Columns
April 28, 2017
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Coffeegrounds

Jud Snyder
A dummy in the dark, a legally blind lawsuit
April 7, 2017

LET’S SEE, WHERE WERE WE? Oh yes, I remember. We wanted to explore our new apartment on the first floor after six or more years of living upstairs and climbing the steps, for they had nice banisters on both sides. 

But most people urged me to take the ground floor and see how it works out. I knew the parking lot sometimes turned into a giant puddle requiring lace-up boots.

Well, you know what happens when a dummy like me enters an empty apartment. Yeah, like flashlight batteries decide to cash in their chips and fade into darkness, the light switch on the wall doesn’t work, I stumble over unseen hazards and fall flat on the floor with only pitch darkness as my companion. It took six or seven hours of pounding on the wall before some one heard me and called for a rescue team of some sort to finally drag me out, bruised fists and crying out many thank-you’s to my rescuers who had called 9-1-1 and they promptly deposited me at Kaiser hospital in Santa Rosa where stickies were applied for attaching cables to computers to my bruised torso and a gallon of saline solution restored my sense of balance.

After a few weeks Kaiser sent me to a rehab clinic just off Broadway in the town of Sonoma. Kaiser hospital had excellent coffee, just as good as anything Starbucks creates. But the rehab clinic had only weak brew obviously made at half strength, which I thought was hot water for tea drinkers. I quickly made a rule – anyone who visited me had to bring a large jar of Starbuck’s darkest brew.

If you’re going to visit a hospital or rehab clinic, I recommend you bring a small tool kit with needle-nose pliers, a pair of solid tweezers and a sharp, small screwdriver. 

Everything is in plastic bags and being me, I found them impossible to open. But nurses or technicians picked them up and easily opened them and handed them back to me. I was too embarrassed to ask them how they did it. If you’re like me, be prepared.

 

I CAME PREPARED because I have an interesting news item. I had a conversation with Tim Nonn, the top winner of the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. Nonn wanted to bring an aide along with him at school board meetings and she’s qualified as an assistant to the legally blind.

But Superintendent Robert Haley wanted his own staff people to aid Nonn and rejected his choice and one of his assistants, Mindy McKeown, was selected by Haley. Nonn filed a lawsuit against Haley and the school district claiming national rules with privileges for the handicapped were being violated.

Nonn’s choice as an aid is Janet Lowery, trained in her field and has been working with Nonn to enable him to understand the documents that are always creating thick agenda packets for school board trustees.

What makes it more interesting is Janet Lowery is the wife of Lanny Lowery, longtime English teacher at Rancho Cotate High School. When the Press Democrat or The Community Voice want a good quote for a news story, Lanny Lowery is our go-to guy. He’s very dependable.

 

I’VE BEEN WRITING school board stories ever since the district had its offices in the former city hall on Commerce Boulevard. 

I remember the superintendent answering his phone, “This is Jim Davidson, how can I help you?” Not too many phones these days are answered that politely. The district was squeezed out of city hall when the planning department expanded as the city grew in size and population.

I’ve lost track trying to add up the number of school district superintendents we’ve had over the years, but I do remember Lanny Lowery as a consistent critic of their leadership skills. 

Then there’s Leff Brown, who’s been on the school board longer than most of the school district leaders combined. It’s not surprising that Leff Brown backs  Nonn in his lawsuit.

What this sets up is three members of the school board are on Robert Haley’s side and therefore outweighing the Nonn-Brown duo. Latest I’ve heard from Nonn is the next meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, April 18, presumably in Larry Jones Middle School auditorium.

 

NONN’S HOPEFUL some sort of compromise can be worked out to settle the issue before it’s tossed in the laps of expensive lawyers. “The district does not answer our requests or our e-mails,” said Nonn. 

This feeling of being ignored adds very little to the reputation of all parties concerned but more so to Haley’s job future in the CRPUSD, which already has a label of frequent rotation of school district superintendents. 

Perhaps in this period of quiet time before April 18 some informal conversations will he held between sides before the meeting.