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Thread: Is the website WaylandSchoolCommittee.org legal and appropriate?

  1. #166
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    Mar 2008
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    Steve,

    Iím having a hard time understanding what you get out of this.
    You donít live in Wayland any more, youíre retired, I believe(?)

    So why do you spend your time going onto a forum in a town many miles away that you used to live in, insulting someone youíve never even met? Whereís the thrill in that?

    Shouldnít you be enjoying the beach and reading and having fun, positive experiences with people in your new digs?

    Your insults donít bother me, except that I think they reflect badly on you, and I worry about you.
    In a post above you said that I should let it go or give it a rest or some such thing. You would do well to heed your own advice.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  2. #167
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    Jul 2008
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    Ordinarily, I wouldn't deign to respond to Mr. Flaherty's post, but since it's as fascinating as it is silly, I can't resist. Let me take his points in order:

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    I’m having a hard time understanding what you get out of this.
    No suprise about Mr. Flaherty's having a "hard time understanding". I suppose that, as a general matter, I can't abide what I consider pomposity, duplicity, smugness, willful ignorance or faulty English usage. So, for me, this is just plain fun when I'm exposed to one or more of these.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    You don’t live in Wayland any more, you’re retired, I believe(?). So why do you spend your time going onto a forum in a town many miles away that you used to live in, insulting someone you’ve never even met? Where’s the thrill in that?
    Wayland was my home for 37 years, and I served on the School Committee for 15 of them. I no longer live in Wayland, but I have friends there, and through the Internet, I'm only a mouse-click away and can enjoy remaining close in cyberspace.

    As far as "insulting someone you've never even met" (by which I assume Mr. Flaherty means himself), I don't consider my comments in response to his posts "insulting". And even though I've not met Mr. Flaherty, neither have I met Glenn Beck, Mel Gibson, or Richard Wagner, but I don't see why that would disqualify me from expressing my disdain for their ideas. Through Mr. Flaherty's many posts on this site and (under what I believe to be a variety of aliases on the Town Crier website), I've come to enjoy puncturing what I would charitably call his hyper-sanctimony.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Shouldn’t you be enjoying the beach and reading and having fun, positive experiences with people in your new digs?
    All that and more. But enjoying such things and challenging Mr. Flaherty's spins aren't mutually exclusive.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Your insults don’t bother me ....
    I'll try harder.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    ...except that I think they reflect badly on you, and I worry about you.
    Hilarious. This comment exceeds even my ability to mock.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    In a post above you said that I should let it go or give it a rest or some such thing. You would do well to heed your own advice.
    Mr. Flaherty might be on to something here. After all, even a broken clock is right twice per day. Indeed, this thought caused me to reflect on whether - since I'm no longer a Wayland resident - I'm eligible to continue posting on this Discussion Forum. I've raised this question with the Board.
    Last edited by Steve Perlman; 09-10-2010 at 12:44 PM.

  3. #168
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    Dec 2005
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    Steve -

    We've never met, but I'd sure like to. Your mix of humor and bite are a joy to read. I for one would be sad to see you go from this board, and hope that you will continue to contribute.

    Begin philosophical waxing People who have nothing good to say should learn to say nothing. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case here. Mr. F's view of the world is grossly distorted, and no amount of evidence or fact based discussion is likely to change him. I've decided not to address him directly in any of my posts (for whatever that's worth) as it just doesn't have any return on investment. An epiphony that I've had recently is that many of the negative nay-sayers in Wayland suffer from a complete lack of trust of anyone (except perhaps other other nay-sayers). Who knows. Maybe they're right, but I don't choose to live my life that way. I prefer to assume that people are basically honest, want to do the right thing, and don't willfully mislead others for personal gain. Sure, I'll be wrong some percentage of the time, and will get burned as a result. In those cases, I learn a lesson, and move on. With any luck, I'll not wind up a bitter old man who picks cyber-fights with others whose intentions are good, but whose ideas are different from mine. End waxing

    Enjoy the rest of the "nice weather" days. They are few in number, and frankly, winter sucks.

    Carl

  4. #169
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    Carl,

    I'd enjoy meeting you also, although I'm not sure how likely that is since we're now in retirement mode and splitting our time between Cape Cod and San Francisco (my goal is never again to see a snowflake).

    I agree entirely with your "philosophical waxing". After 40 years in the worlds of work, local politics, and (briefly) the Army, my experience has been that the great majority of people try to do their best with sincerity, straight-forwardness and good will. They succumb to occasional lapses and errors of judgment, but these are relatively few. Some folks, however, are congenital malcontents and paranoiacs who are blind to the 98% that's positive about something (e.g., our school system) and obsess instead on the other 2%. (I'm not, of course, referring to certain national politicians/pundits who are venal or have otherwise embraced the forces of destructiveness, nor am I referring to the substantial number of Americans who are just plain crazy.) At this stage of my life, I have no desire to have contact with such people, and I'm fortunate enough to be able to avoid dealing with them.

    And now, back to the beach ....

    Steve
    Last edited by Steve Perlman; 09-11-2010 at 02:36 PM.

  5. #170
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    I thought that readers of this forum would appreciate an excerpt from an exchange on the Town Crier site:
    http://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland/t...#axzz1EntrYwAZ

    @Parents, you write: 'Evidently Mr. Dieffenbach wishes to send his web proxies here to deflect discussion.' This is an outright lie on your part--I've sent exactly ZERO people to the Town Crier discussion forum to post (nor have I EVER posted anonymously on a Wayland-related web site). This is also a non-sensical statement on your part for two reasons: one, 'cleareyes...' was the very first poster on this thread (so how could I have 'sent' him/her?), and two, there are more posters here (8+, some in admitted violation of the Terms of Use) sympathetic to what I'll call your position than there are to mine (5).

    I do appreciate your taking the time to write words adjacent to the questions I posed. However, for all of those words, I note that you've provided vanishingly few answers.

    Q1. IS THERE ANY CONTENT ON THE WSC SITE THAT YOU FIND INAPPROPRIATE, AND IF SO, WHAT?
    Parents write: Only under the cases where that website might attempt to dictate a specific vote of a ballot question and this can be done in ways which are subtle. We find this inappropriate if and when it does occur. For example, a heavily worded cut list with reminders has occurred in the past. For example, mailings coming directly from WSC.org which strongly suggest a specific vote and yes this happens. Legal or not, we find it inappropriate.

    Jeff responds: You say nothing about WHY a school board advocating for a Ballot Question is inappropriate. Perhaps you are aware that school boards have--by law and intent--three main areas of responsibility: setting policy, hiring the superintendent, and recommending a budget. To this last responsibility, it makes no sense for a school board to be able to recommend those parts of its budget that can be paid for within Proposition 2 1/2 but not those parts that exceed Proposition 2 1/2. It makes no sense for a school board to be silent on a building project. From time to time, the School Committee advocates for Ballot Questions using its web site and its newsletter. But this advocacy represents a small fraction of the total content produced by the School Committee. I AM INTERESTED IN KNOWING IF ANYONE BUT THE 4+ PEOPLE POSTING AS PARENTS THINKS A SCHOOL BOARD SHOULD BE MUZZLED ON SCHOOL ISSUES.


    Q2. IS THERE ANY CONTENT ON THE WSC WEB SITE THAT YOU THINK WAS PLACED THERE WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION FROM THE WSC, AND IF SO, WHAT?
    Parents write: We are not aware of any authorization with specific language from the WSC in any open session so all of it. Even if you get private direction from the chair, it is not enough. It should be reviewed at the table and voted and then sent to the webmaster on camera. This is the spirit of the open-ness of the OML.

    Jeff responds: This is exactly NOT the spirit of the OML. The OML addresses the DECISION-MAKING process. The use of the School Committee web site is a DOCUMENTING process. The difference is profound and fundamental. Do you really want your school board spending its valuable meeting wordsmithing documents that simply codify decisions made in open meeting? Do you think that school boards should not spread their workload around by delegating tasks to sub-committees? It is wholly appropriate to task one member with communication.


    Q3. GIVEN THAT THE NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE WSC MEMBERS ARE ON THE HOME PAGE (THE PLACE WHERE FAR MORE PEOPLE WILL LOOK FOR CONTACT INFORMATION THAN THE WHOIS LISTING), IS THERE ANY QUESTION AS TO WHERE TO TURN FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SITE'S CONTENT?
    Parents write: We don't see the distinction as black and white as you do. The name of the site is powerful and leads one to believe that it is town government property. It is not.

    Jeff Responds: My question had nothing to do with the name of the site and everything to do with the contact information of the people who control the site's content. But I'll address your non-sequitor: the name of the site sits within mere pixels of the very clear statement about the site's private self-funded nature.


    Q4. IS THERE A PROBLEM IF SOMEONE OTHER THAN A WSC MEMBER IS THE ADMINISTRATIVE OR TECHNICAL CONTACT FOR THE SITE, AND IF SO, WHAT IS THAT PROBLEM?'
    Parents write: We would prefer that the site be owned by the town of Wayland and, at that point, the town could designate any employee or volunteer to do the job.

    Jeff responds: What you prefer is irrelevant to the discussion. And my question had nothing to do with site ownership, it had to do with Administrative and Technical Contacts. Addressing yet another off-topic responses of yours, why would you prefer that the site be owned by the Town of Wayland? So that the Committee might be prohibited from advocating for its own budget? Why would you want the Committee muzzled on such an important issue?

    BTW, I promised that I would answer your question about the registration of waylandschoolcommittee.org. I initially registered using my name because I was the Administrative and Technical Contact (unhidden registration listing private entity). When a resident said that it might be more representative to not list a single member in that capacity, the School Committee decided to change the registration to the Committee as a whole (unhidden registration listing a different private entity). More recently, we added 'domain privacy' to cut down on junk email sent to the Committee's email address (hidden registration listing the same private entity). Because Committee member contact information is prominent (and relatively junk-mail-proof) on the home page of the web site, there was no need to keep redundant information unhidden in the registration itself, which vanishingly few people read or even know how to find.


    Q5. IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR THE WSC TO COMMUNICATE INFORMATION ABOUT BALLOT QUESTIONS RELATING TO SCHOOL ISSUES, AND IF NOT, WHY NOT?
    Parents write: We suppose that there must be a body of law which guides this. But we are not familiar with that or where to go to look that up. But one of our Parents also thinks this is probably not black and white either.

    Jeff responds: I suggest you go to the web site or the Office of Campaign and Political Finance at http://www.mass.gov/ocpf/. The OCPF's site is actually clear (black and white, if you will) on Ballot Question communications once you distill their bulletins to their essence: government entities (including school boards) may not spend public funds to send unsolicited communications providing information on or advocating for Ballot Questions. That's it. The School Committee spends no public funds, and it sends no unsolicited communications. But again, you fail to answer my question. I did not ask about legality, I asked about appropriateness. And I've yet to hear you or anyone come up with a remotely compelling argument why a school board should not be allowed to do one of the very things (recommend a budget) that it's chartered to do. PLEASE ENLIGHTEN US--WHY IS IT INAPPROPRIATE FOR SCHOOL BOARDS TO ADVOCATE FOR BALLOT QUESTIONS?


    Q6. GIVEN THE RESTRICTIONS AGAINST PUBLIC FUNDS BEING USED TO SEND INFORMATION ABOUT BALLOT QUESTIONS, IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH THE WSC WEB SITE BEING SELF-FUNDED, AND IF SO, WHAT IS THAT PROBLEM?
    Parents write: Again, not knowing the specifics of the law in this regard, it is always our observation that the spirit of the law is just as valid as the law itself. So getting around the law is breaking its spirit and sets up a situation where you are asking for forgiveness rather than permission. The clean way to do it is not to try some end run around the law. It sounds like you have set something up which is attempting an end run.

    Jeff responds: The School Committee is not 'trying some end run around the law,' it is RESPECTING the law. The law says (and its spirit is) not to spend public funds on Ballot Question communications. So the School Committee doesn't. The law does NOT say, or come close to saying, that school boards should not say anything about Ballot Questions. Yet again, you don't answer the question--what is the problem with the School Committee's actions?

  6. #171
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    Nov 2005
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    Wayland MA
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    It appears that there is at least one other "rogue" web site in town. I can only imagine that it's just a matter of time before Jeff Baron, Alan Reiss, John Flaherty, Dave Bernstein, and Alexia Obar ride to the rescue and incessantly denounce it, its creator, and its manager.

    Yes, that's right, sitting out there in the open contaminating the eyes of all who view it, is the Wayland Beautification Committee page of the TOWN'S OFFICIAL WEB SITE. And what useful content does this page convey? Why, nothing more than a notice that the real content resides on a single privately-funded web site apparently controlled by a single individual.

    What's wrong with such a site? Rather than reinvent the wheel, please allow me to recycle some of Alan Reiss' Discussion Forum comments on the topic IN THIS VERY THREAD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Reiss
    post 31:
    Lets take a 'maybe not so hypothetical situation'. At some point in the future one or more of the SC members are replaced with new members and at least one of them says that they do not recognize the 'private' site as the SC site and they no longer want their name, email address, phone number listed on the 'private' site and they also want a disclaimer placed on the site and before the hyperlink to the site that they (at least) do not recognize the site as being the SC site. And/or that new member went so far as to say that they wanted all content moved to the town's launching site else they would want their name removed from the site altogether.

    How do you think the SC would handle this situation?
    I'd really like to know.
    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Reiss
    post 41:
    I see no need for a private site calling itself a government committee site connected to the town's name, reputation and server equipment.
    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Reiss
    post 53:
    So each member of the school committee pays *you* 1/5th of $120 so you can be reimbursed for 4/5ths of *your costs* of the domain registration and the ISP hosting.

    Personally, if I were doing this... I would have just sucked it up and not asked for any money. Asking for money gets very messy.

    So *I conclude* from any legal perspective, including ICANN rules, you Jeff are the owner of the URL and you control the ISP hosting. You get reimbursed for most of the monies you pay but from the point of view of Register.com or Tucows (whichever it is) you are the man of the site.

    If the site ever gets turned over to the town, it will be by your hand and your permission that because its your personal site.

    You can howl at the moon that its not... but it is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Reiss
    post 112:
    Instead of turning over the registration to the members of the SC who are dynamic and are potentially ever changing (and would not alleviate the basic problem of private-to-public hyperlinkage on a site that advocates for ballot questions that us public money to do so..)

    JUST TURN OVER THE REGISTER TO THE
    Town of Wayland Massachusetts and then we're DONE talking about this.

    Oh and don't worry, I don't mind my tax dollars paying that $120 / year for registration and bandwidth and I don't mind my tax dollars paying for the time of a TOWN EMPLOYEE updating the site as per the OPEN MEETING decisions of the SC.
    So. who's the guilty party (besides the sinister Wayland Beautification Committee, of course)? Well, if you scroll down to the bottom of the offending site, you'll see that the Webmaster is none other than (GASP!) Alan Reiss.

    How can this be? The only possible explanation is that Mr. Reiss has been hacked. spoofed, or otherwise taken advantage of. Who knows, perhaps Mr. Reiss registered waylandbeautification.org and the dot-com variant was registered by someone else to fool unsuspecting visitors.

    To paraphrase the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, "Mr. Reiss, tear down that web site!"

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