Archive for category Politics

My secretary, Brad ….

How did a grievance complaint against a Coppell Independent School District (“CISD”) tennis coach end up making CISD’s School Superintendent my de-facto secretary resulting in a lawsuit by CISD against me?  Here is the unbelievable tale …

Many years ago, a tennis coach in a Coppell Middle School sent me some rude text messages and I complained to the school Principal.  When she declined to take any action against him, I decided to file a grievance with CISD, confident that the controversy would get resolved pretty expeditiously since it appeared such a black and white case.

CISD has a grievance procedure which can be found in http://www.coppellisd.com/Page/13790 .  I utilized this process to file my grievance.  What followed was an eye opener.  There are 3 levels to the procedure, the final level being a hearing with the CISD Board.  At every level I got what appeared to be prima facie a fair hearing.  However, each time the result was the same, a terse “DENIED” with no explanation as to the rationale for the denial.  This was pretty frustrating for me since even in court one can ask the judge to explain his/her ruling by filing an appropriate Motion.

I used the grievance procedure a few more times on other matters over the years with pretty much identical results.  Eventually, CISD took a step that from my standpoint was a clear retaliation.  The new Superintendent Mike Waldrip had just taken office and within a month or so he ordered that all future communication between CISD and me had to go through the Assistant Superintendent, Brad Hunt.  I know for a fact that was his personal instruction since I got a copy of the email (via an Open Records request) he sent to that effect.

That meant that even if I had the simplest of question of any teacher or coach regarding anything to do with my daughters, the Assistant Superintendent had to be the middle man.  To his credit, Brad Hunt was very cooperative and responsive.  Clearly this was not his decision and many times it appeared that he might be OK with revising the arrangement but then he would come back saying nothing could be changed.  Mike Waldrip obviously was the one who was calling the shots.

The result was hundreds of emails between me and Brad Hunt over a period of several years – that would not seem a whole lot if sent to a bunch different teachers, coaches, administrators, etc, but a substantial work load if it one person was going to be the middleman and receive/respond to all emails. In effect, Mike Waldrip turned Brad Hunt into my personal secretary!  And while expressing my frustration with this convoluted arrangement about a week or so ago, I referred to Brad Hunt as my secretary while sending a “prohibited” email to a teacher.  When Brad Hunt acted terribly offended to my referring to him as my secretary (as if an Assistant Superintendent was an upper caste person and the secretary was a lower caste!), I sent an email to him stating “Based on the role you are playing vis-à-vis my communication with the school, whether you like it or not, you have de-facto become my secretary” and asked how much was he getting paid compared to his secretary.

Apparently that incensed the powers-that-be so much that CISD suddenly suspended a scheduled Level 2 grievance hearing and filed a “Petition in Intervention” with the court on March 31, essentially intervening in my personal child custody matter and asking the court “to place reasonable limitations on Respondent’s communications with Coppell ISD through Brad Hunt”.

Bottom line – being a third year law student, I know how to respond effectively to this lawsuit without incurring any costs but CISD will be paying its lawyers thousands of (our) tax payer dollars, presumably to teach me a lesson (which I am confident that they will not succeed in doing) – a total waste of money – and not at all befitting of CISD’s supposed slogan “We are all one team” implying students, parents, teachers and administrators all work together for the larger good of the school system.

To conclude, unless Mike Waldrip has gone rogue and got CISD’s lawyers to file a lawsuit against me without informing the Board, our elected officials are (most likely) involved in this matter – in which case, clearly some fresh blood with some common sense is needed on the Board and hopefully that will come about in next month’s Board elections.

Postscript: while researching for this article I found out that Mike Waldrip is paid a salary of $254,616.00, Brad Hunt is paid $153,591.00 and his secretary (whom he shares with two other big wigs at CISD) is paid just $43,862.08.  I would say making someone who is paid $153,591.00 perform secretarial functions is a sheer waste of CISD’s resources and the blame for that lies squarely on the shoulders of Mike Waldrip. The question is who will take him to task and bell the cat to end this abuse of personnel and resources?

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Small town politics in the USA …

Coppell Parade

I wanted to write something about democracy the day after Independence Day in the US and what came to mind was a posting I made on Facebook a couple of months ago during local election season and the reaction that resulted from it – see the string in its entirety below (except for some expletive-laden comments by, strangely enough, a couple of women, which the moderator deleted).

To give this some context, one of my American friends recently remarked to me that small town elections here tend to be the nastiest since, unlike in State or National elections, the candidates are well-known to the populace and any criticism is taken personally.  Example: people can call Obama and Bush and kinds of names and attribute to them actions that they may or may not have been responsible for and it is highly unlikely anyone will even bat an eyelid, leave alone come after you in person.  But try the same about someone running for City Council or Mayor in a small town, and all hell could break loose!

Finally, I cannot conclude without commenting one aspect of elections – voter turnout.  A small town election, despite all the noise by rabid supporters on either side, could result in a turn out of less than 10% (and less than 5% for run-off elections).  This is not necessarily because the voters are apathetic to the process – in my opinion, it is just a message from the majority of the electorate that “life is pretty good  and we are pretty satisfied with the status-quo and we really don’t care who wins”.  So to get at least their base to turn out, politicians have to portray a situation which implies that if they are not elected, the sky will fall down and the world as we know it will come to an end – so they resort to a host of negative ads and messages that increases the nastiness – and possibly demotivates many who don’t think they have a dog in the fight to come out to the polls.

 

Given that every politician who gets elected at any level (from local to national) engages in questionable tactics (including the current Mayor in the last election), I find it somewhat hypocritical for people (especially politicians) to pile onto Burrows for his (supposed) fake endorsements. (I think it would have been smarter for him to claim that he was endorsed by George W. Bush, a fact which no one could have verified one way or another!).

Anyway, Burrows’ only prior claim to fame was that he ran against me for the President of Coppell Republican Club and lost last year. However, the exposure he is getting in this forum of over a 1000 people will probably turn him into a minor celebrity and he will get the name recognition that he was missing earlier. Imagine, if you knew neither candidate personally and you were standing in the election booth having to pick between Yingling (whose name sounds vaguely foreign) and Burrows (whose name sounds solidly American) which one would you pick? Just due to this xenophobia among a large section of our community (remember the fate of Akula and Guduru?), the supposed underdog might end up prevailing on election day.

Sometimes ignoring your unknown opponent might be a better tactic than trying to publicly tear him down ….

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  • Michelle LaFountain Be advised that Nancy Yingling is NOT tearing down her opponent. She has not said anything about his tactics, his letters, or his fake endorsements. 
    Those of us who are aware of his tactics, letters and fake endorsements are the ones making the voters aware of his deceit. Not Nancy. So do not say anything like that again unless you have proof of her saying such things (and I am quite certain you don’t). 

    AND enough already with the comments about her last name, the origins of her last name and the solidly American sound of the candidate who is practicing deceit. 

    Any comments that considered demeaning, racist, or untrue are grounds to be banned from this group. 
    This is your only warning.
  • Venky Venkatraman Michelle – I am one of those who has endorsed Nancy – I have not said that she is the one attacking Burrows – but others are. As far as being a “racist” is concerned – that is pretty laughable since I am a “foreigner” with a “weird” name myself – so your statement makes no sense. Either this is a forum where political posts are allowed or they are not. And if it is allowed, you cannot censor one side and promote the other. And when you allow political debate, you should expect that there will be some controversial postings.
  • Michelle LaFountain It appeared to me that your last statement “Sometimes ignoring your unknown opponent might be a better tactic than trying to publicly tear him down ….” sounds like you are saying that she is publicly trying to tear him down.
    May 9 at 2:24pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Michelle LaFountain and we are not attacking Burrows, we are stating confirmed truths about his untruths. that is not an attack, it is stating truth.
  • Venky Venkatraman Being in touch with Nancy, I believe her approach has been to focus on her merits (which appear to be substantial) and indeed “ignore” the opponent. I know Burrows as well and I have no doubt what you are stating is the truth. My point is that it may be unnecessary or may be even counterproductive to do so.
  • Michelle LaFountain except for the voters who only have his infamous letter as their only information……
  • Venky Venkatraman Nobody takes those type of letters seriously – all such campaign letters go straight from my post box to the recycle bin.
    May 9 at 2:33pm · Edited · Like · 1
  • Michelle LaFountain You may not take his letters seriously, but low information voters who only know what someone sends them MAY believe it. Kind of like the commercial where the charming idiot says “they can’t put it on the Internet if it is not true”. 
    Out here
  • Venky Venkatraman You make a valid point. Sure both strategies (“ignore” or “fight back”) have their pros and cons and are situation dependent. I am just a commentator in this matter – not a strategy advisor for either side. Hopefully you can see the perspective I was coming from when I wrote this posting.
  • Scott Spray Venky, are you suggesting that Akula or Guduru lost because of their ethnicity? Seems that you are painting with a very broad brush and assuming if a minority candidate loses, those that voted for their opponents are xenophobes or racist. 

    That’s like the Obama supporters that claim those that oppose him or his policies are racist.
  • Venky Venkatraman Scott – good to hear from you after quite awhile – hope you are doing well. With respect to your comment, I never said that EVERYONE who did not vote them were racists (some might have just thought they were idiots!) but based on comments I heard from some that “if this Indian guy wins, we will move out of Coppell” suggests that there might be quite a few around. Given that a bunch of white people voted for me to serve as President of CRC last year, I can hardly say (nor would I ever suggest or imply) that everyone in Coppell is a racist. Right?
  • Amy Schuh Venky, if a voter makes charges of out-right lying, its not hypocrisy.
  • Scott Asplund Venky, if a voter makes charges of out-right lying, its not hypocrisy.
    Karen Selbo Hunt Mr. Venkatraman, 
    I normally do not post on Facebook. However, since you personally call me out AND did not agree to communicate in another way – I feel a need. 
    I know we have met, but I do not think you know me. I beg to differ in your assumption “Given that every politician who gets elected at any level (from local to national) engages in questionable tactics (including the current Mayor in the last election)”. 
    I believe there are good solid candidates and elected officials that refuse to engage in “questionable tactics”. They concentrate on their personal credentials and refuse to drop to negative campaigning. I am offended that you would make such a blanket statement and, specifically include me in that category.
  • Venky Venkatraman Karen – you sent an EMail via CRC asking for my EMail id – I responded via CRC that you were already connected to me on FB and could reach me, privately, via DIRECT MESSAGING (which is as good as EMail) – so your statement “did not agree to communicate in another way” is not true. With respect to including you in the “blanket statement” – that was based on the report during the last election that some illegal signs supporting you were put out on the night before the election (which was even reported in the local newspaper). And I know for a fact that your opponent (Marcia, I believe) who I met in person right after the election was pretty upset about it but told me that she did not want to dispute the results since she just wanted to move on. So although it appears you are doing a good job as the Mayor, you, unfortunately, cannot change facts from the past.
  • Karen Selbo Hunt Like I said….I do not “do” facebook
  • Venky Venkatraman OK – Karen – I guess you mean you will “post” on FB but do not “message” on FB – but since I really like you, I will EMail you with my phone number and you can either call or EMail and clarify this issue, if you desire.
  • Karen Selbo Hunt No one, including you, ever asked me about the origin of those signs ….but I had nothing to do with those signs. Do not know who put them out, whether the person or persons were “for me” or “against me trying to make a problem”. 
    I personally would have never endorsed or allowed those signs to be put out because the statement on the signs was not true. 
    Facts are facts….but half truths are still half true.
  • Venky Venkatraman I did not realize neither the Citizen’s Advocate or Marcia questioned you directly about the signs. I believe what you are stating now but by the same token, Burrows can claim that Matt, Bennett, Huffines and Bush all endorsed him but they appear to have “forgot” they did – so it is not his fault! Then may be we should just take his word as well and let him be?
  • Jennifer Jenkins Braafladt I have known Karen Selbo Hunt for 15 years and I believe that she is not only an amazing woman of character, but also a great example of an ethical politician.
  • Bennett Ratliff Venky, for the record, I have endorsed Nancy Yingling for City Council and I have NOT ever endorsed Mr. Burrows.  Do not imply or otherwise infer that I may have done otherwise.  Thank you.
    Venky Venkatraman Et tu, Bennett? Now if George W. Bush also clarifies/withdraws his endorsement, then Burrows will be really cooked!
  • Bennett Ratliff Venky, are you trying to imply that I may have “withdrawn” some prior endorsement that is patently untrue.  I have know and supposed Nancy Yingling since before she filed for office and any implication otherwise is not accurate.
    Venky Venkatraman Alright, Bennett, take it easy, that was in jest. I know for a fact that none of the mentioned individuals (including yourself) EVER endorsed him.
  • Venky Venkatraman The point of my post is that he appears to have little going for him and so he is doing what he needs to do try and win – otherwise why even bother to run. I hope this is the last word on this topic. Thanks!
  • Venky Venkatraman Interesting choice of words, Tara. I might need some guidance from the moderator on the use of expletives in this forum before I can respond to your colorful comment suitably.
  • Cherie Spears Walker This is most certainly NOT the last word on this subject, Venky Venkatraman. Having “little going for you” is no reason to dream up endorsements. I have two emails from Don Huffine’s office specifically stating that Thomas Burrows does not have his endorsement and had been advised/reminded of that fact. Do you not really know any of these people whom you are talking about? You surely don’t know our mayor or you would not be making such absurd statements and accusations.
    May 13 at 8:16pm · Edited · Like · 2
  • Venky Venkatraman Actually, I do know most of the people that I am talking about. I have had a private email exchange with Karen Selbo Hunt about my reference to her and so I am not revisiting that matter. Finally, the election is over and the fat lady has sung and the protagonists have long taken their signs and gone home – so I would think it is time for the rest of us to move on as well.
  • Venky Venkatraman I don’t know you and you don’t know me – so let’s not make this personal – thanks!
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