a dog in the fight?

Did Mrs. DeBell's relationship with a member of the Board constitute an interest? I think it falls into a grey area. In that case, best practice would be to disclose, but I don't think it is unethical to choose not to disclose.

If I were she, I would have disclosed because, honestly, I think it could only help. If Director DeBell were coming home after Board meetings grumbling about "that deadweight Sherry Carr", I don't imagine Mrs. DeBell would speak in support of Director Carr's endorsement.

So now I have to wonder: what DOES Michael DeBell come home grumbling about?

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

@Rosie: Would you prefer dissembling instead of spinning?

Rosie, I'm sorry if I offended you. I didn't mean to insult you, but I don't see the logic in your objection to the comment/question of the identity of a board member's partner. It's all politics, so knowing who's who is always important. This is nothing new, so I don't see why you insist on setting your objections in era of the housewife. Actually, some of the most powerful people in politics are wives, but I digress.

The part of Mel's post that was more troubling to me was the "hard worker" mantra for Meier. I don't understand where hard work and neglect meet but again, that's the spin of politics.

seattle citizen said...

Someone could be a "hard worker," working hard to enact policies that are not in the best interests of students or the taxpayers and citizens that support the students.

That would concern me even more: WHOSE work is being done?

Just Saying said...

Please rememeber that Marie DeBell is a long time SPS Nurse, who worked for the district years before her husband became a director. She shouldn't have her own personal knowledge of the district discounted or diminished because her husband pursued a school board position.

Melissa Westbrook said...

She didn't mention her long association with the district either. It truly helps to know how people do come by their information/opinion as you put more faith in people on the front lines.

Terrence J. Menage, Ed.D. said...