This Is the Way the System Works, the System Works, the System Works

As pleasant of an evening as it is to be sitting in my car at the Tiverton High School writing blog posts, I have to say that I’m a little disappointed at the way the system apparently works.
Having been informed that tonight’s negotiation-related school committee meeting, wherein the committee would bring the town council up to speed, was open to the public, I overcame my four-day-week-Thursday inertia and traveled out to observe and, if given the chance, to participate. The two heads of the committee, Chairwoman Denise deMedeiros and Vice Chairman Michael Burk, were heading in just as I arrived, and they let me know that the public component of the meeting would consist of little more than a motion to enter closed executive session. They mentioned that the union had decided not to attend — and can you believe that gesture of good will? — and I quipped that I had hoped the reason Pat Crowley had left Dan Yorke’s airwaves was to make it out here to the boonies.
As I sat down in the library and began to take out my stealth bloggerware, I first heard somebody say “that’s Justin Katz,” and the town council immediately moved for executive session (not that I’m implying that the latter words were hastened by the former). Out I went, sardonic smile irresistible.
Now, I understand that the committee and the council have money matters to discuss, and that cards might be shown that are best not seen by the other party to the teacher contract negotiations. But couldn’t there be some pro forma production put on for the benefit of citizens? Some announcement of the meeting’s purpose and allowance of public comment as our representatives debate how to handle the single largest component of the town’s financial business?
So which came first? The chicken of closed meetings, or the egg of public apathy?
(By the way, with my subject line, I’m thinking less nursery rhyme and more T.S. Eliot.)

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16 years ago

State of RI level funded all cities and towns to FY 2007 levels however had to increase funding to state schools (MET and Central Falls) thereby meeting basic FY 2008 operational needs (look under entitlements).
I have not yet found where federal government lowered or level funded State of RI education needs for FY 2008 but those numbers must be publicly reported shortly.
According to RI Lottery web site, 18% of net income is transferred to RI General Fund and 27.5% of the RI General Fund is used to support education which means state-wide education needs are directly tied to state-wide public gambling income.
Of course, local cities and towns fund their own education departments with local taxes but depend more and more on federal, state aide funding due to increased requirements of No Child Left Behind law.
I am not a bleeding heart but here is a link to an article with some great points of interest and references to think about how RI got to where it is now.

16 years ago

“As I sat down in the library and began to take out my stealth bloggerware, I first heard somebody say “that’s Justin Katz,” ”
Damn, recognition sooner than we anticipated. Maybe Crowley will lend you his George Bush mask for these meetings, Justin.

Pat Crowley
16 years ago

Jusi, why would the union be there for an executive session? It wasn’t a scheduled mediation session. It was a school committee meeting with the Town Council, as I understand it. We weren’t invited. We have two sessions next week with the mediator.
Now I think you are getting a flavor of what we have been dealing with. I hope you called Denise and Mike and thanked them for wasting your time.

Justin Katz
16 years ago

Yeah, Pat. I’m sure that if y’all had shown up for the meeting you’d have been sitting out in the parking lot with me. If you actually believe that would have been the case, then you are to be faulted for missing a PR opportunity to show the town administrators to be as churlish as you like to run around claiming they are.
And by the way, what’s with the cutesy names and 90210 ad hominem references? Are you getting worried that you haven’t lately been sufficiently embarrassing those whom you represent?

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