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All posts for the month November, 2015

When the news crews show up in Grandview

Published November 17, 2015 by justicewg

Channel 4 interview JosephThe recent threat of a shooting at the high school brought the Channel 10 and Channel 4 news crews out to do interviews with parents. There was the standard “the kid was not unusual, seemed quiet and didn’t stand out” sort of interview. There was also a “this is such a shame, we have soccer teams and a football team that are going into the state finals, it is upsetting for this shooting threat to be in the news”

There is an undercurrent of anger about the fact that news crews showed up to do theses stories about Grandview high school, expressed more openly in some social media posts. Some of that anger is pointed at the child who made a threat, but also at the news organizations that show up at the school.

It is true that kids who work hard and excel in sports are deserving of praise, and there will be stories about the victories of the sports teams on the local TV news. But I don’t think there was any mistake made by the assignment editors for the news crews, they should have been out in front of the school when the story of the potential shooting became public.

Sports victories are fleeting

In 1970 I was in the county finals for the wrestling squad at my high school, it was cool to have an auditorium filled with people cheering for me. It didn’t do much for the rest of my career, either in sports or further in life. That was OK, I didn’t identify as a jock, and I put my sports victories behind me. I saw others in my school who excelled in sports and kept clinging to the sports victories as the highlight of their lives. Those kids had some of the saddest stories as grown ups, their accomplishments were minor at the local factories.

Sports victories are a good way to encourage kids to be skilled sportspeople, a life long habit of keeping in shape will lead to better health. But the career options for someone who mostly uses their muscles rather than their brains was never great, and the options are getting smaller. A lot of those factories went overseas, the rest will slowly become filled with machines that need no operator.

How will we be remembered?

Some big trophies to add to the cases at the high school will be impressive to look at. Let’s not fool ourselves, a winning team is a fleeting victory, no matter how high in the tournaments our teams go those trophies are just some dust catchers after a few years. Nobody will be hiring based on how well your team did in high school.

If the worst outcome of the incident with the kid who made alleged threats of shootings at the school had come true, Grandview would have gone into the record books alongside names like Columbine, and Sandy Hook.

Is bullying a sport at Grandview?

We don’t know what pushed the kid to make threats of violence against other students, but bullying is always a good guess. I have heard from some parents that it is bad at the schools.

In 2012 there was a special board meeting for parents who had problems with their kids being bullied at the school. There was a three hour meeting filled with pleas from parents who saw their kids bullied at school, around town, and in social media. Kids were threatened and sometimes beaten up. I ended that 2012 post with the assumption that the school would react with some substantial actions to deal with bullying. I saw no real changes that happened because of that meeting. There have been no more board meetings to talk about bullying. There is a Facebook group for parents that is focused on solutions for Grandview, but they seem to have no support from the school.

The school board doesn’t want to talk about bullying, but they do have a form that parents can fill out and submit to report incidents. The number of reports filed are listed on the school website. If this is accurate, it shows a spike in the problems at the school, starting in 2014.

News crews are the warning sign that something needs attention

I can’t see inside a school that has a board that mostly wants us to go away, and throws up blocks in front of those who want to see what is happening inside. My guess is that bullying is rampant, and the board will do nothing about it. If they ignore the news crews, it is like ignoring a warning light on your car dashboard – it might be OK for a while, but it will probably be a disaster in the long run.

We might see more news crews if the worst happens and bullying leads to violence at the school. I don’t see the board doing anything to stop this from happening.

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Alleged threat of school shooting by student

Published November 12, 2015 by justicewg

The Grandview Heights police were called to investigate a student’s home on Burr Ave last night after someone read a post on social media that seemed like a threat of a school shooting. This email was sent to school parents from principal Chaffin –

At approximately 3:01 PM yesterday afternoon, we received information that a GHHS student had made a post on social media that referenced a school shooting. We immediately contacted the police and began an investigation of our own. We continued to work directly with the Grandview Heights Police Department through late last evening, and we do not believe there is or was any threat to our students, staff, or school. The student who made the post will not be attending school at GHHS today or in the immediate future as we investigate further and work on a comprehensive approach to the situation and for our student. There will be an increased police presence in the immediate area of Grandview Heights High School today and we will continue to work with the GHPD to learn more in the coming days. As always, the safety of our staff and students is our #1 priority and we take that very seriously and we cannot thank you enough for your partnership. Should you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly, or the Grandview Heights Police Department. – Ken Chaffin

Stories from local TV stations,( Ch 4, Ch10), gave a little more detail, apparently the student copied the words about a school shooting from someone else’s media (they don’t say who but if there was not a second student investigation it must have been from someone outside the school). This might have been as simple as a re-tweet (a single click on someone else’s tweet will cause it to be repeated on your own twitter stream). City of Grandview Heights blog post.

The news stories also mentioned a “smoke bomb made to look like an explosive.” Two apartment buildings were evacuated while the device was checked out. This might have been a serious threat, or it might have been a Halloween decoration that had not been thrown away. I’m thinking that because the student was allowed to be returned home to his parents he was not considered to be a serious threat.

Lesson to learn from this – referencing a school shooting can lead to big problems for any student, even something as simple as making a single click on the re-tweet button may send the school and police into a full investigation. If this was a dumb mistake by the student, and the device that “looked like a bomb” was a forgotten prop, it would be a shame for the student to be labeled the same as a student who was serious about a school threat. Warn your kids about the dangers of using certain words online.

(Later) A branch fell on a communication line and activated the fire alarm system at Stevenson school this morning.  Students and teachers were evacuated from the building. No problems were found, I’m guessing they fixed the line.

(Later Thursday) Super Culp sent this email (located at the end on this post) with more info, it was an Instagram posting that caused all of this, which is normally just a photo but might have been one with text added to the photo that referenced a school shooting. Without looking at the posting, it is still difficult to know whether this was an appropriate response, or a big furor over a re-post of something the kid thought was funny, but others didn’t get the joke.

(Even Later) Wow, this is getting strange, there is now a new post on the Grandview City blog that says there is evidence that specific students were that target of suspected violence. Was this a case of the suspect saying “I wish those (group) kids would die in a shooting”, or did he name names and methods? Why are we getting so much info dribbled out over the day?

This later post in the Grandview blog asks any student who has info on this incident to contact the police. You can’t know what is happening behind the walls of a police investigation, but we can guess that there are some students with different stories who are attempting to give the best spin to their own actions. If this was a case of a group of kids who were bullying a sophomore who lives in the poorer section of the downhill apartments, mainly because of how much his parents made, there will be furious spinning by these kids and their parents. More info in this TVN story.

Read the rest of this entry →

School board hiring consultant for facilities

Published November 8, 2015 by justicewg

The board has announced they will hire a consultant who will apparently be acting in parallel with the Facilities Task Force that has already been at work for a couple of months. The TVN story says that the consultant will not necessarily be an architect. Out of all the consultants the board might find, it is hard to believe that anyone else would be more qualified than an architect, but it may be that they are going for cheap over qualifications.

The story says that the person hired to consult will not be eligible to provide design services for any future improvements, in order to prevent the person hired from give himself work by recommending costly new building designs. This makes sense, but it doesn’t change the fact that any consultant will know that the board is looking to put up large new buildings, and consultants tend to give top recommendations to the things that the people who have hired them want to see.

This hiring of a consultant, after the board made a big deal out of the Task Force, and the “experts” it was supposed to filled with, comes as a surprise. They were expecting this task force to do all the work the consultant is now being hired to do. Is this good idea to have two different recommendations, as you might expect from two very different groups? Or is this not a worry for the board, because they already know the final recommendations, they just have to have some paperwork filled out so that it seems like work has been done?

I wonder if the Task Force recommended the hiring of a consultant? After all, the T.F. members might have come to the conclusion that facilities consultations are difficult and specialist sort of work, and an expert is better at the job. In fact, you might say that having a group with a bunch of non-professionals in the school facilities field trying to give the school recommendations is like a task force with no healthcare experience giving recommendations to a dentist.

One of the task force “experts” is a dentist.

The TVN story continues using the discredited line from Truett that “maintaining the facilities as they are would cost $800,000 to $1.2 million annually for 10 years.” No, those numbers were only for a couple selected years, the costs would be below $500K in the later years of those ten years. And once again, neither the board or the superintendent will say the truth about those high costs – the football field replacement will cost $357K, and the total athletic program costs will require more than $700K just to maintain present facilities for the next ten years.

I’m thinking of putting up a post specificly to track the board and the superintendent on the issue of the football field replacement. The outside report said it would be needed in 2017, and yet there has never been a single mention of that cost by any member of the board. How long will it take for them to let the words out about that big new cost?

Grandview Heights Elections, November 2015

Published November 1, 2015 by justicewg

From VerifiedVoting.orgCity Council

Three seats are up for election on the seven member council.

The incumbents are Steve Gladman, Ed Hastie and Tim Galvin. Their CV and position statements are in the October 15th TVN.

I don’t have any big issues with any of the incumbents, they did seem to be overdoing the smoking issue when they voted to criminalize 18 year olds use of tobacco (Hastie was the only no vote on the entire issue). I understand where that push to keep tobacco away from kids comes from, but I don’t like using cops as enforcers for every problem.

A problematic issue is the conflict of interest that have kept council members from voting on issues. Hastie and Panzara had to step out of the room for some discussion and voting on properties issues which were up before the council because they either were part owners or realtors. Hastie again couldn’t speak for the council when I brought an issue up about the Ohio Taproom’s parking problem in Grandview. I understand some conflict is expected in a small town, but when realtors and lawyers who represent local businesses are constantly causing conflicts, we should make the choice simple for these people and vote them out of office.

The slate of potential new members

A voting slate, in which three people combine all election campaigning into one, and run as a unit, is new to Grandview Heights, as far as I know. It has potential to save money for the candidates, and it certainly helps with yard signs, anyone who wants to help a single person on the slate must defacto endorse all three (Emily Keeler, Ryan Longbrake and Brandon Lynaugh). The TVN story on these candidates showed no particular surprises, standard “low taxes and good services” sort of stuff. The slate approach to campaigning requires them to be bland, they don’t want to say anything that might cause the entire team to lose votes.

Steve Reynolds is attempting to return to the council by himself. He served for seven years as council president, and although he didn’t give much reason to stop beyond “time to move on”, he apparently can’t move on. I like his position on pushing back on the Grandview Yard project, the city already has been arm twisted by the mammoth corporation into bad deals, and it is refreshing to hear somebody say we need to stand up to NRI.

If you want to vote for Reynolds, and the slate, which member do you pick to leave out? That would be a good question to send to the slate members – “which fellow candidate should be dropped from the slate vote?”

Mayor DeGraw is running unopposed for a fourth term.

Three candidates for School board

Current board president Brannan is running for re-election. I have a few problems with her time in office. I’m hoping that the roomful of parents who attended the band director board meeting and read Brannan’s “Keep Calm and March On” letter will be marching down to the voting booth to give Brannan her marching orders.

Melissa Palmisciano is almost an exact replacement for Adam Miller, the JAG attorney who is leaving after one term. I had hopes for Miller shaking things up on the board, but with a single vote he didn’t have much leverage. There are also problems with the attorney mindset, they are conditioned to keep their mouth closed about any issues with their clients, and when a lawyer is on a board, they consider the other members their clients. The community is supposed to be the client, and when there are bad actors on the board, members should speak up (before the voting).

Melanie Mueller is a candidate who was recruited by the same group that made Grandview into a Policy Governance board. Expect her to sit silently and provide the fifth vote. However, if you don’t vote for her, you may allow Brannan to return to office, so a certain amount of holding your nose while voting may be needed.

Results

Reynolds won the highest number of votes for city council, he apparently still has voter mojo. Keeler in second place was the surprise of the evening, nothing in her background story in the TVN hinted she would have this much support. Gladman is the only current council member to be re-elected. Ed Hastie’s last place finish might be a result of the conflicts he had with part ownership of the Grandview and First building, the apartments he tried to build on this property encountered much opposition.

Palmisciano had a surprisingly  strong first place finish for the school board. Brannan will get to keep her spot.

(Later) I was told the reason Keeler won with such a high number of votes was because she is the only women to run for the office in this election, and women vote for her to offset the (nearly) all male council as it used to be.