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Thread: Subscribe to Wayland School Committee’s electronic newsletter

  1. #1
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    Default Subscribe to Wayland School Committee’s electronic newsletter

    As part of our ongoing objective to provide access to relevant information, the Wayland School Committee invites all interested residents to subscribe to our electronic newsletter. Visit the Committee’s site (distinct from the Wayland Public Schools’ site) at www.waylandschoolcommittee.org, then click the "subscribe" link. Our archive also lives on the newsletter page.

    The Committee sends periodic messages regarding school topics, including some you may not see anywhere else! The Committee will be addressing many key issues this year, including budgeting, contract negotiations, the High School project, the superintendent’s key initiatives, new administration openings, and much more.

    Stay in the loop by subscribing now. And as always, please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.

    Louis Jurist (chairman), Jeff Dieffenbach (vice chairman), Malcolm Astley, Deborah Cohen and Barb Fletcher
    Wayland School Committee


  2. #2
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    Default Don't Forget

    that by adding your e-mail to this list, you are authorizing the members of the WSC to send you political messages that support their point of view. The WSC has maintained (and continues to maintain) that their site and the newsletter Mr. Dieffenbach implores you to subscribe to is privately owned and is, therefore, exempt from the rules related to elected boards advocating for specific outcomes.

    This truth is, of course, conveniently left out of the pitch to subscribe.

    Just keeping it real, folks.

  3. #3
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    Jeff, it's not clear to me whether you fail to understand, or refuse to understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    that by adding your e-mail to this list, you are authorizing the members of the WSC to send you political messages that support their point of view.
    You say "political" as if that were a bad thing. "Politics" has many definitions, the one on Wikipedia being as serviceable as any other. It begins, "Politics is a process by which groups of people make decisions." Of course the School Committee is political. That's what it was elected to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    The WSC has maintained (and continues to maintain) that their site and the newsletter Mr. Dieffenbach implores you to subscribe to is privately owned and is, therefore, exempt from the rules related to elected boards advocating for specific outcomes.

    This truth is, of course, conveniently left out of the pitch to subscribe.
    "Left out?" Uh, no, unless you are suggesting that we should have included a reference to the laws permitting our communications.

    By far the three most common ways that people get to the WSC newsletter page are via the WPS site, the WSC home page, and the WSC newsletter page directly. All three pages indicate quite clearly that the WSC site is privately-funded. If anything, "privately-funded" is too expansive--the WSC site is funded only by its membership.

    Jeff, should a school committee advocate on behalf of the schools? Should a school committee conduct this advocacy as permitted by law? I hope you would answer "yes" to both.

    So, what does the law permit? It's actually easier to talk about what the law prohibits. Specifically, the law prohibits public funds being spent on unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions. Not only does the Wayland School Committee devote only a small fraction of its communication to ballot questions, it does not send unsolicited communication, and the solicited communications that it does send are not publicly-funded. I would have thought that this belt-and-suspenders approach would appeal to someone of your conservative bent.

    So, where's your objection? You've yet to come up with a single concrete reason why you disapprove of the WSC helping to inform the community. Moreover, to my knowledge, you've never even pointed out a single WSC newsletter to which you object. They are all archived here. Jeff, which ones trouble you?

    I await with great anticipation your answers to the three questions above. For your convenience, I've highlighted them in bold Wayland orange.

  4. #4
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    Default

    We've debated the private WSC site ad nauseum, Jeff. We'll never see eye-to-eye here, and my post was not meant to restart that conversation.

    I have no problem, Jeff, with the newsletter or trying to inform the community about what our schools are doing. The point of my post is that you fail to clearly mention in the plea for subscribers that this newsletter is actually a private vehicle that can subvert the prohibition against public funds being spent on unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions. It may appear to many, however, that since an elected board is the one running the newsletter and site that it is "official" (i.e. - public).

    The regular school listserves CANNOT be used for advocacy/political purposes because of the law. Your private newsletter can. That is that.

    Again, the purpose of my post is to lay this reality out there for everyone to clearly understand. You should have no issue with my post as a result.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    We've debated the private WSC site ad nauseum, Jeff. We'll never see eye-to-eye here, and my post was not meant to restart that conversation.
    Well, you may not have wished to restart it, since it exposes your intentional or unintentional misunderstanding, but restart it you did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I have no problem, Jeff, with the newsletter or trying to inform the community about what our schools are doing. The point of my post is that you fail to clearly mention in the plea for subscribers that this newsletter is actually a private vehicle that can subvert the prohibition against public funds being spent on unsolicited communication regarding ballot questions.
    The email subverts nothing, since the WSC is not sending unsolicited communications.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    It may appear to many, however, that since an elected board is the one running the newsletter and site that it is "official" (i.e. - public)
    You are correct--the elected board IS running the newsletter AND the official site waylandschoolcommittee.org.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    The regular school listserves CANNOT be used for advocacy/political purposes because of the law.
    A school listserv CAN be used to send ballot question information as long as subscribers knew that they would be getting such information when they signed up. If we moved the existing (solicited) WSC list over to the publicly-funded WPS site, the schools could send an email about ballot questions to that list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Again, the purpose of my post is to lay this reality out there for everyone to clearly understand. You should have no issue with my post as a result.
    My objections to your post stand. You don't object to the content, and you don't find any violation of the law. I infer that you are posting only because you dislike the WPS, the School Committee, or some of its members. You insinuate that the School Committee is doing something wrong or sneaky. That is not remotely the case. The content is perfectly appropriate, as is the channel.

    I encourage all residents to take Jeff's foundation-free objections as motivation to sign up for the Wayland School Committee's electronic newsletter and find out what all the fuss is about. And tell us Jeff Baron sent you! [grin]

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    Default

    I find it both interesting and comical about how defensive Jeff is about something that is apparently so above board.

    I restate to all who may read this that my post was meant to educate potential subscribers as to the fact that this is a private newsletter and can be used to push the WSC political positions. Nothing more was meant or implied, regardless of how wildly Jeff may gesticulate his arms to prove otherwise.

    I also encourage people to subscribe to all sources of news to be educated. While you're subscribing, send a blank email to
    waylandvotersnetwork-subscribe@yahoogroups.com to understand an often alternative point of view. You can then make fully informed decisions.

  7. #7
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    Default

    I find it both interesting and comical about how people who go on the attack like to allege that their targets get defensive. That said, I'm not at all defensive about being defensive--in fact, I embrace it, given the alternative.

    For those who are interested, my arms have not been gesticulating--wildly or otherwise--but rather been planted firmly on my keyboard.

  8. #8
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    Default I want to try to clear up some confusion

    As is well known, I've done research in the area of a privately funded and owned governmental site operating as an official site of a governmental entity. There is no secret that I personally filed a complaint with the OCPF (a while back) to challenge this situation and from it I received a verbal explanation and was advised that the WSC also received the same verbal explanation. It should also be noted, in fairness to me, that I did (in public comment) give notice to the WSC that my intention was to file that complaint with the OCPF in advance of actually doing it.

    The phone call from OCPF was from Attorney Sarah Hartry who did take a great deal of time in consultation with Gregory Birme in coming to their verbal advisory. I waited perhaps 6 months for that answer... so here it is.

    WSC.org (being a private site and privately funded) by virtue of a majority decision of the SC has become the official site of the WSC and 'holds itself out' (Sarah's words) to be the official site. OCPF recognizes this reality.

    This being said, any and all rules, laws and advisories which pertain to any governmental site or sites resources also apply equally to WSC.org just as if it were funded by the public and owned by the public.

    OCPF therefore, sees no difference between the governmental entity and the private entity in this situation.

    Now the question as to whether WSC.org can ask for sign up would be the same question as to whether WPS site could do the same or the Town of Wayland could do the same. The legality here has to do with what you would do with that information once you got it.

    The OCPF says that a SC site CAN advocate for the schools. A principal CAN advocate for the schools and a superintendent CAN advocate for the schools.

    What no governmental agency or employee can do is to use public resources to try to affect the ballot question. In the case of WSC.org this also now applies since its deemed official and 'holds itself out' to be the official site and in fact, is the only site of the WSC itself. Regardless of whether it is public money or not. WSC.org (Private) = WSC.org (Public)

    One interesting dilemma might occur if one or more members of the SC decided this wasn't appropriate for them and they did not want to participate. I would be awkward and I'm not sure how the SC would handle it ... but that hasn't happened yet.

    I asked Sarah Hartry how I would know if the WSC.org jumped 'over the line' of legal use of either the site or the lists it gathers and she said. "Send us what they do or say and we'll give you a ruling on it".

    So rather than argue with Jeff D or the WSC on this, I've taken the tact that if I see something that doesn't look right to me then I would just submit it to the OCPF and if something is not right, they will let the SC know it directly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    What no governmental agency or employee can do is to use public resources to try to affect the ballot question.
    This is apparently the OCPF's INTERPRETATION of the law. The actual language of the law itself is quite clear that "no governmental agency or employee" may use public resources TO SEND AN UNSOLICITED COMMUNICATION containing information about a ballot question.

  10. #10
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    Default Deja Vu'

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    This is apparently the OCPF's INTERPRETATION of the law. The actual language of the law itself is quite clear that "no governmental agency or employee" may use public resources TO SEND AN UNSOLICITED COMMUNICATION containing information about a ballot question.
    I know you have told me this before and you know what I told you what I was verbally told by Sarah Hartry.

    In other words, "we have all been here before" (CSNY)

    So, depending upon how far you might want to push this you may get a chance to forge some groundbreaking new law ! Or not.

    No skin off of my teeth as they say.

  11. #11
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    For those interested in seeing the law and OCPF's *written* interpretation of that law, it's here.

    Specifically, see the following:

    • Page 3: The entire paragraph beginning with the words, "In general, ..."
    • Page 4: Item D
    • Page 5: Item G

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    So, depending upon how far you might want to push this you may get a chance to forge some groundbreaking new law ! Or not
    The School Committee is doing nothing different than what the OCPF said in *in writing* was not a violation. That is, the Committee isn't "pushing anything," it's complying.

  13. #13
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    Default Pushing and Pulling

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    The School Committee is doing nothing different than what the OCPF said in *in writing* was not a violation. That is, the Committee isn't "pushing anything," it's complying.
    I didn't mean to say that you (the SC) were pushing at this point...
    I was talking about what may possibly happen next and I really don't know what I don't know.

    But I will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanJReiss View Post
    I didn't mean to say that you (the SC) were pushing at this point...
    I was talking about what may possibly happen next and I really don't know what I don't know.
    For my part, I will not advocate for the School Committee to use its electronic newsletter to do anything more than the occasional (and OCPF approved) ballot question advocacy that it's done in the past.

  15. #15
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    Default OK then

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    For my part, I will not advocate for the School Committee to use its electronic newsletter to do anything more than the occasional (and OCPF approved) ballot question advocacy that it's done in the past.
    I have signed up for the WSC.org newsletter years ago and I certainly enjoy reading it. Its informative, concise, factual and does a fine job in advocating for our great Wayland school system.

    I am looking forward to continuing to receive and read all future additions while I still live in Wayland!

    See there really is no reason for us to argue about this anymore.

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