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Friday, October 30, 2009

smith v. board of education (part 3).

This post is the third of a multi-part series that will be published over the next week. Part 1 was posted on October 26, 2009Part 2 was posted on October 28, 2009and Part 4 was posted on November 3, 2009.

June 22, 1999: After being forced to leave a meeting due to conflict of interest, it was decided that Liz LoVecchio, Jennifer Pollock and Judy Tilston needed to submit their legal bills to an arbitrator before they could have them paid by the Calgary Board of Education (CBE). The motion was passed unanimously by the four remaining trustees. The question for the arbitrator was whether the trustees acted as members of the board or as individuals when controversial letters written by a school board candidate were given to a reporter during last year's election campaign. If they acted as a board, their legal fees would be covered by the CBE, but if they acted as individuals, the CBE would not cover the cost.

While leaving the meeting, Pollock declared it to be a "travesty of fairness" because "the administration and CBE Chair [Teresa Woo-Paw] would not provide legal support on an action that was taken on behalf of this board and known by the chief superintendent." Smith said the CBE had already received a $12,300 legal bill from its own lawyer for the inquiry and wouldn't name a trustee who also submitted an $18,000 legal bill.

July 15, 1999: Despite calls for her resignation, Tilston declared that "couldn't care less" about the demands for her resignation by Danielle Smith and Peggy Anderson. Tilston told the Calgary Herald that she had been wrongly blamed for breaching provincial privacy laws by ordering former CBE trustee candidate Andrew Koeppen letters released to the media.

The matter was then investigated by Alberta's Privacy Commissioner. A hearing was scheduled for later that year to determine if the letters contained personal information. If so, Tilston and other trustees could have been liable for a fine up to $10,000, and a lawsuit.

July 29, 1999: After being told by CBE administrators that it would be too expensive to host on the CBE's official site, Anderson and Smith launched their own website to publish board reports, discussion papers and agendas. The two trustees drew the ire of their colleagues after not informing them of their decision to launch the website.

August 8, 1999: A collection of notes are discovered in a CBE trash bin and are published by the Alberta Report, the Herald, and the National Post:

- One of the notes is addressed to "Lizard," and another writes Ms. Tilston's name five times, as if someone was practising writing it.
- One note refers to Ms. Woo-Paw as a despot, and a second one says "TWP absolutely nauseates me."
- Another note accuses "DS"-- an apparent reference to Ms. Smith -- of having "crappy hair," while a fourth note has the authors conspiring to recruit people to oppose Ms. Smith politically. "I have to find a constituent to write a formal letter of complaint," the short missive says. "Any ideas?"
- A note in response includes the names of two potential complainants, each of whom "lives in DS's ward." But the note says the pair may be too high-profile, and so it may be better to recruit "someone more obscure."
- Saying "I've decided to apply for aides for DS and PA, as they appear to be slow learners."
- Questioning whether Ms. Anderson is wearing a "mood ring," and is "more distant and pissed-off than usual."
- Describing Ms. Pollock as looking like she has "stitches or a scar" on her face.
- Asking where "the FCD (an apparent reference to Ms. Woo-Paw) got her suit -- it sure is ugly!"
- Saying "the FCD is being decidedly pissy this evening, as is her sidekick."
- Asking "what's trustee-half-a- brain is doing?"
Woo-Paw reminded trustees to abide by their code of conduct, which prohibited malicious behaviour. Smith told the Herald that she had seen the notes and believed the hand-writing was Tilston's and LoVecchio's. "Judy and Liz pass notes back and forth all the time" at board meetings. It's a shame people are so petty when there is such important work to be done on the school board."

August 9, 1999: Reported in the Herald:
The Calgary Board of Education voted Monday to punish two members who've been writing nasty notes about their colleagues at public meetings.
But only one of the two has admitted responsibility, and neither has apologized to her colleagues, board chairwoman Teresa Woo-Paw said after the board met privately.
Woo-Paw said her colleagues voted to have her write letters of reprimand later this week to the trustees, telling them their behaviour breached the board's code of ethics.
Although Woo-Paw refused to name the two trustees, one acknowledged her role last week.
"The only way somebody could've got hold of these (notes) was either they ruffled through garbage and pieced them back together, or they stole them from me," Liz LoVecchio said.
All the notes are in two handwriting styles that some board members have said match LoVecchio's and trustee Judy Tilston's. Tilston has refused to comment.
This post is the third of a multi-part series that will be published over the next week. Part 1 was posted on October 26, 2009, and Part 2 was posted on October 28, 2009, and Part 4 was posted on November 3, 2009.

13 comments:

calgaryrants.com said...

Great Work Dave... I love the references about 'Crappy Hair' and "ugly suits'. Its just too darn funny my friend.

Thanks for Digging up these bones...but I am sure some of these people would have preferred they stay in the closet.

Anonymous said...

This backstory shines a light on why Albertans don't trust the Alberta Liberal Party. People like LoVecchio, Tilston and Pollock have demonstrated disgraceful conduct at the lower levels of government and no one wants to see folks like them running the province.

I'm surprised a (former?) Liberal like Daveberta would rehash all of this. So far it seems to show Danielle Smith as a principled and integrity based politician, who does the right thing on behalf of the voters, even when it means being going against the grain.

I'm very hopeful for Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Alliance. Alberta's politics despartely need some change and she seems like a good person to help bring that change about.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, very interesting, and helpful considering most politicians behave as someone with a multiple personality disorder in that they have a public and private face and that the two are somehow mutually exclusive of each other.

Brian Dell said...

"nasty notes"!!

Say it ain't so!
I would express my dismay but it might just be my mood ring.

Anonymous said...

Not gonna chime in with another deep thought like "crazy bitches!" this time Brian?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like stupidity all around. None of the trustees looked good after this.

Colin said...

Great series. Dave. Keep up the great work.

Brian Dell said...

Now now that's a "nasty note" right there about bdell, anon 3:18! I've never referred to a group of ladies in less than chivalrous terminology!

Brian Dell said...

In any case, we should refrain from judging the scribblers too harshly. As removed as we are in time and place from the spectacle of TWP's ensemble and DS's coiffure, who are we to say a catty remark or two was not entirely warranted?

Mark Francis said...

Reprimand trustees for exchanging private notes? Um, no. Silly.

Anonymous said...

Today is halloween and Danielle Smith is the most scary being I've seen online. She's ideological, extreme, and all about herself.

My vote stays parked with the PC party, not the wild and crazy alliance.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dave, for reminding me of this delightful story. You know, on the strength of Ms. Smith's digging through the CBE trashcan for a scoop, plus her willingness to cross picket lines, she was hired by the Calgary Herald a few days before the strike at that paper, which began a 10 years ago next week. For this she was known universally among the Herald's staff, even some of her fellow scabs, as "Trash-Can Dani."

Anonymous said...

Danielle Smith. Not fit for public office!