Thursday, June 05, 2008

Olentangy School Board in Wonderland

Down is up, and illegal is now confidential. We are now lost in the rabbit hole.

Starting with
Edward Bernays, propagandists have lived by this maxim: tell a big lie, repeat it over and over, and the masses will accept it as truth. In accordance with this, board has told the lie and is now in the repeat phase. The question remains: Will the community accept it as fact.

Board member Jen Smith notified the board of a pending sunshine violation, yet the board voted anyway. Why? I assume arrogance. Now the board majority is taking Smith to task in a
letter to the Olentangy Valley News (below). The goal is to repeat the lie until it is believed.

If you want the facts, read the newspaper articles on this issue. The board schemed to violate Ohio sunshine laws, with the smoking gun -- the instructions on how to circumvent state law -- penned by McFerson (as reported on the OVN).

It seems like the board has taken a very Bernaysian turn. Will you believe them?

note: You have to love the implication that board policy trumps state sunshine laws, along with the mention of ethics from one whose actions lead to the conviction of then-governor Taft on ... you guessed it ... ethics violations.

Letter: Smith should not have given confidential info to press

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 11:11 AM EDT

To the Editor:

In the news recently, our fellow board member Jennifer Smith attacked the process the Olentangy School Board is using to hire a new superintendent. As two fellow board members, we feel that these attacks are unwarranted and simply untrue.

Dr. Davis told the members of the Olentangy Board of Education that he would be stepping down due to his illness in a closed executive session. Board President Scott Galloway appointed Vice President Dimon McFerson to lead the search committee. Since three out of the five board members had never participated in a superintendent search, McFerson's background made him the best person to head up this process.

For some reason, Mrs. Smith felt the need to share confidential information discussed in executive session with the press. Mrs. Smith has always voted to go into every executive session the board has had this year, and at no time during any of our executive sessions has she voiced any opinion about why the board should or should not be in executive session. By sharing this executive session information with the press, Mrs. Smith broke the board's governance policies GP 4.1 in the code of ethics, which states "respect the confidentiality of privileged information," and GP 4.2 in the code of covenants, which states "remember that board business at times requires confidentiality, especially in the process involving personnel, land acquisitions, negotiations and the need for security."

Mrs. Smith also told the press that Galloway and McFerson screened the 15 applicants to pick the top five for interviewing -- that is true. What she didn't mention was that she reviewed the same 15 applications herself and picked out five applicants to interview. Ironically, she picked the exact same five candidates that Galloway and McFerson selected. Thus, this process is hardly "rigged" as she told the press it was.

Did the search firm hired to find the best superintendent for Olentangy personally contact potential candidates and talk to them about applying for the position? Absolutely. Did McFerson himself talk to potential candidates about applying for the position? He did. There is no law in Ohio that says these actions cannot be done. That is why the process is called a search. This is done all the time in the business world and in superintendent searches as the great leaders are usually employed. Once candidates apply, their names then become public and the entire board is involved. But until the candidates apply, it is just one person talking to another to get them interested in the position.

Both of us are hopeful that Mrs. Smith will realize she jeopardized the work of the board by discussing confidential information with the press. We also hope she realizes she will get more accomplished through collaboration. She has some good ideas and a passion to improve where improvement is needed. However, she needs to follow the board's governance policies just like every other board member.

Julie Wagner Feasel and Dimon McFersonOlentangy Board of Education members

Copyright © 2008 - Columbus Local News


Anonymous said...

I could not agree more. This is like the Bush administration's stance things like wiretapping. We can't let you know what we're doing and let you determine whether or not it's illegal because it's confidential. So let's all stick our heads in the sand and trust our government. I don't think so.

Paul said...

This is all a symptom of the ignorance and apathy I talk about. It's a disease that affects our whole country, and will be our downfall I fear.

Politics and economics are participatory sports - they don't work if the public just sits in the stands and heckles the players. Or if we let the players decide who to take in the next draft.

Sadly, the signs are that Ms. Smith is caving in to the pressure. Her chosing to abstain from the vote on the new 'security' policy is an indication of that.

If the community doesn't get behind her, she will at best become 4-1 outsider. The more likely outcome is that she will resign, leaving it to the Board to name her replacement.

Anonymous said...

If Smith thought the law was violated she needed to go the proper authorities not the press. I've listened to several board meetings and while Smith may have some good ideas, she doesn't understand how meetings like this are conducted. There are rules and processes to public meetings and she needs to follow them like everyone else. Her violating rules makes her no better than the others.

Anonymous said...

This letter clearly shows the twisted thinking of these idiots!They truly beleive that G14 is above Ohio's sunshine law!! The same cluelessness that Boss Hog(Jim Ward) beleives the people in this county voted for Obama and Hillary and that's why he won't have another term as Commisioner! These people need a reality check! Everyone needs to, at least, e-mail the Board members and remind them that they are not above the law!!
Sick of this crap!

Jim Fedako said...


There are rules and there are laws. Rules are niceties -- conventions -- that never trump laws. Smith recognizes that a board playing by its own rules never justifies it acting outside of law.

taxpayer of 3 said...

The problem is that 4 members of Board think they are lawmakers, not elected officials. The new security policy is riduculous and perhaps Mrs. Smith choose to abstain, rather than giving such a notion the time of day.

Beware all readers...when McPherson gets his horse hired for supt...he will ride off into the sunset (or cruiseline) and let the other 3 numbskulls (not the electorate )nominate someone to fill his term.

Just the same as he did for Wagner-Feasel and Gallowaste. The replacement will be just as insignificant as Gallowaste and feel good as W-F, but like both will be an incumbent with name recognition.

Two seats are up in 09...we need to support Smith until sanity can prevail.

Anonymous said...

You have listened to meetings?? Get real and go to the meetings. I've been there, that is why(and I have seen) the press pick-up on the garbage the "BOARD" has done to Ms. Smith. She DID NOT give anything confindential to the press. I was there and THEY heard this crap for themselves!And now those Board violations are HER FAULT! Just how twisted can your thinking get? The tapes from said meeting were altered until a citizen who had a full copy came forward, showing Dimond Mcwhatever was the culprit (Sunshine law) and Smith is the one to BLAME? Please contact me, because I have dry land in Florida to sell you and a bridge too!(Intrest free of course)
Totally SICK

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Smith is the Hero, and the rest of the board, especially McFerson, is a joke.

It is truly sad and maddening to watch those with "power" defy the law, and do so as self-righteously as these people have.

It's pathetic, and is indicative of the type of public servants that have caused the public to have so little faith and confidence in their elected officials.

"Mrs Smith Goes To Olentangy"...go get em Mrs. Smith!!!

Anonymous said...

Julie nice post (10:25am), you need to resign.

Anonymous said...

10:25 Anonymous...

So good ideas get trashed because, as you put it, rules and policies aren't followed? As a voter, tax payer, and father of kids at OLSD, that is saddening. If they are good ideas, why doesn't the board accept and support them and help guide those good ideas through the process properly? That would benefit everyone, especially the kids.

Unfortunately, the rest of the board doesn't do that. Instead, Smith's "good idea" motions die due to lack of a second or they are trounced on by another board member (Feasel) who transforms Smith's common sense approach for needed change to current policy and turns it into a circus act (public participation policy change) that was essentially no change at all and isn't enforced, as indicated by the last board meeting where Feasel "responded" instead of clarified. Then, Hootie the Blowhard "clarified" for 3 plus minutes... which was actually a defensive response, and according the policy isn't allowed to "clarify" anyway becuase only BOARD MEMBERS are allowed to "clarify". Neither were gaveled down by Galloway for failing to follow the new board policy. Surprising???? Not really. I'm willing to bet $5 that if Smith rambled on like Hootie did, Galloway would have stopped it.

Of all board members, Smith more closely aligns with and follows board policy and more importantly, the rule of law than the rest of them. She's selfless enough to point out in open public session when the board has violated the law. That takes guts, ethics, passion, and above all else, a commitment to following the exact processes that 10:25 Anonymous is questioning.

That is worth a standing ovation and is something I've never seen before in a politician or board member. Keep up the good fight Ms. Smith. It has not gone unnoticed.

To Anonymous 10:25 ... keep up the unethical behavior 'cause it isn't going unnoticed either.