Archive for November, 2011

Lorain City Schools- Jim Smith- “Good- Bad and Ugly” – Guest Post



Lorain City Schools
The Good, Bad and Ugly by Jim Smith

I have advocated for Lorain City Schools since 1981. I have done this as a parent, private citizen, employee and school board member. The following is a chronicle of my experiences, perceptions and opinions.

1981-82 – When I called to congratulate newly appointed superintendent John Pavic he asked me to chair a school levy. I agreed. The levy failed but I learned a great deal about the school district, its people and the community at large. I came away with a positive opinion of all three areas and remain positive to this day. That was good.

I also learned the school district was not really interested in maintaining a continuous stream of open communication with the community. I call it the “Ivory Tower Complex”. It goes like this; when we need something from the community we will open communications with the citizens. When we don’t, we consider them to be a nuisance and shut them out. That was bad and, in my opinion, remains the same today.

I also found that the district failed to alert the community about the many unique learning opportunities open to the children of Lorain. That was ugly, and in my opinion is still ugly today.

1983 to 1986 – I was approached by the district to create an “Adult Education” program aimed at helping local businesses by providing low cost valuable training for their employees. The program was funded by a grant from the state and was designed by Ohio State University. It was a great success.

I maintained an office at Charleston and developed a great relationship between the district and business community. Unfortunately my earlier good, bad and ugly opinions were reinforced. In 1985 I attended at conference on community education sponsored by the Mott Foundation in Flint Michigan. I toured downtown Flint and got a glimpse of what downtown Lorain would look like 20 years later. Ugly!

I also got to meet with people from other U. S. school districts and some from England. It reinforced my opinions of the poor job Lorain schools were doing with community relations as compared to what other districts were doing. I brought back these ideas back, but they fell on deaf ears.

My time as an employee of the district reinforced by good opinion of the employees and my bad and ugly opinions of communicating with the public and advertising the educational opportunities unique to Lorain City Schools. I left the job in 1986.

During this same time period a truly ugly event took place. Public schools across the U.S. were forced to desegregate to obtain racial balance in the classrooms. Lorain City Schools made a bad, and ugly, decision.

They closed the elementary with highest number of minority students and bused them all over town to get the required racial balance. The school was Charleston.

The district was sued in Federal court and signed a voluntary consent degree to obtain racial balance without putting the burden on minority students. A program was designed to meet the terms of the consent degree by creating schools of choice based on unique curriculums in each building and allowing parents to enroll their children in the school they felt would best meet the needs of their children. The schools were called magnet schools and the program was such a success that it drew national, and international, attention and praise. It was not only good, it was great. It was, in my opinion, the high water mark of Lorain City Schools.

1987 – In April I was appointed to fill a vacancy on the school board. I again was exposed to the good, bad and ugly. Despite the good created by Magnet Schools nothing else had changed. I lost by bid for election in the fall of 1987 and, for a few years, lost touch with the school district.

1992 – 2007 – In 1992 I was asked to become a member of the school district’s Business Advisory Council. Ohio law requires all public schools to establish such a council. For once, I thought, maybe the district was serious about communicating with the community. And for a while it was.

The pride of the council was the development of “Business and Industry Day”. On in- service days teachers got to select area businesses and spend the day as guests of the host companies. At a latter date business representatives were invited to visit the classrooms of the teachers they had hosted. But after a change in administrations things went back to the normal state of the good, bad and ugly.

Then in 2001 a “Chance of a Lifetime” became a reality. Since 1996 I had worked on renewal tax levies and all had easily passed. In 2000 the renewals were combined into one levy and it passed. In 2001, if the voters approved a bond issue, the district could participate in a $216,000,000 building program and the state would pay for 81% of the cost. The voters approved! These events fall under the good classification.

Although the program has been down sized because of decreases in enrollment, we now have 10 new elementary schools and 3 new middle schools. That is not only good, it is stupendous. How many school districts can boast, that between 2004 and 2011, 13 new buildings have opened.

But, once again, in my opinion, the district has failed to capitalize on this amazing feat. The district has failed to let the public know about, not only the buildings, but state of the art technology available to students in the buildings. Smart Boards, Laptops and, in one of the buildings, a Flight Simulator provided by NASA. The bad and ugly persist.

2008 – 2011 – I went back on the school board in 2008. I saw, first hand, how a once great school district, continued to march into chaos and become totally dysfunctional. Do I partially blame myself? Yes! Could I have done more to prevent the current state of affairs? Maybe!

While I have great confidence and respect for the employees of the district I am not sure everybody gets it. For the past 10 years all the warning signs of economic disasters have been ignored. Instead of reducing costs the district has borrowed over $10,000,000 since 2006. Instead of creating a plan to attract and retain students the district has done nothing while losing 12 to 14 million dollars a year to open enrollment, community schools and educational choice vouchers. Instead of proceeding with the design, and construction, of a high school 2 years have been lost over political infighting. These facts are not only bad, they are plain UGLY!!

Let me sum up my experiences with Lorain City Schools by sharing a meeting I had with former Morning Journal editor, the late John Cole. Between 2002 and 2004 I volunteered to direct the affairs of the school endowment fund. The fund was, and is still, managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County. Lorain City Schools was the first school district in the U.S. to partner with a community foundation and in 2002 the fund had assets in excess of $1,000,000. Each year a portion of the funds earnings are distributed through teacher grants that enhance the learning experiences of our students.

I met with Mr. Cole to update him on the endowment fund and after doing so he said,

“How the hell could Lorain City Schools have a $1,000,000 endowment fund and no one knows about it”.

2012 – What will come next? Will it be good? Will it be bad? Will it be ugly? I close with quotes from Helen Keller and the movie “Cool Hand Luke”.


“What good is sight if you have no vision”.

The movie,

“What we have here is failure to communicate”.

Jim Smith

November 30, 2011 at 11:17 am 16 comments

Lorain City Schools – What will it take Lorain – The BAD

UPDATE: I have pulled this information out of the comments to the “front page” as I believe the information is beneficial and “shows” a great deal Comment No. 2. on this post
Click on jpg to enlarge.

I analyzed stats from the year Dee Morgan left to the last year Atkinson was here to see what that cool million we spent on her did for us. We were better in 7 areas and worse in 18. Average Superintendent salary is $140,000. Why do we spend $85,000 more than the going rate? For what?

Part One – THE GOOD

BAD – the definition
Not achieving an adequate standard; poor

Lorain City Schools has been in the BAD category when trying to achieve an adequate standard:

The history from Citizens 4 Better Lorain Schools
( You can follow this link and click on the links (PDF files) for all the documentation here :

The Yearly Report Card by the Ohio Department of Education is in for 2010-2011. 5 out of 26 state indicators met.

The Yearly Report Card by the Ohio Department of Education is in for 2009-2010. 1 out of 26 state indicators met.

The Yearly Report Card by the Ohio Department of Education is in for 2008-2009. 3 out of 30 state indicators met.

The Yearly Report Card by the Ohio Department of Education is in for 2007-2008. 4 of 30 state indicators met.

Apparently we have also been “bad” in other years

4-05-Academic Watch-Morgan 3- 78.1 out of 120

05-06 -Continuous Improv -Morgan 6-82.3 out of 120

06-07-Continuous Improv -Morgan 4-80.6 out of 120

07-08 -Academic Watch- Atkinson -4 -77.8 out of 120

08-09-Academic Watch Atkinson 3-78.6 out of 120

You can slice it and dice it anyway you want:
Morning Journal article August 2011
Lorain schools get better grade (with video)

but we are still “struggling”- UP a point- DOWN a point…… but always hovering very near the bottom and that is BAD……….

Obviously, this has not happened over night but we aren’t making any great strides either even with two different ” highly paid” and “educated” superintendents at the “helm”

The numbers games comes into play –

after all since schools are publicly funded they have to show us something for our money don’t they?

You can find all sorts of information here

We aren’t healthy and haven’t been for many years and gaining a point or two isn’t going to cut it, because a whole generation of children have been coming through the corridors of under achievement and academic watch and that is bad…….. we won’t get those years or those children back for a “do over “

Something isn’t working no matter how much we pay superintendents or spend upon the students per school (whether high school, middle school or elementary) The 2009-2010 stats found here
LCS Excel file

There is a great deal of information about the Lorain City School system on the Ohio Department of Education website and you can compare all information to any school in the state ( including charter schools) also here is a link to the website INNOVATION OHIO

FYI on Innovation Ohio

Feb 28th 2011 Former Strickland Policy Chief Launches Innovation OhioColumbus, Ohio — Innovation Ohio, a new non-partisan but avowedly progressive think tank with offices in downtown Columbus, begins operations today.

Innovation Ohio, which is comprised of leaders in business, academia, politics and public service, will have a two-fold mission. First, it will advocate and advance progressive public policies (especially in the areas of the state budget and jobs, education, health care, and energy) that strengthen the middle class, protect the less advantaged, equalize opportunity, and provide businesses with the tools they need to innovate, compete, and create well-paying, long-term jobs. Second, Innovation Ohio will provide rapid response policy analysis and commentary to ensure that reckless, ill-advised or counterproductive proposals originating elsewhere do not go unchallenged. Innovation Ohio will not urge the election or defeat of candidates for any political office, nor pursue a partisan agenda. It will, however, deploy an army of academics, practitioners, and policy experts to ensure the progressive voice is heard and included in the public policy debate

and the report which you may find informative :

So there is your homework – anyone have any ideas on the “real fix” other than what has been happening – playing the stats game in order to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!

In order for Lorain City Schools to make progress in the community ( all of the community not just enough of them to squeak by with a win in a levy campaign) but to get the citizens on board supporting their schools once more there has to be ” a course of action and time line to turn the bad report card into one the “city” and “her tax paying citizens” – the other two partners – can once again be proud to put on the public refrigerator door……..

MY BAD!!! What is YOURS????

November 28, 2011 at 12:09 am 19 comments

Mark Puente – says NOT SO!!!!!!!

I sent a link to Mark Puente less than an hour ago to the blog post

within minutes I received the following from Mark:


I was NEVER a confidential informant for the Lorain Police Department.

I asked if I could quote him on that and here is Mark’s response:

Please attribute the statement to me:” I was NEVER a confidential informant for the Lorain Police Department.”

Round three anyone ?

And thank you Mark for responding so quickly .

November 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm 24 comments

Hey! Plain Dealer ??? What NOW??? Is there a P-U in Puente?


I have had issues with the Plain Dealer from time to time – YES! I know I have had issues with the Morning Journal ( but at least the Morning Journal issues were “personal” at the time – the relationship has progressed from those dark days I am glad to say 🙂

My focus today is the Plain Dealer – now they have been known to be a very good newspaper but there have been times when their credibility has been seen to be lacking in the past few years – from this bloggers viewpoint at least – and that is worrying. As Lorain City Schools is finding out TRUST is paramount in any relationship :

1. The Foltin Fiasco and the Open Mike Plain Dealer Blog where Foltin was allowed to change and edit a piece after publication. When I pointed out something in my blog it was changed without a by your leave- making me look like the idiot- only this idiot had copied and pasted the original post by then Mayor Craig Foltin

2. The Plain Dealer’s CRA piece ( no longer available on line- hard copy available) which pilloried certain local officials what I read( knowing the background and information) was so slanted as to be seen as a mud slide of media manipulation. I did write to the Plain Dealer pointing out the errors and the slant in that piece but they ignored me! noted here :

The Chronicle and the Morning Journal both put the “rest of the story “ out on their front pages last week

“As for the Plain Dealer – well if it was mentioned it certainly wasn’t mentioned on their front page as the “aspersions” cast that October day of “THREE YEARS” ago merited.

In 2007 the Plain Dealer closed the door on the “Wide Open Experiment”

1. Wide Open was an experiment. Political bloggers were sought out to blog, unfiltered, unedited. That’s what we did.

The PD’s decision to say to Jeff, essentially, either follow what we require of our traditional journalists when it comes to political donations and stop writing about a particular political official and his opponent, or leave, is an intolerable restraint for a blogger. It turns the blogger into nothing more than a traditional journalist, already subject to such restraints, who also has to blog.

Picture Source :Media Declares Open Season on Political Spouses .

3. We also dealt with:

Plain Dealer sparks ethical debate by unmasking anonymous posterPublished: Friday, March 26, 2010, 7:00 AM

CLEVELAND, Ohio — By unmasking an anonymous poster at its companion Web site, The Plain Dealer finds itself in an ethical quandary, stirring a debate that balances the public’s need to know against the privacy concerns of online participants.
On one side are experts who believe the newspaper has violated a trust by exploring and revealing information about a critic. On the other are those, including Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg, who believe that information is too important not to see the light of day………

and my take

In 2006 the Plain Dealer alleged their reporter Mark Puente was harrassed by the Lorain Police Dept.

Plain Dealer editor Thomas O’Hara has alleged that Lorain cops harassed members of reporter Mark Puente’s family at a high school football game and also let the air out of tires of the reporter’s car while it was parked at the Lorain City Hall.

In an investigation of his own agency, Lorain police chief Cel Rivera said the complaint was unfounded but he has forwarded the Plain Dealer’s complaint to the FBI office in Cleveland who is reportedly investigating.

and NOW we find a story from Cleveland dot com today seems the relationship of Mr. Puente with the Lorain Police Dept went from went from adversarial to advantageous- Is that the case??? :

As according to the article ( emphasis mine)
Reporter accused of being confidential informant in criminal investigation in Lorain County

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Two detectives allege that former Plain Dealer reporter Mark Puente served as a CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT in a criminal investigation into who wrote dozens of anonymous letters critical of the Lorain Police Department and its chief.

Detectives Thomas Nimon and Andrew Mathewson named Puente as the informant in sworn statements given as part of a federal lawsuit filed by former Lorain officer Joseph Montelon, whose home police raided in 2008 as part of the investigation.
Cleveland Scene Magazine – For the Record –
There are a couple of issues at stake here as I see it –

The Plain Dealer( and all print media for that matter) is held to a higher standard by the citizens and the courts ( who often use their articles in their cases) than this poor little blog – It is the print media who took this burden upon themselves to be ” fair and unbiased and to report the news not be the news”

In this instance , if the information is correct that a journalist then became a “CONFIDENTAL” police informant, then by association, the Plain Dealer has become the news and the price they have paid his “loss of trust” in the 4th estate.

Photo source

I know Mark Puente personally – he has sat upon my couch on more than one occasion , when he first came to Lorain to “report”. He wanted to be a “top” investigative reporter. He was at the very start of his career with the PD.

He was, at the time, looking into Mayor Foltin and Craig Miller – and because of the adversarial situation I found myself in at the time with then Mayor Foltin over Veterans Park – Condos for Cole- and the Shawnee Fiasco – he came to talk to me. He was looking into the “Board of Control Minutes” for the City of Lorain and had questions about the money being spent for the new police department / jail etc.

PD editorial from the time– WoM blog post found here:

WoM Cole Shawnee Jail Loraine October 2007

Lorain, the largest city in Lorain County, has no jail. Its police send their criminal suspects to the county’s lockup. Some critics say the city of 68,000 people lacks a jail because Mayor Craig Foltin and Safety Director Craig Miller diverted available money that could have been used to replace the antiquated facility that was closed last year. They say it was spent on City Hall improvements, downtown lighting, landscaping and the like.

I couldn’t be too much help but kept in touch and used Mark as a PD contact with the Compass House situation or when I needed to get information out to the Plain Dealer.

AND readers please remember THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OFF THE RECORD – you have to trust the “person” won’t “out you” . I was shocked recently that locally a “source was outed “ to another person involved in a story – I knew who, what, where and why but when another participant of the situation told me “who” had been the person to contact the media” I said:

are you sure and was met with

Oh yes when XXXXXXX interviewed me I was told it was YYYYYYYY who had contacted them

………. SIGH I filed that journalist away in don’t contact them file. a source

If indeed a Plain Dealer journalist at the time – Mark Puente- used this avenue to get the story or for what ever reason- then I am extremely disappointed for he has blackened not only his journalistic reputation but those who ” report”.

Society of Professional Journalist – Code of Ethics:
Channel 19-

Plain Dealer ? Mark Puente? – SAY IT ISN’T SO??????????????????

November 25, 2011 at 2:58 am 11 comments

Thanksgiving- 2011- A time “NOT” to remember – Chris Ritchey

American Thanksgiving – celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has officially been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863, when during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26.

America is not alone in “giving thanks” Britain has been celebrating since pagan times –

Britain, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. Harvest festival is traditionally held on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (about Sept. 23). In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home or Harvest Thanksgiving.

As Europeans discovered the new world they brought with them their own cultures and beliefs- and adapted them to their new locations.

I celebrated American Thanksgiving for the Americans in my family- truth be told I resented having to cook what was originally my family’s traditional Turkey “Christmas dinner” a month early- it spoiled the lead up to our English Christmas but a deal was struck- a compromise . If the American part of the family decorated the outside of the house with lights etc then I would cook a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. For many years this was the “tradition” of this small family and I changed up the traditional Christmas fare- although the gingered apricots never went down too well 🙂

I remember the first dinner, my now son-in-law, Jim, attended at Thanksgiving-he was expecting, I am sure, to watch the parade and football etc. However, he was handed row upon row of lights and a huge wreath for the front of the house and a ladder- they had to work before eating. He has never forgotten that experience of this particular intermingling of culture.

Those times continued – the next Thanksgiving that stands out was the one when my son had broken up with Angela ( Lombardi) ritchey DO. That was a Thanksgiving I remember too well and quite honestly wished I had kept my mouth shut then maybe she and her family would not have been part of our lives and my son’s death. ( another post).
Artwork-The “Circus- by Chris Ritchey

I wish like Rip Van Winkle I could sleep through these up coming days and American Thanksgiving. It was Thanksgiving Day I saw my son intubated- heard from stranger he was dying and as bad as it was being alone with that news it was worse so much worse when the Clan Lombardi and their gypsy caravan in tow descended into that waiting room with their left over cold mashed potatoes, dry turkey and pumpkin pies and nut bread.

I was sickened to my heart and soul by their actions. I still gag at the very thought of them and their leftovers in that ” ICU waiting room”. I couldn’t understand their thinking, when to all intents and purposes we had been told just a couple of hours before Chris was dying– and how they could “eat”? . It still sends ripples of disgust through my being as I think of the swapping of recipes that afternoon waiting for my son to breathe his last so they could get on with their “plans”.

Last year I pulled my home around me – I tried everything to wipe the “Clan Lombardi, Vyka, Gonzales, Gott and Zaworski”, the hangers-on and Thanksgiving from my mind – to get rid of the bile that was rising in my throat at the thought of the previous year and the utter lack of compassion/consideration shown to Chris’ family by the pillars of the their respective churches.

I retreated into a world of grey, devoid of compassion or faith, compounded by their actions and those of their ilk -the basic human fundamentals tainted and tarnished, an ugly truth of hypocrisy now mirrored in their image.

Father Divis-
I attended a function recently and who should be there but their Father Daniel O. Divis-

I didn’t notice him at first – he was in civilian clothes- Nikki did notice him. It was one of those functions that had I said and did what I wanted to- others– would have had a well deserved celebration ruined. I kept my countenance.

However, it turned out he ended up right behind us in line. I looked upon the face and into the eyes of the man who had knowingly enabled my son to be taken from his family buried in a plot not of our faith or tradition or Chris ‘s ( knowing full well Chris lack of support for the Catholic Church ) and interred him without his family knowing.The ‘ man of God” who helped take closure from a grief stricken mother , father ,sister……….


As I looked at the person of Father Daniel Divis he gave me an asinine little quirky smile , crooked his head to one side with a slight shoulder shrug. I only hope he felt the sheer coldness that permeated the stare I gave back to him; he certainly turned away. He should be thankful this year for a lot of things including the fact that once in a while I have to be circumspect out of respect to those I hold dear. As a “man of God” I have to wonder does he follow the teachings of compassion and love of the mother and father- couldn’t prove it by this family!

Thanksgiving 2011 – the dilemma came upon me – no longer will I hold an American Thanksgiving in this house- there is no longer a need to decorate this house for Christmas – those traditions are gone from this “old house”.

The special tree ornaments from Christmas past will catch the fire glow on Nikki’s tree, the lights and outside decorations donated.

But my American family is growing- and a little boy and his new “brother/sister” will need traditions and happy memories upon which to build their own traditions. I cannot pull my home around me this year I will travel the short in mileage but for ME, the huge journey to my daughter’s.

I will help her cook for this Thanksgiving and Nikki will start her own traditions, Nana will eat lamb chops, Jim can watch football, my husband will walk the woods where his last spoke with his son, we will get through with the help of a little boy and I will try not to remember Thanksgiving past…………..

November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm 9 comments

Do YOU Wear the Chastity Belt of Censure – why do we give them the power?

Speech can segregate you from everyone- by Chris Ritchey

ED NOTE: I did not wish to break the thread of the Lorain City Schools posts

as I felt the rest of the series ( The LCS levy) would be better served after the Thanksgiving break. That being said- there is one situation I think needs to be highlighted in the LCS discussion. Even in garnering thoughts about the “GOOD” found ( off the blog) emails worried about expressing their opinions- how sad- and as one comment stated:

For a real dialogue to take place, everyone needs to be as comfortable speaking their minds at public/townhall/board meetings as they are when cloaked in their anonymous online identities

I went through my “drafts” and found the following thoughts I had jotted down a few months ago.

I am in the middle of a “thought” and a question. Maybe I have lost the plot as I continue my journey , trying to find rhyme and reason? There are certain situations in my “time line of learning” that have led me to ask

“what are we so afraid of and why do we let these things happen?”

It started with Henry the VIII, well the television program, ” The Tudors” actually. As I watched Henry and the Roman Catholic Church and all the ins and outs, deviousness on both sides, the power plays- I thought:

OK! so Henry was king -so he had the power. but who gives even a king power – and why do we the people put up with the abuses of power by Kings, Popes and governments?

There are those that enable and those that cover up and that brings me to another thought who are “they afraid of” what is the benefit of enabling ( money, power over others, prestige, control) that they need to cover up?

Bottom line??????
We the people- the great unwashed– the fear (that collectively) we may rise up– so it is imperative “we the people” are kept somewhat in the dark because we just might light a candle of truth that will start a fire. That is the fear by the few- case in point – The happenings in the Middle East in recent months- after years of suffering under various regimes the wave of the great unwashed washed away their abusers .

However, for the most part (there are of course other reasons, apathy and nobody is listening anyway) BUT –We the people -seem, on the whole, are scared and don the “chastity belt of censure” ourselves and give the key to the powers that be . We know of things happening but for the most part we are silent – WHY?


We are scared- what of ?
In Henry’s time having our heads lopped off and our livelihoods, properties, churches confiscated, tortured and or imprisoned for years in dank dark dungeons, fodder for the rats and vermin or even burned at the stake – not a good way to leave the planet- yet millions throughout history suffered these fates.

If you were Roman Catholic you were caught between the King and the Pope one denied you your place in heaven ( errrr that is still happening even locally but at least they can’t sent out the “hit squad” from the Vatican anymore as they did in Henry’s time) the other denied you your life.

In Salem the mere mention of “witch” caused hysteria and a community to turn upon themselves.

In Nazi Germany, losing your lives, your family being treated to the unspeakable tortures thrust upon the “innocents” – it took that same nation who had experienced Henry to stand up and they did so alone for quite a few months :)-

Martin Niemöller-
“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Granted these examples are on the top of the scale of retribution so what now causes concern – why aren’t we speaking out, righting or pointing out what we feel is wrong even locally in Lorain for instance- they can’t literally lopp off our heads , burn us at the stake but….. fear is still at the core

Fear of someone who has a control over your livelihood becoming angry and using that power to cause you to lose that job , your immediate family bearing the brunt for your actions/words or losing standing in the community.

Fear of being pilloried in the press – loss of business

Being accused of being a nut case, radical or a trouble maker-

Or being sued.

Ah! you see it all the time in the comments in the forums “ you can be sued for that remark” – FYI – a short lesson in libel and slander

“Libel is any Defamation that can be seen, such as a writing, printing, effigy, movie, or statue. Slander is any defamation that is spoken and heard.

In general, there are four defenses to libel or slander: truth, consent, accident, and privilege. The fact that the allegedly defamatory communication is essentially true is usually an absolute defense; the defendant need not verify every detail of the communication, as long as its substance can be established.

Basically if what you write or say is truth you have the right in this country to speak that truth- But the mere thought of being sued ( especially by those with deep pockets) can destroy whatever money you do have-it can cost you everything to prove your innocence ( until proven guilty is the creed of LAW – not the LAWYER’S creed)- that fear also comes into play- so most keep their heads down and try to fly under the radar because that threat is always there ” Let someone else take up the cause” .

However there are also people who will support your right to free speech
the Institute for Justice is one of them who have had great success from eminent domain-to school vouchers- to freedom of speech.

The discussion on Kelly’s post basically comes down to an open and honest conversation with Lorain City Schools- without fear of retribution down the line for speaking “your ” truth/ opinions as it pertains to situations within the Lorain City School district –

The problem, as I see it is:

How does Lorain City Schools guarantee to those that wish be involved in the conversation that down the line in the months and years to come there will be no “pay back”? Lorain City Schools has a tough road because they will have to undo the practices experienced in past years.

As for me I will remember my son’s words and continue to live by them

“Nothing should be hidden or untouchable , if it is your truth and you stand behind it – no one should be able to silence you”- Christopher D. Ritchey

Free Speech by Chris Ritchey

November 21, 2011 at 12:37 am 12 comments

Why Won’t A School Levy Pass? – Guest blogger- KB Sagert.

Lorain City Schools Series- Part One
Why won’t a school levy pass?
In Lorain, that’s the million-dollar – or, more accurately, the multi-million-dollar – question.

This post will not focus on whether I think you should or shouldn’t vote for school levies in the future. (Please read that last sentence twice! That is NOT my intent.) My intent is to try to figure out why the levies aren’t passing in Lorain – and perhaps suggest the start of a solution.

The answer, I think, is twofold – and the first part is straightforward: the economy. In Lorain these days, it feels as though most of us are in one of three categories: unemployed; employed but worried about becoming downsized; or employed but, even if fairly secure in a job, unable to shoulder more of the tax burden.

I’m going to focus the rest of the post on the second reason, which may be even more insidious than the first – and that’s a seriously eroded relationship between school leadership and the community.

I’m not finger pointing at anyone in particular and I’m not saying that blame should be laid at the feet of people currently in leadership positions. I’m very happy to see Ed Branham in the interim superintendent position and there are some truly dedicated and caring people on the school board and in other leadership positions. My point is that this trust has slowly been eroding for many years now and we’ve finally hit a crisis point.

To illustrate what I see as the problem, I’m going to use two people you might know as examples: Loraine “That Woman” Ritchey and me. Loraine and I have been neighbors now for more than 30 years; she and her family have been wonderful neighbors for us and I believe the inverse is also true.

But, let’s create a wholly hypothetical situation as an analogy – and I grant that the upcoming analogy isn’t perfect. But it might be helpful. Let’s say that, 30 years ago, Loraine felt that I wasn’t being a good neighbor to her. Maybe I worked second shift and she would fall asleep right before I got home – and my slamming car door would wake her up. I was, in a sense, being a bad neighbor, but I wasn’t doing it deliberately to hurt her. I needed that job! My mistake was that, rather than trying to find a solution (parking down the street a ways? oiling the squeaky door?), I simply said,

“Well, this the way that I need to do things.”

As time went by, I started being a bad neighbor at times in other ways – unintentional, but preventable. Maybe my two dozen pet rabbits would sneak out at night, without my knowledge, and eat up all the lettuce in her garden.
Like the slamming door problem, I might have been able to fix the bad will generated from the missing lettuce had I addressed it quickly enough.

“I’m sorry about your garden, Loraine,”

I could have said.

“Even though I didn’t know the rabbits escaped, they are my responsibility. I’ll plant new lettuce for you and build a better pen for my bunnies.”

But, I didn’t do that and so the resentment continued to build.

By this point, Loraine might assume that I was doing additional bad-neighbor things that I really wasn’t doing – but my track record made it too hard for me to convince her otherwise. She didn’t know when I was being straightforward with her and when I wasn’t – and, as our relationship continued to sour, I focused even less on trying to be a good neighbor – and the cycle continued to spiral downward and out of control.

Now, imagine that, on a regular basis, I would go to Loraine to ask her to make personal sacrifices so that she could give me money out of her family’s monthly budget. What do you think her response to me might be? Even if I would spend the money on a really worthwhile cause?

Then, this month, without admitting that sometimes I hadn’t been the perfect neighbor, I would have asked Loraine to permanently give me part of her hard-earned family income, even though she had said no to requests of limited scope in the past. Now what would her response be?

This analogy definitely isn’t perfect, as the school is asking for money to educate children, which should be one of our country’s top priorities. (And, I’m NOT saying that people shouldn’t vote for a school levy! I’m trying to determine why they aren’t passing to try to uncover some insight into a solution.)

There is an underlying similarity in a relationship between a school district and a community, and relationships between neighbors. In both cases, to make it work, there needs to be trust and a sense of good will, a feeling of working together for a common cause – and that, in my opinion, is the crucial piece that’s missing in the relationship between Lorain voters and the Lorain City Schools.

How can this be fixed? My guess is that it won’t be fast or easy. The wounds are too deep.

I do believe, though, from the bottom of my heart, that relationship repairing is at the core of the solution. Not a more carefully crafted levy slogan or appealing to different demographics in the community.

Relationship rebuilding. Genuine, straightforward relationship rebuilding.

For school leaders, this would involve honest (and at first painful!) conversations with the community – and a willingness to really listen what the community has to say in response. I’m not talking about an in-and-out forum or a community survey, either. I’m talking about an ongoing, heartfelt reaching out and a commitment to working with the community today, tomorrow, next week, next year – and beyond.

Who’s willing to give this a try?

November 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm 54 comments

Lorain City Schools- What will it take Lorain? The Good- the Bad – the Ugly?

What will it take to support an increase in school funding by the citizens of Lorain or to buy back into Lorain City Schools?

I have watched from my perch on the peripheal the issues effecting Lorain City Schools. These are just my thoughts as a “surface dweller” I am not “immersed in academia” and have no in-depth knowledge of the way the “administration of the educational system in this community works on a daily basis

That being said I am like 80 percent of the voting population in this community
– so it would follow that if you educate me on the inner workings and needs in “plain speak” Lorain City Schools may benefit from the dialogue.

Let us start with THE GOOD from my experience of how Lorain City Schools has effected my life as a surface dweller
( readers feel free to add to this conversation of GOOD You can either submit a comment at the bottom of this post or send in your own post to me and I will publish )
PHOTO- Dan Brady
The new Admiral King Elementary being built has given this old neighborhood where I live a positive. The fact the children are “involved” with this neighborhood and the teachers are helping that involvement and taking “ownership” of this , Lorain’s oldest neighborhood is “good” for the residents and the community.

You can see them as they tour the neighborhood – Charleston Pioneer Cemetery, Settlers’ Watch, the Admiral King Tribute Site , Black River Landing , the importance of the port – listening to the volunteers of the Black River Historical Society ( Frank Sipkovsky in particular) as they get a “real walking education”

Life and Laughter coming from children is always a “GOOD” thing- – this neighborhood needs youth, life and laughter and pride of ownership.

The children learning about the history of this place we call home is a “GOOD thing” – ownership in a community starts small ( just like the settlement of 1807-12 as people found out about the benefits of being a community ).

Lorain City Schools is Lorain’s 2nd largest employer – those employed ( even if they lay their heads elsewhere at night) spend their waking and productive hours in these neighborhoods. They are part of the community of Lorain. The schools are our neighbors. We need neighbors who are looking out for the best interest of our children.

On a personal note, having “produced” the event – the Dedication of the Tribute Site for Admiral King – I was so impressed with the calibre of the young people who attended and did so much to enhance the event.

PHOTO- Dan Brady
The Lorain High School Band and the JROTC were very special : On September I wrote the following :

Dear Mr. Sivik and members of the Lorain High Marching Band,

I would like to thank you all for your talent and expertise, as demonstrated at the designation ceremony for Fleet Admiral Ernest J King’s tribute space, on September 18th 2011. The LHS Band was a wonderful addition to the ceremony and everyone I spoke to commented how very good you are and how they thoroughly enjoyed the performance. The Lorain High School Band in my opinion was the icing on the cake and I know this was shared by all who attended. Once again, thank you so much for being an integral part of such a special day.

PHOTO- Mark Teleha and to the members of the JROTC

Dear 1st Sgt. Obechi and members of the Lorain JROTC

I would like to thank you all for your participation at the designation ceremony for Fleet Admiral Ernest J King’s tribute space, on September 18th 2011. How impressive to see the young members of the JROTC as they honored their country, the flags and those young men and women who had given their all. It was such a tribute to freedom to see the young carrying the emblems of freedom and service alongside those who had fought for that freedom. I know you made everyone in attendance very proud, once again thank you so much for making a very special event even more so.

These young men and women are the product of Lorain City Schools – we have every right to be proud of them – they are what is GOOD about LCS and I just touched on a small part of the GOOD-

What do you Lorain feel is GOOD about our neighbor– what benefit do you derive from Lorain City Schools????????????????????????- Why do you like being part of Lorain City Schools, whether as a student, parent or employee. I hand the blog over to you…………..

ED Note: We will also be touching on the BAD however the rule will be when discussing what is “wrong” you also have to come up with a possible solution….. 🙂

And when discussing the UGLY, which we will also cover – no rumour and innuendo please – personal experiences are OK – situation experienced are OK too – naming names is also OK as long as you name yourself– we aren’t going to have a “bash fest”

November 15, 2011 at 5:30 am 9 comments

Trials and Tribulations of a flag unfurled- Admiral King Tribute Site

You know it don’t come easy ….

Nothing worthwhile ever does. However even I , who tries to see the problems that may occur in any project Charleston Village Society takes on, wasn’t prepared for the “flag”.

I knew going in the “Flag of the United States of America” needed to be treated with honor and respect- the flag is an iconic symbol that means so much to so many people.
When flying the flag- you are flying the hopes, bravery, desires, history of a nation and those that fought for the ideals of that nation.

When it was decided to commemorate Admiral Ernest J King’s birthplace

we knew there had to be a flag pole and Black River Historical Society had just the perfect one. The flag pole had been donated to them and had for many years sat at the entrance to the American Shipyard where many ships had been built and launched during World War Two when Admiral King was the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations (COMINCH-CNO)

Launching of the USS Lorain – American Ship

How wonderful- a link to history, pride and place we thought and how appropriate to commemorate Admiral King.

I was told that you ordered the flag size in a height ratio to the flag pole and so we did. Since there were three “arms to this pole ” it was decided to fly the State of Ohio flag on one arm and the naval signal flags spelling K_I_N_G on the opposite side.

Unfortunately we do not have the volunteers that are able to lower the flag in the evening nor to raise it in the morning every day, but you can leave the flag flying as long as it is lighted. AH! great BUT there is no electricity at the site so it meant a “solar flag pole light” – no problem -research showed they were available and we purchased the most powerful on the market. The city helped us with their bucket truck to install the light and solar panel near the top of the pole. We had light!

What we also had was a problem- after a couple of days phone calls started coming in – there was no light on the flag pole- upon checking the “Stars and Stripes” billowing madly in the off shore winds was catching upon the light and causing the solar panel to point to the ground instead of the sun.

Ok! back with the bucket truck and an adjustment the light would have to go lower and out of the way of the “Stars and Stripes” – this however caused the State of Ohio flag to take over and take on the solar panel. We had to lower the solar light ( which is attached to the panel) once more and put it in a place where those that might wish to take it couldn’t without a hassle and at the same time protect it from the flags.

Days passed and upon checking on the flags and the site I began to notice the “Stars and Stripes ” and the State of Ohio flag were looking a little tattered.

We took them down once more and apparently the flags were getting caught around the cross bar- the “Stars and Stripes” in particular- we adjusted guide wires etc and did a Betsy Ross and mended the fraying edges and put them back- September would find a new set of flags being flown.

Still in another couple of weeks the flags started to look care worn again- we put up the extra (just in case ) flags we had . Once again a few days later and the same thing was happening – I met with Gary Fischer- the architect of the site

to discuss the upcoming ceremony and I mentioned I didn’t know what was happening with the flags. We had followed all the guidelines height – flag ratio – and I know this is a very windy spot but … Gary smiled and said:

well part of the problem is that this ISN”T a flag pole but it looks to be a “ship’s mast” – it looks like it could be off a minesweeper- so those flags are the wrong size for the mast

( American Ship used to build mine sweepers so perfectly logical assumption.)

The flags were simply too big. We took down the flags once more- “The Stars and Stripes” that had been flown over the Capital Building being raised on the day of the dedication would be too big but we decided to have it raised along with the too big State of Ohio flag and after the ceremony correctly fold the “historically Admiral King significant flag” and give it to Black River historical Society to place in the case at Admiral King Elementary. We also purchased a smaller State of Ohio flag and reversed the positions with the signal flags so the prevailing off shore winds helped keep the Ohio Flag out of trouble.

All was well until I had a phone call from Renee yesterday the smaller “Stars and Stripes” (donated by Congresswoman Sutton’s office) was shredded the bottom red stripe flying free- What had happened since the day before all was well????

Sigh our Betsy Ross is at the sewing machine machine fixing the flag once again and once again the flag will unfurl.

I have to purchase at least two more flags- one to fly and one for a back-up -anyone have any idea as so solutions to this problem- the material used to make the flags doesn’t seem to make too much difference- the cloth-like one seemed to hold up a little better.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated- the area is extremely breezy most days. Ideally it would be better of course to lower and raise the flag every day – anyone interested in that job? Let me know

The next installment : The trials and tribulations of “RECYCLING”

November 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm 5 comments

Am I from a different planet- cause I just don’t get it!!!! Penn State !

Penn State and football- I don’t understand any of it – is the success of college football now the GOD and moral gauge in this society? I will bet you anything you like they all went to church and prayed whilst one of them “preyed”. When did it become OK to sacrifice the innocent child on the altar of a winning football team?

I don’t understand the violent reaction of Penn State students and apparently some faculty thought the fact that “college football” is more important in the grand scheme of things than a child being sodomized!

I don’t get it that apparently they were grown men – with families of their own- turned a blind eye and let this happen and at the very best passed the buck.

The scandal has raised questions over whether Penn State officials put the interests of the university and its celebrated football program over those of children who were victims of sexual abuse.In his last hours as coach, Paterno lamented, “I wish I had done more.”
A series of missed opportunities

Sandusky, 67, is charged with 40 counts of abuse while he was a high-profile assistant to Paterno and during his work with The Second Mile. If convicted, he would face a maximum punishment of life in prison.

I don’t get it that even on my face book among people whom I used to respect were defending a “coach” with outrage at the unfairness of his situation!!!I notice they have removed those posts – bloody good job !

Yet the 23-page grand jury report is littered with instances in which university officials and other authorities failed to act, effectively allowing the list of victims to grow.

“Nothing stopped,” Pennsylvania Sate Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said this week.

In 1998, the mother of a young boy designated by the grand jury as “Victim 6” became suspicious when her son and Sandusky showed up at her home with wet hair. The boy, according to the grand jury report, acknowledged that he had showered with Sandusky, prompting the mother to call Penn State University police.

In a later conversation with Sandusky — with two university detectives listening in — the coach allegedly admitted hugging the boy while both were naked in the shower, the grand jury reported. “I was wrong,” Sandusky allegedly told the mother. “I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”

I don’t get it that a 28-year-old man – strong and healthy -witnessed the child being sodomized and walked away and waited to report it and then what happened ????

I don’t get it because I KNOW I would have reacted differently- is it because I as a mother would have launched myself at this guy- he would never be able to touch another child- that I know – Would you or would you be uncomfortable and turn a blind eye?

and yet the time line linked here this “sporting society” enabled the destruction of innocence and sacrificed children to big money and reputation:
was this allowed to go on because of a damned football team – a winning coach- and “I could lose my job scenario-”

Another potential missed opportunity to expose Sandusky, according to the grand jury, occurred in 2000, when a janitor allegedly witnessed Sandusky performing oral sex on a boy in the Penn State locker room showers.

The emotionally shaken janitor, who described the incident to co-workers that night, did not report the incident to authorities because he and others feared losing their jobs, the report says.

and then the student body riots because of the coaching staff being let go.

I am utterly disgusted at those that turned away from a child being raped – I have no punishment just enough for those that enabled and continue to defend these actions.

What is the world coming too? Any parent recognising their own child in those riot pictures needs to have a long talk with them over the holidays. I would be ashamed of any son or daughter putting a pig skin and a PIG- before a child……. Just another case of BECAUSE THEY CAN!!!!!

November 12, 2011 at 12:46 am 12 comments

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November 2011