Archive for the Oxford Category

According to businessdictionary.com, “Professionalism” is “Meticulous adherence to undeviating courtesy, honesty, and responsibility in one’s dealings with customers and associates, plus a level of excellence that goes over and above the commercial considerations and legal requirements.”

According to Merriam-Webster, “Courtesy is consideration, cooperation, and generosity in providing something.”

Merriam-Webster defines “Respect” as, “an act of giving particular attention.”

On September 14, an Eagle Scout traveled a round trip of over 5 hours to address his past Eagle Project, a playground at Quaker Farms. Without obligation, he was there to propose all required modifications and repairs to the playground at no cost to Oxford. The Board knew this.

Mrs. McKinnon allowed Mr. Neary to expostulate on the Rose Bowl, then moved the agenda item covering the Playground ahead of the Audience of Citizens and deferred the Playground to the Facilities Subcommittee.

During Audience of Citizens, Mrs. McKinnon allowed many citizens to address non-agenda subjects for 10 minutes or more each before telling the Eagle Scout he would not be permitted to speak because his subject was moved to Subcommittee. Mrs. McKinnon did this in front of at least 50 Scouts from across the Valley who came to support an Eagle Scouts commitment to his Eagle Oath, which includes the words, “for better citizenship in my troop, and in my community…. To this I pledge my sacred honor.”

Mr. Neary promised to listen to the Eagle Scout via telephone at his Thursday meeting. On Thursday, he told the Eagle Scout, “I will contact you if more information is needed.” No call was made.

Professional? Courteous? Respectful?

Mrs. McKinnon, do you have the courage to issue a public, sincere, apology?

Do you, Mr. Neary?

[the above was submitted for publication in Voices, but not published for unknown reasons]

Dear Mr. McQuillan:

I have received your letter of July 19, 2010, and am concerned about the number of questions which remain unanswered while apparently leading to your dismissal of my complaint. I have a number of questions for which a response would help me better understand your specific concerns or lack of jurisdiction.

It is also my belief that after addressing the following specific issues, you will reconsider my request for an investigation. The following numbered items summarize the background of each point and conclude with the questions in bold type. (more…)

A Performance Review is a process through which someone who is assigned responsibility is evaluated. Most of us have had reviews, so lets put them into perspective.

Imagine that your own particular function had two major responsibilities, one of which includes an associated deadline. You miss the deadline for the latter, then find an unrelated problem in the contract defining it. So, instead of fixing that problem you unilaterally void the whole thing and decide that the contract doesn’t exist. And you won’t explain to your employer why you did it. And you extend your own deadline by 41 more days to complete a task you’ve known about for 7 months and blame it on the person you replaced. Then you miss the deadline you set yourself and tell your employer  that you need another 31 days. And you will now take funds intended for your first responsibility to pay a 3rd party to perform your second responsibility according to new rules you just made up. Then, you need another two weeks. Meanwhile, your treatment of your second responsibility is directly causing attrition in the ranks of the people who execute your first responsibility.

The first responsibility is educating our children. The second responsibility is the Performance Review of the Superintendent. We are the employers. The Oxford Board of Education has missed a contractual deadline, used a separate issue to make that deadline go away, missed it’s substituted deadlines twice, paid someone to do its job using money intended for our children, lost a Business Manager and Assistant in the Main Office, and a Principal, in the process, and has still not completed its assigned task.

What do you think your review would look like? Is there a check-box for incompetent?

I submitted the following to Voices today:

Arrogance can be tolerated when it is earned through Professional Competence. The current Oxford BOE exemplifies Arrogant Professional Incompetence.

They held a “hearing” on the Superintendents contract, refusing to answer questions from the public, and cut off comments criticizing the Board, even though they directly caused the quandary in which the Board and Town now finds itself.

They received critical letters, yet stated “No Correspondence” at the following meeting.

In violation of their Oath to obey the laws of Connecticut, they failed to hold a petitioned hearing within the generous 3 week public window provided by law.

They hold meetings of the officers without posting them or providing minutes in violation of FOI and without including minority representation in violation of State Statute.

They failed to review the Superintendent within the 60 to 90 days required and later declared the contract to be void for reasons they continue to avoid explaining.

They caused the resignation of the Business Manager and Superintendent’s Assistant, leaving the Town with none.

They micro-manage the day to day affairs of the district, directly contradicting the recommended policies of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, which states they, “will attempt to confine my board action to policy-making, planning and appraisal…”

They met on the Superintendent’s contract without insuring her attendance or telling her their concern and did the same to the IT Manager (who still does not know). CABE guidelines state they, “will help frame policies and plans only after my board has consulted those who will be affected by its actions.”

Without evidence they have publicly labeled bi-partisan Board criticism as partisan, while CABE ethics dictate they “will refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups.”

They are embarrassing themselves and Oxford.

Dear People:According to Section 10-4b of Chapter 163 regarding State Board of Education, Department of Education, “Any resident of a local or regional school district, or parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the public schools of such school district who has been unable to resolve a complaint with the board of education of such local or regional school district may file with the State Board of Education a complaint in writing.” I am a resident of Oxford, CT. Please consider this letter as my formal request for an investigation of the Oxford, CT, Board of Education which appears to be in violation of both Freedom Of Information Act and General Statute as described below. (more…)

There is a group of people in Oxford that thinks that it’s okay to go after anyone they disagree with. Right now, they’ve decided they don’t like the Superintendent of Schools. As far as I can tell she’s the most popular superintendent we’ve had since we’ve been living here (1991).

Somehow, they keep stating that it’s a political attack on the board. It’s the Democrats. When it’s pointed out that there are Republicans who are against what they are doing, they claim that those Republicans are working for Democrats. The fact that these Republicans have been active in Republican Town politics since before many of them were born isn’t relevant. They’ve attacked my wife and I by name because we got involved. Had they asked, I would have told them that I’ve voted both for Republican and Democrat candidates over the years here. But, I’m a political hack!

The whole concept of participation without partisanship seems inconceivable. They think that FOI rules are technicalities that they get to interpret according to what’s convenient. They’ve stated that they don’t take petitions seriously because anyone will sign whatever their friends put in front of them, even though that is how Town Meeting government works.

As soon as word got around that people would be coming to a scheduled meeting that had been included an audience of citizens, they announced that they could not pull together enough of a quorum to hold the meeting and canceled it. Here’s a hint, people: when you run for an office and are elected, you are expected to attend meetings. I wonder how the absence record of the current Superintendent compares to the record of the current BOE Chair? (more…)

Lets get as many people as possible out on Tuesday, June 15, at 6pm at Oxford High School to support Dr. Palmer.

Dr. Palmer has been a wonderful superintendent. We need to show the Oxford Board of Education what we think of their arbitrary decision to void a contract without first showing a good faith effort to correct whatever language their new attorney may have called into question.

Please show your support on Tuesday.

The Oxford Board of Education is out of control! They voided the superintendent’s contract for undisclosed reasons (citing inexplicable attorney client privilege) and have now informed Dr. Palmer that there will be a review on June 30th based on criteria that have yet to be determined. A review should have happened in April according to the contract in full force at the time. This process was determined at meetings of the last board and discussed at meetings of the current board, all of which chair McKinnon was (or should have been) in attendance. Simply put, she dropped the ball. (more…)

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In Oxford, we have a Town Meeting form of government with a Board of Selectmen and a Board of Finance.

We also have a Board of Education. The Oxford Board of Education wants to put a metal roof with solar panels on the Oxford Great Oak Middle School to at least try to mitigate the costs of an electrically heated building. So the Oxford Board of Selectmen established a committee to look into the options available. That committee came back with a recommendation to proceed with the metal roof rather than once again going the route of the standard asphalt roof, which has never successfully kept the rain out anyway.

So far, so good. Deciding which way to go is a valid subject for debate. Everyone performed their responsibilities and the process continued. The next step was to send it to the Oxford Board of Finance to review the finances and make a recommendation to the town. That’s where it gets strange. The Oxford Board of Finance decided to review the options. Not the financing options, the roofing options! (more…)

I went to a town meeting in Oxford a couple of nights ago. Town meetings have to be among the more interesting ways of running towns. In general, they have to be a lot closer to the Athenian style of democracy than you have with town councils and other variations of government. Anyone who wants to speak can do so. The meeting was presided over by the elected First Selectman and two Selectmen, one of whom was the last First Selectman. According to the rules, a moderator was elected who then stated that he would attempt to limit peoples comments or questions to 3 minutes so that everyone would have a chance to speak.

There were several items on the agenda, the first of which were dispensed with rapidly. The last one drew a great deal of interest. In an objective world, the elected representatives would describe what they had proposed and why they proposed it. Then the people would have a chance to discuss it. At first it seemed to be going that way until the former First Selectman jumped up and raised a point of order that the current First Selectman was exceeding her three minutes! Then, his backers wanted to limit the Director of Development to the same three minutes for explaining the details of the deal being presented to the public. The whole thing seemed to be more geared towards obstruction than participative democracy. Hopefully, in the future we’ll see rules that specifically state that the rule shouldn’t be applied to the overall presentation of what it is we’re about to discuss.

Whatever position people held on the issue being discussed and eventually voted on shouldn’t matter. The people in front were elected to do a job, and should have been permitted to present that work to the public without this kind of nonsense. It’s not about party (or party faction, which is clearly an issue there). It’s about giving approval or disapproval of a town action. There seems to be a group of people here with the wrong goal.