I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, April 27, 2012

Why Newspapers Are Dying: Perth Amboy Edition

Whoo, boy:
PERTH AMBOY – In an exclusive interview with School Board Member Israel Varela said he puts his money where his mouth is.“What is the most important to me are the students, community and school staff,” states Israel Varela. Varela was responding to the allegations brought up by the Superintendent accusing him of going to her to try to place his friends in jobs in the school system.
“If Dr. Caffrey could produce evidence of this infraction I will resign immediately. If not, I think she should resign effective immediately.”
Varela also stated that Dr. Caffrey has been misinforming the public. He named one case in which the Superintendent claimed that an employee of the school system was on drugs and because of tenure she was not able have her removed. “First of all if someone is on drugs they must be taken to the hospital and it has to documented and those documents must be brought before the Board. Again, show me the proof, Dr. Caffrey! (The documentations of this occurring.) And again I will resign immediately. If not, you need to leave!”
“There was also an incident where a staff member reportedly washed out a student’s mouth out with soap according to Dr. Caffrey which turned out to be totally untrue.” Varela stated that this incident occurred two years before Caffrey was hired, “And I knew who the educator was that was falsely accused. As a matter of fact, this child was acting up in school and the students grandfather showed up to the school to see what the problem was. After being told about his grandchild’s being disrespectful in class, the grandfather proceeded to take something out of his pocket and put it in the child’s mouth which turned out to be a small bar of soap. This action was done so quickly that the teacher did not even notice it. The teacher was not aware of what was actually put into the child’s mouth until the object was spit out by the student. If we Board Members did not find out the truth, that teacher would have been fired. This was just one instance of a case that Dr. Caffrey jumped the gun and was about dismiss an educator before finding out the facts.”
“Money is not being spent wisely. Dr. Caffrey should take a look at what programs are currently being used to educate our students and see if they can be updated instead of displacing them completely with brand new ones.”
“I do not view Dr. Caffrey as constantly going to the media as being professional.”
This comes from a little hyper-local in Perth Amboy: The Amboy Guardian. Yes, the writing could stand a little polishing (I know what it's like to regret not having an editor). The paper itself admits it's "quirky." But guess what? Unlike the op-ed pages of the Star-Ledger, this little outlet is willing to give both sides of the story; here's part of their interview with Caffrey:
Amboy Guardian: In the beginning Sam Lebreault was your biggest cheerleader. When did you notice a change in his attitude toward you from positve to negative?
Janine Walker Caffrey: About September 21, 2011 an investigation of Sam Lebreault began in the Attorney General’s Office. Lebreault then started to bring a list of 14 allegations against me. After a lengthy process there was a special meeting on Saturday, October 29, 2011. That morning there was a snowstorm. At that meeting it was discussed about the issues at hand. I thought things were going well. I began to have discussions with every Board Member individually.
AG: When did Sam Lebreault approach you about hiring his friends for district jobs?
JWC: Sam Lebreault attempted to hire the individual in June after I was appointed but before I officially started to work as a superintendent.
AG: Is there any proof of Lebreault asking you to hire his friends for district jobs? How was this communicated? Phone? Email? Person? at a school or non-school function? Was there any witnesses?
JWC: I cannot get into specifics because of ongoing legal investigations.
Following this is an interview with another school board member, in which he drops a fairly big bombshell:
I am really blessed to have the Board attorney looking out for me. Since I have close relatives that are still employed in the district. I will not be a part of the voting process in determining the outcome of Dr. Caffrey’s employment. I fear if we let Dr. Caffrey go we will lose the new High School. The state will look upon the Board as wasting taxpayers dollars because we do not know how to manage our own money. Then the state will not give us a new High School. [emphasis mine]
That's an interesting new wrinkle, to say the least.

Again: I have no idea who is a fault here. But this little paper/website is willing to do what Tom Moran is not: give both sides of the story. They haven't pre-judged the matter before the facts are all in.

For all their faults, I find myself admiring the journalistic ethics of small outlets like this more than the big boys.

1 comment:

Ken Houghton said...

"AG: Is there any proof of Lebreault asking you to hire his friends for district jobs?...

JWC: I cannot get into specifics because of ongoing legal investigations."

Note the wording. Not "I provided some information of one or more of those types to ongoing investigations" but rather "I cannot get into specifics..."

Really tired of this kind of stuff from Cerf/Christie appointees; all "tough" and "firm" and "strong" until they actually have to answer a question.