Thursday, November 19, 2009

Well folks, the fix was in ...

According to sources, the Legislative commission studying what to do with the school board charter recommended removing control of the school board charter from the Legislature's hands and the creation of a charter commission to study what to do with the charter by an 8 to 5 vote tonight.
The proposal would remove the Legislature's role in controlling the school charter by allowing the election of a charter commission to be held in November 2010. The nine people elected to the charter commission would develop a charter amendment procedure that would be approved by the voters. After the election, the members would analyze the issue and recommend a proposal as a ballot question for November 2011. Any other changes proposed by the commission would be on separate ballots for voter approval.
If the November 2011 election fails to approve the changes, the amendment process would remain with the Legislature and a new charter commission special election would be held in March 2012. This commission would deliver its proposals to the voters in November 2012.
In the meantime, the charter will remain as it is.
This decision is the worst of all possible worlds.
First, it is a stall tactic, delaying the process for empowering residents when there is already a process in place in many communities across the state. This decision essentially requests the reinvention of the wheel.
Second, it delays any real change for years. Even if this process comes back with a direct democracy initiative petition approach, parents and taxpayers wouldn't be able to send any change options to the voters until November 2012, at the earliest. This means nothing will change until 2013, at best. Sigh.
In many ways, I'm quite saddened by this outcome but I predicted it would happen: ["Controversial charter commission starting to come together ... but is the fix in?"]. Damn, I hate being right. I really, really do.
Frankly, the eight people who voted for this proposal know better. It also didn't help that state Rep. Jessie Osborne, D-Concord, surprisingly advocated for the charter commission. But a big part of the blame of this disaster of a decision rests squarely on the shoulders of City Manager Tom Aspell who didn't do his homework before nominating three pro-school supporters who were guaranteed to fall in line with the other school supporters. So, despite numerous emails and a lot of testimony from ordinary folks requesting an initiative petition process, the commission completely ignored the people. But, like I said, it was rigged from the start no matter what anyone requested.
In an interesting footnote, it was Skip Tenczar, an educator and a self-proclaimed advocate of democracy who penned the proposal that was approved tonight, essentially keeping parents, taxpayers, and residents from having direct democracy when it comes to their school system. Yeah, he's the same guy who stood in the way of many of us trying to get to the bottom of all the crap going on at CCTV [now Concord TV]. Democracy for me, but not for thee, I guess.
I don't know what the next step is. Most of us don't have the money to sue. And I surely won't be wasting any of my time running for what will essentially be a rigged charter commission next year. Why would anyone waste one iota of time trying to get elected to that only to waste a year of their lives not getting anything done because you will be hopelessly outnumbered?
I'm truly open to hearing your ideas, if any, on what we can do about this. Because frankly, I'm out of ideas at this point. Please feel free to interact with me via email or feel free to comment on this post.
In closing I will say this: I don't mean to be negative, but the people will never be empowered in this city so long as the majority stay silent and let the insiders take advantage of the power vacuum and run the city and school system into the ground. In many ways, we all have only ourselves to blame for this.

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