An Open Letter To Ron Martin and Andy Griffiths

Ron and Andy:

The Monroe County electorate owes both of you a big “Thank You” and I could not agree more.  Three seats on the school Board are up for election and it looked as if it was going to be a very dull, ho-hum campaign.  There did not appear to be any captivating issue(s) in the individual races or the election as a whole.  That being the case, it would not be an easy task for the voters to decide how they were going to cast their ballots.

Fortunately for us voters, you two have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and singlehandedly created an issue that will surely excite the voters.  The worst kept secret in Monroe County is your joint decision to ask your associates on the School Board to extend Mark Porter’s contract as superintendent before the August election.  Bear in mind that Porter’s contract does not expire until July 31, 2015, fourteen months from now.  Phrased differently, Porter is barely halfway through his initial three year contract.

As the little boy supposedly said to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson when Jackson was accused of helping “fix” the 1919 World Series: “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”  Ron and Andy, tell me it ain’t so.  Tell me that the Coconut Telegraph has gotten it all wrong with the reports that you intend to induce a lame duck School Board to extend the contract of a superintendent who has done precious little to suggest that he deserves an extension.

Please hit the “Reply All” key and tell us if the rumor mill has gotten it all wrong and you have no intentions of recommending to a lame duck Board that Porter’s contract be extended over a year before it expires.  I would like nothing better than to apologize profusely for purveying misinformation.  Conversely, please hit the “Reply All” button and tell everyone that it is your intention to go forward with a renewal initiative prior to the election.

It would be very interesting to hear now your explanation and justification for the premature extension.  Regardless, it will become a significant, perhaps the most important, issue to the voters.  At least two incumbents, yourself, Ron, and John Dick, will have to explain your votes, whatever they may be, to the electorate.  That will take an otherwise moribund election season and add some real spice.  Voters who may have been otherwise disinterested in the School Board races, may have even stayed home, will surely pay attention to the campaign rhetoric.

Ironically, a similar situation exists in Marathon.  The city manager has resigned and a temporary appointee is running things.  The City Commission discussed the situation and determined that the appropriate thing to do was to continue with a temporary city manager until the Commission elected in November took office.  Their posture was that a lame duck Commission had no business saddling the new Commission with their choice of a city manager.  Rather, they thought that the new Commission should decide.  I could not agree more.

 Perhaps it would be best if this year’s elections for the School Board are treated as a referendum on Mark Porter and the concept of an appointed superintendent of which he is the first.  I have heard it said that the leadership emanating from the Henriquez Building is so bad that perhaps Monroe County should return to an elected superintendent.

I have also heard that the extension of the ½ cent sales tax for capital improvements is likely to fail.  The argument is that voters are dissatisfied over the financial and recordkeeping fiasco on the HOB project in particular and the absence of quality leadership in general.

In any event, I want to “Thank You” for bringing to the fore an issue that will surely rivet the attention of the voters.  Perhaps the give and take over retaining Mark Porter will be the foundation for a more spirited election than we have had in years.  Thanks again.

Larry Murray


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