Saturday, June 13, 2009

Public Trust

For months now the Monroe County School District has been embroiled in controversy over who ought to be punished for mis-, non- and malfeasance that led to the theft of several hundred thousand dollars of public and private (kids) money, the arrest of the wife of the Superintendent of Schools, and then the Superintendent himself.

One way that it's all playing out is on the pages of the Key West Citizen web site. John Guerra, the Citizen reporter who is doggedly chronicling the scandal in almost daily revelations of newly-uncovered information is sure to earn multiple journalism awards for himself and the newspaper. But there's another dimension to the story. It's in the Citizen's recently added feature that allows readers to comment on news articles and editorials directly after the article is posted on-line. Each new revelation is thoroughly sliced and diced by readers of the article, who then are themselves sliced and diced by readers of the comments, and so on and so on. It makes for lively reading, some of it, and it can get pretty heated at times.

Below is a small sampling of the "conversations" that take place. This one appears to be between an anonymous reader and the Chairman of the Monroe County School Board, though there's no way to be certain of it is indeed him.

The Key West Citizen has a link on their front page (on the web) that gathers together virtually all of their coverage. It's a Key West story, right up there with Bum Farto, and the Bubba bust of the 1980s.

Board Attorney as a conduit
Submitted on Fri, 06/12/2009 - 11:24am
Mr Griffiths [Andy Griffith, chair of the Monroe County School Board] is well versed in the law and he is not reckless or reactionary. The board attorney cannot be used as a conduit and Mr. Griffiths did not attempt to contact the regular board attorney for such a purpose. This fact was incorrectly reported. The board is currently using a law firm in Tampa and that attorney is advising the board members individully as well as collectively.

Submitted on Sat, 06/13/2009 - 8:01am
Sounds like I got an attorney's response! I'm thrilled to know the Tampa attorney isn't acting as a conduit between board members individually OR collectively!

Submitted on Sat, 06/13/2009 - 11:18am
Thanks for the compliment.

Submitted on Fri, 06/12/2009 - 12:41pm
Andy that was a great answer, but we are all watching to see how you react to the changes Randy [Randy Acevedo, suspended Superintendent of Schools] planned before he left. Sometimes, actually a lot of times, you like to hide behind "POLICY", but we all know the school board has more control then that. As a matter of fact, everyone knows what you said about Pedro Fraga: "If he is in the budget, the whole budget will be voted down." Remember that! Do the right thing, way too many eyes watching!

Submitted on Sat, 06/13/2009 - 11:31am
I deal in reality. I try to deal in facts rather than emotional opinion. I do not like to speculate. How does one "hide" behind the law? Policy is the law. Some of us respect it. The school board's power is in policy and they collectively can change those policies. The budget is a significant policy. I hope to avoid a split vote on this budget. I will do what I think is right regardless of who or how many are watching.

Submitted on Sat, 06/13/2009 - 1:17pm
If policy is the law, does the MCSD have a nepotism policy (appears we don't)? Does the MCSD have a policy which allows people (Ordinary people)to apply for jobs before others are just appointed to positions (appears we don't)? Does the MCSD have a policy to protect those who report criminal activity (appears we don't)? And, finally are you going to stand behind those of us who report additional fraud or are you going to allow those who committed fraud to remove the rest of us (we will see I guess at the next school board meeting)? I am not sure if you are aware (I know you are, but I am giving you the benefit of the doubt), but there are still A LOT of bodies out there (I know you need facts, but they are there right under your nose), but when you see people like Cheryl Allen and John Welsh being removed from their positions (and no one has told them they still have a job), it kind of scares the rest of us. We (union, SRP, non union, general public) are closely watching how the board (Andy, Debra and Duncan) handles Cheryl and John and then we will know how the rest of us will proceed. Open you eyes to that, and I don't give three craps if it is on TV or not! Do the right thing and if you could say what you said about Pedro why couldn't you say the same for Ms. Booker and other who's job are not as important as school level teachers and administrators. You got your $$$ for the rest of your life and your kids lives, I don't, and I need my job to feed my kids. Finally, finally, not everything the school board does is on tv, but we know the deals which are being cut behind the doors.

I'm reminded of Mick Barnes' essay from a few years ago on how to get Great Government.

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