Questions still linger despite another year for superintendent

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By Ben Carlson

Column as I see ’em …
It was certainly nice to see the school board and its superintendent kiss and make up Thursday night when the board gave Gene Schmidt a one-year contract extension.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a myriad of questions still don’t exist about their not-public-enough quarrel over the past six weeks or so.
Nor does it explain some comments made during that quarrel by the school board president and a promise that has yet to be fulfilled by the board secretary.
For those just joining this soap opera, Schmidt turned in his resignation following a closed-door performance review that resulting in him saying he no longer had the support of the full school board.
Being that the board has the (questionably) legal authority to vet the superintendent in private, the public immediately began demanding answers, including who among them no longer supported the person credited with a host of accomplishments during his tenure.
Armed with plenty of “we can’t discuss what went on in private” excuses, the board went largely mum on the topic aside from board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie blaming the media and public for jumping to conclusions and board Secretary Matt Williams saying he wanted to have the board look over some “points” he wanted to make before releasing them to the public.
As of today, nothing, nada, zilch has been released by the board, which now can rest easy in the knowledge that it no longer has to answer any questions.
It can also take comfort in the fact that the black cloud under which its search for a new superintendent no longer exists — a cloud that wouldn’t have been much of a recruiting tool
In fact, had Schmidt landed the plum superintendent’s job up the road in Taos, the shadow he would have cast would have been a tough one for a new person to operate under.
Yes, the board is somewhat hamstrung by the laws that govern superintendent reviews, but it is legally obligated to release upon request the summary of that review, including those portions that might not paint the superintendent in a good light.
Beyond the law, though, is what board members should consider an obligation to come out and say publically whether they have confidence in the superintendent and if not, why not.
No, they can’t disclose what is said behind closed doors, but those the taxpayers have put in place to oversee what many view as the single most important public position in this community aren’t forbidden speaking their minds, particularly if they have concerns about the superintendent.
Speaking of speaking their minds …
I enjoyed a great deal the positive and negative feedback I received following a column I wrote several weeks ago that included the topic of gun ownership.
For some folks it was like preaching to the choir — they agreed and let me know. Those who oppose gun ownership, particularly the scary “assault weapon” ones, did likewise, but were a tad more virulent in their responses.
Not to paint with too broad a brush, but here’s a good example of why so many people who think the way I do are a bit gun-shy (pun intended) about politicians who rant and rave about taking away the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
A California state senator, Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) is among the top anti-gun politicians in that state yet finds himself in a bit of hot water for allegedly trying to broker a deal to bring weapons — including shoulder-fired ones — into the United States.
According to various media reports, Yee is accused of telling an undercover FBI agent that he would spend as much as $2.5 million on automatic, shoulder-fired weapons. He allegedly claimed he’d supply missiles to gangs for a price. It is alleged that Yee hoped to traffic in firearms in exchange for thousands in campaign donations and help emigrating abroad.
According to an FBI-sworn affidavit, Yee proposed to import the fully automatic machine guns into the U.S. from a Philippines-based Muslim terror group.
Of course, this is the same person who voted in 2013 to ban “assault weapons,” among other anti-gun legislation because people like me and other law-abiding citizens just aren’t responsible enough to own them.
Not that folks there will care. In fact, he’ll likely be reelected in a landslide — if he manages to avoid the 20 years he deserves in prison.

Ben Carlson is publisher of the Los Alamos Monitor. Reach him at bcarlson@lamonitor.com.