by Elliott Stonecipher
My Caddo Parish School Board member, Barry Rachal, has carefully timed an attack manifesto so I will not be able to respond in kind before tomorrow’s election. I will respond here, instead, with posts then on Forward-Now.com and Facebook.
Dear Mr. Rachal,
You might well have debated me over the past few months if you cared to attack me and give me a chance to defend myself. After all, every word I have offered in this debate was either while standing in front of a crowd of questioners, or in writing, signed by me.
You and the rest of the CPSB refused to be questioned or challenged. Blatantly dishonorable.
Rather than a fair and decent and honorable exchange between us, you officially resort to bushwhacking.
Bushwhacking, Mr. Rachal, is recognized as an abject absence of courage. I know you know that. What motivates you, regardless of that fact, to dishonor yourself?
… You contend you did not flip-flop on the Southeast Shreveport school. All I know is that you told me repeatedly how proud you were of your opposition to it. Not until three years into your first school board term did you support it, as your cited dates explain. As your second term neared, you were still opposed. You have now flip-flopped, for unknown reasons.
… You attack the numbers from the Louisiana Tax Commission and U. S. Census Bureau which document that only one-third of Caddo householder pay property tax, while the other two-thirds are (legally) able to vote those taxers on those who those taxes. Mr. Rachal, in your attack piece, you embarrassed yourself by excluding 41,655 renters in that attempt. Even shooting from the bushes, Mr. Rachal, your gun is empty.
… We agree, of course, that the subject millage is not a new tax. It is, however, a tax you lead the way in preserving in perpetuity. We have a 6.00-mill Debt Service property tax. If you and your colleagues will stop indebting us up to the hairline, that millage will “sunset.” I get that the word is new to you, so here is what it means: that little bit of the 76.00-mills the CPSB hammers us with would expire.
… Your assertion about my ever having supported a Southeast Shreveport school is a loud and rank lie. Back it up, Mr. Rachal. Show me a document. Show me a video tape. Bring me an affidavit from a witness. This lying is how you demonstrate that you are fighting way, way too hard for this … as if there is a lot of money on the line for you. You dishonor yourself, Mr. Rachal.
I do not understand your mention of independent school districts, which are not legal here.
… Your implication that you will not financially gain from a new Southeast Shreveport school completely ignores the obvious. I have, and continue to, share the concern of many that you have multiple conflicts of interest given your ownership of a real estate company there, and the related questions you refuse to answer. Please hear me: I do not believe you in the absence of real evidence. You and your colleagues have taught us not to. In fact, the CPSB has put on a clinic in dishonoring the public.
… Let me say again, your mantra, and that of other politicians, is “Never let a tax die.” If you want credit for property tax reform, then let this Debt Service millage die, by borrowing no more money. Instead, you do the opposite, asserting some formula that the CPSB “could borrow over $700,000,000.” What an aspiration Mr. Rachal! You certainly revealed your true identity with that one. When you and other insiders have effectively killed Caddo Parish, will you stay to be buried with it?
… You assertion about my chairing task forces and other volunteering for the CPSB for decades is shameful Mr. Rachal. I am proud of those many pro bono efforts for our schools over the decades. You have worked for them only when being paid, and now stand to make even more than your CPSB salary.
I have never “consulted” with the CPSB. My firm was contracted to do the enrollment study you cite in 1999. Superintendent Foster approved that contract with my firm on June 17, 1999. The school board property tax explosion you cite was voted on October 18, 1997. You are only off in your attempted slur by over 1 1/2-years. Again, Mr. Rachal, you dishonor yourself.
… The CPSB paid $300,000 for a 20-acre tract of land for a would-be Southeast Shreveport school in 2001, which the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Investigative Audit found was worth $170,000. The school board never attempted to sell or use it. You in no way refute this. Again, you embarrass yourself, Mr. Rachal.
… You once again refuse to answer the question about your loud and theatrical wailing and crying about “overcrowding” University Elementary enrollment. There are now only 60 students more at UES than when the 18-classroom wing – at a taxpayer cost of $2,000,000 – was built in 2000: 866 children then (CPSB and Louisiana Department of Education data), and 926 when school started this year. Where did that space go? Too, there are 597 student vacancies at A. C. Steere, Arthur Circle and Riverside. Why not rebalance those enrollments instead of handing insiders $24,500,000 for a new school seven miles away?
… I have no idea what your point is about private school support in Southeast Shreveport. Throughout consideration of your own tax-and-spend-and-debt plan that has been the CPSB’s stated goal: to “attract those parents back to public school.” Why not tell us the new school’s intended attendance zone? Why are you hiding that? By the way, is the school actually going to be a charter school, paid for by taxpayers?
Mr. Rachal, a final question. Do you stand by your remarks that we who oppose your plan should find “our owned damned buildings” for public gatherings about our schools?
On the record, please tell me, do you understand the schools you and yours used ARE the public’s schools?
(Elliott Stonecipher is in no way affiliated with any political party. He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article. His work is strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.)