School board vs. people of Schenectady

You really have to see the Schenectady school board in action to believe it. If I simply tell you ab

You really have to see the Schenectady school board in action to believe it. If I simply tell you about it, you’re going to say I exaggerate.

You’re going to say no elected, unpaid members of a body with so benign a purpose as overseeing the education of children could possibly be so contemptuous of the people they purport to serve as to laugh to scorn those people’s own votes. But I can’t help it.

I was there last night, in Room 128 of Mont Pleasant Middle School, where the board held a special meeting, and I saw it.

The board solemnly decided to fill a recently created vacancy in their ranks by appointing a former confederate of theirs who ran dead last in the May election, that being Linda Bellick, at the same time dismissing out of hand the alternative of holding a special election to fill the seat and also, after some discussion, dismissing even an open interview process in which any resident would be able to submit a résumé and answer questions in public session in order to be considered for appointment.

Not even that, which was proposed by Diane Herrmann, the person who won by far the largest number of votes in the election, after her proposal for an election elicited not so much as a murmer of interest.

A special election would cost a mere $8,700, the clerk of the board reported, meaning less than half what the school administration paid an inspirational speaker at a recent retreat, but never mind.

In the first place, Jeff Janiszewski, the godfather of the board though no longer the president, thought the true figure was $20,000.

But it could as well be 20 cents. He and his team have no reason to believe a new election would yield any different result than the May election, which yielded a brisk repudiation of their rule —a rule, let it be recalled, which permitted their head janitor, Steve Raucci, to impose an alleged reign of terror for which he now awaits trial.

They were not about to call for a new election after that disaster.

No, they will appoint their old rejected confederate, Linda Bellick, who tallied only a third as many votes as Diane Herrmann.

“I can’t imagine finding someone better,” said team member Gary Farkas.

“Linda was excellent … if you worked with her you’d feel the same way,” agreed team member Jim Casino.

“If the public doesn’t like the appointment, there’s an election in May,” said team member Lisa Russo.

“But the people voted overwhelmingly against her,” protested Herrmann. “It’s a disservice to the community … it makes a mockery of the election.”

Janiszewski, the ever-thoughtful godfather, took a loftier view. “It’s not our job to put a finger to the wind to do what’s popular,” he mused. “We’re elected to do what’s best. If the voters don’t agree, they can vote us out.” And he urged his team members to buck up and “have the courage of your convictions.”

After all, the people of Schenectady voted as they did in May only because “the Gazette lied to them over and over.”

So they agreed, with only Herrmann dissenting and board President Maxine Brisport waffling. Next Wednesday, Aug. 26, they will bring back the person who was just booted out by the voters without anyone else being allowed to apply.

That is what happened, ladies and gentlemen. I do not lie.

Categories: Opinion

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