Page 7 of 12 FirstFirst 123456789101112 LastLast
Results 91 to 105 of 171

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

  1. #91
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Dave, I appreciate very much your thoughtful response to the (perhaps overly) lengthy set of questions that I posed. I expected some of the differences in opinion, found myself surprised by others. I hope to have a chance to comment with equal thoughtfulness shortly.

  2. #92
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    Q05: Do you agree that the WSC has direct responsibility for the privately-funded WSC web site?
    A05: I do. Note that I'm not saying anything about whether the site should exist, just the nature of its current existence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    No. The Wayland School Committee as an entity is distinct from the members of that same School Committee acting as private citizens. The WSC is an element of the Wayland Public School System; it is not responsible for the content of private web sites operated by some or all of its members acting as private citizens, nor can it legally exert control over the content of these sites. When acting as private citizens, members of the School Board are entitled to communicate to the world as they see fit, including via their own web site(s); Section II.B of the Interpretive Bulletin you cite below substantiates this.
    Interesting, I hadn't expected to hit a point of disagreement this early in the exchange. It's not clear to me that the members of the WSC are acting as private citizens in deciding collectively and publicly on the content of a web site. I certainly am not aware of the law you reference prohibiting such an action--can you please refer me to it?

    ---------------------------------
    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    Q07: Do you agree that section I.G. of the Interpretive Bulletin referenced in Q06, above, allows publicly-funded web sites to host "information and endorsements" as long as they avoid a "more political purpose, such as unsolicited e-mails to voters asking for their support?"
    A07: I agree--for the time being, you'll have to take my word for it when I say that the OCPF's General Counsel told me in a phone conversation that solicited email messages (in the form of the WSC's newsletter) did not constitute a "more political purpose."

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    No, I do not agree, and neither would anyone else reading the text of section I.G, which I have provided here (with my emphasis):

    "Information or endorsements by governmental entities or other information regarding a ballot question that are public records may be posted on a town's Web site or bulletin board. See AO-00-12. Further use of the governmental web site or the Internet for a more political purpose, such as unsolicited e-mails to voters asking for their support, should be avoided."

    Only information or endorsements that are public records may be posted on a town's Web site. Thus one may post the school's budget and enrollment data on a town's web site, but one may not post a paragraph exhorting readers to support an override because without it pupil-to-teacher ratios would reach unacceptable levels.
    (I'm not ignoring the question that you asked me in response to Q06; you ask it again here with respect to Q07.)

    I think that you are incorrect. If the WSC discusses its advocacy of a ballot question in an open meeting, that advocacy is a public record. Of course, the *only* time that the WSC can discuss its advocacy of a ballot question, or for that matter, discuss anything other than the exceptions allowed by the Open Meeting Law), is in open meeting. Can you please explain why you think that such advocacy is not a matter of public record?

    ---------------------------------
    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    Now, I'll draw on the Q&A above to make a few observations.

    A. The WSC has essentially the same control over the content of the publicly-funded WPS web site as it does the privately-funded WSC web site (Q&A 04/05).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    The WSC has no control over the content of any private web site, as stated in Section II.B of the Interpretive Bulletin. The WSC has influence over the content of the publicly funded WPS web site, as we have agreed in our answers to your question #4. Thus your answer here is incorrect.
    II.B. of OCPF-92-02 says nothing about an elected board and control of a privately-funded web site. Are you referring to another Interpretive Bulletin?

    ---------------------------------
    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    B. The functions of the privately-funded WSC web site would be just as allowable on the publicly-funded WPS web site (Q&A 08).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    This is absolutely not true. The content of a privately-managed web site is unregulated, as per Section II.B of the Interpretive Bulletin. The content of the public-funded WPS web site is regulated by Section I.G of the Interpretive Bulletin. Advocacy that is permissible on the a privately-managed web site would not be permitted on a publicly-funded web site. Thus your answer is incorrect.
    I should have been clearer in my assertion: The function of the privately-funded WSC web site to date and in the foreseeable future (notably, restricting ballot question information/advocacy to the solicited variety) would be just as allowable on the publicly-funded WPS web site (Q&A 08).

    From Q07 above, I know that you disagree that ballot question information/advocacy is not a matter of public record, but if you assume for the sake of argument that it is, then my assertion about there being no restriction on transferring the function of the privately-funded WSC web site to the publicly-funded WPS web site is correct.

    ---------------------------------
    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    C. Keeping WSC content on the privately-funded WSC web site is more efficient than keeping that content on the publicly-funded WPS web site (Q&A 09).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    You have provided nothing quantitative to substantiate any significant benefit. Simple changes in workflow and/or tools might accomplish the same improvements in efficiency.
    The WSC is under no obligation to substantiate (quantitatively or otherwise) a significant efficiency benefit to the current arrangement. As the person responsible for seeing that updates are posted, however, I know that this efficiency is indeed the case.

    With the current setup, I create the content, upload it to the web site, check that it's correct, and edit if necessary. I can get this done at just about any hour, and from just about any location.

    If I had to through a WPS employee, I would still have to create and send the content. Next, I would have to wait for the WPS employee to find time in their work day to upload the content. Then, I would have to check the content, which if incorrect might be viewable (and misleading) for a significant amount of time. If incorrect (perhaps because my original specification wasn't clear enough), I would then have to spend more of that employee's time making the fix.

    I will let the reader judge which of these two options is more efficient for the WSC, cost-sensitive with respect to the spending of public funds, and diverting of valuable time away from more direct educational needs.

    ---------------------------------
    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    In short (I know, it's far too late for that), there is no logical, legal, or ethical (a) problem with the current arrangement or (b) reason to make a change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    ... Is this hyperlink legal? I don't know. But I do know that it violates the intent of the Interpretive Bulletin, which clearly precludes ballot question advocacy on public web sites.
    Actually, according to the same OCPF that issued the Interpretive Bulletin, the link does NOT violate the IB's intent (see here for my question to the OCPF in blue, and their response in green).

    To attempt to summarize our significant differences (which, the vigilant and surely over-caffeinated reader will remember as the intent of my Q&A):
    1. You think that the WSC cannot control the content of a privately-funded web site [edit: originally, I mistakenly wrote "publicly-funded" here]; I think that it can
    2. You think that WSC advocacy discussed in a public meeting is not a public record; I think that it is
    3. You think that the link from the publicly-funded WPS web site to the privately-funded WSC web site goes against the OCPF's intent; I think that it does not, and the OCPF agrees with me


    I am interested to know what others think about these three points of difference.
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 07-12-2008 at 03:37 PM. Reason: Error in point 1 at the end, corrected in-line

  3. #93
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    The above-mentioned "preliminary written answer" contains the question you posed to the OCPF regarding the hyperlink from the public WPS site to your private web site:

    "My question for you was as follows: does a link from a publicly-funded school DEPARTMENT web site to a privately-funded school BOARD web site trigger the same equal access provision? As I indicated, a small fraction of the privately-funded school board web site provides information about and advocates for ballot questions, but only on a periodic basis."

    I suspect you would receive a different response to this question:

    "I am a member of the Wayland School Board. I and other members of this Board manage a private web site. Exercising our rights as private citizens, we use this web site to advocate for ballot questions. Would a hyperlink from the public Wayland Public School web site to our private web site require that the Wayland Public School web site provide equal access to other private web sites that advocate for ballot questions?"
    While your posing of this second question is far more concise (no surprise there!) than my recent second inquiry to the OCPF, it's substantively the same. Note that I do not characterize our actions as being those of private citizens, because they are not; they are actions of an elected committee operating in public meetings. The OCPF is of course free to disagree with my characterization.

    In conversation, the OCPF's General Counsel told me yesterday that their original answer would likely not be changing. When I have their written confirmation of this second conversation, I will post it.

  4. #94
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexia Obar View Post
    During the discussion and comparasion of Loker and HH there was incorrect information on the site for weeks. I didn't know that it was only Jeff's work, I thought it was a document of the school dept since I went to the school website and was directed to the WSC site.
    I authored the initial comparison document (now updated). The WSC discussed the document in open meeting before authorizing its posting. The Committee then began to improve upon it. There were a few initial and ongoing mistakes that the WSC worked to correct.

    I'm not sure why you weren't aware that the original version was "Jeff's work" given that the document explicitly states exactly that on its first page.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexia Obar View Post
    I think it would be fine to have this extra site for advocacy if there was another sight maintain by the school dept which gave only data and appropriate information.
    The WPS web site fits the description of what you are looking for--both that site and the WSC site appropriately provide both information and advocacy on many topics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexia Obar View Post
    Our government is founded on a system of checks and balances and this site goes against that philosophy.
    How so? At the risk of being pedantic, the system of checks and balances refers to the three branches of government. In Wayland, we only have two branches, the function of the Judiciary being served at the state level. Town Meeting and residents voting at the polls represent the Legislative branch while town government (school and municipal officials and employees) forms the Executive branch.

    The schools make up one part (albeit a large one) of the Executive branch. The web sites of the schools (WPS and WSC) make up a small part of the operation of the schools. Residents voting for school committee members (Legislative) and state courts and agencies ruling on school actions (Judiciary) very much serve the function of checks and balances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexia Obar View Post
    I am curious also how much does the SC pay to maintain this private site?
    Domain registration and web hosting represent the only costs, to the tune of about $120 per year.

  5. #95
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    235

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Interesting, I hadn't expected to hit a point of disagreement this early in the exchange. It's not clear to me that the members of the WSC are acting as private citizens in deciding collectively and publicly on the content of a web site. I certainly am not aware of the law you reference prohibiting such an action--can you please refer me to it?
    I did not cite a law prohibiting the WSC from controlling the content of a private web site. I referred to the absence of any law that would enable the WSC to control the content of a private web site.

    Any communications or advocacy conducted by WSC on the public WPS web site is by definition an authentic communication of the WSC; the authentication is performed by town officials in their mediation of “post” access to the town’s public web site. The WPS therefore has a mechanism by which it can control the content of its web pages hosted on the town’s public web site. If it votes to remove or modify a particular paragraph, that decision will reliably be implemented.

    Now consider the private web site operated by some or all members of the WSC, which you claim to be the “official” WSC web site. Town officials do not mediate “post” access to this private web site. Suppose one member posts content advocating for a ballot question on this private web site in a manner that blatantly violates OCPF Information Bulletin IB-92-02 section I.G. Since the web site is private, this member can when challenged claim that he or she is exercising his or her rights of advocacy as a private citizen under IB-92-02 section II.B. On what legal basis could the WSC prevent this? On what legal basis could anyone prevent this?

    Thus one can only trust a WSC web site to be “official” – meaning controlled by WSC as an entity rather than as private individuals – if that site is bound by IB-92-02 section I.G. This can only be the case for web pages that are a part of the town’s public web.

    In your letter to the OCPF, you stated ”a small fraction of the privately-funded school board web site provides information about and advocates for ballot questions, but only on a periodic basis.” . IB-92-02 section I.G does not specify acceptable fractions or intervals; it absolutely precludes the content that you characterize the private web site as providing. This private web site therefore cannot be the official WSC web site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I think that you are incorrect. If the WSC discusses its advocacy of a ballot question in an open meeting, that advocacy is a public record. Of course, the *only* time that the WSC can discuss its advocacy of a ballot question, or for that matter, discuss anything other than the exceptions allowed by the Open Meeting Law), is in open meeting. Can you please explain why you think that such advocacy is not a matter of public record?
    If the WSC presents an analysis advocating an override at a public meeting, then under IB-92-02 section I.G it can post this analysis on the town-managed public web site. If you speak in favor of the override at a public meeting, then an exact written or audio transcript of your speech could similarly be posted on the town-managed public web site. However, you could not compose an analysis of pupil-teacher ratios and post it to the town-managed public web site unless this analysis was first presented word-for-word in a venue that makes that analysis a public record. In contrast, you could instantly post this analysis on the private web site you manage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I should have been clearer in my assertion: The function of the privately-funded WSC web site to date and in the foreseeable future (notably, restricting ballot question information/advocacy to the solicited variety) would be just as allowable on the publicly-funded WPS web site (Q&A 08).
    Restricting ballot question information/advocacy to the solicited variety would not be sufficient – only information/advocacy that is a matter of public record can be presented on the public-funded WPS web site. The issue, however, is that WSC as an entity has no way to enforce your claim of future compliance. Should a member post information/advocacy that is a not a matter of public record on the private web site, WSC would have no legal basis on which to have this information/advocacy removed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    The WSC is under no obligation to substantiate (quantitatively or otherwise) a significant efficiency benefit to the current arrangement. As the person responsible for seeing that updates are posted, however, I know that this efficiency is indeed the case. With the current setup, I create the content, upload it to the web site, check that it's correct, and edit if necessary. I can get this done at just about any hour, and from just about any location. If I had to through a WPS employee, I would still have to create and send the content. Next, I would have to wait for the WPS employee to find time in their work day to upload the content. Then, I would have to check the content, which if incorrect might be viewable (and misleading) for a significant amount of time. If incorrect (perhaps because my original specification wasn't clear enough), I would then have to spend more of that employee's time making the fix. I will let the reader judge which of these two options is more efficient for the WSC, cost-sensitive with respect to the spending of public funds, and diverting of valuable time away from more direct educational needs.
    You could be given revocable access rights to post directly to the WSC section of the town’s public web site, bypassing all of the overhead you recite above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    To attempt to summarize our significant differences (which, the vigilant and surely over-caffeinated reader will remember as the intent of my Q&A):

    1. You think that the WSC cannot control the content of a publicly-funded web site; I think that it can
    2. You think that WSC advocacy discussed in a public meeting is not a public record; I think that it is
    3. You think that the link from the publicly-funded WPS web site to the privately-funded WSC web site goes against the OCPF's intent; I think that it does not, and the OCPF agrees with me
    I disagree with each of your above three points:

    1. I did not claim that “WSC cannot control the content of a publicly-funded web site” – on the contrary, I claimed that the content of a publicly-funded web site is the only kind of web site whose content WSC can control. What I claimed that WSC as an entity cannot control is the content of any privately-managed web site, including the privately-managed web site operated by some of its members.
    2. I stated that advocacy that is a matter of public record could be posted on the WSC’s public web site, to the point of including the text of IB-92-02 section I.G in my response.
    3. Your letter to the OCPF mischaracterizes the private web site that you and other WSC members operate, as I have pointed out in a subsequent post.


    I note that the absence of any response from you on the most important points:
    1. The preferential hyperlink to the private web site operated by WSC members is a part of the publicly-funded WPS web site; as you stated in your earlier question 4, WSC has direct or indirect responsibility for tasks under the Superintendent's control including the content of the publicly-funded WPS web site. Thus WSC members are vulnerable to the charge that they used their public authority to obtain preferential treatment for a web site they are operating as private citizens.
    2. whatever the intent, this arrangement looks and smells bad, implies poor judgment on the part of its creators, and ought to be eliminated.


    Your position is “I promise that the content we post on our private web site will obey the same rules that govern content posted to the town’s public web site”. But at the same time, your understated characterization of this same private web site to the OCPF said ”a small fraction of the privately-funded school board web site provides information about and advocates for ballot questions, but only on a periodic basis.” Obviously the advocacy to which you were referring is not a matter of public record; otherwise, there’d have been no need for you to add "a small fraction" or "but only on a periodic basis". As I have pointed out above, the WSC has no legal means of enforcing your promise.

    But since you do claim that the content of the your private site will comply with IB-92-02 section I.G, then your only rationale for WSC not utilizing the public WPS web site is a frankly weak claim that the current arrangement is “more efficient”. But suppose that you’re right – using the town’s public web site would be less efficient. The choice between efficiency and integrity is obvious.

    Dave

  6. #96
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    I did not cite a law prohibiting the WSC from controlling the content of a private web site. I referred to the absence of any law that would enable the WSC to control the content of a private web site.
    Here's what you wrote: "The WSC is an element of the Wayland Public School System; it is not responsible for the content of private web sites operated by some or all of its members acting as private citizens, nor can it legally exert control over the content of these sites."

    I'll submit that a school committee may operate a privately-funded web site unless there's a law prohibiting such action. Perhaps a lawyer might weigh in on the hair-splitting: laws permitting versus laws prohibiting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Any communications or advocacy conducted by WSC on the public WPS web site is by definition an authentic communication of the WSC; the authentication is performed by town officials in their mediation of “post” access to the town’s public web site. The WPS therefore has a mechanism by which it can control the content of its web pages hosted on the town’s public web site. If it votes to remove or modify a particular paragraph, that decision will reliably be implemented.

    Now consider the private web site operated by some or all members of the WSC, which you claim to be the “official” WSC web site. Town officials do not mediate “post” access to this private web site. Suppose one member posts content advocating for a ballot question on this private web site in a manner that blatantly violates OCPF Information Bulletin IB-92-02 section I.G. Since the web site is private, this member can when challenged claim that he or she is exercising his or her rights of advocacy as a private citizen under IB-92-02 section II.B. On what legal basis could the WSC prevent this? On what legal basis could anyone prevent this?
    If someone were to use the privately-funded WSC web site to send an unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions, then per OCPF, the publicly-funded WPS web site *might* be required to add links to ballot question committee web sites or other sites advocating for ballot questions. But, this has not happened, so it's a meaningless hypothetical.

    If someone were to use the publicly-funded WPS web site to send an unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions, then the OCPF would rule that a violation has occurred. This scenario is less hypothetical.

    In both cases, I would expect that the WSC would act to correct the improper post, just as the WSC took exception to the Middle School Principal's email communication with which the OCPF found fault.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Thus one can only trust a WSC web site to be “official” – meaning controlled by WSC as an entity rather than as private individuals – if that site is bound by IB-92-02 section I.G. This can only be the case for web pages that are a part of the town’s public web.
    The privately-funded WSC web site is controlled by the WSC, not by private individuals. We're at an impasse on this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    In your letter to the OCPF, you stated ”a small fraction of the privately-funded school board web site provides information about and advocates for ballot questions, but only on a periodic basis.” . IB-92-02 section I.G does not specify acceptable fractions or intervals; it absolutely precludes the content that you characterize the private web site as providing. This private web site therefore cannot be the official WSC web site.
    Untrue. Because the privately-funded WSC web site does NOT send unsolicited communications about ballot questions, its actions are not precluded (per OCPF's written response).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    If the WSC presents an analysis advocating an override at a public meeting, then under IB-92-02 section I.G it can post this analysis on the town-managed public web site. If you speak in favor of the override at a public meeting, then an exact written or audio transcript of your speech could similarly be posted on the town-managed public web site. However, you could not compose an analysis of pupil-teacher ratios and post it to the town-managed public web site unless this analysis was first presented word-for-word in a venue that makes that analysis a public record. In contrast, you could instantly post this analysis on the private web site you manage.
    Untrue on several levels. Your minor misunderstanding is that the analysis of pupil-teacher ratios isn't related to a ballot question. Your major misunderstanding is that you don't appear to understand that the WSC might discuss a ballot question, then task a member or employee to write up content on that discussion (there is no requirement for "word-for-word" anything) for posting to either the privately-funded WSC web site or the publicly-funded WPS web site. The only thing that couldn't be done from the publicly-funded WPS web site is to send out a notice in an unsolicited communication. And while that sending could be done from the privately-funded WSC web site, such sending has not been done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Restricting ballot question information/advocacy to the solicited variety would not be sufficient – only information/advocacy that is a matter of public record can be presented on the public-funded WPS web site.
    The first part of your statement is untrue--the posting of school information to either the privately-funded WSC web site or the publicly-funded WPS site makes it a public record.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    The issue, however, is that WSC as an entity has no way to enforce your claim of future compliance. Should a member post information/advocacy that is a not a matter of public record on the private web site, WSC would have no legal basis on which to have this information/advocacy removed.
    As we recently learned, the WSC as an entity has no way to enforce compliance on the publicly-funded WPS web site. Neither the WSC nor the WPS can be held accountable for future hypothetical violations on either site. But, if violations occur, there may be consequences.

    Let's imagine as web master that I posted something to the privately-funded web site with which the WSC as a whole disagreed. The WSC would ask me to remove the content. If I refused, they could disassociate themselves from the web site and start a new one, either on the WPS domain or elsewhere. But, I think that it doesn't make much sense to try to design "airtight systems" with no possibility for abuse, especially when there's no abuse. This is a bit like saying that you should not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle, as you might consume alcohol (perhaps mixed with Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville brand margarita mix) and drive while impaired.

    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    To attempt to summarize our significant differences (which, the vigilant and surely over-caffeinated reader will remember as the intent of my Q&A):

    1. You think that the WSC cannot control the content of a publicly-funded web site; I think that it can
    2. You think that WSC advocacy discussed in a public meeting is not a public record; I think that it is
    3. You think that the link from the publicly-funded WPS web site to the privately-funded WSC web site goes against the OCPF's intent; I think that it does not, and the OCPF agrees with me

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    I disagree with each of your above three points:

    1. I did not claim that “WSC cannot control the content of a publicly-funded web site” – on the contrary, I claimed that the content of a publicly-funded web site is the only kind of web site whose content WSC can control. What I claimed that WSC as an entity cannot control is the content of any privately-managed web site, including the privately-managed web site operated by some of its members.
    This was a mistake on my part--I meant to write "privately-funded." With that correction in place, I think that we disagree--you say that the WSC may not control a PRIVATELY-funded web site, while the WSC says that it can.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    2. I stated that advocacy that is a matter of public record could be posted on the WSC’s public web site, to the point of including the text of IB-92-02 section I.G in my response.
    I think that we still disagree in that you have an incorrectly restrictive sense of what constitutes a public record.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    3. Your letter to the OCPF mischaracterizes the private web site that you and other WSC members operate, as I have pointed out in a subsequent post.
    "Mischaracterization" is your opinion--you've done nothing to show that the WSC may not operate an official, privately-funded web site, which is how I correctly described the site in both my first and second ("The Wayland School Committee (WSC) operates a privately-funded web site at the following address: www.waylandschoolcommittee.org.") written inquiries to the OCPF.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    I note that the absence of any response from you on the most important points:

    1. The preferential hyperlink to the private web site operated by WSC members is a part of the publicly-funded WPS web site; as you stated in your earlier question 4, WSC has direct or indirect responsibility for tasks under the Superintendent's control including the content of the publicly-funded WPS web site. Thus WSC members are vulnerable to the charge that they used their public authority to obtain preferential treatment for a web site they are operating as private citizens.
    We're open to the same charge that we used our public authority to obtain preferential treatment with respect to the hiring of the Superintendent, the recommendation of a budget, the decision to reconfigure the elementary schools, and every other thing that we do. By law, we have that public authority. In fact, I think that's kind of the whole point.

    You can say as often as you want that we are operating a web site as private citizens, but that does not make it so. We make decisions about the web site as a board in public meetings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    2. whatever the intent, this arrangement looks and smells bad, implies poor judgment on the part of its creators, and ought to be eliminated.
    It will not surprise you that I disagree, as I've attempted to articulate ad nauseum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Your position is “I promise that the content we post on our private web site will obey the same rules that govern content posted to the town’s public web site”. But at the same time, your understated characterization of this same private web site to the OCPF said ”a small fraction of the privately-funded school board web site provides information about and advocates for ballot questions, but only on a periodic basis.” Obviously the advocacy to which you were referring is not a matter of public record; otherwise, there’d have been no need for you to add "a small fraction" or "but only on a periodic basis".
    That's nonsensical. The "small fraction" description (which you would admit is true, correct?) that you mention came up in my conversation with the OCPF General Counsel. I included it in my written communication for reasons of completeness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    But since you do claim that the content of the your private site will comply with IB-92-02 section I.G, then your only rationale for WSC not utilizing the public WPS web site is a frankly weak claim that the current arrangement is “more efficient”. But suppose that you’re right – using the town’s public web site would be less efficient. The choice between efficiency and integrity is obvious.
    It may be a weak claim to you, but that's a bit like me saying that your maintaining your home isn't all that hard. I'm in no position to judge, and of no inclination even to really care.

    I'm not sure how many words we've spent on this back and forth, but neither you nor anyone else has made a single compelling case--logical, legal, ethical, or otherwise--explaining why you are questioning the WSC's integrity on this matter. Rather, you simply repeat that you don't like it and that it's bad.

    The WSC is advocating for the schools. The WSC is obeying the law. That's logical, legal, and ethical. Period.

  7. #97
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    235

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Here's what you wrote: "The WSC is an element of the Wayland Public School System; it is not responsible for the content of private web sites operated by some or all of its members acting as private citizens, nor can it legally exert control over the content of these sites."

    I'll submit that a school committee may operate a privately-funded web site unless there's a law prohibiting such action. Perhaps a lawyer might weigh in on the hair-splitting: laws permitting versus laws prohibiting.
    The word control is causing a misunderstanding here.

    I fully agree that WSC members acting as private citizens may operate a private web site. I’m aware of no legal reason why the WSC as an entity cannot operate a private web site, nor have I ever claimed that such a legal proscription exists. What I do claim is that such a private web site is not actually under the control of the WSC – meaning that WSC has no legal authority to remove non-compliant content from such a site. You acknowledge this when you say

    ” Let's imagine as web master that I posted something to the privately-funded web site with which the WSC as a whole disagreed. The WSC would ask me to remove the content. If I refused, they could disassociate themselves from the web site and start a new one, either on the WPS domain or elsewhere.”

    You didn’t say, ”If I refused, they would have the content removed” -- because WSC has no legal means to enforce that decision. You instead say that WSC would ”disassociate themselves from the web site and start a new one” as if that were a straightforward remedy. This would hardly be straightforward! How would WSC inform the community that http://www.waylandschoolcommittee.org/ is no longer the “official” web site of that Wayland School Committee, so they should ignore what’s posted there and instead refer to http://www.the_real_waylandschoolcommittee.org? And if there’s a second fracture, how would the community be informed and reminded to ignore that web page and instead navigate to http://www.the_one_true_waylandschoolcommittee.org ? This would be humorous, if it weren’t your proposed resolution of a disagreement over WSC web page content.

    There is only one practical way for the WSC to exert control over the content of its web pages, and that is to host those web pages on the town’s public web site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    If someone were to use the privately-funded WSC web site to send an unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions, then per OCPF, the publicly-funded WPS web site *might* be required to add links to ballot question committee web sites or other sites advocating for ballot questions. But, this has not happened, so it's a meaningless hypothetical
    Because I don't know what it means to use a web site to send an unsolicited communication, I will assume that what you mean by ”If someone were to use the privately-funded WSC web site to send an unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions…” is “If someone were to post material on the private WSC web site that violates IB-92-02 section I.G…”[/I]. Such an action could occur at any instant, and would not be in any way illegal. Such an action would be consistent with your characterization of the private WSC web site: ”a small fraction of the privately-funded school board web site provides information about and advocates for ballot questions, but only on a periodic basis.” And as discussed above, WSC may not be able to rapidly revise the content of its web site. For all these reasons, the Town would be wise to treat the private WSC web site as if it contained information that could not be published on the town's public web site because of IB-92-02 section I.G.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    If someone were to use the publicly-funded WPS web site to send an unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions, then the OCPF would rule that a violation has occurred. This scenario is less hypothetical.
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    In both cases, I would expect that the WSC would act to correct the improper post, just as the WSC took exception to the Middle School Principal's email communication with which the OCPF found fault.
    In the case where an improper post appears on the private WSC web site, the WSC’s only remedy may be to disassociate itself from the web site, leaving the improper content in place. It would be necessary to establish and populate a new web site, and then adequately inform the community of the change in association. The latter could take weeks! Would the ballot issue be suspended while this was accomplished?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    The privately-funded WSC web site is controlled by the WSC, not by private individuals. We're at an impasse on this point.
    We’re not at an impasse unless you believe that the WSC can legally cause the content of a private web site to be altered. Do you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Your major misunderstanding is that you don't appear to understand that the WSC might discuss a ballot question, then task a member or employee to write up content on that discussion (there is no requirement for "word-for-word" anything) for posting to either the privately-funded WSC web site or the publicly-funded WPS web site. The only thing that couldn't be done from the publicly-funded WPS web site is to send out a notice in an unsolicited communication. And while that sending could be done from the privately-funded WSC web site, such sending has not been done. The first part of your statement is untrue--the posting of school information to either the privately-funded WSC web site or the publicly-funded WPS site makes it a public record.
    If it were true that ”the posting of school information to either the privately-funded WSC web site or the publicly-funded WPS site makes it a public record”, then IB-92-02 section I.G would be completely meaningless because any ballot issue advocacy could be made a public record by the simple expedient of posting it on a private or public web site. I doubt that’s the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    As we recently learned, the WSC as an entity has no way to enforce compliance on the publicly-funded WPS web site. Neither the WSC nor the WPS can be held accountable for future hypothetical violations on either site. But, if violations occur, there may be consequences.

    Let's imagine as web master that I posted something to the privately-funded web site with which the WSC as a whole disagreed. The WSC would ask me to remove the content. If I refused, they could disassociate themselves from the web site and start a new one, either on the WPS domain or elsewhere. But, I think that it doesn't make much sense to try to design "airtight systems" with no possibility for abuse, especially when there's no abuse. This is a bit like saying that you should not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle, as you might consume alcohol (perhaps mixed with Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville brand margarita mix) and drive while impaired.
    There are web content management systems that can in a practical and useful manner increase the level of pre-publication control exerted by the WSC over some or all public WPS web pages. And if a violation does occur on the public WPS web site, the WSC can direct its immediate correction – which as you acknowledge above may not the case if the violation were to occur on a private WSC web site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    We're open to the same charge that we used our public authority to obtain preferential treatment with respect to the hiring of the Superintendent, the recommendation of a budget, the decision to reconfigure the elementary schools, and every other thing that we do. By law, we have that public authority. In fact, I think that's kind of the whole point.
    You are empowered by law to hire the Superintendent, recommend a budget, and reconfigure the elementary schools. No law prevents you from managing a private web site. However, you are not empowered by law to direct the creation of a preferential hyperlink from the town’s public web site to your private web site(s).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    It may be a weak claim to you, but that's a bit like me saying that your maintaining your home isn't all that hard. I'm in no position to judge, and of no inclination even to really care.
    With respect to the management of web sites, I am a bit more familiar with this process than you are with the maintenance of my home. I notice that you ignored the suggested solution to your “overhead” problem, which would give you the ability to maintain web pages on the public WPS site just as efficiently as you now claim to maintain them on the private WSC site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I'm not sure how many words we've spent on this back and forth, but neither you nor anyone else has made a single compelling case--logical, legal, ethical, or otherwise--explaining why you are questioning the WSC's integrity on this matter. Rather, you simply repeat that you don't like it and that it's bad.
    The WSC’s maintenance of its official web page on a privately-managed site is highly problematic. The fact that the WSC site is privately managed has resulted in a preferential link from the WPS public site to the private site, which leaves WSC members open to charges of exploiting their authority to obtain preferential treatment. In this “round” of discussion, you provided a scenario that illustrates how awkward and time-consuming it would be for the WSC to disassociate itself from one private site and move to a new private site should a change in content be required that was not unanimously supported.

    Your attitude towards these problems seems to be ”but, this has not happened, so it's a meaningless hypothetical”. It is a certainty that there will come a time when WSC members do not unanimously agree on the content of the WSC web site. The WSC should anticipate this and put in place a practical means of exerting control over the content of its web site by moving its web pages to the public WPS site. This would also eliminate the need for the preferential hyperlink -- a welcome side-benefit.

    Dave

  8. #98
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Before you guys place too much reliance on OCPF "Interpretive Bulletins" and other advisories, a caveat:

    Such bulletins and advisories simply are not regulations with the force of law and thus are not entitled to deference by the courts that will interpret and apply the satute. See, e.g., Rivera v. H.B. Smith Co., 27 Mass. App. Ct. 1130, 1131 (1989) (“The weight to be accorded an agency circular, as contrasted with a regulation which has the force of law, will depend upon . . . it[s] power to persuade . . . .”); Niles v. Boston Rent Control Adm’r, 6 Mass. App. Ct. 135, 149 (1978) (same).

    Such bulletins and advisories are only useful for their persuasive effect, if any.

  9. #99
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    448

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Perlman View Post
    Such bulletins and advisories are only useful for their persuasive effect, if any.
    You mean, so even if the OCPF comes out and says this is a no-no, we can expect that Jeff will continue with his website until and unless a lawsuit is brought on, costing the taxpayers more money?
    John Flaherty

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

  10. #100
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    I certainly hope that the WSC site will be maintained, but if the OCPF says otherwise, their reasoning should be examined on its merits.

  11. #101
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    You mean, so even if the OCPF comes out and says this is a no-no, we can expect that Jeff will continue with his website until and unless a lawsuit is brought on, costing the taxpayers more money?
    Jeff Dieffenbach does not decide the content of the Wayland School Committee's official web site, as you well know, and have frequently observed.

    John, it's very hard to tell when you don't understand something, or are just pretending. ({SARCASM}I know, I know, every fiber of my being was inept, malicious, and unethical with respect to the elementary school reconfiguration, not that that's in any way relevant to the web site structure{/SARCASM}).
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 07-13-2008 at 11:30 AM. Reason: Addition of the "sarcasm tags" for clarity

  12. #102
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    448

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Jeff Dieffenbach does not decide the content of the Wayland School Committee's official web site, as you well know, and have frequently observed.

    John, it's very hard to tell when you don't understand something, or are just pretending. (I know, I know, every fiber of my being was inept, malicious, and unethical with respect to the elementary school reconfiguration, not that that's in any way relevant to the web site structure).
    No, no, no, Jeff.
    Not EVERY fiber!

    You also don't seem to know when I'm joking. (I'm not a fan of little smiling faces and hope that my wording is sufficient to convey whether I'm being serious or not. For most people, it seems to be.)

    I don't think that every fiber of your being is "inept, malicious, and unethical".
    I do believe that you and your colleagues made an enormous series of mistakes and are just too damned stubborn to admit it. You have a propensity to never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever admit to making a mistake and to always, always always go to enormous lengths to defend your position and talk your way out of virtually everything.
    But I've never thought of you as malicious.

    I do think that maintaining the SC website in the way that you do is unethical, but I don't think of YOU as unethical. I believe that in your own warped way (humor intended, though I also believe it), that you really believe this not to be unethical.

    However, I disagree.

    And I disagree to the extent that I would not consider the SC website as the official website, even though you do.

    Just as I think of Loker as closed, since no one who went there before will be going there again in the fall. You prefer to call it a "reconfiguration".
    There's a difference.
    John Flaherty

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

  13. #103
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Because I don't know what it means to use a web site to send an unsolicited communication, I will assume that what you mean by ”If someone were to use the privately-funded WSC web site to send an unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions…” is “If someone were to post material on the private WSC web site that violates IB-92-02 section I.G…”[/I].
    The action that you describe (posting content) would not run counter to the OCPF's rulings. The only likely example of a web site action that would run counter to the OCPF's rulings that I've been able to think of is, in fact, what I've written numerous times, including above: the sending of an unsolicited communication discussing a ballot question (in the case of a web site, in the form of sending an email to a purchased list or any other type where people did not ask to receive the message).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    In the case where an improper post appears on the private WSC web site, the WSC’s only remedy may be to disassociate itself from the web site, leaving the improper content in place. It would be necessary to establish and populate a new web site, and then adequately inform the community of the change in association. The latter could take weeks! Would the ballot issue be suspended while this was accomplished?
    As I indicated above, you need to substitute "of a sent communication from" for "where an improper post appears on." As we all well know, nothing prohibits exactly what you describe from taking place using the publicly-funded WPS web site (the Superintendent having reacted quickly, with subsequent support of his reaction from the School Committee).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    If it were true that ”the posting of school information to either the privately-funded WSC web site or the publicly-funded WPS site makes it a public record”, then IB-92-02 section I.G would be completely meaningless because any ballot issue advocacy could be made a public record by the simple expedient of posting it on a private or public web site. I doubt that’s the case.
    Completely untrue. OCPF-92-02 allows exactly the posting you describe. What it prohibits is the sending of an unsolicited communication (an email, for instance) announcing that posting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    The WSC’s maintenance of its official web page on a privately-managed site is highly problematic. The fact that the WSC site is privately managed has resulted in a preferential link from the WPS public site to the private site, which leaves WSC members open to charges of exploiting their authority to obtain preferential treatment.
    The WPS School Committee page links to the WSC School Committee page. That's a fully appropriate "preferential treatment" (not that I agree with the application of that term in this case). I suspect that you would not object if the WPS School Committee page linked to the WSC web site content hosted on the WPS web site. That would seem to whittle your problem down to the fact that some future WSC minority might hijack the current WSC site. The unlikelihood of that scenario allows me to sleep at night.

    The fact that other members of the WSC don't currently have access to edit the WSC web site gave me an idea, however. I will provide the access information to the other members (changing the password as members come and go) and to the Superintendent. In that way, the WSC and the WPS will "control" the WSC web site (I know, I know, I could change the passwords at any time, but I give my word that I won't; presumably the WPS employees who could do the same to the WPS web site give their word as well).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Your attitude towards these problems seems to be ”but, this has not happened, so it's a meaningless hypothetical”. It is a certainty that there will come a time when WSC members do not unanimously agree on the content of the WSC web site. The WSC should anticipate this and put in place a practical means of exerting control over the content of its web site by moving its web pages to the public WPS site. This would also eliminate the need for the preferential hyperlink -- a welcome side-benefit.
    In fact, the future certainty you posit has already occurred. Within the last year or two, the WSC web site linked to the WSC blog, which was a forum where WSC members could comment on various issues relating to Wayland and the WPS. As it turns out, only one other member ever took advantage of that forum. So, the WSC voted 3-2 to remove the link (I was in the minority on that one). Heeding that vote, I moved the blog to www.deepbrook.com/waylandblog, where it happily sits gathering dust, this forum being far superior.

  14. #104
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    You also don't seem to know when I'm joking. (I'm not a fan of little smiling faces and hope that my wording is sufficient to convey whether I'm being serious or not. For most people, it seems to be.)
    You're quite right--I don't know when you are joking. I am also not a smiley face user, preferring the more textual "[grin]" to overcome the limitations of the written word in conveying tone.

    Have you surveyed "most people" with respect to discerning your laugh factor? I'd be willing to wager an adult beverage at a local establishment that a substantial fraction of a random cross-section of people would view your applicable "body of work" as being nearly or wholly devoid of humor. [grin]

  15. #105
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
    Posts
    382

    Default I just couldn't resist

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I propose several new measures:

    = A "Flah" is sort of like a degree of separation. It measures the number of thread responses before the elementary school reconfiguration is brought up. For instance, this thread measures 1 Flah. By comparison, the "Middlesex Superior Court ..." thread measures 4 Flahs.

    = A "Feid" (pronounced "fide") is a measure of spin ("Feid" is "Dief" spun around, get it?). The more someone spins a topic, the more Feids they rate. Unlike Flahs, though, Fieds are qualitative/subjective, and therefore harder to assign.

    But Jeff you forgot...
    According to a theory in sub-atomic physics if you extrapolate from your spin theorem and assume that the the number 0 is even then "Feid" count can only exist when you spin an odd number of times.

    If you spin an even number of times then you still have a Dief. So you have to be very careful about the number of times you spin.

    From a quick analysis, I believe that the Loker reconfig spin count is current at the level of a 'Dief'

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •