Saturday, June 23, 2007

Kentucky Board of Education: Inexperienced board lacks seasoning in Erwin mess, H-L editorial writer says.

Presents one image to the board behind closed doors,
another to reporters

I am a podcast listener of Comment on Kentucky, KET's long-running public affairs program hosted by journalist Al Smith. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to listening to last Friday's program until this morning - while I restacked the firewood onto a palet I made.

At any rate, the show (June 15, 2007) included comments from Herald-Leader Editorial Assistant Jamie Lucke and CNHI News Service reporter Ronnie Ellis on the Kentucky Board of Education and the Erwin situation. (Note: video runs about 3 minutes and starts 2/3rds of the way through the program.)

Sitting in for Al Smith last week was Director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at UK, Al Cross.

Al Cross: The state board of education met this week, and the new commissioner, Barbara Erwin, is not on-board yet, but...can you tell us why the state board picked the controversial Barbara Erwin and why they're sticking with her?

Jamie Lucke: Well, I...can only surmise, but I have to surmise that they must not have had a very strong field of applicants to begin with. Perhaps because of the uncertainty about a change in administrations, that this governor may lose and that whoever got the job would have to deal with a new administration. And then I think they just got so deep into the process without having been informed by their search firm, their professional search firm that she had a lot of baggage. I mean this is the kind of baggage that a reporter googling her can find out in fifteen minutes. Why the board was taken by surprise is something that I don't know. But it just seems like they were too far in to back out. It's a fairly inexperienced board. All of the board members now are appointees of Governor Fletcher and you know, they don't have the seasoning that some...earlier boards have had and they just stuck with their choice. I suspect she must be very dynamic in person because they spent a great deal of time with her in a closed session and came out and said 'we're stickin.'

Ronnie Ellis: And...she can be a very good interview. She can be dynamic. I think she perhaps is presenting one image to the board behind closed doors and dealing with reporters in a little bit different light because there have been a number of things that we were told that board members were told differently in that meeting. And,, just quickly, all of the board members were appointed by Fletcher. ...Keith Travis, the chairman, was originally appointed by Paul Patton, and reappointed. All the others are Fletcher appointees for the first time.

No comments: