Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Seattle Times endorses all incumbents

Endorsement | School board candidates with most promise for reform

The Seattle Times believes that things are getting better and that none of the challengers, except Michelle Buetow, has what it takes to serve on the Board.

Perhaps they should get some five-week wonders from Teach for America to broaden the candidate pool.


Anonymous said...

mmmph! oh god, i just threw up in my mouth.


seattle citizen said...

The Times endorsed all the incumbents?! What?! No way! That's impossible. Couldn't have happened. Somebody changed the type in the printing room. Inconcieveable (which doesn't mean what I think it means, granted...)

I'm just stunned.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Below is what I had to say to the Times (I can't print the words that came out of my mouth when I read their bullshit). They couldn't even get their facts right.

Times, you never really change.

Oh sometimes, you show a glimmer of sense but then the Alliance or someone from the Gates Foundation yanks your chain and you are right back from where you started.

Coolpapa is right on all counts and you know it. But I'll pile on.

If you even kept up for one single second, you'd know that the analyst hired for the Board reports to...SPS staff, not the Board. Hard to do independent analysis when you are supervised by those who have the most to gain.

If you kept up for one single second, you'd know that Peter Maier was the ONLY one to read the Sutor report. His crime? He was "deeply concerned" but apparently not enough to tell other Board members to read it.

Also Harium Martin-Morris AND Steve Sundquist knew in 2008 (as supported by your own article) that something was wrong in this program because a union official brought to their attention. A vendor being used was NOT licensed AND had not done background checks on workers coming into a school with children on site.

ALL the incumbents had the opportunity to read the damning Sutor report but either didn't or read it and ignored it. Your guess is as good as mine.

They ALL read the Auditor's report in July 2010 and did NOTHING. They were repeatedly warned (by me and others) that something was wrong. They knew Silas Potter had been fired for trying to deposit a check for the district into his own account. They did NOTHING until the State Auditor launched its own investigation. Their investigation happened SIX MONTHS later.

That's just Pottergate.

What about the repeated sale of properties for less than their value when the district cries poor?

What about giving raises to at least 25 people at headquarters this year simply because the district decided they weren't being paid "market value?" Again, while crying poor.

What about the contradiction of allowing a few schools a waiver to use other, additional math materials (with great results) but no advocacy on the part of a SINGLE incumbent to do this for OTHER schools?

What about the continued lack of maintenance, basic and otherwise in our schools? We are $500M+ in backlogged maintenance. The incumbents have continued a trend started in the late '70s. What about the brush that is piling up, right now, around schools like North Beach because of the lack of landscaping maintenance? What happens if a fire starts this summer because of it?

What about allowing Teach for America in our schools when there is NO shortage of qualified teachers in our district? When it costs our district extra money? And when minority and poor children get the least qualified and least stable teachers in the district? I'd bet money that not one person on the Times' editorial board would put their own child in such a class.

Reform? We don't need reform. We need people to pay attention to what staff is (and isn't doing).

We need people who will say "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" as staff continually pushes forth actions in a rush.

We need less talk and more action. There's a hell of a lot of churn down at the headquarters but not much action.

Maier goes to the General and proves he's learned his lesson? What would you like that to look like? What a completely nonsensical statement from the Times.

Melissa Westbrook said...


Critics who never "liked" them. I campaigned with Sherry Carr last time around. But she's too bright and capable for this much to have gotten by her. Her favorite phrase - should anyone from the Times ever come to a Board committee meeting - is "Well, at Boeing, we never do "X"." Why? Because Boeing is run well and the district isn't.

Harium Martin-Morris? He checked out of the district awhile back. He's more interested in going to national conventions than what is going on in our district.

Steve Sundquist is a nice guy. But it's simply not enough.

I write for the Save Seattle Schools blog and people of Seattle I tell you this now - this election is going to be a major game changer for our district but only if you vote out the incumbents. How much more do you want to take?

Keep the incumbents and I promise you more scandal (wait for the State Auditor's report on the sale of the MLK, Jr. building to First AME Church if you don't believe me).

I promise you that you will see larger class sizes.

I promise you that you will see continued enlargement of central office (which is headquarters - central administration is a different thing altogether so don't be fooled).

We need change and if the Times' editorial board is happy with the status quo, well they are the only ones in Seattle who are.

Charlie Mas said...

Too angry. Shouldn't respond. I will play RuneScape until I can calm down.

Anonymous said...

I actually think this is good.

There is us.

There is them.

They are on their side, they are not on our side.

Pretending that the Gates-Walton-Kopp-Kipp Krime Syndicates are reasonable people we disagree with is a waste of time.

They need to be beaten.

The Times is part of them - they needed MJG gone because her presence was slowing the deformista juggernaut to the jugular of the community.

I'd link to Natalie Merchant singing "Which Side Are You On", but, it is a pro-union song back from the day when unions organized to fight for the nobodies, instead of sponging up dues to go to trainings where they discuss being active.


School Reviews said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sharon Peaslee said...

The battle lines are clearly drawn. It would be extremely useful to look at the big donors to the incumbents' campaigns and find out what organizations and initiatives those donors are also supporting. We all need to know what the funded agenda is. We need to get past speculation and conspiracy theory and reveal the agenda as explicitly as possible.

Jack Whelan said...

And it's time to stop whining about the incumbents, pick a challenger, and get behind him or her in each of the races.

someone said...

I have to agree with Mr. Whelan - rather than spinning wheels whining about what's done - if you have a candidate you like instead of the incumbents - volunteer, contribute, whatever. The campaign contribution lists for all 4 incumbents are full of the same people over and over again - the challengers need help if anyone intends to shake up the status quo

none1111 said...

This is bad news. Many people still pay attention to the Times' endorsements, and the money folks know this. This was arranged very carefully.

Sharon is right, contribution information needs to be gathered up ASAP. The information is public, but how quickly is it available? Is the data publicly available online, or do FOI requests need to be made? Who did this in previous years? Ideally, it would be great to have this info published here in as close to real-time as possible.

It's time to start pushing hard to talk personally with everyone we know --> especially those that don't know anything about school district affairs. Fortunately, it's an easy story to tell: all the incumbents are bad (IMO corrupt), and any challenger will be a better option. That story can carry over to the general without modification.

What are effective ways to get the word out? Besides the obvious/easy stuff like facebook. People who actually vote tend to be older, and older folks are far less likely to be connected to online social media.

Anonymous said...

Would it be a good idea to picket the Seattle Times offices?

Ballots for the primary are being mailed soon.

-- Dan Dempsey

Christina said...

Why the outrage and surprise? The Seattle Times endorsed George W Bush for US President in 2000 and Mike McGavick for Senate in 2006. I can't think of anyone who takes Seattle Times endorsements seriously.

Noam said...

Hate to disagree with you Melissa but one only needs to look at the contributions to the incumbents to get an idea of all the others who are "happy with the status quo" on the board.

Don Neilsen is......Steve Ballmer is..........Matt Griffin is......Dan Mcrady is (course he's paid by Gates to say whatever he's told).........the Gates' are.....check the lists at www.pdc.wa.gov.

There's a whole bunch that are. They just work from the shadows is all.

OR just look at the endorsement lists.

Anyone recall that Don Neilsen owns an "Educational Software" company? Is there any wonder why he likes things as they are?

Noam said...

Oh, and Dick Lilly?

He wants whatever Don Neilsen tells him he wants. Samo, samo.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wasn't the one saying look at the contributor lists.

Someone did send me Maier's contributors and it is the usual suspects (and full of lawyers but he is one himself).

I don't need to know who's contributing to their campaigns because I really don't care.

Get behind an incumbent now. Talk up the races at your block party next week (if your block is participating).

I am going to write the Times and ask for a correction. It is one thing to have a (total) difference of opinion. It's another to have your facts wrong and the Times should be ashamed they can't even do their homework.

That Passionate Teacher said...

I think Melissa meant "get behind a challenger", not "get behind and incumbent".

Unless she's finally snapped from the sheer insanity of it all... (snark)

All kidding aside...do what she suggests. Spread the word! People will have a much greater tendency to believe the opinion of someone they know than the drivel printed in the Times.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa:

"They did NOTHING until the State Auditor launched its own investigation. Their investigation happened SIX MONTHS later."

Sometimes things are done behind closed doors that we don't know about. Didn't I read somewhere the auditors said that the District was the one who asked them to do an investigation?

I realize this isn't the main point of your entry; but just wanted to keep an balanced perspective.

A friend of Seattle

Meg said...

I believe that each of the incumbents is well-intentioned. They took on a thankless, difficult job, and I appreciate that they were willing to do so.

That said, my dead grandmother might not do better than Director Sundquist, but I'm certain she wouldn't do worse.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I meant - get behind a challenger.

I need to do a timeline of Pottergate because I think people do not get it.

The district DID go to the State Auditor and say there appears to be something wrong. Steve and Harium(?) on behalf of the Board went to the KC prosecutor. However, they did not launch their own investigation until much later.

There were signals far in advance of this and they did nothing. Even the Times recognized that Peter didn't show much intellectual curiosity that most people would have.

Charlie Mas said...

I have heard that narrative, friend, but I'm not crazy about it.

The story goes like this: Following the shockingly bad audit report in July of 2010, the Board asked the state auditor's office to make an additional investigation of the RSBDP. The auditor's office delivered that report in December. Immediately upon receiving that report the Board alerted law enforcement authorities and ordered another investigation, this one by Pamela Eakes. Immediately upon receiving the report from that investigation in March the Board dismissed Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Mr. Kennedy.

Here's what I don't like about this narrative:

1. The State Auditor takes requests and acts on them immediately? Really? Is that how that works?

2. Why, after getting the first report from the State Auditor, did the Board feel a second investigation was needed?

3. Why was all of this done in a hush-hush way? Why didn't anyone think that openness and transparency was a benefit?

4. My understanding, from the State Auditors is that they take it upon themselves to report violations of the law when they find them. The Board didn't have to make a report to law enforcement; the auditors would have done it.

5. Somewhere in this chain of events the internal auditor was forced out. How does that fit into the narrative and - only slightly off-topic - why hasn't the District hired a new internal auditor yet?

6. Why were the superintendent and the CFOO dismissed without cause when there was plenty of cause? Was it because the Board had given her such glowing, positive evaluations up until then? Why did the Board continue to think so well of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson right until the day they decided to fire her?

7. Why didn't the Board order their investigation by Pamela Eakes in July? Why did they wait until December?

8. Are we to understand that the state auditor's office would not have done a second investigation between July and December if they had not been requested to do so by the Board?

9. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Mr. Kennedy - along with everyone else connected with this business - were completely aware of both investigations. Of course they were; they were interviewed by the investigators. So why the secrecy?

10. Given the District's poor record for honesty and the District's long record of revisionist history, why should we believe this revised history?

Anonymous said...

I agree with That Passionate Teacher. Word of mouth counts for a lot.


Anonymous said...

In 2007, Peter Maier received $167,721.72 in contributions. His top 24 contributors, all giving at least $1000, gave $101,650.00

Seven of his top 2007 contributors have contributed thus far to his 2011 campaign. Among those seven are Steve and Connie Balmer, who gave $10,000 in 2007 and thus far have given $1500. Steve Balmer helped to bankroll the effort to defeat 1098, which would have increased funding for public education. His total contributions to Defeat 1098 were $425,000 in 2010. Connie Balmer has helped to bankroll the Stand for Children WA PAC, with a total contribution of $100,000 over the last two years. Peter Maier has also contributed to Stand for Children WA PAC, with a contribution of $200 in 2010.

Also among the top 2007 contributors who are contributing to his 2011 campaign are the married couple Evelyn Rozner and Matt Griffin (Managing Partner of Pine Street Group LLC). This couple contributed $12,000 in 2007 and have thus far contributed $2000. They also contributed $2000 to the Defeat 1098 campaign in 2010.

Another top 2007 contributor is John Stanton (Managing Director of Trilogy Partners), who contributed $6000 in 2007 and has thus far contributed $2500. He also contributed $53,500 to the Defeat 1098 campaign in 2010.

Other returning contributors from 2007 include Chris Larson (Consultant, $8000 in '07 and $1000 in '11); Seth Armstrong (retired, $1500 in '07 and $500 in '11) and Harvey Motulsky (Software Design and Support, Graphpad Software, $1000 in '07 and $500 in '11).

In 2011, twenty-four of his 120 contributors thus far are attorneys or a law firm. They have thus far contributed $3150 of his total $30,798.04 for this year.

Zero teachers in Seattle Public Schools have thus far contributed to his campaign.


Sharon Peaslee said...

Thanks Anonymous for digging up all that info on Peter's donors. The connections to Stand For Children and defeat of 1098 seem consistent. But I'm not sure what the link is between defeating 1098 and rolling out the SFC agenda. Any ideas?

Anyway, as others have said-- PLEASE SUPPORT THE ANTI-INCUMBENT OF YOUR CHOICE. We're all underdogs and we need volunteers. I need help putting up yard signs and going door-to-door. I assume others do too. We all need donations. Please contact us ASAP if you can help. I'm at sharonpeaslee@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

Stand took a neutral position on 1098:


They could hardly support it when Connie Balmer was their biggest contributor to their WA PAC.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me above.


Anon on this post said...

Thank you Noam for the PDC link.

Zero teachers in Seattle Public Schools have thus far contributed to his campaign.

Perhaps current teachers, but the first contributor to Maier's campaign on 4/4 was Sarah Alsdorf, who was a (great) teacher at Lowell for many years. I can't tell you how disappointing it was to see her name on that list just now. I vaguely remember they are personally connected somehow as family friends, but still, that's like shaking hands with the devil. :-(

Phil said...


Stand for Children met with the Director of the Public Employment Relations Commission in May. Now the Teachers are having trouble getting a contract in Bellevue.

Think Peter is helping "craft" (behind the scenes like he claims to have done here) the dynamic there as well? (snark)

mirmac1 said...

To correct the timeline correction. I do not believe SPS asked the SAO to investigate. Kathy Technow, Financial Mgr, was duty bound to report a potential loss of public funds when the check was diverted in June/July 2010. I would expect SAO would begin an investigation at that point. Note that on the fraud form on the SAO website, there's a place to report whether you have alerted the authorities.

Now, Pamela Eakes wasn't called until December because her buddy Noel Treat was just new to the district and still getting his land-legs. Eakes was, at the time, acting as outside ethics counsel, busily absolving any and all ethics complaints regarding MGJ and company. I'm sure as the Board and Supt. saw the shit heading toward the fan, they hurriedly mounted this semi-whitewash (I say semi because they couldn't absolve everyboday, yet they couldn't make their client look bad either)

Dorothy Neville said...

Sarah Alsdorf's husband is (or was? retired?) a judge, so I do think there is a personal connection with Peter.

Timeline on the investigations. (Plural, there's the SAO and the internal one by the board). Please read the timeline in the SAO report. Their narrative gives clues as to when they found out things that concerned them. Please note that one of the early dates was a sideline conversation between SAO and a district counsel. Note the date. Then go find the school board video for that date and watch the public testimony. There is a huge reveal that should have lead to questions being asked. And sure enough, I confirmed with the SAO that that WAS what spurred the sidebar conversation with counsel. So, where were the seven board members? Did they not listen to exactly the same public testimony? Did any of them follow up with any questions? If so, there is no way they could have waited until December to launch there own investigation.

Also tangentially related. In a PDR, I found an email from about September where Nderu thanked Kennedy for counseling him about quitting his job, said he would think about it. I asked the SAO about that, as I didn't have enough information. I was told that Nderu wanted to quit because of personal reasons (health, family or something) but Kennedy counseled him to stay.

dan dempsey said...

It seems the Seattle Times is constructing an alternate universe for the voters to believe in.

Charlie's #1 - #10 list is far too reality based for the Times.

Now about that City Lights Sunquist interview....(alternate reality being visited)

Steve said:
“I feel like, from a governance perspective, we did a good job in a very trying time, and we have initiated a number of significant changes in Seattle Public Schools that are proving beneficial,” he said.

“Will the public buy that argument? I believe they will. And I think they will see that continuity is important and their performance has been strong,” he said.

What performance has been strong?

Is he talking theatrical performance by school directors?

Is he referring to the schools' academic performance or might it be the performance of certain students?

Continuity is important.... in regard to what?

Well whatever ... if it is good, I feel certain the Directors running for reelection will take credit.

If it is not good, the Directors will tell us it is good and take credit for the "supposed" good.

Apparently the political game plan is along the lines of the Stockholm syndrome.... Keep the voters hostage long enough and eventually they will identify with those enslaving them.

Anonymous said...

Correction ... the Sundquist article was in CityLivingSeattle.com

not City Lights.

-- Dan

Jack Whelan said...

BTW--One thing you could "do" is organize meet and greets in your district. How many of you have met and gotten to know your local challenger? I've met only two people who are regulars here. I would love to meet others and explain where I'm coming from and why I'm running. Invite both Kate and me. We have different styles but we're close philosophically and both equally committed to defeating the incumbent. Perhaps such a meeting could turn into a strategy session to organize all this negative feeling toward the incumbents.

mirmac1 said...

Okay, Dorothy, now you're just being a tease : ) What is the date so I can check it out for myself. I don't want to be the spreader of bad gossip (only good).

Anonymous said...

I hate to burst your bubble but you and Kate aren't the only ones opposing Sherry Carr. I, for one, support Mark Webber.


Anonymous said...

"What are effective ways to get the word out? Besides the obvious/easy stuff like facebook. People who actually vote tend to be older, and older folks are far less likely to be connected to online social media."

Phone Bank! Knock on Doors! Not everybody's cup of tea? Not mine either, but I do it because people listen to a live voice and face, especially when it comes from a teacher.
ken berry

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bubble-burster, really? Mr. Weber is running a decidedly low-key campaign so you might forgive Mr. Whelan for thinking Mr. Weber's heart wasn't in it.

Anonymous said...

Really? Let's see, Sherry has probably 200 yardsigns spread throughout the district. Kate has about 4 or 5 and Jack, none. Mr. Webber is advertising on Facebook and probably reaching at least 10 to 20 thousand views a day. I suppose the other candidates can keep doing things the way they've always been done in the past only this tmne hope for a different result.


someone said...

@bubble - maybe its that tone of voice doesn't translate in this format well, but I read your commments as unnecessarily snide. It dos your candidate a disservice to alienate potential voters who read this blog. As I say, doubt that's your intent.

Anonymous said...

A note to Seattle Schools Board Director candidates: I will not create a Facebook account solely to check on your campaigns. Please continue to post meet-and-greets, events, interview links here, on local daily and weekly journals, your Twitter accounts and on most importantly on your campaign websites. Some conscientious voters don't want to commoditize their information online solely to assess your suitability as a candidate.

One promising candidate in my district posts her Facebook links on Twitter, but they can't be followed by non-FB users. Thankfully they're on her website as well.

--CMO, District One, public school parent

Sharon Peaslee said...

I just posted this comment to Seattle Times endorsement:

It's disturbing that Seattle Times diminished the qualifications of those of us who are running against the incumbents. They tagged me as a writer, leaving out the fact that I have an MA in Education, two teaching credentials, and that I've been an education activist for many years. I worked at the state level to help improve WA math standards that were adopted in 2008. I led communities in Lake Washington and Bellevue School Districts in demanding better math curricula, and we won. I successfully pushed for improved home schooling policies in Bellevue. I co-founded Fast Track Math, a non-profit after school program. And I wrote and managed the online petition to rehire Martin Floe, Principal of Ingraham High School. Please go to my website to find out more: SharonPeasleeforSchoolBoard.com.

I'm running because we need to do a much better job protecting public assets. And we need to devote them exclusively to helping all students, including those who are struggling and failing. We need many more pathways to success. School Board directors should represent and advocate for their constituents. We need to genuinely engage school communities in developing programs and making major decisions that impact our schools and children. This is why I'm running. I think I'll do a much better job than the incumbent.

Anonymous said...

Thanks CMO, and ditto here. Anything hidden behind a @#$# facebook wall is not, and will never be, accessible to me.

- Seattle voter

not my normal handle said...

ken said: Phone Bank! Knock on Doors! Not everybody's cup of tea? Not mine either, but I do it because people listen to a live voice and face, especially when it comes from a teacher.

I've done a little of this, but what we really need is a web site or set of pages that describes in a concise way the issues at hand and the failures of the incumbents. Short and sweet, with a call-to-action of spreading the word to others.

When I talk to someone in person in can take 20 minutes or more, and it just touches the surface. It's effective, but very inefficient. When I ask them to pass the word along to their friends, unless there is any easy way for them to point their friends to this information it's just not going to happen, so there is no leverage. We readers of this blog care a lot about the issues, but we need to reach out to the next circle of people that don't necessarily have a horse in the race, but care enough to listen to us, and to pass the word along to their friends. The incumbents are counting on this not happening, winning by name recognition, something their large contributions can fund.

Pointing people who are not followers of SPS happenings to this blog as a source of information is inadequate, and could even be a turn-off for some. It's a blog, and thus its design is very different than a reference site organized to allow people to come in and understand a few issues, and drill down where they have interest. Facts and links to data and references, maybe some occasional "stories", but not a bunch of dialogue like we have here. Although links to specific posts on this blog might work well in some cases.

I think this could readily be set up on a wiki, and I even started putting the bare beginnings of a framework together a while back, but it would take a number of people working together to make it work. This would be curated data, so the intent would be that edits are not open to everyone. Are there others who would be interested in working on this? Melissa, I know you spend a lot of time here, but your stamp of approval and involvement at some level would be very helpful, perhaps critical. I think this could function as a sort of adjunct to the SSS site. Election information would be just one section among many, but a prominent one right now.

Even if something ambitious doesn't happen right now, a "Challengers for SPS Board" site needs to be put together that encompasses all 4 races and generally points out the dreadful behavior of all the running incumbents in a factual way. Otherwise it's just too hard to communicate the information and no easy way to spread it beyond our direct contacts.