SB58 Does Not Play Well Together

“The purpose of the board is to set and monitor the school district budget, review and amend district policies and hire the district superintendent.”

Elaine Johnson has also weighed in over at DGreport with her in-depth analysis of the whole thing.

Tonight the SB58 meeting was packed. I got there late and watched from the hallway, and caught bits and pieces. These folks need to speak up. Didn’t they learn good diction in school?

Yeah we all know about the botched referendum and the election of Scott O’Connell, the guy who was maintaining the referendum wasn’t needed blah blah blah; got news for the 58 SB, we all do not really care anymore, it is all water under the dam (over the bridge?), what we really expect is that you guys will straighten things out, not make the same fiscal mistake again, and move on. Get back to work doing your elected duties listed up at the top-and that did not seem to be in the cards tonight.

So lets see, I have met and traded emails with Tom Cunningham during the referendum. Nice guy, always very polite to me, very dedicated to being a responsible board member, I like him. He took a hammering during the failed referendum, never something you wish on anybody, no less a nice guy.

I have also met Scott O’Connell during the election, and spoke briefly at the meeting Monday night. He’s a nice guy, always very polite to me, very dedicated to being a responsible board member. I like him too. Tonight Scott took a hammering for…well, for being Scott is what it kind of seemed like. He throws sand into gears that have meshed smoothly for a long time.

A couple guys whose opinions I trust say Marshall Schmitt, board VP, is a good egg, a nice guy, very dedicated to being a responsible board member. He asked for a discussion tonight pending a next meeting vote on censuring O’Connell for throwing sand in the gears.

So here I am all set to blog out on the first 58 meeting I’ve attended in eons, ready to rock on how they all seem to act like a bunch of spoiled brats that need a good spanking, and then I remember spanking is frowned upon: corporeal punishment isn’t 21st century, shame on me.

Actually, Tom Cunningham’s initial comment summed it up better than I ever could when he said he’s sick and tired of wasting any more time on this and they should all just move ahead rather than waste any more time on O’Connell. He was getting the statesman of the night award but instead he added more comments that were more vitriolic; he lost his cool and tripped and fell into the same hole the rest did. The guy who brought it all into the meeting, Schmitt, felt personally that enough is enough, O’Connell had to know his place. We got that at 30 seconds Marshall; point made. The next 30 minutes of saying the same thing slightly different over and over and over just convinced everyone you make me look tersely laconic.

Even Dale Martin got in a few shots, although my recollection of Robert’s precludes a COO from commenting on a strictly board of directors matter like this (I may be wrong, and with Martin leaving I’m sure he could care less what I recollect). instead of each board member saying his peace, getting their built up bile out and off their chest, we heard a back and forth as several others joined in on, and O’Connell disagreed and responded each time. Joseph Leo, board President, said nothing and did nothing to move the meeting out of it’s endless circular circus. What should have lasted 15 minutes blew through quite a bit more time.

The preponderance of attendees seemed happy to see O’Connell get verbally thrashed, applauding at a few key times during comments, as when Village Council C Commissioner Geoff Neustadt spoke, on behalf of the union (?) of public school employees.

Tonight it was not about the kids. It was not even about being rational adults. It was about beating up a fellow board member, taking turns saying how much they despise Scott O’Connell’s tactics and behavior and attitude and you name it. If Scott O’Connell was bringing it, they wanted none of it; and they let him know in no uncertain terms.

OK kids, got it all out, got it all off your mind, off your chest? Good.

School Board elected officials have more than an obligation to the kids, they have a duty to the parents that elected them to figure out where the common ground is and go from there. The members of SB58 have not done that, are not doing that, and it looks like they will not do it in the near future either. Don’t like the way O’Connell does things? Too bad: O’Connell got elected for not being a go-along guy. Upping the ante on a guy who raises right back does not work, and every observer in the room knows that.

It was small, it was ugly, it went on way too long. And it continues next month, when they start making audio recordings, just in time for the censure vote as one of the first podcasts.

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7 Responses to “SB58 Does Not Play Well Together”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    So is O’Connell a disruptive person? I’ve read the trials and travails of Cunningham, was at the Watch forum last year where he spoke from the back of the room (getting his financial facts completely wrong yet again), and stepping down as board president it seemed because of his dislike for O’Connell.

    Voted into an exclusive club where he’s not wanted?

  2. markthoman Says:

    From reading the bios of the board members Mr. Leo is a CPA and is on the Finance Committee, so him as President is probably needed right now. At first blush I would think maybe he could walk O’Connell through some of the stuff others accused him of asking over and over and being disruptive in the process.

    Elected officials often have to compromise to get things done. Find the common threads, weave them together, make something unified out of discord.

    Maybe if the board had televised or podcast the meetings from the last year and made them available on-line I would have a different opinion than what I wrote in the post.

  3. Senior Grover Says:

    You say they’re all nice guys but your tone is fairly harsh on them all. How much of a pain in the ass has Mr. O’Connell really been?

    I thought back when that you might be a similar pain to council.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I was there. Your right it was a circus. Village Commissioner Neustadt got applause for tearing into Oconnell. That surprised me he should have more sense being a public official.

    Scott wants it the right way and Schmitt and Cunningham and Jaros, are bullies that want it the way its always been.

  5. markthoman Says:

    With the notable exception of Leo, it was mainly a guy thing last night. The women on the board said their say and were done. The men should have followed suit.

  6. Anonymouse Says:

    The room was so full because of all the District 58 people (there to enjoy the show?), but Mr. O’Connell brought this on himself. You say compromise, but Mr. O’Connell never does and that’s why everyone ‘s so mad.

  7. DGDood Says:

    Unbelievable. Schmitt bullying continues unabated.


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