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Tales from the Mark Side: The Conservative Voice in Manatee County

Calling all domestic terrorists. Remember to vote ‘No’ on Nov. 2

By Mark Young

mark.young@manateeherald.com

 

It’s time to rally our fellow domestic terrorists who have the gall to think that we have a say in how our children are educated and tell the Manatee County School District “No,” on Nov. 2.

Very much like a spoiled child, this district isn’t used to parents telling them no, but it’s long overdue.

It would be nice to take it one giant step further and have every parent in Manatee County and across this country decide to homeschool for a year at the same time.

I know that’s not reality, but it would be a great lesson to school districts everywhere that they really don’t have any power over you. They pretend they do, but they don’t.

Parents do have options and the first option that should be taken, in order to finally send a message to a wasteful school district that parents are paying attention to, is to tell them to start acting fiscally responsible within a $1 billion budget.

I’ve seen all the signs and social media messages that proponents of the tax are pushing out. They say it is “about the children,” and “about the teachers.”

The school district is lying to you and they have been good at it for far too long.

I don’t normally like to double up on topics but I believe this special election is that important. As we previously discussed, this tax all comes down to whether you trust the district to be responsible with your money.

If you believe they are responsible with your money, then why can’t they take care of their teachers and make it “about the children” with the $1 billion they are getting?

And again, not to double up topics, but I can’t stress enough that the money they collected in the last special election did indeed pay for some programs, but the district freed up money in their regular budget to raise the salaries of their top six executives.

They played a shell game on the taxpayer and have the nerve to set up their table on the corner yet again and try to get you to play another round.

They have already proven they are not only irresponsible with your extra money, but irresponsible with the money you already give them. So again I ask: Why would you continue to trust them by voting yes on Nov. 2?

Let’s take a quick look at how many scandals this district has created, and I only have room for a few of them.

In 2019 we learned that Superintendent Cynthia Saunders was involved in a scandal from 2014-16 of inflating graduation numbers while she was deputy superintendent to her BFF, Diana Greene. The Department of Education investigated and ultimately reprimanded Saunders.

She not only got off lucky but the investigation came to light as she was being considered to replace Greene and the school board somehow still awarded her a three-year, $750,000 contract in the midst of the investigation.

Since the DOE investigation had actually started much earlier, the district was then accused of knowing about the investigation much earlier and did everything they could to keep it out of the media until after Greene successfully pushed for the renewal of the half-cent sales tax.

Greene, by the way, is a bit of a special tax ringer. It’s her specialty and she’s making a lot of money going to other districts and getting special taxes passed as well.

Greene, at the time of the district’s half-cent sales tax push, called the district’s perilous financial situation a “financial cliff.” She convinced taxpayers that their children’s education was at risk. The district never tells you why they are so often in financial trouble, however.

In the case of Saunders, who came under investigation while deputy superintendent, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart said Saunders had two statute violations and five rules violations. They included filing fraudulent information, using coercive means or promised special treatment to influence professional judgements of colleagues, and failure to maintain honesty in all professional dealings.

So yeah, totally worth trusting right? No big deal, right?

But let’s not forget the $27 million the district spent on a new software program that was supposed to cost $10 million or the fact that the district went another $27 million over capital project budgets from 2015 to 2018.

And they keep telling you that they are in a financial crisis and that your children are at risk. They play the guilt game and unfortunately, it’s effective.

I see the comments some of you have left that go something like, “Well yeah, the district needs to get their wasteful spending under control, but I’m voting yes because we need these critical programs.”

I don’t disagree that they are critical programs but the only way you get the district’s financial mess under control is to force them to live within their budgets like every American family does.

If the children and teachers really do come first in the eyes of these overpaid executives living the high life on your tax dollars, then trust me, they would make these programs happen, and would pay their teachers before raising their own salaries.

But they don’t do that because they don’t care about your child. Actions speak louder than words, and a lot louder than trying to milk you like a cash cow for their own financial gain.

And of course, now we know why parents are being called domestic terrorists to the point of the Department of Justice being involved. Did you watch the Attorney General Merrit Garland testimony?

Garland’s son is one of the people involved in creating and selling the Critical Race Theory curriculum and stands to make millions of dollars selling that curriculum to thousands of other fiscally irresponsible school districts.

When confronted, Garland absolutely refused to have his ties to his daughter’s husband reviewed by an ethics committee.

I know this will come as a shock to the liberals who follow me so they can call me a racist/facist in the comments, but your government lies to you. They manipulate you and this school district is taking this special tax effort right from the liberal handbook.

Step one: Do a special election because it usually doesn’t draw a lot of interest.

Step two: Convince people it’s all about the children and teachers because everyone really does care about that.

Step three: Never talk about the real reasons the district is in so much financial trouble.

Step four: Try not to let anyone figure out that they raised district executive salaries after crying about how poor they are.

Step five: If the district has yet another scandal brewing, try to keep it hidden until after the election.

In the words of Joe Biden, “Come on man.”

Don’t fall for that game. Demand accountability and transparency. We are a movement determined to make those changes, and it all starts at home.

Tell the Manatee County School District, “No,” on Nov. 2.

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By Mark Young

Mark Young is a U.S. Army veteran and a seasoned journalist of 25 years. His writing and reporting has garnered dozens of state press association and press club awards in Florida, Nebraska and Wyoming for investigative reporting, opinion writing, in-depth reporting and more.