Friday, July 13, 2007

Moving heaven and earth to get information

There are eight million stories in the Naked City and at least as many in Lorain.
Too bad they are buried under, urrrrrg, very large, urrrrrg, rocks.
It's been my experience that the most trusted politicians and officials are those who are the most transparent. But when they act as if they have something to hide, we can't help thinking that they do.
In Lorain, we've always been stonewalled by the Foltin administration. That's a given.
But now, it's the schools, too.
One of our reporters, Bette Pearce -- a woman who has been working on newspapers for almost 40 (!) years and knows the difference between private and public meetings -- went to the Lorain Board of Education meeting Thursday night.
(By the way, she was curiously the only reporter there.)
The agenda for the meeting said the board would be going into executive session. However, it did not specify what the board would be discussing. You see, there are only a handful of topics that are allowed by law to be discussed in private by elected officials. Everything else must be discussed in public.
Bette was unable to find out what was being discussed in private and reported as much.
So, today we get a call from the schools' spokesman. He called not Bette but another reporter. (We call that "reporter shopping.") The spokesman was hopping mad. He said the reason for the private meeting was spelled out in a press release. He demanded a correction.
He also said that if Bette had been to the meeting on time -- she said she was 5 minutes late -- she would have heard it.
All I can say about all this is "Now, COME on!"
Because the reason was stated in a press release, it didn't need to be on the agenda?
What about the people at meeting who didn't get a press release, the regular old citizens?
Reporters are not the enemy. We have no axes to grind, no heroes to champion, no agendas. Period.
We are adults with a job to do who waste a lot of time playing childish games.
Sometimes I feel as if some officials think that if they wear us down, we will go away.
Well, if it isn't clear by now, I'll say to those people: You can wear us down, you can tire us out but we won't go away.
If you're getting paid with public money, then you need to be accountable to that public.
Daggone it.


Dan S. said...

Go get 'em, Patti!

scott bakalar said...

The spokesman seems to be on a "I want a retraction (and your firstborn)" mission of late - what do you suppose that's about?

from_my_loge said...

Yeah, and your words have power! POWER!! POWER!!!!

Bless it, he gave us the POWER!!!

(What a fool!)

Anonymous said...

Dear Patti, The last page of the board agendas rarely list a reason for executive sessions. It is common knowlege that the rules are not followed and must be constantly challenged. Many grievances result between the teachers union and administration for the same reason. The administration violates the contract, a grievsnce is filed, a year and $300/hr on lawyers later they are told they are in violation. In the meantime they have gotten their way for a year.

Witness said...

I was at the BOE meeting on Monday. The spokesman was visibly upset when a citizen mentioned him by name. He actually left the gym. In my opinion, I think he is starting to take things personally.

Loraine Ritchey said...

Witness, the reason that Mr Schnurr may have left the room was because I had to come in and tell him that Keith Lilly's vehicle was illegaly parked and had to be moved before it was going to be towed.

Anonymous said...

I would love for someone to do a comparison between central office staff at Lorain City Schools and Elyria Schools. The districts are very similair in a lot of ways, I'm wondering how central offices stack up to each other.