The last time we ripped apart one of Eric Flack’s (WAVE3) stories, we stopped short of calling his work absolutely terrible. Yes, good reporters can do terrible work.
So let’s do that now: Eric Flack is doing terrible work and ought to be replaced when his contract is up. Because he’s doing terrible work and edges on being a generally awful, unethical reporter. Goodness knows WAVE has replaced better reporters for lesser reasons on countless occasions.
From filing open records requests on family members (that’s why we redacted the person’s name – it was a relative!) under the guise of researching Jefferson County Public Schools to pulling things out of his rear end? Well, it’s time to completely write the dude off as serious.
He’s trying to play the role of JCPS expert while having no business covering the school system. He’s trying to discuss an audit (along with re-hyping the bogus story we hit him on the last time) from Adam Edelen that hasn’t even begun to be wrapped up. He’s going out of his way on social media to create hype where there is none. To Edelen’s credit, he’s tried to calm him down.
But the latest move by Flack to appear on 84WHAS to trash talk is ridiculous. Flack appeared on-air with Mandy Connell’s replacement, Leland Conway – someone who has been pretty loud in the state about trashing public education. More to the point: he’s one of those religious charter tea school folks. Flack provided his opinion on several issues and went so far as to make claims about the Jefferson County Teachers Association meddling in snow days. Claims so absurd that JCTA called in to the show to correct him.
We’ll overlook the nonsensical rant Flack went on about families losing money because they have to reschedule vacations due to snow. Let’s focus on a bit of what he said about JCPS and JCTA:
Conway: There’s not even a willingness to look at trying to be flexible for the sake of appearances.
Flack: There are union issues here at work. I don’t know the ins and outs of em and I don’t … we have a very, very strong teachers’ union here … that doesn’t just necessarily agree to everything that the school district wants to do. Just because it might be in the best interest of scheduling.
Teachers work a long time and they’re not necessarily open to being kept longer just because that exactly what would be best for the schedule.
Conway: That’s interesting because in yours and my world, if you get called in to do storm coverage, LAUGHTER, we gotta show up. MORE LAUGHTER
Flack: That’s true, that’s true. But, the, the, the union, the teachers’ union world is a little bit different. And they, they have a strong negotiating power and they have a big say when it comes to work.
Conway: Which I think is at the expense of the parents. Listen, I found the story interesting and that’s why I called you. Because I just thought, you know, there’s a lot of, it sounds, on the surface you go, “Aw, wah wah, somebody’s vacation.” But when you think about it, when you start talking about booking to Florida or some families might book a cruise or some families might want to go somewhere, you’ve gotta do that way out in advance, especially in today’s economy to save a few bucks here and there.
It actually is a pretty big deal and if these families are getting hit with 5, 600 bucks they weren’t expecting because, you know, we’re inflexible and uncreative, I find a problem with that on behalf of the taxpayers.
Flack: Absolutely and, you know, it’s, it’s unfortunate, it’s putting a real wrench into peoples’, uh, plans. And, you know, travel insurance won’t even, basic travel insurance doesn’t even help in situations like this because it’s basically not covered.
The call ended and Conway went on a rant:
Conway: If you’ve got a union that’s standing in the way of common sense solutions, is it pretty hard for you to wrap your head around the fact that in some cases they’re not really keeping you, the taxpayer, the funder of their salaries, the, the, the customer on the customer end, they’re not keeping you in mind? Because they don’t want to work a little later?
Because, like I said, in Raleigh, North Carolina, … they’re doing school on Saturdays. That, that, that is, in, in, the thing about that is, is that that displaces parents and teachers. It’s kind of a hey, we’re a community, come together, we didn’t expect this this winter, so let’s figure it out. Everybody’s got skin in the game. Parents don’t necessarily want to give up their Saturdays to take Little Johnny to school and neither do the kids. But you gotta do it or else everybody gets inconvenienced at the end of the year.
Bottom line is: The reason why they cancel school at the drop of the hat – there’s some safety concerns included but they’re gonna tell you it’s all safety – it’s not all safety. If 90% of the roads are clear but 10% are not, they don’t get the funding for the 10% of kid they don’t pick up in the bus. That’s part of what goes into the snow days decision. They’re not gonna like me saying that but it’s the truth.
The show went on break and when it returned, Conway made the typical global warming-denying teabagger commentary and promptly got back on the anti-union wagon.
He also took a few calls. One of them was from DeeAnn Flaherty, Executive Director of JCTA:
Conway: Thanks for callin in, whattya got?
Flaherty: I’d actually heard that Eric Flack had basically kinda laid the blame at our feet in terms of saying that we were inflexible, um, and, that’s really not the truth.
In, In terms of the calendar, the school board controls the calendar. They determine makeup days and they determine, um, if you realize a couple weeks ago, they voted in, in, to take the days in February and things like that. Um, we have never been approached officially about going longer hours. We were approached um, what I would say, “Well, hey, you know, what about something like this?” And we said, well, you know, we might be able to make something like that work. Like that other teacher said.
We have a lot of teachers that might prefer to go longer in the day than to go longer into the summer. Because it’s not just the parents that you’re talking about with vacation plans. We have teachers with vacation plans.
Conway: So you guys are more flexible than maybe the, uh, the, the school board is making it seem.
Flaherty: I don’t even know if it’s really the school board that’s making it out that we’re unflexible (sic). Um, you know, I apologize, I was actually phoned and told that this conversation was happening and that we were being, uh, called out as being, um, uh, unflexible(sic). And so, um, all I heard was that, uh, that the school board had said that, you know, that the law doesn’t allow it.
I can’t speak to that, I’m, I’m driving in my vehicle right now so I couldn’t really look up the law for you. But, if it’s a possibility, we don’t, we don’t ever turn our noses to anything to try to make things easier.
Conway: What do you think of the way, like, and I gave the example of I’ve got family in Raleigh, North Carolina and they had obviously less snow days than us but the most, they had like a record number of snow days – seven – which is like, we’d be like, oh, that’s fine. … It’s a really big deal for them and so what they did is they’re going to Saturday school, um, for like the next seven weeks to try to make it up.
Is that something you guys would consider either, you know, as an either or partly we’ll do an extra hour a day or we’ll do an extra day a week or whatever. Is that something you guys would be willing to have laid on the table to avoid screwing up everybody’s vacation?
Flaherty: You know, something like that, that’s a big deal. It would be something that, and I know it’s, it’s a lot of people think that we operate in a void and that we don’t actually check with our members on issues, that would be something that we would, we would take to our membership and say, “Hey, what do you all think about this?” So, I mean, again, we’re not shutting the door to anything.
Conway: Let me ask you a question because I remember a couple weeks ago – we’re talking to DeeAnn, she is, uh, the executive director of the teachers association – it, something perked my interest a couple weeks ago, there was a news story floatin around about how the JCPS board had met and they were havin to decide, um, you know, what to do about snow days and all that kinda stuff. And I thought, it’s kind of interesting, it fascinated me that we had this big meeting to make a decision about whether or not we were gonna use snow days that were already available to us.
Is, are you guys a part of that process or did they just —
Conway: Okay, that seems odd. That seems like you ought to be a part, the teachers ought to be a part of it and then we would be able to work these things out. Everybody would be in the same room together.
Flaherty: … Let me clarify that. In terms of, obviously, we don’t have a vote at the table. Um, we, uh, they do, they will ask our opinion, “what do you think about this?” and what we try to do is, we try to give them the good, the bad and the ugly. But ultimately, in terms of the final decisions that are made, the calendar belongs to the school board.
Conway: Yeah, that’s interesting.
Uh, you know, just basic reporting that Flack could have and should have done before getting on the radio to run his mouth with Mandy Connell Junior. Which is exactly what he did in an attempt to show some sort of bizarre prowess.
Snark and innuendo is fine when you’re communicating as a columnist. But Flack appeared on the radio under the guise of journalism and WAVE3 News. If this were Toni Konz of the Courier-Journal editorializing and making inaccurate claims? Gannett would have fired her a couple days ago.
No wonder we hear through the grapevine that JCTA (an organization we love to hate here, mostly because of Brent McKim) was considering a lawsuit on behalf of one of its teachers for the way Flack treated them during his ridiculous travel story.
The bad reporting just won’t quit. P.S. For those unfamiliar with Leland Conway, he’s a used car salesman who worked in Lexington for a bit. He’s excused racism in the past, intentionally misinformed people about the tea party, repeatedly furthered liberal boogeyman myths and allows his own racial ignorance to pervade everything he does.