I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Here's Why I Disagree With Expending $21,766 of Taxpayer Dollars for Dues

Although I appreciate the coverage this issue received in today’s Pensacola News Journal, there are numerous, important reasons why I do not want to be associated with the FSBA anymore.  There are numerous reasons why this year we need to wait before sending $21,766.00 in dues payments to FSBA ---via a simple “majority rules” vote---- three and on-half months early.

But first let’s start with my continuing dissatisfaction with FSBA.

Early on in my school board tenure, I attended most of their functions.  Problem for me was, the events were out of town, expensive, and frankly not really beneficial.  Nevertheless, I continued to participate in FSBA functions such as platform development and as the legislative liaison for Escambia County for two years.

Problem was, none of the fiscally conservative, pro-student, pro-school choice, pro-parent positions many board members put forth (myself included) ever made it on to FSBA’s platform.

Minority voices within FSBA (Conservatives) were not being heard, they were being drowned out.
FSBA’s platform essentially mirrored the platform positions of the entrenched special interests, unions, and the “Educrats”—aka the guardians of the status quo.

So I stopped attending the high-priced junkets to Orlando and Tampa to save taxpayer dollars.  I started doing my own research, independently working directly with legislators---because as an individual board member representing and elected by a conservative single member district, I felt this was my duty to my constituency.

But in order to be congenial with the other board members and at their request—I attended the FSBA Master Board training in 2009-2010, at a cost of thousands of dollars, and became “Master Board Trained.”

But I felt the lion’s share of the training was weak, and most of what they imparted was common-sense, garden variety information most of us already knew.

Fast Forward to 2012:  I’m the vice chairman of the Escambia County School Board, and I am with then Board Chair Patty Hightower in the office of one of the most powerful and well-respected members of the Florida Senate, discussing pending education legislation.  “Of all the groups that come here to Tallahassee to lobby us, out of all of these groups, I can think of none that is more ineffective than FSBA” stated this leader.   And the conversation devolved from there…but in a nutshell….his issue was my issue.  FSBA was taking adversarial stances against the legislators and 

the Governor—siding with special interests and unions.  It made lots of people angry including members of the legislature.

Fast Forward to 2014:  FSBA joins the NAACP, FEA, and other special interest and union groupsin SUING the GOVERNOR and LEGISLATURE! They were using taxpayer funded dues assessments from districts like Escambia County to sue the Florida legislature over duly enacted legislation.  This was insane and for me this was the end.  Enough!  Special interest associations that exist solely on taxpayer dollars should not use taxpayer money to sue the state over our MONEY—this is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars that as a fiscal conservative I will NEVER SUPPORT.  If groups like FSBA don’t like the legislation that the Governor and legislators pass, FSBA should work in Tallahassee, within the legislative process, to fix these issues.  FSBA should not simply bypass the process and battle the state in the Courts!

But that’s exactly what they did.

So they lost me and many others like me with that lawsuit.  It was a tremendous mistake, and created divisiveness statewide—and it injected partisan politics into the education space that is supposed to be nonpartisan.

So a group of us from around the state did something about it.  We wrote Op Eds about the travesty of FSBA’s terrible lawsuit.  I developed an idea to counter FSBA’s sole possession of a monopoly.  I wrote an Op ed about my proposal in 2014.

We rallied around the principal that Individually Elected Constitutional Officers should be able to opt-out of funding divisive, controversial groups that use taxpayer money to sue the state. 

Fast Forward to 2016—and we got this language passed in theHouse and the Senate  (see language from this amendment in the pictures above) in a larger education bill, HB 7029.  No longer will FSBA be able to conscript members of the minority positions within school boards by a simple up or down vote.  Individual freedom of choice in advocacy becomes law on 7-1-2016.

But FSBA still feels it appropriate to collect dues 4 months early from School Boards around the state---knowing full well this flies in the face of pending legislation.

This is not right and every school board member statewide that does not want to be a part of FSBA any longer should print this amendment, and bring this to their respective school board meetings this month and ask that this pre-payment of dues be halted.

This is a reasonable request given the circumstances, it is what I intend to do tonight.
FSBA already has a huge black eye over their lawsuit against the state. 

Do they really want to give themselves another black eye by this blatant act against conservative school board members statewide---an act that deliberately frustrates the legislative intent of HB  7029---a bill widely expected to be signed by Governor Scott within 30 days.

Does FSBA really want more negative press?

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