Recall effort moves forward

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The DeVincentis e-mails

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Devincentis recall

Steamboat Springs resident Gil Ramirez was collecting signatures on Sunday, the day before peitions needed to be turned in to recall Steamboat School Board member John Devincentis.

Steamboat Springs resident Gil Ramirez was collecting signatures on Sunday, the day before peitions needed to be turned in to recall Steamboat School Board member John Devincentis.

— The group working on a recall of Steamboat Springs School Board member John DeVincentis says it has about 2,300 signatures, nearly 400 more than needed to put the recall on November's ballot.

Save Our Schools RE-2 will submit the petition signatures to Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland today. The group needs 1,933 verified signatures from voters who live in the school district, 40 percent of the total number of votes cast in DeVincentis' landslide election to the School Board in 2005.

The group has collected signatures since early May, following the public release of e-mails DeVincentis wrote about former superintendent Cyndy Simms during 2004-05, his final year as principal at Strawberry Park Elementary School. DeVincentis was Strawberry Park's principal for 21 years.

Paula Stephenson, a former School Board president and one of several leaders of the recall effort, said Sunday that at least 59 people carried petitions across Steamboat to collect signatures.

"We don't have an exact count, but I think a good estimate would be 2,300," Stephenson said of the signature tally. "If it's not over 2,300, it's somewhere between 2,200 and 2,300."

Stephenson said the group plans to submit the petition and signatures this afternoon. Weinland will then have 10 working days to determine if enough of the signatures are valid to place a recall on the ballot. It would be the first recall election of any kind in Routt County since 1986.

Should the group have 1,933 valid signatures, DeVincentis or any other eligible voter would then have 15 days to protest the petition.

According to the Colorado Revised Statutes, such an effort would need to "set forth specific grounds for the protest."

"Grounds include, but are not limited to, failure of any portion of a petition or circulator affidavit to meet the requirements : or any conduct on the part of petition circulators that substantially misleads persons signing the petition," the statutes read.

DeVincentis said Sunday that he has not yet considered whether he will protest the petition, if enough signatures prove valid.

"I haven't even thought about it," he said. "I'm just living my life. I'm not concerned about whatever they're doing."

DeVincentis said he also is not working with Citizens for Fair Politics, a local group that opposes the recall effort due to ethical concerns about how the e-mails were obtained. Michelle Caragol is listed as the group's registered agent with the Colorado Secretary of State's office. Caragol said Sunday that the group's future actions depend on the outcome of an investigation into how the e-mails were obtained.

In April, the School Board hired Grand Junction attorney Earl Rhodes to conduct an investigation about potential violations of School Board policies that may have occurred in the finding and release of DeVincentis' derogatory e-mails about Simms.

"We plan on running an ad to make people aware (of potential violations) and make sure they read the investigation," Caragol said.

Former School Board member Pat Gleason is the registered agent for Save Our Schools. He gave DeVincentis' e-mails to the Steamboat Pilot & Today earlier this year.

Gleason said SOS RE-2 anticipated some of the petition signatures might be challenged and tried to get more than enough signatures from the outset.

"We feel there's a certain number of signatures that will be purged for one reason or another," Gleason said. "But we feel confident that we have enough."

The group circulated petitions at a variety of Steamboat events and locations in the past two months. Stephenson said the group's most successful location was the recent free reggae concert at Howelsen Hill, which yielded more than 175 signatures.

"We tried to make it as broad-based as possible," Gleason said of the petition effort.

DeVincentis said he has been focusing on School Board issues such as policy governance, school renovations and construction, and his ongoing advocacy for small class sizes.

He said he has not determined whether he will campaign against the recall, should the petition prove valid.

"Every once in a while, somebody will call me and tell me what's going on, that's it," DeVincentis said. "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

JQPUBLIC 6 years, 9 months ago

Citizens for Fair Politics, a local group that opposes the recall effort due to ethical concerns about how the e-mails were obtained.... LET'S SAY someone was murdered and the murderer bragged to a friend in an email, Joe Blow pulled these emails for blackmail purposes but later decided to give them to the newspaper and the murderer gets caught and convicted because of these emails.... NOW, since the whistleblower illegally mined these emails and unethically gave them to a newspaper, do we let the killer go free or is this only an ethical dilemma when it's your favorite politician? Do we have double standards here and the end justifies the means for some slimy people but not others? Whatever the outcome against Dr. D it should not matter how the emails were obtained, that should only matter against Gleason if it happens to be pursued.... UNLESS you are trying to silence the voice of the people.

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sportzmama 6 years, 9 months ago

While this certainly wasn't murder, you do bring up the root of the issue in my opinion. Dr. D DID break the rules when he sent such emails from a School District ownded computer, from a School District managed email account, and probably while he was "on the clock" and being paid by the School District at the time he sent the emails. Those policies were BROKEN - period, the end. It doesn't matter how, after the fact they came to light, Dr. D. BROKE THE RULES. IF a teacher, counselor, or a classified employee had been "caught" sending something like that out under the same circumstances, they would have been dismissed on the spot, and we wouldn't be having this conversation. As a member of the School Board and thus a "leader" in the community, Dr. D. should be held just as accountable, if not more so. Please step down.

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titsikama 6 years, 9 months ago

JQ, really, comparing this to a murder? I feel sorry for you that you live in such a state a fear. The e-mails were not illegally written. No law was broken when the e-mails were written and what was said did not violate any laws or I would have been the first to sign. But they were possibly illegally and at the very least unethically obtained. Really now. You must know by now that the paper does not print what is really said unless they happen to support your side. I mean we have been around for over a month now and this is the only time that we have been mentioned by name or asked for a comment. Much more was said to the paper then of course was printed. I said- "we think a recall which attacks someone based on unethical behaviour and the means in which that recall was pursued was in fact unethical just doesn't make sense. Also, the public was lead to believe that this recall was based strictly on Johns behavior, but if talk to some of the leaders of this recall and read their posts on the blog you will find that they endorse the recall whenever they talk about this current Board polocies and in general- this is not just about John. We also do not believe that what was ultimately done was not in the best interest of the community or our schools. There are certainly other ways in which SOS could have acheived one of its goals without resorting to what they did. At the very least they could have gone to the current Board with their concerns. No one deserved the lambasting given to John for standing up for what he believes (not even you JQ, though it is tempting). SOS used and supported the e-mails as a basis for their recall-it is written right in the recall so they endorsed they means it which they obtained and released."

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titsikama 6 years, 9 months ago

I also find it odd that you think we are trying to subvert "the voice of the people". Are you the only people allowed to speak on behalf the people of Routt County? When we have a paper that only wants to tell one side of a story or an issue, an editor who clearly has a problem with the current Board and endorsed the use of leading statements (Journalism 101), then we had to find a way to let people know the other side.
I will say a few things as I anticipate your response. You are right Dr. D has an agenda. His agenda is to reduce unnecessary administration costs and put money and control back in the classroom. Has he done the best job working toward this agenda? Well, he certainly could have used a little finesse and probably more understanding, but he has stuck with the agenda for which he was elected. Dr. D did not promote a smear campaign (as alluded by Steamboat Joe) against Cindy Simms. Did he have a smear campaign against those administrative people that left? Nope. He had a conversation with someone that is only made public by the Mr. Gleason and the paper. Admitally a not very nice one, but a private conversation none the less. He called people on the mat (though again he could have said it more nicely) about their lack of performace in their high paid positions. If he had done what Donna, Mr. Gleason and SOS had done or endorsed then I would think he would deserve to go. Has he always made good decisons, Nope. But neither did members of previous Boards. I am not a "sheep" as you like to call those who don't follow your way of thinking. I find it interesting that the comments from SOS supporters in this public blog are very similar to those made by John in a private conversation. I would presume based on your comments that you will not support those members of the Administration or Board who supported the obtainment of the e-mails for blackmail purposes? Michelle Caragol

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bikegirl 6 years, 9 months ago

The recall petition is a sign of a healthy democracy at work on a grass roots level.You have a choice whether to sign it or not.Had John stepped down instead of digging in his heels,we would'nt need a recall.As far as unethical behavior,John has exhibited this type of behavior for years.Those of us who have been in the district for many years know this.Time for our community to move on to the real work at hand.Time for john to go.

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titsikama 6 years, 9 months ago

No argument that a petition is a healthy sign of democracy and so is our right to ask people not to sign it. Had Mr. Gleason and the SOS group gone to John or the Board first, then we wouldn't need any of this.

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sportzmama 6 years, 9 months ago

When you use publically funded equipment and email accounts, the conversation is no longer private. Dr. D. signed a form which stated that. Granted most of us have sent emails which aren't appropriate from work, but he got busted doing it. I come from the world of hi tech and it's widely known that you DO NOT send such things on company email. Is it a little too "big brother"? Maybe. It's like he sent these things out on District letterhead if you think about it. Even if it was a letter written from him to another individual, if he did it on company letterhead, it would still be considered as breaking policy. Strip everything else away and the fact is that he broke the rules and he got caught.

Am I disgusted with the content of the emails? YES, and I would like to see him sued for slander - but that's my opinion. Fact is fact - he broked policy. He's supposed to be seen as a leader in the community and is supposed to guide future policy. I would never trust him with my future, the future of our schools and most importantly the future of our children.

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80488mom 6 years, 9 months ago

This community loves a good tar and feathering. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone learns from mistakes. In good part those mistakes define who we become. Dr. D is no different from the rest of us.

I have spoken briefly to John on several occasions and was really impressed with his views. I've read about his accomplishments and how he led Strawberry Park to state recognition for academic performance. Those are the things I prefer to remember. He is an accomplished educator and this community should be grateful for his service.

Dr. D knows his "stuff" and I think it is time we move forward. Personally, if i was him I'd say to hell with it all but it is obvious he remains committed to our children and our schools. That means more to me than some nasty emails, which I am sure we all have lingering out there in cyberspace somewhere.

In the past few months I've seen how mean spirited this community can be and it makes me really sad. I've read terribly cruel posts directed at parents who just lost precious children. I've read all the negative posts about Dr. D which attack his character relentlessly. Just a word of warning.....karma folks....what goes around comes around. Be careful painting on that tar because some day around the corner it just might be you and this community has proven they will give you no grace and show no mercy.

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titsikama 6 years, 9 months ago

I would have to say sportzmama that you make some very good points and I do respect your opinion. But he is not the only one who may have broken public/Board policy in this scenario, nor in the past and most likely in the future. So how do we determine who should stay and should go if that is the only criteria? Or does it only really matter if you get "busted" doing something? And how about the money spent on the employee searching old databases on district time to obtain them? Would you trust that person to run your schools? Do I think the e-mails were appropriate-Nope. Do I think the content was disgusting-Yep. I am not defending the e-mails or their content and if that is your only criteria for signing the petition so be it, but just know that other policies were violated throughout this process and there are other agendas are at hand. By the way, the policy does not say that e-mails are public information but they may be used in certain circumstances and there is a procedure that must be followed prior to obtaining them. That policy was also "broke".

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bikegirl 6 years, 9 months ago

It is my understanding that John and the board were well aware of the intent to make the emails public.Denise Connelly could have asked John to step down,instead they pursued the legalility of how the emails were obtained,costing our district even more money.I believe that it is a newspapers obligation to make the public aware of not just news,but to inform us of wrongdoings by people in elected,public office.This is what the pilot did.John's character is being called out ,as it should be,when you are an elected officer of the people.John does not set a virtuous example to our students.A mans private statements are a measure of who that man is.He got busted,plain and simple.

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80488mom 6 years, 9 months ago

Dear Bike Girl.........John does set an example for our children. He accepted accountability. He's shown courage under fire. I don't think those emails totally define his character. We all say things and do things under troubling circumstances. I'm happy to say John is human.....so stop the witch hunt. Quit wasting valuable time, money and resources.

Imagine the greater good all this wasted time could have done volunteering in the classroom....walking dogs at the pound......the list goes on and on. If you have too much time on your hands there are better places to spend it. Just look around.

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JQPUBLIC 6 years, 9 months ago

titsik... I'm not comparing D's nastiness to murder, just the way the evidence was collected and exposed... either it's illegal and unethical or it's not... can't have it both ways without being hypocritical. Do we let the offenders get away with it because we do not like the way the offense came to light?

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bikegirl 6 years, 9 months ago

Karma,yes I agree.perhaps we could all strive to live by these words- Grant us an understanding heart,Equal vision,balanced mind,Faith,Devotion and wisdom.grant us inner spiritual strength to resist temptations and to control the mind.Free us from egoism,lust.greed.hatred anger,and jealousy.Fill our hearts with divine virtues. If only it were really this way huh? Stay human

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sportzmama 6 years, 9 months ago

Actually, my basis for signing the petition was two-fold. First, I was in a position where I was able to view the 2 sides of Dr. D. from a fairly impartial position. In my discussions with him he comes off one way, then in meetings he can be totally different as long as his "public" isn't there. Secondly is strictly on the policy issue. I just know if I had been caught using cmpany email for purposes such as those, I would have been dismissed. That's all I'm saying. Agreed, he was a wonderful principal and did do great things for Strawberry Park, but as in sports (if I may use that analogy) a great player or coach doesn't always make a great GM or A great golfer doesn't always mean a great football player. Both are athletes, but the arena is different. Each position or profession requires a different skill-set that he just may not have. There's no shame in that, but it should be admitted, addressed and then, I do agree - move on. That's the blessing and the curse of living in a small town - people here are very passionate - to a fault maybe, but it's better than the apathy of a larger town.

Karma - I also subscribe to that so even if this recall doesn't work, karma eventually will and I'm fine with that.

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80488mom 6 years, 9 months ago

I would ask each of you.....is this community a better place due to John's influence.....have our children been positively impacted by Dr. D's work. Could we further benefit from his input on counsel. I would have to say yes to all myself.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. D loves our children and cares about their future. We should allow him the courtesy of learning from his mistakes and let him move on and continue his work.

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titsikama 6 years, 9 months ago

JQ-Do you ever answer anyones questions? Okay, if I buy your argument, I think we should be sure to go after whomever obtained the e-mails in an unethical and wasteful manner. Clean house so to speak. Are you prepared to do that? I mean it would be hypocritical wouldn't it to keep someone around who did something unethical and possibly illegal when their offense came to light? I probably could be convinced of that based on your well though out arguments.

bikegirl-liked your spirtual saying, we could all try to live by that. But, the board was never contacted about the e-mails. Never. Despite what you may have been told. And I won't argue that the paper should have printed the e-mails once they were obtained, after all they were news. But I also think the paper has an obligation to print both sides of an issue. Did you know the reason we ran ads is because the paper refused to print letters to the editor? Do you think it appropriate to compare a comment made in a private conversation in 2004 with a comment made to the newspaper in 2007? I spent 2 hours in a meeting with Scott about this issue and he talked for at least half of it trying to convince me I was wrong. Is that their job? Also, although Scott did print some points, but the letter was partially edited and many of our biggest points which were discussed were not mentioned at all. So I just believe that an issue should be presented equally. Speaking of words. I hear what your saying and there is a lot of truth in that, but I also believe that actions speak louder then words. I struggled when I read the e-mails. But I think that it easy to say something and do something else. It much harder to do something and say something else. I mean someone who speaks out against let's say for example drugs, but actaully does them is far less of a leader then someone who stands up and says-I believe drugs should be legalized and works toward it(for clarification JQ this is just a hypothetical situation I am no way staing my opinion on drugs). One last comment. If the idea is to have ethical members serve in our school, and the following of good policy and policy was in fact violated to obtain them, wouldn't it be prudent of the school board to find out if policy was violated? And how much money and energy was wasted in obtaining them. And why won't some people cooperate if they believe they acted in an ethcial, forthright manner?

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titsikama 6 years, 9 months ago

sportzmom-again good comment. And I would agree. So why not start with the person. If for instance a college wanted to get rid of a coach that served his college well as professor, shouldn't they go to that person first and then to the school, before releasing private conversations (it was still a private conversation even if it was on a school computer) to the public? Wouldn't you at least owe someone that? Secondly-would you rather have someone who stands up to something they believe in and were elected to do in private (executive session) then not? I have been on the other side of this issue. I have been on the side of beratment, it was awful. It wasn't fun and does make it more difficult, but I also realize that passion can be mistaken for hostility and ultimately there is a goal that should be looked at. Didn't mean to ramble I just think it is important to address each comment and question because someone took the time to post it. And some of these comments are just general comments. I need to finish my job (self-employed, my time is my own in case someone felt the urge to comment).

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80488mom 6 years, 9 months ago

Titsikama - a small town paper wields a lot of power shaping public opinion and people are quick to jump to conclusions without having all the facts. Keep plugging away because eventually the truth wins out.

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SteamboatJoe 6 years, 9 months ago

Anyone who thinks John would have listened if the old board approached him with concerns is sadly mistaken. John cannot separate his principal experience with the old board from his new board member position. There is too much history.

He creates tension and displays an unwillingness to move in a positive direction with the superintendent (didn't tax dollars pay for two days of get along training?). Donna Howell can resign and the next one here will get the same treatment. John does not have the desire to work with the administrative staff to move our district ahead. He wants to show everyone that without him, your kids would be sitting in HUGE classrooms, etc. what a crock.

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JQPUBLIC 6 years, 9 months ago

titsik... to answer your question.... If the emails were obtained illegally than you have every right to pursue charges, if it was just unethical you have no recourse because Gleason has left public office. By the way, if you want to go after unethical politicians you will have a full time job. Now, no matter whether there are legal charges on Gleason or not, the public still has the right to hold D accountable.

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Hammurabi 6 years, 9 months ago

It continues to be of interest that many of you have stated that the emails were obtained illegally. We have seen no proof of that. It was reported that the investigation was complete and we were to hear about the result weeks ago. They were to be made public at that time. Yet we still have not heard a word on the results. Could it possibly be that nothing illegal took place? Without hearing from the board, the result of the costly investigation, how can we continue to speculate that the emails were obtained illegally? An interesting side note, several Jeffco school employees were summarily fired about 6-8 weeks ago for passing around a "slightly off color" joke.

If John is as blase as he stated in today's article, why has he stopped by the sign up locations at various times to "chat" with those manning those sites? I've heard from several people who were there that this has happened. On Saturday, several people were there to sign and were appalled at his behavior.

Yes, life in a small town can be difficult. But living in a small town allows us to have greater knowledge of what's going on in our community. It allows us to have greater knowledge of the personalities "behind" the news. And most importantly, it allows us to demand great accountability from our local elected officials. Grass-roots democracy continues to be alive and well in small towns.

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80488mom 6 years, 9 months ago

Do you really think anyone standing there with a recall petition is going to say anything nice about Dr. D??? I heard, you heard, she heard......I heard that a bus drove into town and picked up countless illegal immigrants. I heard that they also picked some up at our local Walmart. That proved to be false. A big rumor which grew and grew and grew when in reality only 5 illegal immigrants with criminal records were picked up. I'm learning not to believe much of what I hear around here.

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Hammurabi 6 years, 9 months ago

Why not ask John if he did this? His answer will be telling to those that witnessed this.

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JustSomeJoe 6 years, 9 months ago

Scott or Mike - Did you ask John D why he began commenting to the paper again? He's been "no comment" for months, and now he's talking to you again. Why the change in heart?

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beagle 6 years, 9 months ago

Hamm - Yes, I was nearby and I heard!! (when you set yourself up with neon signs in the parking lot you never know who's listening) How great that I can actually tell what I heard: John said, "Hey Pat, how you doing? Hey Paula, if you spent as much time volunteering in the schools as you have on this, then we'd have great schools." Is this the behavior you say people were "appalled" at? Seems your smear campaign continues.

JQ - As I'm sure you know well, it wasn't just Gleason who was involved in getting and releasing the e-mails. Are you one of the ones who refused to cooperate with the investigation? Pointing out the rest of the story about what has gone on here is hardly "trying to silence the voice of the people."

bikegirl - you say, "Those of us who have been in the district for many years know this." I'm getting a little tired of being told that we 'just don't know him.' I've known him for 13 years and I know a lot of people who've known or worked with him for 20. And no, John and this board were NOT made "well aware of the intent to make the emails public." That is the kind of misinformation that has been encouraged since the start of this. Don't repeat something if you don't know its truth.

SteamboatJoe - You do seem to have a personal dislike of Dr. D. and everyone on this board. You say, "He wants to show everyone that without him, your kids would be sitting in HUGE classrooms, etc. what a crock." I'm sorry, but that's way off.

All - are you taking those e-mails literally or what? Can you not imagine having a really awful boss and then making big exaggerations when you're venting to someone about how much you can't stand her? (or him) I mean, really, judging from the meanness of some of the posts and letters I've seen, I find it hard to believe that some of you think these e-mails should define the man.

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bikegirl 6 years, 9 months ago

Believe what you will,I have seen the man's actions and heard the mans words.I believe he needs to move on.

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bikegirl 6 years, 9 months ago

sportzmama-you are right on,John has a public persona that alot of folks buy into,as I said I have witnessed the other side,and listened to his scathing words many times .Karma will work,sooner or later.

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

I guess at this point no opinions are changing any more.

The petition folks have the signatures they need (mine among them). I guess we all get to see what the majority really thinks when the election comes.

Best wishes to all of you.

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beagle 6 years, 9 months ago

sportgirls - I guess it would be no big deal to you to have embarassing e-mails you intended as private printed on the front page of the newspaper and then have people write mean letters and trash you in public for three months? I agree with mom - I think the karma will be swinging back to get the other side.
I've also seen the man's actions and heard his words. do you think school boards should always be a politeness contest? I remember Stephensen and Gill being ruder than anyone I've ever seen and trying to humiliate people who came to meetings.

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bikegirl 6 years, 9 months ago

Beagle-I have never and would never send an e-mail that I would be ashamed of.John made a choice to e-mail in the public domain,he opened himself up to all the criticism he is now receiving.Karma does not choose sides. Have a nice summer.

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80488mom 6 years, 9 months ago

I guess there are those among us who have never reacted out of passion and made a mistake or done something we wished we could erase. Lucky you.

Dr. D has dedicated his life to the education of the children in this community. He helped build solid academic foundations that have led to the success of many young adults who grew up in this small town. The elementary years are the most critical. This has been proven over and over again. Those kids had a first class education in good part to his influence. I hope those parents and those children who are now of voting age will remember with gratitude how his leadership positively impacted their lives when this issue comes to a vote. Many might not like his politics or his style but the record speaks to his effectiveness as an administrator. Some might consider him abrasive but I personally believe his heart has always been in the right place.

I would urge you to think for yourself and not stray from what you know in your heart to be true and judge this man fairly when the time comes. Can you allow one error in judgment erase all the good this man has done? I would hope not.

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80488mom 6 years, 9 months ago

I would like to pose a question to this community. What is wrong with us , Steamboat? We kick a good man when he is down. We kick a mother at what must be the most agonizing time in her life. We've become like a bunch of vultures circling prey and attacking people when they are most vunerable. ....when a little compassion and understanding would go a long , long way. These times of hardship should bring out the best in a community not the worst. These times of trials are an opportunity to show the goodness that lies within. Instead many are choosing to show an ugly side of human nature which we should all be striving on a personal level to overcome. I'm really sad for our small town. I know we can be better than this.

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beagle 6 years, 9 months ago

mom - Having read your post, I feel better about our town already. You are so right. Thank you for being able to see the bigger picture.

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