I read with interest the recent letter from Andy Perez, brother of District 2 school board candidate Marco Perez. I was interested for two reasons: First, well-documented family histories demonstrate the extraordinary mix of people who make up our great nation, and second, because the Perez letter raised some additional questions that should be answered.
Regarding his family history, Andy went to great detail about his mother's family history - all the way from the Mayflower, very cool.
Oddly absent from that family history were any details about his father, other than the fact his parents met in the UK and went to Costa Rica. But I am sure his paternal history is just as interesting.
Regarding Costa Rica, Andy asserted that country is "neo-liberal, meaning that their politics are closer in line with Reagan and Bush." Actually, no. Costa Rica is a socialist democracy under the control of the socialist PLN and PAC political parties - its current president being a member of the latter. But the people of Costa Rica do, for the moment, have more freedom than those under regional dictators like Ortega, Castro and Maduro.
Andy was not clear about what the Perez connection is with Costa Rica, but where Marco was born or his ethnic identity is not a question I care about in the least.
I do care about the political views every school board member brings to that table, particularly views that subordinate parents and children to the power of special interest groups and the state, and how that will impact the future of education in our community.
Regarding the questions the Perez letter raised, here are a few.
First, Perez seems puzzled as to why a school board seat has generated so much interest outside that district. Well Andy, as Marco and his backers well know, the interest is because the seat will be a "swing vote" to determine allocations of the $418 million annual school budget which is supposed to be used to better educate the 44,000 students in this huge bureaucracy.
Marco's opponent, Tom Decosimo, will challenge the status quo - he will not be a rubber stamper. That is why Marco has significant financial backing from a small group of very wealthy liberals from Lookout Mountain and their friends, who funded the defunct UnifiEd, and would like to resurrect it from the dead. These elitists think they know what is best for your children, and want a puppet to support their agenda.
Second, Andy sanctimoniously described some criticism of his brother in very derisive terms like "un-Christian," "un-American" and "unpatriotic." He asserted, twice, that if somebody is lying to you, you should be concerned about "what else are they lying to you about?" Indeed, that should be a concern, particularly in regard to the educational future of our great community's next generation.
Fact is, there are some backers of both candidates who make petulant and false statements about the opposing candidate. But a good example of campaign "lies" would be the recent mailer backing Perez sent to District 2 residents asserting Tom Decosimo's views, as if he had answered a survey. He was not asked any of those questions by anybody. That push piece is a deceptive fabrication.
And on the subject of deception, it was Marco as District 2 incumbent Kathy Lennon’s former treasurer, who it appears conspired with Lennon to suppress other potential candidates for the District 2 seat, in violation of Tennessee's 1991 election Skullduggery Act. Sounds nefarious, and it is.
That law was enacted to ensure that an incumbent who qualifies for the ballot does not rig the election by withdrawing from the ballot on the last day to withdraw (which is what Lennon did) and then anoint their heir apparent, who is ready and waiting to jump on the ballot (which is what Lennon did). If not for quick action by the Hamilton County Election Commission regarding this Skullduggery, Perez would be running unopposed.
Bottom line, what matters most in this hotly contested school board election, are the qualifications and political objectives of the candidates. I don't personally know Marco Perez, but our mutual friends tell me he is a kind person with good qualities. The same can be said of his opponent, Tom Decosimo.
But the academic qualifications and professional achievements Perez lists are a curiosity. He notes numerous degrees from Costa Rica, Mexico and American institutions, including three graduate degrees from what may be online diploma schools. He lists CEO, executive or high-level management positions with seven different organizations over the last 10 years, some of those executive positions overlapping. One listing is an identifiable organization, while the rest appear to be operations out of his garage. That's OK, I am all for entrepreneurship and maybe he has been very successful.
However, Tom Decosimo (whose paternal lineage, by the way, is from the coal miners of central Pennsylvania), has a clear established record of academic and professional achievement, and decades of community service - in our community.
Tom wants to ensure all Hamilton County parents and their children have school options that are at least as good as local private schools. That is going to require a majority of board members who are committed to much more than business as usual, and Tom has the proven record and ability to help move HCDE in that direction.