I hope people understand what has happened, a political thriller to wild for even Hollywood
If what has happened over the summer was put into a movie script people would say it was to unbelievable.
The school board decided that inaction was no longer a strategy and began the process of documenting our district’s needs and informing the public.
They had over 20 community meetings, conducted an on-line survey and developed a plan they put on their web-site.
They then decided they need a half cent sales tax to help fix the issues and passed a resolution calling for a referendum to be put on the ballot in November. I thought we should have done a millage increase because lost in this is that our staff are some of the lowest paid in the nation, but at the end of the day I acknowledged that more resources are better and the school board had the final say.
Unfortunately, the city council disagreed with the school board and most of the city who support the referendum and used a memorandum from a junior attorney in the office of general council to usurps the school boards authority where they ignored statutes and changed the meaning of the word they.
When they did so many council members would say things like, we acknowledge the money is desperately needed and the school board should control what happens in our schools, but…
Later it turned out the memorandum was just an opinion that the OGC let people believe had the force of law and when this was revealed the lead city attorney promised to come up with an official ruling at some point.
The mayor, the city council and a group of influential donors called the civic council with close ties to charter schools then engaged in delaying tactics and specious arguments to try and derail the referendum, catching most people off guard because who wouldn’t want to improve our schools? The major sticking point was the civic council wants a proportional share of the tax revenue guaranteed to charter schools an ammount that would be in the hundreds of millions.
While this was going on two top lieutenants of Mayor Curry arguably tried to extort nearly a half million dollars out of the school district in the guise of lobbying. They offered the school board things they did not want, the referendum moved to 202o and hundreds of millions for charters. Later Mousa after this came out, received a no bid, no outlined responsibilities six figure gig from the city.
Did I mention while all this was going on the city was engaging in several municipal projects costing millions of dollars (the sale of fire house 5, the closing and demolition of the landing and lot J) that had little public input and it would be charitable to say were light on details.
Back to the referendum. The district despite being told by the OGC they couldn’t hire an outside attorney, in a blatant conflict of interest because OGC represents both them and the city and they have competing interests, hired three of the most respected lawyers in town who disagreed with the OGC’s original memo. The mayor in response then tweeted that these liberal lawyers were trying to usurp the city, pretty ironic when you consider what has happened, and implied the city attorney who is beholden to the mayor for his job better come up with a ruling he likes.
Finally, if all that wasn’t enough, a local state legislator proposed taking away the citizens right to vote and making so the school board appointed by the mayor. He was also a former school board member and also takes tons of money from the same donors, the civic council who support the mayor and several members of the city council.
A movie producer would look at this and say, all that’s to unbelievable even for Hollywood.
This is where we find ourselves, this is us, this is Jacksonville.