Friday, January 21, 2011

Joint Council/School Board Talks

This morning the Virginia Beach City Council and Virginia Beach School Board held a much-anticipated joint meeting at the Sandler Center. With the media attention this week on the troubled relationship between the two bodies, there was an overflow crowd in Classroom 2. All 22 electeds were there, but Superintendent Merrill was in New York on previously-scheduled business.

The assessment of the relationship was that individual Councilmen and School Board members have good personal relationships, but relations between the two bodies is strained. Just in case, Facilitator Lyle Sumek had brought Phred. Phred is a doll dressed in a referee's uniform. If a member misbehaves, Sumek tosses Phred to them to hold.

The format was agreed to on Thursday morning by Mayor Will Sessoms, School Board Chairman Dan Edwards, and Sumek. However, Bill DeSteph attempted to have the format changed. Like his Council motions, it died for lack of a second.

Twice the 22 broke out into three groups, each group meeting in a separate room to discuss the same questions. They recorded their answers on chart paper, and brought them back to cover as a whole.

While a number of suggestions were made, two major ones seem to be heading for enactment. First, Council and the School Board will regularly hold periodic meetings to discuss overlapping issues. Second, a committee will be formed in June (after the FY 2012 Budget process) to take on the fiscal issues.

Council Retreats always have humorous moments, and we had a couple:

1. Bad humor - Bill DeSteph at one point stated, "Back to those urinary Olympics: you don't want to be caught in a crossfire." That may draw laughs among sailors or in a bar. However, in a tense public meeting like this one, it was nearly as inappropriate as wearing a suggestive genie costume to a children's charitable fundraiser.

2. Good humor - Facilitator Lyle Sumek said he'd expect death if he ran a marathon...and would for Louis Jones, too. Bob Dyer cracked that the mortician Vice Mayor would get a better deal on the burial. Lyle gave Bob the only Phred toss for Friday.

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