Monday, April 7, 2008

The Battle for School Board Control

On April 15th, the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District is having its annual school board elections. Council members John Barbato and Catherine Zavorskas are waging a relentless campaign through their Mini-Me’s, Jan Rubino and Marty Ruprecht. They’ve abandoned all pretense of fighting “for the people” in their mad quest for power. The only thing standing in their way is the truth.

The stakes are high. For the first time in years, we have a school board trying to restrain spending and raise standards. They’ve won concessions on employee contributions to healthcare, halted all new construction, hired a demanding superintendent with a proven track record, and taken the prior administration to task for not raising test scores. Baby steps, for sure, but at least they’re steps in the right direction.

Opposed to the board majority is the Barbato-Zavorskas wing. For years, they’ve turned the school district into their personal fiefdom, doling out jobs and special favors for the privileged few. They supported every one of former Superintendent Quinn’s empire building schemes and have fought every effort to impose standards, including the appointment of Superintendent O’Malley.

Representing the board majority, Ken Aitken has tried to wage a campaign of ideas. He appeared at the BOE Meet the Candidates Night and created a website stating his record and platform.

In contrast, Rubino and Ruprecht have used every unscrupulous tactic Barbato and Zavorskas could imagine.

Meet the Candidates
As detailed in my prior posting, they engineered a no-show to prevent any press coverage and then disseminated false stories to justify their actions.

Soliciting Contributions from District Employees
The school board bylaws specifically forbid any board member from soliciting any employee or vendor for campaign contributions (No. 9270, Sec. H, I). Board members are further prohibited from accepting any campaign contributions from these same people (No. 9270, Sec. N). Even if a family member had received a substantial gift ($100 value) from a district employee or vendor, that board member must recuse himself from all discussions regarding that employee or vendor (No. 9270, Sec. O).

In complete disregard of the school board’s bylaws or any sense of propriety, Rubino and Ruprecht sent school employees, including a non-tenured principal, an email soliciting campaign contributions.

Enlisting Support from the Teachers Union -
While individual teachers are free to support whomever they like, the teachers union normally remains steadfast neutral. Not in this case. Not only did the local teachers union endorse the solicitation of school employees, they actually encouraged it. Rubino and Ruprecht were provided a mailing list of all teachers residing in the district, regardless of where the teachers actually work. A number of teachers who live locally but work elsewhere reported receiving this postcard from Rubino and Ruprecht.

Campaign Finance Shenanigans
The postcards say they were paid for by “Educators for a Quality Education”. If any such organization actually exists, it is not listed anywhere in New Jersey State records or on Google.

Meanwhile, according to state election filings, Rubino and Ruprecht have only donated a measly $25 each to their own campaign. What greater proof exists that these two stooges are only stand-ins for Barbato and Zavorskas than they’re too cheap to even fund their own campaigns.

The question remains, however, who is funding their campaign?

(The filing was a bewildering display of incompetence - legally unnecessary (only contributions over $300 need be reported), highly damaging, full of errors, and submitted by Rubino. Here’s a fun game – I found seven errors in the one-page filing (counting liberally). How many can you find?)

Using the PTO for Political Purposes
In 2006, Barbato was re-elected by only 23 votes. He would have lost but for an absentee ballot campaign engineered by Krista Ruprecht, Marty Ruprecht’s wife. Under the guise of a “Kidz Count” campaign, Krista used PTO resources to recruit college students to submit absentee ballots for Barbato. Krista is a current PTO president. Rubino is a past president. We should expect more of the same.

Slanted Press Coverage
It’s no coincidence that the Asbury Park Press has been running a series of Letters to the Editor (plus one nonsensical editorial) critical of the current board leadership but not one letter in support. Nor is it a coincidence that these pieces began after Rubino and Ruprecht announced their candidacies.

Rubino and Ruprecht are running an unconscionable campaign to represent us in the education of our children. How sickening. A vote for either one of them is a vote against Aitken.

Vote for Ken Aitken. Leave the others blank.
>>> Read more!


Anonymous said...

I just requested 2 lawn signs from Ken Aitken's website. Everyone urge you family, friends, and neighbors to get out to vote on April 15. We need to unite and take control of our school board.

Aberdeener.. GREAT JOB!

Anonymous said...

Finally someone who knows the truth, is able to write the truth and able to support the truth.


Anonymous said...

It is time that the Rubino and her campaign realize the distrust and contempt that they have shown for the people and students in Aberdeen is being revisited on them ten ten-fold. Ruprecht on the other hand is just a YES MAN for the Zavorskas and Barbato group. Yes-man is not by the way a qualification to seek a leadership role.

Their arrogance (Zavorskas and barbato) and their power grabs and need to control has devastated this community and it must be shown for what it is. Greed, power hunger and EGO.

Just look at the smugness every meeting as Zavorskas sits with her "woe is me" look and obvious mental depressio, that permeates her life.
Barbato is simpler as all he wants is control.

Neither of them deserve to represent or have anything to do with control and decisions on the spending of millions and millions of dollars, as they allowed and probably forced Quinn to do their bidding that devestated and cost us vast amounts of monies better spent to educate not placate. Funny is it not that they remain and Quinn is gone. It is sadly cynical.

I hope Quinn sits at home and remembers every time someone told him to Keep Zavorskas and Barbato out of his office. I told the same thing to Dr. O'Malley as I did Quinn just the other evening. If he doesn't listen he should keep his resume current.

Control, egos and power are not the reasons that people should want to serve their community but that is everything for Barbato and Zavorskas. That is however the basis for the barbato and Zavorskas' group of which Rubino is a major player and Ruprecht who just does not know any better. Yes men seldom do.

Good luck Ken Aitken at least I can pull the lever, honestly for a man who tries to do good in the face of arrogance and disrespect that fuels the turmoil that is the Matawan-Aberdeen School Board. Turmoil that Zavorskas and barbato demand.

It is simpler to seek to divide then to join with those who seek to better their community.

Zavorskas and Barbato MUST GO !

On 4/15/08 Ken Aitken gets my vote as he will not bow to the arrognace and pressure of the Z&B group.

On April 15th Ken Aitken for school board. He deserves it, he has earned it!

Anonymous said...

If the school board by-laws are being disregarded why then isn't the board or board attorney addresssing this issue? The reporter from the press in her last line of APP article stated "the school board does not have a policy that prohibits candidates from requesting money from people in the school district." Who is right, and if someone did something wrong the board has an obligation and the reporter has an obligation to get the facts.
Once again this teachers union is sticking its nose where it does not belong.

Anonymous said...

The Matawan-Aberdeen Board of Education should be investigating itself. Really? I must be dreaming?

Next thing you will be telling me is that our elected officials need to be checked for ethical behavior, and that they believe that their corruption will not be found out?

Are you saying that the people of Matawan and Aberdeen do not care about their political patronage giveaways and the fact each and every one of them cannot be trusted in the least? Is this the reality for every Matawan and Aberdeen resident?

I am disappointed that anyone would suggest that our elected officials would be dishonest. Aberdeen and Matawan would not be like that, or would it?

Wait hold on a minute I am waking up.

Where am I?

Who am I ?

Where do I live ?

Was I dreaming ?

I am awake and am disappointed after I realize that I am living another day in the nightmare that is Matawan and Aberdeen New Jersey.

Matawan and Aberdeen New Jersey where our elected officials feel entitled and feel that no one will catch them doing unspeakable and illegal things under the disguise that they are always being honest. Our supposed honest leadership works hard on behalf of all of us or do they?

Maybe if I close my eyes...

Maybe I can fall asleep and forget the reality that is Matawan and Aberdeen with its corrupt officials and power brokers, costing us tens of millions of dollars each year.

Maybe if I click my heels three times and say I want Norman Kauuff indicted. I want Norman kauff indicted. I want... ZZZZZZZZZ

Anonymous said...

Click your heels 3 times. I love it !

So creative and true.

Too bad it was not that simple to have Norman and his crew out of our communities.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of true. I hope the newspapers print the facts that Rubino and Ruprecht failed to show, with bogus excuses at the candidate night.

I know there was a small article just after it happened. I do hope that the independent has a story this week.

I watched the MARSD TV broadcast last night and was thrilled to see a man ask questions of Rubino and Ruprecht, even though they were not man enough to show. O'h wait Rubino is a woman, I forget.

They need to have the board meetings broadcast more frequently and at different time slots so parents can tune in.

Work on that Ken, please.

Anonymous said...

Dear Aberdeener,
If what you are saying is true, that Krista used the Kidz Count campaign to solicite absentee votes for John, then between soliciting teachers for campaign contributions and then sending post cards to all of the teachers in the district that looked as if they where from the NJEA, that would be the third incident where it appears they have used highly questionable if not down right unethical tactics.

How can anyone on April 15th vote for these people.

This is not a popularity contest, but a vote for the person who is going to represent your children and demand the best for them.

If you value your children's education, vote for Ken Aitken

Anonymous said...

I urge everyone to go to Mr. Aitken's web site,
Read what he has to say under "STRAIGHT TALK", it's eye opening. (especially concerning the money for the track)

You have to respect him for stating his opinions (and facts) in an OPEN FORUM FOR ALL TO SEE!

Read and make up your own mind.

Anonymous said...

If anyone has been reading the Asbury Park Press lately, it's great to read that Rubino has no problems with what she has been doing.

Here's a piece from the paper:

But Rubino, a board member for the past six years, said she doesn't see anything wrong with asking friends in the school district and community to assist with her campaign.

"It is simply a request for donation in support of us and what we stand for," she said in a statement. "We did not make calls to or discuss the letter with anyone before sending it. If we receive donations, it's because they believe in us and want us to succeed."

It's scary that she sees nothing wrong with what she is doing. I guess this is just the type of person we need in town on the school board.

Vote Aitken!

Brian in Aberdeen

Anonymous said...

Talk about slanted. Now the Asbury Press is involved in a conspiracy? Your Editorials sound like reporting from the West Bank. I notice very few, if any, comments opposed to “your view.” By the way, speaking of mini-me’s, it seems like you’re doing Borg’s, Puharic and Kyrillos’ dirty work. Instead of Barkani shouldn’t the name be Let the editors do the editorials don’t make up your own and then send your own anonymous responses.
Read the BLOGS

Anonymous said...

I just read your article concerning the school board elections on 4/15. I've been told that since I live in Matawan Boro I cannot post a vote for Mr. Aitken, only for the one candidate running unopposed in Matawan Boro. This is totally illogical! This board makes decisions concerning the WHOLE DISTRICT,in which I reside. Since Aberdeen has six seats on the board and Matawan has three, it is absolutely fair that I can cast my one vote for whoever I please, whether they are from Matawan or Aberdeen. This not two separate boards, but one! Please tell me I am wrong and can cast my vote for the candidate that I believe will truly represent my interests, Ken Aitken.

Anonymous said...


Just so you know it your puppet strings are showing.

Who is your master and what do you owe him.

The ABERDEENER at least tells the truth with provable points and interesting discussion on those who are supposed to work on our behalf but who instead steal from all of us, even you, you idiot.

Cut the strings and man up.

Anonymous said...

Ron in Matawan,

I understand your question, but must state the Matawan candidate is running unopposed. Chuck Kenney is a great advocate for all the children. Although he has one of the 3 seats of Matawan, the school district is fortunate to have him in one of those seats. I watch the meetings on TV and can honestly say Kenny is well spoken, advocates for the districts & childrens best interest and always clearly expresses his points. The campaign is hot in Aberdeen, but in my opinion, Matawan and the district is fortunate to have Kenny.

Thank you Kenny.

Cindy from Matawan

Aberdeener said...

It appears I'm not the only one who believes there's been some slanted press coverage leading up to this election.

Here's a quote from a recent letter by Dr. O'Malley, our new superintendent.

"Despite the negative, misleading, and outright lies spread by the local daily newspapers, my position is full-time and a new era in Matawan-Aberdeen begins on April 15th, 2008."

I support Dr. O'Malley. I support Ken Aitken.

Anonymous said...

Remember to get out and vote today….
And, please consider the following when you select a candidate to represent the MARSD community.

1. Remember to vote for the candidate that serves this district’s goals and ambitions.
2. Remember to vote for the candidate that is approachable and available to speak with you.
3. Remember to vote for the candidate that keeps the school board’s business in an open forum, rather than going backwards to the old majority rule of manipulating the process with their closed door, by invitation only, meetings.
4. Remember that those “teas” held by the two red sign candidates were an elitist and self serving mechanism to propagate lies and rumors. These “teas” (by invitation only) served an unscrupulous purpose and this is where all the rubbish and rumor spreading tactics were sown, to be spread around our community. Truthful and honest candidates speak to the entire public, in an open and fair forum, and do not send self-serving, manipulative letters to the APP to explain away their flaws and weaknesses. And, candidates with integrity, and a positive message, don’t use the US mail as a means to spew malicious rhetoric (via postcards) as a means of campaigning for our children’s future.
5. Remember whose interests will be served by a candidate that solicits campaign funds from “friends” that are employees of our school system. Elected officials need to remember that they serve their community and not the interests of unions that have their own agenda and their own interests at stake.

Think about what it means to vote for those that wage a campaign on lies, deception and rumor mongering. Is this the leadership you want making decisions in the best interest of our children and community? Voting is one of our most revered rights as citizens and our votes should reflect our sense of values and integrity. Our elected officials are our voices and represent our concerns as parents that have a stake in the academic future of all the children in our community (now and for future generations). This community deserves a school system that meets and exceeds reasonable standards. Let’s keep this community going in the right direction.
Polls are open from 1:00 to 9:00 PM. Exercise your right as a stake holder in this community. VOTE!