Archive for the Uncategorized Category

The Arrest of Michael McGowan

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2014 by Joan Graves

It is with utmost disgust I must bring to you the news that board of education member Michael McGowan has been arrested. I am absolutely livid. Before I get to the gory details there are a few things to note.

Once again the Winchester Sun has shown itself to be more like The National Enquirer than an Associated Press newspaper. While salivating all over this story they are still incapable of locating a court document that clearly states Patti and Paul Columbia also prevailed in the bogus lawsuit filed by shamed former Superintendent Elaine Farris. In addition, the Winchester Sun refused to run the story of Elaine’s niece (Tiffany Davis) being charged with criminal harassment of Patti Columbia. Their reasoning was because Tiffany lived in Lexington, even though the charges were filed in Clark County. Now, if the Sun actually adhered to that guideline half the paper would be gone because it consists more of news outside Clark County than it does local events.

Also vying for the most biased news outlet is WKYT. When Elaine Farris filed her lawsuit against me WKYT was running the story despite the fact I had yet to be served a single paper. Until, I’m served the papers are not officially filed. So, how would WKYT know about it? Yep, you guessed it. Elaine Farris strikes again. To prove the point notice the absence of WKYT reporting the lawsuit was resolved. How many times have you heard them follow up on a lawsuit story? It’s called ethical reporting but like the Sun WKYT opts to pick and choose their ethics. Which is why they are running the story on Michael McGowan but refused to report on the charges against Tiffany Davis even though she works at the Fayette County board of education.

What no one is reporting is that Michael McGowan attempted to get a domestic violence order first. Judge Nora Shepherd declined it. Judge Shepherd also removed the kids from Michael and gave them to his ex-wife Jackie, despite the fact that Jackie had willingly signed over custody.   Once Jackie got custody she followed through on her threat to get a domestic violence order against Michael, allegedly even violating the order herself.  Michael was desperate to see the kids Jackie had manipulated away from him which led to the violation of the order.

However, just because you have good reason to break the law doesn’t mean you should. Michael should have respected that domestic violence order whether it’s bogus or not. What in the world Michael McGowan was thinking is beyond me. I get wanting to see your kids. I get not having money to hire an attorney. I get, believe me I REALLY get, being victimized by a vindictive person, a screwed up “justice” system and a judge with more power than common sense. But I absolutely do not get violating the order. It’s simply incomprehensible, inexcusable and beyond ridiculous.

At this point Michael is still considered innocent. He also maintains his innocence. But considering the evidence supposedly consists of some text messages it won’t be hard to determine who is right and wrong.  If he is found guilty he must be removed from the board.  I had a hand in putting him on that board and I have no problem having a hand in getting him removed from it.

It cannot be denied that Michael was instrumental in moving our school system forward over the last two years. Our schools are in a much better place and Michael has been a part of that. For that I thank him for his service. But it is still not enough to excuse breaking the law. So, if found guilty in a court of law, he must go. Now, the question is who is going to have courage enough to stand up for these kids and keep our schools moving forward rather than returning them to the mess they were two years ago?

All That Glitters Isn’t Golden – Final Lawsuit Resolution

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2014 by Joan Graves

It has been nearly three years since Paul and Patti Columbia and I were sued by former school superintendent, Elaine Farris. It has been three years filled with laughter, tears and an overwhelming amount of disillusionment with the justice system. Our attorney accurately labeled the fiasco when he called it a spite suit. Filing a lawsuit was a last ditch effort at shutting us up and it worked….for a while.

When the community realized all they did not know about the inner workings of the board of education they responded with disgust at the voting booth. They ousted every board member, including long-time incumbent, Debbie Fatkin, who was up for re-election. Two of the three people endorsed by Stand Up Clark County won seats on the board. At last, a new era finally was born, as opposed to being something just stamped on a hat. But that was the crux of the problem. The former administration lacked the ability to understand that strategically placing pretty, pacifist words in key locations never convinced the community they were true. Through actions and in their own legally obtained emails, the former administration presented themselves as people who thought too highly of their own opinions and not enough of the community’s. In essence, they were the makers of their own demise.

While leadership had changed hands it was only a battle won. A war was still very much underway for the Columbias and me and years of our lives were being stolen. Despite being the one to initiate the lawsuit, Elaine and her attorney, Dale Golden, seemed less invested in winning than in dragging the case out. From our perspective, Golden’s single-minded purpose was to see how long he could keep us from actually obtaining a court date. So, rather than allow the case to proceed naturally before a jury Golden employed every delay tactic at his disposal.

I lost track of the number of times we showed up in court only to discover the case had been put off. Or we would be notified that a delay tactic had been initiated only hours before we were to appear in court. All the while your tax dollars were paying for these incessant delays, and Elaine never to show up.

The final stall defense came when Golden, knowing a court date was imminent, called the judge asking for yet another delay. His desperation was evident when his reason was because he thought the trial was in Madison County. Considering the case was filed in Clark County and to my knowledge no one even mentioned Madison County, much less actually gone there, he had no reason to be of that frame of mind. Conveniently enough, when the judge refused, someone from his office, stood up in the courtroom to make her appearance known. Golden may have thought he was very cleaver but his ruse didn’t work. A court date was set and within hours of receiving a March trial date, Golden contacted our attorney to dismiss the case.

All of the accusations made against us, all of the time invested and all the tax dollars spent have all been for naught. The Supreme Court intentionally made it difficult for the wealthy, powerful or public figures to be able to sue the “little man” for slander, liable and the like. Farris held a public office paid with tax payer dollars. Those dollars have the right to be represented, challenged and accounted for. To us, it is a huge travesty of justice to allow someone sue the very people they are supposed to defend and waste the tax dollars they were entrusted to manage. It’s behavior that screams poorly orchestrated leadership and narcissistic behavior, at best.

Regardless, of what it has been, the point is what it is now – and that is over. With the dropping of the lawsuit so goes the facade of victimhood. For the only thing Elaine Farris was ever victim of was herself. That is just extremely sad. Yet, today is not a time to mourn but to celebrate. The vice that has strangled this community’s educational system has been released. Stand Up Clark County has fulfilled our promise to this great community. We have ensured that the public is at last back in public education and proven all that glitters is not Golden.

Misinformation Regarding New GRC Football Coach

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2014 by Joan Graves

George Rogers Clark Principal, David Bolen and a hiring committee he selected, recently named Mike Riddle as head football coach. On June 3, the Winchester Sun ran the story about the hiring stating Riddle lettered for four season (1995-1998) at the University of Kentucky. According to the University of Kentucky that is not true. A listing of UK Lettermen lists Riddle as lettering in only 1998. A phone call to the University of Kentucky confirmed the information.

This is not believed to be an error of reporting on the part of the Winchester Sun. The information can be found in Riddle’s bio. It is the same bio information reported when Riddle was hired at Georgia State. Most notable about that position is that Riddle was hired by his former UK Coach Bill Curry. Considering Curry coached at UK 1990-1996 he would have been well aware that reports of Riddle lettering four years were incorrect. Curry’s role in the incorrect information being widely reported in Georgia is unknown.

What is known, is that as principal David Bolen has the final call in hiring. It is his responsibility to verify all information regarding prospective employees. It took less than 30 minutes from the time the information was reported to Stand Up Clark County until it was verified. This event raises questions regarding the hiring and firing practices at GRC.

Superintendent Paul Christy has been notified of the discrepancy. It is now up to him as to how he will handle Bolen and Riddle. One thing is certain. Christy absolutely cannot ignore this. This community, our schools and our players deserve transparency from our school administrators. We demand thorough background checks, biography confirmations and every reference checked for every potential school employee, every single time. We will not be deceived. 

Stand Up Clark County and demand immediate action in this matter.

 

Resources

http://www.georgiastatesports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=12700&ATCLID=1515564

http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/hou/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2011-12/misc_non_event/week_gastate.pdf

http://www.centralkynews.com/winchestersun/sports/high_school/grc/riddle-hired-as-new-football-coach-at-george-rogers-clark/article_df198819-5262-5fc7-82c9-f1574b8cf84e.html?mode=print

http://billcurry.net/biography

Special Olympics & An Even More Special Football Coach

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2014 by Joan Graves

Stand Up Clark County & demand that ALL teachers, administrators & coaches reach & maintain this level of excellence, integrity & transparency.

Winchester Sun Article On Collins Firing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2014 by Joan Graves

Winchester Sun Article On Collins Firing

Clink the red link above  to read Winchester Sun Sports Reporter Keith Taylor’s article on the on the firing of GRC Head Football Coach Steve Collins.  Stand Up Clark County would like to salute Keith Taylor as a great, reporter with integrity and thank him for all he does for our community.

GRC Principal David Bolen Releases Football Coach Steve Collins

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by Joan Graves

George Rogers Clark High School Principal David Bolen, has removed football coach Steve Collins of his duties.  Collins has been the subject of extensive controversy since taking the position as coach two years ago.  Bolen and other officials afforded Collins significant leniency in the face of multiple allegations.  That leniency stems from the fact that Collins was inserted as coach during a significantly controversial time.  However, since that time Collins has fallen short of what many expected him to do.

Within months of his arrival allegations surfaced of Collins and/or his staff bullying players, cursing them and at one point calling one a F#$%ing retard.  That led to a firestorm of emotion from parents of players and the special needs community.  Collins was never criminally charged or reprimanded by the school system, in response to those allegations. Months later Collins attempted to repair his image by lobbying for improvements to the football field but those efforts never got off the ground.

Collins’s inability to win on the field and the constant rumors and allegations off the field combined to become his ultimate demise. Preserving and repairing the image and integrity of GRC must be Principal Bolen’s first priority.  He is in a new building, with a new board and superintendent.  He is acutely aware of the community’s overwhelming desire and strong commitment to replacing failing programs, leadership and other venues that hold our students back.  This community is greatly invested in the overall improvement of every school in our county.  And they have proven they are in this for the long-haul.

It should never be underestimated what a grass roots effort of a very concerned community is willing and capable of doing for the benefit of our students.  Stand Up Clark County for giving ample opportunity but never being willing to settle for second best.

(Once again, I must remind all readers that this blog is considered an opinion piece.)

Cheers To Guinness For Disability Awareness

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2013 by Joan Graves

This isn’t the typical Stand Up Clark County post but it is without a doubt the exact message and attitude we promote. Stand Up Clark County & dare to be different.

CNN iReport

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2013 by Joan Graves

CNN iReport

As requested I’m posting the link to my CNN iReport. After you read it don’t forget to recommend it. If enough people click the button for it to be on CNN they will do an on air broadcast about it. National exposure could mean a huge difference in how the facilities plan plays out.  

April’s Board Meeting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 19, 2013 by Joan Graves

I am piecing together events from Tuesday’s board meeting. I wasn’t in attendance and wonder of wonders the video doesn’t work – AGAIN! I’m willing to bet we’ve got some middle schoolers in need of summer work, let’s let them have a go at the video. How in the world does the district ever think we can teach by technology when we can’t even upload a video. Anyway….. that’s not my point.

My point is that I am hearing multiple people complaining about the threatening demeanor of two men toward a female board member. Because I wasn’t at the board meeting I need help from all of you. I want to know if any of you felt uncomfortable, threatened or if you thought someone else was threatened. Do you think board meetings are safe?

You can comment on this post and tell me. Comments aren’t visible by others until they are approved by me. If you don’t want others to see your remarks you can tell me not to post the comment publicly and I won’t. I’m not interested in personal vendettas or witch-hunts I am interested only in truth and safety. This issue is too important to trifle with so please only honest responses.

I sincerely hope I am flooded with people telling me it was passionate but not dangerous and that it certainly wasn’t a matter of two grown men acting like buffoons toward a female. That is certainly the best alternative as long as its true. In light of all that’s happening in our country right now the last thing we need is violence whether its real or imagined.

Stand Up Clark County for truth and peace.

 

Perspective – The Missing Ingredient From Last Night’s Board Meeting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by Joan Graves

After watching the board meeting online my single thought is one of utter sadness. Adults behaving poorly with other adults is bad enough but to do so in front of kids is worse. We can reveiw all the numbers we want, implement the greatest curriculum and build schools made of gold but until we respect one another we will never succeed. And when we don’t succeed it is our kids that pay the highest price.

Once again, it was a fight over the middle school merger. In November this same topic was pivitol in the election of new board members. Ashley Ritchie and Michael McGowan made it clear they were oppossed to the merger and they won their seats by an overwhelming majority. That should be ringing in everyone’s ears.   

This community has left no doubt that the majority is against this facilities plan. So, why is it still even being discussed? We’ve been warned of dire consequences if we don’t accept the facilities plan. A more important question is; have we measured the consequences of not going through with the plan against the consequences of accepting it? 

This entire problem is a direct result of the previous board going against the community’s wishes and purchasing the land on which the new high school is being built. Because that board refused to listen to the majority then, they created this problem now. For every action there is a reaction and it’s time we start making decisions based on our future not our past.

Trying to scare the community into a decision based on loose, ill-defined repercussions without presenting all the options is just wrong. The obligation of our school leaders is to listen to the community. When conflict arises it is their responsibility to present all sides in a clear, neutral manner. As a board member you are not there to represent yourself. You are there to give us all the facts and then taper your vote to fit the majority opinion of your constituents.  Why is that so complicated? The decision is ours.   

For months we’ve heard how there is no way we can get out of this facilities contract with the state. But last night, board attorney Henry Rosenthal, shot holes in that theory when he said the state would allow us to back out. The four reasons he stated as cause for the state to reconsider were; a disaster, a change in enrollment, a change in curriculum or an unforeseen event. Why have we not heard that before? Why have we been told the merger cannot be stopped due to the contract when our own attorney says it can?  I’m not sure which is more frightening board members stating their opinion as fact without first checking to see if the contract could be broken or board members that knew we could get out of it but lied for their own personal reasons. Whatever the case, we all know now.

Three board members have heard the community loud and clear. They are willing to explore the options of reversing an unwanted plan. A board willing to gather all the evidence, present it to the community then vote according to the majority of their constituents will always be remembered as a board of the people. We should never underestimate the power of listening to the people.

 On behalf of this community, I am imploring all of our board members to stop pushing old ideas and embark upon new paths. What you most need to understand is that changing your course is not a personal loss it is instead a community win.  

Stand Up Clark County for a new educational landscape.