[LCSD] Recall Statements for Wineteer and Alexander

These things are pissing me off not as truthful as they could be. I’m going to fisk annotate them (I’m nowhere near Robert Fisk’s level of ability). Italicized comments in brackets are mine.

I will say that I have retyped these, and while I hope any mistakes are in the original, there is a possibility they are mine.

Josh Wineteer’s statement noting his opposition to being recalled:

Voters concerned about poor school performance, demoralized teachers and an unaccountable administration elected me [and I have failed to buoy teachers and achievement has increased under my nose despite my best efforts]. The recall petition is full of distortions, half-truths and innuendo. [Oh, good line. Too bad he’s both wrong and fails to offer any evidence of his claim. From what I’ve seen, the recall petition was pretty accurate.]

I voted last year with colleagues Alexander and Shimmin to nonrenew Superintendent Robinson. I asked hard questions about abysmal school performance that administrators can’t or won’t answer – including the high school math “emergency” just declared. [Speaking of half-truths – Wineteer is only aware of the math situation because of a parent. He was not asking hard questions before this – he wasn’t asking any questions about school performance at all! Even now, I haven’t seen him ask the most obvious question of all: What is happening in other districts, and what are other districts doing about it? Wineteer doesn’t seem to know or care.]

True to form, administrators refused at a recent public meeting to allow parents – almost 50% of whose children are failing algebra 1 and may not graduate – to speak. [Again with the half-truths. Parents were not given a chance to speak to the whole group, but were given a chance to speak in small groups. And Wineteer had a hand in hiring Finch! And a 47% failure rate in one trimester is not 50% of parents, which is what Wineteer’s written word implies, whether he intended it or not. Furthermore, the ‘may not graduate’ line is pure fear-mongering.]

Time is running out on our children who deserve a quality education that will prepare them for college and beyond.

By standardized tests and many other measures school performance is inexcusably low. [Really? WHAT OTHER MEASURES, JOSH. NAME THEM. I’m not disagreeing that performance can and should be better, but I would love to see what other metrics he’s referring to here. I think he’s stretching the truth, because the only other things I can think of are in-district assessments, which are arguably standardized tests, and grades.] Central office and high school administrative staffs are bloated, diverting needed dollars from the classroom. [The high school? Bloated staff? Yeah? NAME THEM. Go ahead. That’s right – he can’t, unless he actually thinks they need fewer administrators, which would be incredibly dangerous.] The status quo fails kids and thwarts change. [What, like several years of two school board members trying to get rid of a Superintendent, to the detriment of students? That status quo?]

Eliminating independent school board members who press for change will not turn this district around. Thank you for your support. [Josh, are you implying McUne, Shimmin or even Fisher aren’t independent? It seems to me all five of you are independent. Independence – from what, anyway? – isn’t issue here. Your failure to do your duty as an elected school board member is the issue.]


Rick Alexander’s statement opposing his recall:

I was elected on the premise of open and accountable government. The peoples [sic] business should be conducted in public view. [Interestingly, I am not to dispute that Alexander thinks he’s seeking this. He is just abysmal at it. As well, the statement is belied by his years spent adding things to the agenda at the last second and then wanting to vote without any public discussion. That’s neither open nor accountable, nor is it in public view, unless you think the Korner Kitchen Kounts. It doesn’t.] As a board member I asked some tough questions and alarmed powerful special interests. [Does he think he’s in the US Senate, for fuck’s sake? “Powerful special interests?” “Tough questions?” Alexander’s questions are tough to answer because they rarely make sense – and I am at most board meetings to try and hear them. Again, I’m not going to dispute his intent, at least not on this, but if his intent was really to ask hard question, he is terrible at it.] I am an elected official [yes, Rick, this is why you are being recalled. That doesn’t happen to appointed officials. Congratulations.], but I can’t get answers to many of my inquiries. [I would like to know what inquiries he’s referring to. It’s certainly possible this is true, but again, I’m skeptical of his ability to ask the right questions – or his willingness to read the documents he gets in response to his questions. ‘Bull in a china shop’ is not a compliment here.] Twice I had to ask the District Attorney to intervene and obtain supposedly public documents. [I am going to assume he’s talking about Freedom of Information Act requests, and that he’s being honest. However, that’s not a reason to not recall him. Whoops.]

The recall petition was a mixture of half-truths and innuendo. [Where I have heard that before?] School performance is down; drop outs and transfers remain high. [I was told today that all three of these statements are at best exaggerations, and at worst actually provably false – especially the drop-out rate, which I was told has dropped from roughly 11% to under 5% in the last decade or so.] Morale is low [take some responsibility, dude!]; teacher turn-over is high. [Higher than average? Higher than comparable districts? If true, why? Can we get a reason, at least an attempt to link it to something, anything? No? OK, but without something, there’s no reason to believe you when you inevitably point the finger at Robinson.] We have lost millions to mismanagement. [And when were you going to clue the rest of the world in to this amazing discovery? Is it perhaps because it has all the provability of a Sarah Palin campaign claim – that is to say, none?] These problems demand that we reconsider the Superintendent’s leadership. [I actually like this line, rhetorically speaking.]

The opposition actually paid people to collect recall signatures, which is a first in Linn County history. I serve with no salary and have no economic ties to the district, yet people in the shadows are willing to pay to banish me. [Oh, good writing! Too bad the major donors were named in the DH, and too bad the two things aren’t really related, and too bad Alexander fails to acknowledge that many people do not want to be named as opposing Alexander for fear of harassment – I know, I know, people say the same thing about Robinson, but since Alexander is going to talk about his opposition, I’ll stick to that for now.] As a voter, you have a choice. [Good. Yes. Frame it truthfully.] The status quo, which is failing our kids, or support a fellow citizen whose sole objective is open, accountable [Oh! Off the rails! No! Bad Rick!] government and educational excellence. I will stand up for our students and against the special interests. Just send me back into the fight.

PLEASE VOTE.


Look, the most charitable thing I can say about these two statements is that it’s entirely possible that Mr. Alexander and Mr. Wineteer believe every word of what they are saying.

That doesn’t change the massive gap I see between their statements and their actions, but it does offer an explanation.

A slightly less charitable way of explaining things would be to note that both are making a cynical ploy to the public, relying on the fact that their supporters simply won’t believe any evidence offered in opposition, regardless of the source. Or that they both believe they can lie to the public and there isn’t enough time between now and the election to get hit with the backlash.

Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like what’s happening with the McCain/Palin campaign – they can lie with impunity, because many of their supporters choose to ignore the word of experts or the press when that word contradicts what the campaign says. Alexander has convinced many of his supporters (not without help from Robinson) that the District Office can’t even be trusted to provide basic facts.

Heck, Alexander even stole some stale political rhetoric: “Tough questions” and “powerful special interests.”

As an aside, let me note that the phrase “special interests” is a simplistic form of what’s called a political dog whistle – it is a reference that provokes a near-Pavlovian response in some people and means different things to different crowds. The fact that the phrase ‘special interests’ is, in and of itself, devoid of meaning doesn’t matter (in fact it is essential) – it is the response in the person who hears it that indicates that the goal has been achieved. Think about it: Special interests are never really defined as anything but a group the listener doesn’t like. Certainly Alexander never defines them; he lets the reader decide for themself what they are, which is really convenient; the reader can just plug in whatever group is disliked and convince themselves that Alexander is working against that group. No facts ever need enter into the process. And it can mean something different to everyone who hears it.

At any rate, what remains is that I don’t see how those statements bear much resemblance to reality – and, more importantly, neither of them do anything to convince me that Alexander or Wineteer (especially Alexander) are qualified to sit on the school board. Alexander can spin himself as a noble public servant all he wants, but the fact remains that he’s been near-piss-poor in his elected position for years. Wineteer is hardly better.

As a rule, I try to offer multiple side of an argument and not refrain from pointing out mistakes where I see them based on the person making them. Certainly I think Robinson has made his share (and Finch is apparently trying to top Robinson in the ‘perceived poor communication’ department). But, as I’ve said before, Alexander and Wineteer are not good school board members. They do not even have the credibility to get rid of Robinson. There is no reason to keep them on the school board – remember, they can be replaced with people who really do ask hard questions of the District, but who also bother to read the documents provided by them and learn how to use Robert’s Rules of Order, and can understand that legal advice is not given at random, or – gasp! – for whom ‘accountability’ is not synonymous with ‘gotcha’. [Actually, Wineteer has been a lot better since he became Chair and the recall effort was announced. Maybe he’s learning.] It’s not some strange either/or where Alexander is on one end of the see-saw and a literal tool is on the other. Promise.

Commence flaming.

If I have time tomorrow, I will try and post the recall statements in full, without my comments.

I will also try and find time to address the math question a bit more – someone, I believe from CARES, was passing out data at the school board meeting, and I got my hands on it. No promises, though.

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18 Comments on “[LCSD] Recall Statements for Wineteer and Alexander”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Question: Why is it that we are only aware of the math problem because of a parent? If I was a teacher, and 47% of my kids got an F, I should have noticed a problem. If it is not noticed or discussed on a district level, how is the board supposed to know it? And how can they know it without micromanaging? They see the results on a district level, and they can see those are bad, but that is about it. A teacher or two along with the administration of the high school failed those kids by not speaking out. A parent shouldn’t have to do the work. And why is it that Tre Kennedy from CARES is doing the investigations of other schools? Isn’t that the administrations job? I see Tre doing better work than our district administration in this area.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    You are being unfair. They each had a 200-word limit. Seriously, be pretty hard to get detailed in 200 words, Dennis.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    The Lebanon Proof blog has an interesting post about the LCSD having more administrative staff than other district’s it’s size. In fact, we have many teachers who are not actually teaching. Some of this may be warranted, but looks like in fact we DO direct more resources than most districts to administration.

  4. Trencher Says:

    On the reasons not to recall him Josh Wineteer said:

    The recall petition is full of distortions, half-truths and innuendo.
    How political and vague can you be?
    Instead of throwing out a blanket dismissal, some of his 200 words should have been spent on good communication here.

    Central office and high school administrative staffs are bloated, diverting needed dollars from the classroom.
    Who exactly, which positions exactly, would he eliminate?

    Eliminating independent school board members who press for change will not turn this district around.
    Independent as in, rogue, loose cannons, unwilling to work with the School Board as a whole or with the District, yet working behind the scenes as a team with others who are unwilling to follow policy, procedure, and the law.
    “Pressing for change” to Mr. Wineteer means getting rid of Mr. Robinson. End of story. All of his focus is on that “change”.

    If you are happy with those vague statements that don’t concretely answer the recall claims, if you want someone who is so narrowly focused they won’t accept any other solutions to problems but the ones they are bent on, if you are willing to allow a School Board Member to behave any way they see fit in order to get a job done then this is your man.

    According to the Democrat Herald: “Statements submitted by the board members did not specifically address the (recall) allegations.”

    Since they have refused to resign and their positions are on the line it seems they could have taken the time and effort to do just that instead of being merely political. It is a continuation of their usual behavior.
    If I only had 200 words to state why I should stay on the Board I would do my best to get those facts and figures I am alluding to in print.

  5. Trencher Says:

    On the reasons not to recall him Rick Alexander said:

    I was elected on the premise of open and accountable government. The peoples [sic] business should be conducted in public view.

    That is exactly right and Rick A. has been the worst offender on that count. He has repeatedly made a farce of this by: encouraging people to NOT use the School Board/District Policy process for dealing with problems/complaints but to discuss things with him personally; putting things on the agenda at the last minute so there is no advance notice to that very public; calling for repeated ‘executive sessions’ making discussions/business unavailable to the public; etc.
    Rick Alexander has proven that he believes that the end justifies the means.
    Is that the behavior of a responsible School Board Member who represents and is accountable to this community?

    As a board member I asked some tough questions and alarmed powerful special interests.

    He has alarmed more than some vague, unnamed, “powerful special interests” (all-powerful? specially interested in what?) with his questions that prove he is not: paying attention; reading materials–even the ones he himself requested; aware of most School Board Policies; paying attention to previous decisions the Board has made; thinking about the motions about to be voted on; sometimes apparently not even aware of how even he himself just voted or a motion he just made.
    Listen to the tapes/read the transcripts if you don’t believe me.

    Twice I had to ask the District Attorney to intervene and obtain supposedly public documents.
    Because he didn’t ask the District first. Also old news not related to the recall. Wasting some of those 200 here….

    ..School performance is down; drop outs and transfers remain high.
    Facts and figures please.

    Morale is low…
    Of course it is.
    With the “put your fists up” attitude he uses, the job insecurity of no contract being safe, the overall combative atmosphere he has promoted, why wouldn’t it be low?!

    Teacher turn-over is high.
    Duh! Who wants to work for such a contentious District if they don’t have to?

    We have lost millions to mismanagement.
    What a broad statement with no facts backing it up. Where are the specifics of such a claim? How did this supposed mismanagement happen on YOUR watch Rick?

    These problems demand that we reconsider the Superintendent’s leadership.
    Finally, to the HEART of it all.
    Yet even if the Superintendent needs to go, Rick A. has shown himself unable to accomplish this, even though he has tried repeatedly to do so, even illegally.
    Think about that if YOU believe we need a new Superintendent.
    Rick A. is obviously NOT the one to accomplish it.

    The opposition actually paid people to collect recall signatures, which is a first in Linn County history. I serve with no salary and have no economic ties to the district, yet people in the shadows are willing to pay to banish me.

    Many people are AFRAID to let Rick A. know they oppose him because they don’t want to be his next target. Yet many have bravely put themselves in the line of his fire as well. If he sees them he complains about them and their methods. If he doesn’t see them he complains they are in the shadows.

    Rick himself has instigated recall campaigns in the past (and setting-up/been a part of political action groups). He has stated in the paper that he thinks it is a good thing and the constitutional right of the people.
    Why does he CARE if anyone was paid for their time while collecting signatures?

    …Just send me back into the fight.
    That sums it up. That is what Rick Alexander thinks it is all about.

    A parent responding to the newspaper's article stating R & W didn't answer the allegations of the recall said: “Mr. Alexander is a very personal man and will listen to you.”
    Yes, Rick listens if you are unhappy and unwilling to go through proper channels.
    How on earth does being “personal” outweigh being a responsible, law-abiding, policy-following, professional School Board Member???
    Tell me on Oct. 7th!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    The teachers have noticed a problem and have been looking for solutions.
    How can you communicate with parents if when there are parent teacher conferences only 25% of parents bother to show?
    How can you improve performance when every day students sit in their chairs and do NOTHING? I would love to see information about how many of the students that failed math failed one or more of their other classes.
    Teachers know there is a problem but just pointing fingers does nothing to find a solution. We need to work together.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    If Rick Alexander is elected again he will view it as a blank check to do whatever he wants with impunity.

    In his statement opposing his recall he said:

    I was elected on the premise of open and accountable government. The peoples [sic] business should be conducted in public view.

    Yes, he was elected on that premise, and he has NOT fulfilled his promise.
    In fact, Rick has gotten steadily worse and more bold about his illegal and unethical behavior in this area over the years.

    He has been the biggest instigator of behind the scenes activity.
    Rick A. has done so among the Board themselves by discussing–or trying to discuss–issues outside of the public meetings.
    Rick has also done so by encouraging the public, including employees and others with a contract with the District, to make end runs around the system.
    By having them come directly to him, and to the public comments section of Board meetings, when they are upset or unhappy before they have gone through the whole chain-of-command process.
    Since he himself refuses to use that process, and he regularly encourages others to do the same, he has knocked down any claim to that premise being fulfilled.

    Rick A. and Josh W. pushed, and pushed, and pushed, until they got the public comments section moved from the end of the meeting to the beginning for exactly that reason!

    Except for Josh W., who agrees with this behavior and does it himself, Rick A. has repeatedly frustrated fellow Board Members by defying the “Sunshine Law” since he came on to the Board years ago.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    According to Rick Alexander the recall petition was a mixture of half-truths and innuendo.
    Talk about the master of spin!
    But then he takes it to a whole new level.

    Morale is low.
    Imagine that, considering the behavior he has displayed, and encouraged in others, especially these past two years.
    Keeping the people demoralized is his favorite method of staying in power.
    If he keeps pointing to everything that isn’t perfect;
    keeps looking for and highlighting anything negative;
    keeps doing everything possible to shift the blame, especially onto the Administration, then of course morale will stay low.
    If Rick works as hard as possible to stir up old problems–and particularly old emotions–to keep people feeling as low as possible, then he can run on the platform of, “let me fix it for you”.

    Nice one Rick. Make it all as bad as you can so you can swoop in and ‘save the day’.
    Come on people, ask yourself:
    Do I want to continue to see this District destroyed from the inside out?
    Is Rick Alexander really part of the solution or is he in fact a major part of the problem?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Rick and his spin machine goes on…

    teacher turn-over is high.

    On the one hand, as a concerned taxpaying citizen, resident and LCSD consumer, I would like some concrete information here.

    But on the other hand–DUH!
    When the School Board Chair and Vice-chair are willing to spend whatever time and money it takes to get their way.
    When they do everything they can, overtly or covertly, to keep the “culture of conflict” alive.
    When they are ignoring contracts, policies, lawyers, and even the laws themselves, like they don’t exist.
    For those who love, and would hate to leave Lebanon, much less those who are not committed to this community: which Teacher (or other employees for that matter) wouldn’t “turn over” to a different job if they were given the opportunity?
    Getting out of this nasty, orchestrated environment, would seem very attractive don’t you think?

    Rick A.’s answer is to vote him in again.
    Is that REALLY the solution?

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Rick goes on:
    We have lost millions to mismanagement.

    Where have those “millions” been lost to?
    What concrete facts and figures are you alluding to?
    What “mismanagement” are you specifically referring to?

    Why didn’t Rick explain himself, instead of throwing out garbage verbiage?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Then Rick, finally, gets to the heart of his contentions.
    These problems demand that we reconsider the Superintendent’s leadership.

    Here he says what he really meant with everything else he said.
    We have to get rid of the Superintendent.
    Then he infers that the way we do that is by voting him back on the School Board.

    He may really mean that, but is it TRUE?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Rick whines at this point in his statement:
    The opposition actually paid people to collect recall signatures…

    They were not paid for each signature, or because they couldn’t find people who agreed with this recall.
    They were being paid because the signature collectors were being harassed by those who oppose free speech and the constitutional right to vote when the recall is against them, or someone they support, instead of someone else.

    He said in the papers previously that he welcomed such a fight. Here he shows he’s changed his mind.
    This is especially ridiculous coming from Rick who has been a major player in recall efforts on others in the past.

    Rick goes on:
    people in the shadows are willing to pay to banish me.
    If people ARE in the “shadows” it is because they don’t want to be his next target.
    If he sees them, he targets them.
    If he can’t see them, he whines because they are not a clear target.
    Yeah. That’s a win-win situation.

    And to “banish” him???
    Does he think we are sending him to the moon when we don’t vote him back on the School Board?

    The questions here:
    Was this a good use of those shrinking 200 words?
    Did he think he would get people to feel sorry for him and thus vote for him based on that instead of on his behavior, his ongoing legacy, and our rational thoughts about it all?
    If so, he doesn’t give the voters of Lebanon much credit does he?

  13. Dennis Says:

    “We have to get rid of the Superintendent.
    Then he infers that the way we do that is by voting him back on the School Board.”

    More and more, I think this is a key point for some voters. If Alexander can convince enough of the public that dislikes Robinson that only Alexander can get rid of Robinson, then he’ll survive the recall, no matter what else he does. If those voters are convinced, however, that either Alexander is unable to get rid of Robinson, or that someone else could do it, then there’s no reason to keep Alexander on the board.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    As a voter, you have a choice.

    Rick continues: …support a fellow citizen whose sole objective is open, accountable government (see previous post for his report card on that issue) and educational excellence.
    This is an outright lie.
    His objective, coming right from his own mouth, is to get rid of Jim Robinson.
    If he accomplishes that then he wants the School Board to run, not oversee–but run, the District.
    He has worked, with ever-increasing pressure, for these objectives since he came to the Board in 2003.

    Ask yourself: has he made things better or worse for the students; the citizens; the district; the town?

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Rick finishes with this:
    I will stand up for our students and against the special interests.

    What “special interests” is he talking about?

    He is always complaining about communication problems in the District.
    Talk about being a poor communicator!
    Being clear in his communication here would have been of immense benefit to the voters, to everyone who is concerned about the welfare of our students.
    Instead we are left to fill in the blanks and wonder why he is so vague in alluding to such fearful dangers he wants to save us from.

    Lastly he says: Just send me back into the fight.
    That is who Rick sees himself as.
    A fighter in a match to see who can deliver the knockout punch.
    He won’t settle for any other kind of “victory”.
    Is that REALLY the mentality we want on our School Board?
    Then you know what to do.
    VOTE!

  16. IE Says:

    So it looks there 8 posts from the same “anonymous” who is working his/her way through Rick’s statement. It might appear to be 8 different people, but it’s the same person I would bet. Looks like lots of anti-Rick supporters posting, but really it’s only one. Am I right about this, anon?

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Gosh IE,
    It didn’t even occur to me to try to make it look like “lots of people against Rick” were responding.
    I was just trying to keep my post from being a really really long one.
    I was, as you suggested, working my way through his statement and thought several posts would be easier to read.
    -anon

  18. Dennis Says:

    To the person who submitted the comment around 1 PM Friday about IE: It’s not getting published. It was stupid, and childish, and untrue. You should know better.


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