Friday, July 29, 2016

Middletown Board of Education: Dysfunction And Strife Never Seems to Change

I talk to a lot of people and I hear a whole lot of things. So, when I get asked by several people over the last couple of days for my thoughts on the most recent example of dysfunction from the Middletown Board of Education (BOE ), I have to give my thoughts and opinion on the situation.

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.  


Anonymous said...

Mike, file this pile of hogwash in the same circular folder where you can find the rumor that you spread about the board member who was being kicked off the BOE for ethics violations and the rumor that Dr. George was leaving the district to become the super in Keansburg. Both of those stories of yours turned out to be completely false rumors that you heard from your reliable sources that you never retracted.
History has shown us that when you talk about the BOE in Middletown your lack of knowledge is astounding and this article is no exception.

The BOE is not dysfunctional. It is functioning quite well. The district is moving forward. It is divided, but not dysfunctional. If the Supreme Court issues a split decision does that make the Supreme Court dysfunctional? Of course not. The BOE has a reputation for being dysfunctional because of people like you who have no idea what is going on in the school district keep saying it is dysfunctional.

Are there personality conflicts on the BOE? Yes. Are there members on the board that propagate discord and refuse to work with the superintendent and the administrators? Yes. They are a disruption but they are in the minority and they do not prevent the board from doing its job.

Do these agitators have the same friends stand at the podium at all the meetings to mimic their point of view in order to fool people like you Mike into believe that they represent a popular opinion when they don’t?

That’s right Mike. Those people you referenced that had nothing better to do on a Wednesday evening in July then to attend a BOE meeting and complain about the board changing law firms are friends of Joan Minnuies who attend all the meetings and try to make the administration look bad to people like you who don’t know what is going on. If you were as familiar with the BOE as you pretend to be Mike, you would have known that. They are shills and you have been played like a fiddle.

Joan Minnuies, who in the past has personally been responsible for the revolving door on the superintendent’s office is suddenly worried about the lack of stability and continuity that the district would suffer if we changed law firms. Why the sudden change of heart about retaining employees from this ex-para in the district who once had a birthday party thrown for her by the Middletown teacher’s union? Why was the head of the Middletown teacher’s union praising the outgoing lawyer at the meeting for always being available for her? Doesn’t that seem a little odd to you Mike?

Wake up.If Joan Minnuies wanted to keep the old lawyer it was because she believed he was good for her and her friends, not because she thought he was good for the school district.

Your suggestion that Dr. George encourages acrimony on the BOE in order to divert attention away from his poor performance is unfounded, stupid, and frankly reprehensible.Do you have any specifics to back up that preposterous comment or was it just something else that you heard from your reliable sources? What part of Dr. George’s performance are you dissatisfied with? You don’t even know enough about what is going on in the school district to have a valid opinion about him, much less accuse him of manipulating and duping nine adults into overlooking his job performance.

Superintendents don’t have the ability to fool groups of people into believing they are competent when they aren’t, apparently that’s just something bloggers do.

You need to educate yourself, start attending BOE meetings and stop pretending to know what you are talking when you clearly don’t. Either that, or do us all a favor and just stop talking about it because right now you are performing a disservice to our town, our public employees and the volunteers that serve on the BOE.

Anonymous said...

There were some questions for you in there Mike. Is it safe to assume that the reason you didn't answer them is because you can't?

"Do you have any specifics to back up that preposterous comment or was it just something else that you heard from your reliable sources? What part of Dr. George’s performance are you dissatisfied with?"

Michael Morris said...

I'll answer your questions once you stop hiding behind your anonymous comments.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see, you can’t answer the questions, so in order to avoid doing so you place an unreasonable demand on me.
Is that your policy Mike? You demand that anyone who posts anonymously must divulge their identity to you before you will respond to them? I don’t recall you placing that requirement on posters before.
Or do you reserve that prerequisite for posters that expose you for the phony you are who pretends to be an expert on the workings of the BOE when in fact you know less than nothing about it?
Actually, I prefer you don’t answer the questions. If you had anything intelligent to add to the conversation you would have done so instead of “hiding” behind that completely transparent and inappropriate request for me to identify myself. As I previously said, either you should educate yourself or stop talking about it. It’s kind of the point of my post. Mission accomplished.
Mike, you are in a hole.
Stop digging.

Michael Morris said...

What are you so afraid of? Stop hiding behind the vale if you know so much yourself.

I know what I know, I watch the videos and read the minutes of the meetings. I also talk to people who are more informed than I am when I have questions.

It's funny, whenever I post anything negative about Joan Minnuies, I seem to know what I'm talking about. But say something negative about Dr. George and suddenly I know nothing.

Could it be that the reason why you're afraid to tell us your name is that it might be George?

Anonymous said...

Seriously Mike? Did you attend the Donald Trump School of Damage Control?
You know, where they teach that if you say something really dumb, never back down, just double down.
What part of “stop digging” don’t you understand?
You think that I am Dr. George? Get over yourself. Dr. George has better things to do then to post on some obscure blog that is lucky to get one or two comments from readers a month.
And let’s be clear, you didn’t just say something negative about Dr. George, you said something baseless, insulting and idiotic about Dr. George. The fact that you are not aware of how much better off this district is since he has been here is proof that you haven’t been paying attention.
Try to grasp this concept. He doesn’t want to hide the poor job he is doing, he wants everyone to see the good job he is doing. Overachievers, like Dr. George, want to build their careers on their successes and move on to bigger and better things.
And no, you don’t watch the videos and read the minutes of the meetings, you are being disingenuous. Because if you did you would know that Dr. George does not promote the dysfunction on the BOE: Joan Minnuies does. You would have seen Dr. George publicly admonish Joan for waiting until the public portion of the meeting to complain about things that should have been handled in closed session.
Why does she do this Mike?
In order to give people like you the impression that the BOE is dysfunctional when it is not. It’s a dog and pony show Mike. Wise up.
And what is this Mike?
“As everyone knows, I've written about the various egos, personal petiteness (petiteness? You mean like the cute, tiny board members you’ve written about?) and demagoguery by different individual BOE members over the years”
You haven’t written about anything of the sort. You just wrote that to make it seem like you are an authority on the subject. Your articles are searchable. You have never written an article that fits that description. You are a phony.