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Winner of the tallest snowman in the city competition

Published January 16, 2018 by justicewg
8 ft tall snowman

I call it, Mt Freeze Megasnowman, the Comprehensive Community Driven Facility Finance Committee crusher

Years ago my kids and I built this 8 ft tall snowman. The city of Grandview Heights just ran a snowman competition, and didn’t specify the dates for the snowman building, it just had to be in this city. We won! We deserved it too, almost broke my back getting that second snowball up on top.

Congratulation to the kids who won in other categories. Just don’t try to top my snowman – no really, don’t try, it would be dangerous to do it. Make your dad build a bigger snowman!

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Watching Grandview Heights in 2017

Published December 31, 2017 by justicewg

This year contained some end points, like the opening of the new Grandview swimming pool, but it was more about the continuation of projects that had been in the works for years. Next year might be the time for a final decision on the school facilities, or the plans for a new city office building. Here are the news stories that had people visiting this website.

Bomb threat at PNC Bank

pnc-bank-bomb

A bank robber at the PNC bank on First Ave caused the first major story of January 2017. The street was closed and lockdowns in place at all the schools until bomb squad members determined that the bag left outside didn’t contain explosives. By February the Grandview Heights police announced they had a suspect in custody. Karl Schlenker, 60, of Cranford, New Jersey, was arrested at his home without incident.

I can find nothing online about a trial, so I guess it is possible Schlenker might still be walking the streets of Columbus after he posted bond and was released.

School facilities recommendation, and Good for Grandview group formed

culp-leads-laughter

The school board ramped up the public meetings to study the facilities at the schools this year, options for possible building plans were first presented at a May meeting. The school quickly narrowed choices down to three by June, and after an open to all (and hackable) online survey, superintendent Culp determined that the outcome of the process supported the “Tear down the middle school” option.

Some of the parents and community members who attended the facilities meetings got together, and decided they couldn’t agree with Culp’s recommendation. The Good for Grandview group posted a website with their complaints with the process the school used to chose a facility plan, and a warning that the cost of the new construction was just too expensive for this small community. As of December 31, 2017, they have 276 signatures on an online petition to the school board.

The board has remained absolutely silent about the GfG group. Culp had some jargon filled responses, but he rejected all direct questions. Two new board members will join the board in 2018, but past experience indicates there is little chance they will deflect the board from its current path.

Read the rest of this entry →

Facebook is bad for everybody / Changing minds

Published December 13, 2017 by justicewg

I try to keep my commentary on this blog focused on local Grandview issues, but occasionally I read or see something that makes me say, “Yes, this person is absolutely right, we all need to pay attention”. I will get back to the local after a while, but first some thoughts on this TED talk about social media, and Facebook in particular. Later, I discuss a good website on changing minds.

We’re building a dystopia

That is a bit of a clickbait headline, isn’t it? Sure, but this TED talk backs it up with careful reasoning and reference to studies of how behavior changes because of online ads and social media groups.

There has been a few headline news stories that have told us how we are becoming a nation that is sharply divided, not just because of ideological differences, but because of the perception of reality. We want to read stories that reinforce our own world view, and discount those that don’t fit – cognitive dissonance has been studied for many years, we know how the mind can bend perception to fit our view of how “things should be”. Now we have Facebook to reinforce those perceptions, feeding us a computer generated stream of news and commentary that intentionally pushes us into more extreme views on politics and society.

It has gotten so bad that even one of the founders of social media admits that Facebook is tearing the social fabric apart (jump to 21:30). He suggests the best solution is to stop using Facebook, but if that is not possible, at least understand how it works to suck you in and make you angry. Read the rest of this entry →

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.

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