Monday, September 22, 2014

BOE chair race getting interesting

McMillan, left, Harris, right
In August, just days before the Knox County Board of Education met to pick a new chairperson, a number of folks reached out to newly sworn-in interim member John Fugate, hoping to get him to vote for Doug Harris.

He didn’t. In fact, he nominated Harris’ opponent, Mike McMillan.

The vote, as you know by now, was a 4-4 draw. The board then opted to wait for Patti Bounds to return from a trip. They’ll vote again in early October.

The thought at this point is that Patti will vote for McMillan. And, there are quite a few folks freaking out at the prospect of Superintendent Jim McIntyre’s biggest foe leading the board.

They don’t want him. Heck, many don’t even like him.

They’re digging up what are questionable actions from morethan six years ago (encouraging his students to ditch class to take an easier exam, and being in possession of some “inappropriate” book that no one can explain exactly what was in it, and one that he confiscated from a student).

They’re calling Mike a career politician, which is bull, because he held only part-time elected jobs while working for full time.

And, they’re touting Doug’s leadership as a successful businessman, and his good work in the nonprofit sector – all which is true.

What they’re not telling you, though, is that this isn’t really a contest between Doug and Mike.  It’s not a vote for Doug the businessman. It’s not a vote for Mike the guy who wanted his students to take easy tests.

No, this is about the administration and the direction a possible majority of the school board want to take the overall school system. It’s also about how discussion and debate on the board is managed. That’s what the vote is about.

This has little to do with the candidates, other than Doug is administration friendly and Mike isn’t. (And for the record, I like both of them.)

Doug was picked because Lynne Fugate – who is aligned in what is presumed to be a 4-member voting bloc – opted not to seek re-election for the chair seat, saying some view her as “divisive.” He’s that bloc’s best chance.

Mike was picked because he’s the longest standing member in what is presumed to be a 5-member voting bloc. The other four in his group are brand new. That’s not only courtesy to nominate him, but that’s smart. You put the one with experience in as chair – not the newest member who probably has no clue how to run a meeting.

Now, all that said, there’s a movement to bump Mike from the running. There’s some folks working the lines to get Patti Bounds or Terry Hill in as chair. (Again, presumably they’re in the same voting bloc as McMillan.) The thought is that they would be less divisive.

Supporters of the four-member pro administration crew feel they can better work with Bounds or Hill, instead of McMillan.

I don’t know. I think it’s pretty presumptuous to think one can work better than the other when none of them have held the seat before.

Still, the McMillan foes are out. You’ve got folks emailing board members, pretty much harassing them, about the vote, and – again – digging up McMillan’s past. (Seriously, five emails in two days is not just overkill – but KRAZY. Heh.)

These folks, however, fail to acknowledge that during the last election they supported and befriended a certain BOE candidate who beat the holy heck out of a woman in a parking lot.

Hypocritical? I don’t know. Short on memory? Yeah, probably.

Anyhoo, they’re out there. And others are pitching stories to news organizations, starting letter campaigns, blah, blah, blah.

And that’s cool. That’s how this works. Course I’m not sure why some are bothering the media. It’s the nine board members who actually vote for the chair and should do their own research. The public already voted in the members. Heck, the public has spoken.

But, I’ll do my part. (Hey, I was actually encouraged by one of them to blog about it.)

I’ll get on the bandwagon.

Here ya go:

There are other choices than McMillan. I said it.

However, there are also other choices than Harris.


My guess, though, is that it will be those two in the final showdown.

Because the people who nominate them know that it’s really not about them. It’s about something else.

Here’s what Jack McElroy over at the Sentinel had to say about it, RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Here’s what Sandra Clark over at the Shopper had to say, RIGHT SMACK HERE.

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