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Board to host open, ask anything meetings (A.F.)

Published March 31, 2017 by justicewg

truett-at-visioningThe announcement by school superintendent Culp about meetings to be held in the homes of Grandview residents has provoked a change of direction in the school board. Culp’s “ask me anything” home meetups is going to be done one better by the board.

“We remembered that the school board held meetings in the past for the community to ask questions about special topics, like the removal for the A+ grade, or the change in student drinking policy. We looked at our record and noticed it has been years since we have done anything like that.”

Board president Truett posted new policy for the board on the school website this week. “We will be hosting bi-monthly meetings at the school for the foreseeable future. There will be no limit in topic – anything goes. Do you wonder what the real deal was with the mysterious end of the contract with facilities consultant HPG? Come ask. Did we leave unanswered info about the sudden end to former super O’Reilly’s tenure? Ask us to come clean. There were questions about why the school pushed out band director Hennig, Lots of things happened there that we kept under wraps, it will be good to get them out. How about the lawsuit against the school, and the large payouts the school made to end those legal challenges to our treatment of a parent? We will be fully transparent.”

The school will be making video recordings of each questions and answer, and a detailed transcription of the questions and answers will be posted to the school website.

Truett commented, ”That thing I said during a meeting about how criticism and questioning the board is bad decorum? Yea, that was kind of a dumb thing to say. Any questions or comments are now going to be quickly and completely answered by the board.”

“Heck, I might even be answering questions about the real reason that I resigned from the principal position at the school, and turned in my teaching license. You can only hold that stuff in so long, before it makes a fellow a bit uncomfortable. It will be a good thing to tell the whole truth” said Jessie Truett.

(Later) Sorry, some times you need to be a little early on the April Fools to get “ahead” of the pack.

Culp is holding a “coffee”, and you are not invited

All of the preceding story about the board holding open, ask anything meetings is a joke, an April fools gag that was so far fetched that nobody could have thought it was true, like spaghetti growing on a tree. All of the questions that I listed are real questions that the board has never answered – click the links to read the stories behind the unanswered questions.

I had to go back in the archives of my old blog to find examples of the school board holding open meetings that were scheduled so that any community member could ask questions. There really was a meeting held so the board could answer questions about changes to the student drinking policy back in 2008, and another was held in 2006 to get parent comments on the removal of the A+ grade. I don’t think any public meetings to ask the board questions have been held since then. There was about a hundred parents that attended the school board meeting at which the band director was given the boot, but that was a regular board meeting, and the board did not answer any questions from the public. I think the board was so frightened by that meeting they are now refusing to ever get out of the bunker.

The announcement by school superintendent Culp about meetings to be held in the homes of Grandview residents – that is real, the link above to the TVN story explains it (there is also a Dispatch story). I asked Mr Culp for more detail about the format of these meetings – how would the homes be chosen, who is invited, is the meeting recorded? He responded that he would be the one making the choice, the homeowner would pick the attendees, and nothing would be recorded. I sent the following to him in response to that.

Since you are leaving the details of who will be invited to these meetings to the homeowner, and they will set the tone of acceptable questioning, I don’t foresee anything will occur at these home coffee meetings other than polite chatting that never asks the important, difficult questions. Why would a homeowner invite a superintendent into his home in order for him to be made uncomfortable?

Since you don’t intend to record these meetings, there will be no record of what was asked, or answered. Ephemeral meetings with no important content, and no trace left after. Possibly useful for someone who wanted to burnish a social standing in the community by bragging “I had the superintendent at my house”. (Maybe also parents who are looking to bank some influence with the school if their child were to get into trouble in the future.)

Do you really think there will be anything produced that would be of value for the people who have hard questions in this community? – JW

Big surprise – Culp didn’t answer my question! I guess he didn’t have enough coffee.

(Later) After reading the Dispatch story about the “Coffee Chat” meetings, I think I understand now what the real deal is. Jessie Truett, who will be running for re-election to the board in the fall, will be attending these meetings also. This allows him a way to get into people’s homes and do some early campaigning for his fall run. I think Grandview residents have woken up to the mistake they made in electing him, and the shame it brings to the school to have the guy as board president. I think Truett really needs the paycheck for the board gig, and is desperate to hold the job.

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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 →

North Face wearing corporate sheep

Published March 19, 2016 by justicewg

NF jacket droneI occasionally get comments on my posts that sting a bit, this one from a post about the Virtual Golf place on Third has sunk my battleship.

__________

How snooty is this blogger? The separation of Grandview height/ the said area is petty as well, the person who wrote it. Very little about the businesses and more about classist inorance that keeps real people from moving to ” Better than everybody Grandview” Funny how ignorance and pettiness rule the so called upper class. I bet you wear a black north face jacket identical to every other lame corporate sheep that floods the streets of your separatist suburb. This is why u are an almost journalist ( blogger). Stick to the subject of your article moron. I’m sure the golfing is fine but you are likely a terrible person who no cares to lists complain in real life. Your the one livng in a virtual world where u think someone cares.

_____________

Zing! I’ll have to wash the tears off my North Face jacket, good thing I have the DryVent™ technology so they bounce off and don’t get my wool wet. Ah well – back to writing stories about how we have a superior suburb that we need to defend from the Hoi polloi that want to invade our sacred town.

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2015

Published December 30, 2015 by justicewg

It’s that time of year. Turn on the Wayback machine, click those mice, time to re-cap the best stories posted on the blog.

Policy Governance in Grandview Schools

data_czar

Although I have long written about the way the Grandview Heights school board pushes parents out of policy decisions and gives the Superintendent a free hand in running the school, I didn’t have enough experience in education to know the official name to that style of running a school. It’s called Policy Governance, and it was the root cause of the disaster in the Columbus city schools, which hit the headlines in the Dispatch this year. My post on this issue was one of the top read stories in 2015.

After the Data Rigging scandal was fully exposed in the Columbus school, there were inquests to find out how things could have gone so wrong. Policy Governance was at the top of the list. The Columbus school board had official policy statements which proudly defined how Policy Governance would work in that school system. From the policy manual:

“ … focus on strategic leadership rather than administrative detail; observe clear distinction between Board and CEO roles; make collective rather than individual decisions; …”

This is exactly how the Grandview Heights board acts. Good luck trying to go before the school board with any request for change – they don’t want to listen, they don’t want to answer your emails, and if they do it will be a condescending explanation of why they can’t help you.

In any other school which watched the slow motion destruction of a major school system a few miles away from them, you might expect some some self-examination and thoughts about “could this happen here?”. There were no worries expressed by Grandview Heights board members.

Although there has been one new board member (Palmisciano) elected this fall who will take her seat in January, I don’t expect any change from the board. President Brannan was re-elected, and she will take her votes as a mandate to continue Policy Governance at the school.

City Council bans young adult smoking

ashtrayThe city council passed a new ordinance this year that not only banned selling tobacco to young adults 18 to 21, the law as passed banned possession and smoking of cigarettes by this age group.

Mayor DeGraw sent the law back to the council with a veto, he said that after consultation with the police chief he couldn’t support the rule. The law would require police on the street to know the difference between resident and non-resident, 21 year old and 22. It set the police up for charges of discrimination. The practicality issues with the law would mean it would rarely be enforced.

The law inspired an editorial in the Dispatch, in which they said “It would be better public policy not to pass laws government doesn’t mean to enforce.”

The council later amended the law to keep the ban on selling, but doesn’t criminalize use by 18 year olds.

Jennifer Cook murder still unsolved

Jennifer CookeThe 2013 murder of Jennifer Cook is still unsolved, and it still a raw issue for a lot of Grandview residents. I re-caped the story in 2015, and tried to find any evidence there is progress in the case. Nothing new has been brought forward by the police.

If this were a detective novel, somebody would notice a small bit of evidence that had been overlooked. By using determination and a quirky sense of intuition the detective would sniff out the killer, who would admit his (or her) guilt in public and curse as they were being handcuffed.

Unfortunately we are not living in a detective novel.

Superintendent O’Reilly lawsuit is dismissed

oreilly_smallOne of the top stories that was read in 2015 was first posted in 2013 and occurred back in 2012, with the filing of a lawsuit by a parent who alleged First Amendment retaliation against them by O’Reilly and Director of Pupil Services Schott.

Keeping track of what was occurring during this lengthy lawsuit was always difficult because the official records are kept inside a database called Pacer, and I believe you are required to be a lawyer to access the records. However there are other web based companies who put legal filings up on the net where they can be found with a little Google-fu. These records are not complete postings of the case files, and the information is often posted long after the case has been acted on by the judge.

My record of website hits on the O’Reilly post showed a steady increase in 2014 and a spike in 2015. This is what I found in a filing that was written in 2015:

On June 9, 2014, this Court dismissed O’Reilly with prejudice as a defendant after the parties advised the Court that “the claims against him have been resolved.” (Order Dismissing Def., Doc. 142).

Why was O’Reilly allowed to leave the lawsuit? It is possible the plaintiff had no further legal reason to continue, but quite often there is a financial settlement made by the defendant. I can’t find anything online that mentioned how the case against O’Reilly was resolved. If the school paid money to end the lawsuit it should be recorded somewhere. I can’t work up the interest to care how this ended, O’Reilly has been gone from the school since 2014. According to his Linkin Profile, O’Reilly got a job as the Executive Director of High Schools, for the Columbus City schools, back in August 2015.

(Later) There are now more stories about the lawsuit on the web. Still not sure how it all ended, but the school is not looking good when is is mentioned in a story titled A petty tyrant and a parent’s nightmare.

Virtual golf came to virtual Grandview

Virtual Golf

Virtual Golf

The largest number of hits this year were on a story that wasn’t even about a Grandview business, it was about the Virtual golf place on Third, which is in 5XNW. I’m guessing there was some sort of glitch in the Google rank that caused anyone searching for the name of the place to find my blog.

Maybe I’ll take some virtual money over to the place and play some virtual golf in 2016. Probably not.

Not quite in the top five but worth reading –

School board continues to ignore Ohio Open Meeting laws

Grandview Crossing development news

When the news crews show up in Grandview

Previously – Top Watching Grandview stories of 2014

Top Watching Grandview stories of 2014

Published December 29, 2014 by justicewg

It’s the click bait time of the year. The internet demands these year end recaps. In no rational order:

Photo by    :+:+:+:+: on Flickr

Photo by :+:+:+:+: on Flickr

Honorable mention for a story I didn’t post –

Grandview Dad turns his son in to the police for peeping.

I thought about running this story, but just couldn’t work up the will to post it. I don’t want this blog to be about publicizing the stories of normal people with no particular lesson to be learned by discussing the story in public. Sneaking around taking pictures of women through their windows was a crime for which the 15 year old will be punished. Lots of kids do bad things and end up in trouble with the police. Why is this story notable?

The news media loved it though, I saw this story printed on newspaper websites all over the country. Google says it was in at least 50, including British and EU mentions. I guess there is sort of a moral quandary to the story, many parents would not have gone to the police. The possibility of the photos being part of the news stories probably made it a good click bait. For a time in November 2014 a search for Grandview Heights brought up multiple news coverage of this story, so it is notable because of the wide media mention of Grandview.

Mayor Degraw wins big time

Mayor Degraw wins big time

NRI lays out the future of Grandview Yard

This is the biggest development story of the year, possibly the biggest story ever for the future of the city. Although the announcement of the Grandview Yard development by NRI back in 2007 seemed like it would transform the city, the timing was horrible. Rumors of retail stores that turned out to be false, followed by a less than thrilling first stage development featuring a hotel and office building, and some apartments, left observers underwhelmed with the pace of the investment.

NRI dropped a bomb on the city in June with the announcement of a campus for the insurance arm of the company. What could have been a failed project is now assured to be a high density group of buildings with offices, more residential, restaurants and another hotel, and some additional retail. The city now moves into the position of having the taxes flowing in that can pay for the public services we only dreamed about in the past. Can the city cope with the sudden wealth, and make wise choices?

Board meeting of 4-15-14, at which a hundred parents and kids attended

Board meeting of 4-15-14

Band Director Hennig is out, despite impassioned pleas

More than a hundred parents and students packed into the April school board meeting to plea with the board to retain the school band director. Hennig had been hired the previous year and seemed to be doing a good job, the news that he would not be asked to continue with the school shocked the band parents. Despite the pleading and attempts to reason with the board, they went into a 50 minute private executive meeting and then voted unanimously to accept the forced resignation.

Board Vice President Brannan tried to do damage control with a “Keep Calm and March On” letter to the band parents that claimed the school superintendent was most responsible for the firing, but an investigation by Allen Froman at the TVN into the public records of band director Hennig at the high school showed none of them seemed to contain complaints that would cause principal Chafin to not recommend a new contract. O’Reilly said the Chafin had not made a decision on recommending a new contract, or recommending non-renewal, before the school board acted.

oreilly_smallO’Reilly resigns Superintendent position

It was quite a surprise to read the January resignation letter from Superintendent O’Reilly. After spending a low key seven years at the school, the sudden departure without a planned move to another school didn’t make a lot of sense. I listed some possible reasons for the departure in a post, but none of them rang true. Except the last paragraph, in which I documented the bad blood between board president Douglass and O’Reilly. Shortly after, the school also lost the treasurer, with no good reason given. There is a story still waiting to be told about those resignations.

dead_birdKids say the darndest things

The high school was up in arms back in February about a twitter account “@Ohfession“ that contained shocking student stories of drug abuse and titillating sex tweets. I guess enough schools complained to get the account pulled from the web service. One down, millions to go!

I only post my comments on this blog

Published November 9, 2014 by justicewg

I was reading a post by tech journalist Steven Levy in which he tells the story of how his name has been erroneously added to a widely shared email about the so called “war on Christmas”. He had nothing to do with the email, but every year he gets comments from people who think it was his words in that rant.

I had a new experience in the days around the last election – people were sending emails out that pretended to be from me, or with my support. The election is over, hopefully things will calm down and the over-caffeinated people who try to send all kinds of rants on the internet will go back to normal. I hope that I will not have to deal with this during every election, but like Levy and many others who find themselves attributed with saying things that they never said on the internet, I have no way to stop it from happening.

I have had this blog (and the previous blog Grandview Watch) for more than 10 years. In all that time, I have used this blog to post my opinions, not emails. I don’t post on Facebook, I don’t use the comment sections of local newspapers. Other than a few letters to the editor in the Tri-Village News, this is where you will read anything that I post.

Any email you have read that pretends to be from Watching Grandview, or justicewg, or John Wagner, is fake. I am not famous enough to get a page on Snopes to debunk fake emails, but you can use this website as a substitute. If I don’t say it here, you are reading a false email.

I can’t say why someone would do this. Maybe somebody with a beef with a school board member is using my name to throw attention away from themselves. Maybe this is a false-flag operation. There are lots of reasons someone could try this. None of them very good, most of them pretty useless at attaining whatever goal they have.

I’m guessing things will go back to normal after the election, but I’ll again say this – you might think you are good at covering your tracks on the internet. Unless you are a hacker with some deep knowledge of the net, you are not as anonymous as you think.

How bad can it get?

If you are interested in learning how bad the trolling can get for someone who posts controversial material on the internet, try reading this story. Author and former Jezebel columnist Lindy West had a troll who made a fake twitter profile using the name and photo of her deceased father, and used it to send trolling comments. That’s how bad it can be.

The surprising part of the story is that after West found the true identity of the troll and confronted him, it turned out he was just mildly annoyed and though the trolling was a joke. When he read how hurtful the posts from her dead father were to West, he realized that it was way over the line, and had some regret (although who knows if that regret was made up because he got caught). A lot of internet trolling is not from anger, but boredom and envy.

A technical note for internet trolls

Published October 3, 2014 by justicewg

There is something about the semi-anonymity of the internet that brings out trolls. People who would not think of saying rude comments in person feel it is OK to let their inner rage out in comments on the internet. If you read the comment sections of a lot of newspapers you will see these trolls on display, flamethrowers ready and caps lock keys set to upper case. They degrade the level of discussion to the point where any forum that doesn’t filter them out quickly becomes unusable, as their noise overwhelms the signal.

I get a few of these trolls here on my blog every once in a while. Since I approve all comments before they are posted, it is simple to filter them out. They seem to get more active near elections, as the excitement of a pending vote inspires some to get out the vote, and others to post threats on the internet.

I don’t think the majority of these trolls will ever go past leaving a threatening message, so I use the delete button, and that is the end. However, some blog owners have been subjected to repeated, serious threats, had their personal information posted, had deliveries sent to their houses, and other methods of harassment. I have never had anything close to that happen to me. But it does seem to be increasing in general on the net.

If you are thinking about becoming an internet troll, you need to know an important fact: you are not anonymous. Just because you left a fake name doesn’t hide the origin of your message. If you are commenting from work (like maybe – battelle.com ) the network IT managers at your office will have a record of the machine that was used to sent the message. Businesses tend to have very strict policies about using the internet, and trolling is a fast way to get yourself fired.

I’m all for free speech. I am not, however, willing to have my blog degraded by trolls, and I don’t sit passively for sustained threatening messages. Losing your job because you don’t know how the internet works would be a very poor outcome.