Saturday, August 11, 2007

Most Unpopular Town Employee: Betty Sternberg

Every day the Local Rag runs an online poll for those with nothing better to do. Thursday's question asked us to rate the Superintendent of Schools, Betty Sternberg. And Friday's issue published the results:

F - 66%
D - 11%
C - 7%
B - 8%
A- 5%
Incomplete - 3%

Well, that's pretty clear. Your scribe, unfortunately, forgot to vote; otherwise the F's would have been 67%.

Why is it, dear reader, that Greenwich - which should have the best top-level employees on its payroll - always seems to wind up with the worst? We had Petey Robbins and then Jimmy Walters as two of the most unpopular and untrustworthy chiefs of police ever; we had Bob Morgan as comptroller, who when fired for incompetence turned around and sued the Town (successfully) for millions; we have Mario "I'll get back to you" Gonzales at the library [ed. note: he never does, of which and of whom more anon]; and we used to have Larry Leverett as schools superintendent, whose inability to speak an English sentence was legendary.

Your scribe was therefore prepared to look on Betty Sternberg as a breath of fresh air. But having heard her attempt to speak publicly on several occasions, he can attest that she, too, is utterly appalling. What kind of message do we send our young people when we hire bozos to be in charge of their education?

It's not that we don't have talent within the ranks of our Town educators - we have a huge abundance of it! Mike Bacheller, one of the most popular teachers ever (he made his students sweat for their knowledge, and they loved him for it), would have made a superb top administrator, because he understood the process and the people so well. But no - the Board of Education in its wisdom - or, quite obviously, lack thereof - keeps going outside the system to bring us clown after clown, jerk after jerk, dummy after dummy. Why, dear reader? Why?

Your scribe thinks that this Town has some kind of death wish when it comes to hiring key administrators. Much of the responsibility lies with the various boards - the library board, the schools board, the finance board - but a lot of it has to rest with the Board of Selectmen as well, since they either initiate or sign off on each top appointment. One supposes that by spreading the responsibility among various boards and groups, the blame is also spread around; but the results to date have been pretty unsatisfactory, to say the least. When are we going to get some accountability for the abysmal hiring record of this Town?

It's a little like what your scribe has said here before: if you want to commit a murder, or steal millions, come to Greenwich - the safest place on earth to get away with it. And if you want to screw up royally and then wind up soaking the Town for big bucks (the unspeakable thief and habitual liar Inga Boudreau comes to mind), well, then, look no further than good ol' Greenwich, Connecticut.

Do you suppose the Board of Ed will do anything about Betty Sternberg, dear reader? Or will they simply circle the wagons around her and pretend that she is utterly brilliant, and it is the rest of the Town who are the nincompoops?

(Your scribe thinks that he already knows the answer, alas.)


Blogger ERiCA said...

Wow, those are some pretty hefty quiz results!

August 12, 2007 9:12 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

Well, it wasn't so much a quiz as a poll - but she clearly flunked anyway!

August 13, 2007 12:37 PM  
Blogger Anonymous Bob said...

Maybe the problem is that, unlike other "lesser" Town employees, the administrators hired by these boards are not measured against any standards? Perhaps there are a few interviews and some cursory background checking (diplomas, criminal records, etc), but no real actual tests of *competency*. Your average Town employee is at least made to pass one or more competency examinations before even getting to interview.

August 21, 2007 8:34 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

Perceptive comment as always, Anonymous Bob! Perhaps you recall the Peter Principle, which holds that "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."

That would certainly help to explain why the upper-echelon dodos aren't given competency tests beforehand. It would render this time-honored principle invalid!

August 22, 2007 9:33 AM  

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