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?

 

Be Careful What You Post on Social Media: Remember the Lee Brothers?

splcTime for an update on several previous posts from September 2012, starting with The Pinnacle of Hypocrisy and carrying on through Thank you, Crystal Bonvillian. Innocent Until Proven Guilty. Nepotism. These posts came months after my first suggesting that sending HCS students to The Pinnacle Schools’ Elk River Treatment Program at the sole discretion of Wardynski was wrong for many reasons.   .

The Sept. 2012 posts were about the arrests of owners Karen and Charles Lee’s sons, Charles Lee, Jr. and Eric Lee for trafficking on December 10, 2011.  Reports noted agents seized “24 pounds of marijuana and about $37,600 in cash during the bust” and “weapons, including shotguns and rifles.” 

Two others were busted along with the Lees: Corey McDonald and Stephanie Porter.

Now, parents aren’t responsible for the behavior of their adult children. Hypocrisy, like Karen Lee claiming she can turn your kids’ lives around, isn’t a crime.

Apparently neither is employing someone awaiting trial on charges like these as a counselor supervisor in the remote Elk River Treatment Program, aka Wardynski’s teepees of yesteryear, boot camps this season. Lee says she told the Board about the arrests before her contract with HCS was approved. When the Lees’ arrest came to the public’s attention, and it became known that Eric Lee was up at Elk River,

“Superintendent Casey Wardynski expressed support for Pinnacle and Lee, who he said contacted him Thursday afternoon and told him she was altering her son’s duties with the program pending resolution of his case.

“She is removing him from the Elk River program and he will be working other duties,” Wardynski said. . . . Lee told The Times on Thursday that her son would remain an employee, just as any employee would if they were charged with a crime but had not been convicted. That will change if he is found guilty of the drug charges. “Of course, if he was convicted he would be terminated,” Lee said.”

So what does this have to do with social media? Well, I was doing a little bit of my own monitoring of Facebook, and paid a visit here:

Elk River Treatment Program. Look in pictures and who do you find? This guy. There are two instances of that same picture, one on July 30, birthday greetings, and then one on July 31, 2014 with the caption: “Mr. Lee is a supervisor at ERTP.” Well, Karen Lee did promise Wardynski  “she was altering her son’s duties.” She made him a supervisor.
 
Now, it’s true he hasn’t been convicted of anything. He and his brother do not even have case numbers yet, although in a little over 2 months, 3 years will have passed since their arrest. Scroll down to the end of he post first to see what I am talking about.
But interestingly, the other 2 arrested, Corey McDonald and Stephanie Porter, have case numbers but no sentencing.
It took me a while to figure this out. If you have a case number, it shows up. If you don’t, you just have 000-0000 as a placeholder.
If you go to http://jail.madisoncountyal.gov/smartwebclient/, what comes up first are the new bookings, and they have 000-0000 for case numbers too, just like Eric Lee. Now Charles still has no case number for the 2011 arrest, but he seems to have gotten himself in trouble again in 2013 and spent 13 months inside.
McDonald has a case number for the Dec. 2011 arrest .Porter has a possession charge with no case number from the Dec. 2011 arrest, but does have a case number for the trafficking charge.
So what are we to make of this? Four arrested; two have case numbers and two don’t. Why? What does it mean not to have a case number? Not guilty? Dismissed? Or trial pending? I simply don’t know.
And by the way, the Pinnacle guard charged with torture, Julian Boykin? He too has no case number.

Enlarge Photo
LEE, ERIC EDWARD   (W / MALE / DOB: 7/30/1988 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO11JBN014271 MniNo: MCSO11MNI002388
Booking Date: 12/09/2011 15:05:42 Released: 12/13/2011 1:50:00 PM
Age On Booking Date: 23
Bond Amount: $25000.00
CELL Assigned:
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[-] 13A-12-231 000-0000 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $25000.00
TRAFFICKING (MARIJUANA, COCAINE, METHAMPHETAMINE, DRUGS)

 


Enlarge Photo

LEE, CHARLES IVY   (W / MALE / DOB: 7/20/1987 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO11JBN014270 MniNo: MCSO00MNI058191
Booking Date: 12/09/2011 15:00:19 Released: 12/13/2011 6:40:00 PM
Age On Booking Date: 24
Bond Amount: $25000.00
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[-] 13A-12-231 000-0000 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $25000.00
TRAFFICKING (MARIJUANA, COCAINE, METHAMPHETAMINE, DRUGS


Enlarge Photo

LEE, CHARLES IVY   (W / MALE / DOB: 7/20/1987 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO13JBN001160 MniNo: MCSO00MNI058191
Booking Date: 01/30/2013 09:51:51 Released: 1/25/2014 12:01:00 AM
Age On Booking Date: 26
Bond Amount: $0.00
CELL Assigned:
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[-] 15-10-60 CC12-3134 (MADISON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE) COURT SENTENCED (FELONY) F $0.00
COURT SENTENCED

 

MCDONALD, COREY ANDREW   (W / MALE / DOB: 10/9/1984 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO11JBN014269 MniNo: MCSO11MNI014234
Booking Date: 12/09/2011 14:45:10 Released: 12/14/2011 6:45:00 PM
Age On Booking Date: 27
Bond Amount: $25000.00
CELL Assigned:
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[+] 13A-12-231 DC11 7712 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $25000.00

 

Enlarge Photo
PORTER, STEPHANIE IRENE   (W / FEMALE / DOB: 8/26/1986 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO11JBN014265 MniNo: MCSO11MNI000693
Booking Date: 12/09/2011 14:10:48 Released: 12/14/2011 5:20:00 PM
Age On Booking Date: 25
Bond Amount: $2500.00
CELL Assigned:
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[+] 13A-12-231 DC11 7709 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $25000.00
[+] 13A-12-212 000-0000 (STAC) POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE F $2500.00


Enlarge Photo

PORTER, STEPHANIE IRENE   (W / FEMALE / DOB: 8/26/1986 )
Status: Released
Booking No: MCSO12JBN008364 MniNo: MCSO11MNI000693
Booking Date: 07/19/2012 13:33:11 Released: 3/13/2013 6:32:00 AM
CHARGES
STATUTE COURT CASE NUMBER CHARGE DEGREE LEVEL BOND
[+] 13A-12-231 DC12-4952 (STAC) DRUG TRAFFICKING F $0.00
[+] 15-10-60 DC11-7708 (MADISON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE) BOND REVOCATION F F $0.00
[+] 15-10-60 CC12 3133 (MADISON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE) COURT SENTENCED (FELONY) F $0.00

 

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

Racism? Profiling? Prejudice? Or Incompetence? The Tale of One Student, Zoned for Butler.

If you think there is no systemic racism in the Huntsville City Schools, perhaps you could explain to me why, without even opening her record, a Mexican girl who transferred from Butler to Lee in 2010 was automatically enrolled in Lee’s remedial classes.

Oh, but you say, this happened 4 years ago, pre-Wardynski. True, but it was the same Board of Education with the exception of Culbreath. And considering the hostility of Wardynski to transfers within the system, it would surprise me to learn that transfer students are now treated with respect. Or given a chance at least.

OK, you object, this was one counselor’s decision. I met with this counselor the next year and found her, as kids had told me, to be a pleasant person who seemed to care about her students. A meeting that should have taken 15 minutes took at least 90 because she was interrupted repeatedly by kids who needed help. If the events that transpired in the letter here were of her making, they were in the context of the HCS’ culture.

The story is laid out in this letter of complaint I sent to Lee. I’ve changed the girl’s and parent’s names.

“I am contacting you on behalf of the mother of one of your freshman students, Maria Garcia. Her mother, Ana Garcia, has fairly good oral comprehension of English but still feels inhibited when she tries to speak in formal situations.

“I have known the Garcia family for six years and was instrumental in Maria’s enrollment in Holy Family School after she completed 5th grade at University Place since we were all dubious about the atmosphere at Ed White Middle School. Maria was zoned for Butler High and entered Lee under the No Child Left Behind provisions.

“My understanding from Maria and her mother is that they are concerned that nevertheless she is in fact at risk of being left behind since at Lee she was scheduled into classes that seem very basic to her, especially her math class. Maria wants to go to college. She is a bright young lady and should go to college.

“If her placement was based on her final grades at Holy Family, there are a few things that should be considered. First, Holy Family uses a traditional grade scale [A 93-100; B 84-92; C 74-83; D 65-73; F 64 and below], so an 83, which would be a mid-level B in the Huntsville City Schools, is a C at Holy Family. Secondly, at least half, perhaps three-quarters, of Holy Family’s graduates go on to Catholic High, which is a college prep school (more than 60% take at least one AP course, 100% college acceptance rate). Unfortunately, although she was accepted to Catholic High, her family could not afford the $6,900 tuition, and so instead are trying to get her the best education they can at Lee.

“Maria tells me that she has been to see you and her understanding is that she will need to wait until her sophomore year before her placements can be re-evaluated. The logic of this is hard to see: why not make the decision now, and let her start getting challenged during the second semester of her freshman year?

“May I ask you to please talk with Maria and explain what Lee has to offer her? Perhaps that would be enough, or we could arrange a conference with you, me, Maria and her mother. Should you have any questions, I can be reached at xxx-xxxx.”

Maria’s schedule was re-cast that same week.

So what do we have here? Was Maria pipe-lined into remedial classes because she was Mexican? Because she was zoned for Butler? Because she was presumed to have gone to a Butler feeder school? Or all of the above?

There’s been a lot of insulting, condescending editorializing over at al.com this week about the need for parental involvement. This girl’s parents cared about her education, although they have little themselves. They did not, however, know how to work the system.

What became of Maria? Despite never seeming to spend a moment studying, she made As and Bs at Lee, but never had much interest in her classes. By the end of her sophomore year, she had lost a lot of her sparkle and ambition.

Her parents sent her back to Mexico to live with her grandmother. They thought she would be safer there and would get a better education. She excelled, and is now in college.

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.

 

He Spies, etc. Pt. 6. 3 Kids Died in US High Schools in 3 Days. What Will the HCS Do to Keep This from Happening in Its Schools?

Predictably the pronouncements made to justify the Huntsville City School’s clandestine monitoring of social media are variations on this chorus line:

  Student and staff safety is our number one concern…period. Ask any parent and they will tell you they want their child home from school, every day, safe and sound…no exceptions. — David Blair, BOE President

And who can argue about that?

Just this week three American kids didn’t make it home from school.

Were they shot? No.

Stabbed? No

Victims of gang violence? No.

Monday. September 29, 2014, a student in NC died, as did one in Troy, AL. The third died Wednesday in NY.

All teenagers, all of whom collapsed on the field in their high school football uniforms.

If student safety is really the HCS’s top priority, perhaps it should considering ending its football program.

Yeah, right.

 

 

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.