Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: Looking for a seat at the table

By From page A2 | April 13, 2014

So, you’re willing to give back to the community by offering to volunteer to fill just under six months of the 2½ years remaining on Nancy Peterson’s School Board term, figuring it’s the least you can do for the city you love.

Well, you’d better take a number and get in line, for the list of potential candidates for this appointment is longer than Pinocchio’s nose.

Some want simply to serve the six months and be done with it. More ambitious folks figure an appointment will allow them to use the word “incumbent” and give them a leg up on other candidates when the final two years of Nancy Peterson’s seat are put on the ballot come November.

Still others hope to parlay a six-month appointment into a four-year seat on the Board, given that three such seats will also be up grabs in November.

To help them decide which candidate to pick for the six-month stint, the four Board members who remain after Peterson’s sudden and shocking resignation several weeks ago have decided to put everyone through a rigorous seven-question essay exam, with all answers — at 250 words each — due by Tuesday.

The actual appointment will be made May 8, with a ticker-tape parade down B Street to follow.

Davis patriot that I am, I have offered to proofread every essay that comes through the District’s front door just to be sure no one is appointed who doesn’t know the difference between “lay and lie,” “affect and effect,” and, of course, “it’s and its.” I plan to be eating several It’s Its while grading the essays.

If it were up to me, there would be only one question on the entire exam, with the answer limited to one word.

Put simply, the question is “Peterson or Crawford?”

That’s what got us into this mess in the first place and we’d pretty much like to know which way a candidate is leaning on an issue that severely divided the District and the Board, and cost the taxpayers of this town bundles and bundles of money.

Just for fun, I’d probably throw in that old brain teaser “Brothers and sisters have I none, but that man’s father is my father’s son.” The question being, “who is that man?”

If the candidates can’t master that one, they’re likely to fall asleep long before an actual Board meeting is over.

I’d have also asked “In the spirit of diversity, should the sale of Devil Dogs at Davis High School athletic events be halted during Fridays in Lent?”

While I won’t bore you with all seven of the Board’s questions, there were several that did strike my fancy.

The seventh and final question was actually a statement followed by a question.

“A violation of ethics occurs when a Board member does not clearly separate personal and District interests and govern on behalf of the District. How would you respond when confronted with this conflict yourself?”

If the Board had any courage, the follow-up question would have been “If a fellow Board member does not clearly separate personal and District interests, how would you respond to that Board member?”

I’d make it a multiple-choice question with the options being (choose one): “support Board member,” “censure Board member,” “see no evil” or “write op-ed in town newspaper telling community ‘It’s time to move on.’ ”

Seven questions. 1,750 words. 180 days in office.

Gluttons for punishment, please step forward.

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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