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My Way


Exactly how stupid do they think we are?



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December 08, 2010 - Long ago, I gave up on the idea of expecting government to tell the truth. It's just not in the nature of the beast.

That being said, I at least expect better lies, excuse me, 'spin' from folks who earn their living avoiding the facts.

Even though this is the third time I've written this column, I still like that opening, so I'm going to keep it.

This has been a difficult column to write because the story that sparked it has been developing since I first broke it Friday morning on www.oxfordleader.com.

Of course, the story to which I'm referring is about Oxford Superintendent Dr. William Skilling and the possibility that he might be heading to Ohio to become the new superintendent of the Granville Exempted Village School District (see story on Page 1).

As I sit here rewriting this damn column at 9 p.m. Tuesday, I feel frustrated. Frustrated by the double-talk. Frustrated by the contradictions. Frustrated by the spin, when the facts seem to be pretty clear in my opinion.

Where to begin . . .

Let's start with the statement that the Oxford Board of Education posted Friday on the district website that basically said Skilling was meeting with the fine folks of Granville simply as a "professional courtesy."

Exactly how stupid do they think we are?

Call me crazy, but I don't know anyone – no matter how saintly we believe them to be – who would take a personal day off work to spend 4½ hours driving 260 miles (one way) to another state to meet with a prospective employer and people from that community, if they're not actually interested in taking a position there.

These actions go way beyond what most people would consider "professional courtesy."

Sure, all those folks who believe everything the school district tells them and possess a messianic view of Skilling swallowed the "professional courtesy" story whole and parroted it to all those they met like good little robots.

But those of us who prefer to do our own thinking instead of just chugging the Wildcat Kool-Aid by the gallon, didn't buy it for a second. It just wasn't logical.

It walked like a duck. It quacked like a duck. But the school board wanted us to believe it was an aardvark.

To me, the "professional courtesy" statement was more of a reflection of the fact that the school board probably got caught with its pants down when the Leader posted its story and needed to say something.

For a school district that employs a Public Relations person and has another one serving on its board of education, I frankly expected something much more believable. The board's statement reeked of amateur hour.

But the board's statement is nothing when compared to those statements made by Skilling first via a Dec. 5 e-mail to district staff and select community members, then at the Dec. 6 school board meeting.

Despite the fact that Newark Advocate – the Ohio newspaper covering the Granville superintendent search – referred to him as a "finalist" for the job in two articles, Skilling insisted he's "not an official applicant" and he's "not an official candidate" for the Granville job.

So, I guess that Dec. 2 posting on the Granville Schools' website (www.granville.k12.oh.us) that clearly stated that Skilling had just been added as the sixth candidate in the district's superintendent search was a complete lie.

I guess the Dec. 7 posting indicating that Skilling is one of four finalists for the Granville job is also a lie.

After all, you can't believe what school districts post on their websites – unless its Oxford's site because they're all just a bunch of honest and ethical servant-leaders.

Funny, Skilling stated he was "only a person of interest" to Granville and yet the district selected him to be the featured "finalist" at a Dec. 3 "community dialogue session," in which he met with the public and talked about himself and his truly amazing vision.

My favorite part in the Newark Advocate story about Skilling's "dialogue session" was when he referred to himself as "Don Quixote." I actually got goose bumps.

According to the Granville website, the district has selected only three other finalists for "community dialogue sessions" scheduled for Dec. 9 and Dec. 10.

Golly, I know I'm just a simple country newspaper editor, but it sure as shootin' sounds like Doc Skilling's a lot more than just "a person of interest." He's just being humble.

Speaking of that "community dialogue session," I found it interesting that Skilling thought his visit to Granville "would be kept confidential" (as he wrote in his Dec. 5 e-mail) because he interviewed with the school board "privately" (i.e. in a closed session).

Did he not realize that he'd also be participating in the very first of these "community dialogue sessions," which were advertised ahead of time on the Granville Schools' website and in the Newark Advocate, so as to encourage public attendance and participation?

There's nothing private or confidential about that.

Anyway . . . I love how Skilling repeatedly stressed at the Dec. 6 Oxford school board meeting that he has not filled out or submitted an application or any paperwork for the Granville job. He kept saying it as if his not doing a few hours worth of paperwork is somehow more meaningful than him taking an entire day off work and driving 260 miles to meet with their school board and community.

In the end, I really have to hand it to Skilling because he is quite the wordsmith. I'm being totally sincere here.

He crafted a statement in his Dec. 5 e-mail that makes him seem totally devoted to Oxford, but at the same time gives him a loophole should he decide to skip town.

Skilling wrote, "I do not have any interest in leaving Oxford Community Schools to take another superintendent position in Michigan. If I stay in Michigan, it will be in Oxford. When the day comes for me to leave Oxford, I will be retiring from public education in Michigan."

Did you notice how he carefully repeated the words "in Michigan" not once, not twice, but three times?

For those of you who might not realize this, Ohio is not in Michigan. So, if Skilling decides to take the Granville job, he can't be called a liar nor can his commitment to his beloved Oxford be questioned. Bravo! Skilling just went from Don Quixote to Niccolo Machiavelli.

If I was a betting man, I'd say Granville is going to offer Skilling the job and he's going to take it.

They want him down there. They sought him out. In its Dec. 2 web posting announcing Skilling as the sixth candidate, the Granville district noted how he "had been a person of interest earlier in the search."

Sounds like love to me.

Aside from his wife's relatives living near Columbus, Ohio and Granville being "a great place to raise his children" – all items reported by the Newark Advocate – moving south of the border would afford Skilling the opportunity to achieve his goal of being a professor.

Denison University's right in Granville, while Ohio State University in Columbus is just 30-some miles away. There's also a great little Christian school called Cedarville University on the other side of Columbus.

Taking the Ohio job would also give Skilling one more golden opportunity – the chance to make some more gold.

He can retire from Michigan's school system, then collect his pension on top of his new salary in Ohio. Former Clarkston Superintendent Dr. Al Roberts did it when he retired and took a superintendent position in Illinois.

Suddenly, I'm having a psychic vision of a moving truck rolling down Park Street. Stay tuned . . .

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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