Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thoughts from last meeting

Before commenting on what transpired during the April 23rd board meeting, these two video clips should give you a painful reminder of what we all had to endure . . .

There are two particular moments that really stuck out in my mind:
#1) Lindner disses Kadri
Wow, talk about kicking a guy when he's down. Paul Kadri has not had much to smile about during his stint here in Neshaminy, and he's made it clear his future will be in another school district. Despite this, Kadri continues to work diligently to make our school district a better place. Apparently that's not enough for Howard Lindner.

Lindner launched into a verbal attack on Kadri, which was pretty gutless considering that he knew Kadri would never respond to him during a public meeting. Ironically it may have been Kadri who was one person in this district who tried to help out Lindner's family member by splitting that temporary administrative assignment to begin with. It's possible that by creating two jobs out of one, administration opened an opportunity which may not have been available to Lindner's family member otherwise.

Another thought - what if the shoe was on the other foot? What if Lindner's family member was the one shut out of an opportunity because of a handshake deal? Would he be so quick to condemn the concept of a split position then?

#2) Lindner's Posse
Lindner's "community" consisted of two groups:

Political Hacks - It was a Who's Who of the Middletown Republican Committee on hand to support Lindner, including:
* The MRC chairperson
* Several MRC committee people
* A former MRC auditor
* Two failed MRC school board candidates
* An unsuccessful MRC township supervisor candidate

With one gentleman using the occasion to launch his future campaign, and another being proclaimed a "future school board member," Lindner has made it very clear he is still a powerful influence within the MRC. For voters in Levittown and Langhorne, this means a vote for an MRC school board candidate is a vote for Howard Lindner. Would-be MRC candidates should strongly consider registering as Independents.

Intimidators - When a dozen or so Teamsters, who have never attended a school board meeting before, show up to be loud and intimidating in support of Lindner, you can only assume they were there to be a show of power. We've seen these kinds of tactics before, and undoubtedly we'll see them again. During the prior school board meeting, one of Lindner's minions pressured a PTO mom to keep her comments to herself by using a scornful, threatening tone. It was serious enough that the woman filed a complaint with the district, claiming that she would call the police if she was subjected to such treatment by this person in the future.

Mr. Lindner's behavior overshadowed what could have been a very positive meeting. At the outset of the session, a joint statement was made by a group of PTO parents and senior citizens calling on the board to resolve their differences and continue to work on the issues confronting Neshaminy. Lindner's performance minimized the efforts of the group as he took center stage, but it did serve a very useful purpose - it showed the entire community what he is all about. But unlike in previous years, these PTO parents are organized and committed to getting Neshaminy back on track, and they won't tolerate misinformation, temper tantrums, and intimidation tactics. No more running the school district from the cheap seats.

That is what gives me hope and confidence that things will get better.

Note: When responding to this post, please keep your comments constructive and on-topic, and avoid personal attacks/insults. Remember, I have to keep this blog PG-13.


I must be Living in Jersey said...

Thank you for the clips. I started to watch the meeting last weekend but the ranting of the retired educator was too embarrassing for me to continue watching. You didn't really have to comment on the meeting at all. His actions and words told us everything we needed to know.
Coming from Jersey, I'm more used to these kinds of antics from the Democratics. But even then, I have never seen anyone behave like that before.

I must be living in jersey said...

I meant to say "democrats" not "democratics". Sorry, haven't had my coffee yet :-)

Anonymous said...

Why would he even say anything when it was a job involving his "family member" that caused this whole mess? He got what he wanted in the end, so just stay quiet and sit in your seat. Talk about drawing unnecessary attention to yourself!
(Editor's Note - This comment has been edited for content)

TFR1984 said...

I usually vote party line on the local elections because I don't know too much about the local candidates. I've already made that mistake twice and I won't do it again.

I was holding out hope that Mr. Kadri might stay, but even your statement reinforces that he is going to leave us. Who can blame him? This is a disgrace.

TMA said...

Obviously Mr. Lindner has shown us his true colors. Like we hadn't known it already, but it's nice to have video confirmation. Does Mr. Eccles really want his name associated with this character?

Having paid attention to school board meetings for the past seven years I know I've seen a different man in Mr. Eccles, a person who was well respected and spoke out on behalf of the Neshaminy community. My how times have changed, and I truly hope that Mr. Eccles has the courage to cut his ties with Mr. Lindner and get his focus back to what's right for our community.

Being a registered Republican from Lower Southampton Township I am also embarrassed for the Republican Party. This behavior is not what I signed on for and, if it continues and spills over into my community, candidates from my party will most certainly be losing my vote along with many others.

SK in Langhorne said...

TFR1984 and TMA make excellent points (and bonus points for not signing their names as anonymous). How can a local party support that kind of behavior? I wouldn't even know who these people were unless Mr. O'Connor pointed them out. Now that I know, I am absolutely horrified to see that local GOP is so strongly behind this guy. It makes me question why, and when I think of the obvious answers, I get ill just thinking about it. To be perfectly honest, I don't always vote in school board elections, but I am going to pay real close attention now. Hopefully my local party will start paying attention too.

SK in Langhorne said...

BTW, when is the next school board election, and who's seat is up in my area (if you know)?

William O'Connor said...

SK - Next school board election will be November 2009, with 4 seats up for grabs. One seat in Lower South (Region 1), One seat in Levittown (Region 2), and two seats in Langhorne (Region 3).

Anonymous said...

In the posse video, I love how Linder makes a distinction between other people's view and what he believes in. If I'm not mistaken, the other view was the joint statement by the seniors and PTO parents asking the board to focus on critical district matters. If that's not what Linder believes in, then exactly what does he believe in??? As for the meeting itself instead of spending 5 minutes boring us with the life and times of Rick Eccles, Lindner could just have thanked him for (allegedly) helping his family member out.

Anonymous said...

It was great to see the videos from the leader of Neshaminy. What is this man thinking? Doesn't he realize that every time he opens his mouth more people join the other side? You can't have the back room dealings and then complain about our taxes being too high or the superintendent. I still hear money,money ,money in all of the conversations the board has been having. We should be talking about how jamming in 10 extra kids per classroom will affect the quality of the education our students will get. Ask any educational researcher or teacher what happens when you add 5-10 students to a class. Scores go down and discipline problems go up. The students lose out. We shouldn't be hell bent on closing a school to save money while sacrificing education. There is an entire student body that will spend their high school years in a construction zone... high school is tough enough but then to go to school in war zone for money is tragic.
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Neshaminy Parent said...

How do you stop people like Linder from "Runnnig the district from the cheap seats"? (love that comment) 3 minute rule, bar him from meetings for using intimidation tactics. Is there anything that can be done? Also, way to go Dr. Spitz, for speaking up when Webb thought it was ok to challenge the PTO mom. I guess it's ok to make us sit a listen to the life and times of Eccles and the rantings of a seriously ignorant man. It is quite apparent that some on the school board are not there to ensure our childrens eductional future is protected, only their politcal egos.

Anonymous said...

I didn't attend the meeting, but that is way over the line and there is NO WAY the board should have allowed that. You have a retired teacher who gets up and tells the best superintendent we ever had that he is not qualified. Probably more insulting than the speech is the whole board allowing it to happen. Am I missing something?
(Editor’s note - This comment was edited for content)

Anonymous said...

Keep on talking Mr. Lindner .The more we see of you - the more we realize how wrong you are!!!The Emperor Has No Clothes !!!

KAC said...

If Eccles resigns from the position of president then Linders "pseudo power" becomes diluted drastically. The way to a harmonious, cooperative and productive board is through Eccles removal as president. We, as a community can redirect the school board. Please contact you school board representatives and ask for their vote to remove Eccles.

Anonymous said...

KAC - I think your point is what Mr. O'Connor was saying with his comment that a vote for a republican candidate is a vote for Lindner. His power isn't real, but his influence is. He can get people to school board meetings, he can get people to vote his way, he can convince a community that there is a $50 million renovation out there someplace. If we can convince his party that he is a detriment to them by voting the other way, then he'll go away. The first step will be to remove Eccles as President. If Eccles was smart, he'd voluntarily step down. Then again, if he were smart, he would have cut Lindner off after his first sentence.

I must be living in Jersey said...

Ok, I'll vote for the democrats in the next school board election. But I won't vote for Hillary or Obama. Gotta draw the line there :-)

time to go said...

Eccles shouldn't just resign as president, but resign from the school board! He can no longer be trusted to make the right choices for this district. He has shown time and time again that he is only interested in saying and doing what will get him votes. Just look at the mess we have with the high school. The renovated version will cost more than a new one, has prevented us from closing a middle school sooner, will be smaller than the new school would have been,(can't imagine the difficulty the students will have getting around once the 9th grade moves there) and subjects the students to years of noise and mess. The new school would have been built on the adjacent property and connected in the last stage. But he, along with Webb and Lindner, spread misinformation during the referendum to the public. Hmmm...funny how there isn’t the same amount of outcrying at meetings from Lindner and several Flowers Mill regulars about the cost.

And since I touched on Webb, be aware that he is no better than Eccles. He may be quieter at meetings than Eccles, but he is right there with Lindner. Remember that Lindner was their campaign manager. That is why we need to have Eccles removed from the board. Changing his seat won’t stop the political dealings. We need to break up the team.

After watching the disgrace that took place at the last meeting on television, it only reinforces why Eccles needs to remove himself from the board or be removed!!!

KAC said...

To Anonymous:

Respectfully, I disagree that I am trying to convey the exact same message as Mr. O’Connor. The more I know about school board politics the more I don’t want to know. I am saying put party affiliations aside.

The school board should be about children, right? The school board should be about maintaining and obtaining a great staff and faculty—it should be about buildings, programs, extra cirricular activities, preparing our children for a solid future. Do my children care whether or not Sue, Kim or Joe is a republican or democratic? No!

My children care about…
Where they are going to school next year.
If the music program will change due to NMS closing.
Will the high school be done on time.
When will the air conditioning in the high school be ready.
Will juniors be able to drive to school next year.
What kinds of clubs and programs the schools will offer in the up coming year.

These are some issues that my children care about and these are the issues that I care about.

Party affiliations do not enter into my mind when I attend school board meetings (I must be the only one!). I go to these meetings to observe the individuals I elected. I go to make sure they are acting in the best interest of the children (my children). I want them to know that I am paying attention to their decision making.

Students are not affiliated with a particular political party. Students do not care who on the school board is an elephant or a donkey. They want a safe place to learn, good programs, effective teachers and a district to be proud of.

School board members PLEASE…..Instead of thinking republican or democratic—think human. Are the current school board dynamics beneficial to our students? Do you communicate with each other in the best interests of our children? Do you communicate with each other at all? Is the leadership of the board working effectively with the leadership of the district? Think carefully- Do the right thing. Vote to remove Mr. Eccles as president.

Levittowner said...

quick question Mr. O'Connor:

Are these the following board members representing Levittown:

Mr. Eccles
Mr. Webb
Mr. Kozial

William O'Connor said...

Quick answer . . . yes

Anonymous said...

The real leaders of the local republican party agree with many of your comments 100%. Lindner is a major black eye on the party and believe me when I tell you that they will do whatever they can to get him to go away. He doesn't attend the meetings anymore so they must be getting a little closer.

cpeep said...

Party politics should have no bearing on the running of our schools. (I hope) we wouldn't be so ignorant as to select a doctor, or a mechanic, or (dare I say it) a teacher based on his or her party affiliation. Why do we allow it to enter into the equation when we vote for School Board members? Running a school is not about politics. It's about kids and learning.

William O'Connor said...

I hope you're right because I have hopes for change in our local GOP. But when you say the "real" leaders don't support him, I don't know who you're referring to. The Chairman of the party was there. I assume he is THE leader of the MRC. There were a couple MRC committee people there - aren't they leaders within the party? What about the 3 former, possibly future, MRC candidates - aren't they leaders, too?

That was a Who's Who of MRC party leadership supporting Lindner during that debacle. IF that isn't a reflection of the "real" leadership of the MRC, then I suggest a little reorg is in order - and SOON!

Anonymous said...

I was under the assumption that Mr. Lindner was a former teacher. He doesn't act like one, nor does he present himself eloquently enough to represent one.
Do those teamsters he brought in even reside in the Neshaminy School District??
(Editor’s Note – This comment was edited for content)

William O'Connor said...

cpeep - I think just about everyone would agree with you, but the problem here isn't about political party or platform. It's about power. If the candidates that Mr. Lindner supports are victorious next year, he will take that as a public mandate that the community sides with him. So while he may not be an actual candidate, his fate rests on which lever you pull. So putting the partisan politics aside for the moment, ask yourself this question: Do you want Mr. Lindner around for another 4 years (the length of a school board term)? The answer will determine which candidate you support.

what is your legacy said...

You would be surprised how stuff like this gets out. I was at an out of town function yesterday and the outside world is laughing at us. The person I was speaking to also hit the spot when he said, "2 out of your last 3 superintendents were pretty good. 2 innovators and a guy that did nothing. " I didn't even ask him to elaborate. People don't realize that educators leave their legacy. If you ever had a special teacher who left an impact on your child, you know what I mean. If your child had a terrible teacher, which is rare in Neshaminy, you remember that also. Legacies are left by current teachers, retired teachers, administrators and school board members. The Neshaminy community will remember the legacy of all those who played a part in making education better and they will never forget those who played a part in doing nothing or making it worse. Mr. O'Connor, you seem to be trying to make it better. thanks.

cpeep said...

I think if I put in writing where I want he-who-shall-not-be-named to be for the next four years I would be arrested.

I live in the real world. I act (and vote) in accordance. I wish it were different. Sometimes I think this is another case of "it's always been this way" and since so many people in this area have never lived anywhere else, it doesn't occur to them that it COULD be different.

William O'Connor said...

cpeep - Nothing wrong with your version of the way things should be. Just remember that even in the real world, once in a while you have to take out the trash.

William O'Connor said...

Thank you "Legacy" for your kind words of support. We must continue to build on those things which make Neshaminy strong, and weed out those things which hurt us. Not an easy effort, but community involvement will help us get there.

Anonymous said...

Dear KAC, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth. Sorry. I agree that politics should not be in school board races (I'm a registered Independent). I guess my point was that for us to keep this element of politics (Mr. Lindner) out of our district, we need to be part of the political process now to remove him. Hopefully once he and Eccles are no longer in power, we can return to electing people based on qualifications, not party.