Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Buffalo Schools Call for Restraining Order Against Nosy Plutocrat

Forgive me friends but I just came across something the other day that should've cleared my consciousness by now but hasn't. Ergo, we're all stuck with it now. It has been reported that none other than Robert Fucking M&T Fucking Bank CE Fucking O Wilmers his own self was involved in a conference call with WNY's very own sellout and political cheap trick Kathy Hochul encouraging Mayoral Control of Buffalo Public Schools. There are so many wrongs in what I just wrote I am not even sure where to start trying to sort them out.

For openers, let me remind everyone the role this bluenose banking senile played in bringing Buffalo Public Schools the absolute worst Superintendent in post modern history. It happened that the Board at the time had enough members dozing at the wheel -- probably in a carb induced coma after one of  the pre-Board meeting feeding frenzies they used to engage in -- that Old Man Wilmers was allowed to fund the search for a new Superintendent. He offered and the dopes sitting around the table thought it was something for nothing so they went along with him on it. It didn't take long before Bordeaux Bob was wheeling and dealing using a company called Heidrick and Struggles to do the search. A search committee comprised of 4 Board members and 3 M&T appointees was created. Wilmers bought himself 3 votes simply by offering $100K towards the search. Since then I have been told by a trusted source that Ralph Hernandez a board member at the time told some constituents in confidence that Wilmers never even paid up the $100K. That would make complete sense to me. 

The process gets weirder and weirder. Artvoice offered this: 

That committee hired an executive search company, creating a second, and worse, problem. Heidrick & Struggles, one of the top executive search firms in the country, immediately began operating in secrecy, and by extension so did the seven-member search committee. Heidrick & Struggles, a firm with clients like corporate giants Disney, Nike, Chrysler, and Coca Cola, showed little regard for the school board or the Buffalo public. At-large board member Catherine Collins complained that they weren’t getting much for the $100,000 being paid: “We’re basically only having conference calls with them.” Face-to-face meetings with the search committee totaled exactly two—and one of those was spent with Heidrick & Struggles representative Nathaniel Sutton trying to convince the board to take more money from Wilmers and the business community to supplement the new superintendent’s salary.

Right from the start this process was off the rails and continued off them until the very end. 

Committee members blew off complaints by the rest of the board and the public about the lack of information. Finally, the full board revolted and overruled the search committee, demanding that a representative of Heidrick & Struggles come to Buffalo and attend a public meeting to give some transparency to the search for a new superintendent. Florence Johnson and search committee head Denise Hanlon argued hard against this, with Johnson insisting it implied a lack of trust in the search committee.

The board won out and a public forum was scheduled for January 24 at Bennett High School. Heidrick & Struggles didn’t bother to show. Two empty chairs represented the company.

The company Wilmers was allegedly paying to find a Superintendent couldn't be bothered with a backwater like Buffalo or anything as paltry as schools Chief. They were used to dealing with Nike, Coca Cola, Chrysler, etc. They seemed to think finding a Superintendent of Buffalo Schools was something of a shit job they couldn't get out of. 
In every other city searching for a school superintendent—Memphis, for example—a list of finalists is published, discussed, and examined. Not in Buffalo.

At the end, according board member Ralph Hernandez, “We saw two candidates, and we saw them for 10 minutes each.” Then on Thursday, April 7, 2005, after a closed-door meeting, Florence Johnson unexpectedly announced James A. Williams was the likely choice, telling the Buffalo News she had decided to scrap the school board’s traditional policy of not making any announcement until after references were checked and the choice was final.

Board President Flo Jo Johnson threw caution to the winds along with common sense and sound hiring practices and announced James Williams as the new Super before checking his references. She mentioned that he'd worked in Dayton Ohio for a bit but, ummm, errrr, well, she really didn't have much more than that. The Buffalo News covered for Johnson claiming Williams had been let go as the result of some financial restructuring. The fact that Williams, among other highlights had necessitated financial adjustments by hiding a $23 million hole he'd dug didn't make the Buffalo News story.

He (Williams) was fired for misleading the Dayton school board and hiding $23 million in overspending, something Hernandez discovered via a simple Google search, which caused him to be the lone vote against hiring Williams. One non-school board search committee member recently told us that in retrospect the committee had not done enough research on Williams and accepted too much information at face value without challenging anything. 

If Hernandez was able to learn this much with a simple Google search, what prevented the other members and Wilmers his own self from doing the barest of checks on Williams' character, the destruction he caused in Dayton and all the rest of what eventually came out about his crooked, race baiting, corrupt old ass? 

It's a stretch to say Wilmers is wholly responsible for bringing in the worst of the worst in Buffalo Schools Superintendents. Fact is though, this entire Rube Goldberg cartoon of a search was set in motion when Wilmers involved himself and waved his checkbook as a means of gaining entry to manipulating public policy. Just because you're a rich guy in a small town like B-Lo doesn't mean you can buy who and what you want when it comes to public education. We saw this same principle in effect a while back when Robert Gioia and his fellow Brahmin cleaned the cigar change out of their golfbags and offered half a million dollars to Pamela Brown PhD Harvard in exchange for her leaving town. These guys can buy Nardin a new gym or add some acoustical panels to the auditorium at Nichols if they're feeling philanthropic. But they really need to keep their big fat egos and their big fat checkbooks the fuck out of public education. 

Robert Wilmers is worshipped in banking circles. He's won awards for the wine produced in his Bordeaux vineyards. But when it comes to public education he just plain sucks. Stick to grapes and sub prime mortgages Bob. Leave this one to the peasants. 

No comments:

Post a Comment