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Board President Plays the Victim - Community Doesn't Buy It Print E-mail
News - Opinion
Written by Jack Porter Jr.   
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 22:43

UPDATED 9:00am 2/25/2015

EDITORIAL - Political apathy seemed to disappear from Madera at least for one night at the Madera Unified School District's board of trustee meeting. Board president Maria Garcia and her puppet master, Bob Garibay, made their second attempt to remove Superintendent Ed Gonzales from his job in the last two months. This time, however, they met a little resistance from something called THE COMMUNITY.

The strings that Bob uses to control Maria must have been broken last night because Garibay was controlling the show, while Garcia, like a good dummy, just sat quietly in her chair. From the start Garibay wanted the community to know that all of the hubbabaloo was about a typo on the boards closed session agenda.

According to Garibay, it was only time for Superintendent Ed Gonzales annual employee review and that he never meant for the public to be concerned with the other words on the agenda like Discipline, Dismissal, Release, Reassignment or Resignation. Garibay said the mistake was his and his alone. DUH!

There wasn't one person in that board room that thought president Maria Garcia was smart enough to even attempt to pull off a second coup d'├ętat. Heck even Garibay wasn't smart enough to pull it off but he sure did give it a try. Once he was done with his "awe shucks I made a mistake", he moved right into the meat of the Garcia/Garibay attack on Ed Gonzales except the superintendent wasn't the only target.

Garibay announced that there was an investigation into the actions of both Gonzales and his associate superintendent Victor Villar that began on January 7, 2015. Both men were accused of being mean to board president Garcia and hurting her feelings. Villar was also accused of yelling at another employee that teared up when she read his ALL CAP emails. Garcia's biggest complaint is that Gonzales wouldn't approve the district to pay for Maria's in-room movies at a hotel in San Francisco. Or something just as trivial.

In the end even Maria and Bob's supporters on the board turned on them, calling the investigation ridiculous. I think the reason new board members Brent Fernandes and Al Galvin changed their tune was the lynch mob in the audience that spilled over into an outdoor theater of people in the parking lot.

When it came time for the audience to speak about the investigation it was a who's who of community leaders, former district employees and current teachers. Everyone of them spoke out supporting Gonzales and Villar. I am sure hoping that Fernandes realized that playing in Bob Garibay's sandbox can be quite uncomfortable, you know sand in the shorts uncomfortable. If he didn't, well in four years there will be someone new sitting in his seat. Hey Brent remember Lynn Cogdill and Marcia Hall? Me neither.

In a summary of the investigation no wrong doing was proven and the investigators did not follow the boards instructions to investigate wrong doings by the board president. If you want to review any of those allegations just read the pages of emails between Gonzales and Garcia we uncovered earlier this week. (Link at bottom of this page)

Being that I chose to write this as an editorial I get to insert my opinions in this piece. That is the price the folks at the board meeting paid by me not speaking during the meeting. Many on the board called this a case of he said, she said. They may be right but there is more to it.

If Maria Garcia is going to live in the public-eye she needs to grow a thicker skin. One of the emails I uncovered spoke of a restraining order she wanted the district to file to keep some noisy reporter from asking her questions. While I will never know the true identity of that reporter since the name was redacted by the district's hired-gun I mean attorney Kevin Dale, I am pretty sure that reporter had to be Bill Coate. He can be ruthless when getting to the bottom of a story.

The truth about Maria Garcia is she tried to play the victim card and when her motives were questioned, blamed the fact she was a woman and Gonzales was a man for the conflict. She never once thought that is was because she was wrong. She didn't have a credit card of her own to cover her expenses. Instead of demanding a district credit card, apply for one of your own Maria. That is what grown ups do.

There have been many women with powerful positions in Madera that have never played the victim card when things got tough. In the audience was former Madera Mayor Margaret Medellin. I remember when Marge was on the city council in the 80's and fellow councilmember's Roy Ben Lyons and Eddie Boyle tried to take her on over a sewer trunk near where Alpha School now stands. Mrs. Medellin never said, "Hey no fair, I am a woman you can't talk to me like that".

I never heard Gail McIntyre on the Madera County Board of Supervisors complain of being a victim of the good old boys club. Dr. Sally Frasier at the Madera County Department of Education ran her department for 24 years and never once played the victim card.

Another local woman that excelled in the public arena and who I often hear referred to as the best superintendent in Madera Unified's forty-nine year history (sorry Dr. Furman) but Dr. Juila O'Kane. When a certain board member who's name we will keep "secret" (like the sauce) asked an inappropriate questions about the former superintendent's personal life, O'Kane stood her ground and put that board member in his place. She didn't cry, "Why are they all bullying me?"

It would have been nice to see Maria actually run tonight's meeting because the whole community would have seen someone that just does not have what it takes to run a $60 million school district as president of the board. And it is not because she is a woman. It's because she does not have the intelligence or confidence to do the job. That is an accurate assessment of her ability to run a meeting. Show up next time and you will see.

How much did tonight's meeting cost the taxpayers of Madera? I don't know but I am sure when the attorney's from Garcia, Hernandez, Sawhney and Bermudez, LLP send us their bill we could have paid for a few more advanced placement or college prep classes at the high schools with that money.

The community that showed up last night needs to stay awake and never allow two people to take over a board or council in this town again. You people need to be your own watchdogs for the people you elect to represent you. Or in the case of the Madera City Council, don't elect. Do you realize that not one person on the Madera City Council was elected to the position in which they now serve?

Why? No one ran against them. Even Al Galvin on the MUSD board of trustees didn't face an opponent and was appointed without election.

Don't expect Big Valley News or the Madera Tribune to catch everything going wrong with our elected boards. It is also your responsibility to be vigilant and make sure your representatives are really representing your interests and not just  their own petty squabbles.

Maria Garcia and Bob Garibay are to blame for this fiasco going on presently in the district but ultimately fault needs to fall on the voters who keep sending them back every election cycle. Do we really need another Lynn Cogdill, voted-in because the voters thought he was someone else?

Do your homework, Madera, turn off "The Batchelor" and "American Idol" and pay attention to what is really important.

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