Archive - Aug 2007
This afternoon, Judge Kravitz heard the final testimony regarding a preliminary injunction in the Avery Doninger case. He stressed the preliminary aspects of this and that he was only ruling on the constitutional aspects. Testimony ended around 5 PM and his thirty four page opinion was available on the courts website about forty five minutes later. He has denied the Doninger's request for relief.
In the opening paragraph, he states that 'Just about everyone but Avery agrees that the manner in which Avery expressed her frustration was offensive and inappropriate.'
Everyone is very broad and I do not fall within his bounds of 'just about everyone'. He recognizes that what Avery wrote was on a personal blog, but fails to consider that context in his ruling.
He states 'it contained at best misleading and at worse false information regarding the music festival'. In this, he accepts the testimony of the principal despite its contradictions. My understanding from Avery's testimony is that her blog post contained information that she considered accurate.
The crux of Judge Kravitz' decision is that if a student, at home, writes on a blog using words that some members of the school administration consider offensive, inappropriate, or inaccurate, the school is within its bounds to punish the student. This overly broad ruling is damaging to democracy.
Our forefathers who recognized that civil discourse, even when it uses less than civil words, is a cornerstone of our democracy must be rolling in our graves.
During his final comments, he noted that this case is one that is likely to find its way to the Supreme Court. He has just moved it one step closer and an appeal appears likely.
Over the past month, when I’ve had free moments here and there, I’ve been exploring virtual stock trading in Second Life. This article will provide a brief history of virtual trading in Second Life, a review of various virtual stock exchanges, and ideas for future trading development.
Today, I received a comment on my blog post Democracy is Scary entitled, know the facts that I think deserves addressing in a full post.
The commentator asserts that I am not “accurately representing the facts”. The first assertion of the commenter is that “the taxpayers are not paying for the administrators representation”. This is based on an apparent misunderstanding concerning who is paying directly for the lead attorney. The lead attorney, Thomas Gerarde as well as Katherine Rule, both of Howd & Ludorf, are being paid by the insurance company, Massamont Insurance. This does not mean that the taxpayers are off the hook. My understanding is that there is a deductible and may be limits to the amounts that are covered as part of the insurance policy. In addition, there is no way of knowing if this case will cause in increase in the premiums in the coming years. On top of that attorney Christine Chinni is paid by the school board and not by the insurance company. She has been at the hearings everyday, as well as at the Board of Education meeting on Monday evening.
Beyond this, I do agree with the commenter that we need to know the facts. Andy Thibault has been doing yeoman’s work trying to help us get to the facts. You can read about his latest effort in Many Public Records Still Under Wraps Since Aug 1. Andy has been trying hard to get the facts, and the school administration has been less than forthcoming. I hope that the commenter contacts the school administration and the school board and encourages them to be more forthcoming about the facts.
The commenter also asserts that “nearly all Principals and Superintendents in the state earn the same salaries”. A brief check of the The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents list of Connecticut Superintendent vacancies shows Canterbury is currently looking for a superintendent in the range of $108,000-$118,000. Region 16 is looking for a superintendent in the range of $130,000-$145,000. I’ve been told that Superintendent Scwartz is being paid considerably about the Region 16 range. However, I have yet been able to get details, and this is another area where Andy Thibault is trying to get information from the school administration.
I should also note that while I did live in Stamford (not Stanford, as the commenter suggests), I have moved to Woodbridge. Woodbridge is also a wealthy area that has spent a lot of money on renovations and on legal fees. My father-in-law, a retired U.S. Treasury Agent was part of a committee that investigated these costs. It is my belief, in line with the suggestion that we need to know the facts, that investigating construction costs and legal costs are an important part of the checks and balances that we need and that are too often lacking with regard to school boards.
I have no objection to the new auditorium. As I’ve spoken with taxpayers and voters in Region 10, they have all noted that the auditorium was needed. I am glad that it was built. I just hope to see that the costs are properly tracked and that it gets the sort of utilization that it deserves.
Life continues to be hectic as Fiona starts school, as we try to settle into our new house, as I continue to search for a job, as I do research for blog posts on the Doninger case, as well as for other posts that I hope to write soon.
When Fiona signed the Parent/Legal Guardian Permissions 2007-2008 form, there was a section acknowledging that Fiona was aware of the rules from the BRS Handbook, which Fiona needed to sign. Because of similar such material being exhibits in the Doninger case, I thought I would scan it in for our records, and post it on Flickr. (Click on the link above).
As Fiona got on the bus, the loyal watchcat made sure everything was fine.
Also, I heard from Beth Kanter, who is in Cambodia right now for the Bloggers’ Summit. She post an entry about he First Video Cambodian Video Blogger in Cambodia. Please, check it out, and welcome Virak.
As I’ve explored the blogosphere, I’ve met many wonderful people that I probably wouldn’t normally meet. One of them is Empress Bee. She describes herself as “conservative with liberal friends”. Well, as a liberal with conservative friends, I applaud that.
She is fighting cancer, with the sort of spirit I applaud and have come to expect from her. A friend made an image of a ribbon that sums it up nicely, “Faith, Love, and Cake”.