Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Sum Of All Facts

Back in April, after the hoopla regarding the O'Zone's publication of the Arbitration decision in the case of Jonathan Jacobson, I conducted a poll of readers regarding whether the current principal of Southbridge High should stay or go.

At the conclusion of the article reporting the results of the poll, I wrote the following; “My prediction; I’ll end up being the villain in this black comedy.”

Yesterday I encountered an old friend (I’m talking a friend of over 40 years). We share a number of friends, many of whom are intimately involved in this affair. 

He criticized me for going after my friends and trying to hurt them. When I tried to explain the situation his attitude was that you shouldn’t be disloyal to your friends.

Now, I know that this friend doesn’t have a computer, so he doesn’t read what I write. He gets his information from people who talk to him and from the local paper. He was told that I was being manipulated by “the other side” in the school committee controversy.

Today another acquaintance active in school affairs warned me that I was going to lose a lot of friends over this.

It is clear that a number of people with whom I’ve enjoyed a close relationship over the years are now decrying me as being disloyal and seeking to hurt them in the upcoming election.

I am disappointed by this. I challenge any of these critics to show where I have expressed an opinion on these issues. I have published the facts as I have come to know them. I have repeatedly offered a forum to those who disagree with me or the factual nature of what I have published.

What I have expressed an opinion on is the right of the public to have this information, especially prior to an election. Good government should not be a function of the buddy system – in fact it rarely is. Someone who would make a friendship contingent upon agreement over matters of policy is insincere and shallow. Such people have no place in government or public life, because their conduct eventually comes to be dominated by venality and vindictiveness. Neither of these fosters the well-being of the community.

I most certainly have not engaged in character assassination, a matter that Brent Abrahamson has addressed with stark irony. If anything, that is precisely what I am being subjected to.

I hope that such people will realize that I take responsibility for what I write. I do it openly and publicly, not in whispered undertones behind closed doors to coffee shop and bar patrons. I do not take responsibility for the opinions expressed by others, except to the extent to which they violate the guidelines I have laid down for them.

Anything more that needs to be said on this subject I’ve written in an earlier article titled “Let’s Kill The Messenger”.


  1. Being a blogger you are rarely the "good guy" Ken and its just a fact of life. Write all positive, sunny, and cheery pablum, and no one will call you out, but expose the truth? God forbid that should happen. Keep doing what you are doing and as long as you put out the truth, you will be fine. When they get pissed that's when you know you are on the right track.

  2. Morning Ken
    As I have said to you on a few occasions that you best watch your back. I have seen this in the political arena way to often. One finds out just how true the friendship is. They will use you to their benefit because of the information you know, the way you are able to disburse the info and the ability to write on the info. Its a shame that this happens. You will see as more negative information comes your way that one particular group will turn on you like a wild animal. They will try to get their friends,family and even their enemies to be against you. But fear none because common sense always prevails. The residents and voters of Southbridge are tired of this they are tired of seeing the favoritism being given to this group. They are tired of this group leading them down the wrong path. They blame everyone else for the problems that are happening in our community. This group is behind all the back door politics that are done in Southbridge. They are losing control and its about time. As I said before watch your back and in this case keep your enemies close, and your friends closer. Keep up the good work.

  3. I appreciate all you have written, Ken. This stuff needs to see the light of day and not be covered up in some special session of the school committee. To listen to a lot of garbage about caring about saving the town money; while enabling a dysfunctional principal to keep his job, is absurd. As was the whole search committee, whose findings were thrown out when Mr Bishop didn't make the cut. And then he goes and tries to destroy Jacobson in a vindictive way. As my husband would say, he is like a "Bond villain."

  4. aka Jester

    @ Ken O’Brien

    While we do not know each other...I consider you to be “A Great Resource” to the People of Southbridge.

    You have much to offer! I am truly GRATEFUL!

  5. Hi, Ken,

    Let me officially welcome you to the world of blogging, where your enemies are constant, and those you thought to be your friends scatter like rats. Everybody you know loves you until you show your objectivity, and dare to "cross" the line of...friendship.

    Friendship is letting someone like you or Bob post things, that may be just the facts, or facts with your take on it. Ironically, people who criticize you for being thin-skinned are just that themselves: very thin-skinned (and usually bullies).

    As most people know, I am running for Town Council, however, unlike three years ago, I'm not playing Patty-cake. Dare I say, and I'm happy to stand corrected if that's the case, that no one, other than Steve and myself seem to have the courage to stand up and state what we do, and don't, believe in.

    We have a slate of candidates, most of whom won't be voting for me, nor will their friends.

    At the risk of letting it all implode right now, I'd rather lose for the right reason than win for the wrong:

    Namely, being afraid to state before the election how I feel. No one else has the courage to admit publicly that which they have said privately regarding the Town Manager. Any executive in a corporation would have been fired by now for non-performance. Saying you can't decide until elected, or you'd have to "wait and see how he does" is not an answer, it's an avoidance.

    If someone hasn't seen his lack of results in bringing new business to the non-existent business park (interesting move trying to move the starting price for a parcel of land to $270,000 from $390,000--wait until they start negotiating you DOWN), and they don't have an opinion, they are either out of touch and shouldn't be running, or they're lying to your face.

    With regards to this issue, let me start by being open about my friendships with people on both sides, and people I don't know that I do respect:

    Scott Lazo - Consider him a friend.
    David Williams - Consider him a friend.
    Jack Jovan - Consider him a friend.
    Mary Ellen Prencipe - Respect her candor.
    Kara Donovan - Friend, and neighbor.
    Bill Bishop - Don't know him well enough.

    So, now that we all have my scorecard, I will almost always err on the side of teachers, since I believe that they are our most important asset. I think that the School Committee deserves credit for getting a new school built. Thank you!

    But with regards to Mr. Bishop and his being principal:

  6. With no offense to Mr. Bishop, you need someone to lead you that you respect. No doubt, he has his supporters, but with a big decision like this, you have to be willing to put friendships aside, and ask yourself several questions:

    1. Is it worth fighting for someone that may not be the most qualified for the position. I know from speaking to one of the people involved in this that is not a Bishop supporter that he/she had a lot of compliments for what he did at the old school, just doesn't feel he's right for the new school.

    2. Moving forward with Bishop, despite the outcry, is going to create a new, controversial school that is not healthy for anyone. I'm not saying to get rid of Mr. Bishop, he's earned a job, but a principal HAS to be a leader that is respected, and respects, his educators.

    3. From what I can see, just from the facts in the documents, it appears to be such nitpicking over important, but trivial, issues, and I can only think of one word and hope that I'm wrong: spite. That plays both ways, but isn't arbitration binding? If the shoe was on the other foot, which way would the side that lost feel if the union didn't stand by the decision?

    This is not meant to harm anyone, just to get them thinking about how do we as a town stop trying to litigate everything, instead of coming to the table and being fair on both sides.

    So, if stating how I feel loses me the election, so be it. But I think that the citizens of Southbridge deserve to know how people feel before casting a vote.

    Friendship is accepting the facts, being transparent in all actions and dealings in a role with the town, and, if it doesn't go anyone's way, willing to find a way to either compromise without further cost to the taxpayers, or at least, communicating without trying to have winners and losers, a situation where no one really wins.

    Thank you for letting me state my feelings, Ken.

    Oh, and one final thing?

    The four biggest lies:

    1. I have read and agree to your terms of service.
    2. That isn't a cold sore on my lip.
    3. "I am not a crook" - Richard Nixon
    4. I never read your blog (but somehow, they all seem to know what's going on, don't they?)

  7. Morning Ken
    I was surprised yesterday that no one has made comment regarding the additional money ($300,000.00)needed for busing to the new school. I may be wrong and my memory short (age has its disadvantage at times) but wasn't part of the selling of the new Jr/Sr high school was that busing wasn't going to cost more. This is only the beginning, watch and see how much more this school is going to cost. I am not opposed with constructing a new school I am opposed with the way it was done. I wanted a vote on this so everyone had a chance, but that didn't happen. Ladies get your pocket book out, men get ready to open your wallets, this is only the beginning.


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