School for scandal.
I read something in the Cleveland Daily Banner the other day that amused the heck out of me - Walter Presswood, Chairman of the infamous Bradley County Board of Education complaining that the county commission didn't trust the school board. Who would have thunk it? His remark came in an interview shortly after he learned that the Bradley County Commission would give him more money only if it were spent on a priority basis. They also demanded estimated costs for those priorities, apparently to ensure that what needed to be fixed actually got fixed. In the interview Presswood appeared offended that commissioners would question the integrity of his group or their ability to spend money wisely.
It was comical to think that one of the most unpopular men in the county would actually believe he retained some modicum of respectability after the disgraceful spectacle he has managed for the past few years. Presswood, guided by Steve Bivens and supported by Sheryl Graham, Sandy Wallis and Troy Weathers have systematically destroyed taxpayer faith in the county school system and the morale of the people who work in it. They have, in the name of education prevented parents from voicing concerns at board meetings, strong-armed an unpopular dress code and used faculty and students to intimidate commissioners into allocating increasingly more money. They have ignored a public outcry by building an overly expensive flagship high school in the farthest northern edge of the county and after squandering precious resources, tried to hide shoddy workmanship and massive cost overruns and then embarked on a smear campaign against anyone including commissioners who demanded an explanation.
On top of that, they appointed an unimpressive Director of Schools that spends more time on political manipulation than he does on modeling students. The man they chose to be the guiding light for our children's education seems incapable of answering the simplest questions on student or teacher population and performance but will happily waffle on for an hour about the wonderful job he and his entourage are doing.
It must be obvious to everyone in the community but Presswood that taxpayers expect better. County education is at a stalemate caused by the irresponsible actions Presswood has encouraged He and his group may be in denial but need to understand that they lost the trust of not only the County Commission but the people who foot the bill. It will take people of vision and courage to win the hearts of the taxpayer for the betterment of education and quite obviously Presswood is not the man for the job.
What do you think?
Take part in an online survey which asks should Presswood be encouraged to resign. The survey can be found on The People News home page at:
Stuff the Budget 2
To a outsider, a newspaper editor like myself can seem to be continually griping about something. Because honest government can only exist with oversight and accountability, it was understood by this nation's founding fathers that the press should be encouraged to play a major role as government watchers. Today most of the media has ceased to fulfill this allotted task, instead opting to be tools of government sponsored public relations.
Although we have a lot of good things going on in the local government machine, it is my unpleasant duty to try to identify weaknesses and publish the information for you to decide if they should be fixed or not. Sometimes the system doesn't work the way it should and a zealous politician will try to distort reality in his or her favor. Bill and Hillary Clinton are good examples of this but it is not limited to Democrats.
Last month the headline story in this paper was County Budget Woes, which highlighted the growing county budget as compared to the City of Cleveland. County Executive Gary Davis took exception to the negative publicity regarding the county budget growth of 9.2% ($1,800,000) over last year's and spent much energy doing damage control in the "friendly media" and with personal appearances. The fact is that had Davis left well alone the budget, as with many controversial subjects, would likely have faded in favor of the latest headline but he decided to create a smoke screen to protect his political standing.
All the figures quoted in The People News article were taken from legal notices Davis' office published in the Cleveland Daily Banner, June 26 2003. As with most things in life, Davis' budget is not all bad - it didn't require a property tax increase which is great news but what it did do that is not so great, is line taxpayers up for an increase next year. Spending 9.2% more this year by using some of last year's excess, not only prevented taxpayers from receiving a refund or lowered tax rate for the surplus they paid but it upped the cost of government for next year which is a double whammy.
The surplus to the fund balance was taxpayers money that could have been repaid. Survey after survey has shown that Bradley County citizens not only demand no more tax increases but want a decrease in the size of local government even at the expense of services. Had these surveys not shown this, Davis' actions would not have been an issue. Davis' budget, although not requiring a property tax increase this year, still increased the spending of Bradley County government. He decided to ignore the part of the survey he felt he could not meet this year, which means he is unlikely to hold the line on spending next year. Initially it looked as though Davis was determined to make meaningful changes, get government spending under control and embark on a journey of fiscal responsibility but ultimately he failed to come through. It gives me no pleasure to reveal increased spending of this magnitude but it is my job to report the unpleasantries, then it is for you to decide where the truth lay.
What do you think?