Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The District 6 plot thickens

Update to correct party tally: There are six unaffiliated, four Republican and two Democratic applicants. I've been labeling E. Thomas Bowers a Democrat, based on his Facebook page describing his political views as "Progressive Democrats" (tried to look up his registration, but "E" doesn't work for the online search). Yesterday political consultant Lawrence Shaheen, who was Tim Morgan's campaign manager, tweeted that Bowers was a registered Republican. We were both wrong: Bowers told me this morning that he was a Democrat until President Obama supported the Bush tax cuts, at which point he switched to unaffiliated.

There weren't a lot of shocking statements when the 12 applicants for the vacant District 6 school board seat spoke Tuesday.  But the fact that newly elected board Chair Ericka Ellis-Stewart and Vice Chair Mary McCray wrote up questions for the candidates without consulting their colleagues  --  and that those questions included nothing specific about District 6  --  may fuel speculation that suburban Republicans Tim Morgan and Rhonda Lennon will find themselves on the sidelines of the selection.

Lennon confronted Ellis-Stewart about that at the end of the meeting,  urging applicants to email her to tell her what they consider the top issues for the south suburban district and how those differ from the issues for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as a whole.  Morgan,  whose at-large election created the two-year vacancy,  stayed quiet at the meeting but said afterward he'd also have liked to ask about district specifics.  McCray, a District 6 resident elected at large,  asked that all board members get copies of applicants' answers.

Most of the speculation has swirled around Wilhelmenia Rembert,  one of two Democratic applicants  (the other is the Rev. Amelia Stinson-Wesley; read all applications here).  Rembert was appointed to an at-large seat on the school board in 1998, elected countywide in 1999 and defeated in 2003.  She was then elected to an at-large commissioners' seat in 2004 and defeated in 2006. She chaired the school board and was vice chair of the county commissioners.  She's a longtime resident of south suburban Charlotte  --  she lives just inside I-485 -- but it's far from clear that her own district would elect her,  given its tendency to choose Republicans.  However, Democrats hold five of the eight board seats that will be voting on the appointment.

Morgan,  who spent a good bit of the campaign reminding people that he would not get to hand-pick his successor,  said Tuesday that  "I have a favorite,"  but wouldn't name that person.  My guess,  confirmed by someone who probably knows,  is David Knoble.  Like Morgan,  Knoble is a Republican with ties to the homebuilding industry and a history of Boy Scout leadership.  He talked about some of the same issues Morgan does,  such as refining the current plan to "incentivize teachers" and saving money on transportation and school cafeterias.  And he's got kids in a suburban school,  Community House Middle.

A question that could arise is whether the newly elected at-large members will recuse themselves from voting on people who contributed to their campaigns.  Ellis-Stewart got donations from Rembert and Republican applicant Bolyn McClung,  and Morgan got a donation from McClung.  McCray said none of the applicants donated to or volunteered in her campaign.

Two applicants,  Angelica Castaneda-Noorbakhsh and Aida Bertsch,  told the board they could be a voice for the growing Hispanic minority.  Both are unaffiliated voters from Colombia.  So far the CMS board has not had a Latino member.

Most applicants talked about their passion for public education,  their experience in business and/or civic life,  and the importance of hiring a good superintendent, spending wisely,  supporting teachers and building community trust and involvement.  There's always at least one applicant who uses the process to  tweak the noses of the school board,  and Larry Bumgarner filled that role Tuesday.  He opened his 10-minute question-and-answer period by asking how he could get his parking validated,  then told the members he didn't want to emulate them,  urged them to "take the blinders off, folks,"  and riffed on the "crappy cars" that many teachers drive.

There's bound to be a whole lot of phone-calling, emailing and horse-trading going on between now and 4 p.m. Thursday,  when the board reconvenes to make a choice. Public comments won't be allowed at that meeting,  but constituents are free to offer their views to the board (contact information here).


Anonymous said...

Gee Mr. Morgan, thanks for "staying quiet" in the meeting. District 6 could have used your help today but, once again, nothing.....

Anonymous said...

By running for the at large seat, Tim Morgan put the nail in the coffin of CMS's early efforts to reform itself.

School accountability and testing will be scaled way back. Pay for performance will be terminated, while pay-for-years-on-the-job will be considered sacrosanct. Before long, Mr. Broad may ask for his prize back.

Wiley Coyote said...

If Rembert gets the seat, CMS will be set back 20 years.

She did her part to ensure CMS stayed in the dark ages.

I'll be waiting to see how McCray and Stewart vote, particularly Stewart.

If Stewart votes for Rembert, then none of her comments in her Observer Viewpoint piece won't mean squat.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 7:47
We can only hope Mr. Broad asks for his prize back....

AnswerMan said...

Wiley is pretty close. Ellis-Stewart essentially got a mandate in the election, winning or finishing 2 or 3 all over the county. If she pushes Rembert through after pushing McCray as the Vice Chair, she will lose all credibility and be exposed as someone who is mainly about race.

The legislature will take over CMS districting and gerrymander at least 4 to be Republican, and that, with voter anger, will mean a hard swing right in 2013. And her legacy will be more like George Dunlap's than George Battle's.

Anonymous said...

"It's far from clear that her own district would elect her (Sr. Rembert), given its tendency to choose Republicans".

I suspect the district would not choose her because as school board chair she was openly disdainful of suburbanites. She has never shown concern for those living in her district so why would they vote for her?

Perhaps if Eric Davis resigns before his term is up Arthur Griffin could be appointed for District 5 (I believe he lives there and I heard him volunteer his services at the last school board meeting), and if Tom Tate would give up his seat Louise Woods could be appointed for District 4 (she's been trying to pull strings in the background all along). Then we'd really be back to the good old days. That would make some in this community very happy.

AnswerMan said...

And do Ericka, Mary, and Joyce really think that Wilhemenia would be a back-bencher? She's the Dean of African American politicians around here. She would be in the spotlight constantly and the de facto chair, having held that post before. Great way to launch your legacy, to bring in a ghost who shines brighter than you

Anonymous said...

Many of us would like to know if Ann Clark had Mr. Nixon removed("retirement") before the holiday. Another great loss of real leadership at the ground floor in CMS. Ann, you might ask some of the folks at RR what really happened if you don't know already.

Wiley Coyote said...

The only saving grace if Rembert gets the nod is to recall Lennon and beg Larry Gauvreau to come back....

Anonymous said...

As much as I detested Larry, a politically incorrect seeker of truth would be a breath of fresh air in the cmspool of self-serving spin, half-truths, ineptitude, nepotism, and Broad infected favoritism we're subjected to now.

Wiley Coyote said...

"Political correctness" got us into this mess for decades...

Much of what Gauvreau railed against came to pass...

Anonymous said...

David Knoble seems the best of the bunch. He is moderate Republican, an accountant, a parent and seems to want to improve education for all of the children.

He might even get reelected and create some continuity.

It would be good to have somebody who is interested and modest, having somebody that understands numbers and financial statements would not hurt either.

Ann Doss Helms said...

8:54, I've heard the rumors (actually a couple of versions) but there's nothing on paper -- I requested all info that's public record under law, and all it says is retirement.

Anonymous said...

And this is why my rising kindergartner has an interview at Latin this morning.

Anonymous said...

How much of District 6 is Hispanic?

Perhaps there is a need for an "at-large" Hispanic representative on the CMS Board of Education, at a later date.

But right now, I don't think District 6 has an Hispanic majority... After all, that's what this selection should be about, right? Choosing a representative that is reflective of the constituency in District 6?

Anonymous said...

Funny how Rhonda Lennon is so concerned about the "top issues for the south suburban district," when she does everything in her power to ignore the needs of HER constituency in District 1...

While her question is valid, perhaps she should start paying attention to her own area, like she was elected to do. Listening with an open mind goes a long way, instead of doing whatever the powers-that-be tell her to do.

Anonymous said...

8:24 am
You are right about the district rep reflecting his or her district but it appears that's not likely to happen here.

Watching this process I am struck by the arrogance of our new board chair and her supporters. Interesting that the NAACP and the black political caucus (I believe both supported Ellis and that Dr. Rembert is a member in good standing of both) were so outraged and vocal in their belief that the former board was ignoring part of the community yet they apparently have no qualms about manipulating this situation.

Some of you might find this of interest: http://ronmatchett.com/joomla/images/stories/sheriff/5.pdf.
Scroll down to testimony at 7:50.

Anonymous said...

Morgan is the new minority and the reason another Vilma will be voted in. Ellis Stewart is a Chamber Clone and the republicans are minority seated thanks to Morgan. Serves him right for this good luck in the meetings. Ebonics will come back and the meetings will be hilarious for TV fodder. All the while our kids education is sacrificed. Welcome to Country Day school home of the Bucs ! CMS will become the title 1 school it dreams too be and never a challenge for the brighter students.

Ann Doss Helms said...

8:24, 2 percent of District 6 registered voters are Hispanic.

Wiley Coyote said...

My prediction is Rhonda Lennon loses the election to a Democrat next time up...if she runs.

Anonymous said...

If records are available from the board of elections for the 2003 school board at large race it would be interesting to see just how many votes Rembert garnered in District 6. I would suspect that would be a rather low number. So why would she be acceptable to the district now?

Anonymous said...

From the observer's Nov. 5, 2003, paper (day after school board election in which Rembert lost). Written by Ann:

Rembert carried three predominantly black districts where turnout was generally smaller. Yet Rembert finished fifth in the predominantly white precincts, behind McGarry, Kit Cramer, Joe White and Mike Kasper.

Jeff Wise said...

The 2011 district map from MeckBOE shows 31 precincts in D6. Precinct 148 was not on the 2003 ballot results, I'm presuming it didn't exist (anyone corroborate that?).

There were 11 candidates in the 2003 election. Kaye McGarry, Kit Cramer and Coach White were the top 3.

Rembert finished a close 4th. She was 402 votes behind Cramer, 758 behind Coach White and 6562 behind McGarry.

Also note that Larry Bumgarner ran in this election too. He finished 7th with less than half the votes that Rembert received.

Pulling the 2003 ballot results from those D6 precincts (based on the 2011 precinct map) resulted in the following:

McGarry 7908 votes (21.1% of D6)
Kasper 5982 votes (16%)
Cramer 5665 votes (15.1%)
White 5611 votes (15%)
Bumgarner 3201 votes (8.5%)
Rembert 2822 votes (7.5%)
Dunlap 1954 votes (5.2%)
Hall 1890 votes (5%)
Holley 1032 votes (2.8%)
Marsh 988 votes (2.6%)
Thompson 445 votes (1.2%)

Comparing that to the overall vote, for whatever it might be worth:

McGarry 37614 votes (17.1% total)
White 31360 votes (14.4%)
Cramer 31004 votes (14.3%)
Rembert 30602 votes (14.1%)

Kasper 24863 votes (11.4%)
Dunlap 22651 votes (10.4%)
Bumgarner 14886 votes (6.8%)
Hall 9529 votes (4.4%)
Thompson 5868 votes (2.7%)
Marsh 5054 votes (2.3%)
Holley 4544 votes (2.1%)

Anonymous said...

Interesting that bloggers are doing this work.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 11:44....

According to the numbers I came up with, in 2003, Rembert received 2,842 votes from all the precincts in District 6 and Kaye McGarry received 7,945 votes, over 2 1/2 times more than Rembert.

In 2005, Liz Downing received 5,244, Ken Gjertsen 6,268 and Larry Bumgarner 3,239.

To put it in perspective, Rembert didn't get as many votes as Bumgarner.

Wiley Coyote said...

Jeff,...that's what I saw.

148 wasn't there in 2003.

BruceWayne said...

I don't get all the stuff about how Morgan created this mess. If he had not run at large then Elyse Dashew would have won. Certainly better than the current potential situation with Rembert, but not a big conservative swing.

I think Mary McCray is actually reasonable enough to realize that Rembert in 6 would be a slap in the face to the residents there. Will she have the courage to be the only African American to stand up to the NAACP, Black Political Caucus, Tuesday Morning Morning Breakfast Forum (all of these are the same 20 people by the way), and George and Vilma who were there yesterday to keep their folks in line? Lets hope so

Anonymous said...

Cashew (Dashew) would not have won in past election if Morgan (Chamber Boy) had not run. The votes would have gone to others in the Republican party. District 6 is majority white working families and deserves this type of leadership. Scott Babbiage is the one that most fits that mold. Alot of the others that might even be considered did not evne vote in the past years elections. Finding it hard to consider them now for a post. Who ever gets on the board give back the Braod FOundation award and push for teachers teaching once again !

DistrictSix said...

Be sure to see the map of how many Precincts, Larry Bumgarner won in our area which is heavy with party loyalty.

Note he won sixth place in the County, in a race with three Republicans, and three Democrats.

Also he won sixth place here in District Six.

But amazing, is in how many Precincts he took the top spots, again with three Democrats and Three Republicans, as his competition.

Our Man Larry has some good facts on the South Charlotte Website:



Anonymous said...

You're right on the money Bruce Wayne! The only ones you forgot were Swann Fellowship (same people again) and Meck ACTS. Besides Mary I am hoping that Pastor Tom Tate decides to act ethically and vote for someone suitable for District 6.

Christine Mast said...

Here's a portion of my email to the Board this afternoon:

"I've done a little research on each of the applicants, and am surprised to find that three of them did not vote in the election in November 2011... If the three people weren't informed enough or cared enough to have voted in November, I doubt the constituents in District 6 would want them to be their representative for the next two years. There is too much at stake for them to have to play "catch-up" to understand all sides to pending issues. The three people who didn't vote were Angelica P. Castaneda-Noorbakhsh, David Knoble and Gerald J. Pelletier. Why would the constituents in District 6 want someone on the Board who hasn't been actively paying attention to recent CMS events?"

Like Morgan, Knoble is a Republican with ties to the homebuilding industry and a history of Boy Scout leadership. He talked about some of the same issues Morgan does, such as refining the current plan to "incentivize teachers" and saving money on transportation and school cafeterias.

Does it bother anyone that Mr. Knoble sounds like a clone of Tim Morgan? Homebuilder, Boy Scouts, privatization, TEP, etc.? Wouldn't you think Mr. Knoble would have voted in the recent election if he was that concerned about the state of CMS?

Christine Mast said...

Here's another excerpt from my email to the Board this afternoon:

My vote would be for Scott Babbidge. Not only does he have the business experience to help evaluate and pick apart the budget to ensure efficient use of resources (he was the only one to mention the importance of going line by line to rate the effectiveness of every dollar spent on every program), he also has been a substitute teacher. He is the only candidate that has experience "on both sides of the table." In other words, he has the business knowledge to help govern a large entity such as CMS, paired with the understanding of how things work in the classroom, and what is best for teachers, support staff and students. His wife is a current CMS employee, so he has knowledge of what happens on the front lines in the classrooms. Further, he brought up an important point, regarding how different personality types can influence how well groups will work together. His suggestion to have a meeting dedicated to analyzing each Board member's personality type, and figuring out how each of you could work best within the group, was an outstanding idea. Finally, Scott was the only candidate to state that he's not tied to his political affiliation... one example he gave was if the analysis supported the decision, that he would have no problem voting to spend more money when appropriate. So, not only is he a fiscal conservative (which represents the majority of District 6), he is willing to keep an open mind and make the best decisions, based on the evidence, not on party-affiliation. After all, the CMS Board of Education has no business acting as a political entity -- party affiliations shouldn't matter. What should matter is what is best for our children and teachers and support staff. Scott is exactly what CMS needs... someone who is willing to listen to all sides, work together with all of you, and make the best decisions for all our students and staff.

In summary, the main goals in appointing a new representative for District 6 should be to find someone that actually represents the view and concerns of the constituents of the district, and someone who has the capability to work within your group, listen, be respectful, be thoughtful and analyze every situation. Other goals would be to find someone passionate about public education, passionate about giving all students the very best education, and passionate about taking care of our teachers. Scott Babbidge has displayed all of those qualities, and would make an excellent addition to the CMS Board of Education for District 6.

Anonymous said...

oh the horror.....Knobles is involved in Boy Scouts! I guess according to ChristineMast being involved in scouts is a bad thing? Go figure....

Anonymous said...

Christine, When did you move to District 6?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:53 - Double-check your facts. At large results in District 6:
1st) Morgan (R)
2nd) Dashew (I)
3rd) Ellis-Stewart (D)
4th) Nelson (R)
5th) Hurley (R)
6th) Bumgarner (I)

Countywide, Hurley came in 8th and Nelson came in 9th.

AnswerMan said...

Anon 3:53 - how in the world do you jump to the idea that a Republican would have won ANYTHING in the last election? The reason Tim won is that he got independents and moderate Dems to support him. He did not block or take away R votes - they just werent there. Scott Stone would not listen to Repub leadership and insisted on running for Mayor rather than City Council. That gave Foxx a reason to spend some of the half million he was sitting on to turn out the vote. Hurley, Nelson, and Babbidge before he dropped out would never have had a chance at large anyway. At least Tom Davis has been involved in the school system and knew what was going on, unlike those other 3 clowns.

Christine Mast said...

@7:26, I'm in District 1 like I've always been. I care about the entire school system and all the students that are in it. I am passionate about having the best public education system for my own children. I care enough to pay attention.

I never said it was "bad" to be in Boy Scouts. I said that Mr. Knobles has a very similar background to Mr. Morgan.