MY GLASS CUP
‘Mickey Mouse’ Board of Education meeting
“Oh, boy!” (Mickey Mouse). I had the displeasure of hearing the audio of the last general Board of Education meeting in full—all thirteen minutes of it. “Live every moment as not to regret what you are about to do” (Mickey Mouse).
With all due respect, the two most senior members of the board, Mr. Orsini and Sgt. Maj. Atalig, need to lay their personal ambitions aside and get back to the work of our Board of Education, a job they campaigned for and asked all of us to give them. No doubt everyone will have their own opinions, but mine is simple: These two men embarrass and lower themselves by their egocentric view of the positions they hold—this board is not theirs to sully with political gamesmanship and, for the record, it sounds ridiculous to claim that their right to freedom of speech is impeded by the majority asking them to speak publicly and not behind closed doors. “This is it, guys. When these doors open, we got to make a very first impression” (Mickey Mouse).
After months of obstructionist tactics to delay and otherwise impede the work of the board, they had the audacity to show up 40 minutes late for the day’s general board meeting (with complete disregard for anyone else’s time) then immediately set into motion an orchestrated farce to impose their will on everyone present. If that weren’t enough, Mr. Orsini repeatedly insisted for “the vote” on a motion he put forward despite attempts by other members to hold further discussion. And finally, when the vote was called and he didn’t like the outcome, he and the sergeant major walked out of the meeting with parting words of something to the effect of “this Mickey Mouse” board. Oh…and the vote they couldn’t bear to lose? The two of them wanted to discuss how they should elect officers (a scheduled agenda item for the day) in executive session (in other words in a closed-door session out of the public view), but the majority voted to hold that discussion publicly. I’m no backdoor strategist, but I’d bet the farm they had in mind to extort (for God knows what) themselves into a better bargaining position for the chairmanship—all the more reason for the public to hear what they have to say. “I can’t help you with revenge” (Mickey Mouse).
I wrote in an article a couple weeks ago about certain types of people who get bestowed a title or get into positions of authority and suddenly can’t see past themselves and forget why they have a title in the first place—adding further, “the disaster that comes with a big head (or an ego) and a title.” It saddens me to think that Mr. Orsini and Sgt. Maj. Atalig, by most accounts that I have heard gentlemen of good repute in the community, would allow themselves to fall victim to this narcissistic phenomenon as well. There really is no other explanation for their ongoing dereliction of duty to the board and to CNMI’s student population. “All you need is a little bit of magic” (Mickey Mouse).
Fortunately, it seems that existing regulations allow for the Commissioner of Education to be able to carry out the functions of the board absent a quorum, so the work of our educational institution does not have to cease due to these grown men’s tantrums. Still, they effectively have taken away a critical component of our internal controls or rather our balance of power with the Commissioner of Education to safeguard the system. May Alfred be granted the wisdom to wield his extended authority with due diligence and always with the best interests of our students in mind. “Every child is born a genius” (Mickey Mouse).
Far be it for me to make suggestions as to how members need to conduct themselves, but I will say (though I am disappointed with the actions of these two men) I hope or rather expect both of them to get back to the table and respect the rules of the game they so willingly put themselves into. “Thanks! That means a lot” (Mickey Mouse).
Apparently, some members of our House of Representatives see a problem as well. I saw a clip just today of H.B. 23-20 (To Amend the Quorum and Removal of Members for the State Board of Education) with a request for first and final reading being introduced. “That sure is swell” (Mickey Mouse).
Despite the official number required for quorum, there are five voting members of the Board of Education—1, 2, 3, 4, 5. “Arithmetic is being able to count up to 20 without taking off your shoes” (Mickey Mouse).
Nobody said it would be easy, but please get back to the table and work through your problems like the honorable, elected members of the board that you are… “Happiness is not about having or not having problems. Everyone has problems, but not everyone is happy” (Mickey Mouse).
Jim Rayphand is the director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and is the former executive director of the Northern Marianas Protection ad Advocacy Systems Inc.