fooling around in the Florida Keys blackboard jungle and the Sufi garden of good and evil – aka log entries in the journal of a redneck mysticMonday, March 4th, 2013
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Larry Murray replied to yesterday’s Snow White, the Florida Keys school district sorely ain’t, and other cheerful blackboard jungle updates post:
Like you, I hope that Porter has replacements in the wings. I share your opinion of Kathy Reitzel, though I am not sure she would like the last stateroom on the Titanic.
Then, Larry copied me with this:
Larry Murray (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; John.Dick@KeysSchools.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
To paraphrase the children’s rhyme: “One potato, two potato…pass the hot potato.” Your decision to have the AFC rescue the District from the ravages of the AG’s other than flattering report is a classic example of passing the potato or the buck, as it is more commonly known. Superintendent Porter told Bill Becker on Friday’s “Morning Magazine” that he “didn’t want to be passing this off.” Yet, that is exactly what you are all trying to do. You have not informed the AFC of what you expect of them because you do not know either.
Why does the Board care what the AFC thinks about the AG’s report when it does not care much of what the AFC thinks about any other subject? The Board holds the AFC in such high esteem that it has decided that the AFC’s monthly activities would be best presented in the form of compressed, quarterly reports. Apparently, there is no longer a need to take up precious Board time with a monthly report.
The Superintendent has a similar opinion of the AFC and its work. He attended an AFC meeting during his first month in office to tell them how important he believes they and their work are. Of course, he had not been back since! Actions speak louder than words. Additionally, he has not always been available for a monthly meeting with the Chairman or he has sometimes cut those meetings short.
Asking the AFC to become involved in a damage control operation is clearly intended to give the public the impression that something serious is being done when it is anything but that. Since its inception, the AFC has tried to help the District correct the deficiencies cited annually by the AG, only to be ignored. We have all heard the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Why would the AFC want to participate in this charade? Were I still on the AFC, I would encourage my colleagues to offer a one word response, “No!”.
The problems identified by the AG, particularly the repeat performances, belong to the District and it is up to the District to correct them. It is not rocket science and there is no need for AFC involvement. The difficulty is that the District has demonstrated year in and year out that it cannot or will not solve its problems. There is nothing new here. The Finance Director told the Board that you need to find out who is responsible and “take it from there.” I could not agree more.
The Finance Director went on to say: “Now it’s on me, and if we can’t fix our financial reporting, then I don’t need to be here.” Sounds good, but what is wrong with this picture? This is the same Finance Director who promised to correct the deficiencies cited lat year in an other than stellar AG report. What was that about doing the same thing over and over again?
The Superintendent has announced that the contract for the Finance Director will not be renewed, though the exact date has yet to be revealed. That decision may address John Dick’s mantra that “Heads must roll.” However, it leaves many questions unanswered, including the District’s response to the AG’s report and who will draft it.
It is easy enough to dismiss someone, but it is another thing to identify a replacement. I await Superintendent Porter’s revelation of Plan B, his long term plan to revitalize the Finance Department. I would withhold judgment pending the roll out of his proposal for the new and improved financial operation.
In the interim, the District must report to the AG and take corrective action. Who will be in charge of those two tasks? Will it be a lame duck Finance Director whose incentive to go out in a flame of glory is questionable? Will it fall to someone else as yet to be identified? Were I the Superintendent, I would be less concerned about public relations value of bringing the AFC into the fray and more focused on who is going to get the job(s) done.
PS: Since penning this missive, I have been told that tomorrow’s AFC meeting has been “postponed”. Divine intervention, perhaps! It seems there have been some administrative glitches, e.g. failure to notice the meeting, prepare an agenda, etc. Something about the more things change, the more….
Dr. Larry Murray
Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocate
As I recall the children’s rhyme, it was “One potato two potato three potato four … five potato six potato seven potato more.” It was a way of counting fists, until somebody was counted out, to decide who went first, second, third, forth, etc. Maybe they played it differently where Larry grew up. In any event, passing the hot potato was a popular activity in Birmingham, where I grew up. Nobody wanted the hot potato, whatever it was.
In February 20011, I attended my last AFC meeting, which was after Larry was off the AFC. He was there, however. I told the ACE members the AFC was a joke, created as a public relations stunt by the School Board, to give the pubic the false impression that the School Board was serious about straightening out the School District’s finances. I told the AFC members they all should resign in protest, and state why. They looked at me like I was daff. Now Larry has gone daff. Must be contagious.
Yesterday, I met a woman who teaches at the Big Pine Charter School. When I mentioned Larry’s name, she said she had never heard of him. Nor had she ever heard of me. I chuckled, said looks to me like the School District has a systemic staph infection. She smiled. I said, at several candidate forums last year, I said the only salvation for the schools was for each of them to become a charter school, and rid themselves of Trumbo’s control. Trumbo Point in Key West is the School District’s offices/headquarters. She smiled. She said she had come from a small MidWest town, and they never had the kind of problems the Keys school system has.
The only salvation I see for the School District itself is for the Florida Board of Education to take over the School District, and create its own School Board and have its own Superintendent, which the Board of Education has the power to do, if it finds cause to take over a School District. I also mentioned that scenario at candidate forums last year. It’s looking ot me that I was the only School Board candidate last year who actually tried to come up with solutions to what otherwise seems unfixable. Maybe in a couple of years, I won’t sound like a raving lunatic anymore. At least not on those two issues.
Meanwhile, I had the occasion the other day to rummage around and locate the ravings of a quite famous lunatic from a few centuries back, whose not so well-known spiritual teacher
allegedly was killed by the people of their village, who could not abide him. I thought perhaps meeting a professional lunatic and his spiritual teacher might help people in my neck of the woods feel more at ease at having only a little league lunatic on the premises. Maybe the School District would like for students to learn more about these two men. Maybe some Sunday school classes also would like to teach about these two men, whom I’m sure Jesus would have gotten along with pretty well.
If you do not know of Rumi, you might consider yourself fairly uneducated; in Islam, he is as well known as St. Paul. Rumi also is well known outside of Islam. Of his teacher Shams, however, little is known.
I died from minerality and became vegetable;
And from vegitativeness I died and became animal.
I died from animality and became human.
Then why fear disappearance through death?
Next time I shall die
Bring forth wings and feathers like angels;
After that, soaring higher than angels-
What you cannot imagine
I shall be that.
The true teacher knocks down the idol that the student makes of him.
Oh, the one who has fallen in love with gold
Is yelling and screaming,
As if death won’t come
And knock at his door.
Think about the day
You are breathing your last breath
And your wife’s mind
Is on another husband.
Before the arrow of death pierces your shield,
Make your aim the commandments.
The purpose of humanity
Is observation and understanding.
Oh, God’s compassion is raining
Observation and understanding.
Time’s tailor has never made a robe for anyone
Without then slashing it to pieces.
See how the million fools of this world
Pay Satan heaps of gold for pain!
Don’t stretch out your legs on this earth-carpet,
It is a borrowed bed; fear that day
His messengers come to roll it up forever….
How can you go on gazing at the body’s dust?
Search out the Horseman of the Soul!
And see the Horseman at the heart of this dust-storm!
Tomorrow you’ll be brave, you say? Fool! Dive today
From the cliff of what you know into what you can’t know.
You fear the rocks? Better men than you have died on them;
Dying on Love’s rocks is nobler than a life of death.
Drunks who want to stay drunk drink with other seasoned debauchees; mystics who want to keep their hearts fiery and their minds absorbed should see that they associate as much as possible with other lovers. Better to be alone than with the rational and sober; their minds are winter, and shrivel the mystic’s exuberance. Do not hate the sober; pray that one day love may seize and make them human, but protect yourself as resourcefully as you can from them. I have sometimes found them surprisingly vicious, these sober-seeming, calmly smiling rationalists who think they can explain everything and yet are jealous of the Lover’s splendor.
How confining the sober are to those who have known the Vision of Wine! How dead their reasonings seem to be to those who drown repeatedly in their heart-blood! How ugly rings the metallic music of their certainties! How brutal are their meticulous yet entirely illusory and self-satisfying formulas! God is Beauty, and nothing about them is beautiful; God is Splendor, and nothing about them is splendid; God is Magnanimous, and nothing about them is magnanimous; God is Fire and nothing about them is incandescent, They believe they rule the world, unaware that what they rule is a heap of ash that one breath of the Beloved could disperse forever. When they anger you, or threaten to drive you to despair, imagine their faces when at the Resurrection they see the mountains turn into smoke and the heavens peel away like paper!
Avoid them – politely, compassionately, serenely – but avoid them.
Only the supremely brave ever admit
How helpless they are in the hands of God!
As for the others, building and decorating their sandcastles –
Look how one wild wave shatters them all.
Intellect is good and desirable to the extent it brings you to the King’s door. Once you have reached His door, then divorce the intellect! From this time on, the intellect will be to your loss and a brigand. When you reach Him, entrust yourself to Him! You have no business with the how and the wherefore. Know that the intellect’s cleverness all belongs to the vestibule. Even if it possesses the knowledge of Plato, it is still outside of the palace.
You seek knowledge from books. What a shame! …
You are an ocean of knowledge hidden in a dew drop…
CHICKPEA TO COOK
A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it’s being boiled.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
The cook knocks him down with the ladle.
“Don’t you try to jump out.
You think I’m torturing you.
I’m giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.
Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this.”
Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.
Eventually the chickpea
will say to the cook,
“Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can’t do this by myself.
I’m like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn’t pay attention
to his driver. You’re my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love your cooking.”
The cook says,
” I was once like you,
fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.
My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices.
and boiled some more, and boiled
once beyond that,
and became your teacher.”
The fool on Little Torch