Monday, May 26, 2008

Hearsay . . . really?

In his letter to the editor of the Courier Times, Phil Schieber of Flowers Mills said that the stand Bill Spitz and I took against board interference in Neshaminy’s hiring process was based on hearsay instead of evidence. Funny, but I thought it was pretty factual when I stated that our superintendent, per his own words to me, was misled regarding the board’s involvement in changing the official recommendation for an administrative position (since I’m a board member, I should know if WE agreed on such a change). Also not in dispute is that Dr. Spitz repeatedly challenged those I accused to explain their actions, and neither gentleman would even deny the charges.

One thing I’m sure that both Schieber and I would agree on is that hearsay without any factual support can be harmful. One example occurred around the May 2007 election primary when a resident of Flowers Mill spread an unfounded rumor in his community that I refer to senior citizens as “old geezers.” A more recent example would be how a couple of gentlemen in Flowers Mill told residents back in February that school taxes could go up as much as $1,000 even though Act 1 restricted the average increase to no more than $370.

Such examples show that hearsay and unsubstantiated rumor can be used to cause fear and panic within a community. But you can rest assured, Mr. Schieber, that the information that Bill Spitz and I reported to the community are factual and verifiable.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why did Mr. Schieber wait 6 weeks to send in a letter to the Courier? Usually people take their time in writing letters to make sure they have their facts straight. In Schieber's case, it took him 6 weeks to get it completely wrong. I just can't figure out his motives. Is he one of those who comes to meetings to support the retired educator?

RMcMonagle said...

Phil Schieber has evolved into quite the activist. Most recently, he, wife Elizabeth, and a third person named Thomas Gallagher, teamed-up with Mike Fitzpatrick to sue Middletown Twp. on May 6. Their case was so weak, it had to be withdrawn. They will be back with another one this week. Keep up the good work, Phil. Middletown will be suing you to recover all costs associated with your frivolous suits, and it is already into the thousands.
Don't count on Mike Fitzpatrick returning your calls after the people of Middletown sue you back.
- Robert McMonagle
mcmonagle@verizon.net

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Schieber sued for something he believed in or if he was being political, but I tend to believe it was the latter based on his summary of O'Conner/Spitz actions as being hearsay. Does he ever get involved in school board politics (if you know)? Is he affiliated in any way with Mr. Lindner?

William O'Connor said...

Anonymous, I can probably answer your questions. Although I don't know if Schieber and Lindner drink from the same glass, they do share similar opinions. Schieber actively fought against the new high school referendum back in 2004. He also has supported the same school board candidates as Mr Lindner, and last year Schieber actively managed the campaign of my opponent in the school board race.

Anonymous said...

Mr O'Connor,
Just keep doing what you have been since taking office - telling the truth. You have earned the respect of both staff and the community for exposing the corrupt actions of Muenker and Eccles. A full investigation should be conducted into the entire interview process that went on. All members of the interview team are just as guilty for standing by and saying nothing. Their credibility and integrity is in question as well.

Anonymous said...

This is laughable. This just shows to the public what lengths these gentlemen and the people they support will go to to push forth their agenda. The referendum was a mistake and the hiring of political buddies friends and relatives just compounds their mistakes. Dr. Spitz and Mr O Connor keep up the good work. My only question is when will the Lower South. board members stand up and do the right thing and change the board?

Turning a corner said...

I think we're starting to turn a corner here in Neshaminy thanks to you and Dr. Spitz. Eccles had lost sight of what a president is supposed to be, but now he has starting behaving more appropriately. You guys gave him and the others a wake up call. This is the first time in a long time that I trust what's going on in the district because if something is wrong, at least I know you two aren't afraid to say something.

time to go said...

Yes, Shcieber does come to meetings to support Lindner. He also comes to support Eccles, Webb and Koziol. Makes one wonder why he is so involved in board members that aren't from his region. Perhaps one only needs to look at the fact that he is a committee person of the MRC. Birds of a feather...

I have never seen him support his representatives, even when they are doing the right thing. We all should take an interest in EVERYONE on the board, not just those who are politically connected.

Mr. Schieber might be more productive if he took the time to meet and talk with the representatives from his region instead of trying to undermine them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you.

I heard that the Lower South school board members promised some results (or at least an effort) on trying to change the structure of the current board. What happened?

Mrs. Cummings has spent much time and energy on fighting a fight she cannot win (NMS), yet will not (or did not) participate in meetings to try to restructure board.

Schieber … Lindner…it does not matter. Until the president is asked to step down, Neshaminy will simply be getting more of the same. Neshaminy will have poor, ineffective school board members who will not work with administration and sit on the board to fulfill their own personal agendas.

st319 said...

To turning a corner...

Don't be fooled by Eccles behavior of late. It is all an act to try to make us forget his involvement in the hiring tainting that has gone on. No one does a 180 that quickly unless he is afraid that his reign is coming to an end. He is counting on the fact that the remaining meetings for the year will be spent on the budget, redistricting and school closing. Then summer will be upon us and he his hoping that all will have been forgoten come September. We must NEVER let up on what he and Muenker did, and demand that something be done about it! Not only will the students be back in September, but those of us demanding anwsers will be too.

And to the anonymous who asked when are the Lower South board members going to step up and do what is right...

I want to know that as well. Stop thinking this will all go away and you can continue to sit at meetings and do nothing! The situation will not go away. We will all remember which board members did NOTHING come the next time they are up for election!

turning a corner said...

I think we are in agreement ST319. I'm not saying that the board president has seen the error of his ways. I believe the scrutiny he's now under is forcing him to behave more appropriately. Whether his change is sincere and long lasting remains to be seen. All I'm saying is that the change is evident regardless of the reasons.

i must be living in jersey said...

There's an interesting comment in the Courier blog underneath Schieber's letter that points out how the candidate he supported in the election against Mr. O'Connor just happened to show up at the same April 8th meeting as Schieber, and he just happened to voice his displeasure at what O'Connor and Spitz did. The comment further speculates that Schieber is prepping this guy for next year's school board election, so we can guess at what Schieber's true motives are.

I don't know if this is true but someone told me that Schieber served on the citizens committee during the high school referendum, and he was the one who uttered the infamous phrase "we need a new high school but we cannot afford a new high school." That's right Mr. Schieber, we cannot afford the money for a new building, but we can pay more for a renovation that won't even hold all the students that will be attending there in a couple years.

You are really quite the visionary, aren't you Mr. Schieber.

William O'Connor said...

Dear Jersey, just to clarify who attended that April 8th meeting - yes, Schieber's candidate was there in the crowd (I think it was his first time since last November's election), but he didn't speak out against my actions till the following meeting. You can revisit his comments by pasting this URL into your browser http://www.neshaminy.k12.pa.us/1448106916273390/lib/1448106916273390/_files/April_23,_2008_Public_Board_Meeting_minutes.pdf. Then go to Page 4 to see the comments of Mark "Shupin" (his name is actually Shubin).

I most enjoyed how he accused me and Bill Spitz of pay-to-play because of union donations to our school board campaigns. That's a ridiculous charge since contracts in Neshaminy are awarded through a low bid process, so Spitz and I can't favor one group over another even if we wanted to. I wonder why Mr. Shubin didn't mention the obvious P-2-P committed by his own party - our solicitor's firm, appointed without competitive bid by the board majority, donated $1500 to the Republican School Board campaigns?

April 23rd wasn't a night for factual information. That was the night that Howard Lindner and his political hacks, including rent-a-thugs who stood in the back of the room, stormed the meeting to create the most embarrassing display by a citizen that any of us have ever witnessed at a school board meeting.

William O'Connor said...

I'm sorry, the correct URL won't publish for some reason. Try this URL and select the PDF file for the April 23rd meeting:

http://neshaminy.schoolwires.com/1448106916273390/FileLib/browse.asp?A=374&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&C=57859

i must be living in jersey said...

Thanks for setting me straight, William. It's obvious that all these people including Schieber showed up for the attack orchestrated by the retired teacher. I'm sorry you had to endure that horrible meeting, but I'm glad you stood up to their bullying tactics. Hang in there!

st319 said...

Agreed, turning a corner. There has been a change in the way Eccles presents himself, all but when people are speaking. He still shows his lack of repect when the public is speaking by not looking at them. Let's see how much he reads this blog to see if that will change. Sorry that I don't have much confidence that this change will stick.

pianomom said...

I have spoken to numerous staff who have told me how much they appreciate what you are doing. Between your honesty and openness, you really have made quite a good number of fans in our community. You keep us informed through this blog, and we all thank you for what you do.

The legacy of neshaminy said...

Everyone in this movie will leave behind a LEGACY. Mr. Kadri will go down as one of the best superintendents ever. Several board members, past and present have established themselves in one way or another and they will leave a LEGACY. Flowers Mills residents already have left their LEGACY and it is not positive. What have they done for our community ?
Can anyone name 1 postive thing.

clarification said...

Legacy in Neshaminy...

I think that those who say they "represent" Flower's Mill don't represent the entire community.

I would hate to think that we lump all Flower's Mill residents together just like I would hope that all us who live in Levittown or are parents aren't lumped together when a Levittown resident speaks or a PTO representative speaks. (whether we agree with them or not)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't some of those residents participate in the mentoring program? Also..can't remember his name and don't agree with full day Kind., but he comes to all the meetings with a big notebook and advocates for our children.

KAC said...

I agree with "Clarification."

There are many Flowers Mills folks who are involved in a very positive way. These people have lived longer and have been through the similar issues “we” are going through now. I would imagine that many were involved parents when their children were young. We could learn a lot from these people. They deserve our respect as a group. I have been to many meetings with “the full day kindergarten man” and a few committee meetings. He is great! We are not always on the same page or pushing the same agenda, but he is respectful and kind and willing to hear all sides.

We already know the individuals from Flowers Mill that do not respect current parents, board members and administrators. Unfortunately because they are so vocal, the rest of Flowers Mills is getting a bad name. And who on the board are these individuals aligned with? Eccles is the key. If he continues to reign as president the few Flowers Mill Bullies will also reign.

William O'Connor said...

The one VoFM gentleman who advocates for the children is Steve Rodos, and as others have mentioned, he attends every board meeting and many of the committee meetings as well.

I don't have a problem with most of the Flowers Mill residents, even the ones who advocate lower taxes at the expense of educational programs. My issue is with those residents who cause panic in their community by spreading rumor and inaccurate information. There are other 55+ communities in our area equally as concerned about taxes, but they don't get a bad rap. The people of Flowers Mill should ask themselves why that is.

Anonymous said...

I'm sticking my neck out here....

There was a lot a outcry about the high taxes when Flowers Mills was built. A few vocal residents began calling for a re-evaluation. Yet, for the last 20 to 30 years of enjoying lower taxes in their older homes, they didn't have a problem with it.

Absolutely, the taxes are not distributed evenly. But you can't have it both ways.

the legacy of neshaminy said...

I agree with clarification and kac. There are some good people in Flowers Mills. But when 99% of the development turned down the new high school, that was not a positive for the community. I think some of those people realize they made a mistake but will not admit it when in the company of others. I also agree with the comments about the "full day kindergarten guy". He is definitely leaving behind a powerful LEGACY. A senior who cares about the community and is pro-education.

Steve Rodos said...

I want to thank the posters for the kind words they have said about me (so far). One of the reasons I advocate for full day kindergarten in addition to the obvious educational benefit is that I feel this program would keep the elementary schools full of students.
After the Board redistricts the students and closes the middle school they will then try to close elementary schools. It is my belief that closing neighborhood elementary schools in the middle of communities will cause an immediate decrease in property values. In my opinion there is nothing that would indicate a decaying neighborhood to potential home buyer faster than a boarded up elementary school. However, this is just my opinion. I have learned however, that dialogue can occur at a committee meeting which will not take place at an open Board meeting.
I will not comment on the former teacher/coach/disciplinarian and self styled genius. His actions speak for themselves.

KAC said...

Dear Mr. Rodos,

Sorry I referred to you as “full day kindergarten man.”

You may refer to me as “wants Eccles out as President ASAP woman” from now on.

KAC

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Rodos:

Thank You. More seniors should speak up like you. By the way, you mentioned real estate prices. Since when does the Neshaminy school board care about real estate prices. Let's take a peek and look over our shoulders. We can see what has happened in Council Rock and Central Bucks as they are going one way and Morrisville is going in the opposite direction. Which way do we want to go. It is our choice !

Been Cut Before said...

To Legacy in Neshaminy:
Mr Kadri is good but, Dr Ferderbar, Dr Bowman, sorry but Mr Kadri isn't there yet. Also, Dr Boccutti is having a fine career as a superintendent in other districts. Guess who escorted him out of NSD? Hint: it wasn't Dr Boccutti.

the legacy of neshaminy said...

To: been cut before

I Agree, Dr. Bowman was one of the best we had. But Kadri has many skills. How long do you have to be here before you get into the Hall of Fame ?

i must be living in jersey said...

You can't compare the superintendents because of different situations. Bowman was effective because he ruled dictatorially over the board (I don't mean to make that sound as bad is it does). If they didn't have the votes to overrule him, he moved on. He wouldn't tolerate board interference.
Kadri seems to be as resolute as Bowman but isn't used to running a micro managing board. School board members in Jersey don't get involved that way. Kadri needed to build alliances on the board but couldn't seem to do it. He isn't helped much by the fact he doesn't have the most capable bunch of board members (no offense to you Mr. O'Connor). For my money, the only 3 board members worth keeping are O'Connor, Spitz and Webb, even though I don't agree with him on many things.
I didn't know Ferderbar. As far as Howard Wilson being superintendent, let's just say that I hope he's enjoying his retirement.
Kadri will be the last great superintendent we have for a while because once he leaves, nobody worth considering will want to come here. Even more frightening is the prospect that we may have to promote someone from within.