Years ago, the then-student trustee came to me with some concerns. He told me that, in his opinion, some board members were abusing the perks of their office, especially with regard to travel and reimbursed expenses. He didn’t seem to have much to offer in the way of concrete details—it was more a sense of what sort of thing generally went on.
The worst abuser, according to the student, was John Williams. “That guy is something else,” he said.
Since I had no way of verifying the kid’s sense of things, I didn’t pursue the matter.
s you know, Trustee Padberg has worked in recent years for trustee Williams at his Public Administrator job. A few months ago, however, there was much buzzage in the district regarding Padberg’s sudden firing. The story was that, in recent years or months, the Nance had failed sufficiently to support the Fuentes/Wagner/Williams right-wing agenda, which included support of Raghu Mathur. As you know, Padberg can no longer abide the fellow. So she had to be sacked.
Whether or not the story’s true, it is beyond doubt that, at the time of Padberg’s noisy termination from her county gig, board meetings started featuring some seriously nasty snipage. The snipage usually pitted Padberg against Williams, Wagner, Fuentes, or Mathur.
Well, at last Tuesday’s board meeting, the snipage intensified.
It started at the beginning of the open session, when Padberg requested a report on trustee travel expenses. And not only trustee expenses: the expenses of “top management,” too—i.e., Raghuian expenses.
One can only assume that she's looking there because she knows there's something there to find. Know what I mean?
We all looked at each other: “What’s that about?” Raghu’s lower lip undulated. His nose crinkled and snorted.
Naturally, no board member could afford to oppose Nancy’s bloodhoundery. Her request was approved unanimously.
But, man, there was definitely something in the air. It was a popcorn moment for the audience.
A few minutes later, phase 2 of Nancy’s Embarrassment Project was unveiled. She pulled item 27—trustee requests for specific travel expenses—from the consent calendar. That is, she asked that that item be discussed rather than summarily approved.
Again, a dark and fetid weirdness prevailed. The audience smiled. It was good.
When the board finally got to item 27, Padberg explained that she was particularly concerned about the intention of five district officials (three or four trustees plus possibly a chancellor or vice chancellor, I think) to attend a conference in Orlando, Florida. Said Nancy, our trustees and administrators apparently can’t be bothered to attend local conferences—she was embarrassed, she said, when she and only one other trustee attended a recent state conference. And yet, said Nancy, these five were planning to blow as much as $20,000 of taxpayer money on a trip way out to the goddam Sunshine State.
Predictably, Williams responded to Padberg’s worries by declaring his intention to attend that convention with bells on. This particular convention is stupendously valuable, he said. Heck, said he, Dr. Bill Weary would be there to lead a session. Imagine that!
Weary, it seems, was the consultant who helped the board arrive at its infamously unimpressive “Chancellor goals.” Remember those?
Padberg reminded Williams that the board was “very divided” concerning the worth of Dr. Weary’s assistance re goals. (I did not know that.) Plus, said Nancy, one Weary session in Orlando is not sufficient to justify flying across the country!
Mathur then piped up, seemingly on cue. He offered what logic teachers call a “circumstantial ad hominem.” That’s when you accuse your opponent of some kind of inconsistency—which, logically speaking, is irrelevant to the worth of your opponent’s position.
Basically, it’s sophistry.
In particular, Mathur seemed to say that, two years ago, he went to a convention, and you know what? Nancy urged him to go to the damned thing! He then adopted an air of victory.
I think the idea was that Padberg was revealed to be inconsistent or hypocritical, and so screw her. Not sure. At any rate, Padberg then declared that she did no such thing.
That’s when our Raghu went badly off the rails. He said, simply, “Yes, you did.” Then he went out of his way to repeat his assertion.
Now, if there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that, on the first day of Chancellor’s school, they teach you never to call a trustee a liar!
Eventually, John Williams bloviated anew, this time explaining to his colleagues that a trustee’s “code of ethics” requires that he attend conferences!
The poor fellow seemed to be saying that it would be unethical for trustees not to go to Florida! He also seemed to say that any trustee who is unwilling to junket to Florida is living "in a box."
As if that weren’t enough, Williams then tossed in his own little ad hominem, for he reminded his audience of the charge, recently leveled, that Nancy doesn’t prepare for board meetings!
Padberg smiled at that one. She waited for Williams to belch forth his whole hairball, whereupon she reminded everyone that she does not oppose trustees attending conferences. Nope. Rather, she opposes trustees attending distant and expensive conferences when cheap local ones are at hand.
That’s when Nancy's rhetoric took a sudden turn south. She next seemed to accuse unnamed trustees of using these trips to rack up “bonus miles” for personal and family use! All at once, there was a hideous silence and a sulphurous stink. Fuentes smiled. For him, such stinkoid situations are positively gemutlich.
It’s a “junket,” she said. It’s taxpayer “abuse,” she added.
Naturally, Padberg’s effort to block approval of the taxpayers funding Johnny's good time in Florida went down in flames. Only trustee Bill Jay voted with her.
I’ve prepared two AUDIO files from that night. They tell the story. I think you’ll enjoy them.
1. PADBERG REQUESTS REPORT
She wants to know who’s racking up expenses, and how much these expenses are.
2. DISCUSSION OF ITEM 27 (TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT)
Padberg questions the planned participation of five district officials in an AGB conference in Orlando, Florida. She’s embarrassed that district officials do not attend important state and local conferences for trustees. Why go to this one clear across the country?
Williams declares that he will attend. He notes that Dr. Bill Weary will be there.
3. MATHUR CONTRA PADBERG
Mathur defends district participation in the Orlando convention. He and Nancy disagree about whether she once urged him to go to a conference. Raghu seems to call her a liar.
4. WILLIAMS CONTRA PADABERG
Williams appeals to trustee ethics. Padberg highlights the potential $15,000-20,000 cost of the trip.
THE PEABODY ORLANDO
Oh yeah. You really should check out the Hotel that trustees will be staying at in Orlando. It’s called the Peabody Orlando, and its snazzy and ritzy and decadent. It's easy to picture John Boy there. Here are some pics. (Go to http://www.peabodyorlando.com/)