Tim is on the right track here. The focus belongs on the three board members who did this to Rochester: Malik Evans, Melisza Campos, Jose Cruz. Why?
While we wish her good health, and every kind of personal well being, Cynthia Elliott is not an appropriate choice to lead the city school board. Readers of this publication are very familiar with the reasons.
There was her celebrated and repeated public bursts of profanity at a board meeting, and later to media, just prior to the 2009 election. There was her climb down from the stage to intimidate a union leader, who expressed an opinion that offended her at a board meeting. There has been her too frequent failure to perform the most basic board responsibilities, attend meetings, attend important job interviews, and prepare for board work. Health, which did not prevent her from running again last year, does not account for most of this. There has been her regular and cynical resort to appeals to racial animosity. There was her indecent circulation of the troubled musings of a child of a prominent union leader, about that union leader's divorce. There is her support for abolishing the school board she collects a salary to serve on, and continues to run for, coupled with her disproportionate contribution to making that board a laughing stock, which fuels the mayoral control movement. This is just a partial list.
When it is politically convenient , some people excuse Elliott's conduct by saying "well, she is just so passionate in her concern for children...." This is not just hogwash, it is offensive hogwash. There is zero evidence she cares more about kids than any board member she has served with. Quite the opposite.
I have served on 3 elected public school boards, and I served with Elliott, Evans, and Campos. I observed Elliott's performance to be almost completely devoid of either decency or good faith. I know Evans and Campos observed the same thing, and we talked about it many times. It is deeply disappointing, even shocking, that these two board members would do such a manifestly irresponsible thing.
We can speculate about motives. Cruz ran against Gantt in 2012, rendering his support for Elliott particularly hypocritical. Campos supported Cruz. Both barely won their last board primary. Evans endorsed Richards, believing he was on the winning side. Perhaps these three were trying to get right with Gantt. Evans resents Willa Powell's run for assembly in 2010, which he believes cost him the seat won by Harry Bronson (BTW, Howard, Joe Morelle is no ally of Powell), Why would the board elect and then rebuke Van White? Is Gantt's Mayoral Control law, or a state takeover of city schools on tap? Elliott's antics in a more visible position might grease the skids. We can only guess.
We can be sure of this, however. Whatever silly political game playing led to this, it was not done in the public interest. Evans and Campos face reelection next year. I like them personally. We worked well together. They have sought and had my support in the past. I want a better explanation than they have given, and so do a lot of other people. The Democratic Committees in the southeast part of the city, whose members have expressed concern about Elliott before, might be a good place to start. We can't blame this one on Gantt, folks. The board members who did this must be accountable.
Two points: Lovely Warren should debate Alex White, and equating public debate between candidates with private editorial endorsement processes is ridiculous.
That Warren is heavily favored to win is no excuse for ducking debates. She was heavily favored to lose the primary and we saw what happened. Moreover, who is favored to win has nothing to do with it. Ms. Warren has a moral obligation. Forums which took place during the primary do not excuse her from such scrutiny in the general. A debate between Alex and Lovely would be good for them both, and for the city. I hope Lovely will reconsider, and honor the desire for a more inclusive civic life here, which helped drive her own primary victory. I would qualify this by pointing out that the format, the rules, the questioners, and other such matters, are legitimate topics for negotiation and clarity between campaigns and debate sponsors. Advance attention has not always been given such matters in the past, and fair play has been diminished.
I take strong exception to Christine's assertion that failure to seek editorial endorsement of a publication is similar to ducking public debate. This community suffers from power being too closely held by manifestly unserious people. This was vividly on display last summer, when an unconsciously humorous sense of entitlement was expressed by one of our local Press Lords. City publisher Towler attempted to smear Lovely Warren as implying she had this newspaper's endorsement when she did not. I am not a supporter of Warren, but Warren did no such thing. Warren accurately quoted flattering things City newspaper, which endorsed Mayor Richards, had said about her. Towler's response was to grumpily suggest she would never say anything favorable again about a candidate she didn't endorse. This is a very revealing insight into Towler's thinking, and ought to establish her as exactly the sort of Rochester "opinion leader" we all should pay less attention to.
To go hat in hand to Ms. Towler, Mr. Lawrence, or any other self serving and self selected arbiter of the "public interest," to privately plead for their support, is NOT the same thing as a lengthy and uncensored public debate between candidates.
These "endorsement processes" are particularly demeaning to candidates, and their supporters, who observe a lack of open mindedness, or even simple honesty, by the stewards of such media outlets. It is lunacy to expect such candidates to legitimize such media outlets, or the temporary stewards of such outlets, particularly in this era of more partisan media, and declining standards of media conduct. A journalistic institution that conducts itself ethically will usually command the trust, respect, and cooperation extended a mediating institution in a community. Institutions that do not conduct themselves reasonably -- and City and the D&C certainly do not -- will find candidates, community leaders, and the public in general stepping around them, and it is long overdue here.
So Ken took the signs down and apologized? Wimp. No wonder he lost. I had a similar experience in my first school board race in Hilton. I took the signs down, apologized, and blamed John Abbott.
A decade ago I called for a return to nonpartisan board elections, a far better governance reform than mayoral control. A return to neighborhood schools has also long been warranted. Having spent several years (to no avail) howling at the moon in support of these ideas, it is nice to see them taken up again. Thanks to Van for raising them, and to City newspaper for drawing attention to them.
Website powered by Foundation