No Apologies from the BOE: Chair Smug...

No Apologies from the BOE: Chair Smug as Ever

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Since: Dec 09

Location hidden

#1 Dec 8, 2009
::The real story you will never see in the Sentinel::
For the citizens who showed up at the Douglas County Board of Education’s (BOE) December meeting expecting an apology for mis-management of funds, they went home with a nicely conceived package that terminated the high-dollar contract and offered no promise for improvement going forward.
Due to the grassroots support generated by Internet channels and some investigative reporting by Fox 5’s Randy Travis, the BOE will no longer be turning a blind eye to attorney fees in the near future. A back-room deal was brokered that allowed local attorney Bernard, and BOE Chair Jimmy Bartlett an out of a public opinion crisis. Whether or not they take advantage of that opportunity remains unclear at the moment.
Once the meeting was underway, rounds of applause came when Bartlett announced that the BOE and Sherrod and Bernard had agreed to a mutual release of the contract between the two parties. The firm will represent the board through the end of the month. No details were discussed, and no reasons given for the termination of the agreement.
With a barely audible monotone voice, Mr. Bartlett later offered no apologies for the questionable $295,275 contract, which a Fox Atlanta reports is at least twice that of other comparable sized school districts. Instead, he read a gratuitous statement, praising the work the current BOE had prepared under his leadership.
Remarks were made by numerous teachers praising the BOE - prompting rumbles from many that perhaps Bartlett had asked these individuals, to herald the accomplishments of the school system and to ignore the lack of accountability. One teacher, Ms. Denise Grentz, was not intimidated by her employers, and let her dissatisfaction be known. She asked,“Have your actions been in the best interest of everyone?” She pointed out that she must account for every “nickel, dime, and penny,” but the attorney never was.
Former political candidate Ron Wilson almost doubled his three-minute time limit, with a presentation of questionable analysis supporting Bernard’s fees. He cited numerous documents, and opinions, and waved multiple reports of uncertified origin in the air, but failed to impress the crowd. Unfortunately, Mr. Bartlett positioned Scott Powers, the power behind watch dog group Douglasvillenow.com , after Wilson.“I have been asking for documents for over 7 months, and now they mysterious appear in the hands of Mr. Wilson.”
Mr. Powers is not alone in the citizen’s search for answers. If the fee is indeed appropriate, why not put “everything on the table” to use the words of Bartlett in his first appearance on the I-Team. Tax payers want to know what they received for nearly $300,000 annually, but the hope for such accountability remains dim. Powers concluded his remarks by calling for the resignation of Bartlett and the suspension of the entire board until the matter receives a full investigation.
The BOE is now at a cross roads. They can continue moving forward, challenged only by a few. They can select a new attorney, a new superintendent, and award new contracts with the documents in plain sight. Or they can continue to operate behind smoke and mirrors, cleverly hidden and mired in red tape. Only the public can force them down the path of accountability and truth. Time will tell beginning next week with several BOE bonds now up for refinancing, with public discussion taking place on December 15. The dispute over the attorney and bank fees related to bonds is what brought this issue to the I-Team. Will the public show up, or are they happy that they took a pound of flesh from a local attorney who got greedy?
In the end, the primary responsibility for the matter lies with the board – not the guy who charged a fee and was never challenged. The responsibility to hold them accountable lies with the voters. Will you be there?
mike

Atlanta, GA

#2 Dec 8, 2009
If the Board of Indoctrination-- I mean education offered any one of us a quarter million a year contract and not require any accounting for the money, the majority of us would take it. Bernard, like most, acted in his own best interest; we may consider his actions low-life, but he simply did what the majority of us would do.

When a person is elected to a position of public trust and then uses that position to benefit himself or anyone else unduly, or to consciously act in any way against that public trust, he or she is the culprit. The solution is to never again elect those who, year after year, voted to approve this contract. They breached the public trust. Those members of the BOE who were complicit in this effort should never be elected to another position of public trust again-- make them actually work for their subsistence.

Bernard also contracts with the Board of Commissioners. That should also be scrutinized.
whattodo

Dallas, GA

#3 Dec 8, 2009
how do we recall the board? when are these board meetings taking place? I want to be involved and get rid of them all or at least the ones who are most responsible. more needs to be done with this county corruption and I think it has just started to reveal itself.

Since: Nov 09

United States

#4 Dec 8, 2009
We don't need a recall, there are elections next yr. for 3 of the positions. We need to stay involved and make those we elected as accountable as they hold us.

Attend the meetings. Call the board members. Request documents.

The current board seems to be good at general contracting and building school, but lack the will to give the teachers the tools they need to excel beyond "adequacy" and minimum standards.

A change is needed "moving forward"!

Since: Dec 09

Location hidden

#5 Dec 9, 2009
whattodo wrote:
how do we recall the board? when are these board meetings taking place? I want to be involved and get rid of them all or at least the ones who are most responsible. more needs to be done with this county corruption and I think it has just started to reveal itself.
There will be a special meeting on 12/15 to review proposals on refinancing several bonds. This is what started it all. Show up and monitor the meeting. Details not yet available on the BOE web site. I will post once more details are available.
Attys for Ethics

Jonesboro, GA

#6 Dec 9, 2009
All I can say, is that there had better not be a run for the school board attorney opening by a particular school board memeber. Much of this was done as a malicious and persomal attack against Mr. Bernard. Mr. Miller, who started the entire investigation, is an attorney here in D'ville. I will be outraged if he now trys to go after the job once held by Mr. Bernard.

Since: Oct 09

D'Vegas

#7 Dec 9, 2009
Attys for Ethics wrote:
All I can say, is that there had better not be a run for the school board attorney opening by a particular school board memeber. Much of this was done as a malicious and persomal attack against Mr. Bernard. Mr. Miller, who started the entire investigation, is an attorney here in D'ville. I will be outraged if he now trys to go after the job once held by Mr. Bernard.
Mr. Miller has stated several times that he has no desire in obtaining this position. I am thankful that he is on the BOE to start such investigations into such matters.

I think it is funny that if you go back and read Mr. Bartlett's statement after the $295,000 contract to Bernard was agreed upon you will see how all of a sudden he is now seeing things in a different light...here is the recap from that meeting.

"The Douglas County Board of Education (BOE) Monday approved a $295,275 attorney services contract with Sherrod and Bernard, but only after heated debate and a 3-2 split vote.

The action came at the regular 7 p.m. BOE meeting at the board’s central office conference room on Highway 5.

BOE Chairman Jimmy Bartlett had to cast the deciding vote to break a 2-2 tie for approval. This vote came after a move to table the issue hit a 2-2 snag and failed.

The motion to approve the attorney fee was made by Dr. Sam Haskell and seconded by Jeff Morris. Their votes to approve were countered by votes against from Larry Barnes and Mike Miller.

In casting the deciding vote, Bartlett presented a two-page, prepared speech on why he felt the approval was in the best interest of the county taxpayers and school system. He said his decision came after much research and talks with all board members.

“Based on my findings, it’s possible that we could obtain services for a lower rate, but it is certain that we could pay much, much more,” Bartlett said.“Our responsibility in this matter is to make the best choice and that is what my vote will reflect.”

Bartlett said the fee is only 13 one-hundredths of 1 percent of the school system budget.

“I’m voting for what I believe to be the best interests of Douglas County,” he said.

However, Barnes said he felt the vote should be delayed until further research could be done.

“I’m concerned about this contract that we haven’t had sufficient time to debate,” Barnes said.“We’ve asked for things that haven’t been received. There’s nothing in the contract that specifies the responsibilities of the firm.”

Barnes also charged that the fee is out of line with other school systems of similar size, such as Paulding and Carroll.

“I’ve talked to many systems,” he said.“I can’t find anyone in the same ballpark as this figure.”

Barnes said he has no issue with the present attorney’s performance. He said it’s a financial issue and making sure it’s in line with other counties providing the same services. He said these are difficult economic times and everyone should pitch in and weather the storm.

Miller said this is a very big issue for him and one of serving the people in his district.

“Some folks in my district said they want to know when major issues come up and this is a major issue,” he said.“Ken Bernard is a friend of mine and he’s an excellent attorney, but that’s not the issue.”

Miller said the contract was presented to him only a week ago Friday. He said the board needs more time to look it over and know what it’s getting.

“I don’t care what the amount is as long as we know what we’re getting,” he said.“I had questions I wanted answered. That’s why I voted to table.”

Miller also said that he’d like to see the board’s policy changed for citizen comment. He noted that the BOE agenda is usually posted on Friday, but that registration for citizen comment has to be made by Thursday. He suggested moving the comment date to noon on the meeting date."
Concerned Citizen

United States

#8 Dec 9, 2009
I think it is a huge injustice that 2 members of the BOE have convinced Douglas County citizens that Mr. Bernard has mishandled his position. These 2 members have a personal vendetta against this man and it is extremely sad that everyone has bought into it. These two men have taken time and energy away from what is truly important and that is the students of Douglas County to focus on personal issues. I hope people start to realize that they have been told a bunch of lies and/or half-truths and decide to vote these two men off the BOE next year.

They DO NOT have Douglas County's best interests at heart and it is disgraceful!
Mike Miller

Atlanta, GA

#9 Dec 9, 2009
Attys for Ethics wrote:
All I can say, is that there had better not be a run for the school board attorney opening by a particular school board memeber. Much of this was done as a malicious and persomal attack against Mr. Bernard. Mr. Miller, who started the entire investigation, is an attorney here in D'ville. I will be outraged if he now trys to go after the job once held by Mr. Bernard.
No need to be outraged, I do not, and never had, any intent to become the BOE attorney. This notion is simply a red herring employed to divert attention from the facts that a tremendous amount of money was paid on bonds and contracts when compared to similarly situated school systems. However, I do agree that if someone in my position suddenly resigned and were to become the BOE Attorney, I would be upset as well. So I understand and support your concern. I do not agree however that any of my actions were either personal or malicious toward Mr. Bernard. In fact, I attempted to attain answers regarding the bond and the true value of the services that our attorney provided to the Board in an effort to ensure transparency and good stewardship by the Board and not just go with the flow. I will be glad to meet with you and explain my position and show you additional documentation if you still question my motives. Feel free to contact me.
Scott

Norcross, GA

#10 Dec 9, 2009
Concerned Citizen wrote:
I think it is a huge injustice that 2 members of the BOE have convinced Douglas County citizens that Mr. Bernard has mishandled his position. These 2 members have a personal vendetta against this man and it is extremely sad that everyone has bought into it. These two men have taken time and energy away from what is truly important and that is the students of Douglas County to focus on personal issues. I hope people start to realize that they have been told a bunch of lies and/or half-truths and decide to vote these two men off the BOE next year.
They DO NOT have Douglas County's best interests at heart and it is disgraceful!
You are dead wrong about the character of these two men. 100% of the truth has been told the entire time. The fact that there will not be a public airing of the facts due to the "back room" deal crafted by Bernard and Bartlett, is to the detriment of education in Douglas County. By virtue of this deal we are expressly guaranteed that there will be no accountability on the back side of this deal just as there was none 6 months ago when Bartlett, Morris and Haskell voted for the contract. They will all be removed from office. Now or in a year or 2 years. We're patient. Then there will be a full investigation and all parties brought to account for their lack of fiscal stewardship.

Get the facts before you make ignorant statements. If you can read, there are 500+ posts on Topix clearly articulating them.
Concerned Citizen

United States

#11 Dec 9, 2009
Unfortunately I am not wrong about the character of these two men and the vendetta that they have towards Mr. Bernard. Why don't you do do some research of your own and find out the TRUE reason behind this (or my guess would be that you already know). And I truly hope that the "whole" story comes to light about all parties involved in this mess and that includes two certain BOE members. It is very easy to twist half-truths in a way that can be viewed in anyway that you want. That is why they call it tabloid journalism, I mean investigative journalism. Good luck to you and your two friends Scott.

Since: Dec 09

Location hidden

#12 Dec 9, 2009
There are so many secondary issues stemming from the primary ones: Were the citizens getting great value for their tax dollars or not? Did the BOE clearly researched the fees for comparable school districts and make a sound business case for going with paying for higher attorney fees. If the answers to the above questions are yes, where are the records that demonstrate that and why are they not readily available on the BOE web site or by request from the Central Office?

If you want to find out, make sure that you do everything in your power to attend every public meeting on refinancing of bonds (Dec. 15) and any other issues before the board as well as their monthly meetings. Nothing will really change, and no one will get voted out unless you do. My guess is that the mob is happy that Kenny is gone, and all will be back to normal before the end of January.
Concerned Citizen

United States

#13 Dec 9, 2009
I completely understand your need for answers concerning the above questions. I just happen to take issue with 2 BOE members being seen as heros when in fact they probably need to have their careers picked apart and examined. And then let us judge them for what they are. I truly hope that Douglas County becomes a leader in education but that will never happen when you have grown ups acting like children.
ChaCha

Waterloo, Canada

#14 Dec 9, 2009
Concerned Citizen wrote:
Unfortunately I am not wrong about the character of these two men and the vendetta that they have towards Mr. Bernard. Why don't you do do some research of your own and find out the TRUE reason behind this (or my guess would be that you already know). And I truly hope that the "whole" story comes to light about all parties involved in this mess and that includes two certain BOE members. It is very easy to twist half-truths in a way that can be viewed in anyway that you want. That is why they call it tabloid journalism, I mean investigative journalism. Good luck to you and your two friends Scott.
If you have information why not share it here?

Since: Aug 09

Braselton, GA

#15 Dec 9, 2009
If you want to know how the board runs, read the way this thread is running. There are lots of accusations and very little fact finding or giving. This is pretty much how things runs, only none of us are spending, or greedily taking, the counties (us) money. I recently went to three Douglasville City Council Meeting and was incredibly disgusted. The manor in which the board, as a unit, behaved was personal and snippy. There are concerned members, autocrats, arrogant leaders, and the dysfunctional ELECTED to this Council. As a group they may be on par with the average middle school student council. As for the BOE, we need a zero tolerance policy for weapons of fiscal irresponsibility. Now that I have joined this discussion, it is revealed that I ain't no smarter than no one else.
Concerned Citizen

United States

#16 Dec 9, 2009
All you have to do is ask these 2 BOE members how many lawsuits were brought against the county schools systems, how many were won, how many were lost and how many were dismissed. I believe this falls under the duties of MR. Bernard and his firm. And per the record, his firm has done a great job representing Douglas County. For the bond issue, it is my understanding that the BOE hired an outside company to handle this. Is that incorrect? If so, what was stated about this particular issue on the Channel 5 was false and these two BOE members would be well aware of that. All is not what it seems!
Anon Me

Dallas, GA

#17 Dec 9, 2009
Attys for Ethics wrote:
All I can say, is that there had better not be a run for the school board attorney opening by a particular school board memeber. Much of this was done as a malicious and persomal attack against Mr. Bernard. Mr. Miller, who started the entire investigation, is an attorney here in D'ville. I will be outraged if he now trys to go after the job once held by Mr. Bernard.
I saw a thing of FaceBook last night to support Mike Miller for School Board attorney. I don't know if he started it, but it's out there.
ChaCha

Warwick, RI

#18 Dec 9, 2009
I just checked FB and saw "Mike Miller for Douglas County School Board" which I would guess is his from when he was running for his current seat. I do not see any pages related to what you mentioned.
Anon Me wrote:
<quoted text>
I saw a thing of FaceBook last night to support Mike Miller for School Board attorney. I don't know if he started it, but it's out there.

Since: Dec 09

Location hidden

#19 Dec 9, 2009
The Special Meeting to review the requests for proposals on the refinancing of the bonds will begin at 5 pm on December 15. Tough for many folks to make it, but a show of force will go a long way to motivate every member to ask the right questions to ensure we ARE getting VALUE.

Keep up with the BOE schedules at http://www.douglas.k12.ga.us/Default.asp...
Scott

Norcross, GA

#20 Dec 9, 2009
Concerned Citizen wrote:
Unfortunately I am not wrong about the character of these two men and the vendetta that they have towards Mr. Bernard. Why don't you do do some research of your own and find out the TRUE reason behind this (or my guess would be that you already know). And I truly hope that the "whole" story comes to light about all parties involved in this mess and that includes two certain BOE members. It is very easy to twist half-truths in a way that can be viewed in anyway that you want. That is why they call it tabloid journalism, I mean investigative journalism. Good luck to you and your two friends Scott.
Perhaps we should all just read the Sentinel since that is the example of true journalism. You know, the kind where they get approval from elected officials before the print a story to make sure it isn't inflamatory or doesn't distort the truth as they want the voters to understand it. The cat's out of the bag, my friend. Good luck to the small handful of you who think you can put it back in.

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