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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

New Fayette County Superintendent to Start August 1: Welcome Dr. Demetrus Liggins!

(Edited for redundancy and clarity, screen shot and PS added) 

Welcome, Dr. Demetrus Liggins, who will begin his position as superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools on August 1st!

 After a 5-month exhaustive search for new superintendent, Fayette County chose Dr. Liggins as our new superintendent two weeks ago.

He's got a proven track record, is quite the motivator, and apparently also well beloved at his former school system in Texas as a man of integrity - you can read more about his policy and philosophy his blog - HERE.

For the background history, our beloved superintendent, Dr. Emmanuel "Manny" Caulk, died suddenly in December (his aggressive cancer had returned).

Big shoes to fill, but but if anyone can do it, I've heard Dr. Liggins is the man for the job :)

Now, no, by the way - I'm not ignoring other current Fayette County Public School big news - and yes, it's true that FCPS's CFO, John White, has been fired.

I have to be careful, here, with my husband working at Central Office - but what I can say is that things are not always as they appear - and that it is my personal opinion that we now have a very strange school board, with one particularly vindictive and scary member -  whom I believe the interim superintendent, as much as I love her - may be acquiescing too much to, trying to please and appease?  ;)

In fact, because of the growing unnecessary political circus and possible legal fight over this CFO firing mess -  may I just say that because of the uncharacteristically poor way that FCPS interim leadership handled this  - what this looks like to outsiders-without-details versus reality?

For starters, as is painfully obvious from my blog, I'm a liberal Democrat - but I also am very fair, critically evaluate/independently think everything, and I can criticize my own when they deserve it, proving I'm definitely not brainwashed - and the individual person wearing the political hat plays a part, too.

Having said that, not only is it bad enough that our supposedly liberal school board is now all white - but there's one particularly vocal, hot-tempered, scary-vindictive male member of the school board that I refuse to claim as a fellow lib Dem lol.

In fact, it embarrasses me that this particular board member claims to be a liberal Democrat - because despite the political hat he wears and talking a good game to his constituents, it's become clear through his actions that he's not - in fact, he acts exactly like a Trumper, supporting a lot of Trump methodology and ideology.

It's also become very clear this board member is telling people of both parties what they want to hear, and just making a lot of noise to get attention/make a name for himself and gain power - including openly setting his sights on running for congress someday ;)

To be fair, unlike others I mention from FCPS, I've never met this school-board member, though I have heard private opinions from several people about him, on both political sides - and it's never positive - but as mentioned, I rarely make my opinions based on other people's opinions alone, as my experience with someone could be completely different from somebody else's experience. 

Thus, everything I'm about to say about the aforementioned school board member (below) has been publicly reported by the Lexington Herald Leader, with direct quotes and often with accompanying videos ...

... specifically by Valarie Honeycutt-Spears, who maintains a remarkable ability to objectively still report "just the facts," without injecting her opinion or speculation in her articles in any way, in a press world that has otherwise forgotten how to do so.

In fact, as a quick aside, my grandfather trusted virtually no national press but Walter Kronkite, and locally, he only trusted Valarie Honeycutt-Spears from the Lexington Herald Leader  ...

... and Sue Wylie from WLEX-18 who began the very popular shows "Noon Today" and "Your Government"  (a show upon which Valarie later appeared, on the press panel, to ask questions).

Initially hired to do fluff pieces on fashion and light-hearted community events at noon, to "add a feminine touch" to the noon news program to draw in more female- housewife viewers, Sue quickly proved she was actually anchor material, thus becoming the very first full-fledged female anchorwoman in Kentucky, and the first woman allowed to to write, edit, and produce her own shows and material - dramatically changing the format to a noon news show from brief boring facts OR total fluff, creating a balance between the two that rivaled the nighttime local news (though this noon program has essentially since switched to mostly fluff pieces with overly giggly hosts).  

In fact, at that time (1970s to 1990s), most central Kentuckians, male and female, watched the news at noon with Sue more than they watched the local evening news lol.

A big supporter of the UK School of Journalism, they have apparently since named a program in her honor? :)

And don't let the blond hair fool you, on either of them - they're both super sharp, professional women :)

Though very different styles, the reason my grandfather trusted these people is because they all have the same remarkable ability to just report the facts  impartially, without ever giving away their own political opinion or speculating, and both are very gifted at asking fair, pointed questions to both sides.

Sue, (now retired) especially had an unflappable ability to smile, stay calm and professional, and often used humor to disarm guests, to ease tension, or distract them from tirades to stay focused/move along with time, regardless of whatever crazy sh*t just happened, or was said right in front of her face on "Your Government," in Kentucky:)

(Sue especially is an idol of mine, after I briefly toyed with the idea of perhaps going into broadcast journalism in college, but decided against it - I didn't have the stuff.  And though I'm pretty fair, there's no way in heck I could remain that impartial, these days lol.  Screenwriting was where I was headed instead, had I continued on the writing path :)

As for Valarie and the CFO circus, apparently, John filed an open records request through the Lexington Herald Leader to get the full details of what was written down about his firing and have them published.

(Uh oh - typically the only reason people do that, have written allegations against them posted publicly themselves is pending legal action for wrongful termination, but we don't know.)

If you know Valarie's work, at first, you might think there's nothing special to it, as she writes in simple, short, unembellished, six-or-seven word sentences, often leaving space between them, so as to be absolutely clear, as well as emphasize and punctuate certain facts or give the accused a chance to response to accusations, without adornment - which is very effective.

And there's a method to the order she puts the info in - for example, in her recent article on the CFO's firing, after Valarie posted the entire list of accusations made by FCPS interim leadership, which included THIS: 

"A failure to inform the Superintendent of projected significant budget shortfalls due to decreases in funding in the areas of food service and pre-school."

She came down a space ... and then wrote THIS: 

"In April, White told school board members that despite getting the millions in federal COVID stimulus money, Fayette schools would ultimately face a future budget deficit if the school board doesn’t raise property taxes."   
"The board has not committed to a higher rate. The stimulus money can not be used for daily district expenses and is earmarked only to ease problems caused by the coronavirus"

In doing so, Valarie's not only allowing both sides their say - but more importantly, pointing out that both of those things cannot be true -  without actually saying so lol.

Most importantly, note how she casually added the link to her prior article written on that school board meeting where John gave them all warning, which she personally attended and reported on, just like, "Oh, by the way, here's a link to that meeting, where he said it, that I personally attended and reported on, if anyone's interested?" 

And if you follow that link - you can clearly see there's actually a screenshot of that meeting where John warned them about budget shortfalls  - with the acting interim superintendent and FCPS leadership clearly in attendance ... 

HAHAHA - genius, Valarie!

Like I said, she's no dummy.

As for who's who, I'll just say ...

Two of the women on the screen are the interim superintendent and FCPS leadership - everyone else is a school-board member. 

John, the fired CFO, is NOT on screen - he only piped in later, when addressed.

No, I'm NOT going to point out the aforementioned school board member or name him, but here's a hint he's the guy who claims to be a liberal Democrat, but he looks like a stereotypical angry young Republican and spoiled brat ;)

Now -  this is where that scary-vindictive board member comes in.

Back history, all of the following has all been publicly reported by press  - the above-mentioned school board member has:  

1) Threw literal temper tantrums and stormed out of public and press-only school board meetings or refused to vote, when he didn't get everyone in the room to vote his way, immediately.
2) Made repeated paranoid accusations without proof - particularly about both liberal Manny (deceased former superintendent) and conservative John (the fired CFO) - about supposed "lack of transparency." (However, again, IMO, more likely because both men refused to give in to his tantrums ;)
3) Pushed Manny to let the children return to school last fall, but Manny stood his ground and refused, stating it was too soon, preferring to err on the side of caution, to keep the children safe, until COVID numbers started to fall.


Number 3 resulted in a petition being passed around - of course led by the above-mentioned school-board member - to have Manny removed. 
But when Manny died, of course, this person was all over the news and social media, acting like Manny was his best friend, leading memorials ;).

I laughed when I saw that guy do that - I mean, the gall of this guy.

Not even a shred of guilt or remorse, for all the extra stress and hell he'd put Manny through just before he died - in fact, acting like they were best friends all along.

And poor Valarie - how she can report all of this stuff without an inkling of personal opinion, shock, horror, disgust, or even a hint of sarcasm is beyond me -  kudos, Girl.  

(See, this is why I never would've made it in journalism lol :)

Back to the CFO situation - this is my personal opinion on the information I have thus far, as I see it, from the outside, and I'm going to shoot straight to both sides, neither of whom may like everything I say - knowing personally several of the parties involved, but without divulging confidential information told to me -  and still giving as much legitimacy as I can to both perspectives.

First, on a personal note - we had become personal friends with John - and he knows very well that the reason we stopped communicating with him during COVID was due to his increasingly injecting off-the-deep-end support for conspiracy-theories into casual conversation - particularly regarding the COVID "hoax" and mask mandates at work - beliefs that he knew were opposite of ours, he'd been told many times, as well as that we didn't want to discuss them.

In fact, we tried to warn him, worrying that he may be delving too far into this conspiracy stuff, and that it was starting to affect both his mood and his interpersonal communication, both personally and professionally, and that if he didn't settle down, he could say something to the wrong person and this could happen -  which he could then not later call "political targeting" and "cancel culture" - because it would be actually self-fulfilling prophecy.

In other words, his increasingly "swinging" demeanor between being non-communicative and increasingly open hostility over mask-wearing mandates was getting out of control - but at the same time, when it came to doing his job of managing the school budget well and putting the kids' needs first, he always did the right thing, IMO - he was one hell of a good CFO.

Because interestingly enough, as quoted by the Herald Leader above, it was conservative John who repeatedly asked the school board for school taxes to be raised, in order to cover COVID losses that state didn't cover, but the school board - led by the above mentioned "supposedly" fellow lib Dem asshat - repeatedly refused - and now that the CFO's predictions came true, just as he said - they fire him instead of commend him?!?


Now, ain't THAT a kick in the head and a mind-bender - the conservative CFO said that state gov COVID money wasn't going to cover all of the shortfalls, so we'd have to raise school taxes to cover them - but the liberal school board said no - then tried to blame him for "not disclosing" budget shortfalls that he actually warned against/predicted, if they didn't take action.

Not only is that politically backwards, but especially interesting, because not only have I personally heard John say that myself, but at school board meetings and press articles - including what Valarie witnessed herself and stated in her last article - but okay :)

Considering this school-board member's attitude towards both Manny (a liberal) and John (a conservative), is it possible that this firing was more about a hot-headed school-board member's personal vendetta towards anyone that didn't cave to his temper tantrums, rather than John's job performance OR his politics?

It's possible, but who can say, it's likely multifaceted - but this is why I say, never say never, on either side of politics, despite what hat they wear, I'm telling ya.

Because the moment we put too much trust in one political side or the other is the moment some asshat out for his own glory will take advantage of that trust.

Sound familiar and like a certain former president we all know?

Check - only this person is supposedly on our political side, the Liberal/Democrat side :/

Yes, I believe firing the CFO was a grave mistake - the result of which I fear will only strengthen the former CFO's paranoia and political opinions about Democrats, and be misconstrued as "political targeting" and "cancel culture" instead of what it really likely is - mostly a personal vendetta by one scary-vindictive school-board member :(

See there, folks?  

These things aren't always as simple as black/white or Republican/Democrat politics - they're often more complex than  that, including many layers, individual personalities, and self-fulfilling prophecies involved, too - but the involved players will use those politics as cover/excuse, when it suits them ;) 



As an interesting side note, we spoke to four people from Central Office today privately - who brought up this subject, we didn't. 

I'll never tell names, but:  

1)  All four are liberal Democrats.  
2)  Mix of white and black. 
3)  Only one knew of John's politics and anti-mask stance.

Interestingly - all four brought up the subject, stating that John was wrongfully fired.

They also added "Manny never would've fired him" and the terms "railroaded" and "got the shaft" and "took the fall for the board's mistakes, which he actually tried to warn them against - this is SO wrong" were used.

Additionally, 3 out of the 4 mentioned the actual reason for his firing wasn't his job performance OR his politics, but likely interim leadership's fear of the above-mentioned board member, who targets the job anyone who does not cater to his temper tantrums.

They also mentioned a likely pending legal battle which FCPS could lose, as well as how both sides were likely now going to run to their political affiliations and press for support, though it isn't about political party or race - it's about internal politics and personal vendettas - mostly by that board member.

See?  Unlike Trumpers, most of us liberals/Democrats actually DO mean it, when we say we want people treated equally and fairly under the law and to do the right thing - even when it's a Trumper, whom we know wouldn't do the same for us ;) 

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