Opening Statement



Sunday, 26 June 2011

My Blog Readers Write #3

My June 21st Manifesto Blog has received quite a wide range of comments! I'm glad. They have been as thought provoking as the blog itself was intended to be. Comments can be posted below each blog in the space provided or sent to me by email. I am also often stopped for some great discussions or insights into the issues I write about. Quite frankly, most of my readers have been overwhelmingly positive, and very encouraging. I won't labour these. Often they are just quite nice and to the point. Here's an example. Thanks Julia for writing;

"Hi! Informative blog. Thanks for sharing."
Other times the writer quite disagrees with me. Here's one I'd like to comment on at greater length. As I know and respect the writer's intent I am withholding their identity upon request;
"There is only one voice for TSU and that is Rene Jansen in de Wal, TSU President and whether you like or or not David, the President trumps every one else on Executive including the 3rd TSU VP."
As is my prerogative, I only plan to publish constructive criticism on my blog. I enjoy a good debate. I don't respond well to ambushes, attacks, demands, ultimatums and threats real or implied. Believe it or not, these are sometimes part and parcel of political life even at the teacher union level, but I digress. In this case I am only interested in clarifying some confusing issues the comment raises.

If my readers will recall, in my June 21st Blogspot Manifesto piece, I wrote;

...Other elected officials including MPP's, MP's and even city councillors have their own newsletters. Mine is electronic. These allow us to communicate regularly and directly with our constituents long after the election is over. That is just good, plain, honest political representation.
My David Chiarelli TSU 3rd VP blogspot contains my teacher and union news and views as your elected representative. It focuses on our public issues, our public political figures, our unit procedures and our teaching profession. These are unfiltered. They come directly from me to you, as I see it, from my 3rd VP's point of view.
The postings aren't the official voice of the TSU executive or any other powers that be. I have never attempted to represent my blog as anything else but my news and views as your elected representative. Make no mistake, I have always clearly stated so even on the masthead of my blogspot....
There seems to be a question here about the legitimacy of my speaking to you directly through this blogspot on my own. Let's be clear. TSU is not a registered trademark. If I want to say that I am your TSU 3rd  VP and use that in my blogsite title, I can and will. I have also always made it very clear that these blogs are my thoughts and views as your duly elected 3rd VP. I was elected your TSU 3rd VP. This was all ready dealt with at some length in my Blogspot Manifesto.

Even if somebody thinks my blogspot's presence is wrong, or it somehow breaks our rules, there aren't any actual procedures in place to enforce unit or provincial discipline anyway. We've vividly seen that with the poison pen emails and "scab letters" to the board, especially during election time. A member is really only bound by their professional principles, moral persuasion, and sense of duty to not engage in such behaviour. An offender can be reminded of this but beyond that it's there's very little if anything TSU can actually do.

A big often ignored elephant in our tent is that if the offender doesn't care, then unfortunately that's pretty much it for your case against them. If they are running for office maybe the members won't vote for them, then again maybe they do. Like it or not it's a fact. Our absence of an enforceable professional code that can be evenly applied to everyone needs to be openly acknowledged and addressed. Little to no progress has ever been made at the unit or provincial level beyond creating professional ethic guidelines and statements.

Now let's suppose somebody did find a technicality somewhere in our by-laws or constitution to use to object to my blogspot, arguing that only the President can speak as an elected executive member about our unit business. Quite frankly with so many other really negative missives often circulating about over the past few years it would seem ironic to suddenly go full tilt after my rather innocuous blogspot. Still, what if TSU did decide to put down it's foot and try to change or silence my blog? Meanwhile others continue to write or say as they please. They don't care what TSU decides because they know TSU can't stop them. This happens quite a lot! Why then does it make sense for the rest of us to just remain quiet and hope to set some sort of example by that?

The argument grows very tiresome. It can wear down an executive member who is just honestly trying to do good work. Consider this; it's like telling everybody in your class to ignore those who are misbehaving, as if the good example is going to change the bad behaviour of those who just continue to go nuts. Do you then punish those who speak out? Put another way, the lack of enforceable rules would be about as convincing and effective as handing out speeding tickets at a car race. Anybody can just tear them up and then speed off along their merry way. For our unit this becomes especially ironic. We actually have much more power in effectively taking to task the school board, than we do in enforcing our own union rules! 

The message that I get from your comments overwhelmingly suggests that a lot of members appreciate more frank, direct, plain talk about the problems we all face. They are glad I have set up a blogspot for that as your duly elected, independent TSU 3rd VP. There is another point they often bring up, although not in the sense of the writer's criticism in question. They also have a lot of member respect for President Rene Jansen.

My blogspot isn't a put down or a sign of lack of respect for him, or for that matter his executive team, just because I am writing here and not in a TSU approved issue of Highlights. Any such claim is confusing at best. I have independently worked with Rene and the 2010-11 executive team for many years. Please know that Rene does not have a "slate", or a "party" at election time. If you hear such claims they are false and misleading, over simplistic at best

I cannot recall Rene ever insisting on some impossible gag order of allegiance to his one true voice, as if he were the Grand Poo Bahr on our executive, or what have you. I have never seen any front or back stabbing, political game playing,or self serving ambition. Anyone who supports his vision and goals for the unit could be considered a member of his "team" in that we share these virtues in common.

That is where my political allegiance to Rene's "team" lies. That's how I have understood, and continue to understand the president's "team" now for many years. I suppose I could be wrong. Somebody could decide to try imposing some rules on my 3rd VP blogspot. Maybe the president becomes convinced he has to crack the whip! Guess how unsuccessful that could be after all is said and done?

Quite possibly it would just boost my readership because of all the interest and intrigue it could create. So far I average 100-300 reads on this blogspot during a slow week, up to 1000 when it's hot. Nothing attracts readers like a good conflict story, but then as my Blogspot Manifesto points out, ratings is not what I am all about.

Nor is this how the Rene I know works. But make no mistake. President Jansen is first and foremost bound by office to follow the rules and regulations of OECTA TSU, and set a good example. He is always in the public eye. He would try to stop me if he thinks he must, but trump me? I don't think so. That's just not him, and it probably isn't possuble anyway for the different reasons I've explained.

Quite frankly I serve on TSU with great respect for Rene and what he stands for. So do many other executive members. Still he doesn't have a political "party", so to speak. I am not his "party" member nor am I on, or do I plan to lead any opposition "party". Rene's strengths are in his vision to help lead others who would share the same principles for building a stronger, effective and modern member service organization. I also work for that, and indeed come election time have always endorsed him because he does too.

On executive, I support Rene when he's right, and speak out when I disagree. In the vision department that support is very strong. I've worked closely in tangent with him in many different TSU capacities for over a decade now. I remember being among those who first strongly spoke out for him to run as our president way back when. I have worked with Rene and others who share his ideas as a group "team", not a slate, for the past five years now, based on our common goals for TSU, not out of any blind allegiance to him as our leader.

I am and remain an independent. I do disagree and question Rene and for that matter anybody else on TSU executive, if I think they are wrong. As it stands, I can say that usually only concerns strategies for achieving the goals we hold in common. Should Rene or an executive member need to criticize me, that's what I would expect. I can dish out criticism and I can take it. As long as it is attempted fairly I won't get too mad. So if anyone wants to disagree or try to change my David Chiarelli -TSU 3rd VP blogspot, then so be it. Good luck! But worry not dear reader, the world as we know it is not ending, it's just changing with the cyber-times. I hope others at TSU soon realize that too.





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