Ranger Tries to Use Outside Contributions to Tie Blackburn to Charters. Donors Say: "Nope."

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Lew Blackburn
At some point this evening, the Dallas Independent School District board of trustees will elect new officers. Among the front-runners for president is Lew Blackburn, which may explain why Carla Ranger took to her blog earlier today to throw Blackburn under the bus.

You see, there's no love lost between the two trustees, dating to at least '07, when Blackburn allegedly threw his support behind Jerome Garza for second veep when he'd earlier promised to support Ranger, who had nominated Blackburn, who lost to Jack Lowe. (Got that?) Then, in June '09, Ranger wrote on her blog that Blackburn and then-trustee Ron Price engaged in "a new low in treachery and petty politics" when they tossed out her suggestion to name a school for Dr. John Hope Franklin and instead went with Wilmer Hutchins Elementary School.

So, there's that. Then comes this: On her blog today Ranger points out that before the 2010 elections, Blackburn received $12,000 in campaign contributions from the Houston area. "Strange that so many Houston area contributors would take such a strong financial interest in a Dallas ISD School Trustee race in the African American community," she writes.

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Carla Ranger
She then tries to connect the contributors to the district's interest in charter schools, an initiative being pushed by the Dallas Regional Chamber, which funded trips for school board members to Denver, Los Angeles ... and Houston. Ranger made it clear two weeks ago she's vehemently opposed to that. About that 12 thou, she asks: "Does it have anything to do with the charter school push in Dallas ISD that Superintendent Hinojosa mentioned this week in Georgia?"

Doubtful. Patrick Michels and I tried to reach everyone on Ranger's list of Blackburn contributors, and those with whom we spoke say they have no connections to charter schools here or in Houston or anywhere else.

GreenbergTraurig attorney Franklin D.R. Jones Jr. says he was invited to a fundraiser for Blackburn in Houston last year and cut a $500 check at a friend's request. "I don't have anything to do with charter schools," he tells Unfair Park. And he barely knows Blackburn, he says: "I just met the man once."

Former Harris County-Houston Sports Authority chair William F. "Billy" Burge III says he just gave $500 because his buddy Frank Jones did. "No charter schools here," he says.

Patrick reached Mourhaf "Michael" Sabouni at work at Houston's Autoarch Architects, who told him, plain and simple, he likes to support leaders in education. Like David Medford, and Blackburn donor Tracey Medlock's husband, Jason, Sabouni also contributed to Houston ISD candidate Larry Marshall back in 2009.

Sabouni says he doesn't know why Ranger would suggest any ties between him or his construction firm, and a push for new charter schools in Dallas. "If you know of any, let me know," Sabouni says. "I'd like to submit a proposal."

We couldn't reach architect Christus N. Powell II, but Powell does list among his myriad educational clients the Dallas Independent School District.

We also left messages for Tracey Medlock, wife of Jason -- a partner in Houston Texans defensive end Aaron Glenn's real estate company. Tracey made the biggest outside donation to Blackburn's campaign at $5,000. But we can find no charter-school connection there either. She's in the catering business.

We're still waiting for more calls. Still, so far ... nothing. But Ranger's insistent in her blog post: "Why would persons outside Dallas make the following contributions to Trustee Blackburn who works for a charter school and who in 2008 served as Superintendent of Lynn Acre Academy Charter School? Click Here!"

Interestingly, the article in which Ranger quoted Hinojosa talking about how "national funders are pushing Dallas to be involved in charters"? That's the same one in which the outgoing superintendent also said: "Some of my board meetings are not that professional."
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Billy MacLeod
Billy MacLeod

In a February 7th Press Release then DISD board president Adam Medrano said he thought it important for the district to "go on record" in making "education a priority". Since Michael Hinojosa has jumped ship, what does the new President Lew Blackburn and his predecessor "new" VP Adam Medrano see in the future of Dallas schools? There are no excuses for silence now, you lost your Superintendent but your leadership is in place, go on the record: how do you plan on improving Dallas schools?

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Dude, I don't even think Medrano has a college education.  His primary qualifications (if you exclude hanging around the men's room at the Dillard's at North Park and running from cops) appears to be having worked for the Dallas Parks Department at youth camps.

I've always assumed his role within the Medrano extended family is to help direct juicy DISD contracts to favored contractors.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Heres the thing: Im for charter schools, plain and simple, anything to help educate children to make them better students and great human beings who can achieve more than the previous generation. DISD has failed miserably in their mission to educate our students over and over in the past four decades, most of this can be blamed on "angry politics" of a community who doesn't value education and looks to it as a "state baby sitter" between the hours of 8a-5p daily. I love Ranger, but maybe its time we let someone else take over this Clown Collage of a district(i.e. TEA) and actually get back into the business of teaching students. 

Its a reason ive advocating spinning DISD off into smaller, neighborhood-level districts not to mention allow for more charter schools for years, giving them the power to run their affairs properly and being more involved with the education/communication of their students and parents.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

"In District" charter schools as incubators of new teaching methods, etc. are wonderful tools.  The public funds our schools (at DISD it's about $5350 per kid) through our taxes. The public has input into the education policies of our public schools via our duly elected representatives on the school board. An "out of district" charter school is also a public school.  The charters are still funded by us, the taxpayers, exactly like any public school. But the public has NO access to charter education policy! Those charter schools are run by some non-profit or for-profit board of directors who can do whatever they want.  Now, if some charter operators want to start an "out of disctrict" private school then more power to them - but don't use taxpayer funds to do it as a charter without giving us access to education policies! And, for every kid who leaves the district to an "out of district" charter the district loses that $5350.

Guest
Guest

The public does have input into out of district charters:  We get to vote with our feet.  Don't like a charter, then don't send your kids there and they won't get the money for your kid.  That's more than you can say for the DISD, which gets to take our money whether we agree with its policies or not (unless we have out of district charter options).   

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

The out of town contributions are the story of Dallas--- the "City for Sale."  The substantial majority of Rep. EBJ's contributions come from outside her district, the same goes for most of the other South Dallas elected officials.

Then, you get all sorts of other meddlesome influences.  As an example, Ft. Worth-based American Airlines contributes heavily to the care and feeding of City of Dallas politicians via the World Affairs Council--- they send council members on these all-expense paid international vacations, and the council members, in turn, seem to look out for American Airlines.

Contractors out at DFW Airport that are the lucky recipients of no-bid contracts (a great deal/most of which are based outside Dallas) also are big donors.

Another set of big donors tends to be real estate developers with business before council, who may or may not be locally based.

And then, of course, you get the Park Cities' usual suspects. That's how you get a city so broke it can't even afford to provide basic services (Dallas) to contribute all sorts of money to their pet Arts District project. Whoever said rich people are dumb? Park Cities folks have the benefit of low taxes as well as "hired hands" who set on the Dallas City Council and approve spending money on the Parkies' pet projects while their own constituents go wanting.

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

WHAT?comparing Congress with DISD is beyond stupid.

You say EBJ receives out-of-town contributions....So does every single congressional candidate in the Union.Check out Pete Sessions.

DISDer
DISDer

I agree with DISD Teacher.  These Houston contributors may not have any connection to charter schools anywhere, but what possible interest would they have in DISD?  Sometimes when you follow the trail of the fishy smell, you find the true source of the stench.  Ms. Ranger may have the motive wrong, but I think her instincts are better than yours in this case.  

OED_Denizen
OED_Denizen

It is not just DISD. Check out how much of Rawliings money comes from out of town. It is a LOT.

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

Sir, it makes perfect sense to me and everyone else why out-of-towners would donate to a mayoral race.   But, as everyone else who read this article, it makes no sense why out-of-towners would donate to a school board trustee.

There are so many reasons why big business interest that operate nationally want Mayors that are pro-business. Whereas, the only reason an out-of-towner would be interested in DISD is only because they want to buy votes. 

The CITY of Dallas has 15 votes that decide things.  So, supporting a Mayor is not going to accomplish a lot.

Whereas, the DISD only has 9 votes and funding the president of the board, a board with long history of probable corruption....now we are talking about buying votes.

Time for a change
Time for a change

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.  Mayor Leppert did not finish his full term. He operated as a strong mayor, pushing votes for the Toll Road , The  City owned Hotel, Calatrava Bridge, Deck Park and so on and so on.  Leppert could always count to 8 even when it wasn't good for the city.

We know Rawlings has already shown us what he will do. He was President of the Park Board for only months and pushed for a friend to get a NO BID contract. No more!

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Why is DISD hiring architects from Houston?

Also, I just smell something fishy here.Fishy certainly isn't a smoking gun, but I, too, wonder why these Houstonians are donating to Blackburn.

This is the root of the problem with DISD: whom do these trustees serve?Who is giving them money and WHY?Who is getting paid with DISD tax dollars? 

You know a tree by its fruit and DISD's fruit is rotten.

We need an FBI audit of trustees, contractors, vendors, and donors or DISD will never get better.  Period.

I will vote for the first mayoral candidate who calls for an FBI of DISD and all the vendors/contractors/consultants.  That's how the mayor can affect DISD--be a big mouth constantly demanding that an audit be done by the FBI.

Middle class parents all over the city will applaud and maybe, just maybe, we can heal this district.

Guest
Guest

"Why is DISD hiring architects from Houston?" - If they do a good job for less than what Dallas architects will charge, why not?  The DISD shouldn't be about protecting Dallas jobs, it should be about educating children. 

I'm not opposed to an audit, but the FBI doesn't get involved simply because a mayor asks them to.  This is something the DISD or the state will have to handle unless someone comes forward with information suggesting fraud, ect.  And no, you smelling something fishy isn't the same thing as information suggesting fraud. 

StopDISD.org
StopDISD.org

Could it be that Chief of Staff Arnold Viramontes left and went to Houston's ISD?

The corruption must stop!  Contractors get our tax dollars while our teachers and students suffer. 

Learn more at www.StopDISD.org or StopDISD on Facebook

View satire video about DISD's land grab and helping their land development friends!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Travisdad
Travisdad

Lew has been elected president, Adam Medrano first-vp, Edwin Flores 2nd vp, Bruce Parrott, secty.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

The ONLY qualification held by Adam Medrano is his last name; I can't imagine how in the world he is able to contribute anything meaningful to the oversight of DISD.

Heath
Heath

I thought this same thing when he first got elected.  You should've seen him when he served as president.  A dumb rock would be smarter.

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