TORONTO - Dysfunctional. That is the most objective or polite term I could think of for Monday’s TCDSB meeting to select its new Chair, Vice-chair and heads of its respective operational committees.
It did not start well: the chaplain responsible for the “swearing-in ceremony” (renewal of the commitment by Trustees to religious goals of the Board) was nowhere to be found. Bad omen, or a signal to the Director that God didn’t want to have anything to do with the exercise? Cynics and satirists start your engines. Defenders of Columbus Centre shore up your defences.
All decisions had been previously secured in behind the scenes interpersonal discussions, as one should expect, but to insist on the charade of “secret” not-so-secret ballot just boggles the mind.
Here it is in a nutshell.
After nominees are duly identified and seconded, Trustees write the name of their preferred candidate on a sheet/ballot and sign it. There are 12 Trustees.
Two scrutineers then read both the name of the candidate and the name of the Trustee who supported the candidate.
Thank you, Trustee Nancy Crawford for insisting that this is a fundamental aspect of secret balloting.
Her candidate, Barbara Poplawski, in a most halting style, managed to read her notes without once mentioning education or educational strategies. She was first elected in 1979 and is apparently the longest-serving member of the Board. This is her first election as Chair.
Education must not be a priority with her constituents in Etobicoke, but, judging by her speech, they are consumed by their concern for child poverty (now at 27% in the city, according to her researchers).
Just concerned, mind you, not looking for strategies for its alleviation.
She “earned” the support of former Chair, Angela Kennedy, whose competencies in running a meeting left most attendees at the November 16th marathon scratching their heads.
Kennedy wants to be a candidate for the Conservatives in the upcoming election. Chairs are usually “a big catch” for political parties.
The Conservatives have not rushed to secure her a spot, but it’s early days.
Jo-Anne Davis, another aspiring MPP – but with the Liberals – was also in her camp. The Liberals are also not rushing to secure her a nomination; maybe the current Minister feels threatened by the competition. Like Kennedy, she may have her mind elsewhere.
Maria Rizzo, an NDP stalwart, at least in the past, and her mind fixated on demolishing the Columbus Centre and replacing it with a new white elephant of a school, swallowed herself whole so as to be named Vice-chair.
Garry Tanuan’s vote was locked in on the 16th when this coterie of educational luminaries agreed to put a moratorium on school closing until after the next provincial election, thus allowing one of his schools, whose enrolment is at 56, can stay open.
By the way, that means a school with maximum of three classes to cover eight grades. Good sound educational strategy.
It probably did not enter his mind that the decision will be an uncomfortable election issue for the Minister.
He must have had the assurances of Jo-Anne Davis that the Liberals in the area wouldn’t mind. He certainly had the thanks of his friend and ally, the Conservative MPP.
A vote of support by Patrizia Bottoni for Barbara Poplawski sealed the deal for this group.
Anne Andrachuk, another former Chair, despite her professional delivery and experience was unable to carry the day. Neither was her running mate, Frank D’Amico.
They were supported by Trustees Sal Piccininni and Joe Martino through both rounds.
Trustee Mike Del Grande, himself also a former Chair, supported Andrachuk in the first ballot but spoiled his ballot, in disgust, for the second round.
The members of the Andrachuck group were left out of the distribution of the “spoils” after the successful coup – the chairs and vice-chairs of the organizational committees. Patrizia Bottoni was left ignored as well. One assumes that not all votes carry the same weight.
The election cannot come soon enough.