(Jim Clark) – The glitter is beginning to wear off our many-degreed new superintendant of schools. Readers of the Bonanza know all too well about the recent battle that raged amongst Incline/Crystal Bay citizens over the proposed International Baccalaureate (IB) program for our schools. Dr. Morrison’s position was if locals could raise $150,000 the school district would staff the program. Because of controversy, only $85,000 was raised.
Morrison’s response was to call a town meeting at the Incline High auditorium and announce that IB would be offered only in the 11th and 12th grades. He then appointed a “Great Schools Committee” consisting only of educators (and later a few parents) that announced it was going to meet in secret and make recommendations for Incline schools. Public outcry ended the secret deliberations. Morrison then demanded the local non-profit turn over the $85,000; he also ordered a survey which was sent only to parents, thereby disenfranchising the rest of the community. Then, before the “Great Schools Committee” even came up with its findings, Morrison canceled the 2 grades of IB. The community is sharply divided over these autocratic antics, and many who donated generously towards IB feel they got the short end of the stick.
But these events were all local and not generally publicized throughout Northern Nevada. Nope, Dr. Morrison’s biggest gaffe was one he created for himself. Here’s the background. During last fall’s election campaign, candidate Brian Sandoval met with Morrison to discuss how to best deal with a diminished budget and recession challenges. Sandoval was impressed and, following his election victory, included Morrison on his transition team, which gave him unprecedented access to the governor-elect.
The election also boosted Republican seats in both the assembly and senate so the Democrats could no longer override a gubernatorial veto. Gov. Sandoval’s budget director came up with a bare-bones budget, which included one-time use of some $300 million in school bond payment reserves as part of the school district’s operating funds. The Democratic leadership saw an opportunity to divert those funds to school renovations thus (1) appeasing their construction union constituency and (2) forcing Sandoval to raise taxes to restore the funds.
Democratic Assemblywoman Debbie Smith of Sparks was chosen to ram the bill through, which was done in record time on a strict party-line vote. Gov. Sandoval announced that the measure would “blow a $300 million hole in his budget.” The day it passed, Morrison appeared with an AFL/CIO union goon and publicly implored Sandoval not to veto the bill.
At the April 1-2 meeting of the Nevada Republican Central Committee in Carson City, Sandoval announced that at 7:00 AM the following Monday he would veto the bill. All present cheered, including many GOP legislators. It is clear Gov. Sandoval’s veto will be sustained and that this publicity stunt is dead…a waste of everyone’s time and energy. In a press release after his veto, Sandoval pointed out the measure would lead to the layoff of 5,000 teachers.
Sandoval is too much of a gentleman to criticize a critic, but some of the legislators at the GOP meeting were aghast at Morrison “stabbing the governor in the back.” There was also conjecture about why a superintendant of schools would advocate taking teacher salary funds and using them for school renovations when enrolment is declining. And if he would have had to lay off 5,000 teachers, who would have used the proposed classrooms? Finally, why would Morrison publicly side with Democrats in a meaningless political PR battle where everyone knew up front that the Democrats were going to lose?
Looks to me like this glitterati is losing his glitter.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee, He can be reached at email@example.com)