Mar 19, 2008

to choose a Board member: March 19 liveblog

Update: The podcast is available [mp3]. See an addendum below.

Will they be able to decide? After this week's chiding by The Olympian, maybe the Board will be extra-officious this evening, and settle amicably on an applicant. I'll be liveblogging, whether they do or don't.

Lahmann, Barclift, Wilson, Shirley, and student rep Buchholz are here. Barclift announces that Russ Lehman is (hopefully) arriving soon, and we'll wait for him to show.

And he does! Smiling, to applause, Lehman takes his seat, and Barclift calls the meeting to order. Here we go.

The first question: should we go in public, or take it to an executive session? Lehman and Shirley say let's take it public. Buchholz worries that something said tonight might potentially start a conflict later; his call for executive session is seconded by Barclift, who doesn't want to talk about qualifications in public.

As Barclift polls the Board about their public/private preference, but Lehman, thinking it's a different kind of poll, says his preferred candidate is Paul Parker.

Shirley makes the first official motion, seconded by Lehman, to choose Theresa Tsou. He gives a brief speech about her passion for the underprivileged and the struggling.

Lehman says that Tsou would be a good candidate, both as a woman, as an immigrant, and as a PhD, but that he'll still vote for Paul Parker.

First vote: 1-3 for Tsou. Not yet. Lehman then moves to nominate Paul Parker.

Lehman talks about Parker's experience and attitude, especially concerning the budget, which Lehman sees as the big issue in coming months. Parker's work on the Budget Advisory Group matters a great deal.

Shirley says he's willing to vote for Parker (who's sitting in the third row).

Wilson favors John Keeffe's experience.

Second vote: 2-2 for Parker. Not yet.

Wilson speaks in favor of Keeffe because of his experience and his focus--putting kids at the center.

Barclift agrees.

Shirley notes that Keeffe's description of his feeling that joining the Board would be "right for him right now," was putting his own fulfillment first. Wasn't convinced.

Lehman says that "John's experience is exactly what we don't need right now." "Certainly no one who's on the Board more than a year should ever say it's about the kids.... John said how the Board would serve him, not how he would serve the Board." "It's unbelievable what little has been accomplished in those 12 years."

"I'm absolutely not willing for John."

Wilson disagrees sharply, saying that it really is about the kids. Shirley agrees that it is, but doesn't see that as Keefe's focus.

The vote: 2-2. No agreement, then.

With the failure of all three motions, Barclift asks if anyone's mind might be changeable as the Board considers the next move.

Lehman says he'll consider anyone but Keeffe.

Sparks continue to fly, as Barclift says, "Russ, quite honestly, you don't believe anyone on this Board has done anything worthwhile."

Shirley: "I think two of us have expressed a willingness to compromise."

Buchholz: "This is kind of ridiculous. The first thing about conflict resolution that anyone learns is compromise, that no one is going to get everything they want."

Shirley says that to turn over the decision to the ESD would be a "failure." Wilson says he's willing to listen. Barclift says that Buchholz may one day learn when compromise is just not possible. His quick reply: "I guess I'm just too young to understand."

Barclift wants any potential discussion taken to an executive session.

Buchholz breaks a long silence by asking if the Board can go to executive session as a way to work through the impasse. That meeting will come April 2nd, a "special meeting" not open to the public.

The meeting adjourns at 6:59.

Addendum, 3/20: Comparing my quotes with the podcast, I was only slightly off; for example, where Russ Lehman says "what we don't need now," I put it as "What we don't need right now."

Although the pro got the words exactly right, her piece misses Lehman's comment, in bold below, that appeared to set Wilson and Barclift on edge. The context:
The term that I served with John, well, just look at some of the answers to his questions, and for being on the Board twelve years, the first answer to the question, What should the Board be about?, it's about the kids, well, that's a cliché that everybody says, and certainly nobody who's been on the Board more than a year should ever say it's about the kids, as the sole answer to the question, Why be on the Board?
With Lehman and Shirley dead set against Keeffe, his chance of joining the Board is pretty slim--only if the ESD has to step in, or only if Shirley or Lehman takes a Damascus road trip. I'd put 2:1 odds on Parker, 4:1 on Tsou.

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