Sunday, June 18, 2006

Allergic to Criticism

Members of the McAllen school district's Community Capital Advisory Committee, which is supposed to make recommendations on how to spend MISD's $98 million bond issue, instead overreact to criticism and try to boot one of their own off the advisory board when he questions the district's spending habits.

I haven't seen any mention of this story yet, so I thought I'd go ahead and point it out. (DISCLOSURE: It's in The Paper of South Texas, and I do freelance work for that publication.)

Committee member John Phillips, who ran for the school board in the last election, thinks the district is spending too much to build the elementary schools that voters OK'd ($10 million in McAllen versus $7 million to $8 million elsewhere in Texas). That was his campaign platform, so the McAllen fat cats with a finger in the bond money pie began a smear campaign against him.
And then on May 2, two weeks before the school board election, [fellow advisory committee member] Nancy Welch proposed an amendment to the CCAC bylaws which would allow the group to kick out any member who presented “false or misleading information” about the bond,” an amendment that seemed aimed at Phillips’ open criticism of bond budget and administration.
Phillips tells 'em to go ahead and try to kick him off the CCAC for exercising his First Amendment rights, threatening a lawsuit. Welch and committee chairman Mike Blum back down, and Phillips stays on the committee, free to continue his criticism.

Voters gave McAllen ISD the keys to the vault, but that doesn't mean the district should be immune to criticism. The fact that they're so sensitive about things makes it look like they have something to hide. I said it before last year's bond election, and I will say it again:
Until we get a majority on the school board willing to stand up for taxpayers instead of their compadres, nothing will change. And until then, we shouldn’t give the school district any more of our money. I wouldn’t trust them with 50 cents for the Coke machine, much less a $98 million bond package.
So far, the McAllen school district has done nothing to prove me wrong.


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