Pile-up on Bob Culver (Part I)

Bob Culver has been sworn in as County Executive and the sniping has begun.  It didn’t take very long for the usual suspects:  the Daily Times, the Wicomico County Board of Education, and local partisan Democrats to jump on the collective bandwagon attacking Culver for refusing to fund construction of a new West Salisbury Elementary School.

DT reporter Phil Davis seems to have adopted an old tactic – wrap a lie in quotes and don’t bother checking the facts:

Board member Kim Hudson approached the decision calm and collectively, congratulating Culver and the newly elected councilmen on their general election day wins, but criticized the resolution.

"Education has to be a top priority in our county," Hudson said, adding the bonds were "money that was already in the capital improvement plan."

As will be shown in a bit, funding for a new West Salisbury Elementary School may be on a long list of projects in the county’s capital improvement plan, but was a recent addition.  Furthermore, Davis totally neglects to explain what a CIP is – a combination planning document and wish list.  Also included in the CIP is a multi-million expenditure for renovating Wicomico Middle School; yet the the WCBOE (Ms. Hudson included) wishes to shut down that school in an attempt to make the county’s test scores look better.

and from Alisha Jones to the DT via Facebook:

"The staff at that school has done everything possible to ensure that the students are comfortable during the hot and cold temps. Wicomico Co. has money…..why not invest it in our schools?," she added.

This is reporting?  I found particular amusement in Mr. Davis trolling Facebook for quotes.  “Wicomico County has money”?  Obviously Ms. Jones hasn’t bothered to attend a county council or school board meeting during the last decade.  Wicomico is hardly awash in cash.  If the state forced Wicomico to pay as much for its schools as it does Worcester County, there would be 60 kids to a class and that class would meet in a tent.

Board of Education president Ronald Willey said when he initially heard of the cancellation of the bond, he believed it to be only an unsubstantiated rumor.

"All of this has taken us by surprise," Willey said, adding that the construction of a new West Salisbury Elementary School was the starting block for the board’s long-term plans to redistrict where county students would go to school.

The king whopper of Davis’ article comes from WCBOE president Ron Willey.  Surprise?  Wasn’t Willey at the last council meeting when the bond measure was pulled from the agenda.  Council president Matt Holloway explained that the bill was pulled because Culver had stated he would not sign a bill that included certain items.  Everyone in the room (except Willey?) knew that one of those projects was the West Salisbury school project.

Kudos should go to Culver for refusing to sit idly by and accept this nonsense.  The newly minted County Executive chose to reply to the WCBOE’s baseless charges.  Culver acknowledges the concern of the community served by West Salisbury Elementary School but also explains that the school boards concern for West Salisbury is a relatively recent phenomena.

Hudson, Willey, and WCBOE Superintendent John Fredericksen should be ashamed of themselves.  If they were honest with the public that pays for their folly they would address the WCBOE’s woeful (to be kind) record when it comes to maintaining the county’s schools.  Instead they attempt to bully the county council into funding new schools which the county can ill afford.  Who cares?  It’s only taxpayer money.

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