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Archive for May, 2012

by Charles Sutherland

Since I am a writer, not a politician, let me provide some candid non-politically correct observations regarding the recent School Board elections.

The elections created only cosmetic changes, and will not result in a solution to any of the school system’s problems.  Indeed, since the men principally responsible for creating these problems were re-elected, the election may be seen as an apathetic endorsement, resulting in the continuation of existing misprision policies which are destroying education, driving the City over a financial cliff, and helping to make Manassas a ‘sanctuary city.’

First of all, let me say personally how grateful I am for those who voted and supported my candidacy (which many know was a combined civic endeavor, and definitely not a personal desire), and also how disappointing it was to receive such minimal support from other people who also requested that I become a candidate because they wanted ‘someone else’ to do it, but then they did nothing.  If this is a microcosm of what happens in the November 2012 national election, it bodes badly for conservatives — and for our country.

Secondly, several of us can share the credit during the last year in impelling the resignation of Gail Pope, and currently in displacing Kermit Dance and Jack Magee from the School Board. The elimination of these people provides an opportunity…which, unfortunately, will probably be missed.  Why?

Lamentably, removing these people is unlikely to have any measurable alteration in the school policies.  Of the newly elected, Ilka Chavez speaks in social generalities and popular platitudes, already drinks the Kool-Aid which supports welfare masquerading as education, and will presumably now have her cup officially replenished.  Ellen Purdy, although a financial analyst with dedication and ideas, will likely be dragged into the weeds through committee assignments and ‘official responsibilities’ and any targeted analysis will be paralyzed by the bureaucratic process.  No existing person on the Board, except perhaps Pam Sebesky, has the insight, candor, and courage to even suggest the required changes for improving the education of the City’s children… and it took her two years to arrive at this point.  Tim Demeria only has a minor and tenuous relationship with the subject of education, namely part of his family’s income.

Had I been elected, I would have recommended… and now suggest… that the most important thing to do is to assist the teachers, first by eliminating Deputy Superintendent Michaelene Meyer — before she has an opportunity to distract and waylay the anticipated new superintendent with her pathetic policies. Then, since the School Board is spineless, the City Council should pass its own laws and ordinances for ‘tough love’ for everyone involved, including addressing truancy and campus discipline/behavior with mandated (and collected) parental fines, enforcement of state ‘original birth certificate’ laws with administrative consequences for negligent school officials, and hold school administrators ‘professionally accountable’ for regular auditing of the free/subsidized food program and for disobeying Special Ed and other laws, including alcohol and drugs.  Since the City Council provides $53 Million a year of tax-payer money, they should take an active interest in the school system and fill part of the leadership vacuum.

On a positive note, since parental involvement cannot be legally mandated, and the School Board apparently pretends that all students are functional-orphans and has no clue as to what to do, it would be useful if the City Council provided some kind of social (not financial) incentives for parents to become academically involved.  Also, out of the $101 Million annual budget one would think that by now some of the City’s alleged “educators” would have thought of the idea of providing some scholarships for high-achieving OHS graduates – for advanced technical schools as well as college.

At the same time, the City Council would be well-advised to set up a small (three-person?) Education Committee of paid (and accountable), outside professionals to monitor the schools and report regularly to the City Council – and to the public, by blog; disband the useless Education Forward, face-saving, blame-sharing committee; and hire a strong superintendent who, unlike the previous two, actually knows what he/she is doing.  A solid organization needs strong executives, and outside auditors for criticism and public transparency, not a board of pompous, posturing political dilettantes micro-managing their own misconceptions of academic affairs.

Viewing the matter strategically, over a period of years the School Board has shown itself to be an inept social club of bungling bureaucrats who attempt to micro-manage academic activities, instead of being a source of community wisdom and support which ‘supervises’ the operations of a qualified management led by a competent CEO with an experienced staff.  If this misguided group is allowed to exist and retain any authority, the City will continue to become a de facto ‘sanctuary city’ with an ever-expanding welfare program with inestimable costs, both economically and socially. The School Board has lost its focus, forgot its mission, and dissipates its resources. Mark Twain understood these issues when he said a century ago, “In the first place God made idiots.  This was for practice. Then he created School Boards.”

It’s time for the City Council to develop some fortitude…and shoulder their civic responsibilities… instead of turning their heads or holding their noses when they hand out more than $1 Million a week to this batch of bunglers to mismanage — and, in the process, deny a good education to innocent American children whose futures will be forever and irreparably damaged because they helplessly depended on and trusted the citizens of Manassas.

Having said the above, I don’t expect any of it to be done… So, good luck to the students and teachers!

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The Moonhowlers’ favorite GOP chairman Steve Thomas and the MGOP won a clear victory in last Tuesday’s May 1st election, according to some observers. But does a Party really win a clear victory by jettisoning half its traditional base and replacing them with scab voters from the political left? Normally when an outpost loses half its forces, and is overrun by opposing forces the commanding officer is not heralded as a victor, unless of course those doing the heralding are members of the opposing forces or sympathetic to them.

Approximately 800 conservatives and social conservatives took a walk away from the MGOP last Tuesday. Many of them constitute what some liberal leaning Republicans in the city somewhat derisively refer to as ‘Aveni’s Army.’  While that might be giving Councilman Aveni more authority than he has or exercises over his supporters, no doubt many Aveni supporters and like-minded conservatives did walk away from the MGOP last Tuesday. Why? Because, they were almost immediately targeted by the Republican establishment in the city following the Republican convention after one of the establishment’s own Sheryl Bass lost a spot on the Republican ballot.

However, the whisper campaign against Aveni’s Army started by the wives of the chairman and the former chairman that Aveni engineered Ian Lovejoy’s victory at the convention simply wasn’t true. Lovejoy’s victory at the convention was a result of the hard work and talents of Ian Lovejoy. Sure Ian had the support of Aveni, Jackson Miller, the Tea Party and other conservatives but Ian reached out to everyone in Manassas. The failure of the of the Party leadership to champion Ian’s openness and inclusive message while he maintained his commitment to his core principles, was a disgraceful, myopic moment for the local Republican Party, which will have long term consequences for the Party.

Instead, the Republican establishment orchestrated a fake grassroots campaign against the outcome of their own convention, with no acknowledgement that the real reason for Bass’ loss was her own poorly thought out strategy and the bullet voting of a number of Democrats, ADCO clients, and MBT season ticket holders who crashed the convention hoping to save the embattled Wolfe.

The resulting yard sign battle of Manassas, as Ian Lovejoy amusingly referred to it, eventually made Independent Jerry Carman a viable candidate, but Carman’s candidacy was also used as a straw man by the Republican establishment to fuel resentment against the city’s Social Conservatives and make Sheryl Bass a viable write-in vote against their own nominee, Ian Lovejoy.

This internecine warfare within the MGOP was ugly and provided some entertainment for the more liberal leaning Republicans in the city, Harrover’s Hackers and their sidekicks on the loony left, but it wasn’t the ugliest tactic used by the establishment MGOP to manipulate the City’s May 1st election, and unfortunately few in Manassas, even among the politicians, including the MGOP Chairman, appear cognizant that it even happened.  The ugliest tactic by the establishment MGOP changed the dynamic of the entire election and raises the question is Manassas just a city destined to always be bumbling, bungling and bobbitting itself into the media’s spotlight?

Next: Why Lori Perez is Important.

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That’s lot of free ballet tickets! Free until tax day that is, enjoy the music while your pocket is picked.

Albrecht, Bushnell, Chavez and Purdy take School Board. Tonight Manassas shot the Messenger, thank you Charles for a noble effort. Now it falls on two women to clean up the mess the boys have made of the Manassas school system, some things in life never change.

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