Eric Lee Can’t Help It If He’s Lucky. But What About Those Who Aren’t?

This follows up on yesterday’s post, Be Careful What You Post on Social Media: Remember the Lee Brothers? and you should read that first.

I ended that post with a few questions. In December 2011, 4 people were arrested for trafficking. Two have court case numbers. Two don’t. The two that don’t aren’t the sons of the owners of the Pinnacle School, which has as one of its campuses the Elk River Treatment Program (ERTP). The CEO is owner Karen Lee. Her son Eric was employed at ERTP as a counselor and is now a supervisor and is one of the 4 arrested who doesn’t have a court case number.

This puzzles me: What does it mean not to have a case number? Not guilty? Dismissed? Or trial pending?

My speculation is that it means either not guilty or charges were dismissed. Why? Because the other son with no case number, Charles Lee, Jr., was arrested 1/30/2013 on an unspecified felony charge and released 1/25/2014. My thinking is that if he were still awaiting a court date for the 2011 bust and was convicted of a felony, then he would not have been released. This could well be erroneous thinking since it doesn’t factor in money and influence.

So if the 2011 charges against the brothers Lee were dismissed, I guess there would be no reason for the guy not to be a supervisor at a remote whatever ERTP is. His mother seemed sure all along he wouldn’t be convicted. But why?

As I said in the title, Eric Lee can’t help it if he’s lucky. Here he is, in the presence of 24 lbs of pot, $37,600 in cash, and a small arsenal when the Madison-Morgan County Strategic Counterdrug Team comes busting through the door of a $138,000 home in Madison. And yet he is free.

He can’t help it if someone (Mom?) can come up with $25,000 bond for him and another $25,000 for his brother so they were in jail only 4 days.  You, I and the man on the moon all know if he had been poor — guilty or not — he’d be in jail awaiting trial. Contrast his predicament with that of the 19-year-old who died naked on the floor of his Madison County jail cell from an infected foot that was never treated. He was arrested in June 2013 for shoplifting Star Wars DVDs and in July for passing a fake $100. By August he was dead. Couldn’t come up with bail, I guess. Freedom isn’t free.

So where are we? Either Eric Lee is awaiting trial or his 2011 problems just dissolved. If he is awaiting trial, then his mom, Pinnacle CEO Karen Lee, has some explaining to do about his job.

If not? Well, then there was no mistake about posting the picture of supervisor Eric on the ERTP Facebook page, maybe as a message that all is clear for Eric, or maybe as a middle fingered salute.

I don’t care if any of the Lees smoke pot or not. I’m unequivocally in favor of the legalization of the plant. For one thing, its illegality continues to destroy the lives of some who are arrested and not for others, and this is unfair. But even if marijuana were legalized and possession for personal use not a crime, trafficking would be. Legal marijuana would be taxed. And one of the best reasons for legalization would be to avoid the culture of trafficking, which includes being willing to harm others, which is why the rifles and weapons were confiscated.

I’d say that Eric could be a nice guy for all I know, except that even if he just stumbled into the house with the 24 lbs of weed, $37K in cash, and shotguns and rifles, what kind of man would be at ease earning his [artisan] bread and [creamery] butter for depriving teens of their liberty and subjecting them to who knows what kinds of torment because they were stupid enough to get caught with a joint in a Huntsville City School and unlucky enough not to have money for a high-profiled attorney and were not to the manor born? One with the integrity of puddle scum, I guess. Or a question of upbringing.

Even if Eric just stopped by the house at the wrong time, his judgment at hanging out with traffickers should disqualify him from a position of responsibility for other peoples’ kids. What does this have to with Huntsville City Schools? Some of those whom Eric Lee are supervising have been sent to ERTP by HCS, and some I expect are there because of social media monitoring. If private pay parents wish to spend tens of thousands of dollars on ERTP without questioning the qualifications of its staff, that’s their decision. But if the public is footing the bill, it should have the assurance that ERTP’s staff, every single one, is qualified and has good judgment. 

As I said back on Sept. 14, 2012, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Lees were not convicted. I would be a little surprised if the charges were simply dismissed, but just a little. Why?

Enter Robert Broussard, DA Madison County.

If the charges against the Lees were dismissed, it comes down to the District Attorney for Madison County, Robert L. Broussard, a man for whom I have even less respect than I do for Col. Wardynski. And that is saying something. 

The  Madison-Morgan County Strategic Counterdrug Team is a division of his office, and this team is a specialized and extra-well trained and funded one. I would imagine that they look before they leap, and had an eye on the four people they arrested long before 12/9/2011. All four. A raid like this should have been executed when no stray people were on the premises. This was no broken tail-light, oh my, there’s 24 pounds of weed in the trunk bust. But “Lee” is a fairly common name, and so maybe they hadn’t done their homework well enough to discover they were about to mess with the sons of the power elite.

If the charges were dismissed, I for one would love to hear the story concocted to explain this.  I haven’t the brainpower to imagine how a specialized drug squad could make such a boo-boo. How, exactly, can you be in a house with 24 lbs of marijuana, etc. and walk away from the charges? What was special about the Lees’ presence that didn’t apply to the other 2 arrested, who do have court case numbers? 

What was different about the Lees in contrast to McDonald and Porter? Money. Not just the Lee’s own stash, being augmented by the public through their contract with the HCS, but the money that has gone into propping up Wardynski, who is a great enabler of Karen Lee.

So here’s the situation again. I expect no answer.

1. The charges against Eric Lee are still pending. This means that Karen Lee’s assurance to the public that Eric would not be counseling at ERTP needs some scrutiny.

2. The charges against the brothers Lee were dismissed or they were found not guilty. Did the Madison-Morgan County Strategic Counterdrug Team screw up? Or did Broussard choose not to prosecute? Why?

 

Bad Behavior Brings Big Reward?

Busy day at Merts Center tomorrow. In the afternoon, there is a rally asking for Wardynski’s resignation, and in the evening, the announcement that the Board has decided to offer him an evergreen, auto-renewing contract.

I’m not even going to pretend we don’t know what the Board will do: this stinks of a done deal, way done and over done, rotten and putrid, and the soliciting of citizen input through email a huge waste of the writers’ time.

Trash it! Delete it! The Board is way too busy to read mail! For heaven’s sake, isn’t it bad enough every 2 weeks to have to sit around listening to constituents’ whining? You don’t really think we are going to be distracted by all these boring emails, do you?. Write Santa Claus instead, folks! Delete, trash, delete.

And I never thought that the BOE would demand Wardynski’s resignation tomorrow, either.But surely when you know that a change.org petition asking the Board to request his resignation has been steadily attracting signatures over the last few months, switching to an auto-renew contract for no good reason is simply a way to send a loud message to anyone who dares hope for answers from the Colonel that they aren’t coming. And tomorrow night, when they go ahead and declare it done, knowing fully well that hours before there was a second rally in two weeks to express distrust in the man, it will send another message: we have the power and you don’t.

Oh, but what about the title of the post? What bad behavior do you claim is being rewarded?

Got a few hours? Read my old posts? Read redeyesfrontpage.blogspot.com and geekpalaver.com. Or for the bad behavior of Wardynski in the past few months alone, read the change.org petition.

And then skip over to the contract the Board is voting on tomorrow night (yea, I know — just a little theatre there), and carry on to page 7, point 11. And for simplicity, we can jump to reason 5 to terminate the supe’s contract.

Dishonesty.

Now, when a US District Judge says 

“The Court strongly suspects that the district has chosen not to share many of the reasons for the choices that it made as it shaped its student assignment plan” (p.101)

“The district’s shifting story regarding M-to-M data is not an isolated incident. Over the past few months, when asked for information, the district frequently has offered incomplete answers. The construction of Jemison is a case in point. At the hearing on the Board’s motion, when the United States pointed out to the superintendent that African-American students at Butler who would be assigned to Jemison under the Board’s plan would move to a more segregated environment, the superintendent responded, “I have to do that because the Court has ordered me to do that.” (Doc. 352, p. 170). The superintendent’s answer is not
accurate. The Court has not ordered the Board to do anything with respect to Butler.” [emphasis added] (pp 96-97)

Notice first the phrases “not an isolated incident”  and “a case in point.” These suggest strongly to me that what we have here are but two examples of dishonesty, if by honest you mean to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” I think that’s what the judge expected, don’t you? I think when Wardynski chose “not to share” or gave “incomplete answers” he was not telling the whole truth. And a “shifting story” sounds to me much like one that has lots of not quite true bits to it. And when I read “not accurate” I think untrue and lies and dishonesty.

The Board apparently does not share my views. Then again, if you read the judge’s findings, they engaged in the same deceit. Ever heard of “enablers”? That’s the Huntsville Board of Education.

Oh, and then there is still the mystery of the NSA call that tipped the supe’s spies to the foreign connection and ultra tacky dagger, all that nonsense. It’s been about a month — more? — and still we do not know who is lying. Perhaps Wardynski’s cabal didn’t mean National Security Agency but No Such Agency. Easy mistake to make.

So: looks to me like we have had some behavior that should lead to terminating the supe’s contract. Instead, it’s now set to auto-renew. It’s a little like those advertising come-ons of get one month’s service free! but we still need your credit card info because if you don’t cancel the contract at exactly 11:11 on February 29 it will renew ’til the next February 29 and then the next and the next.

Ad nauseum.

P.S. This is also in the contract, still: “Evaluation Form, Format and Process. By October 15 of each year of this Contract, the Superintendent shall submit to the Board recommended evaluation criteria for his evaluation.” (p. 6, 10-B)

The more people outside Merts tomorrow, the more arrogant the Board will look when it raises Wardynski up high in the evening. 

mertz

Update on Excluding Redstone Arsenal Families as Stakeholders in the City Schools

If you are unaware that the HCS Board of Education has proclaimed that only citizens of the City of Huntsville are stakeholders in its schools, read this short report first:

Huntsville City Schools Bans Commenting By Military Families

or watch this:

There has been some confusion about the status of military families on Redstone Arsenal. It is really very simple.

1, One bit of misinformation posted on al.com is that RSA families vote in Huntsville City elections so they have not been excluded from commenting at BOE meetings.

RSA families live on a Federal military installation. They DO NOT VOTE in Huntsville City, City of Madison, or Madison County elections. When they call for emergency services, the MPs respond, not the HSV City police. And so on.

2. There is an address for Arsenal mail which includes the word “Huntsville.” This does not mean that Redstone Arsenal is in the City of Huntsville. This is odd, but not meaningful. Consider: Monrovia Elementary is a county school. Its address has the word “Huntsville.” Monrovia is not in the city limits of Huntsville.

Here are the city limits:

http://www.huntsvilleal.gov/gis/gis_maps/pdfs/city_limits.pdf

I have been astounded at how little commentary there has been on this latest debacle.

Huntsville, AL is a military town, remember?

Thousands of Huntsvillians have made billions off the military.

But when it comes to those who make the sacrifices – the ones people love to be the first to praise on Memorial Day as preserving our freedoms – the soldiers and their families, there is simply no interest in these parents being deprived of the freedom to comment to the Board of Education that dictates the policies of the schools their children attend. Shame on you.

Changing the definition of stakeholders in the City Schoools to Huntsville citizens means these 450 or so families no longer have a Board member, although technically I guess they never did, since they do not vote in City elections. 

And the Board rep of the schools their children attend? Culbreath (“The HCS: Good Enough for Your Kids — But Not for Mine”). Likelihood of a property developer giving an underdone damn for families with a median income of $32,000? Won’t bother to answer.

Why did  COLONEL Wardynski sat by quietly and let this happen?

People, we do not live in a military dictatorship yet. You can (surprise!) criticize a Colonel and still be a good American, a Patriot even, although whether you can do so without impunity given his FBI and CIA  and hotline to the NSA — well, you decide what you feel safe in saying,

He doesn’t scare me.

 

Huntsville City Schools Bans Commenting By Military Families

This just in: At tonight’s Huntsville City Schools’ Board Meeting, the Board voted to limit comments during the Citizens’ Comments section at the end of its meeting to residents of the City of Huntsville.

Adjacent to the City of Huntsville is a huge military base, Redstone Arsenal.

Redstone kids go to Huntsville City Schools.

But Redstone families do not live in the City of Huntsville. Thus, now that “only Huntsville residents” can speak at BOE meetings, military families can no longer bring concerns about their children to the Supe Colonel Wardynski’s and BOE’s notice during the “Citizens’ Comments” at the system’s bimonthly meetings.

Let see W and the five fools squirm out of this one.

Rules are rules, you know.

He Spies, etc. Pt. 5. Why is Deterrence Not an Option?

I wish that I had access to a sampling of HCS middle and senior high school students to ask two questions: What happens to students who are expelled? Does it matter how old they are?

For most of my life I have believed that being expelled was the same as dropping out, but with more drama. At least the outcome was the same: prospect of not getting a decent job unless the school-leaver got a GED. Family fireworks. Nothing worse, though.

I’m thinking now I was wrong. Consider this statement from the article alerting us to the HCS surveillance program, or whatever you want to call this latest outrage:

“The students were expelled and placed in alternative school and boot camp programs.”

If expelled means kicked out of school, how can a superintendent place an expelled student in an alternative school or boot camp?

What is the procedure? Pages A14 to A19 of the 2014-2015 HCS Student/Parent Handbook outline the procedure for expulsion, but there is no mention of alternative schools or boot camps. So how do students land in boot camps?

And more importantly, why are students not told that being expelled doesn’t mean they are through with school?

Why are they not told in graphic detail what they can expect their lives to be like if they land in Wardynski’s “boot camp” which I assume is the Pinnacle School’s Elk River Wilderness camp (the “teepees”) but can’t say for sure, since nowhere on the HCS website or in the handbook is there a single mention of an alternative school or boot camp.

This is what Wardynski said way back when he and the Board shut the Seldon Center and got in bed with Pinnacle:

“Those who do not comport themselves according to the regulations and rules of Pinnacle Schools will find themselves living in a teepee. And they won’t be coming back until they can behave. And if they can’t behave, they won’t be coming back to our schools.”

The contract included this:

“. . . HCS may refer students who are being removed from the program to Pinnacle School’s Elk River Treatment Program for intensive therapeutic treatment, upon such terms as may be agreed to by TPS and HCS and at the sole discretion of the Superintendent.” [emphasis added] — Pinnacle and Huntsville City Schools Contract

The prospect of being sent to the sticks far from friends and family with no phone, no internet, no privacy, and no freedom, for an indeterminate stretch could be a good deterrent to those contemplating an expulsion worthy offense. But not wanting to go through such a program would serve as a deterrent only if would-be offenders had a clue what awaited them on the other side of expulsion.

Why don’t they know? Why does the HCS keep this secret to surprise kids with after they have done wrong? 

I find it sinister and sociopathic to operate thusly.

Wardynski has his fantasies of calls from the NSA alerting him to Yemenis plotting to cut off teachers’ heads.

I’ll offer a fantasy of my own.

Imagine you have had enough of high school but you are only 15. You long for your 16th birthday when you will be able to drop out. You turn 16, go to get your license, and discover that the school leaving age has been bumped up to 17 (did you know this, Reader? Meanwhile, the UK has extended voting privileges to 16-year-olds). Despair follows. You cannot take another year of standardizing testing — why bother with all that when you could be preparing and taking the GED, a test that if you perform well will mean something to you, and not the suits? But you also have heard of truant officers and you don’t want to land at the juvenile detention center. So what are your options?

Maybe, you think, if you can’t leave voluntarily, you can get them to throw you out. So you devise a full-proof scheme. You buy a stiletto at the flea market, print out a picture of your principal, pin it to your wall by jabbing the stiletto through the eye, and take out your phone. You post it with the caption, after today I will never have to look Mr. Principal in the eye ever again, on your FB wall and a bunch of your friends’, toss the stiletto in the glove compartment, and off you go, happily thinking this is the last time you will be making this trip.

You are cheerful when confronted by all the assistant principals, etc. and show no remorse because all is going according to plan.

You are expelled the next day,

And then you are informed you will be spending as long as it takes to break you or until your 17th birthday in a teepee. Now it’s W who is flying high.

And there is nothing at all you can do.

No one ever told you that expelled doesn’t mean you are free of the school system’s authority. You didn’t factor in that if you aren’t 17 you have to be educated somewhere, and Mom and Dad don’t have the resources to send you to a private school, even if one would take you, and they have been threatened with arrest and jail if they don’t sign you over, and are too shocked to figure out a workable plan — if there is such a thing.

You would never have done the stupid little charade to get kicked out if you had known that kicked out really meant losing all your freedom.

Nobody is going to believe you that all you wanted was to be free and get on with your life.

You are screwed, in other words, facing weeks, months, years (do they have to release you at 17?) in a private prison with no legal representation, wondering why no one warned you.

Too bad.

 

 

He Spies With His Beady Black Eyes. Pt. 4. Whose Safety Matters Most I Think I Know

Wardynski’s own. After all, years before he dreamed up the stealth program SAFe he had metal detectors installed in Merts Center, his own headquarters.

If kids entering schools with guns and knives is truly a serious problem in the Huntsville City Schools, wouldn’t the most direct, quick, and obvious solution be to install metal detectors?

Instead, W amassed a “W”atchlist of 600 kids, 3% of the student body,without Board approval (or even knowledge?), without the knowledge of citizens paying for the list, and without soliciting bids for the stealth monitoring campaign.

After all, metal detectors have several advantages that would not have landed W in the soup.

1. Metal detectors detect metal. They do not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, economic class, ethnicity, or [presumed] religion. Unless W had simultaneously implemented VIP entrances into the schools, he would not have incurred the attention of the ACLU (for this, anyway). Metal detectors are equal opportunity instruments.

2. Metal detectors deal with what is before them in the here and now. They do not act based on unreliable tips, they do not judge what maybe might someday be the intentions of the persons before them.

3. Metal detectors are a one-time purchase. The HCS doesn’t have to keep dumping money in the account of a business the Board claims not to know was on its payroll.

4. Metal detectors would act as a deterrent — a kid would have to be pretty damn dumb to bring in a knife or gun through the detectors. How can a stealth program serve as a deterrent? It can’t.

5. Finally, if metal detectors are good enough for the top brass, shouldn’t the lowly foot soldiers, the teachers and school staff members and of course the children (think of the children!) deserve the same level of protection?

But let’s acknowledge the disadvantages.

1. Someone might get the idea that violence is a problem in the HCS. If it is, then why pretend it isn’t? And if it’s not, then why the stealth SAFe?

2. Metal detectors do not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, economic class, ethnicity, or [presumed] religion. Yeah, you did already see that as number 1 on my list of advantages. But what I consider an advantage may be disadvantageous to someone else — I mean, if the machine starts shrieking and it is one of “our kids” caught in front of everyone — well how awkward would that be?

3.  Metal detectors are a one-time purchase. This would not be good news for T&W Operations,  founded by two retired career military officers, who have been collecting the checks from HCS.

Every project its own Dick Cheney, I guess. Follow the money.

 

 

He Spies With His Beady Black Eyes: Wardynski Has His Tail in a Crack. Pt 1

And I am hoping it is so tightly wedged that he won’t slither out of this one.

If you are here, I expect you already know about the latest crock of lies, evasions, deceits, illegalities, and violations of civil rights on the part of Wardynski and his henchmen: the May 2012 NSA tip-off (which the NSA denies) about a so-called immediate threat of danger (aka juvenile last day of school humor) with a foreign connection: one of the 100s of people following then junior Auseel Yousefi’s Twitter feed was a Yemeni (and thus, it seems, presumed to be a Muslim Jihadist terrorist) and how this tip-off led to the never-spent-a-day-on-the-battlefield retired colonel forming a surveillance project that the Board of Education maybe did or maybe didn’t know about (damn! who was responsible for delivering the scripts last week?) two months before the Yemeni non-event occurred.

There! I packed a whole lot of it into one sentence. But I am sure there is much, much more to come.

First, praise for al.com’s Challen Stephens who is doing investigative journalism! I could dance with glee. Starting with the September 24, 2014 story, “Huntsville schools say call from NSA led to monitoring students online,” and following up with an interview with Auseel Yousefi, who outed himself in the comments responding to Stephens’ first article, the subject has grown and other reporters are on board.

There are tons of issues. There’s the matter of funding, well addressed by geekpalaver:
“Off The Books Spying Program $1 Million,” “All Kids Are Our Kids” and “Wardynski Violates Board Policy.”

Oh dear, post interrupted by consideration of the beady eyed one’s proclamation, Monitoring social media part of Huntsville schools’ responsibility to keep students safe: guest opinion.

My responses follow: So Colonel, now bullying is a problem? I remember a time when it wasn’t. In October 2012 you told WAAY 31’s Shea Allen: “Bullying has been going on for a long time. There was bullying when I was a kid. But I can tell you when we look at the statistics, while its [sic] about 80 percent of what you guys talk about its [sic] only about one percent of what we see.”

Remember way back then? Same season when one girl at Butler was beat up by three other girls in a bathroom and you referred to the event as”horseplay” and suggested the victim was at fault since she was “in a bathroom 20 minutes after class“ had begun and then gave her mother all kinds of hassle before granting the child a “temporary transfer”?

Funny what you can find on the internet.

and

Oh yes, then there’s the outsourcing of alternative schooling to Pinnacle Schools. It’s so outsourced that the only mention of it on the HCS website is one sentence about athletics (“A student [sic] that is attending the Seldon Center or Pinnacle is only eligible to represent the Seldon Center or Pinnacle. A student attending the Seldon Center or Pinnacle cannot participate at any other school.” [Students are people; "that" should be "who."]) although millions of taxpayer dollars have been funneled to Pinnacle. 

Where was the concern for student safety when Julian Lorenzo Boykin, one of the guards at Pinnacle’s Huntsville campus, was charged with “torture and willful abuse of a child”?

Or when Karen Lee, owner of Pinnacle, hired her son Eric as a counselor (!) at the remote private prison (which these days you are calling a “boot camp”) AFTER young Eric was charged with felony drug trafficking AND firearms charges (confiscated weapons included “shotguns and rifles.”). Was it revealed that Eric was “outfitted to hunt ducks or deer” and so couldn’t possibly be a threat? I missed that update.

Your response: renew the contract!

If you don’t know what I am on about just hit the tag word Pinnacle.

And I’ll be back with much more.