Backdoor deals

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Former school board vice chairman’s comment proves that my gut instincts were right

By Stevie Lowery

“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” - Mark Twain
“Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes it feels real good.” - Henry Rollins
These two quotes resonate with me after last week’s school board meeting, and I’ll tell you why.
During Thursday’s meeting, Marion County Superintendent Taylora Schlosser presented former Board Vice Chairman Ed Hacker with an engraved brass school bell as a token of appreciation for his service to the board. Hacker had been serving on the school board from January 2011 through July 2013.
If you do so recall, on July 11, immediately following the announcement that Schlosser was hired to become the superintendent for Marion County Public Schools, Hacker submitted his resignation from the Marion County Board of Education. He said his daughter, Tammy Newcome, had applied for a position with the district, and for his daughter to have an opportunity to possibly be hired for that position, Hacker couldn’t be on the school board per state law.
Just a few days later, on July 15, Schlosser sent an email to school district staff and the media informing them that Newcome had been hired as the new instructional supervisor. Newcome began her new position Tuesday, July 16.
The Lebanon Enterprise editorialized on this sequence of events (and more) on July 24. Our stance was that too much had taken place too quickly at the board of education and that left us with a suspicious feeling that there had to have been some discussions and deals being made behind closed doors.
OK, now, here’s where Thursday’s meeting comes into play.
After Schlosser handed Hacker his award Thursday, he said, and I quote, “Stevie, I didn’t know this was coming so it’s not been a backdoor deal.”
Most of the people in the room laughed.
I did not.
In fact, I didn’t even crack a smile.
I didn’t find it funny.
And, honestly, the public shouldn’t either.
Hacker’s comments further prove the Enterprise’s editorial, actually.
Part of me wanted to blurt out, “So does that mean everything else that’s happened has been through a backdoor deal?”
But, I refrained.
You see, as a member of the media, I am not supposed to participate in meetings. I am just there as an observer. I report on what occurs. That’s it. And, that’s exactly what I did when I wrote the editorial that was published on July 24. I reported on what I had observed. It was obvious to me then, and it’s even more obvious to me now, that Newcome’s hiring was already in the works before the position she was hired for was even available. Again, it leaves me (and the majority of the public, might I add) with the impression that there were backdoor deals being made and closed door, illegal discussions taking place at the board of education.
Hacker’s comments prove that my gut instincts were right. And, apparently, I have touched a nerve.
Yes, indeed, sometimes the truth hurts. Especially, when it’s in print.