NEVER did I think that when I decided to run for the Montgomery school board things would turn as ugly, disgusting and sickening as they have.
And sadly, I have learned that there are some who put politics WAAY above anything that may benefit the school children of the state. It turns my stomach.
With the primary election three weeks away on June 5th, I am now being challenged about running on the Republican ballot. Though I was already challenged before the Montgomery County GOP in March and approved unanimously, I am now being challenged at the state level.
Terry Lathan is chair of the Alabama Republican Party. Sick and tired of the gossip and untruths being tossed around by certain people apparently wanting to handpick a Republican candidate (there are only two Republicans running for school board district two), following is part of an email I sent Ms. Lathan:
“I write in regards to the challenge to my being a Republican candidate for the Montgomery county board of education.
A year ago, running for any office at any level was the absolute last thing on my mind. I was busy writing my blog about public education (www.larryeducation.com), working on various education projects and generally enjoying retirement.
In early January my friend Durden Dean, Republican county school board member, told me he was moving to North Carolina and would not seek re-election. He encouraged me to run.
I considered doing so because I have a great deal of knowledge of the woeful state our public school system here is in and felt that my track record of involvement in public education could serve this system well.
Since I know Montgomery GOP chair Pat Wilson well, I called her and asked what was involved in qualifying. (I have no clue who her counterpart is with Montgomery Democratic party.)
I qualified on Jan. 29, paid my $200, and started putting a campaign together. Several weeks after this I learned my candidacy as a Republican was being challenged. There is only one other candidate in the Republican primary.
Honest, that night was rather weird. When I got to the appointed place, a man I had never met greeted me and told me how much he enjoyed my blog and agreed with it. Then he told me he was there to challenge me.
He said that he was neither a Republican or a Democrat and I really never understood on what basis he brought the challenge.
I made my presentation to the local committee, including documentation of contributions to Republican candidates, such as Jo Bonner, Martha Roby, and our mutual friend David Wheeler. In 2016 I also gave $1,000 to Adam Bourne of Chickasaw who was running for the state school board.
I was called later that night and told that the committee voted unanimously to allow me to run.
I assumed that was that. But was I wrong.
Perry Hooper, Jr. sent you a three-page letter on April 26 protesting my candidacy.
Since this was signed by Perry, the assumption would be he originated the challenge.
But that does not appear to be the case at all. At a local GOP event on May 5, Pat Wilson asked Perry why he was challenging me. He told her that “they” brought him the info and asked him to do it. He also told Pat that “they” was Will Fuller, a member of the Young Alabama group.
Earlier this past week Bill Britt talked to Fuller and was told that Perry was the “stooge” they were using for the challenge.
Which brings me to this point. If a letter of challenge is signed by someone, isn’t it normal to assume they are acting on their own–not fronting for another party?
Someone should ask Perry if he received any compensation for doing this. If this were the case, then he was simply selling his seat on the executive committee for personal gain.
As you recall, Perry was involved last fall in a situation in Crenshaw County where he attempted to interfere with the local GOP organization.
I attach the letter you wrote to Perry after this episode.
And I cut and paste part of this letter.
While the apology you sent to the Crenshaw County chairman is appreciated, the ALGOP Steering Committee wants to make it clear that we support our county parties and their respective chairmen to handle their business. We need everyone to work in concert with our groups and respect their authority.
Which begs the question of why it appears that one standard was applied to Crenshaw County–but is not being applied to Montgomery?
Perry also spoke in his challenge about the fact that I once had a small contract with AEA. (Of course, he never mentioned that I also had contracts with the Council for Leaders of Alabama Schools (CLAS) and the School Superintendents of Alabama)
I did have a contract with AEA for several months. One day I ran into Henry Mabry at the statehouse (then exec secretary of AEA) and he told me he enjoyed my blog and asked who paid me to do it. I told him no one, that all the expenses and travel associated with it came out of my pocket. He suggested that they could give me $2,000 a month to defray expenses. Being retired with no income other than a social security check, I was glad to get it.
NEVER did anyone with AEA ask me to write anything on the blog or give me any kind of direction as to editorial content.
The particular irony here is that at the same time I was getting $2,000 a month from AEA, Perry, his father and his brother were collectively getting $16,000 a month from them.
I attach an AEA document that verifies this.
This past week Todd Stacy, who does a political news blog, questioned Perry about his AEA money. Here is his response:
I asked Hooper about it. He said former AEA head Henry Mabry contracted him for strategic counsel on rebranding the organization to Republican voters and redirecting its objectives within the GOP supermajority in the Legislature.
“I gave advice to help Henry chart a more conservative path. We tried to find ways to change AEA for the better, to find common ground for them with Republicans,” Hooper told me.
And he and his family were getting $16,000 A MONTH for doing this?
The other issue this seems to have some up in arms is that I voted in the Democratic primary in the special election in 2017.
I was NOT going to vote for Roy Moore. So, I voted in the Dem primary. Here is the real irony to me, had I voted in the GOP primary and then voted for Doug Jones in the general no one would be saying a word.
However, that would have been dishonest.
But apparently, we’re in a situation where honesty means little.
I was not an elected official in 2017, nor a candidate, nor an official with any political party. I had signed no loyalty oath.
Let me close by saying that had I had any inkling when I qualified in January that i would be involved in this mess, I WOULD NEVER have signed up.
This school system is a WRECK of the highest order. We desperately need good leadership. However, it is obvious that the well-being of the 29,000 students in our public schools is not being considered in the least bit in this matter. Instead, we are once again using children as the rope in a political tug of war.
This is shameful.
Jo Bonner and I have been great friends since 1982. We have had many conversations about why it is so hard to get decent people to seek political office.
What I am now going through is exhibit A.
June 5 is three weeks from this Tuesday. But here I sit, having spent $19,000 telling folks to vote for me in the Republican primary and I’m left to twist in the wind.
God help us all.
At this point I am so beaten down about all of this and so disgusted that politics of this nature is being used at the local school board level, I don’t know how to feel.
However, if you are going to kick me out, please go ahead and do it. Enough of this Chinese water torture.
I have no clue how this will all turn out. But I do know that all of this has NOTHING to do with better educating our children.