Watergate tapes & Pentagon papers, SUSD style

At an April 17 meeting of SUSD’s resources and infrastructure committee, district administrators presented a facilities proposal to committee members David Varela, Steve Smith and Sal Ramirez.

A week later at SUSD’s regular board meeting on April 24, Ramirez suggested the administration had stated at the April 17 meeting that it was going to fund the proposal, at least partly, “through savings from cutting back on personnel.” Superintendent Carl Toliver said this was “absolutely false” and that he had the tape recording of the April 17 meeting to prove it.  Ramirez responded by intimating that something Nixonian might be going on. He said perhaps the recording had been “altered.”

At the time this story appeared in The Record, Toliver’s office was unable to produce the notorious recording or public minutes from the April 17 meeting. As of two days ago, I was still getting calls questioning whether the district intended to fund some of its facilities on the backs of laid-off employees.

I’ve now had a chance to listen to a recording of all 46 minutes of the April 17 meeting. I also can now share the public minutes here.

Presuming the folks at 701 N. Madison are not experts at doctoring recordings or creating 17-minute gaps in tapes, what I learned from listening to the April 17 meeting is that about three seconds of the 46 minutes were relevant to this simmering issue.

From 10:10 to 10:13 on the recording, Chief Business Officer Wayne Martin says some funding could come from “minor staffing-related savings.” The subject is never brought up again during the remaining 36 minutes of the recording.

Yesterday, I asked Martin about those “minor staffing-related savings,” which were never explained on April 17. Martin said he was referring to eliminating a maintenance position at SUSD’s Professional Development Center, because part of the facilities proposal calls for the district to vacate that leased facility.

In a very broad sense, Ramirez was right: The district would fund the yet-to-be-approved proposal, in part, “through savings from cutting back on personnel.” Ramirez, though, never asked for an explanation during that April 17 R&I meeting.

In any event, eliminating a maintenance position at the PDC would not come close to paying the multimillion-dollar cost of the district’s facilities proposal — unless SUSD is paying individual maintenance workers LeBron James-like salaries.

And if that’s the case, where do I apply?

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