The Monona Rag

Dealing the Dish on Monona, Wisconsin

Tag: Susan Manning

School Board Fashion Review – May 2011

Designer Karl Lagerfeld begs for madness to stop

This was barely a step above a city council fashion review. Dull, dull and more dull. I almost cried watching. I miss Jill List.

One side of the room wore black. Most of the other side was stuck in 1978.

Thanks to Superintendent Gerlach and Lionel Norton for adding some variety to the affair.

Here’s a rundown.

Craig Gerlach – The superintendent was natty looking wearing a turquoise dress shirt and tie. We liked his sharply cropped head of hair. It was fun to watch him let his glasses hang off the edge of his nose as he looked around at the school board. We give Gerlach credit – he’s consistently natty at these events. Maybe next time he can take a risk and go more casual – maybe a nice polo.

Susan Manning – One of the row of black (with Jason McCutchin and Jessica Ace). Susan wore black jacket over of a white top. It was classic and smart. Nothing earth shattering, but nicely done. A nice floral pattern scarf would have looked good with this outfit, bringing some color to the mix. Perhaps next time.

Jessica Ace – Just a simple black top. Nothing to stand out. Just a bit dull. We want Jessica to do better – I nice dress with some color or a pattern might be interesting.

Jason McCutchin – Jason continues the dullness with a black polo shirt. It’s a ‘meh’. Nothing wrong, nothing exceptional. We’d like to see Jason step up his game and wear a sharp, deep purple dress shirt (long sleeve) with a colorful tie (not to garish, but enough to pop a bit).

Dean Bowles – The board’s newest member gets his first fashion review. The results are nothing to write home about. Bowles is wearing a crisscross pattern short sleeve shirt that could be at home in any decade. Is it timeless? Maybe in a supper club. First step for Dean is to work on the comb over.

Susan Fox – A grayish jacket over a white top is predictably average. Sue needs a sleekness upgrade. Her wardrobe is never offensive, but never grabbing our attention.

Peter Sobol – Drab green shirt, short sleeve. Mustache. Peter Sobol does not change. Should we even try to change Peter? He is like granite – gray and drab and unchanging in face of any storm or circumstance. Final note – trim the hair – it’s getting a little shaggy.

Lionel Norton – Norton wore a white and purple checked shirt. The pattern was like the picnic tablecloth my parents had when I was a kid. Not that Lionel looked like a table cloth. The shirt was good. The purple, as well as pattern, offered the most unique garment of the night. We also liked the scruffy three-day beard with the shaved head – Lionel looked cool. Lionel should wear a suit to an upcoming meeting. A pin strip suit of gray or blue would be a killer.

The Great Maywood Debate

The Maywood debate is going to be a difficult one. I have a feeling we are going to hate this subject as it dominates headlines over the next few months.

Closing Maywood will reportedly save the district about $250,000 a year. Superintendent Gerlach says that he wants a decision on Maywood by December.

Based upon the most recent MG board meeting, board members Susan Manning and Jessica Ace appear to want to delay any such decision on Maywood as long as possible.

Jessica really looks like she’ll fight hard to keep the school open. She brought up the idea of putting administration at Winnequah instead of Nichols. But that brings up the question of where to put the alternative high school. Board President Susan Fox seems to be leaning toward closing Maywood.

Lionel Norton and Jill List made a good point about the Maywood debate – ask your questions now, bring up options, and let it go after that. They don’t want to put the decision on the agenda, only to have more questions pop up at the last minute.

Gerlach pointed out that cutting the budget this year will be very hard. Fox said that the district needs to cut $544,000 after everything was said and done.  The other $244,000 will come out of staff attrition and other like items.

I think Gerlach (or the board or whomever can do these sorts of things) should do the following:

  • Set a date now for the decision on Maywood. Don’t delay, don’t leave it ambiguous.
  • Inform board members and public that they need to submit all the alternatives for keeping Maywood open by a specific date.
  • Schedule a couple of talking sessions for the public to come and discuss about the subject. The district needs to give parents and concerned citizens a chance to voice their opinions.
  • Come out with talking points about the school and the issues. Examples: let everyone know if selling or renting Nichols is an alternative. Let everyone know how Winnequah would be configured with the additional students. Let everyone know what will happen to Maywood (this can be a simple ‘we don’t know’ – but say that). Have these points passed out at board meetings and sent home to parents, to show that the district is looking at all the questions regarding the issue.

Supporters of keeping Maywood open need to do the following:

  • Give solid evidence that K-2 school provides an educational benefit to our kids. Just saying the smaller environment is a good thing isn’t going to work. People will need more than that.
  • Bring realistic alternatives to the table that would keep the school open. The above scenario presented by Jessica Ace is a good example: what if you sold Nichols, moved district offices to Winnequah, and housed the Alt School somewhere else. I don’t know if this is a feasible idea, but go out and find the answers if want Maywood to survive.

In the end, I think the burden is on the Maywood supporters in this issue. Why? Because the vote that saved Maywood last year likely doesn’t have the same support this year.

Last year, some people thought the communities needed more time to consider alternatives. But that time is up. The budget issues continue to loom, and while it appears that Sue Manning and Jessica Ace want to keep Maywood, Susan Fox and Lionel Norton – who both voted to keep Maywood open last year – are not likely to repeat that vote. We can’t argue we haven’t had enough time or explored all the alternatives – we’v had nine months to do that – the excuse won’t hold with people.

Get ready for this to explode in the next couple of months – especially if a December date is set for making this decision.

School Board Fashion Review

"Damn, they look almost as awesome as I do."

The weather was hot for the last School Board meeting, but we have to say the fashions were sweltering.

My fingers are sweating it was so good.

And the best? It was all the best! Simply amazing. Let’s start at the top.

Superintendent Craig Gerlach was dashing and casual all at once in a tan wool Giorgio Armani sport coat. His comfy Ecco Oxfords were a perfect match. It was all complimented by a Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic Watch. It was smart and sophisticated.

Things are smoldering hot!

On the board we’ll start with the very pregnant Jessica Ace. Ms. Ace was, frankly, stunning in a Isabella Oliver maternity dress with yellow floral patterns. The Bulgari clutch bag was adorable. Simple and elegant.

My fingers are burning up!

Next we look at Peter Sobol. Today, Peter was sharp and colorful, with a Roberto Cavalli ensemble of tan slacks with light linen jacket over a purple shirt. It was hip and SUPER comfy looking. The David Yurman gold bracelet on his right wrist was an equally cool touch.

We’re smokin’ now.

Board president Susan Fox kept up her appearance with her position, choosing a brown Dolce & Gabbana wool suit. But Susan busted out of the conservative look with a leopard-print satin long sleeve shirt – also from Dolce & Gabbana. The outfit was nicely finished out with Alexandre Birman ankle boots and a leather bag from Alexander McQueen.

I’m feel like I’m at Milan Fashion Week. Too much fun.

Lionel Norton was the next fashion maven to grace the board meeting. Norton was the most casual board member of the night, but not the least stylish. He wore dark designer jeans from hip fashion brand 7 For All Mankind. With the jeans he wore a gray John Varvatos vest over a simple white shirt. And the best was the awesome leather boots from Salvatore Ferragamo.

So cool it’s hot.

The last of our female board members in attendance was Susan Manning, who kept things at a high level with dark blue double-breasted blazer from Michael Kors. The black Akris Punto were a nice match, and the Burberry scarf was an even better touch.

I am weeping with joy.

The final board member was Jason McCutchin – and he didn’t disappoint. Jason wore a gray Gucci blazer with light strips along with black slacks. His shirt was basic white, which only helped the aqua and blue striped Stefano Ricci tie stand out. The classic Rolex Submariner finished out the outfit.

Things are simply white hot!

We’re sorry Jill List was unavailable for the amazing night of fashion. We look forward to her Louis Vuitton outfit for the next affair.

Donatella Versace eat your heart out. We have the Monona Grove School Board.

Monona’s ‘vocal minority’

Who is this mysterious ‘vocal minority’ that seem to be dominating message boards and letters to the editor?

We seem to hear a lot about them. So, who are they? The answer is a whole lot different then you’re led to believe.

Many who disagree with the recent school board decision to not close Maywood like to say that the school was kept open by a ‘vocal minority’ or ‘a few vocal parents’.

The latest of these is former school board member Mike DuPlayee, who wrote a letter to the district newspaper – – criticizing Susan Manning and a ‘few vocal parents” for their efforts to keep Maywood open, and the board for going along with it.

This is total and complete crap – crap that is trying to be repeated by idiots so that people actually believe it. It’s the old saying, keep repeating something over and over – no matter what the truth – and it starts becoming true in the eyes of many. Sad that elected officials resort to this.

In Monona there were 2078 people who voted in the last election. 1646 selected Susan Manning – which means over 80% of the Monona voters agreed that Susan Manning was the best person for the school board.

Just over 50% of Monona residents selected Peter Sobol, while just over 21% selected Jennifer Pickel.

There were 3148 votes cast in Monona for school board – but only 2078 voters – meaning about 1/2 of the voters didn’t bother to vote for a second person.

NOTE: We don’t know where to get the number of voters for Cottage Grove – just the number of total votes cast – 2452. If we use Monona as a guide, and say that 1/2 of the votrs only voted for one person, then the voter total would be around 1600. Again, this is very rough guess.

Combining this number with the Monona voters gives us a total of around 3700 voters – meaning that about 58% of the voters selected Susan Manning. 54% selected Peter Sobol. About 36% selected Jennifer Pickel.

58% or 80% is hardly the ‘silent majority’ that people like Mike DuPlayee like to spew.

Perhaps DuPlayee is still smarting from the lose he took a year ago, sending him off the board.

We have to credit to Mr. DuPlayee for starting off his letter with ‘As a taxpayer of the district…’ – he uses it again later as well. This is the kind of line he used to roll his eyes at in board meetings when citizens would speak. I guess it’s okay for him to use it. This is the guy who supported a flawed referendum, didn’t remember to put playground equipment into our budget one year for one of our schools, and got taken over $1 million in funds CG had promised for construction of the area around GD – but didn’t deliver (so much for getting things in writing). Mr. Financial Wizard at work.

We also love his use of ‘consolidation’ of Maywood. Say it like it is, DuPlayee – you’re closing the school.

We are not arguing that we shouldn’t debate the closing of Maywood. We are arguing that there is strong public sentiment in favor of keeping it open – the strong support in the recent elections shows that the community of Monona – and even the district as a whole – support Susan Manning’s decision to keep Maywood open.

Finally, DuPlayee ends his letter by playing the card that got Glacial Drumlin built – the split card. His ‘if Monona doesn’t do what we want or I’m taking my ball home’ routine is a classic. Use fear and blame to get what you want.

Sorry, Mike, but the ‘vocal minority’ isn’t putting up with it.

School Board Vote

As we look at the school board election for this week, there are two seats and three candidates. We have to admit that from the perspective of trying to keep education long term in Monona for k-12, it’s a bit dismaying.

On one hand, Susan Manning has fought to keep our kids in Monona even before joining the board three years ago. Selecting her is a no brainer if you think Monona should try and keep it’s kids educated in this community as long as possible.

The other choices aren’t inspiring.

Jennifer Pickel is from Cottage Grove, and her campaign has touted out the ‘best for the kids’ and ‘best programming’ lines – meaning don’t expect her to vote to help preserve Monona’s schools.

Peter Sobol, while from Monona, has long been a supporter of moving our kids out of our city. Peter was an ardent supporter of moving 7-8 graders to Cottage Grove, and recently voted to move 6th graders there as well. He also supported closing Maywood School. We at least give Peter credit for being consistent – the support and votes he’s cast sucked a little bit out of Monona each time. You close a school here, move a couple of classes there, close another school, move another class – all in the name of programming and fiscal sense. But nothing to maintain k-12 in Monona. Peter just doesn’t see the importance of that.

So what do we do?

Vote Manning. Do a write in. Not that it will help. The vast majority of Cottage Grove voters will pick Sobol and Pickel – since both will likely do a great job getting education to Cottage Grovers.

Sadly, the status quo will remain on the board.