|SISNEY ORDERED TO APPEAR AT DEPOSITION
|MOTION TO STAY DENIED
|Refuses to provide answers to Interrogatories...does not respond to requests to set Deposition date...does not show up at deposition date that gets set, when notified by certified
mail...and now suddenly discovers new and relevant information that means he can't possibly show up at his court- ordered deposition...
|...you buying it?
|At Long Last: The other side of the story
|Whistleblower or Agitator?
| Also filed 12/11/2009, in Sisney's Federal lawsuit:
MOTION TO COMPEL PLAINTIFF PROVIDE WITNESS LIST AND PROPOSED EXHIBITS AND TO COMPLY WITH WRITTEN DISCOVERY REQUESTS
The motion, filed by Bo Rainey of RFR, states that Sisney did not respond to discovery requests adequately, even when reminded by Defendant's counsel. The answers Sisney
provided were "inadequate, incomplete, and/or assert baseless objections", were "evasive and nonresponsive", and "rather than providing facts as sought by the interrogatory,
Sisney merely parrots the conclusory allegations contained in his complaint".
The documents are all posted with the Federal court document, under Motion to Compel 12/11/2009.
|Sisney Files Response to Motion to Compel
|Recordings? What recordings?
|Breach of Contract? What Breach of Contract?
|Sisney Objects to the Counterclaim
|The Discovery deadline was 12/31/2009.
Where Is The Evidence?
|District Files Motion for Summary Judgment
|Minutes from Hearing on Motions To Compel
|Motion to file Counterclaim: GRANTED
12/11/2009 - The 3 board members filed their Counterclaim.
12/30/2009 - Sisney filed a response to the Counterclaim, opposing it on the grounds that the Defendants had not filed their Answer to his Petition on time. It is true that the Answer
was not filed on time. This was acknowledged in the Counterclaim.
1/6/2010 - Sisney filed a request for a 60-day extension of all deadlines because he is going to have back surgery. The Defendants did not oppose.
1/14/2010 - The request for the 60-day extension was granted.
1/14/2010 - The 3 board members filed a motion to file their Answer out of time. Sisney did not oppose.
1/22/2010 - The motion to file the Answer out of time was granted. I believe this gives them 10 days to file their Answer.
1/22/2010 - The motion to file the Counterclaim was GRANTED
1/26/2010 - Rep. Ritze filed a motion to quash the subpeona, and for a protective order.
|Ritze Motion to Quash
|Sisney's Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim
|Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment
|Judge Kern recuses
|Response to Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim
|3/5/2010 - Sisney Names District and Air Assurance as Defendants
Adds new claims of "breach of contract, constructive termination, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith
and fair dealing."
|First Ritze, Now Reynolds
|3/4/2010 - Rep. Mike Reynolds is using the same tactics as Ritze, trying to get out of testifying in Sisney's court case. After both tried to evade service (real professional,
Representatives), now they are both trying to say their service was invalid because of a technicality. For Reynolds, the technicality is that the witness fee was not enclosed. Boo hoo.
Where do I send the check?
Why are they trying to avoid testifying, if they truly, as Reynolds says, became concerned about taxpaper money being spent on "illegal" sick pay and noncompliance with bidding laws?
Why are they unwilling to provide Sisney with the help he needs to show that his claims of corruption have merit? So far he has not come up with any evidence of his own (not even the
"evidence" he provided in his police report). Why won't they help him out, if the information they "became aware of" (one guess where that came from) was so compelling that they
were duty-bound to act in their legislative capacity to "personally undertake an investigation of those allegations"?
Anybody here think that really happened? Or did Reynolds simply release to the press the information Sisney provided him - information that Sisney did not get through the appropriate
Why does Reynolds not want the court to see this compelling evidence that supposedly supports Sisney's claims?
Why did Sisney even put Ritze on his witness list? Did he think dropping the name of a representative would be intimidating? Did Ritze agree to being a witness? If so, what changed
between then and when counsel for the defendants attempted to serve him? Why did Ritze and Reynolds refuse to allow counsel for the defendant to arrange a convenient time to have
them served, so this could be handled professionally?
If our representatives are spending their time - and our resources - feeding inaccurate information to the press, conducting real or pretend investigations of our schools only to invoke a
questionably applicable law to prevent having to divulge anything they did or found, and ducking subpoenas, I'm not sure they are doing what they were elected to do.
|Response to Motion to Reynolds' Motion To Quash
3/24/2010 - Counsel for the 3 board members filed a response asking the court to deny Reynolds' Motion to Quash. It appears that Rep. Reynolds had several opportunities to accept
service but instead had his staff and wife make things difficult for the defendants' counsel. In addition to this unprofessional behavior, serious questions need to be raised about
Reynolds' accepting privileged and confidential information from a fired superintendent and using it to make inaccurate claims to the media - including targeting two specific people
among many who received the never-illegal, years-ago-discontinued benefit. Reynolds' attorney may have a difficult time getting the judge to consider making false and inflammatory
statements to the media using illegally-obtained information part of his "legislative process" - particularly in light of Sisney's proven pattern of using the press to manipulate public
Some quotes from the filing:
"Walta did not receive a response to this email." - pg. 4
"Walta did not receive a response to this email." - pg. 5
"Rep. Reynolds' son telephoned his father in the presence of Morgan [the process server], but Rep. Reynolds did not give permission for his son to accept the subpoena." - pg. 5
"Mrs. Reynolds answered the door. She refused to let Morgan speak to her husband and told Morgan to 'get the hell off of my property.'" - pg. 5
"Rep. Reynolds never returned the phone call." - pg. 6
"Dunn informed Walta that he would also be representing Rep. Reynolds 'if you ever get him served.'" - pg. 6
"In violation of personnel confidentiality laws, Representative Reynolds was in possession of the Excel spreadsheets that Dr. Sisney had subordinate employees prepare for him back
in July of 2008." - pg. 3
"Reynolds did not say where he obtained a copy of the privileged and confidential memo, but Jim Sisney, in his deposition in his federal lawsuit against the Broken Arrow School
District, admitted that he had obtained the memo from "anonymous sources" and provided it to Reynolds." - pg. 4
Every time Sisney files something ridiculous, we pay. It's almost worth it to see Bo Rainey's expert - and frequently amusing - dissection of Sisney's tactics. But yes, Ms. Updike, the legal fees
are TOO HIGH, and we know who is driving them.
The gang of three appeared to me as playing CYA.
I favor logic over rhetoric.
all. I think there are certain people in this city that should be getting pretty worried at this point.
There is too much good stuff here. 250 words - the Ledger limit - is not enough. Though I have to give them credit - they have been very good lately about not censoring comments.
JustAnotherOkie says that all of Sisney's arguments were very logical. Others seem quick to jump on Reynolds' premature presumption of an upcoming criminal investigation of the BA board.
Interested Citizen brought up lack of evidence.
Let's look at the basis for these assumptions: Sisney's accusations.
Sisney claimed to the media in January 2009 that he had uncovered documents, found evidence,and had conversations that showed that, in his words, "criminal activities involving the
expenditure of public money have taken place in the school district since at least the 1990’s and a massive cover-up scheme is now under way to keep this information from being disclosed."
Yet in his deposition taken December 2009 -- 11 months after he claims to have uncovered documents, found evidence, and had conversations - he says that he has no evidence.
Page 174 of the deposition:
Rainey: Do you have any facts to support that Air Assurance has improperly billed the school district for work performed?
Rainey: What evidence do you have?
Sisney: I have knowledge in my brain. I'll give you a real simple one.
Rainey: I want to know it all.
Sisney: I can't tell you it all. It's massive. They got $3.1 million over a period of years.
Sisney: Well -
Rainey: I want to know the facts that you have that Air Assurance improperly billed the school district for work it did not perform?
Sisney: No, you changed the question.
Sisney: So I don't know your question.
Rainey: Okay. Let me rephrase it.
Sisney: There we go.
Rainey: What facts do you have that Air Assurance billed the Broken Arrow Public Schools for work that it performed at the request of the Broken Arrow Public Schools?
Sisney: I'm not going to speculate, so I'm going to say I don't know.
Rainey: You don't know any facts as we sit here today?
Rainey: What facts do you have that anybody from Air Assurance ever paid an employee of the school district any money or other benefit in exchange for work being provided by the school district
to Air Assurance?
Sisney: I don't have any personal facts.
Rainey: What facts do you have that Air Assurance engaged in any illegal activities with the Broken Arrow Schools?
Sisney: Is this about Air Assurance or the District?
Rainey: Well, it goes to this whole criminal enterprise that is being asserted throughout your Complaint, so the question is as it was posed. And I'll have the court reporter read it back. (court
reporter repeats question)
Sisney: I don't know.
Rainey: You have no facts you can testify to today?
Sisney: Not today. There's an investigation going on, and I think that's going to determine my assumptions.
Rainey: Investigation by whom?
Sisney: I think it's the OSBI and the state auditor's office.
The alleged conspiracy with Air Assurance is at the very heart of Sisney's claims - yet 15 months after he filed his first lawsuit around this central issue, he has no facts? 11 months after he told
the media about criminal activities and a massive coverup specifically involving Air Assurance, and warned that "the information I’ve found, the documents I’ve collected and the conversations I've
had suggest issues that rise to the level of criminal behavior" - he has no facts? In a deposition for the court case he filed?
How could he have filed two court cases relating to this issue and then come to a deposition 15 months after filing the first one completely unprepared, with nothing whatsoever to back up his
claims? He had 6 months between the time he uncovered the corruption and the time he was fired. Would a real whistleblower not have documented what he found during the 6 months - before
filing lawsuits, getting railroaded out of his job, and announcing to the media that he had solid evidence?
How does anybody take him seriously? How can anyone explain the complete and utter lack of evidence, despite his having an enormous window of opportunity to gather, analyze, catalog, and
organize the information he had found and the documents he had collected? And where are the witnesses to the conversations he had had? He called NONE in his federal lawsuit.
Sisney says at the end of this topic in the deposition that the outcome of the OSBI and state auditor's office will determine his assumptions. Okay, 15 months after he filed his first lawsuit he
doesn't even know what his assumptions are? What in the world did he file the lawsuits based on then?
Seriously, this is your guy?
I don't think the Ledger will publish any Opinion letter from me. I will, but only because I agree with me.
The audit is coming! The audit is coming!
Finally, at long last, we may get some answers about whether the claims of corruption had any basis in fact. It's exasperating that on the eve of having some light shed on what we have been
puzzling about for the past year and a half, we have to put up with Reynolds' outrageous attempts to cast the findings - which he has not even seen - as condemnation of the District.
State Auditor and Inspector Steve Burrage is quoted as saying, “We’ve conducted an exhaustive and thorough examination of the issues raised by the Broken Arrow School Board..."
According to this quote, the school board raised the issues. And it was the school board who requested the state audit. It seems unlikely that crooks on the school board would raise issues
and request an investigation into their own criminal actions.
Yet Reynolds takes a perfectly normal, typical, and indeed required step in the process - having the AG review the results before they're released - and tries to mischaracterize it as an indicator of
guilt on the part of the district. Sound familiar? It should. This tactic was used heavily by Sisney and his supporters. If Reynolds' intent was to guide public perception by providing misleading
comments for people to repeat, he knows his audience. Anyone who gleefully advanced his propaganda - here's your Scooby Snack.
When this first started, I wanted to believe Sisney too - after all, he was a respected superintendent. But his statements didn't add up even in the beginning, and the more we have learned, the
more implausible his claims have become. It's not impossible that the board is corrupt, but nothing indicates that except the accusations of one man; a man who has been shown with certainty
to have acted maliciously and intentionally against the District. He was fired for threatening and humiliating staff, teachers, and patrons; slandering a vendor; and impeding the operation of the
school board. He made false accusations in the media and filed two lawsuits filled with baseless - and to this day unsupported - allegations. How anyone can remain blind to these outrageous
actions that damaged our community and cost us money - as well as many good teachers and staff members - is baffling.
What is especially disturbing is that he is still working as a superintendent. The difference now is that his current community has all the information available about his actions at his last job.
They will know better than to believe the "respected superintendent" when he makes shocking statements in the press attacking others. They will know to pay attention to rumors that he is
silencing staff and teachers with threats to publicly humiliate and discredit them, or turning a deaf ear to complaints about certain employees. They will see the "good ol' boy" act for what it is - an
act. They will recognize the danger when relationships between a superintendent and board members go beyond professional. They will know not to dismiss rumors of outrageous acts of
retaliation and intimidation - maybe they're not so unbelievable after all. They will recognize a pattern when it appears that the district's legal counsel is working to protect a few central characters,
not for the good of the students, school employees, and citizens. They will begin to see through the big words - who says "multiplicity"? - and realize there is very little meaning there. They will
wonder who is doing the work of the superintendent while the CEO of the district spends long hours behind a locked door instead of interacting with the people who educate the kids.
Sperry, you have an opportunity we didn't have. Act now.
|Motion to file Counterclaim:
|Ritze files Motion to Quash subpeona
|2/19 - Included as Exhibit A is a letter from Maryanne Flippo, that Sisney says illustrates her wish to keep facts from the public.
It is ironic that Sisney is now accusing Maryanne Flippo of trying to keep facts from the public, when he followed his brother’s advice to file a lawsuit for the express purpose of “silencing the
menopausal geniuses on the board” – to prevent them from being able to inform the public about any of the facts in the controversy he generated.
On the other hand, the email does illustrate how one board member has no problem providing information to the public - even confidential information. The email in the filing shows that it was
forwarded on Feb 8, 2010 by Stephanie Updike to Beth Snellgrove. This is of course a violation of board ethics, but that does not seem to bother Ms. Updike in this case or any of the other
times she has leaked confidential information.
|First Ritze, Now Reynolds
|Response to Motion to Reynolds' Motion To Quash
Somebody has cleverly recycled old information and combined it with the recent news of the imminent release of the investigation results into a tasty piece of propaganda which would most
certainly give uninitiated readers the impression that something sinister has been going on in Broken Arrow Schools since the 1990's.
We have heard ALL of these claims before - directly from Sisney, in press releases that the local media was kind enough to trumpet for him. There is absolutely nothing new here - but you would
certainly think there was, if you didn't know better.
There may indeed be "financial mismanagement" or even intentional wrongdoing somewhere in the administration of the school district. But neither Rep. Mike Reynolds nor any other source for
this article has seen the audit results, so they have nothing real to contribute.
This latest attempt to smear Broken Arrow might be Team Sisney's last-ditch effort to spread the word about BA's corruption, since pretty soon - when the audit results are made public -
they won't be able to offer dire warnings of a shocking revelation to be unveiled, or throw around sensational suggestions of SCANDAL. By making this as loud and outrage-inspiring as
possible, they may be hoping that they can reach people with their fantasy version and plant doubt in people's minds about the real report. They may even be planning a followup to spin
the report. They really aren't constrained by reality - they have shown that they are willing to suggest things that there is no evidence to support; quote anonymous and generically-labeled
"sources" (an employee of WHICH public school district?); portray ordinary procedures as something sneaky, unethical, or illegal; and make authoritative-sounding statements that imply
they have uncovered something sinister, but are based on no new information.
Another goal of Sisney's might be to run up the legal bills for the District. Every time he files something ridiculous, the District's counsel has to respond. Updike can then tut-tut about the
legal fees going sky-high since Sisney left.
Jim Sisney's actions will be dealt with in the counterclaim. Representative Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City will be associated with the BA controversy from now on in Internet searches.
Hopefully his actions will be dealt with at election time.
Here are the points that the author and contributor(s) to the article don't want you to know:
1) "...financial mismanagement in current investigations will reach at least $3.1 million."
The 3.1 million number is familiar - that's the number Sisney gave in his deposition as the amount that was paid to AA over several years. Not the amount that was OVERpaid - just the amount
that was paid. Here it's labeled as "financial mismanagement". Is the article saying that AA provided NO services in that time that justify payment from the District?
2) "The district is one of several public school systems identified by the Oklahoma state auditor as suffering from financial mismanagement."
The state auditor did not initiate the audit; it was in fact requested by the Broken Arrow Board of Education. The state auditor and OSBI are involved purely because of Sisney's claims - which he
was unable to substantiate in the lawsuit he filed - and the request of the Broken Arrow BOE; there has been no "identification" by the state auditor as a troubled district.
3) "The story unfolding in Broken Arrow is one of sustained poor management over a period of more than 10 years, with – to use a layman’s term for complicated machinery – lots of
moving parts. Thousands of pages of transcripts and hundreds of individual exhibits are the basis for conclusions, shared with CapitolBeatOK, that the breadth of the scandal has hardly
been hinted at in most news coverage. "
This sounds bad, doesn't it. But just as the article says, it's a "story". Without the audit results, the only aspects of this story that have come to light have come... straight from Sisney! (who by the
way was in the top administrative position for 6 of the 10 years of "sustained poor management").
Sisney claimed to the media in January 2009 that he had uncovered documents, found evidence,and had conversations that showed that, in his words, "criminal activities involving the
expenditure of public money have taken place in the school district since at least the 1990’s and a massive cover-up scheme is now under way to keep this information from being disclosed."
Yet in his deposition taken December 2009 -- 11 months after he claims to have uncovered documents, found evidence, and had conversations - he says that he has no evidence. He can't even
name one law that he believes the board members, Air Assurance, or any District staff broke. See the text of the deposition, below, where he makes these admissions.
Note the "layman's term" "lots of moving parts", kindly worded in a way that even we simpletons can comprehend.
4) "In one document examined by CapitolBeatOK, a public school employee reported that Air Assurance, a local vendor, had been paid more than $550,000 in one year for work that could
have been done for $130,000. "
This might be true. Or it might be an example of manipulating figures, much like Reynolds' assertion that the District wasted $242,000 on "apparently illegal payments for unused sick leave". In
fact, the pay for unused sick leave was a legal, properly negotiated and approved part of teachers' compensation, which was done by many districts across the state. In his $242,000 number
Reynolds fails to take into account the savings on substitutes, and the likelihood that this particular form of compensation was probably replaced with another when the practice was discontinued.
The Ledger reported large savings in HVAC work after Air Assurance stopped providing services. But upon looking closer, it was discovered that their figure did not include the salaries and other
employment costs of the new district employees hired to handle some of the work. The article did state another huge factor: no regularly scheduled maintenance was being done.
So without a detailed analysis of what these numbers are made up of, and in light of Reynolds' propensity to manipulate numbers to give a certain impression, I'm reluctant to take this assertion
at face value.
A little curious as to how CapitolBeatOK got hold of this document...which public school employee provided it (the former superintendent was and is a public school employee)...why, if it is
compelling enough to be mentioned in this hard-hitting, no-nonsense, informative article, it wasn't brought up in Sisney's deposition when Rainey asked for evidence that Air Assurance had ever
improperly billed the District or engaged in illegal activities with BA schools. Something to do with being under oath, maybe?
5) "While sources say the figure of $3.1 million covers the years 2003-2008, one key vendor’s tight relationship with the Broken Arrow public schools began in the 1990s."
um...so? This proves...what? We should forego the obvious advantages and cost savings in using a trusted vendor familiar with the schools' HVAC systems? We should disqualify any vendor
we've used in the past and use only vendors we have no experience with?
6) "In an e-mail to Ricky Branch, director of the local government and special services division at the auditor’s office, Assistant Attorney General Tom Bates, director of the multicounty
grand jury unit, wrote on Thursday, April 22: “Pursuant to our meeting earlier today on the above referenced audit, I am requesting that your office refrain from issuing a final report at this
time so that this office can review your findings and determine what additional investigation needs to be done.”
Sources, in interviews with CapitolBeatOK, expressed concerns the request for “review” could be the prelude to some sort of redirection or recasting of the probe."
Yes, it could lead to additional investigation. Any audit could; that's why it's standard procedure to have the AG review it first. The article presents this as some sort of sinister indicator of
something really big. There might be something big; but so far there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary process that would indicate this.
I would not be at all surprised to see a "redirection or recasting of the probe". It was requested by the Broken Arrow Board of Education, to review the District's practices. In the process, the
investigators might well have reviewed the actions of the CEO of the district - the superintendent - and found some behavior that raised some questions. Could the "redirection wording" be
preparation for some damage control? We don't know what's in the audit results...but certain people know what they did, therefore what is likely to be in the audit results.
7) "CapitolBeatOK has learned that members of the attorney general’s staff spent the balance of this week deploying on the case, beginning to examine evidence of massive wrongdoing
amounting to millions of dollars in just one district."
"...deploying on the case..."? Such drama! Anybody else picturing the SWAT team and National Guard deployment at the end of the Blues Brothers? Hut - hut - hut!
"...evidence of massive wrongdoing amounting to millions of dollars..." It sure sounds devastating, doesn't it. Yet this is still based ONLY on hearsay, from the "sources" for this article - sources
with dubious credibility, amplified by an author who seems to be extremely motivated to make things sound as dire as possible. Does the "massive wrongdoing" phrase sound familiar? I have a
suspicion who a "source" (maybe the only one) might be.
8) "Sure to provoke interest is evidence that the minutes of school board meetings in recent years have in some cases been altered by the district’s legal counsel."
A casual reader might infer from the tone of this sentence that there is something wrong with the legal counsel modifying minutes before they are released. It is in fact part of their job. To those of
us who have been watching this controversy, this pathetic attempt to make something out of nothing is just another painful-to-watch example of the former superintendent's fear and hatred of the
District's counsel. Just a theory, but maybe the animosity toward competent counsel stems in part from Sisney's unrealized aspirations of becoming a lawyer himself; a hope that was dashed by
his dismissal from law school because of low grades (confirmed by Sisney on pages 17-18 of the deposition).
9) "Although internal battles among board members and district staff apparently go back many years... "
Really? What examples are there of internal battles before Sisney stirred them up in Spring 2008? Did the "source" provide this statement? Did he back it up with as much evidence as he
provided in his deposition?
10) "Dr. Sisney had developed a reputation as a no-nonsense administrator bringing business-like acumen to public school finance, spending and governance."
I wonder who came up with this gem.
Sisney's business-like acumen is on display in several answers in his deposition; see below in the Business-like Acumen Section for these quotes, including several where he asserts that he
never read his contract with the Broken Arrow School District.
11) "Before he was dismissed, Superintendent Sisney had prepared an engagement letter for an independent audit of the Broken Arrow schools. In that letter he had specified the audit
should examine competitive bidding procedures, to include bid-splitting (a common tactic to avoid competitive bidding thresholds).
After Sisney’s dismissal, the bid-splitting language was not included in a new version of the engagement letter. At the time, Sisney’s replacement, current Superintendent Dr. Gary Gerber,
said the prior letter had not been approved by board members, but Gerber did not point out several changes in items for focus in the audit engagement letter."
Purely Sisney's claims, which have been thoroughly discredited, yet keep getting brought up again and again... by someone! The audit letter was changed very slightly, to expand the scope
beyond the very narrow bid-splitting item. The final audit letter was not written or modified by Gerber, as Sisney claimed, but by the audit firm. It was not signed by Gerber; it was signed by Terry
Stover, the board president at the time, and a Sisney supporter.
It should be noted that Sisney provided NO examples of bid-splitting or any other illegal tactics in his deposition or federal lawsuit. He said in his deposition that he did not know of any laws that
AA had broken. This was over a year after he first made these allegations. He had had six months in his position as superintendent, with free access to all records and staff, to gather examples of
bid-splitting and other tactics, yet he had absolutely nothing to offer in his deposition - in a lawsuit HE filed.
With that in mind, how much credence do we give this insinuation of the district trying to hide bid-splitting?
12) "The Broken Arrow school controversy has simmered for 18 months. It came to statewide attention two months ago, when state Auditor and Inspector Steve Burrage released an
investigative audit of the Skiatook schools. That probe documented more than $500,000 in apparently excessive payments the district sent to a vendor. "
Wow, how did I miss those audit results? Oh - didn't see where we suddenly and without warning shifted to Skiatook. Smooth.
13) "In addition to Skiatook and Broken Arrow, Burrage said his office is conducting investigative audits in the public schools of Butner, Wagoner, Boynton and Seminole."
We are to assume that if any problems are found in any district, that indicates that the same thing is certainly happening in others.
This website comes up in a search on Rep. Mike Reynolds. His constituents should know what their "aggressive fiscal 'watch dog' at the State Capitol" is really up to. Read below to learn of his
attempts to evade service and get out of offering his testimony to support Sisney in his defamation lawsuit. Why, if he is so concerned about corruption, is he unwilling to offer the benefit of the
"investigation" he claims to have undertaken into BAPS' financial situation? He's willing to repeatedly announce misinformation in the press but he won't take any constructive action to expose
|The PR Attack Continues
How to Write Propaganda
|Business-like Acumen Section
Acumen: Quickness, accuracy, and keenness of judgment or insight.
|Sisney agrees that one of the claims in his federal lawsuit is for Breach of Contract....
[Rainey] Third claim is for Breach of Contract or approximately paragraph three; is that correct?
[Sisney] That's correct.
But then says at multiple points in the deposition that he has never read his contract with BAPS...
[Rainey] This contract [with BASD] was required to pay your contract benefits through June 30th of that school year, correct?
[Sisney] I think that's right. I never read it.
[Rainey] You haven't read your contract?
[Rainey] Well, there's a provision in your contract, is there not, for a bonus to be awarded at the discretion of the board?
[Sisney] I don't know. I didn't read it.
[Rainey] I believe you testified earlier that prior to today you hadn't read your superintendent's contract with the Broken Arrow School District; is that correct?
[Sisney] I never did design it.
[Rainey] Who designed it? The attorneys for the school district at the time?
[Sisney] Well, you know, believe it or not, most of the time it was Wes Smithwick.
[Rainey] A board member?
[Sisney] A board member, then somebody I hired. I mean, he was always the one handling all that seems like, so I never did - I never asked for anything.
|He doesn't look at his paychecks either; he relies on his wife to tell him how much he makes...
[Rainey] These [paycheck documents] appear to be breakdowns of the amount of money you were paid by the Sperry School District for the 2009-2010 school year?
[Rainey] Any reason to dispute that?
[Sisney] No. Believe it or not, I don't read my contracts, and I hand my checks to my wife, and we do warrants at Sperry. They don't do direct deposits because they control interest
earnings better that way.
[Rainey] What do you understand your diminished earning capacity is as part of the damages with the Broken Arrow School District with this lawsuit?
[Sisney] Well, I think my wife told me currently it's $7,500 a month.
|He doesn't know what position is the CEO of the board of education (hint: it's the superintendent)...
[Rainey] The superintendent of a public school in Oklahoma is the chief executive officer of the board of education, correct?
[Rainey] Who is the chief executive officer of the board of education in Oklahoma, to your knowledge?
[Sisney] Could you describe the point of your question, so I'll understand it.
[Rainey] The point of my question is who is the chief executive officer of the board of education in Oklahoma, to your knowledge?
[Sisney] Are you implying that the board of education is the school district, or it's a separate entity from the infrastructure? [612: infrastructure?]
[Rainey] Dr. Sisney, you testified earlier that a school board is the elected governing body of the school district, correct?
[Sisney] I did.
[Rainey] Okay. So I'm asking you who is the chief executive officer of the board of education of a public school district in Oklahoma, to your knowledge?
[Sisney] I think your answer is a little confused because I never saw myself -
[Rainey] I'm just asking you, sir, if you know.
[Sisney] I don't know.
[Rainey] When you were the superintendent of the Broken Arrow Public Schools, who was the chief executive officer of the Broken Arrow Board of Education?
[Sisney] I don't know the answer to that in terms of your stating it.
[Rainey] Would you view the superintendent or school - do you view the position of the superintendent as being captain of the ship?
[Sisney] I think you stated that it was the CEO, so I don't know about the metaphor.
[Rainey] All when you were -
[Sisney] I've never been on a ship.
|He was the only one at the board meeting who didn't understand that his suspension was immediate...
[Rainey] And after you had been suspended - well, you were at the board meeting when the board voted to suspend you, correct?
[Rainey] And that suspension was immediate, correct; you understood that?
[Sisney] I did not understand.
[Sisney] You didn't understand?
[Rainey] When did you think it was going to take place?
[Sisney] In my brain, the next day.
|He made accusations of violations of the Oklahoma bidding law but doesn't know who it applies to...
[Rainey] Oklahoma bidding law doesn't apply to private business, does it?
[Sisney] It does apply to private business because that's who gets the competitive bid for the business as a vendor.
[Rainey] A private business that is bidding on a - who is soliciting bids for a project is not subject to the Oklahoma Competitive Bidding act, is it?
[Sisney] Private business is subject to competitive bidding law, but they don't execute competitive bidding.
...and doesn't know what the recourse or penalties are for violations...
[Rainey] You're aware that the only recourse for a violation of the Competitive Bidding Act is a protest made within ten days after the awarding of the contract, correct?
[Sisney] No, I'm not aware of that. I've read it at different times, but my answer is I don't know.
[Rainey] So what are the penalties for violation of the Competitive Bidding Act, since you're aware of the act?
[Sisney] I don't know.
|He thinks the superintendent, not the board, has the authority to hire attorneys on behalf of the school district...
[Rainey] As the superintendent, you don't have the authority to hire attorneys on behalf of the school district, do you?
[Rainey] You do?
|He provided evidence of the massive coverup he discovered to the police department but can't remember one thing that was in it...
[Rainey] Did you provide documents to the Broken Arrow Police Department when you made your referral?
[Rainey] What documents did you provide them?
[Sisney] I can't remember.
[Rainey] You can't remember a single document that you provided them?
[Sisney] I can't remember the documents.
|He alleged Open Meetings violations, but can't come up with one instance...
[Rainey] How many [Open Meetings] violations do you allege occured?
[Sisney] I don't know, but it was surreal.
[Rainey] What's the basis of your claim that there were violations?
[Sisney] I think -- I don't know the answer to that. I think other people will determine that.
[Rainey] Can you specifically state what those violations were here at your deposition?
[Rainey] Is that because you don't know what they are?
[Sisney] I'm not totally sure, so I don't know.
[Rainey] You don't know what the violation - what the alleged violations were, correct?
[Rainey] I'm not trying to put words in your mouth.
[Sisney] No. I want to say I don't know at this point.
|He waited until after he was fired - six months after discovering a massive conspiracy to defraud the district out of "at least" $3.1 million dollars - before informing law enforcement
of the criminal activities HE - the superintendent - had uncovered in HIS school district...
[Rainey] It didn't take your dismissal to decide to turn it [evidence] over to law enforcement, did it?
[Sisney] Did it take my dismissal?
[Rainey] It took your dismissal from - as an administrator of Broken Arrow Public Schools in order for you to turn over what you believed were relevant documents pertaining to criminal
activity engaged in by employees of the Broken Arrow Public Schools?
|He knew that one of his claims was false, but doesn't have any idea whether he informed the investigative agencies of that important detail...
[Rainey] Did you tell those investigative agencies that you have no proof that Air Assurance improperly billed the school district for work performed on non school district property?
[Sisney] I can't recall.
[Rainey] Well, don't you think that would be important to tell them?
[Sisney] I do. I think it would be very important.
[Rainey] It's not taken out of context, correct?
[Sisney] Well, I'm not taking anything out of context. I spend lots of time with people, and so I can't answer that question. I don't know what was said. There was - Tom said, "You need
some coffee?" and I said, "Yes", and I don't know. That was a long time ago.
|He doesn't know what mental pain and suffering this has caused him, but thinks others do...
[Rainey] What mental pain and suffering are you alleging as a result of the allegations contained in your Complaint?
[Sisney] I don't know how to answer that. I have to let others who have more knowledge about that answer that question.
[Rainey] Can you not identify the mental pain and suffering you allege to have sustained as a result of the allegations contained in the Complaint?
[Sisney] My answer is I do not know.
Things that just didn't add up, including some hard-to-explain behavior by board members:
A timeline showing the sequence of events, with sources for all information:
The real heroes (and bad guys) on the BA board:
Trying to make sense of Sisney's accusations leads to this question:
A whole lot of analysis from 612 on the events as they were reported:
Some not-very-nice comments from Sisney supporters who were either bamboozled or intentionally trying to mislead people: Comment Hall of Shame
|Welcome to Annie's friends
|At Long Last: The other side of the story
|Whistleblower or Agitator?
|The maneuvering continues...
7/2/2010 - the judge ruled today on several motions in Sisney's defamation case:
"Quash" is such a funny word.
Ritze and Reynolds were served by the attorney for the 3 board members to give their depositions. After they did their best to evade service, they claimed that they couldn't testify
because they had each undertaken their own "investigation" into the BA situation, and they claimed "legislative immunity". The judge ruled that legislative immunity doesn't apply to this
situation, so they will have to show up for their depositions.
CANTRELL, DAMAN: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO DISQUALIFY COUNSEL IS DENIED. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND IS GRANTED OVER OBJECTION. MOTION TO QUASH DEPOSITIONS BY THE
TWO REPRESENTATIVES IS DENIED INSOFAR AS MATTERS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR SAME DO NOT CONCERN ONGOING SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE HOUSE, (NEXUS, AS
DISCUSSED IN LINDLEY CASE) AND THEY ARE NOT THE SUBJECT OF THE LITIGATION. THE LINDLEY CASE IN THE NORTHERN DISTRICT, IS ALSO INSTRUCTIVE IN THIS DISTINCTION BETWEEN
LEGISLATIVE IMMUNITY AND LEGISLATIVE PRIVILEGE, WHICH IS AT ISSUE HERE. MOTION BY PLAINTIFFS TO DISMISS COUNTERCLAIMS ARE DENIED. COUNSEL AND PARTIES SHOULD
DISCUSS, AS REQUESTED BY COURT, PROSPECTS OF USING A MEDIATOR AND/OR WHETHER A NEW SCHEDULING ORDER WILL BE NEEDED AS A RESULT OF TODAY'S RULINGS. NOTICE
MAILED TO KENT RAINEY, GARY RICHARDSON, PHYLLIS WALTA, GRAYDON LUTHEY JR., CLARK BREWSTER, AND MARK MAGUIRE.
|The Judge Rules
"It was refreshing for me to see new Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall waive the ridiculous fee ($90) charged by his predecessor to a taxpayer for open records." - William Swaim, BA Ledger
Editor, "Things looking up for school district", 7/8/2010
You want to talk about ridiculous, Mr. Swaim? What's ridiculous is the Federal lawsuit Sisney filed against the District. It never stood a chance, and everybody knew it. HE WAIVED HIS
HEARING! There was NO possibility of the judge awarding him anything. The only way Sisney would have gotten anything at all would have been if the board had not offered him a hearing, and
then all the judge would have done would be make the board give him his hearing! This involves a lot more than a $14,000 bonus, and lot more than a $90 pest fee. Why no righteous
What's ridiculous is Sisney adding the District to his defamation case, on the grounds that the District breached his contract. He already admitted in his federal deposition that the District fulfilled
the requirements of his contract! The District did everything right in firing Sisney, whether you like it or not. His breach of contract charges don't stand a chance. This is costing us MORE money.
Where's your righteous indignation?
What's ridiculous is Ritze and Reynolds trying to get out of testifying - for heaven's sake, Ritze is even on Sisney's witness list! If Ritze is so sure Sisney was railroaded, and Reynolds is so sure
BA Schools is hiding massive corruption (computers seized! subpoenas issued!), why won't they testify for the good of all? Where's your TRANSPARENCY battlecry?
What's ridiculous is the Ledger printing FOUR - yes FOUR - articles about a Sisney conspirator harassing the school district having to reimburse the district for all their trouble, and articles and
editorials about paying Gerber a $14,000 bonus for doing his job, and saying NOTHING at all about our having to pay Sisney for 8 1/2 months of NOT doing his job. Where's your righteous
indignation? What about the CHILDREN?
What's ridiculous is the Ledger proclaiming general accusations with no investigation into whether they have any validity, printing old events as if they're news, dredging up non-issues, dressing
them up for the gullible public, and presenting them as more evidence of our incompetent and/or evil-intentioned administration, in an attempt to misdirect the public's opinion. Where's your
What's ridiculous is the Ledger falling silent on any news that threatens the now utterly debunked "whistleblower superintendent railroaded by corrupt board members" storyline.
Things started looking up for the school district on October 6, 2008. It will be another great day when the Ledger starts reporting objectively.
Jolie wrote on July 8, 8:13 PM
Two articles and two editorials about charging a fee for providing copies of information to Beth Snellgrove and yet the Ledger has yet to even once report on the very important and much larger
significant fact that Jim Sisney testified under oath in his December 22, 2009, deposition that he had no evidence or could even state one instance of any laws broken or wrongdoing on the
part of AA, the district, or the three board members he sued or any material reason, only his 'feelings' that told him that the board was acting on bias when they chose to suspend and
terminate his employment. Why is the Ledger not informing its readership and writing editorials on these very pertinent facts available in court documents, which the Ledger provided links to
but no reporting on the facts within them or analysis of that information in the context of the controversy connected to it? Instead it chooses to make a huge issue out of this requested fee by
Gerber, ignoring the elephant in the room: the fraud that Sisney committed when he went to the press and courts stating he had evidence of corruption and illegal activity and was being
railroaded by three board members.
We had a incompetent, corrupt superintendent working at Broken Arrow not too long ago. His name is Jim Sisney, not Gary Gerber.
It would be refreshing and surprising if the Ledger staff acted like unbiased journalists for a change and did their job properly.
[Comment was not published by the Ledger]
"I have had concerns for some time that an orchestrated effort has been made to remove critical information or delay release," Reynolds said. (5:37)
Wow, that's a bold statement. Accusing the state auditor's office of intentionally removing critical information from the report. So is this an indication that the audit did NOT uncover evidence of
Sisney's accusations against the school board, AA, and school employees? So now Reynolds is trying to explain why it's not there - that the auditor's office is in on the corruption? Isn't this just
what we joked the Sisney supporters would say when Sisney's accusations were shown to be groundless?
Below are some highlights from the press conference. The audio is available on the TW story; my times are approximate.
4:20 "I confirmed that the AG had signed off on the release several weeks ago. I wanted to know why it hadn't been released, and Mr. Branch said that the law required that exit interviews had to
be conducted with the board. Why the required exit interviews had not been scheduled the same day the attorney general signed off, I do not know."
15:00 "The same day he signed off, they should have contacted the school board and said, 'we're going to conduct your exit interviews tomorrow'."
4:50 - "It is alarming that state law allows people that might be the subject of an investigation to receive a two-week head start on the public and legislature."
5:25 - "I also asked what provision in the statutes would allow a member of the law firm to be present, especially since attorney Doug Mann of the firm had previously indicated that he was
working on behalf individually of some of the school board members."
say is wrong with that? Is he trying to convince us there is something improper about individual board members requesting that District counsel perform a specific task relating to school
business? Is he saying a board meeting is required before a board member can ask the school attorney to make a phone call? If that is the case, how did Terry Stover get away with
being the only board member authorized to even speak with the district's legal counsel? And why does he object to the District's counsel seeing the audit before he does?
6:40 "In our first conversion, Mann bragged how he represented over one half of all the school districts in Oklahoma. His firm has made millions of dollars that should be used to benefit the
students of Oklahoma."
therefore aren't entitled to it?
5:10 - "Mr. Burrage contacted me earlier today. I expressed my concerns that the audit might be watered down."
5:37 "I have had concerns for some time that an orchestrated effort has been made to remove critical information or delay release," Reynolds said. (5:37)
7:30 In response to Burrage's statement that a cover-up would never happen in his audit: "I did not accuse you of covering up there are many tape recorders in the room . If you have taken
personal offense, I would suspect that you ought to examine the record."
complete or accurate. Further, "watered-down" means that someone intentionally misrepresented or omitted information in order to give a certain impression. That is covering up.
Reynolds also stated that he was concerned that "an orchestrated effort has been made to remove critical information." That also means that it's intentional, and it's to give an inaccurate
impression - covering up. Reynolds did not use the words "covering up". But that is exactly what he expressed in the words he did use. To deny the meaning of what he said is a lie.
10:30 "I did not request the audit - the audit was originally requested, I believe, by Mr. Jim Sisney, who was at the time superintendent of the Broken Arrow schools."
was started. His audit letter was then modified slightly by Wilson, Dotson and Associates to expand the scope of the narrow "Bid-splitting" item to a broader item addressing whether the
Competitive Bidding Act was adhered to for all PO's. Obviously this broader item would include verifying that no bid-splitting occurred. The revised audit was signed by Terry Stover, the
board president and Sisney supporter. The audit was neither changed nor signed by Dr. Gerber, as Sisney implied. The audit was completed 1/31/2009, and while it did show that
competitive bidding procedures were not strictly followed, it did not indicate evidence of intentional wrongdoing.
The audit that is the subject of Reynold's press release was requested by the Broken Arrow Board of Education, on 4/20/2009. The purpose of this audit, to be done by the state auditor's
office, is to address allegations that were made by Sisney and presented to the BOE in a taxpayer demand letter.
How Reynolds could have been following this controversy and specifically this audit for all this time and not know that it was requested by the BOE 6 months after Sisney was fired?
12:20 "I am alarmed that if an audit is released with these things removed, it makes it much more difficult to amend."
15:43 - "I think that it would be very appropriate for a legislative oversight committee, certainly, or any member of the legislature, to be able to be briefed just as quickly as people that might be
under investigation are briefed. And I really don't understand why the public and the press can't be briefed at the same time. if the audit is complete, I would be very disappointed that board
members would be able to have more information and possible - more input into changing the audit."
|Representative Mike Reynolds Takes on State Auditor Burrage
|(did you know that it's an election year?)
stories that quoted her. She was portrayed only as a concerned taxpayer.
targeted with his allegations of fraud. He is also president of the Green Country chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
2) She was active in Stuart Jolly’s Americans For Prosperity/nobabonds.com effort to defeat the school bond vote in Broken Arrow, and is active in Restore Oklahoma Public Education.
This is not to say that these groups have destructive goals or that she is wrong to be associated with them; only to show that her criticism of Broken Arrow Schools may have more to do
with generating a particular impression to further the cause of her political groups than with concern as a taxpayer about actual wrongdoing.
3) She has been in contact with Mike Ritze regarding the effort to defeat Broken Arrow’s bond vote. This is significant because of Mike Ritze’s involvement supporting Sisney and
participating in the attack on the board members. Ritze spoke on Sisney’s behalf at a board meeting, despite having just met him and being unfamiliar with the circumstances, and
circulated a petition that contained accusations but no proof, to remove the board members whom Sisney accused of criminal acts.
and with the administrator of the website representing that group.
5) She wrote a blog post that sets the tone with a big – and inaccurate – assumption: that the “controversial practices” of BAPS resulted in the firing of the Superintendent and the
subsequent investigation. After framing the situation as if it’s been proven that BAPS - not Sisney - caused the problems, she makes her point that District money should not be spent on
having the attorney present. However, the demand she makes has nothing to do with the cost: She demands that the public get to see the audit at the same time as the attorney. How
would including the public in the meetings save money? And what has her so uptight about the District's attorney getting to see the audit results first? What does she stand to lose in
those 14 days?
|Ronda Vuillemont-Smith: Just a Concerned Parent?
8/20/2010 - See if you can guess who "ba watchman" is in these comments. His major points are:
(initial version of the article was published Wednesday 8/18/2010; that's the evening the comments were made)
whether it's appropriate for a member of that Committee to post false and derogatory comments regarding the District's administration, former board members, and recent events
concerning BA Schools.
This website currently comes up second in a Google search on "Broken Arrow Chris Tharp" or "Broken Arrow Sisney".
|Tell us what you really think
08/27/2010 - What a crazy news day. But don't worry, 612 has all the answers.
Not really, but here's my attempt at making sense of some of the puzzling, seemingly conflicting information that's been thrown at us today. And judging from my past success at convincing
myself of stuff, it's gonna be good!
Okay. So today we get an "early draft" of the audit results that amazingly, lists Sisney's exact laundry list of allegations, and also amazingly, doesn't show that anything besides Sisney's
accusations was found.
It's possible that it's made up. It's also possible that it's really a document from the auditor's office; probably an early outline of the allegations they were tasked with investigating.
Either way, someone wants it to look like Burrage's office uncovered evidence of all these allegations, so they can make it look like he covered them up again in the final audit report.
So, what is in the real audit? And why is Rep. Mike Reynolds so agitated about the 14 days that board members and attorneys have to, in his words, get a "head start"?
Does the real audit reflect the same findings as the "early audit"? If so, it would appear that Mr. Burrage's staff pretty much just went with the "evidence" and suspicions provided by Sisney
supporters. It would appear that they didn't consider the considerable doubt placed on Sisney's accusations by the Counterclaim or Sisney's deposition. It would appear they didn't apply any
reasoning to the plausibility of the allegations. It would appear that they left out an entire side of the story (much like the reporting on this topic has done).
In support of the appearance of one-sided "findings", Reynolds appears to be afraid that during those 14 days, the board members might get a chance to, as he put it, "have some input". Hm,
are we to infer that board members have not had any input up till now? If that's the case, the integrity of the audit is completely blown. How is it justifiable to fail to consider all involved parties in
an investigation - especially those at the center of the accusations? According to Mike and Narissa Rampey's statement made today, no one from the State Auditor's office ever contacted
them! Is it possible that NONE of the defendants named by Jim Sisney in his defamation case were even interviewed? If so, this is dereliction of duty and an outrageous breach of our
trust. In light of the Rampeys' statement, Burrage will need to show due diligence in considering all evidence and all involved parties in order to show that his audit has any credibility.
The question now is - how much does Burrage know about the process and methods used by his staff? How involved was he with the audit? We know that someone close to his office,
probably a staff member, has been leaking information to Reynolds. (Not just the "early audit", but confidential emails that have been quoted in CapitolBeatOK articles). This person appears to
have a motive to help Reynolds discredit Burrage. Reynolds' motive to discredit Burrage is obvious, and his actions show his willingness.
So did this same person, who has leaked information to Reynolds, mislead Burrage into believing the corruption story, and keep him in the dark about what evidence was considered and who
was asked for their perspective? Very possible. Clearly Burrage depends on his staff to do the investigating and documenting; he does not handle everything personally.
Or did Burrage himself decide in this election year to use Broken Arrow as a showcase of his ability to ferret out corruption? Was he maybe a little to eager to assume early on that Sisney's
claims were true, and did he then consider only evidence and witnesses who supported that foregone conclusion? "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with facts."
No matter what, Burrage is caught in an uncomfortable spot.
If the audit reports the same findings as the "early audit", it will be clear that his audit is flawed, biased, and improperly done. If this is the case, he probably already knows how
inaccurate it is, based on information provided by the board members and other parties in Sisney's defamation case. Whether Burrage himself knew of the leaks or compromised
methods is irrelevant - it's his responsibility to make sure it's accurate and complete. If Burrage and his staff ignored requests from the Rampeys, board members, and other staff to
consider their evidence, while allowing the evidence of the Sisney supporter group that met with the auditor in OKC, it will definitely come out. And it will not look good for Burrage.
If the audit does NOT contain the same findings as the leaked or possibly made up "early audit", he has to admit that Reynolds was right in saying that Burrage eliminated critical
information from the audit. And Burrage will have to explain the discrepancies between the leaked "early audit" and the real audit. Why were the unsupported claims in there in the first
A few more things we know, that figure into the picture:
|Politics, Politics, Reynolds, Reynolds, Reynolds
Remember when this was about Broken Arrow Schools?
|What?! The auditor didn't even TALK to the Rampeys? Defendants in Sisney's lawsuit, central figures in his claims of corruption, and the auditor didn't even TALK to them?! The auditor
had the chance to prove or disprove the accusations against them and HE DIDN'T ASK THEM ANYTHING?! AT ALL?!
Is there some reason he didn't want to know they could prove Sisney's allegations were false? Who the heck DID he interview in his audit? Beth Snellgrove, for crying out loud?!
08/29/2010 - So why do we need another audit, that overlaps the dates of the audit that was just finished? Probably because the allegations in the new audit were not included in the audit
engagement letter. Well, what was included in the audit engagement letter? All of the issues brought up by the Taxpayer Demand:
(Astounding how closely the news reports of the leaked "audit" resemble this list of accusations. How is it possible that the sponsors of this Taxpayer Demand were unable (or unwilling)
to provide any evidence whatsoever when asked by the District? How is it possible that Sisney was unable to provide any proof of any of these crimes in his deposition, and was in fact
unable to provide any idea what the crimes were until the audit came out and told him? Why didn't he provide the alleged split POs signed by Gerber, and the staged quote allegedly done by
Gerber? When asked what crimes he thought were committed, why did he say he didn't know but would find out when the audit told him? Couldn't he just bring a copy of the Taxpayer
So if these issues and others - remember the audit letter said it would include these issues but not be limited to them - were already covered in the state audit, what issues will the new
audit cover? What other criminal activity is being investigated?
The article says they're going to try to start the new audit this week. No telling how long it will take, but it's probably in Burrage's best interest to get it done quickly. Not only has he already
been criticized for the length of time the BA audit took, but he probably doesn't want these issues to remain unresolved going into the election.
So, just putting some facts together in light of this new request to audit exactly the years Sisney was in charge of the District, including making sure proper bidding was done, and
presenting PO's to the board for approval.
2003 - 2009 are the Sisney years for the most part. Sisney was gone in October 2008, but Updike was still there through 2010. She joined the board in 2000.
Sisney claimed in his lawsuit that people said he was "stealing from the district". He brought up a fund balance issue that he blamed Trish Williams, the former CFO for, and refused to
allow the board to discuss certain budget issues in board meetings (that was one of the items he wouldn't put on the agenda). Updike had a rental house business; many of the properties
had mortgages far exceeding their value. 9 months after Sisney was fired, Updike filed bankruptcy, with 4 million dollars in debt.
These are all facts, not rumors. Make of them what you will.
Burrage better take care of this one himself, and watch carefully who in his office gets access to it.
|BA Audit, Take Two
"The press is more than happy to print mud-slinging by those in positions of public trust."
- Jim Sisney, July 15, 2008, as quoted in the board members' Counterclaim
"The press is dynamite that can hurt you as much as anybody. I wouldn't rule it out. Your Board would look pretty bad if this played out in the press. However, even a little pancake has
two sides and when it becomes adversarial, the other side will come out and you could be hurt. Tough judgment call. And you need to be ready to move on if it gets to the point the press is
airing all of this. But when you get to that point you want to get the damages up as much as possible and have your exit plan in place ... "
- Thurman Lee Sisney, in email to Jim Sisney, 08/07/2008
"I think a comprehensive letter could be created to give to Bob Lewis and other media outlets if they continue."
- Jim Sisney, in email to Stephanie Updike, 8/10/2008
|The Media: Willing Accomplices in the "PR Nightmare" or Headline Sellouts?
Clearly, no one in the media spent a single moment looking into the story they were printing, or even thinking about its plausibility. How could this happen?
|Terry Stover Resigns!
I did not want to believe that Mr. Stover was involved with undermining the board members who were under attack by Jim Sisney. Hence the question...
|Air Assurance Press Conference
September 1, 2010
The leaked monstrosity is too long, and too thick with gossip, baseless conclusions, and misleading statements to try to list all the flaws, but here are a few points regarding some of the things in it
that the press has reported.
1) The report that Dr. Gerber split bids
I don't have any way of knowing whether Dr. Gerber split bids, but the examples in the report do not support this claim. In some instances, the cost of the work was split into two PO's: one for each
vendor. Buying the equipment from one vendor and having it installed by another does not indicate bid-splitting; this is specifically addressed in Oklahoma law (Title 61, Section 102).
Another example implies that Dr. Gerber's "approval" of increasing a PO's amount by $315 to $1029 indicates bid-splitting. It is unclear how this can possibly indicate bid-splitting, since it's far below
the $25,000 threshold. The claim is worded as if Dr. Gerber "approved" and signed PO's to authorize payment to AA without anyone else knowing. This implication shows up in the report multiple
times. However, Dr. Gerber did not approve the PO's; he approved the request for PO's (or increases). These requests go to the finance department; they are the ones who issue PO's and
payments. In addition, the amounts for these PO's come out of the blanket PO already approved by the board.
Another example claims that the invoice amount of $14,780 was "just under" the amount that required 3 quotes. However, the threshold is $25,000, so this doesn't make sense. The other invoice
that was involved in the project came from Trane, not Air Assurance, so no bid-splitting there.
2) The report that Dr. Gerber created a fake quote in case Dr. Sisney asked for it to see if he had followed bidding laws
The report does not say Dr. Gerber created a quote at all. This was misconstrued in press reports. It says he created a quote format. The purpose of this was to provide vendors a common format
in which to provide their bids. Gerber held off asking for bids, and requested that the format be kept confidential, because he did not know whether Sisney wanted him to ask for bids. The report
leaves out the email described in the Counterclaim in which Gerber asked Sisney whether he wanted to ask for bids for HVAC work or hire in-house staff. According to the Counterclaim, Sisney never
That would explain why Gerber never asked for bids. The report tries to make it look like Gerber's request to keep the format confidential is to hide his failure to ask for bids, proving his illegal
preferential treatment of AA. However, since Gerber did not know whether BA Schools would be asking for bids, it seems sensible to avoid the awkward situation that would be created if vendors
thought they would be asked to bid but Sisney did not want to ask for bids.
If this critical email was left out, it seems pretty likely that other pivotal information was left out. The auditor had an early "preliminary" interview with Gerber but apparently did not follow up with him
after being presented - from questionable sources with an agenda - with information accusing him of violations of laws and policies.
Other questionable claims and omissions - just a few among hundreds -
1) The District paid for supplies that AA took for themselves
The report makes the leap that since a particular installation required only 80 pounds of refrigerant, there is reason to believe the other 340 pounds in the order was never received by BA Schools. In
fact, the whole order of 420 pounds was signed for by Bill Miller, and is not a surprising size order for a school system with 1,700 units.
2) What lawsuit?
The report goes into great detail on Air Assurance - which, as a private company, could not be the subject of the State auditor's office - and the board members' and attorneys' actions during the time
period leading up to and around Sisney's firing. But it does not mention, even once, the lawsuit Sisney filed against board members, the Rampeys, Doug Mann, and an eye doctor. If the events of
this timeframe are relevant to understanding what happened, how can leaving out this enormous event be justified? There is no mention of the initial filing, or any of the relevant information from the
Counterclaim. The report includes Sisney's claims that the board members conspired to get rid of him for trying to investigate. If these claims are relevant to the audit, how can the board members'
claims not be, when some of their claims directly conflict with those stated in the report? None of the evidence included in the Counterclaim - emails showing Sisney's intent to discredit the board
members - was included in the audit.
3) What draft letter?
The report states that Terry Stover sent a letter to the Rampeys from the board, saying that the District would not issue any statements about Air Assurance until its investigation was complete. The
report does not mention that he sent it secretly, without the rest of the board knowing that the draft had even been completed by The Center for Education Law, and without the board seeing it or
having a chance to edit and approve it, as was required. He did not provide any copies, as was required, or even tell anyone about it until Shari Wilkins emailed to ask again why the draft letter was
taking so long. This is described in the Counterclaim and is verifiable with emails.
4) Report: "AIR ASSURANCE OWNED BY OUT-OF-STATE COMPANY"
The report that the Rampeys had sold AA to an out-of-state company came from Bob Townsend, a competitor. In fact, his company was the one picketing at Sisney's suspension hearing, holding the
"Sysney" signs. Townsend also provided Sisney with information, according to his deposition. Apparently, the auditor thought it was important to gather information from a competitor who was not
involved with BA Schools during the timeframe audited, but did not think it was worthwhile to get any information whatsoever from the vendor whose relationship with BA Schools was the prime target
of the investigation.
According to the Air Assurance website, the Rampeys did sell Air Assurance in 2000. They repurchased it in 2003. Only the sale is mentioned in the report - not that the Rampeys have been the
owners since 2003 - long before the timeframe investigated in this audit. The sale of AA is irrelevant, and the omission of the repurchase and current ownership is misleading.
Including irrelevant and misleading information about a vendor (NOT the school that's the subject of the audit) from a competitor with an ax to grind, while completely ignoring the vendor
whose relationship was being investigated, does not seem to follow impartial auditing principles. At this point, we have to agree with Mr. Burrage that we can have absolutely no confidence in
anything in the report.
Maybe Ms. Nour Habib of the Broken Arrow Ledger would follow up on these inconsistencies in these accusations, since the auditor never did, and report the truth. We would encourage her
efforts to bring readers the facts, and where there is conflicting information, fair input from both sides of the controversy.
|Once upon a time...
10. He can't stand to have anybody unhappy with his reports.
9. It's all part of his plan to ruin the career of the special auditor who worked on the BA report.
8. His dog ate the original audit.
7. He gets a kick out of keeping communities in an uproar.
6. Doug Mann bribed him and when he tattled, the AG didn't believe him.
5. His wife told him to stop being such a meanie.
4. He wants to look incompetent and lose the election.
3. He feels sorry for embezzlers in public school administration.
2. He doesn't want to hurt Rep. Reynolds' feelings by proving his "watered down" statement wrong.
1. The board members frightened him.
|Top Ten Reasons Burrage is Watering Down the Audit
William Swaim Goes Off the Deep End
9/11/2010 - Well, I'm nowhere near as devious as Rep. Reynolds, but I think I have an idea where he is heading with his accusations against Burrage. There are strong
indications that Reynolds has been involved in providing information to the auditor, as well as leading the public to believe certain accusations are actually "findings".
Reynolds has set the stage for us to believe that the preliminary notes that were leaked reveal the true findings, and that the first audit (the one that was reviewed by the
school board) and the second one (yet to be started) have been/will be manipulated to protect certain school staff and board members. If Reynolds can get us to fall for
that, he succeeds in making us question the integrity, honesty, and competence of Burrage, which gives Burrage's opponent in the election a boost. But wait, there's more!
See, there is a problem with this story: Burrage has no motive to water down the audit. Quite the opposite, in fact. Well, Reynolds is about to provide us
with Burrage's motive.
Reynolds knows about his own involvement in the audit. He knows that the second audit and/or investigation into how the audit was done may expose his involvement, and
he is ready for this. Maybe even hoping for it. He is actively working to discredit the second audit in our minds, and here is why.
If the second audit shows Reynolds' involvement in steering the audit and leaking the preliminary accusations, Reynolds can claim that Burrage invented the whole
"concern about the auditor's independence" thing in order to frame Reynolds! He can shake his head in disappointment at the depths to which Burrage sank in order to try
to discredit the Champion of Oklahoma Taxpayers: Burrage turned a blind eye to corruption in BA Schools, letting the criminals continue to steal from the taxpayers;
Burrage intentionally torpedoed an innocent auditor's career as part of his scheme; Burrage lied to the people of Broken Arrow; Burrage wasted more taxpayer money on
this political stunt; Burrage has let down the people of Broken Arrow and of Oklahoma; he has destroyed the integrity of his office and brought shame to the title of State
Auditor of Oklahoma.
Can't you just hear it? By now, Burrage knows what he is up against. He better be ready to counter.
|Reynolds' Next Move
Update 9/15/2010 - the Emergency Stays were denied. This is not a ruling on their appeals; just on the emergency stay that was intended to prevent the
court from enforcing the judge's order that they attend their depositions, until the appeal can be ruled on. One important criterion in considering the
emergency stay is whether the appeal is likely to succeed. If the stay is denied, that's an indication that the appeal may not be that strong. I am not sure
what this means for Ritze's contempt citation application. Reynolds was a no-show too, so he may get a citation for contempt too. I also don't know what
happens next regarding the depositions. Will continue to watch OSCN.
The big question remains: WHY?
9/13/2010 - Rep. Ritze and Rep. Reynolds both filed appeals today. They are asking for an Emergency Stay to prevent them from having to attend their depositions.
They are asking for a Writ of Prohibition which prohibits Judge Cantrell from enforcing a discovery order in Sisney's defamation case. They say that their testimony is
protected from discovery because of Legislative Immunity, and that in ordering them to attend their deposition, Judge Cantrell committed an "impermissible and excessive
exercise of judicial force and an abuse of discretion."
We've been through the "legislative immunity" claims before. As Judge Cantrell confirmed, legislative immunity does not apply in this situation. There is nothing new here,
except for the outrageous new claim by Reynolds that he is personally investigating the audit.
The question is - WHY do Ritze and Reynolds so desperately want to keep from offering their evidence? In what way will each of them be, as they claim, "irreparably
harmed if he is required to appear and give his deposition"? If they truly have undertaken investigations, and have come up with relevant evidence showing that Jim
Sisney's claims of wrongdoing in BA Schools have merit, what could stop them from wanting to provide this? Not only would they be helping Sisney get justice against
those who railroaded him, but they would be serving the public interest by providing the evidence we have all been waiting for. How could this result in harm to them to the
point that they should abandon their duty as citizens, public servants, and lawmakers, and sit silently by while an injustice is being done? Our congressmen should be first
in line to put their own political standing aside for the sake of informing the public of the truth. If they undertook an investigation, what in the world is the point of keeping
the findings secret?
Why are they trying so hard to avoid giving their depositions? What are they afraid might come out? And where is William Swaim's outrage at their lack of transparency
and their unwillingness to serve the public interest? Why is he not asking them why they refuse to testify?
One more thing: Rep. Mike Ritze has an application for contempt of court filed against him today, 9/13/2010. Apparently he was a no-show at his scheduled
|Ritze and Reynolds file appeals to get out of their depositions
09/17/2010 - Interested Citizen said regarding Ritze's and Reynolds' attempts to avoid their depositions, "I don't blame them one bit for not giving their testimony until they are good and ready."
A curious statement. Why would witnesses want to, or be allowed to, wait until "they are good and ready"? All they are being asked is what they know now. It's not a test they have prepare for. Yet
they have been trying to avoid being deposed for the past 9 months.
But his statement makes sense in one context. In the same context, so does Sisney's statement that he's waiting on the investigation results to know what his claims are, and so does Reynolds'
attempting to delay his deposition until the audit is released.
The context, a hypothetical one of course, is this:
None of them have any evidence now. They are expecting to have some when the audit is released.
So how do they know there is wrongdoing if they have no evidence? They don't. How do they know the audit will report wrongdoing? Maybe because they put the allegations in there. Then all they
had to do was hold on until their official "proof" came out. No wonder Reynolds was so cranky about the delays. It's been getting harder and harder to avoid that darn deposition!
Too bad for them Auditor Burrage is insisting on including only allegations which have some basis in fact. Now Reynolds is even crankier, and has to resort to attempting to discredit Burrage and the
audit. Meanwhile, he's likely exhausted all his options for avoiding the deposition. Sisney's time to provide evidence in his lawsuit is running out too.
So now we know what Interested Citizen means by "when they're good and ready". I would say it's when the audit shows the "facts" they are waiting on - most probably "facts" they provided.
|"Interested Citizen's" curious attempt at damage control
and my response, which the Ledger refused to post.
09/19/2010 - Three news stories on the BA audit came out on Friday and Saturday. There's something we can
learn from each of them.
Details on each of the articles are below, but here's the quick summary of new info confirmed:
1) Bill Miller was never interviewed. The auditor never tried, and lied to her boss by stating that Miller refused to
2) Reynolds had access to, or was involved in composing, internal emails in the auditor's office;
3) Reynolds provided the preliminary audit notes to the media, leading them to believe it was an actual "draft
4) Sherri Combs objected to the removal of hearsay from her audit, even though she had not uncovered any
evidence to support these "findings";
5) Many of the accusations provided to the auditor are shown not to be valid concerns to be investigated, but
merely baseless attempts to make certain people look bad.
|New stuff from Friday's and Saturday's articles
Broken Arrow Ledger: Special auditor takes issue with removed items, 9/17/2010
The Broken Arrow Ledger reported that the special auditor, Sherri Combs, sent an email to Ricky Branch on August 9, 2010, listing several items that had been removed from her audit report - the
one that was to be presented to BA Schools. This was 3 days before Reynolds' press conference on August 12, in which he stated his concerns that the audit would be "watered down", and listed
the very same points that were in Combs' email.
Either he received a copy of the email, or he was involved in development the points for Combs to put in her email. Either way, clearly this type of involvement in an audit is improper.
The article quotes Burrage extensively, covering his point of view fairly and comprehensively. Thanks to Ms. Habib for such a balanced and informative article. Some of the rumors that Burrage
debunks are Gerber moved an employee's office to a closet in order to humiliate her; the board improperly changed the scope of an independent audit; and Gerber "intercepting" documents
requested by the auditor. Also reported is the astonishing revelation that the auditor did not try to call Bill Miller for an interview. This is especially striking in light of the statements in her notes that
give the impression that they came from Miller. Apparently the closest she came to contacting him was driving by his house.
The Ledger online mediator has not been as balanced. No comments submitted by Jolie or 612 were published.
Tulsa World: Impartiality of Broken Arrow Schools' auditor questioned, 9/18/2010
The Tulsa World reported what appears to be the same email, but gives the date as April 19, and the recipient as Michelle Day, not Ricky Branch. It could be the same or a similar email that she
forwarded to Branch on August 9.
Among the things that were taken out of the audit because no evidence could be found, they were not in scope, and/or they were not violations of any kind: board meeting minutes altered after they
were approved; Sisney being told not to communicate using school resources; the board improperly changing the scope of the independent audit.
It confirms the Ledger's report that Miller was not interviewed, saying the Combs had first tried to contact him by dropping by his house. She never tried to call him, either before or after her drive-by.
Yet she led Burrage to believe Miller refused to talk with her.
Some commenters on the TW site want to convince us that attempting to contact someone solely by driving their house is perfectly reasonable, and they do not have a problem with her intentionally
ignoring vital information and lying to her boss. I doubt that they have managed to convince themselves of this.
Fox 23: BA Schools Audit, 9/17/2010
An audit of Broken Arrow Schools alleges wrongdoing by school board and contractor
The Fox23 article is several weeks behind. They are reporting the preliminary audit document as if it just came out, and is actually audit results, with the inaccurate sub headling, "An audit of Broken
Arrow Schools alleges wrongdoing by school board and contractor."
There isn't much new here except that it states that Reynolds was the one who provided the audit notes to the Fox 23, confirming Burrage's accusation. In addition, Reynolds provided Fox 23 with
internal emails between school officials.
The article incorrectly states that Sisney filed a defamation lawsuit against the schools after he was terminated. The defamation lawsuit was filed BEFORE he was terminated, and was against
board members, the owners of Air Assurance, and an eye doctor. He filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school district after he was terminated. It was dismissed at Sisney's request,
after he had to be forced to answer questions, provide evidence, and show up at his deposition, where he admitted he had no evidence. Fox 23 should have reported this if they were going to bring
up Sisney's lawsuits.
The exit interviews were secretly recorded! We get a glimpse into the initial reactions of the board members and District's attorneys, including Doug Mann. Dr. Mendenhall was
also in the meeting. He appears to agree that the audit was biased, from his remark, "I think you’ve got a one sided story".
We also see the origin of the rumor that Ronda Vuillemont-Smith tried to start about a PR company. It was a remark that Mann made about the PR company employed by Air
Assurance. How Ronda knew about it immediately after the meetings, and why she misrepresented it as plans that the District was going to hire "the biggest PR company in the
state" is a question she will probably be asked in a deposition.
From the report on Oklahoma Watchdog:
A couple of things that Mann says, without backing it up, is that Jim Sisney “stole” documents and that the “board has been torn to pieces” because of Sisney.
Mann says: “I can’t tell you how frustrated I am about this. These (findings are) misleading at best and I really implore you to reconsider all this stuff.
I know, the "without backing it up" is cute, isn't it? Read the rest of the hopelessly transparent and desperately leading attempts to smear Doug Mann and Steve Burrage in the
Oklahoma Watchdog article:
As for who did the recording, we know of one then-employee who would have had access to recording equipment, the know-how to use it, and access to the room to set it up in
advance. This employee is suspected to have leaked confidential information from the District to Sisney. He resigned within days of the exit interview.
|Audit meeting secretly recorded!
9/25/2010 - Posted on the Ledger "Audio recordings of exit interviews released" article.
The Ledger printed the hearsay about the District hiring a PR firm, quoting a statement by Ronda Vuillemont-Smith made right after the exit interviews. Now we know that that statement was made in the
meeting, which should have been confidential.
Why did the Ledger print that inaccurate and inflammatory bit of gossip but not make an effort to point out its inaccuracy when we found that the statement referred to AA's PR firm?
And why did the Ledger not question how Ronda was able to "overhear" this statement, since she wasn't in the meeting?
Those of you who think that confidentiality can be thrown out the window when anybody declares that "the public has a right to know", do you realize what has happened here? The very people who have been
publicly railing against confidentiality requirements have been USING them to keep YOU from getting the full story, so they can feed you the bits and pieces that they want you to see, make up stuff with
impunity, and withhold the rest.
The last thing they really want is for the public to have full access to this information.
|How the PR battle is fought by the unethical, assisted by the gullible
9/25/2010 - Audit procedures and standards that seem to be endorsed by the people who want us to think Sherri Combs' audit is just fine:
- Gathering information before drawing conclusions is optional. Including whatever a few outside people provide you, without researching it, is fine.
- There is no need to include any documents or testimony from people who are directly involved in the issues being reported.
- It's ok to include hearsay, whether relevant or not; there is no need to provide evidence to back up statements made as fact in the report.
- There is no need to address items listed in the scope of the audit; they can be left out at will.
- Including things that are irrelevant, unsubstantiated, and out of scope is encouraged, because audits are meant to convey impressions, not facts.
- If your supervisor wants you to interview someone and you don't want to, lie and say they refused.
- Confidentiality laws are stupid, so feel free to provide confidential information to someone outside the auditor's office who will then provide carefully timed and
appropriately slanted "updates" on this confidential information to the media. After all, "the public has a right to know."
With these audit standards in mind, we can then assume:
- We should all take an audit done in this manner as accurate and factual, despite gaping holes in research, unethical manipulation by outside parties, and
obvious and provable inaccuracies and omissions.
- Anybody who thinks an audit should be done objectively, and conclusions should be drawn from facts uncovered rather than on gossip from people with an
agenda, is trying to influence the state auditor to protect criminals.
- Any results from the new audit that don't match the baseless assumptions and unsupported conclusions in the original prove that the new audit is incorrect -
regardless of how thoroughly documented the process and evidence are.
Am I understanding this right? Do some people really think Burrage was pressured into doing the WRONG thing - the redo - meaning they think the original audit was done right?
Do these people really think this is a properly conducted audit? If so, it's pretty clear how their opinions can be so easily influenced. They might try THINKING about things,
instead of conducting "smell tests" and seeing if they "feel right" as they like to say.
Or do they think it was improperly conducted but came to the right conclusions anyway, so we should go with it? If so, they can be sure the new audit will come up with the same
conclusions, only the conclusions be proven this time, so they have nothing to worry about! Their point of view will be vindicated all the more, and their hatred can go on
The idea that Burrage will direct his auditors to leave out evidence showing criminal activity in BA Schools is laughable. He has been looking forward to unveiling the Broken Arrow
audit, under the assumption that the extent of wrongdoing his office uncovered will make him look good. Not only does he have a strong incentive to expose the crooks, but he
also has a powerful reason not to let it look like he is intentionally leaving anything out - he doesn't want Reynolds to look right in his "watering down" accusation.
Some have suggested that RFR has influence over Burrage; that simply because RFR wants the audit changed, somehow that supplies Burrage with an incentive to falsify it.
What power could RFR possibly wield that would intimidate Burrage into throwing his ethics out the window, betraying his office, forcing his auditors to falsify a report, making his
office look incompetent, and risking jail? No, Burrage was convinced by the new information he learned in the meetings with the board members that the audit needed to be
redone. Once he realized what needed to be done, no one needed to pressure him.
Why would anybody want to go forward with this dubious report? Why the objections to the redo? Maybe they're afraid the new audit WON'T come to the same
conclusions...because they were never true? Well, they keep saying they want the truth. Can they handle the truth? I know I can, from a properly conducted audit.
|Would you believe...
10/21/2010 - So many of those involved in supporting Sisney seem to be flocking to seek the legal advice of Thurman Lee Sisney. This is curious, since he doesn't have a license to practice law in
Oklahoma. What could be the purpose of claiming that he represents them?
From Beth Snellgrove's deposition, we know that they have been communicating with Lee for quite some time. And of course there are the emails between Jim and Lee back in August 2008. If this group
has been conspiring to protect Jim, influence the audit, and portray the BA schools administration as criminals in the media, there is undoubtedly a lot of communication that has gone on over the past couple
of years. It would be very bad for them for this communication to be made public, or to be used as evidence in court or in an investigation into their activities.
It is convenient that Lee Sisney, who has been involved in the scheming from the beginning, is an attorney. If they claim that he is representing them, it makes all their communication with him privileged.
There are however some caveats and exceptions.
- Communication between the attorney and client is privileged, but facts (including their actions) are not.
- The communication is only privileged if it is between the attorney and client(s) and no one else. That means that any conversations (including email exchanges) that included anybody
not claiming to be represented in this matter by Lee Sisney is not protected. In addition, any communication that was later repeated to anyone else (including forwarded emails) who
does not claim to be Lee Sisney's client is not protected.
- Attorney-client privilege exists for the protection of the client, not the attorney.
- Communications between an attorney and client are not privileged when the attorney's services are utilized in furtherance of a crime or fraud. This is true regardless of the attorney's
awareness or participation in the crime or fraud. An extensive explanation is here:
Sherri Combs is rumored to be claiming to be represented by Lee Sisney now too. If Lee communicated with her and the group including Jim Sisney, the two representatives, the two board members, and
the two citizens, it seems likely that they would want to keep their communications confidential. This is especially likely given the extreme reluctance shown by Jim Sisney, Chris Tharp, and the
representatives to provide any testimony or evidence in court.
Since communications are privileged only if all parties involved in the communication are clients, that may explain the overwhelming popularity of a lawyer in another state who is not even licensed to practice
in Oklahoma. Lee Sisney may need his "clients" too, in order to keep his own communications confidential. He has been involved since the beginning of the controversy, and there is probably a lot that
would show his involvement in the PR campaign and the efforts to influence the audit.
|Some thoughts on attorney-client privilege
10/29/2010 - At his deposition, Rep. Reynolds provided a CD to fulfill the requests to provide documents. The documents on the CD were password-protected. On 10/22/2010, Rep. Reynolds filed a motion
asking for the CD to be returned. In the motion, he states:
1) The password protection was inadvertent;
2) Rep. Reynolds did not keep a copy of the information he provided;
3) Rep. Reynolds does not know the password;
4) Giving him back the CD will enable him to figure out his password.
1-3 are not very believable. Password protection requires a conscious effort; this doesn't happen inadvertently. Pretending that he didn't keep a copy is amateurish (Beth Snellgrove used that excuse), and
playing dumb about the password is just embarrassing.
As for #4, how is getting the CD back going to help him figure out his password?
This does not look like an above-board attempt to provide the requested information. It looks like just more time- and money-wasting games from Rep. Reynolds. It seems likely that either there is
information on the CD that he does not want the defendants to look at; or he provided the CD only to give the appearance that he was complying with the court order, and he never intended for them to actually
be able to access any of the files.
Watchdog, indeed. We will see how sympathetic the judge is after Reynolds' 9-month effort to avoid giving testimony or evidence.
|Reynolds provides CD of documents, password-protected, and then asks for it back
11/18/2010 - Sherri Combs didn't show up at her rescheduled deposition, which was to have taken place 11/18/2010.
Her attorney claims that he doesn't have the authority to represent her regarding the deposition, even though he had written in a previous letter that he would be representing her regarding the deposition. He
made this new claim two days before the deposition, even though the reason he gave had been known since October 20, 2010. He argues that her request to the AG's office for representation takes away his
authority to represent her. The AG's office must complete an investigation before they can decide whether they will represent her.
The BA District agreed without question to delay the deposition from its original date of October 22, 2010, to accommodate her medical leave. Now her attorney claims she is still on medical leave, even
though her doctor's note released her to go back to work, without restrictions, on November 8, 2010. He claims she is on leave until December 2, but has not produced another doctor's note.
Why would Sherri Combs not want to testify, since she was upset at having her findings removed from the audit? Wouldn't she jump at the chance to set the record straight, if she had really uncovered
corruption but had her report stifled by those who were trying to cover for the criminals? Wouldn't she be glad for the opportunity to clear her name and present the compelling evidence that supported the
findings she described in her report?
She claimed to the AG's office that she couldn't come up with any of the documents or recordings requested in the subpoena - even though she knows that the BA Schools attorney has copies of emails sent
to her and the recordings she secretly made.
How come the "crooks" in BA Schools never file Motions to Quash? Why aren't they scurrying around filing things to delay having to testify under oath? Only the "Whistleblower", the "Watchdog" and
his buddy Ritze, the "concerned parents", and the auditor who was allegedly "pressured" to falsify her audit are trying to hide from giving their testimony and evidence. What does that tell us?
Notice that it’s the DEFENDANTS – BA Schools, Air Assurance, and the 3 board members - who are trying to push this case forward. THEY are not evading service, claiming to have deleted
documents, or trying to get excused from giving depositions.
Why do the PLAINTIFF and his supporters have to be forced by the DEFENDANTS to tell their story: "the truth" they claim they have been trying so hard to get out to the public?
|Sherri Combs files to quash her subpoena; claims she is still on medical leave
11/19/2010 - Here is some info on an attorney lien. This is paraphrased from West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2.
It's the right of a lawyer to hold a client's property or money until payment has been made for legal services.
If the client owes fees, the attorney can place a claim on their property until they pay. There are two types of attorney liens:
A Charging Lien is the attorney's right to a portion of the judgment that was won for the client. This applies only to money awarded in a particular case.
A Retaining Lien covers any property that an attorney might have come into possession of during the course of the lawsuit. The attorney can hold that property until he is paid.
Since this entry has Sisney as the party, we can assume the lien has something to do with his agreement with Richardson. Richardson may have taken the case under the agreement that he would
get paid a portion of the proceeds, and since he is withdrawing, he needs to make sure he gets his portion of the money awarded. Or they may have an hourly fee agreement, and Sisney may owe
him some fees.
So why is Richardson withdrawing? If he hasn't been paid in full, he may have decided at this point that he didn't like the odds of collecting any money. In addition, given Sisney's history of
misrepresenting facts, Richardson might also be concerned that the new audit may uncover some wrongdoing Sisney hasn't been up front about, further damaging his case and probability of getting
Since the BA Ledger article was published less than an hour after the OSCN entry was posted, it seems likely that Richardson gave the Ledger the heads-up ahead of time, in order to provide his
quotes and try to head off speculation.
|Richardson withdraws; submits Notice of Attorney Lien
11/19/2010 - on 11/18/2010, the District has filed for Partial Summary Judgment on the plaintiff's tort claims.
Torts are civil wrongs that do not arise from contractual duties. They can be intentional or due to neglect. Of the charges Sisney names the School District as a defendant on, 4 of the 5 are torts. This
may be why the motion was for partial summary judgment - it's just relating to the torts.
Not a tort:
|District Files for Partial Summary Judgment
11/24/2010 - Ms. Nour Habib’s summary in the Ledger article is accurate. The District’s Motion for summary judgment points out that Sisney missed the deadline for filing these claims against the
District (by a lot), and even if he had filed in time, they don’t apply to entities like public school districts.
Before filing tort claims, it was required that Sisney send a Notice of Tort Claim to the District. He did this (exhibit 4). If the District did not take action on this Notice within 90 days, he was then free to
file tort claims. He had 180 days in which to do this; he waited 361 days.
Missing the deadline is enough to disqualify these claims, but there are other problems that make them invalid.
All of the tort claims are intentional torts, meaning they are civil wrongs resulting from intentional acts. The School District is not liable for intentional torts, because it not liable for employees’ acts that
are outside the scope of their employment. Intentional torts are acts of bad faith, and as such, cannot be committed within the scope of employment.
All of these claims fail because of the lateness in filing and immunity of the School District:
Count I: Defamation
Count III: Constructive Discharge
Count IV: Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
Count V: Tortious Interference with Business Contract
Count VI: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Count III, Constructive Discharge, has an another problem, in addition to the first two. Curiously, Sisney claims he was bullied into quitting. Yet he states very clearly in all of his court filings that he
was fired. Being fired invalidates this claim completely.
Didn’t Richardson know about the deadline? Didn’t he know about the District’s immunity from intentional torts? How can he claim both that his client was fired and that his client quit - in the same
document? Why would he file a document as hopelessly flawed as this?
As much as Sisney tried to portray RFR as incompetent wimps who always wanted to settle, that doesn’t seem to be the case. RFR knows education law, and in Sisney’s federal case, even opposed
Sisney’s attempt to get his own case dismissed!
Only one claim is left against the District, after addressing the tort claims: Breach of contract. Sisney admitted in his federal lawsuit that the District had fulfilled its contractual obligations to him.
Remember, we’re paying for RFR to draft documents to answer Sisney’s and Richardson’s obviously flawed legal actions; these accusations have been filed purely for PR reasons. Talk about
wasting taxpayer dollars!
Sisney’s Notice of Tort Claim includes a very nice summary of his side of the story - worth reading to get the big picture. Notice that the first sentence incorrectly suggests that Air Assurance
violated Competitive Bidding laws. As Mr. Rainey pointed out in Sisney’s deposition, a private company is incapable of violating competitive bidding laws because they are not subject to them;
only public entities like school districts are.
If any competitive bidding laws were violated, it was by the school district – while the CEO was none other than Sisney himself.
|BA School District files Motion for Summary Judgment regarding Tort claims
11/24/2010 - Bob Lewis posted a comment on an article in the Ledger entitled, "Review of legal costs shows ups, downs". The article, written by Nour Habib, is informative and well-researched, with
quotes from school superintendents.
Bob Lewis' comment, on the other hand, continues the one-sided, hateful, misleading, defamatory, and sometimes even libelous "reporting" he used when he helped start this controversy over two
yeas ago. He has absolutely no basis for the statement he makes about Mann or the innuendos about Gerber and Miller, yet he presents them as if they're common knowledge. His statement that
the District is paying for the counterclaim is incorrect. If he knows this, it is unconscionable that he is lying about it in a comment. If he doesn't know who is paying for the counterclaim, he has no
business saying anything about it.
If Mr. Lewis has a medical or psychological reason for his inability to grasp reality and his obsession with attacking Mann, Gerber, Miller, Air Assurance, and our board members, I sincerely would like
to know about it. If that is the case, I will of course stop pointing out how outrageous his comments are, and I hope that someone close to him will, in kindness to him, take away his keyboard.
and present School Board members, which the district is obligated to pay for. And, of course, Doug Mann has seen to it that the district is in violation of state law, assuring considerably more
time and expenses from his practice. Still unknown is what legal action Gary Gerber, Bill Miller and others might get involved in as the result of the second state audit. It is practically guaranteed,
BAPS will be left holding the legal bills there, too. To call all this a might mess would be putting it mildly.
reader612 posted at 11:18 am on Wed, Nov 24, 2010.
Mr. Lewis, there may be a few people left who still buy into your attempts to portray Sisney as a hero and malign the people who did what they had to do to protect the District and its employees. I
believe at this point, most people who have been following this at all are pretty clear on what happened and who is behind the controversy.
Sisney's actions speak for themselves. Anyone who wants to consider the facts in a fair-minded way can find information telling the true story online.
Those who want to believe that Rep. Reynolds is on a mission to get the truth out to the public needs to know what he admitted to in his deposition.
Reynolds, a state Representative, published - on the official House of Representatives website - information that he didn’t know the source of and had not spent one minute checking the
accuracy of. He then, according to his testimony, alerted all of his media contact that is was there. It turns out this information is highly defamatory regarding some individuals.
Reynolds’ excuse for putting defamatory, unverified information from an unknown source in the hands of the media: “The public has a right to know.” He explained in his deposition that he
doesn’t need to verify the information because the media is so careful to do that.
What the media is careful about is putting disclaimers on their stories. But the damage is done, disclaimers notwithstanding, when people read in the newspaper, hear on the radio, or see on the
TV news what individuals “reportedly” did.
The Ledger participated in this media feeding frenzy, posting unverified information from an unknown source. We still don't know if there is any truth whatsoever to the statements made in these
documents. They were presented as "official findings" from the auditor's office, which obviously would have given them more authority than an individual's accusations.
Would you deny, Mr. Lewis, that reputations were damaged by these "official" yet still unsubstantiated claims? Is that journalism's rightful role? Do you think it's fine to damage reputations as
long as you personally are still convinced that they were bad people - even though you STILL can't point to any actual proof of wrongdoing?
What if the claims are not true? What is the media's role in restoring the reputations it so cavalierly trampled in its quest for interesting reporting - or worse, its desire to influence readers'
|Bob Lewis continues the charade
“I think it is appropriate that the public have as much information about exposing fraud and corruption in their government as they can possibly get.”
- Representative Mike Reynolds, in his deposition 9/29/2010
11/20/2010 - In the Defendants’ Response to Reynolds’ Motion to get his CD back, footnote 2 on page 2 explains that Rep. Reynolds' attorney, Mr. Dunn, allegedly received the CD and several
documents from “an anonymous man who walked into Dunn’s law office with a package addressed to Representative Reynolds. Reynolds testified that he then uploaded these unverified and
mysteriously obtained documents to an FTP website maintained by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and which various media outlets have access to.”
Dunn confirmed this story, absurd as it sounds. How the anonymous man got the documents, and how he knew to take them to Dunn’s law office, is still a mystery. But if Reynolds’ story is true, then
what Reynolds is saying is that he, a state Representative, published on the official House of Representatives website, information that he didn’t know the source of and had not spent one minute
checking the accuracy of. He then, according to his testimony, alerted all of his media contact that is was there. It turns out this information is highly defamatory regarding some individuals.
Reynolds’ excuse for putting defamatory, unverified information from an unknown source in the hands of the media: “The public has a right to know.” He explained in his deposition that he doesn’t
need to verify the information; he believes he can rely on the media to do that. Of course we know we can rely on the media to put “reportedly” in front of anything they print, like that makes it ok.
Ritze and Reynolds showed their disapproval for former Speaker Benge last week, by being the only members of the House to stay seated instead of standing with the other members to show their
appreciation for Benge. Maybe it’s not so much his policies that created the rift. Maybe it’s his disapproval of their misuse of House resources (the FTP site) and their position as Representatives to
create a perception in the media that is politically favorable to their candidate for auditor. Reynolds’ deposition hinted at his illegally trying to issue a subpoena as a member of the House, without it
being approved by the appropriate committee. I doubt that issue came out of the blue.
Ritze and Reynolds should both be investigated by an ethics committee for their role in influencing the audit and leaking misinformation to the media. I hope the House leaders are aware of their
" I'm interested in procurement practices in every school district in the state of Oklahoma." - Rep. Reynolds
wouldn't you get involved in those?
Reynolds: Oh, I probably will if it takes, if Mr. Burrage is the state auditor next year or the year after and he's taken two years to get to those, I'll probably take an interest in those, too.
Walta: But those are finished.
Reynolds: Oh. Are they?
Fifteen articles in CapitolBeatOK about Broken Arrow's invented controversy
Two about Skiatook's real half-million-dollar corruption, one of which mentions Broken Arrow in the first sentence, before Skiatook.
A Very Loosely Defined Thing
On page 94 of his deposition, Reynolds is questioned about the leadership positions in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
|Outrageous! What we're getting for 38,800 a year
|Luthey: Out of those 62 members of your party, how many are in the leadership of the house?
Reynolds: Oh, my goodness. Well, I tell each member of our caucus that you're all a leader of
your district. So I don't know. The leadership of the House would be a very loosely defined thing.
Luthey: The House has a Speaker?
Reynolds: Yes, it does. Constitutionally.
Luthey: Is that you?
Reynolds: No, sir.
Luthey: Does it have a Majority Leader?
Reynolds: I don't believe we do have a Majority Leader.
Luthey: Do you have a Floor Leader?
Reynolds: Yes, we do.
Luthey: Is that you?
Reynolds: No, that's not.
Luthey: Are there Assistant or Deputy Floor Leaders?
Reynolds: I think we have Assistant Majority whips. I don't think -- that's probably what you
might be referring to as a Floor Leader.
Luthey: No, I'm referring to Assistant or Deputy Floor Leaders for the Majority.
Reynolds: I don't, I don't think we do.
Luthey: Is there a chief whip for your party?
Luthey: Do you have a whip?
Luthey: Do you have deputy whips?
Luthey: Do you have assistant whips?
Luthey: Are there Committee Chairmen in the House of Representatives?
Speaker of the House: Kris Steele
Majority Floor Leader: Daniel Sullivan
First Assistant Majority Floor Leader: Ron Peters
Assistant Majority Floor Leader: Lisa J. Billy
Assistant Majority Floor Leader: George Faught
Assistant Majority Floor Leader: Dennis Johnson
Assistant Majority Floor Leader: Charles Key
Assistant Majority Floor Leader: Todd Thomsen
Assistant Majority Floor Leader: Harold Wright
Majority Whip: Skye McNiel
Deputy Majority Whip: Marian Cooksey
Deputy Majority Whip: Fred Jordan
Deputy Majority Whip: Steve Martin
Deputy Majority Whip: Randy McDaniel
Deputy Majority Whip: Leslie Osborne
Deputy Majority Whip: Mike Sanders
Deputy Majority Whip: Colby Schwartz
Deputy Majority Whip: Weldon Watson
12/08/2010 - Sisney has filed to dismiss all charges in his lawsuit against the Rampeys, Air Assurance, and Dr. Hudkins. Why? What's wrong with these charges?
be fired." In his deposition, Sisney said that Rep. Mike Ritze told him that Hudkins had made these defamatory statements to Ritze.
But Hudkins denied making those statements. If he really didn't, then if Ritze says he did, he is lying under oath. But if Ritze says he didn't, his testimony would disagree with Sisney's - meaning one
of them lied under oath. That may explain why Ritze ran for the hills.
6-hour executive session in which Sisney's contract was being discussed.
what really happened.
Stover and Updike not willing to say under oath that Rampey did these things? Maybe because he didn't?
Doug Mann violated Open Meetings laws to conspire against him. Dismissing these charges gives the appearance that they are not true, which weakens the remaining charges in his case.
Why did he dismiss? I think it's because these accusations are not true, and Sisney can't get anyone to say under oath that they are.
fulfilled the District's obligations to him in his contract (as he admitted in his deposition), I think she has a tough job ahead of her. In addition, there is the counterclaim to deal with.
He cited the state constitution's speech and debate clause, which states that legislators are immune from lawsuits calling for judicial inquiry into their performance "within the sphere of legitimate
Reynolds claimed that he personally undertook an investigation into the unused sick leave in his capacity as a state representative, and that means that no one can ask him any questions relating to
That didn’t work to get him out of his deposition, since he is not the defendant in the case, and issuing press releases is not a legislative matter.
Investigative work: Received listings of school employee pay records illegally obtained by a superintendent who had been fired
Reynolds' action: Issued a press release stating that Broken Arrow Schools had paid thousands of dollars in illegal sick pay (1/30/2009)
Investigative work: Received an illegally obtained confidential memo from the District's attorney advising that the payments be discontinued because the law didn't specifically provide for them.
Reynolds' action: Issued a press release (5/5/2009) claiming that BA Schools' attorney had contradicted his own advice, based on an illegally obtained confidential memo
after he says he is "highly interested in the sick pay issue".
months after his press release, a few days before his deposition). He got as far as checking two school districts, one of which is coincidentally the one represented by Phyllis Walta,
who is the attorney for the board members, and is the one who served Reynolds to appear at his deposition.
and media battle against Broken Arrow schools. Reynolds claimed not to know anything about this. The fired superintendent had an employee compile the records before he was fired;
he took them and the confidential memo without an Open Records request. Reynolds was not concerned that the information was illegally obtained.
fire; 2) the only candidate in a days-away school board election days who was not an active supporter of the fired superintendent. The attorney he attacked was fired by the
ex-superintendent and hired back over his strong objections.
Reynolds' action: Issued a press release stating that the audit being reviewed by the attorney general indicated criminal activity (April 26, 2010); that Jim Sisney had been fired in 2007
> Jim Sisney was fired in 2008, not 2007, but Reynolds stated that he doesn't know any of the circumstances of Sisney's firing, and that he doesn't care.
as Reynolds tried to imply. One of the computers seized was Sisney's; that's where the deleted emails came from. This was old news. Reynolds engineered the timing intentionally to
give a false impression.
> Even in the fictional audit based on the contributions of Sisney supporters, the AG didn't see anything that warranted charges against the board members, Air Assurance, or any school
Reynolds' action: Held a press conference (8/13/2010) to object to certain things being removed from the audit: allegations of bid splitting, the shredding of documents and altered school
Reynolds' action: Immediately (the same day) posted the documents and audio tape on the House of Representatives FTP site
Reynolds claimed in his deposition:
knew nothing about, and the length of time the audit took. His "personal investigation" consisted of nothing but receiving information from dubious sources and immediately broadcasting it to
the media. By his own admission, no investigative work whatsoever was done.
corruption in their government as they can possibly get."
|“Watchdog” Rep. Mike Reynolds investigates Broken Arrow Public Schools
12/08/2010 - Sisney has filed to dismiss the Rampeys, Air Assurance, and Dr.
Hudkins from his defamation lawsuit. The documents are posted. Meanwhile,
watch the Ledger comments for the Sisney-approved excuses. The real story
has been HERE all along - HE HAD NO CASE!
The charges against the 3 board members and the District remain.
12/16/2010 - Sisney filed to dismiss four claims against the District:
- constructive discharge
- tortious interference with a business contract
- intentional infliction of emotional distress
These are 4 of the 5 tort claims that the District included in its Motion for partial summary judgment, filed 11/19/2010.
I will post the document when it's available.
|More dismissals! Sisney dismisses claims against the District
Sisney's two-page Answer just gives a general denial of the first 96 paragraphs, then individually denies paragraphs 97-106. These paragraphs are the allegations which directly support the causes
of action, which are abuse of process (97-103) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (104-106).
I don't know exactly what a "general denial" means. Some of the paragraphs that he denies are just statements of undisputed fact, like paragraph 1 which states that the Broken Arrow School District
is an independent school district established under Oklahoma law. So a general denial probably just means "I didn't do any of the bad things", without going into detail on each one.
My guess at the reasoning is that 1) Going item by item would require specific answers. Sisney would not want to answer them truthfully and admit he did anything bad, but he doesn't want to get
caught in specific lies either. 2) A two-page denial that doesn't go into any specifics would cost a lot less in attorney fees than a point-by-point document like the defendants supplied.
|Sisney's Answer to the Counterclaim
been filed half a year too late. In addition, it identifies 4 of the 5 (all except Implied Covenant ) as intentional torts, for which a school district can't be liable.
Count I: Defamation
Count III: Constructive Discharge
Count IV: Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
Count V: Tortious Interference with Business Contract
Count VI: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
On 12/16/2010, Sisney filed to dismiss four of the five: all except Count IV, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
On 12/21/2010, Sisney filed his Response to the District's motion, which addresses only Count IV since he dismissed the others.
The Response states that Count IV was listed in the District's Motion, but the support brief is "devoid of any discussion of this cause of action" and questions whether it was included by accident. It
contends that the Breach of Implied Covenant and Good Faith charge is related to the breach of contract charge, so should be treated the same way, with a 5-year limit instead of the 180 day limit on
The District's Motion does identify Implied Covenant as a tort, which would be subject to the 180-day deadline. I looked it up and found it listed as a tort several times. But I don't really know -
circumstances could figure into it. I didn't see where it was addressed individually, with other problems pointed out, like the other four.
charge - so they can collect something more than the payout of his contract through June 2009, which of course he has already received.
more years because of his contract. She may point to his previous years' evaluations, which were probably good, to show that he was blindsided by their capricious decision to suddenly and without
warning terminate him.
does not seem to involve filing ridiculous things and wasting enormous amounts of time and money. A professional and competent attorney representing Sisney is beneficial to everyone. I am
hopeful that we are moving toward resolution as quickly as possible.
|Sisney's Response to the District's motion for partial summary judgment
and firing of Sisney. Sisney does not dispute that, or that they paid him the remainder of his contract, through June 2009, as required.
because they fired him for no good reason. He can point to his past evaluations, his awards, his accomplishments, his reputation in the community, and his contract, approved by the board to extend
for the next three years, to show that he had every reason to believe that they approved of his work. He can point to his contract to show that he should have been able to count on remaining employed
for three more years.
until he discovered their behind-the-scenes relationship with a vendor, which they were using to siphon money from the District's maintenance budget.
members, Air Assurance, and Doug Mann to get rid of him. This would probably satisfy the requirements of the Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, and qualify for Breach of
just cause, it's all over. None of Sisney's charges against the board members can stand. The first three - defamation, injurious falsehood, invasion of privacy - false light - all deal with board
members saying false bad things about Sisney. If the things they allegedly said are true, these charges go away. The fourth, tortious interference with a business contract, no longer applies if there
was justification for terminating the contract. And since some of the reasons for termination involve Sisney inflicting emotional distress on others, his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress
is not likely to carry much weight if those reasons are shown to be valid.
is if there was no evidence supplied at the executive session when his termination was discussed, and if the board members had decided without seeing any evidence that they were going to fire
Sisney. Rainey provided affidavits from four of the board members (all but Stephanie Updike) stating, "At the board meeting held on October 23, 2008, information was presented to the Board in
executive session in support of each of the five reasons set forth in Mr. Mann's letter of October 7, 2008."
make that statement; in fact, according to Sisney's deposition, Stover had previously said in June 2008 that he thought Sisney had done "too much for the district" to get rid of him. So he had already
made his decision not to fire Sisney no matter what the evidence showed.
why Sisney was fired - which makes the case for the board members too.
|The Heart of the Case
In paragraph 17 of his affidavit, Stover tries to make it look like the board members trumped up the claim that Sisney slandered Air Assurance. He does this by mixing up “billing” and “bidding”. Stover
says that one of their reasons for firing Sisney was that he made false allegations about a vendor’s billing practices. Stover goes on to say that the district’s attorney had informed them that there were
serious bidding violations, thus Sisney’s allegations were true and the board members knew it.
Clever switch. But Sisney’s accusations against AA were that AA was cheating the District by double-billing, doing unnecessary work, billing for work not done, and billing BA Schools for work done for
someone else. These billing accusations have nothing to do with the alleged bidding violations, which are solely the responsibility of BA Schools, not AA. No one has yet shown that Air Assurance
has done anything wrong. Yet Sisney made public accusations that AA was cheating Broken Arrow Schools.
Stover says, “Flippo, Wilkins, and Whelpley knew that Dr. Sisney had not made false allegations against Air Assurance and this reason for termination was dishonest.”
Paragraph 17 is dishonest. Whoever wrote it (Lee? Jim?), Stover signed it.
squirting its dark ink so it can hide the misdeeds perpetrated by the Board Defendants; cover their bias, bad faith, their arbitrary and capricious actions taken against the Plaintiff and
consequently, the public the were entrusted to serve."
not have just cause to terminate him."
bias, and he has not begun discovery in this lawsuit. Where and when is he going to get this evidence? From the 2/23 Response:
Gary Gerber, Mark Miller [presumably Bill Miller], Trish Williams, Ann Wade, Doug Mann, Laura Holmes, Mark Erwin [Maj. Mark Irwin of BAPD], Mike Rampey, Michelle Day, Ricky Branch,
September 2008 and November 2010? Now the 7 months between November 2010 and July 2011 is not enough? And he still hasn't even started? He has done nothing but stall for time
since he filed his first lawsuit in September 2008. Where are all the documents he claimed to have in January 2009? Why doesn't he use the compelling evidence he provided in his police
report? Why has he deposed NOT ONE witness in over 2 1/2 years? His hopes were on Sherri Combs' audit; now, even after it has been thoroughly discredited, he is still desperately trying to
resurrect its relevance.
This promise to take these depositions just sounds like more bluster, intended to intimidate. Sisney apparently included only the cover page of Combs' deposition with his filing; likely an
attempt to make it look like there was a lot of substance behind his claims about the audit findings, without allowing the actual document to prove the opposite.
I notice that even though a 10/2/2008 Tulsa World article said that Richardson's law firm was at that time in the discovery stage and investigating connections between the board members and
Air Assurance, Sisney still had to admit over a year later that he had no evidence of any wrongdoing by Air Assurance or the board members. Whatever was turned up, if anything, was clearly
not useful in proving Sisney's claims.
more wrongdoing by the board members to be investigated, by mentioning the second audit. He does not mention the reason for the second audit: that Combs' audit was never released due
to concerns that she was influenced by Sisney and his group of supporters. These concerns came up when it was discovered that she did not interview many key individuals, met with Sisney
supporters who provided her with documents, included irrelevant and unverified hearsay, secretly taped recorded the exit interviews with the Broken Arrow School Board, and provided the audio
to individuals who had been attacking the District in the press. If allowed as evidence, it seems that the work papers and related activities by Sisney and his supporters would do him more
harm than good.
show the Defendants bad faith and biased actions."
2) The board did not consider real evidence in executive session on the day they voted to fire him. "...the two non-defendant Board members present in the October 23rd meeting both
testify that no evidence was presented to the Board and there was no discussion on the 'reasons' for termination."
3) The board's decision should not be final, Sisney calls this premise a "central flawed proposition that the firing of Plaintiff is a final unreviewable decision of the Board."
The District's "Motion to Strike" and "Reply", both filed 2/7/2011, deal with these. The 3/14/2011 "Reply in Support" deals with them again. I sense more eye-rolling resignation than ink-
squirting fear, but whatever.
District's Board of Education..."
2) Oklahoma law does not list specific requirements for evidence at a dismissal hearing. Stover's and Updike's carefully worded lists of specific things that weren't done don't have any
bearing on whether evidence was considered. Updike's claim that there was not any presentation of any evidence against Sisney is contradicted not only by Stover's previous affidavit
stating that the board members received information supporting the reasons for possibly dismissal but also by her own statement that there was information presented in the meeting.
3) OKLA STAT. tit. 70, section 6-101.13 "The decision of the local board of education concerning the dismissal or nonreemployment...shall be final."
Let's also keep in mind that there was plenty of discussion of Sisney's evaluation and contract extension, including:
- 4 hours in executive session on July 14
- 4 hours in executive session on July 22
- 6 hours in executive session on August 4
- 1 1/4 hours in executive session on October 6
- 1 1/2 hours in executive session on October 23
Bob Lewis even wrote an editorial about it in August 2008, asking what in the world could be taking so long, considering what a top performer Sisney was. After all this discussion of Sisney's
performance, and after reviewing the supporting information at the suspension meeting on October 6, it might not have taken long to present the required information on Oct. 23, considering
how familiar everyone probably was with it by then.
Even so, the board was in executive session for an hour and a half on October 23, 2008. Updike claimed in her affidavit, "...there was not any debate, discussion or presentation of any
evidence against Dr. Sisney. All that occurred was a reading of the allegations and some other documents." I wonder what they were doing in there for an hour and a half, if there was no
discussion. Ms. Updike's attempt to imply that the three shut down debate seems to be a less than accurate representation of what went on. This is not surprising, seeing as another
statement in her affidavit characterizes Shari Wilkins' gentle and tactful encouragement to Sisney to do what he suggested he do - which Updike agreed to - as "repeated demands".
tendency to mischaracterize the facts to give a certain impression (most of which was probably scripted for her by Jim and Lee), I'm not inclined to take this statement seriously either.
safeguards are thrown to the wind."
|Sisney's Response to District's Motion to Strike (or, the Octopus Papers)
possibly illegal actions he accused others of.
Sisney accused school employees and board members of carrying on a secret relationship with Air Assurance to steal money from the District. He presented the public with a picture of corruption
using his lawsuits and press interviews, for the purpose of intimidating the board members into renewing his contract, and to gain sympathy with the public and make it look like he was being
targeted out of retaliation.
In Sisney’s version of events, school employees Gary Gerber, Bill Miller, and Linda Brown bypassed the bidding process for HVAC work, awarding AA all of the HVAC work. Sisney says these school
employees knowingly allowed AA to overcharge, bill for work not done, and do unnecessary work. The employees then falsified invoices, hid overcharges in blanket purchase orders, and approved
illegal payments. Sisney tried to fire Gerber, Miller, and Brown for these reasons in April 2008.
But Sherri Combs’ audit inadvertently gives away the real story behind the HVAC bidding. The conclusions drawn in the report are completely at odds with the evidence presented.
Emails quoted in the report show that in April 2006, Gary Gerber and Linda Brown, with Bill Miller’s help, created a new process to facilitate HVAC bidding, complete with a quote format. This quote
format contained information about all the HVAC units. Gerber's purpose, stated in his email to Linda Brown, was to allow vendors to bid accurately, and enable apples-to-apples comparisons of
quotes. In April 2006, Gerber and Brown informed Mark Bilby, Director of Purchasing, of the work they were doing. Gerber directed Brown to get Bilby’s input on how best to get companies to consider
the District’s existing HVAC units and buildings when figuring their quotes. On April 19, Brown sent Bilby a draft and asked him to review. All of these emails are quoted in Combs’ audit.
In May 2006, Gerber sent an email to Bilby stating that he "had Linda Brown profile the bid process so they would have better procedures to keep the bid process open to vendors." Combs states that
Gerber forwarded the documents he had created to Bilby.
The audit report uses this communication with Bilby to point out the obvious fact that Gerber and Brown were aware that bidding needed to be done. It ignores the equally obvious revelation that they
discussed the need for bidding with the director of purchasing – so clearly Bilby was aware of not only the need, but also their efforts to fulfill the requirements. How can this be interpreted as an
attempt to avoid bidding procedures?
The report also tries to make Gerber’s quote format out to be a “fake quote”, which he planned to keep handy so he could fool Sisney into thinking bidding was being done properly, in case Sisney
asked. But the emails clearly describe the quote format as a template for vendors to fill in. This was communicated to Bilby, and the quote format itself was emailed to him.
The report tries to characterize the “Confidential” in some of the emails as an attempt by Gerber to keep his work on the "fake quote" a secret from Sisney. But as the emails show, Gerber directed
Brown to communicate their work on the quote process to Bilby, the director of purchasing, who of course reported to Sisney. Why would they have asked the director of purchasing to keep their
attempt at fraud a secret from the superintendent? It doesn’t make sense. The “Confidential” request was clearly meant, as Brown stated, to avoid having the quote format circulated before getting the
superintendent’s or board’s approval. Yet the report claims that Gerber emailed Bilby the fake quote and asked him to keep it a secret unless Sisney asked for it. Huh?
Obviously, Gerber never tried to keep secrets from Bilby; if he had really made a fake quote to fool Sisney, Bilby was fully informed, and was even asked to review it! Yet somehow we're supposed to
believe that informing Bilby of the plan to improve the bid process, asking for his input, and sending him the finished document was Gerber’s sneaky way of keeping Bilby in the dark.
Mark Bilby sent an email to Sisney asking that all processes involving purchasing go through him, not through operations. The audit implies that this happened after Gerber prepared the quote format,
though the date of this email is not given. So we don’t know from the audit report if Bilby ever communicated to Sisney Gerber’s attempt to get bidding done. Either Bilby or Sisney (or both) decided
NOT to use Gerber’s quote process and format, and no bidding was requested in 2006.
Combs’ report shows that, contrary to Sisney’s accusations, Dr. Gerber never tried to cover up the lack of bidding; in fact, it was Gerber who brought it up to the Director of Purchasing and proactively
created a process by which bids could be compared accurately.
The idea that Sisney was surprised by the lack of formal bidding and the use of AA for all HVAC work is just as ridiculous as the conclusions in Combs' audit.. Sisney knew that AA was doing all the
District’s HVAC work, knew about the blanket purchase orders all along, and knew that there was never anything illegal about them. Yet in his lawsuit, he pretends that he “discovered” the “wrongful”
use of blanket purchase orders.
In April 2008, Sisney tried to fire the 3 employees who had worked on developing the quote format, accusing them of illegally and secretly awarding all the work to Air Assurance. Knowing the real
history of who tried to get bidding done (and who knew about it), it seems pretty clear that Sisney was the one who was trying to cover something up.
I don’t believe it was really Sherri Combs who came up with the conclusions in her report; I think they were suggested to her (possibly even written for her). There is no way an objective auditor could
have interpreted the emails as evidence of Gerber being sneaky. How did her report make it through reviews and into exit interviews? Did anyone in the auditor’s office read it? If they read it, they
probably saw what they expected to see, based on the news that was spoon-fed to the media by Sisney and his supporters.
filed it. What happened to the "information I've found, the documents I've collected, and the conversations I've had" that indicated "criminal activities...since at least the 1990's" and "a
massive cover-up scheme", as he claimed in January 2009? Combs' audit is full of conclusions that support Sisney's accusations, but the conclusions themselves are not supported by any
evidence she provided.
|The truth comes out a little at a time...
Assurance, or HVAC, or bidding laws. These were just used as tools in an intimidation attempt, to try to prevent the board members from doing what they had to do. And Stover, Updike, the two
Representative Mikes, the Ledger, Wade, Isbell, Yates, Townsend, Combs, Branch, Vermillion, Tharp, and Snellgrove - all just useful, er, people to Sisney.
This is about Sisney's ego. His inability to control his behavior made it necessary for the board to address it in his contract. He did not want any stipulations added to his contract, especially since his
contract, unlike his evaluations, is available to the public. Now that we have all been treated to a three-year-long temper tantrum, I hope everyone can finally see that the board did what they had to do
in ridding Broken Arrow Schools of this big baby.
So what did we learn (or confirm) from the audit?
Custom Heat and Air is the company that was excluded from bid requests in 2007. This was a judgment call on the District's part, based on a lawsuit ruling against the company for "Professional
Negligence" in 2004. Now we find out:
Bob Townsend picketed at the board meeting with "SYSNEY" signs. He met with Sisney and with Combs, making his false accusations and misleading statements. It is very likely that he and some
of his staff have participated in the online comment attacks on the District, Air Assurance, and board members.
The Combs audit and the real audit indicate that Townsend was behind or involved with the accusations (all proven false) behind these objectives; possibly more:
oversight by anyone else or approval from the board. The recommendation was made to require approval. Simple enough.
The large amount of the stipends, along with the fact that very few people were given them, gives a strong impression of favoritism. The fact that some of the names are at the top of the Sisney
supporter list in this controversy suggests that these stipends were given not just for doing a good job, but as rewards for favors, such as backing Sisney's story of corruption to the auditor, assisting
with PR, and organizing supporters to picket and post online.
No conscientious superintendent would want the freedom to reward any employee any amount at his discretion. The risk of looking unprofessional is too high; handing out money should always be
done in an above-board manner to protect all parties. Any competent administrator knows this.
I wonder if he ever gave himself stipends.
There were failures to follow bidding laws during 2000-2007. The audit confirmed that the person responsible for knowing and making sure bidding laws were followed was the Director of
Purchasing. He was not aware of a change made in the law in 2000 that tightened requirements on bidding for preventative maintenance. Neither was anyone else, apparently including the auditing
firm the District used. The audit concluded that the violations were due to a lack of training, not intentional attempts to bypass laws.
Nothing really noteworthy here - except it makes it very clear that Sisney had absolutely no interest in making sure bidding laws were followed. If that was truly his concern, he would have gone to
his Director of Purchasing, Mark Bilby, and gotten it corrected. Fixing bidding was not what he needed - he needed a controversy that he could pull out of his back pocket to use as leverage; a weapon
that could be used to make certain individuals look very bad in the public eye.
So instead of addressing the bidding procedures, he invented a conspiracy, blamed all the wrong people for the bidding shortcomings, pretended to "investigate" while avoiding alerting any
authorities, refused to discuss certain topics at board meetings, took over the board's agenda, and shut out the board members from the District's legal counsel. He continued to pretend AA had
cheated the district when they had already satisfied all his questions (and those of all five board members), coached board members on how to discredit other board members, scolded board
members in an email to all BA Schools staff, and had his friend Bob Lewis print criticism of others and glowing editorials about Sisney in the BA Ledger. He locked a board member out of the ESC,
gathered payroll information to be used as ammunition against Doug Mann and Dr. Gerber, collected invoices and work orders to be misrepresented as evidence of fraud, and filed a lawsuit against
board members and the District's legal counsel based on the claims he made up.
None of these actions make any sense if Sisney's concern was making sure the District was following bidding laws. They also don't make sense if Sisney really thought there was a conspiracy.
Any responsible superintendent would involve an investigative authority, before allowing any hint of his suspicions to reach the public. Instead, Sisney insisted that he was "investigating", alternately
stating that the District just needed to tighten up its internal procedures and threatening to "go public" with the Air Assurance scandal. A real conspiracy isn't ferreted out by making a lot of noise in the
media, publicly accusing vendors and employees, and filing defamation lawsuits.
All of this oddball behavior was a big hint that there wasn't any conspiracy. In the January 2009 Ledger article, Sisney made some pretty bold claims about having discovered piles of evidence of
massive corruption, but we weren't surprised in December 2009 when he admitted in his deposition that he had absolutely no evidence and couldn't name one law he thought anyone had broken.
lot of noise in the media to fire up the public. This worked pretty well because members of the public typically don't know the technicalities of regulations (nor should they be expected to), and the
circumstances were presented in an incomplete, leading, suspicious-sounding manner.
Some examples debunked by the audit:
Updike's claim that the board's policy committee violated the open meetings act
board. Since the policy committee did not yet exist, and the work was approved in a regular board meeting, there is no open meetings issue here. This was a dishonest attempt to smear the
three, and there is no way Updike didn't know it.
business relationship with Air Assurance. Sisney's brother had advised Sisney to seek out anything that could be held against the board members as a conflict of interest, to make them look
like they had a personal reason for supporting Air Assurance and opposing Sisney. Sisney claimed in his lawsuit that he had received an email saying that Wilkins had worked on a benefits
package for Air Assurance. Simple as that, and the impression is made in the public's mind. "Personal agenda", we heard over and over.
Wilkins did not work on anything relating to Air Assurance, and had not ever met Rampey. The audit found that there was no business relationship between AA and Wilkins' former company,
and even if there had been, it would still not be a conflict of interest because it would be between two private entities.
This was a dishonest attempt to give an impression of bias. Sisney and Richardson probably knew it was not a conflict of interest; if they didn't, they could have found out easily. Instead of
trying to clear it up, Sisney stuck it in his lawsuit and his helpers spread the lie.
Conflict of interest between a board member and Air Assurance involving cruise tickets
person was a travel agent employee was a board member, and come forward out of sincere concern. More likely, considering all the other dirty tricks being played, the former employee was
put up to making the suggestion, possibly by an employer who is a competitor. The travel agent employee has never been a board member. Nothing to see here.
Side note: there are 14 rivers named "Vermillion" in the US and Canada.
Jim Moburg's description of a bribe attempt made by Air Assurance (but not to him)
offering a bribe. Gerber does not remember any conversation involving what sounded like a bribe, and it's unlikely that Gerber would have been in a position to have this conversation with
Rampey anyway; it would have been Miller or Bilby dealing with Rampey's preventative maintenance quote.
Sisney said he heard about the conversation from Beagles, who heard it from Moburg.
Side note: Beagles and Moburg are on Sisney's special gift list. Gerber is not.
purchasing. The audit found that the purchasing department should have asked for written bids on certain projects whose estimates were between needing sealed bids and needing no bids
at all. No intentional wrongdoing was suspected; better organization and procedures was recommended.
Sisney used the confusing requirements and incomplete details to present this as a sinister manifestation of the corruption running rampant at BA Schools. This was a dishonest attempt to
portray certain people as villains, paving the way for his "whistleblower" excuse for getting fired. There is no way he could have really thought maintenance personnel were secretly making
money off splitting bids on these projects, especially right under the purchasing director's nose.
The 77,000 "invoice" that started it all
Understandably, these outraged parents had no idea what they were talking about. It's understandable because Sisney had spread the rumor in a confusing way, to prevent people from
seeing that there was nothing to this "shocking" discovery. He told us that the work had not been requested or approved. This is completely inaccurate.
The "invoice" was really 75 invoices for smaller amounts, totaling about 77,000. They were all for legitimate services performed by Air Assurance over several weeks' time, and they did not
exceed the budget allocation for maintenance and repairs. The District was behind in making sure a sufficient amount were encumbered in advance to cover these invoices, for various
administrative reasons, complicated by a delay in receiving the invoices caused by an ice storm that knocked out power for a week at AA and switching to a new billing system. The problem of
the unencumbered $77,000 was purely an internal administrative mix-up. Not only that, but it had been cleared up months before Sisney's suspension.
Sisney got a lot of mileage out of the $77,000.
Work being done without having work orders first
requested or approved. He backed up this impression (for the easily-led, anyway), with his observations that invoices had been received for preventive maintenance, and then the work orders
entered after that. This is true. Sisney implied that the work order system was part of the work request/payment/encumbrance system; this is not true. It was never a requirement to enter a
work order before preventive maintenance work was done or billed. Sisney knew this.
Like so many other things he "discovered", there is nothing out of the ordinary or sneaky here; he exploited the public's lack of familiarity with the way the District handles business, confused
the issue with irrelevant details, and implied wrongdoing where there was none.
Air Assurance doing unauthorized, unrequested work
encumbrance non-issue, trying to make it out to be unauthorized work that AA just decided on their own to do and bill BAPS for. The audit found that it was all authorized and requested.
The Combs audit claimed that AA had done unauthorized and unrequested work during Spring Break. Spring Break would of course be an ideal time to get HVAC work done, with no one in the
buildings. The implication was that AA had let themselves in and done unauthorized, unnecessary work in order to rip off the District. AA did do some work during Spring Break, but it had been
requested and started before Spring Break.
Paying for a fake insurance policy
lapsed was incorrect, and it was a perfectly legitimate payment on an increased amount that the District had requested.
Gerber shredding documents and taking the shreds home
Gerber did take shreds home, and they were used for packing artifacts when the Historical Society moved.
Supposedly along with the shredding, there were HVAC files missing from Joyce Rich's office and a room where purchase orders were stored. No one ever identified any information that was
The audit found that the fire probably had nothing to do with Air Assurance or BA Schools. But the incident raises some suspicions.
1) Media attention focused immediately on the AA storage unit, even though it was uninvolved in the fire. Why would anybody besides the facility management even know AA had a storage unit there?
How did the story get so quickly from the fire department - complete with implications of AA's guilt - to the media?
2) The affidavit makes it sound like the storage unit was opened and its contents inspected before the search warrant was approved. Why would AA's unit have been opened if the fire didn't reach it?
Who opened it? If it was opened to verify that nothing was smoldering in there, why did fire department personnel go through the boxes stored in it? Were other unaffected units in the area opened?
The leaked audit makes it sound like Fire Marshall Thompson was the one who looked through the contents, and that he found boxes labeled "BA Schools" that contained invoices. In a later interview,
he did not remember seeing boxes labeled "BA Schools". Who reported that he HAD seen these boxes?
3) The affidavit falsely stated that the storage unit contained "Invoices and billing information between Air Assurance and Broken Arrow Schools between January 1, 1998 and this date", and that there
were boxes labeled "BA Schools", and also falsely, that they contained invoices. This could not have been an innocent mistake; there is no way someone would have mistakenly thought the boxes
said "BA Schools" when they said nothing like it, or that they contained invoices when they didn't. There is also no way the author could have known dates on invoices and billing information that
weren't there. This was written intentionally in a way to give the false impression that AA was trying to destroy evidence involved in the investigation. The affidavit said that Fire Marshall Thompson
would verify that he had found these items. The signer of the affidavit is a member of the BA police department, who had access to the police report Sisney had filed, either from the department's
records or from Sisney's team.
4) The investigation was moved from the fire department to the police department because someone in the fire department was leaking information to the media. Since all the media reports showed
AA in a negative light, encouraging readers to jump to the conclusion that they had set the fire to destroy evidence, it's a good bet that the leaker was a Sisney supporter, which explains Suspicions #2
But how did this fire department employee find out so fast that an AA unit was nearby, and manage to capitalize so fast on giving the impression that there were records relevant to the
investigation stored there, and that AA might have set the fire to destroy them? This still doesn't add up. It's as if the affidavit and press stories were prepared before the fire was set, listing
the contents that would throw suspicion on Air Assurance, and giving the fire department an opportunity to search through the contents of the storage unit.
A former AA employee now working for a competitor might have known the location of the storage unit. Someone wanting an excuse to look through the contents of a storage unit would of
course have avoided setting that particular unit on fire.
|The Real Audit, and what it confirms
| Bob Townsend of Custom Heat and Air was a fairly big player in generating the outrage and fanning the flames