Sunday, March 18, 2012

With all of the backbone necessary to write a letter to the editor

This is priceless. The Metro Schools Director shows just how thin-skinned he is with a critical piece about his ethics from the same newspaper that is usually giving his policies free PR. But instead of facing reporters head on, Jesse Register sent his response in a letter to the editor. Hence, he controls the message hiding behind the gravitas of his title. Sufficiently impressed, John & Jane Q. Public?

Gail Kerr’s March 14 column states Mayor Karl Dean and I disagree about whether Metro Schools’ executive team should file disclosure forms. In fact, we agree. The Mayor wants Metro Schools executives to make financial disclosures, and the district is working on that now.

The existing MNPS ethics policy is modeled after the mayor’s ethics proclamation. The policy does not presently include a disclosure form, but we are working on one now that will do so and will be modeled after Metro’s. The district has sound financial procedures in place, and the disclosures will be an additional measure to promote accountability and transparency. The district’s financial disclosure requirement will be part of a Metro Schools policy and will include a list of positions included.

The implications are clear here: Metro government leaders render local news media their tools; report anything critical on his majesty Register and you won't see any future interview time for follow-up questions. Kudos to the Tennessean for fighting the good fight on this one, because Nashville's "alternative" press, SouthComm (Nashville Scene, Nashville City Paper, etc.) seems to be shying away from investigating the window-dressed Camelot of Metro government.

Left out of Register's spin: the fact that he hired his former employer, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and paid them $700,000 for consulting work, after which they wrote a glowing report on his professional performance.

Maybe the director intends for us to forget that one. Or maybe he is saving his comments for a future letter to the editor.

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