More on the resignation of Elmbrook’s Communication Director

I’ve been thinking about how to handle this. It’s no great secret that Andy Smith and I have had several run ins over his tenure. I could dig through the archives and find Mr. Smith’s less desirable work, but why bother. Now, while he’s heading elsewhere, I’m still around.

I suspect there’s more to this than reported. I could ask questions and request records, but it really wouldn’t accomplish much. I do think that Superintendent Matt Gibson’s odd statement,

Superintendent Matt Gibson praised Smith for his efforts on the referendum and on cable and meeting broadcast upgrades, but said other areas of Smith’s performance did not best match the district’s needs.

leaves me to believe that we are, as usual, getting less than full disclosure on this one. I suppose we (I) will have to get used to it. One can only suspect that communications will lock down. As one district resident said last night, we don’t want anyone too slick in the job. With Smith we knew it would be a rough ride, but he wasn’t terribly good at conveying Gibson’s spin, and that was to the taxpayer’s advantage.

Another acquaintance said Smith has known since before the referendum vote that his position was going to be downsized. I’m not sure what that person’s source is, but the contact is reliable, so I’ll believe him/her. Smith’s contract ran through June 2008. He was paid about $60,000 a year.

But why was there no customary notice? Smith resigned last Friday according to the article. The hasty act certainly leaves room for speculation.* Alas, the Communications Committee meeting that spurred the departure, although an open meeting, is not televised. I suppose if you must know what transpired, you can check with the district to see if there’s a voice recording of that meeting.

So, goodbye Mr. Smith. Where ever your future takes you, I’ll be just fine if our paths don’t cross again.

*In the comments Mr. Smith indicates his resignation is effective June 20th which was not reported in the MJS article.

Comments

  1. Ouch, that didn’t sound very warm, Cindy. Especially that last line!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hello Cindy:

    Here are some corrections to your opinion blog material … a series of direct quotes that you wrote and published following by the correct information.

    Just publishing my corrections of your errors is insufficient in the ethics and practice of journalism … you need to retract the falsehoods and erroneous information and issue an apology or at least, issue a standard statement of regret at having printed inaccurate, unconfirmed information.

    You have said often that you are no journalist. From time-to-time I continue to have hope that you will one day set higher standards for yourself.

    “Smith’s contract ran through June 2008.”
    Fact: I do not have a contract. I have never had a contract. I am not on the district’s administrative team. I am an at will employee.

    “He was paid about $60,000 a year.”
    Fact: I was paid precisely $60,000 a year; I remained at the same salary at which I was hired while accomplishing my work in the second year, and was happy to do so.

    “But why was there no customary notice? Smith resigned last Friday according to the article. The hasty act certainly leaves room for speculation.”
    Fact: There was customary notice and there was nothing hasty about it, at all. My resignation letter was dated Friday, June 6 and my last day will be Friday, June 20th. (When you make up or guess at information, you increase room for speculation.)

    If you would like to publish facts based on source documents, here is an opportunity. The full text of my letter is below:
    +
    Friday, June 6, 2008

    Matthew D. Gibson, Superintendent
    School District of Elmbrook
    13780 Hope Street
    Brookfield, WI 53005

    Hello Matt:
    I have been very proud to have the privilege and honor of being asked to serve this exemplary school district as its director of communications through two construction referenda and a myriad of very challenging policy issues that have come before the Board of Education since my arrival on September 18, 2006.
    I thank you and the Board for the opportunity to serve each of you, to serve the district as a corporate entity, and by reference, to serve her students, parent families, staff, faculty, administrators and her broad electorate through numerous communications methods:
    – our print and electronic publications;
    – our district website;
    – our district’s two cable television channels;
    – our Annual Report, annual Budget Hearing and Annual Meeting;
    – our work with the news media – print, radio and television;
    – our communitywide information and education efforts on both the $109M 2007 referendum and on the $62M 2008 referendum, including the televising of HSST and other meetings over and above the School Board;
    – our efforts to develop a long-term vision and mission for the district’s communication function through a rolling three-year communications plan, to now be updated by a new committee and tied to both budget and strategic planning by the district;
    – our new municipal insert publications in Elm Grove and the City of Brookfield, which are mailed to all other district residents, and is entitled, school “Spirit”;
    – our upgrade in the reliability and the video-audio quality of our cable television
    transmissions through the hard work of volunteer Gary Jones, and our exploration of the costly but important equipment and technology upgrades to replace long-outdated components with which we record and re-play School Board and other meetings, and other programming;
    – and other work on which you, the Board, others and I have had an opportunity to collaborate.
    I have been honored to work with an extremely talented communications and administrative staff in our shared office, and wish to specifically acknowledge and thank Carol Chetney, Cindy Frey, Jill Kokta and Kevin Mrozinski for their daily assistance, support, friendship and shared accomplishments. I also wish to thank many hundreds of district staff in all buildings and at all levels, particularly those whose work is based at the district offices, for their support, encouragement and spirit d’ corps in the work that together, we got done.
    As a district resident, I have accomplished my prime objective in seeking and taking this position – that is, the pending renewals of our two outstanding high schools – through whatever my contributions were to helping get passed an historic construction referendum this past Spring. Therefore, I hereby resign my position effective on Friday, June 20, 2008. My last two weeks will be spent issuing the 2008 Annual Report and helping accomplish the extensive preparations for the Annual Meeting that next Monday.

    Respectfully,
    (signature)

    I hope this information helps.
    – Andy Smith

    p.s. – I’ve been here since 5:00 this morning and we have a Board of Education meeting tonight at which I will be in attendance. Will we be seeing you at the district offices this evening?

  3. Oh Andy. You are an unusual creature.

    1) Re: contract – I am working from this e-mail:

    From: Matt Gibson [mailto:Gibsonm@elmbrookschools.org]
    Sent: Monday, October 08, 2007 10:09 AM
    To: Cindy Kilkenny
    Cc: Mark Kapocius; Andy Smith
    Subject: Re: contract for Andy Smith

    Hi Cindy: Confirmed and thanks. Matt

    Original e-mail:

    I was visiting with Mark Kapocious just now and asked him about the length of Andy Smith’s contract. One board member had earlier thought that it was a two year commitment, but Mark thought the special category was year to year.
    He also said the position was directly under your supervision.

    Can you confirm that you renewed Andy Smith to work for another year July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008?

    2) I apologize for mentioning your salary was ABOUT $60,000 when in fact it is EXACTLY $60,000. Oh my goodness. I hope I’m never so embarrassed again!

    3) The MJS article said you resigned Friday, not that you gave notice for a June 20th resignation. Please call Lisa Sink and let her know how disappointed you are in her journalistic skills.

    You know, Andy, if you really wanted to satisfy my curiosity you’d provide a copy of your separation agreement with the district. And by the way, I’m kind of getting a clue as to why you won’t be staying.

    Thanks for using your real name this time. –Cindy

  4. Andy Smith says:

    I didn’t mean to hit the submit button before going back to the top of my message and filling in what is shown above. Thank you.

  5. Andy Smith says:

    And off she goes … zing, zang, wango!

    Accuracy– pursue it.

    Lisa Sink’s article is completely correct; I resigned on Friday … deflecting your reporting of assumption is not accepting responsiblity.

    I have no separation agreement. The journalists whom I know appreciate knwoing when they’ve gotten some thing, or a lot of things wrong. I have always been empowered by the district to corect factual errors, and I do it all the time with reporters/journalists.

    Best wishes, Cindy.

  6. Happy job hunting, Andy.

  7. Mr. Smith certainly has been fanatical about correcting the factual errors. Now, if he would only correct the typing errors…. 🙂

  8. Just teasing, Andy. Good luck with your next endeavor.

  9. Wow…

    Now we know the love/HATE relationship between Cindy Kilkenny and Andy Smith. I think it’d be in the best interest of Elmbrook to not have him come back anytime in the near future…or at least as long as Kilkenny’s an Elmbrook resident!

  10. former co-worker says:

    Smith is and always has been an oozing blister of 1. woman hate 2. homophobia 3. general bitterness and 4. cancerous disdain for others.

    I’m glad to see him get what he deserves.
    P.S. He is so bizarre that I doubt he’s ever a date. Have you, Baldy?

  11. Swing and a…. direct hit!

  12. Yikes! His popularity is just, well, so underwhelming! Elmbrook residents are giving him quite the boot. His poor butt must have a big sore spot by now!

  13. Yikes….this is better than Young and the Restless!

  14. Phil Tobias says:

    What I’ve been reading here really ticks me off!

    Speaking in defense of Andy Smith, those who blog at this site seem to revel in “hiding behind the curtain” and hurling epithets at him which I feel are totally undeserved. Furthermore, it would appear that some of you aren’t even personally acquainted with Andy but have no problem throwing in your 2 cents.

    What you DON’T know about Andy is that he unselfishly gives 115% of himself in any cause in which he believes. And he, along with members of the Elmbrook School Board, believed that the time had come to make badly-needed improvements to the Elmbrook infrastructure in order to maintain a certain high standard of education for which Elmbrook has been known. Andy was the right choice for that communications position and I’m sure Matt Gibson had numerous candidates from which to choose. He chose well.

    I am also a former co-worker of Andy Smith who appreciates his hard work and dedication and I’m not exactly sure how he “ruffled the feathers” of these bloggers. Too bad for you if you don’t appreciate Andy’s refreshing sense of humor which might be interpreted as “bizarre” by some minivan-driving soccer moms and that ilk.

    Yes, Andy Smith may not conform with your lofty expectations and thankfully cannot be pigeonholed, but a better friend would be hard to find. Good luck, Andy! Better days ahead…

  15. Andy’s quick to “hide behind the curtain” himself under other names – like “believing in brookfield” and “Walter.” I found his professional approach so awkward I’d never consider getting to know him personally.