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Can't we all just get along?

Original post made on Jan 31, 2014

It seems that Steve Nelson may never get along with the administration of the Mountain View Whisman School District and his fellow trustees.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 31, 2014, 9:49 AM

Comments (18)

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Posted by GSB
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 31, 2014 at 9:51 am

This whole situation makes me sad. Be cautious of who you vote for.

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Posted by Jim
a resident of Castro City
on Jan 31, 2014 at 11:02 am

It's good to not fill the board with "yes men" but it's possible to not be a yes man and still be civil. The district should not be upset that a board member or any member of the public wants information, though the requester needs to be clear.

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 31, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Web Link

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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 31, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Nick, the request was to the City, and it was a Public Records Request (PRR) not a Federal FOIA. It involved no MVWSD resources.
Public Records Request, to City of Mountain View, Jan 21
“Time period: October 7, 2013 - Jan 20, 2014
email originator: domain name = “” or any domain name with “mvwsd”
Subject: “Slatter” or “park lease” or Google preschool
MVWSD personel: Goldman or McNamee or Lilga”
The City is used to fulfilling hundreds of these types of requests a year (according to the phone call I got to clarify my request the next day). The City was able to search and send the 5 email correspondences in less than a day and a half. No MVWSD time was spent on this search. They also were perceptive and helpful enough to catch my spelling error (Slater) and process the request rapidly with no fuss. I consider the handing of this PRR yet another example of great local government. In 2011 the City also processed a PRR from “Share Shoreline” that resulted in ‘a boxful’ of records and correspondence going back to 1969! This information enabled these citizens - to help secure additional Shoreline dollars by having informed public debating positions.
You may ask City (PRR) for my full PRR and the results (5 email files)!

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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I think it is very questionable for a district employee to question a board member during a meeting about his actions as a private citizen.

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Posted by Nick V
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Jan 31, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Nick V is a registered user.

Sorry for the error, Steve. I've fixed it in this version of the story.

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Posted by Rich
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 31, 2014 at 3:05 pm

If I recall correctly, part of the complaint against Nelson was him commenting to the Voice about Goldman or other Board members. Why is it OK for Goldman to publicly bitch about Nelson, then? Does Goldman need to be censured?

I can certainly understand Nelson not responding to Veronin's request for comment. The Voice has uniformly presented this matter in about as anti-Nelson a manner as is possible, including cherry-picking quotes from Nelson to make him appear nuts while giving no coverage at all to the issues he is bringing up.

Nelson may be nuts, or the district may be in incompetent hands, but you'll never know by reading the one-sided Voice.

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Posted by Nick V
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Jan 31, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Nick V is a registered user.


After the censure, I reached out to a First Amendment lawyer and another local -- both of whom defended Nelson and said chastising him for talking to the press was not fair.

That article is here: Web Link

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Posted by There it is
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 31, 2014 at 3:35 pm

BOOYAH! Nicky V. coming strong with the "Oh yah?" link.
Nicely played Sir!

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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 31, 2014 at 5:31 pm

BTW, Nick and I are on very good terms. He is human, like me. He will stand out in the cold November air, as he did when I met him a few years ago after a MVLA Board meeting - and let you talk to him till you're cold about the community and schools. I hear he is leaving for another post - at the Palo Alto Weekly (another Embarcadero Publishing local). Nick has been known, throughout our education community - for trying to write more "positive articles" than negative. He does a great job IMO. I have heard many say they will also miss his coverage of our community.

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Posted by Jerry
a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 31, 2014 at 9:47 pm

The Superintendent should take orders from the Board as a body, not from any individual on the board. That's a standard tenet of good board governance. Mr. Nelson has no rights as an individual over the Superintendent, unless he can convince the full Board to make a request of the Superintendent. That means the Superintendent should deny any request for information that is so time consuming that it detracts from the operations of the agency. Responding to requests from an individual board member is a matter of courtesy, and not a requirement of the position.

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Posted by yamanoor
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 31, 2014 at 10:40 pm

We really need to see the other side of the story, and maybe the actual emails. The paper siding with the district comes off as nepotism to the untrained eye...

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 1, 2014 at 7:46 am

@yamanoor. In a previous article, the Voice referenced emails that they had requested under the public records act so they have seen the whole story.

For those who have attended or watched videos of the meetings, there is no doubt that Nelson is nuts.

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Posted by Observer Also
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Board members need data so they can take positions and make decisions. It's their duty to get data, and the superintendent has to provide it to any one of them. Just asking for data doesn't take a board vote.

What I'd like to know as an Observer is just how much rent the district receives from providing the 10 acres of Cooper Park that they own? Also, how much rent do they get from that tiny preschool that occupies what few buildings are on that site? It's set up like most city schools, where there is a city park next to it. In this case that is 5 acres, but the school district owns about 10 acres, which is the bulk of the park. Since there is no school active there, that's quite a large park that the city gets.

Couldn't the district for example, rent that out to the German International School and then reopen Whisman school for that neighborhood, since there are more kids there now? That way both areas would have 1 school rented and 1 school open.

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Posted by Castro Mom
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Goldman makes well north of $200,000 a year. I'm tired of his and the board's whining. And I doubt they are the angels they pretend to be. The more I read about it the more I want to side with Mr. Nelson. They should just quit if they're not willing to solve or endure this. There are many ways to manage and lead through this situation and at the same time provide Mr. Nelson with answers and documents. Come up with a solution. He has every right to request information and not be smeared for doing so. Approach the problem differently. That's what you are paid or elected to do. This is starting to stink as bad as the US Congress.

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Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 3, 2014 at 9:19 am

The City is a much larger, and in some ways more sophisticated organization than MVWSD. Mr. Nelson certainly has access to every piece of public informtation the district generates. Ever since we had two elementary school districts in Mtn Vw, some board member(s) wants data that is not readily available. Since the board approves the budget and staffing, it is fair for Mr. Goldman to point out those requests that require extraordinary effort. The decision to authorize that extraordinary effort belongs rightly to the entire board, not to either Mr. Goldman or Mr. Nelson as individuals. Mr. Nelson sometimes seems unable to make up his mind as to whether he wants to be a gadfly/activist or a highly involved board member. Having watched school boards in this town since 1992, I do not believe it is possible for him to be effective in both his chosen roles.

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

USA is a registered user.

A message and the how a message is communicated are two different things. No one is say that Mr. Nelson cannot speak his mind to deliver his message. The issue is how he is communicating his message. Mr. Nelson has substantial problems working with other people.

Mr. Nelson is not just a gadfly that shows up to public hearings. He is an official on the board who is disrupting the board's work.

In his mind, he is fighting the good fight, matching to the tune of a different drummer. His problems go well bey

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 3, 2014 at 10:30 am

USA is a registered user.

In his mind he is fighting the good fight, marching to the tune of a different drummer. His problems go well beyond that, though.

I won't attempt to be an armchair-psychiatrist, but it is clear that he has some demon that he needs to deal with privately, not by thrashing out at others on the Board.

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