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All posts for the month December, 2016

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2016

Published December 30, 2016 by justicewg

Although there is some correlation between the number of hits on a story on this blog and the importance to the future of the city, it isn’t always a good match. This year the hits and the importance paralleled. Here are the top stories, followed by some thoughts about “fake news” and how we can fight it here in Grandview.

School board breaks with Harrison Planning Group

board-meeting-10-18-16-special-morningIt wasn’t just the two-faced way that the school board handled the end of the relationship with Harrison Planning Group, tearing him to pieces in a school board meeting, while praising him in later emails to the community. It was the attempt to sneak this scandal past the public with a special morning meeting, while the board had a regular meeting the same day. They knew that the special meetings are not recorded, and rarely attended by anyone, so the board acted like three year olds and tried to hide their mess.

No explanation or apology has been offered since the split with HPG. Although there were two community members who spoke up at the special meeting, critical of the board for attempting to hide the important news with the morning meeting, the only response from the chair of the meeting was a comment from Jessie Truett that he didn’t think criticism of the board is good decorum at the board meetings. The board has never apologized – the board has never made apologies for any mistake they make.

There is no question about what was said at the board meeting, I made a video recording. I had a good number of views of this YouTube video, but I think many of the views might be from HPG’s lawyers in preparation for a lawsuit against the school board. If you have any interest at all in the schools at Grandview Heights, please take the time to watch the video.

The followup post about the replacement for the facility consultant continues this story.

Read the rest of this entry →

School board spends another $67K on consultant to provide “Educational Visioning”

Published December 22, 2016 by justicewg
Stevenson dedication plaque

Maybe this consultant will get the board member’s names on a  plaque at a new school.

When the Grandview school board split with HPG (the major consultant for the facility process), it was looking bad for the board. They ended the relationship with strident claims of Harrison acting “unprofessionally” and required the immediate end to all work on the facility process*. Never fear, when a big paycheck is waved, the board was assured of finding a replacement. The same fee that was spent on Harrison Planning Group has been offered to Frank Locker Educational Planning, for a total of at least $134K on consultants so far. Remember, the fee that was spent on HPG was supposed to cover most of the process, so now the school has manged to double the cost of the facility process (so far – we don’t know all the costs to come).

Two Saturdays in a row scheduled for one meeting

I like it when local government schedules meetings to get community feedback. The city council has done a great job during the process of street improvements for the Yard, and before the remodeling of the city pool. I have been writing on this blog and the previous incarnation of the blog about how useful those meetings have been (here is a review of a meeting for recreation facilities back in 2007).

The city holds those meetings often, and they know how to run the meetings – they don’t have to hire special meeting facilitators. They do spend money on consultants, but the documents consultants create are used to help inform the meetings and give options to the council.

Our first view of the new FLEP consultant will be at two meetings scheduled for January 14 and 21, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The meeting are being promoted with the title “Educational Visioning”, in case you didn’t have your allotment of meaningless buzz words. You are being strongly asked (required?) to attend both meetings. Oh sorry, did you have something scheduled for those dates? Didn’t find anything on the school website that hinted that you might need to keep those days free? Well, if you don’t have two Saturdays free for this “Educational Visioning” meeting, I guess you don’t care about the schools, and your voice in the process should be marked as “didn’t attend meetings, uninformed slacker.”

The differences are stark

Again, I have to contrast the difference between the school board and the city council – everything the council does is expected to be up for public comment, and any slightly expensive spending will trigger a community meeting. The council doesn’t hire a facilitator for meetings.

Because the school board almost never holds public meetings before launching expensive projects, they have no clue how to do it. The school board has stumbled throughout the facility upgrade process, holding special morning meetings in which they declared “The board built buildings 90 years ago, It is our turn now”. Going on field trips, creating a special task force that meets in secret and doesn’t allow the public to attend. Coming to what sounded like near blows with the consultant they hired, and doubling the costs of the process. Now the board is spending a ridiculous amount of money on a consultant who will lead long and technical meetings – apparently it takes 12 hours to go through his process.

I don’t know who Frank Locker is,or what his experience is with incompetent school boards. I think he may regret taking this job.

* The school sent out an email announcing the hire of FLEP this week, and it was funny to read how desperate they are to somehow push the hype that HPG had both totally rock solid good facilities numbers, and was so incompetent that he needed to leave immediately, in the middle of a contract. This is what they said:

“District leaders also acknowledge that the facilities assessment previously conducted by HPG has been informative, thorough, and accurate and will assist in the facilities planning work moving forward.

LOL. Right. That sentence smells like something a lawyer wrote to keep the school board from being sued by HPG. District leaders don’t want to admit they screwed up, and are now sending the story about the debacle with HPG  down the memory hole.

Also – that email was sent out by Culp, but is written from the viewpoint of the third person, as if by a reporter. Does Culp now have a writer to do his email for him? Here is a slightly different version of the email posted on the school website, but again, who wrote this post?

(Later) I read some of the stuff on the school website that was posted so we can get an idea where Frank Locker is coming from. I suggest you try to read the document titled CEFPI_ST&DM_Locker.pdf . I challenge anyone to read that first page without developing a headache. Quite often specialists in esoteric fields retreat into jargon that is difficult to understand, this guy is so lost in the weeds he might never come home. A perfect match for our self-absorbed school board!