Consider board of education votes carefully
“… There is no room for politics at the county office of education” — Bob Altieri.
Don’t be fooled. The people’s watchdogs on the Nevada County Board of Education (NCBOE) are Marianne Slade-Troutman and Jack Meeks (with an “s” like in school).
These two Board members take their positions seriously.
They continually act in the best interests of the students and taxpayers of this county by asking the hard questions and holding the superintendent’s office accountable, even if it makes them unpopular.
I was appalled to read Board Member Bob Altieri’s comments in The Union where he stated that he “personally solicited” two candidates to run on his platform for the NCBOE because the current board is “dysfunctional.”
He’s correct, the board is dysfunctional. However, that’s because he and the two board members who are not up for re-election, Michael and Lapierre, constitute the 60 percent majority of the board who rarely disagree with each other or, for that matter, the superintendent’s office.
Recently, due to board member Marianne Slade-Troutman’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, credit card statements with receipts containing information previously hidden from public view were disclosed.
It is outrageous that a member of the NCBOE needs to file a FOIA request to get public information from the superintendent’s office to do her job on behalf of the people of this county!
Later, board member Jack Meeks, together with Slade-Troutman, tried and failed to pass a motion to require the disclosure of the date, time, purpose and the benefit of the many conferences, retreats, meetings and seminars the superintendent and her staff attend. Board member Altieri, along with members Michael and Lapierre, voted no on this motion, citing “micro-management” as their excuse.
By their vote on this motion, Michael, Lapierre, and Altieri agreed that, because those expenses “came in under budget,” the board, and therefore the public, doesn’t need to know the details.
However, when the Board of Supervisors transferred its responsibilities for the county superintendent’s office to the NCBOE under CA Education Code section 1080, the NCBOE was required to oversee those details and more.
After his fellow Republicans called him on his vote, and wanting their endorsement in the upcoming election, Altieri told The Union that he had a change of heart in voting against disclosure and that he would introduce a new motion to that effect at the next meeting.
In an incredibly political move, he did no such thing. The motion he introduced asked “should the NCBOE review a monthly expense report from the superintendent,” not the disclosures requested in Meeks’s original motion. Since this motion by Altieri was already state law, it failed to receive a second. How deceptive is it for him to introduce a state law in a motion, and when Slade-Troutman and Meeks fail to second it because of its inappropriateness, accuse them of acting for political reasons?! What about that, Bob?
On Oct. 8, true to form, he was again the deciding vote (3-2) against transparency when he voted against a motion by Slade-Troutman seeking the advice of FCMAT, an impartial state agency intended to be proactive and prevent district-wide situations like that of Twin Ridges charter school which recently lost tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to employee fraud.
There are a couple of other items of concern to me about the “personally solicited” slate. Was Larry Meek chosen as the third candidate on this “solicited” slate due to his name’s similarity to that of watchdog Jack Meeks?
Also, the fact that Board Trustee Lapierre is manager of the restaurant owned by board chair Michael is bothersome. Isn’t this a conflict of interest? I don’t know many employees who would publicly vote in opposition to their employer.
All this begs the question: what is the goal here, no fiscal accountability whatsoever? It seems as though Bob prefers that expense details never see the light of day at all, rather than continuing to exercise his current 60 percent majority to conceal them.
Make no mistake, in the unfortunate event that this “personally solicited” slate wins, the two watchdogs, Slade-Troutman and Jack Meeks (with an “s” like school), would be gone, and along with them, any semblance of fiscal responsibility. We need to consider this when we cast our votes.
Jan Collins lives in Penn Valley.
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