Letters to the editor: Reader tells everyone to vote

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Please be advised that the Primary Vote can be and, in many cases, is imperative as many elected positions are determined at this time. In other words, if any one or thing such as a Referendum, gets over 50 percent of the vote, the election is over. There is NO second chance.

Case in point: in a local election such as the Clay County School Board and the School Board Referendum now on the ballot, the final decision could easily be made with the primary vote. Also know that you who are Independents, etc. can vote in the primary for those positions not affiliated with a Party. Let me call your attention to those running for School Board. We, the voters, have the opportunity to replace the “Good Ole Boys” such as Kerekes, Bullock and Chafee, first time run, but in the clique, and place new blood and ideas to handle the county’s educational crisis, yes, crisis!

Right now, those who serve and are running again for School Board believe in Common Core, unions, no charter schools, no term limits.

The School Board Referendum: Do you, the Referendum is asking for another mil = 7.34 mil and for what? “To enhance the safety and security of students and staff and provide for necessary operating expenses of the School District.”

Once again, we have truly no idea where the money is going to be used. Just because the word “Education” is used, we are put on a guilt trip to support the vote. Please understand the School District is already getting money from the first 6.34 mil being added on to your property taxes plus the millage that is already being paid. Yet, another mil is requested only for the School Board. Think! Think! Think!

Yes, we should take every step to protect our children. Isn’t it amazing that banks, office buildings, the NFL, the NBA, elite movie stars, jewelry stores have full protection, but our children do not? Any American school that needs immediate professional consultation and help with organizing and defining their own security solutions should call the NRA National School Shield Program. They will provide assistance absolutely free of charge.

Because so many spend so much time trying to villainize the NRA, perhaps some schooling is necessary to educate the educators.

So, before we the people are propagandized on false information, it would be wise to seek free information. It would be wise to seek free professional assistance before throwing out more money that, yes, goes down the sewer.

Bottom line – Vote in the Primaries. God gave man one thing. He gave no other creature the ability to think, to reason. So, clear out those little gray cells. Study the issues. Please don’t take the easy way out and either not vote or vote without thought and conscious. Get the facts. Understand how much your vote matters.

Annabelle E. Hamachek

Orange Park, Florida

“Let the politickin’ begin”

About this time 2 years ago, Clay Today published, what appeared to be, an unpaid political advertisement for Addison Davis disguised as a front-page story derogatory of Charlie VanZant Jr.

That story centered around, among other allegations, complaints and accusations of a principal let go by Mr. VanZant. Interestingly, there was no companion piece documenting the rise of Mr. Davis through the Duval County School System to become Chief of Schools, nor any interviews with disgruntled principals he may have had to let go during his tenure.

Fast forward two years, and Clay Today runs a critical front-page article about Latanya Peterson, Janet Kerekes’ opponent, while Ms. Peterson was a teacher in Duval County. This story centered around District testing irregularities for which Ms. Peterson was essentially given a slap on the wrist.

This was, according to Clay Today, investigated by FDOE Office of Professional Practices Services, which closed the case without taking any type of action against Ms. Peterson.

This year, Clay Today published an Op-Ed companion piece by Eric Cravey extoling the virtues of Ms. Kerekes and Ms. Studdard, who bowed to pressure from the teacher’s union during a March 2016 Board meeting.

This meeting concerned the teacher’s union collective bargaining impasse when the District still had not met the state required fund balance. Ms. Kerekes and Ms. Studdard voted for the good of the union, while Ms. Gilhousen and Ms. Condon voted for the good of the District. Sometimes leadership is doing what’s right instead of bending to the pressure of the crowd in front of you waving “We Will Vote You Out in August” signs.

Since Mr. Cravey picked a situation highlighting the difference between the Board members, let me pick one that illustrates the hypocrisy as well as the integrity of these Board members. In June 2014, almost two years after his election, Mr. VanZant attempted to reorganize his staff with a handful of personnel changes.

Although it’s generally recognized the Superintendent has the right, and authority, to pick his own staff, Ms. Kerekes and Ms. Studdard used every technicality and gimmick to obstruct and prevent this from happening (CCSB minutes: June 19 & 23, 2014 and Jan 2015). It got kind of contentious, and in the interest of full disclosure, I was one of those recommended to be hired and had a front row seat.

Contrast that with Jan 2017, less than 2 months after Mr. Davis’ election, when he hired 7 new senior staff members – replacing 5 existing administrators and adding 2 new positions (TU: Jan 24, 2017). In this instance, Ms. Kerekes abstained, and Ms. Studdard voted to approve these new hires after relatively little discussion.

In both instances, Ms. Gilhousen and Ms. Condon demonstrated the integrity to do what was right and voted to approve the Superintendent’s request. Again, full disclosure, I had a front row seat in this as well, since I was one of the lucky 5 being replaced. Forget about counting the number of particular words on a mailer as Mr. Cravey suggests, make your choice based on the character of those who demonstrate they will do what is right, even when they might personally want to do otherwise – I know I will.

I almost forgot, Ms. Kerekes abstained from voting on the personnel changes in Jan 2017 because her son was one of the 7 new administrators that Mr. Davis was recommending for one of the new positions he had created. Imagine that.

John Merrill

Orange Park

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