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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stranger Article on Peter Maier and Pottergate

From the Stranger comes reporter Riya Bhattacharjee's look into Peter Maier and red flags that he either didn't follow-thru on or didn't wave in the faces of his colleagues.   The key one?

As chair of the school board's Operations Committee, Maier acknowledges that he read warnings in a document called the Sutor report, commissioned by the district, about irregularities with a small-works contracting program, originally a component of the regional small-business development program.

Peter had The Sutor Group report (given to him at an Ops Committee meeting by Stephens).  I have never heard Peter say why Stephens gave it to him (and only him) but that seems to be the case.

At a March 6 school board meeting, right before the board unanimously voted to fire superintendent Goodloe-Johnson for her role in the scandal, Maier said he had been alerted to the problems and didn't tell the board.

Bhattacharjee was looking for evidence that it might have made a difference had Maier spoken up.

"I read the report and was concerned," Maier said. Former facilities director Fred Stephens handed him the report in January 2009, Maier said, after his first meeting as chair of the Operations Committee. At the time, approximately $1.2 million dollars had been lost. Between the time Maier received the report and when the district finally sought a criminal investigation, according to the state audit, the district had lost another $500,000.

Peter disagrees:
"I don't think that's possible," Maier says. Even though the report had its own red flags he blames Stephens for "not telling me the whole truth."

She also covers the issue of what appears to be rubber-stamping on his part of every single staff recommendation.  He says this:


"I am a problem solver, not a table thumper," Maier argues.

I'm a lover, not a fighter, eh, Peter?  Okay, we'll bite; what problems have you solved, Peter?


By the time Maier received the report, he had been in office just over a year.   That's about the amount of time it seems to take most Directors to get the lay of the land.  Peter could have told his colleagues about the report - he didn't.  (And it's a mystery to me why he didn't, particularly those members on Ops.)  

The Board received notice of the report via the Superintendent's Friday update in late Feb. 2009 because it was to be the focus of an article in the Daily Journal of Commerce but Peter didn't say anything to his colleagues.  (And apparently, none of them had the intellectual curiosity to ask what the report was and why the newspaper was doing an article on it.) 

The article referenced one contractor, Solar West, who the unions said was not licensed (true) and had allowed workers in schools without having background checks (also true).  What's interesting is that Harium and Steve KNEW about this company and these issues back in late 2008.  The union had come to them about it.  They, too, did nothing.  I find it hard to believe that Steve, especially as a business person, wouldn't have had a red flag go up when he saw that Friday update months later with "small works program" and "report" in the same place along with an article about them in a local business newspaper. 

Additionally, Silas Potter had gone before the Board in April 2009 and laughingly told them he had lobbied the Legislature for his program even though he knew he wasn't allowed to (and he knew Fred Stephens had told him to stop).  He got smiles in return from the Board and not a single Board member told him that Board policy stated who could lobby the Legislature.  It was a serious moment that got laughed off by all.

So several Board members knew of issues with the Small Business works program and really did very little in oversight or follow-up.

Every incumbent running has an problem with this issue but Peter more so. 

15 comments:

Kathy said...

Anyone can make a mistake, but let's take a look at Peter and his voting record.

1. Obviously, Peter failed to act on the Sutor Report

2. During times of historical cuts to education, Peter voted for a $19M teacher contract. Funding would come from the Supplemental Levy, TIF and OTHER SOURCES. Really, what might these other sources be. Now, we've just had a $4M reduction in teacher salaries.

3. Sale of MLK to First AME. How much will continued legal involvement cost.

4. Peter voted for Strategic Plan. I've asked for a multi-year budget. I haven't received one. My guess...it doesn't exist.

5. NTN contract.

6. Administrative raises.

Hey folks..we're in a recession.

Meanwhile, students in Peter's own middle school lack the ability to multiply above five, subtract 2 digit numbers and divide. Peter makes the principal decide between a nurse and math coach.

We can't afford 4 more years of Peter Maier.

Can only hope said...

Hopefully the constituents in his area will vote him out.

Cap'n Billy Keg said...

Silas Potter had gone before the Board in April 2009 and laughingly told them he had lobbied the Legislature for his program even though he knew he wasn't allowed to (and he knew Fred Stephens had told him to stop). He got smiles in return from the Board and not a single Board member told him that Board policy stated who could lobby the Legislature. It was a serious moment that got laughed off by all.

A serious matter indeed, which seems to have been "swept under the carpet"...

It seems "the board" is more interested in directing the head of Security (one of the few who just received a BIG raise) to send out a certified letter, warning a member of the public, they better watch what they say when speaking to the board or they will be barred from future public board meetings...!

Go figure...

dan dempsey said...

Hummmm.....

Peter pushes and approves lots of things that the evidence shows will not work. Oddly (or not) what he pushes is certainly right in line with the Oligarchs' wishes for Ed USA.

Consider Peter's continual support for the "test the kid's a lot" movement.

Stand For Children prefers to endorse Seattle Schools Director incumbents. SfC are most certainly furthering a national, top-down agenda that is obsessed with standardized test scores and using them to evaluate teachers. Read the Ed Week story below about latest report from National Academies of Science on lack of results from this "Big Time Testing" process. The process that Peter and his cronies approve lavish spending, while failing to give a hoot about providing interventions for struggling students.

Panel Finds Few Learning Gains From Testing Movement By Sarah D. Sparks

========
Also in regard to the Test the Kids a lot agenda .... Take a BOW ... WEA and SEA for your continual support of the adoption of the Common Core State Standards ..... a key element in the test your kids a lot movement. .....
What up union leaders?
Unable to identify the best interests of teachers and students?
Apparently so.

=========

The Gates Foundation gave the PTA national group $1 million right after the PTA endorsed the Common Core State Standards movement.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting Billy. I wonder if that's about speaking about staff by name or not keeping on topic.

I note that Steve is saying this more and more.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Dude...

"a certified letter, warning a member of the public, they better watch what they say when speaking to the board or they will be barred from future public board meetings...!"

Now if only Steve and crew would actually listen to the contents of the testimonies. .... Seems these Directors might have been barred from acting on what they hear.

Dorothy said it Best .. In three minute increments the public has presented the information needed to make good decisions .....

The Board would rather listen to the recommendations of their hired professionals and in doing so repeatedly screw-up. Reelect no one.

Andy said...

Regarding the certified letter: Sounds like someone wants to start a rumor. Can you provide specifics, like the name of the person that the letter was sent to?

Too bad the writer of the Stranger article got some of the basic facts wrong. And that thing about Potter admitting the trips to the capital and not being punished. I remember reading about that when that big report came out. What carpet was it swept under?

KG said...

Melissa,

It is speaking about positions not names that this person got a letter for.

Seems as if Sundquist is squirmy now and cannot handle the truth.

The letter was from Larry Dorsey.

Apparently he is one of the people whom got a 7.7% raise for writing letters on behalf of the board to employees whom express the truth at the school board meetings.

Dorsey also seems to not follow the labor agreements making the district pay twice for performed work.

Accountability? Insanity yes.

What a joke he is.

Cap'n Billy Keg said...

"Regarding the certified letter: Sounds like someone wants to start a rumor. Can you provide specifics, like the name of the person that the letter was sent to?"

Andy - no "rumor" starter here - the name of the person? Nope, can't provide that unless the person gives me the go ahead... Just so you know, I saw the certified letter... Read KG's response below yours...

"What carpet was it swept under?" Surely, you know by now, don't you? It's that raggedy "carpet" known as the current school board - seems kind of odd not much of late has been said about it in the news or even from the board as to who paid the money back or even if criminal charges were filed...

Yep, no need to start rumors here - plenty of "reality" (or lack there of) swirling around the school board...!

Noam said...

Hey folks

Lets be fair, I saw the list through the link on this blog and the "raise" Ms. McEvoy was given her when she took over as Chief Operating Officer which was a big responsibility.

As far as I know most of the other 120+ got theirs for simply breathing in the same chair as before the raise.

And Sundquist's lame "additional duties" party line only "hooked" Linda Shaw because she only speaks (writes) that party line.

Those cafeteria supervisors are "supervising" less fte's than they were last year, or the year before and so on.

That guy at the board said one hadn't even been at SSD a year yet.

And now others are having to take furlough's to make up that money? Its outrageous.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's remember that Michael Tolley and Bree Deaussault each saw their duties shrink. Was their pay cut?

Cap'n Billy Keg said...

"Lets be fair, I saw the list through the link on this blog and the "raise" Ms. McEvoy was given her when she took over as Chief Operating Officer which was a big responsibility."

Noam - you are correct... The person I was speaking of - guess I should have been a little clearer on - was Larry Dorsey (see KG's response)...

The guy gets a big raise and unprofessionally hand writes the person's address on a certified letter? Do you get important correspondence from the school district with your name and address hand written on the envelope? I sure don't...!

Yes, maybe a minor point, but none-the-less it's difficult to take them totally seriously when one gets a certified letter with the addressee's name looking like it was written by a first grader...!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Getting a little off-topic here.

dan dempsey said...

Today's Word from Professor emeritus Stephen Krashen at USC.

Today's quiz: Consider the following, from a University of Georgia report on philanthropy and education:

"Today there is a convergence between the philanthropic sector and federal policymakers. Policies and practices developed, tested and advocated for by foundations have been included in new federal initiatives including Race to the Top."

(From: http://www.coe.uga.edu/news/2011/07/11/uga-report-analyzes-philanthropic-investment-in-education/)
-----

The convergence between foundations and the federal policy is because:

(1) both Gates/Broad et al and Arne Duncan independently came to the same conclusions about teaching and learning. The convergence is coincidental.

(2) Arne Duncan has a well-established philosophy of education, and Gates/Broad et al are following his lead, trying to help out.

(3) Gates/Broad et. al. are running the show. They decide, and Arne Duncan follows.

If (3) is correct, why are Gates/Broad et al so aggressive in forming educational policy?

(1) a deep conviction that their path is right. Formerly highly profit-driven individuals are now only interested in serving the public, and are convinced that they know what is best.

(2) financial gain: the educational policy they are pushing will lead to profits for their companies.
==========

"Non-Confidentiality Notice: This message contains no confidential or privileged information. It can be shared, and used for any reasonable purpose. It can be posted, downloaded, and shared with anybody, with the following exceptions: Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter. If you are not the intended recipient, read it anyway."

============

My question is why have the NEA, WEA, and SEA .. failed to organize substantial opposition to "RttT"?

Why was WEA leadership pushing 6696 in 2010?

Why did WEA leadership fail to oppose the CCSSI?

Why did not a single representative of the SEA or the WEA testify in opposition to TfA getting "conditional certification" based on "the achievement gap" at the PESB TfA hearing?

Why are these three supposed organizations, which are funded by teachers union dues, failing to publicize the Save our Schools March and National Call to Action?

dan dempsey said...

Darn it.. I mean the above post to be in Open Tread Friday.