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Column

It's lovely (yawn) when they play nicely

By SUE CARLTON
Published October 10, 2007


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They came.

They saw.

They "visioned."

But at a workshop Tuesday for the Hillsborough School Board, nobody demanded anybody else's resignation. No one on the board gave an ominous you're-with-us-or-you're-against-us warning to a colleague. And nobody slammed out of the room like a 6-year-old.

And to all of this I say ... yawn.

No, no, I'm kidding.

Certainly, this is the way our elected officials are supposed to behave. This is how our government is meant to look: people treating each other civilly despite wide philosophical differences.

But you've got to admit, things were livelier at the previous "visioning" back in August.

(About that irksome term, "visioning." Does it bother anyone that the folks at the head of a school system that teaches close to 200,000 kids throw around this uber-trendy nonword? When plain old "planning" or "setting priorities" would work? Just asking.)

Anyway, for a board with important business that frankly can be about as interesting to watch as a cold bowl of oatmeal, things got hot in the last go-round.

Newbie April Griffin had already flashed an independent streak to a group that prefers to get along.

She and a colleague broke ranks by giving the superintendent some low marks. Griffin also raised questions about the principal appointment process. In short, she made it clear she didn't get elected to walk in lockstep.

So at the workshop, board member Jennifer Faliero told Griffin to change her style and "learn to swallow your medicine" or she might find herself on the loser end of votes.

Griffin said she wasn't buying it.

Then came my personal nominee for Best Recent Over-The-Top Statement By A Local Pol - at least until last week, when Hillsborough Commissioner Jim Norman lamented the death of his wrong-time-wrong-place-wrong-price $40-million sports park with a sorrowful: "From the bottom of my heart, kids lost today."

Faliero told Griffin, "Then you need to resign."

Come again?

Griffin stormed out and said she would not return for the next session, which is more action than a School Board gathering has seen in ages, and all during an alleged "team-building" exercise.

Griffin later said she needed to leave to avoid saying something regrettable. To her credit, she acknowledged she should have gone back in there that day to "have a seat at the table."

Also to her credit, she showed up Tuesday.

Both she and Faliero gamely participated, even when the activity at hand involved trying to get a pendulum to move with their minds, if I understood the exercise correctly.

Now, I admit I do not speak fluent bureaucratese. But for the record, it seemed like the board made some honest progress Tuesday on things like a strategic plan, an action plan and policy change.

I know - cold oatmeal. But in government, sometimes boring might be best.

[Last modified October 10, 2007, 00:24:16]


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