Part 3–Some Suggestions Moving Forward

The Board can better represent its constituents when you and others take the time and effort to observe the Board in action, to express opinions and to raise questions. We invite your attendance at Board meetings and in school district activities.  Taken from the TSD website

In Part I, I highlighted the core duties of the Board and Superintendent.  In Part II, I pointed out some past practices that I believed were not effective and could have been managed better.  In the Part III, which is the final installment, I am making specific suggestions that I hope the community demands, and the Board members heed, moving forward.  

Fewer presentations/more business

Board meetings generally last around 2 to 2.5 hours.  One of the things that stands out is how little we hear from the board members.  I went back and reviewed several of the video recordings and found that, on average, board members are talking less than 12% of the time, most of which is at the end of the meeting with board members comments.  I appreciate there is time for public comment(usually about 15-20 minutes), a financial report(10-15 minutes) and a superintendent report(10 minutes).

The biggest time during the meeting, especially the daytime meetings which are held at the schools, is a presentation on some topic of interest.  It usually involves some program the District, or a particular school, is running.  These presentations are interesting, and highlight great work in the District.  However, in my view, they are not appropriate for a Board Meeting, at least not at the length the presentations are offered.  It is really just a report–which often takes 30-40 minutes, with no interaction from the Board and no decisions to be made.  

These presentations could not be considered business, as no action is required or contemplated.  I would suggest a report to the Board could be achieved in a more appropriate environment—like an onsite visit by the Board members that is not an official meeting.  At the very least, the presentations could be limited to 5 minutes or so.       

Address Comments from the Public

At the majority of meetings, there are 2 or 3 members of the public who sign up to offer public comment. The comments are limited to 3-5 minutes.  Once in a while, when a “hot” topic is on the agenda, there may be a dozen or so people signed up for public comment.  I admire those individuals who are willing to take time out of their schedules and offer comment.  The individuals usually address some topic upon which they are knowledgeable, and have a passion.   Oftentimes, there is also a request for action.  

What surprises me about the public comment portion is the lack of interaction by the Board members.  It is very uncommon for the Board members to ask questions of the public speakers.  There is no dialogue, and no discussion.  Also, the individuals who have commented generally have no idea what the Board members think about the comments.  No questions and no indication as to whether or not the comments will result in further action or inquiry.  As someone who on occassion offers public comment, I have no idea whether my comments have been understood, or how they were received.  

If it is important enough for a community member to show up at a Board meeting and offer comment, then I believe the Board is obligated to offer some response so that we all know what, if any, action will be taken with respect to the comments.  I certainly would not expect this with every comment, but it seems to me most comments would warrant some response/interaction from the Board.    

More Budget stuff

As I have highlighted in prior blogs, the Board members are rarely engaged in significant discussion regarding specific financial issues.  They hear a lot of information from Brittain, or Bash, but do not ask questions.  The information is usually presented at a pretty general level, and rarely is there discussion about specific expenditures or income items.  

I would contend that financial issues are the most important issues facing TSD.  The Board is the ultimate decision maker when it comes to financial issues.  The Board members should understand the financial decisions that need to be made, including options and alternatives that can be considered.  The Board should engage in discussions about those issues at the meetings, for the benefit of each other and the public.  Bringing these discussions to the public will allow broad input, a larger range of ideas and allow the Board to better understand the priorities of the community.  

This will also require pointed questions of Brittain, which would often result in Brittain walking out of the meeting with a “to do” list.  As I highlighted in prior blogs, I see little evidence that the Board is up to speed on, or has a firm grasp of, the basic budgeting issues facing TSD. 

Seek input from community on budget items

I might back off this one if the Board members were asking questions, and engaging with Brittain and Bash.  Somebody who is interested in the process needs to really get involved.  I think Brittain would welcome the dialogue.  I believe Brittain would agree that he does not catch everything, and enjoys being able to banter back and forth about budget topics.  Doing so is healthy, and undoubtedly, beneficial to the process of serving TSD students.  

Budgeting during difficult financial times is influenced largely by priorities.  I do believe the community should have a strong voice when it comes to the priorities of TSD.  My observation is that, at least this go around, determining the priorities was left to a handful of people, each of whom are TSD administrators.  

Take a stance, and do not be afraid to disagree with each other

Consensus is great, and so are controverting opinions.  I am not sure I have ever seen differing opinions on the same topic offered by Board members.  I appreciate the Board members do not say much, and if there was more discussion, varying ideas might be more freely exchanged.  I presume there are topics where Board members disagree with each other, and the public is entitled to know when that occurs.  We want to see some independence, and understand how our elected officials feel about issues.  

The budget scrub is a perfect example.   I am confident that, if each Board member were asked to “scrub” the budget to some degree, they would each assess varying levels of priority to items across the Board.  That exercise occurring would have led to a much needed discussion about priorities.  Instead, the scrub was decided in a pretty sterile environment without board input.   

Board Member comments should be substantive, and thought provoking.

It is quite possible I am in the minority here, but the Board members comments at the end of the meeting rarely touch on any business, and do not offer much in the way of thought provoking discussion.  Given the fact that the Board members comments are one of the few times we get to hear the Board members speak, the comments should revolve around the core duties of the Board members.  

Much of the time, the comments are something along the lines of “I visited my child’s school and watched a program,” or “I enjoyed senior presentations,” or “I am really proud of the great performance by our _______ team/students performance at ________.”  These are all good things to have Board members attend, and I really appreciate the support the Board members provide to the entire TSD community.  They are at many events, and volunteer countless hours.  However, the Board meeting is the time to conduct business, and should be used that way.  What I want to hear during the reports is the change you wish to impart, the ideas you want to carry forward, reports from committees you are working on and the core duty work you intend to undertake.    

I will say that I have noticed one of the Board members consistently reporting about meeting with various Department leaders and employees to learn what they do, and what they need.  This seems more along the lines of reporting on core duty work, and it would be great to get some details in that regard.    

Parting Thoughts

The TSD leadership has changed drastically over the course of the last 12 months.  The individuals who served, but have moved on to something else, were dedicated people who devoted countless hours to TSD. TSD is better as a result of that service.  That being said, the change of guard presents an opportunity for the Board to be productive, and engaged, in determining the future action on multiple important issues facing TSD.  My objective with this three part series was to highlight some areas where I think the Board could better serve the community.   I am optimistic that the Board will take advantage of the opportunities presented, be willing to tackle difficult issues, and lead TSD down a path that continues to make Tumwater a great place to raise a family.

As always, we welcome your comments.  You can contact us at  I would also encourage you to contact the TSD Board members with any thoughts/comments/suggestions you may have.   The TSD Board contact information can be located on the TDS website here.  

PART 2-A critical look at some TSD Board action/inaction?

I covered the “core duties” of the TSD Board and Superintendent in PART I.  In PART II, I am giving some specific examples where, over the past year or so, action(or inaction) by the TSD Board was inconsistent with its core duties.  I will preface this by saying I make no contention that I am fully aware of each and every communication by the Board members.  My conclusions are based upon information received via a half dozen or so public records requests, TSD Board meetings, communication with several Board members, TSD employees and other community members and my general observations.    

I would also preface this blog by saying I believe the TSD Board members devote countless hours to the TSD community and care deeply about the students and employees in TSD.  The conclusions I make below are harsh, and, I believe, accurate.  If taken in a vacuum, one could be left with the conclusion that the community is not well served by the Board members.  Such a conclusion would be inaccurate.  The Board members are dedicated to improving the TSD community, and TSD is significantly better as a result of their collective service.

I think the primary deficiency on the part of the Board has been a lack of focus on the its core duties, some of which are the most pressing issues facing TSD.  From my perspective, financial and budget matters are the most important, and divisive, issues that must be dealt with by TSD in the present environment.   The Board has pretty much opted out of any conversation, leadership and/or decision making when it comes to financial matters.  Therefore, I think the Board could, and should, devote a much larger portion of the limited time and resources it has to fulfilling the core duties(especially budgetary items and financial decisions).  

Here are a couple items that highlight the deficiency in my view.

Bargaining with TSD.   

The bargaining process last summer was a colossal failure by every account, and unmistakably, it was a joint effort by TSD and TEA.  They each spent months refusing to engage in any real substantive talks, and, until the final days of negotiating, could not even agree on some basic facts(like enrollment).  I deal with a lot of negotiations and the manner and tactics I observed were the most distasteful I have ever witnessed.   

The TSD Board, at least publicly, stayed silent throughout most of the process.  The Board relied on its bargaining team(which was led by TSD administrators and WASA representatives) to do all of the bargaining.  This was a mistake.   WASA hijacked the negotiations(as did WEA on the TEA end) and left little room for consideration of what was best for TSD.  The Board opted not to step into the negotiations, and, at least as far as I can tell, did not participate in any of the bargaining. 

More concerning, there was almost no public discussion by Board members about the bargaining.  While I do not expect TSD, or the Board, to fully bargain in public, I do believe the topic was of the utmost importance last summer and the Board members should have used the public meetings to outline their respective thoughts, and taken some ownership of the process.  This also would have given the public some indication as to where the Board members stood on the issues.  The failure to take a stance led me to believe the Board members really were not involved in the process, which, in my view, was a failure to fulfill their core duties.  

I wondered throughout the process when the Board members would attend the bargaining, and engage with the TEA/WEA bargaining teams, during active negotiations, to work towards a resolution.  Frankly, I was surprised that the Board members were not at the bargaining sessions, negotiating the contract.   The lack of progress, and the inability of TEA and TSD to even “speak the same language” was frustrating.  I believe the TSD Board members could, and should, have stepped in and tried to bridge that gap.    

Failure to Accept Responsibility For the Process.

Simply put, from TEA’s perspective(and therefore the community), John Bash and Jim Brittain became the face of TSD during the negotiations.  That face should have been the TSD Board members. In accord with its core duties, the TSD Board should have determined the budget, and therefore made the decision on when, or if, a “fair contract”(what TEA was seeking) would be offered.  Despite that fact, it was clear that Bash and Brittain were the ones being held responsible for any bargaining decisions made by TSD. 

In fact, on occasion TSD Board members joined the picket lines and/or showed up at TEA rallies.  I certainly take no issue with anyone supporting TEA.  However, the TSD Board was/is “the management” that was not meeting TEA’s demands.  Ironically, the Board members on the TEA picket lines showing support for the teachers were the ones deciding not to meet TEA’s demands.  The TSD Board essentially disowned its role in the process, and acted as if it was powerless in resolving the issues when the board was one of the primary decision makers.

To be fair, TSD is authorized by law, and did, opt to conduct specific discussions regarding negotiations in executive session pursuant to RCW 42.30.140(4)(b).  I take no issue with that.  However, the Board members offered no public indication where they each stood, which made it impossible for the public to know what, if anything, they were each doing, or doing as a Board, to resolve the dispute.  The Board meetings turned into sessions where John Bash and Jim Brittain gave continuous gloom and doom presentations, with TEA and dozens of teachers showing up to talk about all the money that was supposedly available.  In hindsight, and in real time, it was clear they were both incorrect. 

Once again, I would think that instead of appearing at a TEA rally, or remaining silent, the Board members would have educated themselves on the budgetary disputes, taken an active role in the negotiations, and as elected officials, publicly stated their respective positions and/or engaged TEA so that the community understood the thought process.  Ultimately, I would argue that the Board was in the best position to lead this discussion, and should have done so.   Its failure to do so fell short of fulfilling its core duties.  

Budget Dilemma This Spring.

During the fall of 2018, TSD concluded it would have to reduce expenditures significantly in 2018/19(the budget had already been approved) and cut millions of dollars from the proposed budget for 2019/20.   The process for doing so became Brittain and Bash, and a few TSD staff members, diligently searching for areas where expenditures could be reduced.  Once again, other than being provided general information at Board meetings, I do not see evidence of the TSD Board members being substantively involved in that process.    

Early in 2019, Bash directed Brittain to “scrub”(that is the term continuously used at TSD Board meetings) what he could.  I sat down with Jim Brittain on several occasions to talk about this scrubbing process.  In simple terms, Jim went through the budget on a line by line basis looking for non-essential expenditures.  There were a few things that were off limits(certificated staff, some safety funds, a few expenses associated with particular grants, etc).  From my perspective, Jim fulfilled his duties pretty well in that regard.    There were certainly things he cut that I would have kept, and things he kept that I would have cut.  However,  the thing that boggled my mind is that the TSD Board played no role in this process. 

Notably, I and several other members of the community, spoke at Board meetings, and contacted Board members, about creating some community process wherein the budget priorities could be set.  The Board decided the scrub did not warrant any input from the community, nor did it warrant any public discussion(or private work session) from the Board. 

After the scrub was pretty much completed(in April), Kim Reykdal finally posed the question several community members had been asking for weeks—can we see the list of what was scrubbed?  I was shocked to realize that the Board members had no idea what had been scrubbed, and played virtually no role in the scrubbing process. I would have expected that Brittain would have come to the Board with some options.  Something like, here are 20 items that total $7.5 million.  We need to cut $5 million.  What do you want to do?  Instead, the Board opted out of participating in the discussion, and just asked “what was cut” once the process was over, leaving Brittain and Bash with the responsibility to make the cuts.  

Once again, to be fair, TSD did send out a survey with a series of “which do you prefer” questions.   However, making determinations off such a survey was, and is, ill conceived.   When the survey asked if I like classroom teachers or extracurricular activities better, I chose classroom teachers.  However, that does not mean I want to devote all the funds to classroom teachers, and none to extracurricular activities.  Some context is required, some discussion needs to occurs about how much is devoted to each program, and what is reduced or increased and by how much.  From what I can tell, all of these decisions were made by Bash and Brittain, in consultation with a few TSD administrators.  The TSD Board was not substantively involved in the process, and it did not facilitate any discussion within the community about a pretty important topic(cutting around $5 million).  

Lack of Discussion/Interest in Budget Presentations. 

Jim Brittain routinely updates the Board on the financial projections.  Over the past year, the projections are mostly “gloom and doom”(which I believe is exaggerated at times, but pretty accurate for the most part).  Jim talks about big picture concepts, and rarely gets into specific programs.  Other than Kim Reykdal asking for the scrub list, I have yet to see the Board members press Jim to talk about any specifics.  Its mostly just a “so that is a pretty bleak picture” and “I guess we will wait to see what the legislature does” comments.  There is very little(usually no) inquiry on the part of the Board.  The Board meeting should be the time to ask specific questions, and go through specific items so everyone can gain a better understanding of what is going on when making these critical financial decisions.  

A good highlight of this deficiency is a basic misunderstanding held by the Board members regarding the cost of educating students.  I went in depth on this topic in a prior blog which can be found here. TSD spends about $11,000 per student.  Under the current funding model, TSD receives about $9000 per student from the state.  So, it costs TSD roughly $2,000 more per out of district student than it receives in state funding(TSD makes up the deficiency by using levy money and dipping into its savings account).  Despite this fact, John Bash argued during a Board meeting in March, 2018 that increasing out of district student enrollment is helpful to the budget.  I pointed out that the opposite was true, and in fact, each new student increases the deficit around $2,000.  The Board asked no questions of me, and no questions of Bash, with one of the Board members then stating “we should not limit enrollment in these difficult financial times.”  That is exactly the opposite of the action that should be taken from a budgeting perspective.  Fewer students reduces the deficit while more students increases the deficit.  Its a pretty simple concept that I do not believe the Board members understand.  


I get the sense the Board members have little interest when it comes to the budget process and financial decisions, and rely way too much on what they are told by Brittain and Bash.  Once again, to be fair, my unscientific survey of other Schools Boards leads me to believe it is not uncommon for Board members to avoid difficult financial decisions, and focus on other areas. I also appreciate it takes significant time to get up to speed on financial issues,

and that school funding is complicated.  That being said, it is not rocket science.  It is understandable if sufficient time is devoted.  More importantly, financial decisions undoubtedly fall within the core duties of the TSD Board and the members have an obligation to place the appropriate amount of importance on those decisions.    

At the June 13 board meeting, the Board discussed a workshop where they will be discussing the expectations of the board and the superintendent.  If you have comments, suggestions or questions about this process we encourage you to contact the board members.  Their contact information can be found here.

In PART 3—New leadership provides an opportunity for much needed change. . . .

As always we welcome comments, suggestions and questions.  You can contact us here.

Budget Reductions AKA Scrub

On June 7, 2019 TSD released a list of “budget reductions” that have been made to the proposed budget.  The list, which can be found here was previously disclosed to the TSD Board at the May 23rd meeting.  This is the “scrub” that has been discussed at the TSD Board Meetings over the course of the last several months.  

I think this has been portrayed as “cuts,” which is a little misleading.  For the most part, the $4.9 million is comprised of funds budgeted, but not spent.  These are not really cuts in my view.  When I think of a cut, I think of a spending reduction.  For example, I spent $100 last year, but this year we are going to spend $90.  That is a $10 cut. 

The budget reductions represent money that TSD planned on spending, but did not.  For example, I plan on spending $100 this year.  However, I spent $90, so I only need to budget $90 next year.  That is a budget reduction. I am not spending any less money, I am just reducing how much I plan on spending to what I actually spent last year.  This process seems pretty logical.   

When I sat down with Jim Brittain, I posed the simple question . . . Will these budget reductions be felt in the classroom.? The short answer is “no.”  TSD did not spend it last year, and is not going to spend it next year.  Nobody should notice.  

 Jim started with TSD on July 1, 2018.  The 2018/19 budget was developed, for the most part, before he started.  The “scrub” was Jim going through and eliminating line items that were not used, and simplifying things so it is easier to understand. I think this exercise was much needed, and will be beneficial to the TSD financial analysis moving forward.  There is no need to continue to budget for expenses that are not going to be realized.  Jim’s first shot a drafting a budget in TSD will be this summer—when the 2019/20 budget will need to be approved by the Board.  

However, the fact that $4.9 million could be scrubbed from the budget does raise some questions. I have asserted over and over that the primary reason TSD and TEA were so diametrically opposed was that they were each using unrealistic, and unsubstantiated, enrollment projections.  In prior blogs which can be found here and here, I went over some of the erroneous assumptions by TEA.  TSD being able to scrub $4.9 million from its budget also evidences a lack of support for the projections used when budgeting during last summer’s negotiations.   

This scrub also poses an interesting math problem.  In 2018/19, TSD operated at a deficit and dipped into the general fund significantly(probably $4-5 million).  Prior to 2018/19, TSD operated at a surplus most years, and was able to put roughly $1 million per year into its general fund(savings account).  If TSD budgeted $4.9 million that went unspent, and only put away $1 million per year, then there was about $3.9 million in expenditures that actually occurred, but were not budgeted.   TSD must have overspent in other areas.  Otherwise it would have had $4.9 million to put into the general fund.  Maybe I am misunderstanding the situation, or do not have all the facts.  I am going to check with Jim Brittain and see what I can find out, and also encourage him to provide some clarification at the next Board meeting.  


I do not think it is any secret that I have been critical of the TSD Superintendent and Board performance over the last year or so.  The Board and Superintendent clearly care about the families in TSD, and devote countless hours to improving the education process.  That being said, I am growing more and more concerned about the items to which the Board devotes, and opts not devote, time and resources. I am continually surprised by the lack of involvement when it comes to decisions that have significant impact in TSD.  In talking with others, I realized I am not alone.  There is a growing sense that while the work the Board does is good, TSD would benefit much more from the Board devoting more time and effort to the core duties it is charged to fulfill.  So, I decided to do a 3 part blog series on the topic.  Here is what I plan to cover:

Part 1—What are the core duties of the TSD Board and Superintendent and what role does the current Board and Superintendent play. 

Part 2—I will cover a handful of specific examples(some of which are ongoing) where I think the past practice created less than desired results. 

Part 3—I will propose specific changes that I think should be implemented, especially with an underlying belief that the turnover of leadership presents a unique opportunity to continue to improve TSD.  


TSD Leadership is changing.

TSD has welcomed two new Board members(Andrea McGhee and Khalia Davis) over the past 5 months.  In addition, Kim Reykdal has announced she will not seek re-election this fall.  Further, Superintendent Bash, and Assistant Superintendent Chris Woods, have each resigned their positions with TSD.  

I figured the change in leadership presents a good opportunity to start a discussion about things moving forward.  Unlike some of the prior blogs, this series will be heavily weighted with opinions and commentary.  The first part(this one) will deal with the core duties the TSD Board and Superintendent are assigned to carry out, with some commentary setting forth my perception of their performance. 

What happens at Board meetings.

The TSD Board meetings are generally held twice per month.  The evening meetings(2nd Thursday) are at the District Office and the morning meetings(4th Thursday) are usually at one of the TSD schools.  

 The agenda is provided at the meeting, and the President of the TSD Board conducts.  The Superintendent(John Bash) and Finance Director(Jim Brittain) usually make a report.  There is time reserved for public comment(30 minutes or so) where anyone can take 3-5 minutes to talk about a topic of their choosing. There is also usually a presentation(20-40 minutes) by someone from the hosting school highlighting some program.   At many meetings, someone from TSD will make a presentation about a program.  

Oftentimes, there is a “consent” agenda that is voted upon.  The items on the consent agenda are rarely discussed.  

The last 20 minutes of the meeting are reserved for Board comment(each member takes a few minutes to talk about whatever they like). This usually results in the Board members talking about what they have been up to(i.e. “I had a great time at the BHHS play” or “I visited PGS and met with the teachers”, etc).  They are usually positive comments about good things that are happening in the District.  

The TSD Board’s role.  

Frankly, having attended and viewed several TSD Board meetings, and having served on a number of non-profit Boards, I was relatively surprised at the lack of what I would call “business”(discussion, debate and decision making) that occurs at the Board meetings.  That prompted me to look up what the TSD Board is charged with doing.  The TSD website provides as follows:

School Board Directors make all final decisions regarding school district priorities, policies, personnel, textbooks, expenditures, and growth management. Directors adopt a budget which is necessary to maintain and operate the schools, levy taxes to help support the budget, and submit bond issues to finance construction projects to the citizens of the district.

I must say that I was surprised by three things: (1) the primary purpose of the meeting appears to be reporting to the Board, and the Board takes little, if any, action during the meeting; (2) there is virtually no discussion between the Board members, and they speak infrequently; (3) Very little, if any, organizational business is actually conducted by the Board Members.   

The Board members rarely ask each other questions, discuss topics or engage in any public debate.  As an example, the public comment portion is often used by citizens to voice concerns or desires regarding specific issues(budget, out of district students, boundary changes, etc).  It is very rare for any of the Board members to offer clarification, ask questions, or even address comments made by the public.  

The Board members vote upon, and therefore do make the “final” decisions.  However, as will be discussed in future blogs, almost without exception in the meetings I have attended, these votes occur after a presentation(usually by the Superintendent) after which there has been no real discussion.  In many instances, the Board relies much too heavily on the recommendation of the Superintendent and does not appear to be making an informed decision.  

The Superintendent’s role.

According to the TSD website, the Superintendent is charged with the following:

The Superintendent is appointed by the School Board as the chief administrator and executive officer. With the assistance of staff, the Superintendent directs, guides and coordinates the total educational and administrative program in accordance with Board policies and the rules and regulations of the State of Washington. The Superintendent attends all Board meetings and brings recommendations to the Board for action in carrying out the business of the school district.

My first contact with John Bash was during the contract negotiations last summer.  I have since met with John Bash on a number of occasions.  He has been open and candid with me, and provided information as requested.  We often disagree, but I have found him to be cordial and do believe he is doing what he believes is best for TSD. 

From my perspective, John spends a lot of time meeting with TSD employees.  John also attends virtually all school board meetings and provides reports on multiple topics.    

As will be discussed in the next segment, I believe John’s authority and decision making has been much broader than it should be.  For all intents and purposes, he essentially makes pretty much every impactful decision when it comes to TSD.  I am surprised that these decisions are not being made by the Board and the Board members do not devote meeting time to debating issues.  John’s role, at least according to the job description, is to bring recommendations to the Board.  He does that, but very rarely do the Board members ask probing questions that indicate an understanding of the decisions that need to be made.  In fact, when a question is posed by the Board, the question itself evidences a lack of knowledge of the underlying facts and John often spins the answer with some generalization that takes the discussion off topic. 

An example that I will discuss in the next blog is the budget “scrub” that has been referenced in most TSD meetings during 2019.  None of the Board members were provided a list of the cuts(roughly $5 million) prior to the “scrub” being completed.  When a question was asked about the cuts, John or Jim provided a few examples, but offered no real clarity as to the big picture.  Once the scrub was done, at a subsequent meeting in March, Kim Reykdal asked about the list.  I am convince the Board members have no real understanding of what has been cut.  The list was eventually provided to the Board at the May 23rd meeting. The list has yet to be made public.  

As I will discuss in an upcoming blog, removing $5 million in expenses seems like a pretty big decision, that should be debated and decided by the Board.  However, that process did not occur.   

I appreciate my views may differ from that of the families in TSD, and maybe the community wants the Board members to keep doing what they are doing.  However, I sense, especially with the events over the past several months, I am not alone in an island in my views.  I believe the topic is worthy of a discussion.

In the next blog . . .Specific examples of decisions that have been made . . .