Since I've had a busy week, as most weeks have been for me lately, I haven't had time to publicly comment on the recent controversy surrounding the BOE until know. So here it is.
As reported by the Asbury Park Press earlier this week, board member Helene Henkel submitted her resignation from the BOE sighting family reasons and overall BOE dysfunction:
..."I know people are busy and it's difficult to attend," Henkel told the Press, "but as long as people aren’t witnessing what's going on (the board) will continue to operate undercover."
Part of the criticism leveled by Henkel is the war between longtime board member Joan Minnuies and five of the eight other members of the board — board president Jim Cody, Bob Banta, Vinnie Brand, Michael Donlon and Ernest Donnelly" ...As everyone knows, I've written about the various egos, personal petiteness and demagoguery by different individual BOE members over the years, that has rightfully so, given the school district a bad reputation within the community and surrounding area. Given the fact that Helene Henkel was/is a member of the Bayshore Tea Party and hasn't voted for any spending measures that I'm aware of, her resignation from the BOE is nothing to cry about; she won't be missed. Most anyone who gets appointed to her unexpired term has to be better.
Good people that have spoken to me over the years, that would make great BOE members, have shunned away from the idea of serving on the BOE because of the politics of destruction that seems to dominate board meetings; board members seem to care less about the students and faculty best interests and more about their own. That's a problem that needs to change. You just have to watch or listen to the video from this weeks BOE meeting that took place on Wednesday night (posted below) to see it.
The alleged riff between board members (male vs female), which has been publicly denied by members, is apparent and in full display; bickering between the two sides, in public (or behind closed doors ) is disgraceful and unprofessional. It also seems apparent the women on the board, who are in the minority, aren't consulted or their opinions heeded, on some issues effecting the BOE and school district.
The example that I point to is the dismissal of longtime BOE Attorney, Christopher Parton, which was questioned and opposed by board members Danielle Walsh, Joan Minnuies and Sue Griffin as one of the first points of business opening Wednesday's meeting. They were concerned over the process and didn't believe that his experience, knowledge or expertise concerning the district should be lost, especially when the new law firm being hired to take over as consultants has been together for less than a year. These sentiments were also express towards the end of the meeting (1:35:00) when two members of the audience questioned the same.
School Superintendent Dr. William George, should put a stop to the bickering. Unfortunately however, I think he thrives in the dysfunction. The more that board members bicker amongst themselves, the less time board members have to examine or scrutinize his performance and the direction he is or isn't taking the district.
The dysfunction has to stop, it shouldn't be allowed to go on the way it has. The only true way to end the chaos is to elected need board members in November. It's obvious that current members aren't able to put their differences or personal agendas aside for the good of the community.
Here's a list of candidates that have filed petitions to seek election to the Middletown Board of Education this year:
- John Little
- Frank Higgins
- DJ Hager
- Lenora Camonetti (former member, lost reelection previously)
- Vinnie Brand (incumbent, seeking reelection)
- Andy Nichols (2015 candidate, 2nd try)
- Mike Donlan (incumbent, seeking reelection)
The only two on the list that I personally know and have spoken to in the past are John Little, who I think would a good choice and Vinnie Brand.
Vinnie is a funny guy, and I not saying that because he's a comedian. He's personable and ready to engage in conversation, which is often one-sided. It's hard to get a word in with him because he's mouth moves a mile a minute (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), he has strong opinions and beliefs and expresses them vocally which gives him the reputation of not playing nicely. And, Vinnie is the board member who filed several ethics complaints against fellow board member Joan Minnuies, for what's it worth.
I've grown to like Vinnie, I think he's generally a good guy and I believe his heart is in the right place.
Talking to a few board members both past and present however, it seems that he is just as much a problem on the BOE as anyone else that he may have issues with. And since he's told me on a few occasions in the past personally, that he had no intentions of seeking reelection this year because it wasn't worth it to him, personally or professionally, anymore to deal with the headaches, conflicts or personalities of various board members. I question his motives behind seeking reelection and wonder what changed his mind.
It is something that I'll to speak with him about.