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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I sure do miss the good old days when the media kept public officials from lying to us instead of enabling them to lie to us

Huntsville school board meeting
The Huntsville school board meets in the board room of the Annie C. Merts Center on Tuesday. (Crystal Bonvillian/cbonvillian@al.com)

Sigh.......  We weren't allowed to say we hate anyone or anything when we were growing up.  Our parents taught us if you hate you are just like the haters.  We were allowed to say we strongly disliked actions, but we always had to have an explanation.  That said,  I strongly dislike the media we have, or this case, don't have, because instead of telling us what we need to know in order to make informed decisions, they tell us what they want us to know. And in most cases that's not much.  

It's not as if some of us didn't see this coming when 100's of journalist got pink slips back  in 2012 because their ain't no sunshine anymore, and the public is left in the dark.  For example, the public probably isn't aware the #hsvboe (Huntsville Board of Eduction) adjourns the public board meeting, which is televised, prior to the citizens comments, which are not televised, meaning we have to depend on the media to tell us, or in most cases, not tell us, what comments were made, and God forbid they ask follow up questions.  Oh, and the#hsvboe does not have to answer citizens questions, and there is not a darn thing John or Susie Public can do about it. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in the Twilight Zone (cue in music).

Let's look at tonight's live stenography, I mean,  updates from the #hsvboe meeting courtesy of AL.comExhibit A:
8 p.m.: Citizen comments began with T.C. Johnson, pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, who asked that the "renaming" of Johnson High School be rescinded. Johnson claimed that board policy was violated in the decision to rename Johnson as Jemison High School and that the public did not have adequate input in the decision.
Johnson is not the first to complain about the loss of the Johnson High name. School board members have said, however, that Johnson is not being renamed, but closed.
Butler High School is also closing and its students being diverted to Jemison with the Johnson students.
T.C. Johnson was the only citizen who signed up to speak at the meeting. The board adjourned for the evening when he was done.
I guess it would have been to much like, you know, real  journalism to find out why Johnson claimed that board policy was violated.  I mean, we can't have the public thinking Johnson is telling the truth even if he is.  Let's just ignore his allegations, out of sight out of mind.
Last night the Huntsville City School Board of Education violated their own policy on the Selection of School, Facility, and/or Property Name (Policy 2.9, presented September 5, 2013) by concluding the process and voting on the new names approximately three weeks before they were allowed to do so.
On September 5, 2013, the board met and discussed during their work session a new policy entitled, “Selection of School, Facility, and/or Property Name” (Policy 2.9). This policy was necessary to ensure that the process of receiving new names for schools would be as open to the public as possible. Laurie McCaulley, who was at that time serving as the School Board President, assured the public present that evening that the public would have every opportunity to “have input on these changes.
 Moving on to Exhibit B:
7:36 p.m.: The work session has ended, and the board has moved into action items. The Jemison site package contract, along with several smaller renovation contracts and bid renewals, was approved. Click here to see all of the approved items.
7:20 p.m.: Jeff Wilson, director of operations for the district, gave the board an update on the construction of the new Jemison High School/McNair Middle campus. A $1.8 million contract expected to be approved later in the meeting will go toward preparing the site for construction of the school buildings.
Let's forget about the fact parents and citizens are concerned about the safety and well being of students/faculty/staff due to the site being prepared for construction is less than half a mile from an active rock quarry.  Never mind parents and citizens requested $250,000 for a health risk assessment to be conducted before they spend $1.8 million preparing the site for construction of the school buildings that may or may not be safe for student/faculty/staff to occupy.  Let's ignore them too, they aren't anybody, just tax payers without representation.

Last but not least, Exhibit C:
In an attempt to discredit Madison County Commissioner, and fellow black elected official, Robert "Bob" Harrison, #hsvboe mis-representative Laurie McCaulley discredited herself, and the indefensible actions of the Superintendent she was trying to defend.  We must laugh to keep from crying....
McCaulley also objected to Harrison suggesting Superintendent Casey Wardynski had misled the court while under oath. One of the issues Harrison raised involved testimony about wifi in public housing, an issue because Huntsville had touted its laptop program as equalizing educational opportunities across the city.
Harrison wrote about a recent agreement between Huntsville schools and Comcast, and argued Wardynski testified "as if this agreement was in existence and had been for some time." Harrison told the judge that for two years children in public housing could not complete their homework on the laptops.
McCaulley said the board had been led to understand the service was available."It was our assumption it had been done," said McCaulley.
Psst!  If you are an elected official and you don't know when you've been *cough cough* misled,  it might be time for you to go someplace and sit all the way down.  And if you are a journalist/ reporter, you might want to start interviewing people who don't tow the party line, and please stop faking the funk when the facts don't fit the narrative.
"You are not the voice of the people that's my board member.  Laurie McCaulley was elected, David Blair were elected, they are the voice of the people. You're just a company.  Who elected you?" 
It's the media.  They think we are stupid.

15 comments:

DARYAL Pinchon said...

There has been ANOTHER shooting involving young blacks this week it also resulted in another death of a black!!

That is what we in North Huntsville need to worry about more than a name change,air quality or Dr.W doing his job!!!

You, T.C.,Showers and Harrison could be using your energy and time to come up with ways to stop all the violence on the North side of town!!! You say South Huntsville doesn't have to worry about the air quality at the new school they also have a better chance of not being shot by thugs!!!
North Huntsville is a violent area and Showers, Harrison, T.C. you and none of the other so called leaders even address that issue and it is time to do so!!!!!!

Reed Thompson said...

First, RedEye, I appreciate this post. #HSVboe despises transparency and democratic input, whether it is from the community or from educators. And as you correctly point out, the media (such as it is) has been complicit in their corporate style assault on the city's schools. It should be scandalous that principals inflate gradebooks to improve "data." It should be scandalous that board members and HCS officials lie to public regularly. It should be scandalous that HCS and #HSVboe impose policies that are harmful to our students and contradictory to researched-based best practices.

Dayral, your rant points out the disparity in violence across the city and the detrimental effect it has on working class neighborhoods, particularly in North Huntsville. However, you ignore the quite obvious factors of poverty and inequality. I tend to agree that folks like Harrison and Showers have been big on media garnering criticism with little in the way of solution.

However, the issue you speak of is incredibly complex and cannot be analyzed, much less addressed, with rants and platitudes (particularly from politicians). You cannot deal with gun violence while ignoring the violence of poverty, inequality, unemployment, low wages, lack of housing, the failed drug war, broken "justice" system and the prison complex.

DARYAL Pinchon said...

@ REED, I do not buy into the bs we are feed as to why our kind are committing all this violence in Huntsville and other areas.It has nothing to do with poverty,drug war, justice system etc etc!! All men black white etc have FREE WILL no matter there circumstances!!!W can all choose to do right or wrong, better ourselves our run the streets!! Most of our younger generation choose to run the streets, be gang bangers, thugs etc instead of taking advantage of the MANY opportunities that are available to better themselves ie" student loans etc but public school, k-12 is free but yet we see most all the predominately black schools are failing. It is not the school,teachers,janitor etc fault it is the kid himself as well as the people raising them!!!!! Lets stop making excuses and call it like it is!!!

Brian said...

We have the media we have because it is the media that we the people picked. If newspaper subscription rates didn't drop, if classified ads didn't move to online sites like Craigslist and eBay, it might be different. But newspapers, like most print media, has suffered in the digital age. Newspapers are not worth as much as they once were, they don't bring in the revenue to justify keeping staffing at the same levels that they once were. Why should people pay to get a newspaper when most of what the newspaper offers they can get online for free and is updated at a much faster rate then once a day.

If you believe that McCaully is misrepresenting her district, have you looked into whether or not she can be recalled. Alabama has no restrictions on when a recall petition has to be started or why. There is no time limit on gathering signature. You only have to get signature equaling 3% of inhabitants in the district and 30% of those who voted in the last election.

Redeye said...

Thank you for your thoughtful response REED Thompson, I agree with everything you said except this part: " I tend to agree that folks like Harrison and Showers have been big on media garnering criticism with little in the way of solution. "

Harrison and Showers aren't offering criticism for the sake of "garnering media attention", they are offering criticism because it's true. They don't decide what the media is going to report. Like it or not, they are the elected voice of the people they represent. They aren't speaking for themselves they are speaking for their constituents.
As for offering solutions, I know for a fact they have offered solutions, but here's the rub, they need two other council/commission members to agree/vote with them before they can do anything, as opposed to their fellow council/commission members who rarely need their one vote to accomplish thing for their constituents. Showers and Harrison can offer all the solutions they want, but if their fellow council/commission members don't agree with them, it's not going anywhere.

Once again, thanks for reading, and commenting. Thoughtful, civilized, debate/discussion is always welcome here.

Redeye said...

Brian, as usual you miss the point all together, it's about the content (or lack thereof) and the investigative reporting (or the lack thereof) not about the revenue (or the lack there of). As REED Thompson said: "the media (such as it is) has been complicit in their corporate style assault on the city's schools. It should be scandalous that principals inflate gradebooks to improve "data." It should be scandalous that board members and HCS officials lie to public regularly. It should be scandalous that HCS and #HSVboe impose policies that are harmful to our students and contradictory to researched-based best practices." I submit if this were happening under the direction of Dr. Ann Roy Moore the media would be screaming bloody murder, and rightly so.

DP, the solution to the gun violence is closing background check loopholes to keep guns out
of dangerous hand and banning military assault weapons, to start. In addition to addressing the poverty, inequality, unemployment, low wages, lack of housing, the failed drug war, broken "justice" system and the prison complex. But all of that is kind of hard to do because second amendment and jobs. Snark

Brian said...

No, I made the point I wanted to make.

But on to the topic of the supposed lack of investigating reporting. Have you talked to reporters? Have you asked them why they are not covering the stories you think are important? There very well may be a reason for it. There might not be a story, there might not be enough evidence to publish the story. NEWS organizations can not publish any story they want. They have to have evidence to back it up. They can not speculate. They have to report what they can prove. If they can not prove, they do not need to publish it. They could very well be working on the story building it up to the point that they can publish it.

Now if you have evidence that the HCS officals are lying, find a reporter and give it to them. But understand, they have a much higher standard that they have to hold themselves to otherwise they become nothing more that a gossip rag.

DARYAL Pinchon said...

@Redeye do you really thing the thugs in North Huntsville who shoot each other weekly actually buy guns? LOL Closing loop holes will not help. They get guns from thefts, break ins etc etc etc!!! EVERYONE no matter there situation has free will to better themselves!! There are NUMEROUS programs to help people get GEDS, college diplomas, trades etc etc etc

DARYAL Pinchon said...
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DARYAL Pinchon said...
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Redeye said...

No I have not talked to reporters and asked them why they are not covering stories I think are important. What good would it do? As you said, they decide the who/what/when/why of the stories they "want" to cover. I refer you to the title of this post "I sure do miss the good old days when the media prevented public officials from lying to us instead of enabling them." Also if you note the reporter said "Johnson 'claimed' that board policy was violated in the decision to rename Johnson as Jemison High School and that the public did not have adequate input in the decision." Claimed as in he's lying. Back in the day, a reporter would have investigated his "claim" to see there were any truth to the allegation. So no, I haven't talked to reporters to see why they aren't informing the public instead of misinforming them, because I know why. He/she who controls the message controls the outcome.

Redeye said...

I don't recall saying "the Thugs in north Huntsville actually bought guns". Those are your words, not mine. I said: " the solution to the gun violence is closing background check loopholes to keep guns out
of dangerous hands and banning military assault weapons, to start. In addition to addressing the poverty, inequality, unemployment, low wages, lack of housing, the failed drug war, broken "justice" system and the prison complex. But all of that is kind of hard to do because second amendment and jobs. Snark"

Brian said...

Yes, the reporter said "Johnson claimed that board policy was violated" because the board has talked about that point and explained why and how the name change has come about and why it is not a violation of the naming policy because J.O. Johnson and S.R. Butler High schools are being closed. Jamison High School is a new high school. They would have violated their policy if they were renaming J.O. Johnson High School but it is their view point that they are not.

The reporter most likely already knew this, has probably been covering the school board for a while.

You assume the reporter was assuming Johnson was lying. You don't know that. Without evidence that contradicts the school board's claim that J.O. Johnson is being closed, claimed is the safe word to use when referring to Johnson's comment.

But since you haven't talked to them, you don't know what they know, you don't know why they do what they do. And on the flip side, they may not know what you know. You might have information that they don't.

As to what news is reported, it's usually not the reporter that decides what is reported, it is his editor that decides that. The editor has the responsibility to review items before they are published to make sure they are factual and accurate. Many stories are shot down (see Rob Riley / Liberty Duke) because there's nothing that they can report that can be substantiated.

Redeye said...

Well everyone knows this BOE has a steller reputation when it comes to telling the truth. Snark. So the reporter believes the BOE without question because they are the BOE, and Johnson is "claiming" because he's Johnson. I don't have to talk to the reporters to know what they know. Everybody knows it's the job of reporters now days to tell the public what they want them to know instead of what they need to know in order to make informed decisions.

Wardynski said it best, the media is not the voice of the people, it is a corporation responsible to shareholders". Remember? http://redeyesfrontpage.blogspot.com/2014/03/there-is-nothing-more-dangerous-than.html

Redeye said...

PS Johnson's accusation is based on facts not claim's.

http://www.geekpalaver.com/2013/10/18/school-board-violates-naming-policy/