Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lies, lies, lies...Ye-ah

With the recent hub-bub over Supt. Tata calling out School Board members Susan Evans and Christine Kushner about their continued involvement in GSIW, I have to ask.... 

What's with all the lying?

It actually started before the new Board members were even elected.

During her campaign, Susan Evans claimed to be a CPA. She put it all over her website and her media questionnaires -- even articles in the N&O and Indy Weekly referred to her as a CPA. But, she's not

And her response when she was caught in this lie was simply: "This is a non issue."

During his campaign, Jim Martin attempted to paint Supt. Tata in a bad light by publishing some of the emails in a chain - but not all of them. Martin was caught in this manipulation yet never apologized or even acknowledged that he purposefully tried to pull a fast one.

A couple of posts ago I exposed an email from Martin titled "Confidential Draft". In this email, he encourages Evans and Kushner to keep the discussion and information about halting the student assignment plan just between the three of them. Yet, when confronted by the N&O about these secret deliberations, Martin tries to twist his way out of it and said:

 "I challenge the assertion that somehow it was secret. By that definition, any message sent between two or three board members would be secret. That's baloney."

Uh, wrong. The fact that the email is between two or three Board members is not contentious nor does it make it secret. But certainly an email that is titled "Confidential" which leaves a breadcrumb trail of deceit, private deliberations and continued secrecy would qualify. Exactly like the one you sent, Mr. Martin.

Why didn't Martin just own up to what he attempted to do? Why is his first reaction to lie about it?

And Evans isn't done telling porkies either.

At the February 7th Board meeting, Evans voted in favor of a 9th grade center for Panther Creek. Just over 24 hours later, she was telling parents and the media that she did no such thing. Evans even tells School Board member Deborah Prickett in an email that she "...voted against it" and that the vote was "...either 6 to 3 or 7 to 2." In reality, the vote was 8-1 with Martin, for whatever reason, voting against it.
d more here:

Evans could have easily explained her vote to her constituents and her reasoning for her initial support of this facility. But, nooooo. Instead, her first reaction is to lie.

And, now, suddenly, we're just supposed to just believe Evans when she says she no longer has an active role in GSIW? Ms. Pants-on-fire? 

Supt. Tata had every right to question Evans' and Kushner's affiliation with GSIW.  Both of these women happily accepted an award on behalf of GSIW just last month. You don't send just any ol' person to accept an award for your group. You send your leaders.

So pardon me if I don't believe the "Just take our word for it" approach about their involvement in GSIW. Actions speak much louder than words -- especially when there's an award involved.

Kushner doesn't seem to have a track record of fabrication....yet. (In my opinion, she seems like a fairly reasonable person.) But Evans and Martin have been caught in fairly significant lies in the past.

And, as they say, past behavior predicts future behavior.

Read more here:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wait for me

I started this post before I had to leave town unexpectedly last week. I have some catching up to do with the recent news of Evans and Kushner accepting an award on behalf of GSIW and then - just 2 weeks later - claiming they're not active in the group. This post, however, does address yet another member of GSIW and her disbelief that she's not getting her way.


It seems there may be some regret in electing the new School Board members.

Rita Rakestraw, who ran against Chris Malone in the 2009 School Board elections and handily lost, is now complaining about Kevin Hill’s decision to go to closed session before all the public speakers had their turn at the Feb. 7th Board meeting. Ms. Rakestraw wrote a Letter to the Editor in the N&O and she is not happy.

Funny – just months ago, Ms. Rakestraw was whooping it up with Hill at his victory party.

Maybe Ms. Rakestraw should have thought twice about who she supported in the last School Board race instead of blinding following her political party.  Hill’s decision didn’t surprise me in the least. I’ve got the guy figured out and I’m not even friends with him.

I do find it ironic that Ms. Rakestraw thought it was perfectly acceptable to make others wait hours and hours while her friends at GSIW and the NAACP were disrupting public business and getting arrested.  But now that it’s her left waiting, it’s suddenly a problem.

Rakestraw’s involvement is this video last year affirmed my opinion of her. (That’s her on the right at the beginning.) She’s looney.  She has said many crazy things over the years. She thinks billionaires supported the '09 School Board candidates. (If so, where were they last year? Hmm?) 

However, on this issue I agree with her. Hill was wrong. He saw how many people had signed up to voice their concerns and arrogantly chose to ignore them. Instead, he quoted policy ala Jim Martin and made them wait. Yes, even you Rita.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Define Good

Oh, Mr. Martin.  How many hours have we heard you boast about your good governance skills? How much time has been wasted listening to you yammer on and on, reading Board policies word-for-word as if everyone else is stupid? Well, Mr. Good Governance, you’re nothing but a sham.

Below is an email titled “Confidential Draft” from Mr. Martin that was sent to fellow Board members Christine Kushner and Susan Evans on 12/12/2011 – just days after they were sworn into office.


To put this in some perspective, this email was sent just two days after the entire Board had attended an all-day retreat discussing governance.  Ironically, at this meeting Mr. Martin is quoted as saying "Democratic governance isn't efficient. If you want efficiency, you'd have a dictator. But we don't want that." Two days later, Mr. Martin sent his confidential email revealing private deliberations and openly encouraging secret collaboration.

We already know Martin thinks he’s the smartest man in the room. Apparently, he also believes he can snub Board policies and the possibly the law. If you recall, he has already been caught lying to Superintendent Tata.

Doesn't this make his dictatorship comment hit a little too close to home?

Most obvious from this email is that Mr. Martin, Mrs. Evans, Mr. Hill and Mrs. Kushner were actively negotiating on how to stop and/or delay the new student assignment plan outside of the public eye. Maybe they still are. We now know why their friends (NAACP & GSIW) haven’t been protesting in their dramatic fashion at Board meetings. These Board members have been appeasing them by having these types of private conversations. Maybe Barber and Brannon have been included.

Perhaps this was the topic of discussion at their secret meeting with Mr. Alves. Mr. Hill admitted that he purposefully scheduled the Alves meeting without the knowledge of the rest of the Board in order to avoid it being held as a public meeting.

Mr. Martin states in his email that the Board members “need to bat ideas around ourselves without the outside pressure”. It’s not a great leap to assume that this sort of discussion and deliberation occurred at the Alves meeting to avoid that pressure.  All the while, Hill has contended it was an orientation session. Yeah, right.

(As a side note, I requested the minutes from the Alves meeting but, since it was intentionally scheduled to not have a quorum present, minutes were not taken.)

It is beyond incredible and downright ignorant that Mr. Martin flagrantly wags his tongue in a public email about keeping this discussion about student assignment “just to the three of us”. Not only does he want to avoid “outside pressure”, he also wants to keep discussions about the public’s business away from the public. Is that a violation of the state Open Meetings Law?

By the way, you will notice that this email had a document attached titled “Assignment”. I’ll save a review of that for my next post.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I listened to the public comments at last night’s School Board meeting. 

(As a side note…Mr. Hill felt it was more important for the Board to hold their closed session discussion than to listen to everyone who signed up to speak at the beginning of the meeting – which left many waiting until 10p to make their comments. But, that’s another topic…)  

Speaker after speaker last night complained about the new student assignment plan. And, after each speaker, the crazies in the audience (GSIW, I assume) clapped wildly. But, if you really listened, what these parents – and some students – were asking for in their complaints was to have a neighborhood school.

Some were families from charter schools who wanted a proximate “base” assignment along with their neighbors who currently attend a WCPSS school. Others complained about their feeder pattern as it fed into a different and usually further school than their classmates. Almost all of them, however, regardless of their specific complaint, were pleading for a neighborhood assignment. I wondered if the GSIW women were actually listening – or just clapping out of habit. 

I also wondered if any of the Board members were actually paying attention to what these parents were asking for. My wonder didn’t last long. Enter Jim Martin.

During his comment time, Mr. Martin said:

I would like to recommend…that we try to work with staff to establish a control process for next year’s assignment plan to at least ensure that the demographic make up of schools does not drastically change from where it is this year.

I’m surprised he didn’t actually mention Carnage Middle by name.

Then, during her comment time – and after much pandering to the media and her GSIW friends in the audience, Susan Evans said:

I can’t promise what all we’ll be able to change for next year but I just want people to know that we are taking this very seriously and we’re looking very closely at how we feel like our populations are going to be affected by the data that we’ve seen.

So, after all those comments from concerned parents and nervous but articulate students, Martin and Evans still had no clue. Parents aren’t arguing about demographics or school populations. They’re arguing about how this plan affects them personally.

Martin and Evans remain completely blinkered by diversity, hung up on demographics and obviously fearful that they aren’t doing what GSIW and the NAACP want them to do. What is that, you ask? Bring back diversity in assignment, of course.

Even the magnet parents who showed up in masses two years ago hollering to “save diversity” have changed their tune.  They are now leading the charge to have the ability to opt back in to their neighborhood high schools as they used to be able to do. Everyone wants a neighborhood school but Evans and Martin (and maybe Kushner) are still stuck on diversity.

No, this plan isn’t perfect. Yes, it will probably need some adjustments as it moves along. But, the changes that parents are asking for are completely different than what these Board members have indicated they intend to do. These Board members want to be able to better control the populations of a school (Carnage Middle, for example) and manipulate your choice. Well, maybe not your choice specifically – but certainly the choices made by the low-income families in Wake County – because, in Martin’s and Evans’ world, those low-income children and the choices made by their parents can break a school.

Whether Martin and Evans get traction in bringing back quotas or ranking F&R status higher in the priority list remains to be seen. But, regardless of how diversity is brought back, it will ultimately affect everyone’s choice.  And, it will be the first step back to the way things used to be.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My, my… times haven’t changed.

The NAACP and Great Schools in Wake (GSIW) held yet another “community mass meeting” last week. Their flier said they would be talking about the new student assignment plan. In case you haven’t figured it out, they don’t like it – and they will stop at nothing to ensure you don’t like it either. 

In true "Tata-style", the Superintendent showed up with other school officials (although I’m not sure who).  Supt. Tata, according to the N&O, offered to answer questions and address concerns from the audience. But, because the truth and facts about the plan might extinguish the fear created by these groups, he was shut down. Instead, the women from GSIW had the audacity to field questions from the audience about a plan they hate. Talk about spin.

Just a couple of years ago, these groups were disrupting meetings and getting arrested in order to gain attention.  Now, they have the Superintendent attending their meetings and they dismiss him. Once again, they’ve proven they’re not interested in having a better understanding of the plan or any other issue for that matter. They’re only interested in staying relevant – and the only way they know how is by creating drama.

Kudos to Supt. Tata for even showing up. I hope he now understands the real agenda of these groups.  We still have to worry, however, if the GSIW members who now serve on the School Board – Evans, Martin and Kushner – understand this as well.