Maybe the real game plan in the Larry DiChiara-Phenix City Board of Education impasse is to drag the whole thing out so long that everybody will be too sick of it to ask any more questions.
Just kidding. We think.
The latest development is Russell County Circuit Judge Albert Johnson's Wednesday order that the former Phenix City superintendent and the board that wants to send him packing go back into mediation. There have already been two long mediation sessions, which moved this curious mess exactly nowhere. Maybe if a third one fails, the sides should take a cue from pro sports and consider arbitration: Each side submits a number, and an arbitrator has to pick one or the other. No compromise.
It makes as much sense as any of the rest of this.
Most people know the basics of the story, but just to recap: Last November the school board voted, unanimously and with no public explanation, to attempt a buyout of the remaining 4½ years of the contract with Alabama's 2011 Superintendent of the Year. A Ledger-Enquirer open records request resulted in disclosure of an unsent letter from DiChiara to the state superintendent, accusing the board of misconduct. DiChiara agreed not to send the letter when the board consented to mediation led by the Alabama School Boards Association.
In December, DiChiara filed suit challenging the board's offer, and that's basically where this has been stuck ever since.
What is particularly galling is the near-total lack of accountability from either side. A clause in the pending buyout contract reportedly binds DiChiara and the board to an agreement not to badmouth each other. How a "pending" contract binds anybody to anything is a question those of us unschooled in the law might be tempted to ask, but in any case a code of silence seems to be the only thing the parties in this long-running divorce have agreed on.
So Phenix City taxpayers will almost certainly be on the hook for a high six-figure check that pays an educator not to work for the next few years. And it looks more and more as if nobody will ever have to tell them why.
Say it ain't so, Andy
This might be the easiest criminal threat authorities have ever had to deal with.
An inmate named Anders Behring Breivik isn't happy at his lockup in Stavanger, Norway. In case the name doesn't ring a bell, Breivik is the malevolent cockroach who shot down a few dozen kids at a Norwegian summer camp in 2011.
Now Breivik, calling his prison conditions "torture," has threatened to go on a hunger strike until he gets access to video games, a sofa and a bigger gym.
Perhaps Norwegian authorities should take a few months and think it over.