Sunday, February 10, 2008

Robert DiBella to Run for School Board

Robert DiBella, husband of Alderwoman Anne Marie DiBella is running for a seat on the Kingston School Board. Beside the many conflicts of interest that his candidacy causes, it is my opinion that Mr.DiBella is being pushed by his wife to run. Alderwoman DiBella would like nothing more than to get back at me for my criticism of her over the last few months. I could be wrong, either way I welcome the challenge and look forward to debating Mr. DiBella on the very important issues that face the district.

I also expect that incumbent Trustees Maureen Bowers and Rev.Coston will both run for reelection. Both Mrs. Bowers and Rev.Coston have done a tremendous job and I strongly support their reelection efforts.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you Jeremy; Bob DiBella's candidacy presents a conflict of interest should he win. He would be able to negotiate on his wife's contract which would not serve the district's taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Nice, an anti-Blaber revenge candidate. I'm learning more about these people already.

Anonymous said...

No way. And the Rev. (who may be a wonderful person) doesn't belong there either.

Anonymous said...

Robert DiBella is involved in many city committees. Any man who drives his "antiques" business right into bankruptcy, only to emerge with a 50k dollar county job the very next week should not be in politics. (Talk to Dave Donaldson and Anne Marie about that back door deal)...

He is in it for himself and could give a damn about the City of Kingston or its citizens.

Anonymous said...

Hellllooo Mr. Cruella!!

Welcome to the race!

Anonymous said...

re: Conflicts

Two points to this.

1/ I wholeheartedly agree that it is a conflict of interest. Board members who would need to consistantly abstain from votes because his/her spouse is involved does not truly represent the voters. Bob would serve the community best by dropping out of the race.

2/ Another Bob....Bob Senor regularly abstains from votes on the City Common Council because his employer, Jaffer Electric, does alot of non-bid work for the City. a) It would seem that Senor's involvment [marriage] with Sottile got Jaffer the work. b) Senor continues to not represent the financial interests of the City by abstaining in the votes. AND does not suggest that the City bid out electrical work. Bob, I suggest you quit one of two jobs to rid yourself of the conflict of interest - Jaffer Electric OR the Common Council seat of the 8th Ward.

Richard T. Cahill Jr. said...

I agree, Jeremy. It is a clear conflict of interest on multiple levels.

Anonymous said...

Just so everyone is clear, particularly little dick the alleged lawyer, the issue is specifically addressed in the education law.

Our legislators have determined that there is no conflict. The law unambiguously porovides that spouses of district employees are allowed to serve on school boards. They are also allowed to vote on their spouse's contracts. Go figure.

The instances of real conflict are extremely rare. On most votes, the board has little if any practical choice. Most decisions are dictated by the education law and state and federal dept. of education regulations.

The board can either vote to comply with the law or choose to ignore the law and face the consequences. Who you are married to has little impact on that decision.

Productive school boards cooperate and colloborate with school administrators and teachers and their interests should be aligned rather than in conflict. If board members are finding frequent and real conflicts with those who teach and those who administer, something is very wrong.

Anonymous said...

Though the law states that it is not a conflict of interest, it's only because the board members themselves are not in the bargaining unit. But, that still allows them to vote favorably on contracts that would give their spouses a raise or keep their health insurance contributions to a minimum. And, they could also possibly influence the other board members (I remember when there were retirees on the board - of course they voted favorably on improved retirement benefits). There is a difference between something being illegal and something being unethical.

Dan Gartenstein said...

I would bet if you go back and check the record, the vast majority of the time the spouses of employees and the retired teachers were more diligent about the issues you speak of then the rest of the board.

Speaking for myself, I felt that I had to be especially diligent and err on the side of caution whenever addressing an issue that could impact my family. I abstained on many issues or alternatively, I listened to the rest of my colleagues and supported the opinion of the majority of the board. If the issue was close, I abstained.

What was far more frequent than issues that impacted my family were issues that impacted my family court clients. Again, when a conflict arose, I did not vote or supported the opinion of the majority. When issues were discussed that crossed over into my professional experience, I would provide whatever information I could about process without revealing detail and I did my best to walk a tight rope.

Members of the community are elected to the board by the public after full disclosure. The public is generally fully aware of whatever family or professional connections exist. The public evaluates candidates and decides whether they trust the candidate to put their personal interest aside and act in the best interests of the district. Overwhelmingly, the candidates who earn the trust of the voters do not disapoint when they serve.

Mr. Leahy and Mr. Farrell voted against almost everything the union supported. I abstained from each vote regarding the teachers contract and health insurance. When five yes votes are needed to pass a resolution, an abstention is the equivalent of a no vote.

Dr. Fletcher was the most vocal opponent of the teachers contract despite the fact that his wife is a librarian covered by the contract.

It all comes down to the integrity of the individual board member. As a commuinity, we are fortunate to have one of the most professional and knowledgeable boards in the state and I remain proud of the years I served and our accomplishments as a group.

We took over the board at a time when the commissioner of education was ready to step in and disband the board. We took over at a time when our children were coming home and asking why the police were getting called to board meetings and why the board president was calling the police on the superintendent.

How far things have come.

Criticize and blast thesse community volunteers as you see fit. They do not serve for your accolades. They serve because they believe in the work that they do and believe in the future of our children.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gartenstein: Though your actions may have been honorable, what about all the discussions leading up to a vote? The board members are a part of that, and then all they do is recuse themselves for a vote. The conflict still exists - and many people agree as to how the vice principal of JW Bailey got her job.

Dan Gartenstein said...

I am certainly not going to waste my breath trying to convince anyone of the efforts any board member takes to remain focused on the interests of the district rather than any personal interest of agenda. Those of us who are willing to put ourselves on the line to volunteer for a critical, unpaid and timeconsuming position that places you in the cross-hairs of every consituent group do so for themselves, not for affirmation from the public.

As to my wife's position at Bailey, anyone can look it up. She is the most educated employee of the school district (state ed keeps statistics on these issues), she has a real doctorate (that is a PhD rather than an EdD), she is a published author and sits on national educational committees that address issues that go far over my head.

She is an experienced analytical researcher who understands the difference between collecting statistics and calling statistics research rather extrapolating from those statistics to develop solutions. Given my shallow and simplistic approach to most issues, I am still trying to figure out how it is that we are still married.

Now that I am off the board, we can speak about education issues and we disagree far more often than we agree. Not only is she overqualified for the position that she holds, but my position on the board interfered with her career rather than helped. One of the main reasons I did not run for re-election was due to the negative impact it had on her comfort in her work place and the negative impact my board service had on her ability to move up in her chosen field.

Anonymous said...

Nice exchange here. If I were to be involved in this school board, I'd certainly want to have Mr Gartenstein as an advisor. He and his wife sound like they're a valuable asset to your district.

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