Sunday, July 24, 2011

"A paramount and prevailing right to know"

Click photos to enlarge/read

Let's hope
Amherst Schools' attorney Regina Tate is embarrassed enough by the Public Records Division's official ruling to perhaps feel guilty about billing the client--'We the People'--for such bad advice.

After all, town attorney Joel Bard, a principal with Boston law firm Kopelman and Paige, perused my duplicate request to Town Hall a few months before the Schools and correctly advised Town Manager John Musante to turn over all the requested documents.

I especially like the Public Documents pros addressing the issue of municipal employees outside the "public eye". Attorney Tate seems to think that anything happening beyond the "public eye"--i.e. under cover of darkness--should stay forever buried.

All of those secret deals are now in the realm of the undead.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

whatever happen to the rest of the go away quiet buyout list you only published a few names???

Kathy P. said...

I'd like to know when was the last audit of the Amherst Scools done? Not the kind of audit that we are accustomed to but, an outside independent audit? And by the way, what happened to the $26,000 Amherst received for Direct SPED Services?

Anonymous said...

Why would any of this be a secret when all salary information is now public? Why would you want to keep it a secret? Who is being protected?

And how much is Tate billing for this wrong legal advice?

LarryK4 said...

Good questions all. I know Ms. Tate charges more per hour than the town attorney.

Anonymous said...

maybe the town and school employees need more information about public records but it needs to be correct.

Anonymous said...

This is simply a microcosm of what has happened to our system of governance of our public schools over the past year or so: the power and the oversight has shifted back to the administrators and away from those who were elected to keep them accountable.

The darkness is enveloping our schools.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:41:

Your submission is quite vague. Please explain your point in more detail.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Anon 12:53 p.m., if you slept through the stifling of dissent, debate, inquiry, and oversight from our elected school committees, I'm not going to spell it out for you.

Seen any newspaper articles or blog posts about our local schools lately?

The popular unhappiness with our schools (which led to the founding of ACE in the first place) has gone back underground, where it was as recently as five years ago. Now our elected leaders will be publicly spoon-fed by school administrators, smile, and say "Yum!"

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:00 pm:

Ouch! You are one tough cookie. Geez, had I known I never would have asked you for clarification. I should have been able to read between the lines of your feeble paranoia.

I didn't interpret the past year as stifling anything having to do with the schools.

To the contrary, I saw loud mouth school commmittee members stirring up the hornet's nest of elitism through blogs. I saw these people as bullies of the first order. And I saw them quit when they realized they weren't going to be able to bully their way through this entire school system.

The "popular unhappiness" as you call it, is in the distinct minority. Otherwise we wouldn't have seen one sc member decide not to run and another decide to run out of town.

To quote one of them, their attempts to take over the district were a "complete failure."

Put that in your microcosm and smoke it!

LarryK4 said...

Yeah that's it--blame it on the blogs. Blogs you, umm, seem to peruse.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing my retort, Kelley, and I'm not blaming the blog technology, just the age old, very transparent technique of using hyperbolic, political rhetoric to bring fear to the masses, as the ACE group did for several years in Amherst.

If you like we can go back to the late, great Chicken Little whose words, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling," are often used to try to teach young children the perils of this same rhetorical device.

LarryK4 said...

One of things ACE brought up is the cost difference to educate a student in Amherst compared to state average:

The Amherst elementary schools spent $15,846 per pupil and the regional schools spent $16,909 per pupil in FY09, while the state average was $13,062.

Hadley spent less than state average that year and did pretty well in the performance rankings compared to Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you send your child to school in Hadley, Larry? According to you they are doing a much better job of educating kids than Amherst and they are a system to emulate.

LarryK4 said...

Never said "they are doing a much better job," and a search of this blog with over four years of posts shows I never use the word "emulate."

Why don't you come out from behind your Cowardly Anon Nitwit curtain?

Anonymous said...

So, I think you would agree that Amherst does a better job of educating their students and offers them more choices once they get to the secondary school level. Maybe the extra money per student really does get the consumer something more than they would get from the Hadley school system.

It really drives me wild when folks compare how much we spend with how much Hadley spends, as though the two educational systems were equal.

LarryK4 said...

Then simply compare state average (which includes all schools) spending per pupil with Amherst; and are we THAT same percentage over state average in MCAS results or any other performance measure? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Larry:

You are trying to compare apples to oranges.

LarryK4 said...

No, I'm just trying to figure out why our cost per child is so high--well above state average.

An entire committee (or was it a Task Force?) was formed last year to figure it out, and they gave up.

Anonymous said...

Larry, thanks for pointing out one of the wild inconsistencies in Amherst schools. We spend more than 24 of the top 25 school districts in EASTERN Mass where costs are much higher than here, yet our outcomes are just average.

This is what your anon blogger misses .... those "loud mouth" (is this a code for something else?) SC members actually just stood up and told the truth.

But to your your original post we should pay attention. Amherst is getting terrible advice from its personnel attorney. Tate should be fired.

Why do we pay for an attorney in Boston at a very high hourly rate? She was already fired from representing the schools on SPED cases presumably because of her notorious incompetence and generally venal nature. Geryk and co. Though were hot to keep her on the Amherst dole.

You know they say that attys reflect their clients.

Larry I encourage you to do an FOIA request for her invoices to the town. Now that she does not rep the town for SPED there is no personal info in the records they can object to. Just the truth about how thsi administration uses outside legal services.

Anonymous said...

the community budget task force gave up because the administration resolutely and consistently refused to provide information and data.

Anonymous said...

Our outcomes are not "just average" here. Take another look at those, my anon friend. And "loud mouth"is code for something. It's code for people who think they know more than others and continue to try to tell us all they think they know, like Rivkin and Sanderson.

But here is a point we can agree on: Fire Tate ASAP!

Anonymous said...

Isn't Tate still handling SPED cases? Legal bills and payments are public records not covered by any exemption. Law firms are not employees of a school district.

LarryK4 said...

The advise she gives is protected by attorney/client privilege, but certainly not the hourly rate charged or billable hours paid out annually.

Anonymous said...

the legal protection of the child in the SPED matter not the district as a client. legal opinions on the law aren't protected -- that would be a public record.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that the bloggers on this site appear to be confused about the basic role of an attorney and legal representation. I wonder if any of you have asked the fundamental question about how much this attorney may have saved the tax payers in the applicable towns?

LarryK4 said...

The point is this particular attorney is costing the district money on this particular case by giving bad advise (apparently she's not an expert on Public Documents Law.)

LarryK4 said...

There I go again: I meant "advice."