Mannix About Manatee: Hasn't board done its homework?

April 28, 2013 

So the Manatee County School Board can't make up its collective mind about how to hire its next lawyer.

It's easy.

Just pick up the phone and dial 1-800-GET ME JUSTICE.

No?

Then try 1-800-ASK GARY.

Or how about those three lawyers with the baseball bats?

Yeah, I like that one.

Maybe they'd knock some sense into some of those school board members.

Pro bono.

They have known for almost a year that John Bowen was going to retire.

He announced his decision last June.

Now that time is nigh and they still don't know what to do?

That's our school board for you.

Dysfunction Junction.

They said they haven't been able to make a decision for several reasons.

The procedure is too complicated.

They don't understand the process.

They don't have enough information about the process.

Unbelievable.

Look, we know the school board has had a lot on its plate this past school year.

There's the budget fiasco.

The subsequent resignation of one superintendent.

The hiring of another, something they had to get absolutely right given the upheaval within the school district.

But it's not like the business of replacing the school board attorney snuck up on them.

John Bowen's departure has been eagerly anticipated by a host of people, put off by his arrogance and troubled by his legal expertise which has proven expensive for a school district trapped in serious financial straits.

Two of Bowen's leading critics are school board Chair Karen Carpenter and Vice Chair Julie Aranibar.

There is no love lost between them.

To their credit, they challenged Bowen and the status quo, continually raising questions about the lack of transparency, a damning flaw that fueled public distrust of the district.

In fact, it wasn't long ago the idea of forcing Bowen out early was broached for discussion.

The school board voted 3-2 that Carpenter would look into the feasibility of speeding up his retirement.

David Miner voted with Carpenter and Aranibar.

Bob Gause and Barbara Harvey voted against.

That was January.

What's happened since then?

Perhaps buying out

Bowen proved too costly and impractical.

Still, that doesn't mean the school board hasn't done its homework in preparation for the day Bowen is gone, does it?

Wow.

If the community needed another reason to have a vote of no confidence in this school board, this is it.

It's like they've been overwhelmed by events.

OK, I've got another suggestion for school board attorney.

Let Miner do it.

He's a lawyer.

That guy never sleeps anyway.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.

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