Seems that someone has hung a FOR SALE sign on the Montgomery County Board of Education and a bidding war has broken out.
Of the seven seats on this board, five of them are being contested this year. Two incumbents are not running for re-election, three are.
Officially there are 23 candidates for these five seats. I say “officially” because there are four names on the list done after qualifying months ago that I’ve not seen hide nor hair of at any candidate forums.
The election is June 5. So financial info is available from the Secretary of State’s office through May 25. This makes for interesting reading, especially when you also look at money being raised and spent by a group that goes by MGM NXT PAC on the Secretary of State website.
Mayor Todd Strange, the chamber of commerce and folks described as “young professionals” by the mayor have talked for months about an effort to “Boot the Board” in this election. They are referring to an attempt to put hand-picked candidates on the school board.
I have no problem with concerned citizens organizing for a common goal. Except when you look at the 87 individuals and eight businesses who have contributed to this PAC, you can’t help but wonder where they have all been as local schools have been declining for years.
What is their track record of being involved with our public schools? Do they have children or grandchildren attending MPS schools? How many public schools have they been in during the last 12 months? How many PTA meetings have they gone to?
In all this group has raised $71,762 for their PAC. The AVERAGE individual donation is $559.65. The AVERAGE business donation is $2,84.37. Having been around politics for 40+ years, contributions this size are not ordinary at all. (The largest contribution my campaign has gotten from an individual is $500. And I just got one of those.)
And what are these good folks doing?
Well in the last week they spent $52,962.30. Some $24,850 went to Montgomery political consultant Dave Mowery and $25,824 went to consultants in North Carolina Mowery has a relationship with.
Obviously, this money is not being spent willy nilly. It apparently is intended to help a hand-picked slate of three candidates.
The key to figuring out who the anointed candidates are is to look closely at their own financial forms. They are all getting substantial funding from homebuilders and realtors.
When you dig, you find they are Republican Ted Lowry in District Two (my opponent who ran the negative robo calls against me last week): a Republican in District Five and a Democrat in District Six.
In total, all candidates running for these five seats have received $13,845 in PAC money.
But 94.5 percent of it went to the three candidates just named. A coincidence? What do you think?
(District Three candidate Phillip Ensler got $250 from a PAC in Tuscaloosa and I got $500 from someone who also went to Auburn and makes political contributions through a PAC.)
Which all brings us to the $64 million question. How were these three people selected? Standard procedure is that in such cases a screening committee will interview all contenders, compare them, and make recommendations.
It this happened in this case, I never got the memo. Nor can I find anyone else who did.
Or was this done in a dimly lit back room full of cigar smoke?
We constantly hear criticism of the MPS board about lack of transparency. You mean like the process being used to try and buy a new school board?
I have written before about distrust being the cancer that is killing this school system. What is going on in Montgomery right now is just another example of what I’m talking about.