It was a bad night for democracy and a worse night for government in the sunshine. At its Aug. 12 meeting, a majority of the Manatee school board voted to quell discussion of important issues by refusing requests from Dave "Watchdog" Miner and Bob Gause to sever those issues from the consent agenda.
For those unfamiliar with the consent agenda, it is a way for the superintendent to have a large group of proposals placed before the board and voted on as a group without detailed discussion on any single item.
In theory, the consent agenda should be reserved for minor matters not worthy of full discussion. But our superintendent, Mr. Rick Mills, in league with his chief ally on the board, Chairwoman Julie Aranibar, included items that should never be dealt with by consent, such as employee suspensions, creation of new high-level positions, and expenditures of large sums of money.
When Miner spoke out to sever issues he felt were important enough to merit separate discussion and votes, Aranibar was rude and dismissive. Indeed, her hostile and arrogant tone toward Miner throughout the meeting was appalling.
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Miner was elected by the people of Manatee County (with the most votes every received by a school board candidate) to raise precisely the questions he tried to raise at the Aug. 12 meeting.
Only Bob Gause was willing to stand with Miner for democracy and decisions made in the sunshine.
Shame on the school board majority -- consisting of Aranibar, Barbary Harvey and Karen Carpenter. Their actions on Aug. 12 prove they are more interested in appeasing a power-hungry superintendent than in promoting the public interest.
Harvey is retiring from the board this year, but voters should remember this shameful performance when they vote this month for or against the other two.