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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.

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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.

Junkman in the alley, part two

Published December 18, 2012 by justicewg

alley_pupkins

I’m cleaning out the basement, so I can start the new year with less clutter. Today I had another encounter with a junkman in the alley.

This time I had an old print dryer to discard, along with other metal crap, and I posted the stuff on the “free” section of Columbus Craigslist. It took about 30 minutes for the first replies to come in.

I met the guy in the alley, he was driving an old beat up van that was emitting a small cloud of steam from some leak in the system. He had a sad story that he told as he was looking at my old truck covered in a tarp, he said he used to own a garage and did restoration on old vehicles. The set of tools needed to do that sort of restoration work is considerable, so he must have been in much better financial shape in years past. He said he lost his job, the garage, all the tools. It didn’t sound like he had much left except the old van and a phone that allowed him to check the CL listings for scrap.

His wife was with him, and she noticed I had a bag of old toys set out. She was very grateful when I said she could take them too, she said this Christmas would be lean for her kids, so anything, even old toys from the alley, would be appreciated.

I know what you are thinking – those people are giving you a sad story in the hopes of getting some charity. They probably make a good living, tax free!

If they were pulling a fake sob story, they were doing a convincing job of it. Everything I saw told me they were desperately poor people who really needed every cent they could get from scrapping in alleys.

Grandview doesn’t allow junkmen to roam the alleys in the city, they can face a hefty fine if they are caught. If you post a message offering stuff and people come to pick it up, it would not be illegal.

My suggestion to anyone who will be throwing out good sized metal junk is to take the time to make a post on Craigslist in the “free” section. You don’t have to meet the scary poor people when they come to pick the stuff up, you can just tell them to get it from the alley by themselves. The metal will be recycled, instead of clogging up the lanfill, so it is the environmentally correct thing to do. And, quite possibly, the people who pick the stuff up will be really poor people who will be able to scrape another day’s worth of food and rent out of the stuff you will be tossing away.

( Junkman in the Alley pt 1)

(Who owns the trash in alleys?)

Board and Council meeting notes

Published December 13, 2011 by justicewg

I used to put all the school board and city council meeting notes up on my old blog, Grandview Watch. I got started mostly to provide easy access to the meeting notes. The websites for both bodies were primitive when I started to blog, they had no regular updates that posted the notes.

I could get the city council notes after a little nagging by email. It took them until the big website update of 2008 before they had a reliable source of meeting notes online.

The school was incredibly resistant to any updates to their procedures as everyone else was going digital. Before 2006, they used computers to type up meeting notes, but they refused to allow anyone access to these files. You had to make a request for the pages to be printed, go down to the office, and pay 15 cents per page for the privilege of reading open meeting notes. The school website update of 2007 inspired them to start posting Pdf files on a regular basis.

Another big reason to post the meeting notes on my website was the difficulty of searching inside those Pdf files. There is a way to use Google to search the school meeting notes online, if you have the google-fu to put together a term like “”field turf” site:http://www.grandviewschools.org filetype:pdf”. That is not a reliable way to do searches, if the page hasn’t been indexed you can miss instances of your term. For example, the google search I used above for the words “field turf” gave a result in two board meeting notes. A search for those words on my website shows there were five meetings in which the term was used.

The city meeting notes are completely inaccessible to search. The Pdf files are scanned pages, images of text. If you wanted to search the files you would need to OCR each page of all the meeting notes. The people in the city administration are usually good at emailing a regular text version of the notes on request, but that’s a pain that doesn’t need to be an issue. Bad city council! I will give them credit for making a lot of other city material, like BZA notes, available on the web.

Since I stopped posting meeting notes in 2009, there are now two years of records for the city and school that have no good index. I’m considering what to do, the work involved in the conversion to a html format is significant for that many files.

I’m pretty sure I will go back to doing a summary of the important parts of the meeting notes, as I did at the beginning of all the notes on the old website.
A short summary that highlights controversial content will do 90% of the work of a full index.