Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rounding up qualifying

Speaking of the Clarke County Board of Education, we have three challengers in J.T. Jones (District Two), Jim Geiser (District Six) and Chinami Goodie (District Eight). I hear good things about Jones and Goodie, and some good and bad about Geiser.

My take on this ... neither Jones nor Geiser have kids in the school system. While I don't believe that's essential, I do think it would be refreshing to see some young parents get involved in this process. Susan Dodson is possible challenger who fits such criteria for District Six, but there is no word on her yet, though I think she'd be an excellent choice.

The qualifying for the Athens-Clarke County Commission also is underway. John Knight says he won't run for District Six, though both Ed Robinson and Red Petrovs said they would. Petrovs also said he wanted to cut spending and that 'as a businessman, I've never seen a budget I couldn't cut five percent ... it's just a question of having the guts and, in this case, the political will to do it.'

One can easily point out the logical fallacies in being one of the heads of a community-wide effort that is lobbying for substantially increased public spending toward poverty and then making such a call to cut spending, but whatever. Still I'm not sure such language will play as well as he thinks it will.

Elton Dodson ended speculation that he wouldn't run by making it official that he'd seek a second term for District 10, and I've heard a whole host of names of possible challengers, but nothing official yet. Word is that Regina Quick is sitting tight to see if anyone steps up to give Dodson a race, but that she is leaning toward qualifying.

CORRECTION: Geiser does have children in the school system. My error.

7 Comments:

Blogger Nicki said...

My take on this ... neither Jones nor Geiser have kids in the school system. While I don't believe that's essential, I do think it would be refreshing to see some young parents get involved in this process.

First, why not say what you mean clearly and emphatically? The vagueness and hedging are peculiar.

Second, I don't agree with you, JMac, and this mindset is why a lot of people don't bother running. Our school district board tends to be run for by people with children in the system, or who have education degrees because a lot of people think that those are the only people with standing to run. This ignores the fact that every citizen of this city pays for those schools and has an investment, both figurative and literal, in how effectively they are run.

The quality of our schools is at issue with regard to poverty, economic development, and so on. It affects our property values and housing volatility, and the district quite literally has carte blanche to do whatever the hell it wants to with regard to land use, which is a big issue for people like me.

Further, since nepotism/cronyism/favoritism/coercion based on relationships is the primary concern alleged, I can see a very good reason not to have people with children currently in the system on the board.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

First, why not say what you mean clearly and emphatically? The vagueness and hedging are peculiar.

I don't think I was being vague at all, and that wasn't my intent. My take, honestly, is that I think anyone who is passionate and interested in serving should run for office, however we currently have a good number of board members who are not parents of children in the system or are above, say, 40 years old. It would be nice to see more challenges along the lines of Goodie's.

Second, I don't agree with you, JMac, and this mindset is why a lot of people don't bother running. Our school district board tends to be run for by people with children in the system, or who have education degrees because a lot of people think that those are the only people with standing to run. This ignores the fact that every citizen of this city pays for those schools and has an investment, both figurative and literal, in how effectively they are run.

I feel like we're operating in different universes here. What young parent with children actually sits on the school board now? Is it Chester Sosebee? Perhaps Vernon Payne? Maybe Ovita Thornton?

And what don't you agree with? Young parents shouldn't be involved in the management, direction and vision of the schools their children attend?

Listen, I don't disagree with the notion that our entire community is invested in our schools and, fortunately, the BOE is finally getting the scrutiny it deserves. We need more smart and talented people to run for posts like this - and a host of other public offices - but you seem to be rather casually dismissing the obvious and legitimate stake that parents have in the system.

For all of those things you rightfully cite - poverty, economic development, property values, etc. - and that need addressing, it's also very true that parents have those same concerns and a much larger one, which is the education their children are receiving.

I don't think it's peculiar at all for me to merely suggest that it would be 'refreshing' to see younger parents who bring the same passion and skills coupled with the personal and emotional investment in the success of our school get involved in the process.

Further, since nepotism/cronyism/favoritism/coercion based on relationships is the primary concern alleged, I can see a very good reason not to have people with children currently in the system on the board.

So we shouldn't have lawyers serve on the commission because sometimes our government deals with legal matters? Likewise, UGA professionals can't run because we've got to nurture a close relationship with our largest employer.

That's what your logic suggests, even if it's subtle.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Red thinks he can cut the budget 5%, then he's either grandstanding, a fool, or wants to cut services.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Nicki said...

I feel like we're operating in different universes here.

We are. You seem to think that the board needs more young parents. Whereas I think the community allows the BOE to effectively run wild because of its emphasis on what we falsely perceive as its stakeholders -- those who are invested solely in the educational functions of the BOE, either as immediate consumers or as educational experts. So we are seeing two different deficiencies.

And what don't you agree with?

I don't agree that parenthood of a child in the system should be considered a higher qualification than, say, having an expertise in economic development or employing graduates of our school system.

Young parents shouldn't be involved in the management, direction and vision of the schools their children attend?

This is a different thing than having young parents sit on the BOE -- which has a more holsitic responsibility to run the schools as a whole competently and with a view to the community's goals.

I don't think it's peculiar at all for me to merely suggest that it would be 'refreshing' to see younger parents who bring the same passion and skills coupled with the personal and emotional investment in the success of our school get involved in the process.

Shifting slightly, I don't think you're going to get many young parents, or for that matter ethnic minorities, on the BOE. The election process in and of itself precludes a lot of the people that the BOE serves -- which is, I assume, why there is a parent council. But beyond that, the BOE needs some technical expertise, and in general that skews the board toward older and more affluent people. Either that process would have to change, or the other bodies that are more open to parental involvement would have to be more emphasized, to significantly change the number of parents involved at the BOE in an advisory capacity and have the parents involved represent the population accurately.

So we shouldn't have lawyers serve on the commission because sometimes our government deals with legal matters?

A more apt analogy would be not having lawyers serve on the commission when their own property is at issue. Yes, parents have a view that is unique and intimate -- but they also have unique interests, not always selfless, with regard to the local educational environment. It would depend on the person, but it's very hard to avoid conflicts of interest when one is so close to an individual at the mercy of the system one directs. Ask Sidney Anne Waters.

As to the budget, anonymous, what's your take on it?

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My take on the ACC (not BOE) budget is that there's no more fat in it, that any more cutting WILL result in reduced services. If people want that, fine. But you know they don't, believing that there's a free lunch and all.

I am a bit scared that the firs thing out the gate is "I'll cut the budget 5%" when he probably hasn't even looked at it. Sounds like grandstanding to me to appeal to Republican voters -- even though we're all "non-partisan" and all.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous anon014 said...

HED staff all flaunt their blackberries which seem unnecessary in this small town - It's not like they have to travel a long distance to go back to the office to check their email, or voice mail for that matter.
I wouldn't be surprised if other departments have equally expensive toys for their staff to play with.
Also, there are some county employees who don't seem to do much. I'm pretty liberal, but I think Red's right about tightening things up.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I encourage you, then, to look through the budget and make specific suggestions. At a certain point there just isn't any fat to cut. Red is just signalling to certain folks that he's a Republican. There really isn;t a way to cut 5% out of it without a substantial cut in services. As I said, if people want that, that's fine. But my suspicion is that most don't.

It might appear that some flaunt their blackberries, but those are also phones, personal data bases, tools to get on the internet when they're out inthe field, etc.

Also, things should be put into perspective. For all the complaints by some about Leisure Services, the total budget for LS is 3% of the entire ACC budget.

5:19 PM  

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