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Archive for April, 2012

On Saturday a commentator attempted to post some ‘background information’ on School Board candidate Charles Sutherland on this site. The intent of the poster was clearly malicious and intended to effect the outcome of the School Board election.  The post was quickly followed up by this post:
“(Submitted on 2012/04/28 at 2:10 pm)

Mr. Brown, My son just posted on your blog about Mr. Sutherland. This information may or may not be true. He found a packet of papers labeled ‘Background Information’, and it looks official but I can’t be sure. I would not want to pass on wrong information and my son did so without my knowledge. Could you please delete his post under ‘I don’t think so’? Thank you Chris”

The follow-up post claiming to be from Chris  the ‘father’ of the original poster makes what develops later in this last-minute political dirty trick campaign especially reprehensible, and at the same time somewhat comical, because as this wannabe puppet master plotted his dastardly deed across several web sites ABTF, BVBL, and Patch, what he hatched was not so much an October Surprise moment but an April Fool’s Surprise. You see the information our Manassas Machiavelli peddled on-line does not so much discredit Charles Sutherland, as it acts as a testament to the character of the man,  a man who showed fierce determination, fortitude, and an inspirational example of love and devotion for his children, which few of us can imagine.

The heart of the story is simple Charles Sutherland gave up a life of wealth and privilege, sacrificed everything he had and literally went to he ends of earth to rescue his two sons who had been kidnapped abroad.  Here is Charles’ statement to the political hatchet man (new name , Kevin) who showed up 24 hours later on Patch after claiming concern, and implying a poster remorse for his son’s actions on my site:

“Kevin,

In 1997 my then-wife and her relatives from Israel disappeared with our year-old baby and his two-year old brother.  That created a tragic epic which lasted 12 years, including being in court nearly 100 times, in the US and abroad.

In early 1998 I was awarded “sole legal and physical custody.” In those 12 years my ‘ex’ created ‘incidents,’ including kidnapping the boys to Israel, where I went to court to get them back. In the US she was arrested and convicted of kidnapping.  One ‘incident’ was a staged assault, which the court dismissed.  Thus, there was no conviction as you falsely imply, and for which, along with other false ‘reports,’ you are exposing yourself and others to legal action.

I incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal fees, and other costs, and resigned employment several times, to be both ‘mother & father,’ and because I was constantly in court, sometimes many times a month.   Hence, there was much chaos, including financial issues.  At one point, on advice of legal counsel, I declared bankruptcy (you have the wrong date) to remove the accumulating financial pressure.  All tax obligations were paid or eliminated years ago.

Despite the consequences to my personal life, the boys are thriving, students on the Honor Roll, and, as you might expect from my example of determination, they are class officers in their school.

I hope this addresses the issues you raised.  I do not intend to provide more tragic details.”

This is not the only dirty trick that has occurred this election cycle, and of course one might reasonably and cynically argue: Has there ever been an election without a grab bag of dirty tricks?

However, this dirty trick should give us pause as a City. Does a man of Charles Sutherland’s integrity and obvious intellectual gifts threaten the political and educational establishment so much that their supporters will stoop to such depravity to prevent him  from an opportunity to influence and guide our children as successfully as he has raised and educated his own?

Well, Manassas, what is it to be?

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Please support your  fellow citizens in protecting their homes and property from local politicians who put their riding leisure before the property rights of a hardworking, taxpaying, close-knit community of Manassas residents. The following are their champions among the candidates for public office on May 1st.

 

Make History this Tuesday

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By Charles Sutherland

Campaigning together, after years of “experience” School Board members Messrs. Albrecht and Bushnell want Manassas citizens to give them ‘four more years’ because, they told ‘Patch’, they have “already started addressing some of the challenges facing the city’s schools.”  “We are already taking action…”

“Already started addressing”?  “Already taking action…”?  “Already”…?  What have they been doing for the past twelve years?

Well, that’s easy to answer: they have been driving the school system over a cliff.  Along with fellow incumbents seeking re-election, Messrs. Magee and Dance, they have transformed the Manassas school system into an expensive bi-lingual welfare program, which now has an annual cost of $101 Million, over $14,000 per student, nearly the highest in the US.

Mr. Albrecht says, “It takes many years to learn how to be a successful school board member.”  Is that the number of years it took him and Gail Pope to destroy the City’s education system?  “Many years to learn how…”?  Why hasn’t he been applying the business management and ‘experience’ he claimed to have when he first sought his role on the School Board, and which he now claims again that he has?

Despite broad criticism from teachers, parents, and the education community, the School Board supported superintendent Gail Pope (and her $200,000 annual compensation package) to the bitter end.  Now they continue to support her inept and overpaid hierarchy— including voting 5-2 NOT to terminate DWI-arrested Special Ed Director Beth Dunman-Jones, and NOT taking steps to terminate Deputy Superintendent Michaelene Meyer, regarded by teachers, parents, and educators as a principal source of the school system’s problems and costs.

The Education Forward Committee, which they tout as a paradigm of didactic sagacity, has achieved NOTHING. It  is merely a joint School Board and City Council ‘blame-spreading device’ designed to deceive the public into thinking that the City Council is actively monitoring the $101 Million annual cost of this school system.  (Wish it were true!)

Albrecht calls himself a “fiscal conservative.”  Please…   I didn’t notice any apoplexy from him or his ‘yes man’ Mr. Magee at the March 6 School Board meeting when Kermit Dance endorsed giving away $83,000 of free food this summer, “to anyone, not just students”?

“Fiscal conservative”?   Neither he nor his ‘yes man Magee’ expressed any qualms regarding the issue of providing free lunches and breakfasts to over 60% of the entire student body.  They said nothing when a school official remarked that “we don’t have time to audit more than 1% or so” of the ‘financial need’ applications. (The cost of Food Services for next year is estimated to be $3, 454,808.)  Don’t fiscal conservatives do accounting?

Their cosmetic solutions may look good to the uninitiated, but are fatuous and false:

Reducing student-teacher ratio to 22:1? This is only productive if there are good teachers, a good curriculum, and good student behavior.  The latter two are lacking. Indeed, discipline and truancy are major issues which would distract even if there were only 10 students in a class.

Paying to have “…an additional 1,000 students taking AP tests.”  Instead of generating public relations statistics, how about ‘educating’ more students to ‘pass’ the AP tests?  Try that approach!  Meanwhile, what happens to the self-esteem of those unprepared students who fail these national tests?

What about 41% of the students having Limited English Proficiency (LEP)?  Oh, they propose hiring one reading specialist … for 7,000 students.   That should do it!  And, by the way…. reading specialist’?  Often, these have just been re-assigned teachers.

And haven’t they heard that the Special Ed Department has been missing a teacher for over a year, and the bureaucracy ignores the woeful cries for help by parents who have kids with special needs?

And, how do they deal with Osbourn High School’s loss of accreditation?  Answer:  switch organizations that review accreditation issues in order to get a better result.   Fortunately, OHS’s indolent former principal voluntarily resigned, allowing OHS to have a strong new principal and an exceptional freshman counselor who is addressing the problems.

Has the pompous School Board ever condescended to have discussions with teachers regarding their exclusion from curriculum decisions and the plethora of tests imposed upon them?  (Of course, we know that at an open meeting one School Board member, Kermit Dance, expressed his disdain for the opinion of teachers – those “old dogs who can be taught new tricks.”) Aren’t teachers the quintessential component in an education system?  Not according to the School Board.

Regarding capital investments and the CIP program: Does Mr. Albrecht agree with Mr. Dance, who was recently quoted in ‘Patch’ as saying, “… he [Dance] calculated that two and a quarter years of learning is taken away from a Baldwin student’s time in elementary school (kindergarten through fourth grade) because they can’t focus due to all the noise that occurs with the facility’s utilities and when it rains”?  That’s 45% of a student’s total education over 5 years lost because of noise and rain?  Is he serious?  My goodness!  Is that the same mental math (or mental something…) that Mr. Dance applies to his estimated costs of building that new school he wants, presumably to be named after him?  (Let’s hope Mr. Dance gets voted off the Board before he becomes involved in the math/science programs.)

The current School Board has done nothing to reduce the overpaid and incompetent hierarchy of the school administration; have not terminated Deputy Superintendent Meyer; have done nothing to resolve the lamentable needs of the Special Ed Department; have done nothing to foster the dedicated professionalism of the teachers and involve them in the curriculum; have done nothing to improve the English language and reading programs; have done nothing to enforce birth certificate laws; have done nothing to improve discipline and reduce truancy;  have done nothing to foster parental involvement;  have done nothing to reduce the budget; have openly declined to audit the financial claims of over 60% of the students who receive free lunches and breakfasts; and, have done nothing to improve academic content – instead they have set their academic/political priorities by focusing on developing  misleading statistics for the Washington Post’s Matthews  Index in order to create good public relations for the tourist department.

The “challenges” to which they refer are ones which they and this School Board created!  If you want more of “nothing,” or more “challenges” created, then you should keep them and Messrs. Magee and Dance in office and pretend that these “experienced” emperors are wearing new clothes.

Charles Sutherland is a Candidate for the Manassas City School Board in the May 1st election.

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NICE BACKYARD

With Mark Wolfe’s latest flim flam, his reversal on the Wellington Bike Trail, it’s getting harder and harder to see our ballet money, and now public works money disappearing thru the trees and machinations of our local pols and bike clubs (who appear to be the same people).

Even the press seems a bit lost in the woods on this one. I almost expected to see a Little Red Riding Hood byline in the Patch and Post coverage.

The Patch Poll  was ridiculously loaded: “Do you support having more bike/walking trails in Manassas?
Yes—trails ensure safety for walkers/bikers by keeping them away from the roads.
No—trails are a waste of money and attract crime.”

So if you are resident of the community who is opposed to this trail and vote in the Patch Poll, the resident is made to look like an idiot for stating that all trails are a waste of money and attract crime. But if you are politician or bike enthusiast who is pushing this trail over the objections of the vast majority of the people in the community you are a champion of public safety and a swell human being.

How about this Poll question:

Do you support local politicians and bike enthusiasts seizing your property, building a bike trail on it and having tens, scores of people, from who knows where, riding and strolling thru your backyard on nice, sunny days, and not so sunny days, and not so sunny nights?

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Why Vouchers Now?

Andy Harrover’s MSOTF site is down for maintenance purportedly for posters posting garbage and using other people’s usernames. Of course, one poster’s garbage is another’ pearls of wisdom, but posting and using another citizen’s username is unethical and Andy’s right for not tolerating it.

I missed all the excitement but what I found interesting was that it started, according to Andy, on his voucher thread which I found to be a rather strange thread to start so late in this election cycle when vouchers really haven’t been the subject of much discussion among the school board candidates. What’s more Andy openly admitted he hadn’t done much homework on the issue. So why vouchers now?

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A last minute Education Forward meeting the day before the election? Won’t this conflict with the candidates’ pep rallies the day before the election? Oh wait, how clever, the incumbents are having us the taxpayers hold their pep rallies for them under the cover of a public hearing. And now they want public input! Wake up Manassas, and throw these jokers out of office and off our dime.

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Independent Manassas City Councilman Steve Randolph made the following comment on Councilman’s Andy Harrover Blog concerning the circus like spectacle which the MGOP has staged for Manassas this election cycle:

“Ok, let me get this straight – Republicans supporting Mr. Carman
are fine, but those supporting Mrs. Bass are not? Or is it vice-versa?

Forgive me, I’m not a made member of the GOP and thus not
privy to all the secret rituals.”

Steve, I’m surprised you haven’t been read into the secret rituals of MGOP I’ve seen you at so many Republican party events over the years, it seems rude for you to be left out of the loop, but then again many of us who have taken part in GOP politics over the years have recently felt left out of the secret rituals of the inner circle.

It appears that the key to the inner secrets of the MGOP requires you to don a tutu, perform in a ballet, and vote public funds into the Manassas Ballet coffers. I know you have successfully passed one stage of the initiation process, the last. Have you danced for Mark Wolfe before? And not to get too personal, but have you donned a tutu before? These are the tests you must pass, or so I hear, to gain privy to the secrets of MGOP and the mysterious politician some say runs it, who insiders refer to as, the Tutu Don.

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