October 6, 2000

Bureaucracy in Action


More on the flag:
(continued from the previous entry)

By the time I got to the meeting Wednesday night I had heard two more versions of the story: (the original was that the flagpole had been poorly repaired and the flags were thus immovable.)

The Principal was reported to have told the students that the flags were "one position only";

I was told by a school board Commissioner (whom I often see at bowling because his wife is in my league) that all they had to do was loosen some bolts and the entire flag mount folds down.

Hubby decided to attend the meeting as a "concerned citizen" and brought up the matter himself. The Principal first tried the "immovable" plea but when I asked about the bolts, abruptly changed course and claimed that he did not have the authority to lower the flag without a "directive" from the government or the school board. He said he waited for such a directive and "none came".

When further pressed (by now, by some of the staff as well as the parents) he claimed that he did not have the right to make the "political statement" of lowering the flag on his own authority; to which I replied that not lowering it had made a bigger statement. (That of disrespect to one of Canada's greatest leaders in his home Province.

The eventual resolution was that the school will seek clarification from the school board as to the appropriate procedures, to prevent any similar occurrences. I had to be satisfied with that, since there was really little else they could do.

I'm not sure what to make of this, but it can't be anything good. There have been too many alternative excuses for me to feel that anyone is levelling about it. At worst, the Principal is a closet separatist; at best he's a bureaucratic puppet.

This question was clarified a bit by a report, later in the meeting, about progress (?) the school has made in negotiating with the city about putting a stoplight in front of the school.

The school building is on a fairly busy street, which is becoming busier because of a nearby construction boom in both apartments and businesses; in fact there's a new Home Depot (the first in Quebec, I think) within walking distance. A stoplight has been requested time and time again, (especially since the school has several visually handicapped students and has a prominent "Special Needs" program) and about a year ago a light was promised for last spring. Spring turned into fall and we were told it had been shelved because of the nearby overpass collapse. Whatever sense that made.

Now the Principal reports that he had a "very satisfactory" meeting with city officials and those of the fire station next door to the school, planning a stoplight to be placed where the fire trucks exit (adjacent to the school so that's acceptable) with first "priority" to the fire trucks (still OK with me), second priority to the school buses who use the adjacent driveway (huh? Buses get priority over students?) and third priority to students trying to cross the street.

Unfortunately, when traffic is stopped on the main road, cars will still be able to exit the apartment driveways across the street, turning into the road. Furthermore, the entire nearby intersection has to be "reconfigured" and rebuilt, removing a particular left turn lane (still allowing left turns but not from their own lane) and putting in a new median. This requires a study by City engineers which should be completed within a few weeks; then the city council must vote on the project. By then, of course, it's winter, and construction cannot begin until spring. That's if all goes well.

At this point the teachers were snickering and saying it'll be done after they retire; the parents were hailing it for their grandchildren. The Principal, however, was dead serious. He thought (or was trying to convince us) that this was good progress. I reminded him that the school had asked for a stop light, not for the entire block to be "reconfigured". Deaf ears.

It's going to be a long year and, I'm very glad, Rob's last one in that school.

This Principal, by the way, is new to the school and to the community. He was previously a Principal in a more rural area and is very young, probably early 30's. I've been told (by another parent who's also a friend) to cut him some slack but that's hard to do when common sense is an issue.

Linque Du Jour:   Pet Chip Official Home Page

Time for a change of pace:

Remember pet rocks? This is the updated version. They are sold through the web page and are being touted as "genuine cultural icons".

A Pet Chip comes with it's (sic) own little house, a Trading Card, a feeding station, and tips for training it, there's also a housebreaking mat, and more...

For only $2.99 (U.S., presumably) you can be the proud owner of Blue Chip, Chocolate Chip, Chip-panzee, Cow Chip, y2k Chip, and/or Champion Chip. Where's Potato Chip? Lost in Rhode Island, I think.. see next entry (sometime this weekend) for details.

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