|Two Are Going to Lose|
In case nobody's noticed we have a 3 way race for the West District Board of Education seat here in B-Lo. The seat is currently held by James Sampson who is seeking another term. Of the manifest reasons Sampson should be denied another term I think one of the most egregious is the fact that he currently serves as a Trustee of West Buffalo Charter School. Anywhere else this would be seen as a conflict of interest but here in one horse B-Lo it's more of a "Huh? He's a what in a where?" In a previous capacity Jimbo served as CEO of Gateway Longview a residential and day school facility for troubled youth. As CEO Sampson handed out no bid contracts to pals and allowed his board members to do likewise. Sampson lived large on the public dime while running Gateway. I duly recorded some of his antics here on B-loedscene a while back:
Expenses included food, flowers, cellphones and a $600-a-month car allowance for former Chief Executive Officer James Sampson, who is now president of the Buffalo Board of Education. Sampson also received other perks, including memberships at local social clubs... Auditors also found $378,946 in other questionable expenses, including food, flowers and personal expenses for staff. Of that amount, $39,138 was for Sampson’s car and cellphone allowances while he was CEO, expenses which the audit says were “inappropriate.” Other Gateway officials received perks totalling $24,972.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli offered Sampson and his fellow CWQ's a hearty tongue lashing in a separate statement : “Special-education providers play a crucial role in our education system, but some unscrupulous contractors have taken advantage of lax oversight to game the system, rip off children and taxpayers, and line their own pockets,” he said. Full Post
Naturally, due to his political connections -- you may have noticed the ed reform crowd are some of the most wired mofos in the ed mix -- Diamond Jim Sampson simply dusted off his lapels and proceeded to toss anyone who dared mention his thievery from subsequent Board of Ed meetings. Case closed. As a member of the Fiscal Stability Board here in B-Lo Sampson was something of a made guy who would do as he pleased with Tony Sopranoesque impunity and nobody was going to bring him to heel to borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton.
Well now that the general public of the West Side has a chance to serve Sampson a little justice by way of the voting booth we appear to have a problem. Depending who you talk to it's a problem I guess -- but then again it seems we also have some players involved here whose expertise is the Ars Politica yet they don't seem to even notice that there's anything amiss. Those of us wondering what's up have observed that two candidates are running aside from Sampson. Let's say running in opposition to Sampson in practically every philosophical tenet imaginable. And if history is any guide, those of us calling foul are pointing to past elections where a 3rd party candidate ended up in a split vote and the candidate they set out to torpedo ended up walking away with the contest as his constituents stuck together while the other 2 divvied up the opposition and cancelled each other out. I point to the introduction of Ross Perot into the Bill Clinton vs George HW Bush tilt in which Perot served to rob Bush of enough votes to hand Clinton his first term. It's textbook.
I guess the real question here is who wants Sampson out the most and what are they willing to do to see it through? The Buffalo News managed to draw out NYSUT's Mike Deely with a quote essentially naming Quinn, Sampson and Carl as not doing anything for education or the kids and promising to support anyone who will. I have to think the same backers who found an articulate and professional parent of BPS kids in Hope Jay to run against Jay McCarthy in the North District aren't going to drop the ball with a rookie mistake like getting caught up in a 3 way race. My intel says nobody spoke to Adrian Harris or responded to his attempts to speak with them about the prospects of a self defeating 3 way contest. As it stands nobody is blinking and nobody is offering to stand down. Unless someone has a change of heart Sampson will rally his base and the other two will see theirs divided in half. There will be no justice for the wired crony who took advantage of his power as CEO at Gateway to fleece the taxpayers. The good guys will be the dumb guys who refused to cooperate for the greater good and the Buffalo Board of Education will continue to operate in total conflict of interest with a Charter School Trustee occupying its West District seat.
Buffalo teacher Marc Bruno offered an interesting challenge on social media this afternoon to all of the players involved. He suggests Harris and Mecozzi lock themselves in a room somewhere -- I would assume they each get an assistant -- agreeing that nobody leave until they've reached a solution as to which one stands a better chance of defeating Sampson. That candidate will proceed and the other steps aside. Pretty idealistic maybe and possibly a touch dramatic but I think it's a start from things where stand currently. Whaddya think people -- Any takers?