Paul Coggins' Report on the DISD Mess Has Just Enough Fiction to Screw Mike Miles

Categories: Schutze

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Superintendent Mike Miles didn't write the letter. Mike Miles didn't tell Kevin Smelker to write the letter. Mike Miles didn't edit the letter. The narrative painted by Paul Coggins in his recent investigative report to the Dallas school board is a fiction.

Last week former U.S. Attorney Coggins gave the board an "investigative report" accusing the embattled superintendent of schools of ghost-writing a resignation letter that disparaged the board. But what Coggins gave the board in exchange for a fee of $100,000 was not an investigative report. It was a biased lawyer's brief playing fast and loose with facts, written to make help his clients save face.

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Mark Graham
For a hundred grand, somebody had to go under the bus. Namely, Mike Miles.

What letter? Well, wait one second. I'll do a thumbnail, promise. But first let me confess. I'm sticking to my assertion about the report being a biased lawyer's brief, not a true investigation, but I do not know that my assertions above about the letter are fact. I wanted to make a point.

My assertions above about the letter are every bit as plausible and credible, based on the core evidence in the Coggins report, as Coggins' assertions that Miles did write a resignation letter for departing chief of operations Kevin Smelker as part of a conspiratorial campaign to disparage the board.

Thumbnail: TV lady, head of district communications, falls out with super, leaves in huff, accuses super of corruption and bullying. Board hires Coggins, now in private practice, to investigate claims at cost of a hundred grand. He finds zip zilch nada on TV lady's claims, possibly making board look stupid, but tosses them bone: Super, he says, forced a departing executive to write a letter saying everything bad in the school district is the fault of the board, not super, then super persuaded stupid, el dupo-doopski, Detroit-native, free tabloid, whack-job Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze -- but substantially better looking than Morning News twit editorial-writer Tod Robberson -- to publish letter.

See also: Coggins Report: How Ex-TV Reporter Rebecca Rodriguez's Screw-Up at DISD Became Mike Miles' Biggest Headache

Coggins says in his report: "Based upon the sequence of events, we believe that Superintendent Miles had substantial input into the form and content of Smelker's letter ... On June 21, the day after the resignation letter was executed, Superintendent Miles had multiple conversations with (two other people) and Jim Schutze, who later published an article that appears to have accomplished Superintendent Miles' intended effect -- that is, positive publicity for him and negative publicity for the board."

But, wait. Check that word, "later." Hey, when did I do my first story about Smelker? Yeah later. A week later. And it wasn't about the letter. I don't think I even had the letter at that time. So what did I write about? Smelker! The story was Smelker, not some damn letter. We try to write stuff here at the free tabloid that people might actually read. (Journalism 101 note to guy at News: Letters not good stories. People good stories. Every little chance, do good stories.)

On the afternoon of June 24, 2013, I'm in my pickup driving west on Maple Avenue toward the feed store to buy some kind of seed for my wife's chickens that costs about $20 an ounce, and my phone rings. It's one of the school district guys I've been trying to reach for weeks, Smelker, who is quitting as chief of operations. At the time I still think his name is Smetzer.

For the next 35 minutes I'm sitting half-blocking the driveway of a shop in triple-digit heat while this man literally pours out his heart, tells me of his devotion to Mike Miles and the mission of school reform in Dallas. He tells me about the shocking conditions he found when he went out to inspect Dallas school buildings, about his passionate commitment to doing something about it and his bitter disappointment over departing with the job undone.

He makes one thing clear. The narrative presented by the education beat writers at the News and the main investigative reporter at WFAA-Channel 8 TV is bullshit. People are not ditching high positions at the school district because of problems with the superintendent. They're leaving because half the members of the school board are ruthlessly abusive of top staff in and out of public view.

Smelker told me he was at the point of deciding it was foolish to appear before the school board without a personal lawyer at his side. The Morning News and Channel 8 have made a lot out of the board of trustees being the bosses of the management team. Obviously that is true. But where do things stand when you have to say, "Hi, boss, happy to have a meeting, but do you mind if my lawyer sits in with me?"

C'mon. Happy trails, right?

That's what I wrote about. No letter. It was a story I had been chasing for months, because the narrative presented in the daily paper and on Channel 8 was such obvious bullshit. I go to meetings. I see board members slapping the shit out of top staff. Top staff quits. Then the board members say, "See, they're quitting because Miles is a schmuck," and the News prints it.

Doesn't add up. Counter-intuitive. That's kind of where we go, here at the free tabloid. One tends to trust the evidence of one's eyes. Smelker calling me was a break. Letter-shmetter. Who needs a letter?

So what was Coggins' evidence that Miles wrote the letter and dished it to me? On page 43 of his report, he cites a security guard who heard Miles say something on the phone about Smelker and a letter. Curiously, Coggins doesn't say what the guard heard. Maybe he never asked the guard what he heard. I'll explain why I say that in a minute.

In his report Coggins talks about emails by which Miles "exchanged" copies of the Smelker letter with other people. Coggins' supporting material does include emails in which people sent the letter to Miles. But it offers nothing to show that Miles ever sent the letter back to anybody. How is that an exchange? How does that support the narrative of collaboration?

Coggins lists phone calls between Miles, Smelker and media relations consultant Lisa LeMaster. One lasts 24 minutes. One is two minutes. Two are three minutes each. But Coggins doesn't say what was said. Maybe he never asked.

Later Coggins lists a text message from Miles to me. Doesn't say what the text message said. Didn't ask me. In fact Coggins spun this entire narrative with me as the end-point and principal dupe, but Coggins never called me. Never tried to reach me.

I called Coggins a couple days ago and asked him why didn't call me. He asked me if I wanted to tell him when and how I got the Smelker letter. I said no. He said he knew I would say that, so that's why he didn't call.

That is super-weak, man. I would have told him lots of other things, had he called, all of which would have worked against the conspiratorial collaboration narrative in his report. He knew that. I think he didn't call me and he didn't ask other people what they really said because he was stringing together a bunch of zilch evidence to help out his client, and he didn't want to hear anything that might break his string.

Let me give you some other examples in his report. The whole reason for the external investigation in the first place was a claim that Miles had tried to squelch the original internal investigation by an investigative department within the district. The head of that department said he couldn't carry out a good investigation because Miles, his boss, had called him up and told him to be "discreet," which he interpreted to mean Miles wanted him to deep-six any bad evidence about Miles.

But the same guy is quoted in supporting material to the Coggins investigation saying Miles told him to be "fast, thorough and confidential." Later, in another statement, the guy changes the last word to "discreet."

So why wouldn't Coggins have said, "Wait a minute. Which is it?"

"Fast, thorough and confidential" sounds like full-speed ahead to me. As a matter of fact, "fast, through and discreet" sounds like full-speed ahead. Don Smith, the head the investigative unit of the school district, publicly interpreted "discreet" to mean "sit on the evidence." But why?

Smith has been lobbying the school board for a year to take his department out from under the superintendent and make him a stand-alone inspector-general reporting directly to the board. He has failed so far in that effort, but he is very involved in board politics. Smith does not come into this picture with clean hands, politically. So if Coggins was a truly even-handed and thorough investigator here, why would he not have challenged Smith on his conflicting versions of a quote that sort of started this whole ball rolling?

Let me give another window on what Coggins is really up to this report. The back-story is sort of blah-blah-blah, but Coggins basically wants to tell the board that Miles violated district policy by having his consultant, LeMaster, hire a retired school district executive, Rene Martinez, even though Martinez had not yet served out the required arms-length period before he can come back to work for the district as a consultant. In a footnote, Coggins says Lemaster "hired Rene Martinez to assist her."

That's not true. She did not hire him. She and Martinez both told Coggins she did not hire him. Both offered to let Coggins examine their financial and tax records. They told me that Coggins admitted to them the footnote was wrong.

So I called him. I asked if he had admitted to LeMaster and Martinez that the footnote was wrong. Coggins said, "We have no evidence that Lisa LeMaster paid Rene Martinez. And, 'hired,' if it implies there was any payment, it probably should have been 'consulted with' or 'used as a consultant.'"

Oh, c'mon. "Consulted with" and "used as a consultant" imply the same thing "hired" does. If the footnote was wrong, if it was a mistake, how about saying it was wrong and a mistake?

So what's going on here really? Is Paul Coggins a bad guy? No. He's a good lawyer. Everybody I know who knows Coggins thinks he's a very good lawyer. But as a lawyer here, he is delivering to his client a brief, an argument that the client can use in the court of public opinion.

See also: If DISD Trustees Sack Mike Miles This Week, It Will Not Be About the Coggins Report

They can say, "See. We didn't just throw a hundred large in the toilet. There's this thing in here about that youthful-appearing dupe at the free tabloid and so on."

Coggins' basic work product has to be a major disappointment for those members of the board who hoped he would come back with criminal wrongdoing on Miles. He stuck to the facts on that stuff, and he deserves credit for that.

But on all of this add-on crap about the Smelker letter, Coggins is clearly willing to avoid facts, bend facts, shift facts and invent facts in order to give the client a consolation prize. So let's imagine what the outcome might have been for Coggins had he not thrown them this bone? If his report had said, "Nope, you got nothing. You're just wrong, Miles is clean." -- what then?

I guarantee you those board members would have been telling all their political pals around town, "Man, don't ever hire that son of bitch Paul Coggins to do a hit for you. He'll take your money and throw you under the bus." Coggins knows that.

So he threw Miles under the bus. Hey. It's what they paid him a hundred grand to do.

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56 comments
BettyC1
BettyC1

Coggins should refund DISD money that so called report is full of bull white,it would not stand in any Court.I lost all respect for Coggins he wrote what some politician told him to write,, I though he was above that.

MisterMean
MisterMean

So Miles is the latest in a long long string of questionable superintendents.   The DISD just can't get it's act together yet again.   Just like a broken record.   So if I accept the items about Miles where does that leave us?   Will there be any indication that the next superintendent will be any better?   No.   The DISD itself is a problem.   Hell show me any part of Dallas' local government that has it's act together.

1dailyreader
1dailyreader

Give me $100,000 and I'll find a way to say exactly what you want to hear.  What else was Coggins going to report to the people who paid him?

John
John

I remember reading the report and the word "discreet and thinking the exact same thing.  Isn't that the way investigations are, as much as possible, supposed to be conducted?  This whole fiasco is a comedy of dupes.  Smith chose to interpret the word as he did because he knew it was self serving to interpret in that manner.  In my opinion Coggins was reaching, considering the evidence to say what he did about Mile's role in the letter.  Even if  it probably did happen that way, it is my guess that many investigators would not have came to the same conclusion.  Conclusions are generally based upon confirmed facts and not speculation.  In the rest of the report Coggins was conservative and by the book/ policy on his conclusions, but the last one was a reach.  Many investigators would have written that one off as at best inconclusive.  It sure looks as you said that Coggins was trying to speculate and make inferences and just threw the board a bone.  After all he was a politician of sorts and as you said was getting paid for this as well as previous work by the district.  In my opinion It would be difficult to prevail though if challenged in court or any similar forum. 

Mathew
Mathew

Dead on with this one!

animas
animas

I for one will lnot buy the BS that Coggins was a "solid US Atty ".  ALL US Attys/ DOJ's are political hatchet men/women.  Under the Janet Reno DOJ, Coggins pretty much persecuted the  licensed medical profession because that was the political template.  Meanwhile terroristic middle eastern  types and eastern European mafia figures -who might get testy and fight back- were pretty much ignored. Now it's "white collar crime" (just as long as its not any former New Jersey Democrat  Senator etc who gets indicted-regardless of how egregious the investor rip off) and voter  ID--really?   Let's not forget that Coggins wife got a short lived political appointment with the Clinton Administration at about the same time as his ascent with the Reno DOJ.The trustees knew that Coggins would perform as expected. (for $ 116,000)  If they wanted an honest broker they would have called upon others who are well known in Dallas legal circles, but they did not.  WFAA "investigative reporting" is also a sad,sad joke!  Corruption has its own lethal  half life in north Texas-kind of like plutonium.

DISDain2013
DISDain2013

Jim -  Enough! Your articles are only making what is a very sad situation worse. Are we going to focus on the six figure salaries earned by two communications pros + their severance as Mike Miles wasted dollars? Or severance paid out to other people leaving or getting fired? Add this to the $100K spent on Mr. Coggins - now let's imagine what we could do with $500K - to $1million in one of our crumbling DISD schools. 

I really feel for parents with no other option than to enroll their kids in DISD.

packieblaydes
packieblaydes

So I’ve seen it suggested by Jim and others that the business elite of Dallas who were interested in reforming DISD for Dallas’s sake, brought in Miles to do two things.First come in and get rid of many of the longtime patronage employees, second reveal all the snakes in the grass for the next super, the real reformer the business elite want.

Well what if the same business elite saw the board’s calls for an investigation and realized an opportunity to get a trusted lawyer in into the DISD inners and investigate what Miles hasn’t turned up.Coggins sends one report to the board and one to the Citizen’s council detailing who in the DISD admin, and which board members, journalists, or power brokers would be on the side of the reformer and who’s a member or supporter of the patronage system.

chad
chad

This is ridiculous.

I really feel for parents with no other option than to enroll their kids in DISD. I wish DISD could be charged with reckless endangerment of a child or something.

lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

The Dallas School Board is now the Keystone Cops, new season! It may replace the John Wiley Price/Clay Jenkins Kangaroo Commissioners Court as the most ineffective area Board! Or, could it be better than the joke of a District Attorney's office and the Craig Watkins mamby pamby leadership?? Or - could this be better than the old Dallas City Council with the Al Lipscomb/Diane Ragsdale circus??

It is about the Superintendent, the Board and not the students - so everyone loses. The district has so many problems and now we are paying Coggins and other outside sources to investigate! That money needs to go to the students! Too bad we cant have another do-over on the top dog and the Board! Problems have been compounded instead of addressed and our city schools are further declining during this nonsense!

AnonymousTruthSeeker
AnonymousTruthSeeker

Jim, you're dead on. This "investigative report" is clearly just a few findings the BOT would have wanted found. There are so many omissions and inaccuracies it's ridiculous. It was clearly a "results-oriented" investigation, not an objective investigation. I mean, come on. "Self-inflicted wounds?" Lawyers DON'T SPEAK like that...unless their clients want them to.

Flabbergasted
Flabbergasted

Yet again, you pitch for the losing team.

I will ask you again, show me a resignation letter by a highly placed professional that throws their former bosses, the trustees, under the bus?

You know, I know even my dog knows, this is all manipulation of the media a la Harrison, Colorado. He did it there, too. You wait. The minute you wake up and write a critical piece? He will send smirks and disdain your way,, and add you to the list of people against him.

He will be gone, and when he is, we will all still be here. Until the powers in Dallas, the ones you used to show such disdain for quit hiring snake oil salesmen as superintendents, this will continue.

tb00
tb00

Miles might not have had a hand in crafting Smelker's resignation letter? After all, we don't know what was in those emails from Smelker or whether Miles emailed back or what he and LeMaster said in those phone calls! Oh PUHLEEZE. 

First, Miles confirmed that he reviewed the various drafts and made suggestions about the tone of the letter, how specific it was, and "how they could transmit the letter to the press." Also, on June 24, LeMaster and Miles talked on the phone for half an hour; then two hours later, LeMaster mailed her redraft to Miles and Smelker; then LeMaster and Miles had two more brief phone conversations the same evening. Maybe they were discussing egg production at the old Schutze place, but I doubt it. They were cooperating in drafting a letter that pooped on the Board. 

But most of all, I'm amazed you fail even to mention that Jon Dahlander confirmed that Miles told him about a "plan to assist Smelker in drafting a resignation letter that was negative to toward the Board with the goal of publicly releasing the letter to the media with the hope that it would generate positive publicity for Superintendent Miles and negative publicity for the Board." 

Miles may get fired because there's strong evidence he worked with Smelker and LeMaster to write a letter that would make his bosses look bad. He talked about it with Dahlander. Then he arranged for the letter (or at least the gist of it) to make its way to you. 

Nope, it's not illegal, but throwing mud at the boss can get anyone fired at any employer. 

Miles is a dope. He didn't need Smelker's letter to make the Board look bad. They're quite capable of doing that on their own.


mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Jim, you just can't make an outrageous, dishonest comment and think you will get away with it.

Tod Robberson is much, much better looking than you.

JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

 'm going to speculate too. Earlier in a column Jim said:   

At 6 p.m. tooday, the school board will hold a special called meeting to consider turning this whole thing over to an outside investigator/monitor. The person they have in mind is former Northern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins. I'm not sure why Coggins would do this -- is life just too good for him now, does he need to reign it back down? -- but I cannot think of a better choice."

and

"I'm just saying this: Coggins will stick to the facts and the law. He's an excellent choice for this."

and

"t does need to go outside. And maybe the finding will be that Miles did screw up and does need to go. If that's the case, then it is what it is, and we pick up the pieces afterward."

Then the report came out, and it doesn't say what Jim thought it would and wanted it too. So, now we don't need to act on it, we should consider it propaganda produced by the kind of lawyer who doesn't conduct an impartial investigation, but just writes a brief for his masters. Oh and those masters.. in the same column when they were about to start this investigation.

"Remember also that on all of his major embattled goals, Miles has won. A majority of the board has supported him on school reform."

SO he had the support of the majority of the board, but now the investigation was just so the board could get Coggins to write a brief to justify firing Miles.  I'm sure they might have changed their minds.... but if they did doesn't it suggest that there may have been something about this that convinced them, you know since, as Jim pointed out, a majority of them support his goals.


Seems odd to see Jim's evaluation of Coggins do such a 180, based solely on the fact that the report doesn't say what he wanted. What would convince him, if a report by the man he thought the best choice to investigate - when he agreed we did need an outside investigation, doesn't" S

o we had the outside investigation (which you agreed we needed) and it was conducted by Coggins (who you called the best man for the job) it concluded there were grounds for firing Miles (and you said maybe Miles would need to go). Seems like nothing would make you agree he needs to go.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

I am consistently amazed and impressed with your work. Every time I think you couldn't possibly produce another article with more baseless speculation you produce something like this. Miles shouldn't have hired LeMaster, he should have hired you. Wait a minute, maybe he did...

(See I can speculate too.)

eastdallascam
eastdallascam


Well, Jim, I suppose it's too bad you didn't get your name in with the board when they were looking to hire an outside investigator. You could've been $100k richer now because you've got it all figured out! Way more so than any "formal" investigator could have, be it a former US attorney or DISD employee. Maybe you should do an investigation of the investigative report and present it to the school board.

stevesinbox2006
stevesinbox2006

He wouldn't need to do a forensic dig on lemaster if Miles was actually cooperating with the investigation. The way I read her blog post, Coggins asked for the original June 8th email and neither lemaster miles or Smelker want to give it up. I get that lemaster and Smelker don't have any reason to cooperate, but doesn't miles? And what if that original draft has nothing to say about the board, nothing about jones, etc. I asked in the comments section here a while ago " why does a district employee need a pr consultant to write a resignation letter". What if miles decided to use his letter simply as a way to attack jones, to try to discredit her or to get her to back off a little? Absent that original letter, I'm prone to put the worst possible spin on the situation, that this is all miles trying to throw jones under the bus. And using Smelker, you lemaster etc to do his dirty work.

Celeste's total evidence is " people told me stuff" about jones. Your evidence that jones is a total beyotch to Smelker is a video that happened a week after he had decided to resign. Not very convincing.

And I've talked to jones before. Half of her answers went over my head, and I follow this kind of stuff. I get where Smelker may not like her. But that letter, and miles apparent lack if cooperation in coughing it up is central to his ability to work with this board. If he's not cooperating isn't that reason enough to fire him?

uppercasematt
uppercasematt

Do you have copies of the evidence (the "tabs" in the report)?  If so, would you post them.

Footnote 26 is where the worm turned -- I think it's clear from the context that Coggins gave an oral report of "nothing to see here," and the Board told him to get his ass back out there and find something to hang on Miles.

And remember that US attorneys can be good lawyers, and can win cases, and all those things are helpful in getting appointed as a US Attorney.  But nobody gets appointed to be a US Attorney without being a political creature.  Coggins is a lawyer, and maybe a good one -- but he's a politician, too.

Shipp is destroying any credibility WFAA had left -- I think he's lying every time he opens his mouth.  I've been annoyed for years at the way WFAA uses "after" to misleadingly imply they're responsible for something ("After a News 8 report on dog parks, President Obama delayed any decision on bombing Syria"), but Shipp's characterizations of what is in a publicly-available report are just completely dishonest.

uptownguy1
uptownguy1

"Don Smith, the head the investigative unit of the school district, publicly interpreted "discreet" to mean "sit on the evidence." - that's exactly what "discreet" means when it comes to any type of review that could sway public opinion.  In corporate America (which Miles is trying to emulate with DISD) that's EXACTLY what it means.

And Smelker "pouring out his heart".  Really? A guy who wouldn't return any calls for months is suddenly contacting you after he resigns and spills his guts about the horrors of the BOT?  Surely, you don't expect us to believe this?  Do you?  Sounds more like Smelker's used to getting his own way, but this round he met some resistance and he decided to go home and take his ball with him.  And while he departs he leaves a scathing resignation letter (very unprofessional) that mysteriously shows up in the press.

You've either been duped or are a willing participant.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@MisterMean WHEN NO ONE CAN ACTUALLY FIND A LEADER CAPABLE OF FIXING BROKEN....MAYBE THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE BROKEN IS SO BROKEN AND THE BREAKERS ARE STILL RUNNING IT....AND WITHOUT CLEARING OUT ALL OF THE BAD ACTORS, DISD WILL NEVER BE ANY QUALITY ABOVE OK.    LOOK AT DETROIT...END GAME WAS DISASTER, FAILURE, BANKRUPT.....AND THEY KEPT THE POLITICIANS AND CONTRACTORS FAT ALL THE WAY DOWN THE TUBE, AND STILL BLAME EVERYONE ELSE.

BettyC1
BettyC1

You are on the money,first part was professional investigation second part TV script.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@DISDain2013 YOU FOLKS PAID HINEY A LOT MORE, AND HIS CROWD MADE A LOT MORE....NOW YOU WANT MILES TO FIX IT ALL IMMEDIATELY FOR A DOLLAR NINETY EIGHT AND SMILE AT YOU TOO.     WHAT A COMMUNITY OF SOREHEAD LOSERS.

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@packieblaydes Someone's all caught up on Breaking Bad.

Guesty
Guesty

@packieblaydes I doubt even Jim would believe that Coggins would violate his ethical responsibilities, putting his law license at risk, by creating a separate secret report for the Dallas Citizens Counsel.  

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Flabbergasted 

You keep on throwing that same bone out there about the letter, Flabby, but nobody is chewing on it because there's no meat there.

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@Flabbergasted Are you talking about Smelker? He didn't work for the trustees. He worked for Miles.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@JMFitzmaurice 

Yeah, I am not unaware of my 180, and it's fair for you to bring it up. This whole saga has been an opportunity for me to reflect on my knowledge of Mr. Coggins. I think he and his wife were good and able politicians. He was a solid US Attorney who operated with great integrity. What I failed to foresee in this instance is that he would perform as a good private attorney and a bit of a politician and, of course, try to keep his client happy. In this case I guess he threw bones to both sides of the school board. My problem is that the whole business with the letter is so specious and transparently manufactured. In the first place, he offers the crappiest kind of evidence to show Miles wrote the letter. And then, if Miles did write the letter, so what? Was he really supposed to sit idly by forever while the anti-reform wing ran off his talent and then blamed him for their departures? That just defies human nature. Coggins is suggesting here the board should fire Miles because Miles told the truth. No, I admit, I did not see anything like that coming when I wrote the earlier piece. And by the way, you really can't understand why I changed my mind? Really? Kiss my ass, man.

dalmom
dalmom

@eastdallascam Investigative journalism about DISD? No, we don't do that here in Dallas. Ignore the number of highly overpaid people in the cabinet who were handpicked yet still RUN out of DISD to lower paying positions. Ignore the number of teachers who were treated like dirt this year after sacrificing pay raises and jobs to literally keep the lights on in DISD during budget cuts. Ignore how 3700 Ross has done a crab job for 30 years at maintaining campuses.  

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@stevesinbox2006 

Miles, LeMaster, Martinez, Smelker, were all foolish to have talked to Coggins without a lawyer present. They assumed Coggins was going to be an honest broker, not an advocate saying stuff like Miles' wounds were all self-inflicted.  Coggins was hired to do an investigation, not color commentary. Now that he has shown his hand, they would be double-fools to even return his calls. 

AeroRazavi
AeroRazavi

@stevesinbox2006 What happened here is the that BOT was looking for the WMD, but, lo and behold, the WMD did not exist.  Now they have to settle with the mess they created, and find some other reason to say why they did what they did - spend $100,000 for a report, make DISD even look worse, staff time and resources, etc.  

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@uppercasematt 

The public definitely will not be able to grasp this picture until the "tabs" are public. I am constrained on what I can share now, but as soon as the report itself is made public I will seek the tabs as a public document and put them up here.

Guesty
Guesty

@uptownguy1 Have you ever conducted an internal investigation?  Being discreet doesn't mean to sit on evidence.  It means asking questions and gathering facts in ways that don't give reason for people to become alarmed.  The simple act of asking questions the wrong way can be very damaging, especially if you don't yet know if there is any "there" there.     

MisterMean
MisterMean

@rufuslevin  I can not disagree with your assessment.  I do not know if the Detroit reference is correct (as I am not as familiar with the shenanigans of Detroit as I am here in Dallas)- but I can (unfortunately) cite glaring and obvious problems in DISD, the County as well as the city. 

Perhaps it is like the Gordian Knot (the large UN-tieable knot that who ever untied it would go on to conquer Asia ).   Alexander the Great untied it by cutting it up with his sword.   Perhaps that is what the DISD is and what needs to be done.

Rufuslevin-I gotta agree.


JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

@JimSX@JMFitzmaurice

 "Kiss my ass" really, this is where we are now. This is the response when someone disagrees with you, or questions you?

Ok a couple of things. First of all as to your "If Miles did write the letter so what?": Well, first of all, we obviously disagree over who is responsible for running off his talent, but for a moment, let us assume you are right. Let us assume the board was to blame, was running off his talent, and blaming him. Yes he is just supposed to sit there. Tough? You bet. Unfair? Despite my dislike of Mr. Miles, I would say so, but does doing your best to undermine and undercut board members in a publicly released document go against the portion of his contract that requires him to maintain a good working relationship with the board? Yes. Is it a stupid, overly broad provision? Absolutely, but it is one he agreed to, and you have to work under the contract you signed. Coggins is suggesting the board could fire Miles because he violated this term of his contract. That is generally what happens in any type of employment - I didn't feel this part of the contract was fair isn't accepted as an excuse. Even if it wasn't.

As for your 180, and your changing your mind let me give you a peek at what is running through the mind of myself and many others I know, but let us make the names different. Suppose there was a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, who had been writing fiercely in defense of a controversial- I don't know say a - police chief  , let us say that the city council (made up in roughly equal parts of his supporters and detractors) announced an independent investigation into his activities, including most obviously an alleged attempt to steer the business of providing police armor to a favored company and stopping an investigation into himself. The Columnist writes a piece praising the investigator as the perfect man for the job, agreeing that an investigation is needed (though he thinks the charges are false), and that if the report shows he needs to be fired we should do it - but until and unless we should get off his back. The report comes back. It says he was entitled to take the steps taken regarding possibly steering the business, but they certainly “could lead a reasonable person to believe that a particular vendor, had been slated to receive a contract." It also confirms he seemed to quash the investigation into himself. It say to do so was absolutely legal, and not a violation of his contract, but “Even though no rule or regulation expressly permits or prohibits The Police Chief from taking such action, for a target of investigation to suspend the investigation raises troubling issues, and any damages to his standing with the, the Council or the community at large were self-inflicted.”

However, the investigator does find that the Chief talked to witnesses in the investigation of himself - in violation of dept. policy.  It also found that he helped craft the resignation letter of a top lieutenant as an attempt to disparage his main opponent on the city council- and told a Police Spokesman about his plan to release the letter to the press. It was then released to the supportive DMN columnist above.

That DMN columnist writes every day about how this is wrong, the chief is innocent, the council is to blame, and the report is wrong, biased, and inaccurate. The man who wrote it was just delivering the biased product his clients (a board split equally among supporters and detractors of the chief - so that seems odd) wanted. The Chief didn't do these things..... and if he did do them, “so what." He says the report is wrong, but unfortunately it comes largely to his word against the investigation.  

In that case I think the first man to be suspicious of the columnist's motivations in "changing his mind" would have been Jim Schutze.  In fact in a million other times when this kind of 180 has happened the first, most skeptical, and most vocal man has been Jim Schutze.


But for displaying that trait I should Kiss your Ass?

Look man, you have been right a lot in the past. You have been wrong sometimes. I've never before seen you full of irrational contempt for anyone who disagrees with you, never seen you feel like there is no middle ground between believing one side is all right or all wrong... on every disagreement between them.... always ,snd certainly never before heard you suggest that just because someone opposes one man's "solutions" they oppose any solutions and favour the status quo, as you have on this. These are the sort of arguments made by the figures you usually end up on the other side of issues from. Hell these are the arguments that were made by the Trinity Tollway people, "If you are against this, you are against progress, for traffic, against a park. There is no third option just our solution, and nothing."

stevesinbox2006
stevesinbox2006

But if they did nothing wrong, why would Smelker and Martinez need a lawyer present? Lemaster only if she was doing work while still under contract ( and that's the part if this I need to go back and wrap my head around. She was working for them but her contract had expired so she says this was pro bono helping and not employment, right?) now Miles? Damned if he does damned if he doesn't, right? If he lawyers up and doesn't cough up documents or answer questions , board has reason to fire him for not cooperating. But if he coughs up that original email, whatvif it shows he had Smelker use his resignation letter as an attack in jones, or if he's trying to protect lemaster because this work for him started while she was technically still under contract to DISD, then they have reason to fire him for sabotaging his own relationship with the BOT. Famed either way I think...

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

I don't mean to be coy. But Coggins is already doing some c.y.a. on flaws in his report, so everybody has to be careful. Tawnell Hobbs at the News published a blog item  yesterday or today basically trying to help Coggins do what he lacks the subpoena power to do, which is go back and do a forensic dig of business correspondence of Lisa LeMaster. http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2013/09/did-everyone-cooperate-in-the-paul-coggins-investigation-of-dallas-isd-superintendent-mike-miles-apparently-not.html/ 

LeMaster has taken the worst of this, probably because she's in business, and her name is her principal asset, so the get-Miles posse figures they put the squeeze on her better than on public employees.  Coggins is trying to get her to give up more documents even though his investigation is supposedly closed. 

Anyway, time for me to be discreet, don't you know. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Guesty @uptownguy1 

Good point. Miles was probably trying to suggest gently that he ditch the pipe and the Sherlock Holmes hat. 

observist
observist topcommenter

@stevesinbox2006  "But if they did nothing wrong, why would Smelker and Martinez need a lawyer present?"

Hey, I never thought of that.  Innocent people should just stop wasting all that money on defense attorneys.

 

JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

@JimSX @stevesinbox2006  Look, I'm pretty publivly on the other side from Jim on this issue  but 'cmon. If I were being questioned by a lawyer looking into possible wrongdoing in my workplace, and by my boss I'd darn well have a lawyer present.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@stevesinbox2006 

Stevesinbox2006, you can't be serious. Miles needed a lawyer in the room to say, "Hey, Paul, when you say my client wouldn't listen to advice, why do you make no reference to the many times in your own footnotes when he listens to advice? When you say he got Smelker to write the letter, why don't you explain why Smelker says Miles did not help him? With a bunch of blank phone records and blank texts where you have no idea what was said, how do you have anything better than he-said-she-said, and, by the way, tell me again who ever said Miles wrote the letter?

Look, the deal was that they paid Coggins to see if Miles broke the law or bullied Rodriguez. That is a settled matter, asked and answered. Now the get-Miles posse is frustrated because they didn't get anything on him. Where does it end?

By the way, sorry, but you sound like a troll for Locke Lord.

stevesinbox2006
stevesinbox2006

So should we all bring our own lawyers when we get a jury summons, since other lawyers will be there? Like I said, Miles is damned either way, since he has to cooperate with his employers, the BOT. The others could have layered up, but that does nothing to help Miles's case. If they didn't do anything wrong, cough up the June 8 email, answer all Coggins questions, because you've got nothing to hide. Miles had to cooperate if he wants to keep his job. The others needed to cooperate if they wanted miles to keep his job. They lawyer up and don't talk and the opposition writes the narrative.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Links not working apparently.

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