I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

05 December 2010

So When Does It Turn Into Real Money?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a SFUSD administrator say "It's only a million dollars", I would have the best wardrobe and best-kitted classroom ever.

I think the most offensive thing in the Trish Bascom scandal is that her lawyer is out there claiming that the kickbacks payments were "bonuses" to hard-working employees.

GAG.  As one of the many SFUSD employees who is losing salary through furloughs and cut Prop. A bonuses, this kind of talk makes me want to break all Student Support Services' pencils and steal their staplers.

That said, I look forward to using this example of SFUSD's absolutely appalling cash-handling skills and administrative spendthrift when they lay off all school staff come March.  It is beyond time for SFUSD to stop clutching its pearls and claiming that financial rigor has come to its central offices: it hasn't.  It is beyond time for SFUSD to take responsibility for its bad choices and its decisions.  I would respect those choices a lot more if instead of claiming that there were huge central office cuts, the District would admit it continues to bulk up administratively.  Offering some rationale for reality is honest.


Anonymous said...

I just have to point out that the lawyer is simply doing his job, and that either all accused persons have right to competent representation or they don't. Doing the best he can to redefine and rationalize it as non-wrongdoing is what he's supposed to do.

So I would gently counter that aside from the actual misuse of the money, it might be viewed as more offensive (and ominous) that Bascom managed to create a safeguard-free system that no one else did or could oversee, and that complaints about that and about her intimidating behavior to subordinates were brushed aside with the indication that the administration had full faith in her.

E. Rat said...

Yes, he's doing his job. Of course, it is possible for him to do his job without providing novel excuses for Ms. Bascom's conduct. For instance, he could refuse to comment (as he has in some cases). Or he could read a statement from Ms. Bascom.

Or he can continue as he has been doing and make really irritating and ultimately foolish comments to the press. Have you read some of his other winners? He's come very close to agreeing that the conduct was illegal, but that it's really the District's fault for letting Ms. Bascom have so much independent control.

Cash-handling is this bad (if less illegal) District-wide. There is a total disconnect between budget and priorities. Few high-level administrators in SFUSD have reputations for openness to criticism and many have long records of intimidating conduct towards subordinates. So I don't think Ms. Bascom was carving out new territory here, and therefore can be most immediately piqued by side issues.

More broadly than signature authority, the District needs more budget openness. There's now some idea that K-resos be linked to the strategic plan, but it's window-dressing. There is limited to no accountability on the part of consultants. And frankly, the District seems to go out of its way to avoid clarity. (Where's that impact report on the budget? Those school-site Committee of the Whole meetings? The ongoing office hours with A.S. Leigh?)

Anonymous said...

I'm getting sort of obsessed with the district's lack of sunshine too. In general I think it's probably just because it's easier, not due to malicious intent. In Bascom's case, that's something else.

I don't have any personal reason to defend lawyers (I have some lawyer friends, but I'm sure you do too). It's just that their job is to come up with whatever they can -- throw **** at the wall and see what sticks. If you or I got in hot water for whatever, we would want them to try whatever might work for us. So I just mean, that's not the real issue. The lawyer knows he's just making **** up, but he can't not do it and still do a decent job on his client's behalf.