Thursday, November 7, 2013


If you came to today’s bloggy thing looking for comics or other pop
culture content, come back tomorrow.  Because today, I’m all about
the politics, and local Medina politics at that.

I’m delighted to report that the most grievously needed Medina City
Schools Additional Tax Levy passed with 57.99% of the vote.  This
money means the district won’t be closing a fine elementary school
and won’t be reorganizing its elementary schools into single-grade
schools.  There are lots of other benefits to this win.  Here’s a
partial list, courtesy of the Medina Schools Outrage Page:

7 Reading Intervention Teachers
6 Counselors
3 Gifted Intervention Specialists
5 ENCORE Teachers (physical education, music & art - full-time)
High School/Middle School Electives
Safety & Security
Busing (back to 1-mile/currently at 2-mile limit); approximately
2,800 students would receive transportation services
Support Staff
OTES - Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (unfunded mandate by the
State of Ohio requiring a new evaluation system for teaching staff)

There has been a suggestion that with the passage of the levy, the
Medina School Outrage Page should change its name to Medina Schools
Outreach Page, but, as I posted, I like the name of this page, what
with outrage pretty much being my default setting.

Speaking of outrage...

Here’s what I posted yesterday:

I'm delighted the levy has passed, less delighted that the voters
missed an opportunity to add diversity to the board. When the last
of the old board is shown the door, I hope their replacements are
Angie Kovacs and Ron Ross.

Let's not forget that following the lead of the Medina elite, the
Medina well-connected, is what got us in this mess. Keep on the new
board members for accountability, for transparency and for giving
actual reasons for whatever actions they take.

Let me explain that for the non-Medina residents in my bloggy thing

For several years, Medina was unable to pass a school levy.  There
were several reasons for this.  The way schools are funded in the
state of Ohio is unconstitutional, was declared unconstitutional a
number of years ago and the GOP-controlled state government hasn’t
done a damn thing to fix it.  The GOP has been more concerned with
promoting voter suppression of voters not likely to vote for them,
attacking the rights of women and gays, making sure fetuses can
carry guns into the delivery room and, most important, engaging in
gerrymandering to insure that, even though the GOP get a minority
of the votes in this state, it still sends a majority of its party
to the United States House of Representatives. 

Aside from the state government’s role in making the school levies
a hard sell, Medina has more than its fair share of citizens who
won’t vote for anything that doesn’t benefit them directly and are
too cheap and clueless to understand that strong schools benefit a
community in so many ways, including keeping property values high.
We also have our fair share of Tea Party morons who have been duped
into hating government by wealthy men and organizations to whom a
anemic government is essential to the fulfillment of their obscene
greed and plundering.

Closer to home, we have what I call the “Medina Elite.”  They are
the arrogant clique of your school days.  They are well-connected
and they get what they want.  They don’t like explaining themselves
to the common citizens and they don’t much care what those outside
their clique think.  Our school board has been and still is filled
with members of the Medina Elite. 

Former Medina Schools Superintendent Randy Stepp was the chosen of
the Medina Elite.  They fast-tracked this creep from vice-principal
of a middle school to principal of the high school to the position
from which he’s being fired.  Steep got a ridiculously high salary
and insane perks, which he supplemented by using district funds for
his school loans.  I detailed my problems with Stepp a short while
ago and you can read them here.

The only reason Stepp got what he got and got away with how he got
it was because the teachers union was tipped off to irregularities
committed by Stepp and the school board and got access to certain
documents and information.  If Stepp had not been exposed, if the
school board had not been shown to have violated sunshine laws in
its final contact negotiations with Stepp, the citizens of Medina
would have remained unaware of their wrongdoing and the levy would
not have passed.  We owe the levy passage to our terrific teachers
and to the citizens who publicized their outrage over the conduct
of Stepp and the school board. 

When this mess started, the school board was made up of members of
the Medina Elite.  Two members resigned and they were replaced by
members chosen by the remaining school board members, those who had
engaged in the arrogant wrongdoing that has hurt our school system
for so long.  A third member announced he would not run again.  As
the levy vote drew closer, the two remaining board members who had
been complacent in Stepp’s plundering announced they would resign
from the school board in January and May of 2014.  I don’t believe
the levy would have passed otherwise.

The “new” school board will consist of those two holdovers, the two
incumbents they chose and a man who is as Medina Elite connected as
they come.  Has anything really changed?

When those resigning board members leave in January and May, their
replacements will be selected by the two incumbents they chose and
“Mr. Old Medina.” Considering Kovacs and Ross each received nearly
4000 votes, they would be the ethical and logical choices for the
two positions.  This would please me because I felt and continue to
feel they would add much needed non-Elite diversity to the school
board.  I don’t expect to be pleased.

If we want our Medina school district, if we want our community to
excel, we have to go beyond the Elite, beyond the well-connected.
Business as usual puts us right back where we started.  The school
board cannot be allowed to add more of the same to its membership.
The school board cannot be allowed to anoint another Randy Stepp as
its new superintendent.  The citizens have to micro-manage the new
school board.  As much as the board and its new members may want to
believe this, they have not earned back our trust.  All they have
truly earned is the chance to earn back our trust.

There are many heroes in this story, but I’m going to close with my
thanks to John Leatherman, the president of the Medina teachers
organization who courageously exposed the wrongdoing of Stepp and
the Mark Kuhar, who launched the Medina Schools Outrage
Page and gave a loud voice to the all those who went to
the board meeting and challenged the board at every turn...and to
all those who spoke against the wrongdoing online and among their
friends and neighbors.  I am so proud of you.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more comics stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. I loved this! Your observations are dead-on!

  2. We are a big enough district that we should have a Board that represents our district; affluent to middle-class and yes, even poor.

  3. There still needs to be some house cleaning at MCS: there are at least 3 admins who are very destructive, and very well-paid. Citizens need to look past saving money immediately and look at the Big Picture, like the next 5-10 years and beyond. Band Aids fall off. Far as I'm concerned, schools are infrastructure. Roots are being hacked out instead of pruning branches.