except Paul Womack) does not appear interested in finding those sources, as citizens, let's try to determine who those sources might be.
Let's start by listing who had access to the information. Obviously, the entire board had first-hand knowledge. Since this was a legal document, we certainly can assume that lawyers were somehow involved. And since the information released was very detailed in nature, we can assume that it came from someone who had taken notes, or typed up minutes or otherwise had access to the written offer. This is a very small pond.
Sandy Spruill asked a valid question regarding the AJC and Belcher publishing this information. "How is protecting the confidentiality of a jackboot source with a personal agenda more sacrosanct than protecting the legally sanctioned confidentiality of personnel/contract negotiations (per §O.C.G.A 50-14-3 and DCSS BOE board policy)?"
Although I don't think these reporters would or should reveal their sources, I think they were complicit (albeit maybe unknowingly) in driving a very good leader for our schools out of DeKalb. Tom Bowen publicly stated that the leak was the main reason Dr. Cox dropped out of the race. We don't know the reasons the other two finalists also dropped out.
Tom Bowen was also very quick to state to news reporters that the board may now consider Ramona Tyson as the permanent superintendent. Could Tom have a reason for pushing the 'Tyson Agenda'? Is Tyson simply being coy by insisting she does not want the job permanently? Tyson is a long-time insider and keeping her on as superintendent will certainly maintain the status quo. Why does Tom keep pushing for the status quo?
A comment on the blog quotes Maureen Downey's defense of publishing the leaked contract offer, "I can assure you that unnamed sources are not used lightly and have to be approved by top editors at the AJC." (Tuesday, April 26, 2011)
Downey also stated, "But here’s my position: If I know something important, you are going to know it, too. The newspaper is not paying me to collect information and then hide it from readers. If it is relevant, if it is newsworthy, if it involves tax dollars, then my job and the job of this newspaper is to report it." (Sunday, April 24, 2011)
Maureen is a journalist. She is going to publish news as she receives it and as it is confirmed. Whoever leaked this information knows that. This person knew that the terms of the negotiations would be published and the public, without realizing that this was negotiation, not a final offer, would be outraged at Cox's requests. This person must have known that the public outcry would effect the outcome of the process.
This is how negotiations work. You start with your highest demands. Then you compromise. But Cox's chance to compromise was compromised when "someone" leaked the negotiations.—someone who knew that Cox was probably about to be given an offer by the board and wanted it stopped—someone who has a lot to lose if we hire a superintendent who will really make changes and focus our resources on the children, rather than the adults who are under-qualified to milk the school system for their inflated salaries and/or contracts.
The REAL story is that a DeKalb County School System Board of Education member, for personal agenda reasons, knowingly broke BOE policy and revealed confidential contract negotiations with a candidate for superintendent who had been approved by the majority of the BOE. Belcher and the AJC just fell into their hands.
Most certainly, this boils down to a race issue. Cox is white. Although some supportive board members were black, the members of the board who did not support her were all black and often bring up race as an issue. These board members also have a lot to lose if a "friends and family" clean-up occurs. For example, Gene Walker has several relatives and friends working in the system. Gene Walker is also admittedly race-driven.
“I am a very, very race-conscious person,” Walker said at a board meeting in October 2009. “I will never ever try to lead you to believe that I am race-neutral. I see color. I appreciate color. I celebrate color and I love color. But judge me by my actions.”
Could this be one of Gene Walker's actions? Sabotaging a white candidate for school superintendent?
How about Jay Cunningham? Below are some blog quotes regarding Jay's agenda:
As reported in the AJC - Documents show that Cunningham’s restaurants collected $3,077 from schools in the five years before he joined the school board, compared to at least $22,655 in the three and a half years after. That doesn't seem as important to me as the fact that Jay has a previously undisclosed criminal history for theft from McDonald's, where he worked as manager and more recently for three alleged accusations of violence.
Additionally, he led the insistence to retain the Alexander law firm - costing the school system an additional million and he led the charge to continue to spend millions on the magnet transportation hubs while voting to cut school staff such as parapros, media clerks and CTSS technicians at regular schools. Jay continues to carve and support a racial divide on the school board.
For that matter, what about the Alexander law firm?
Alexander & Associates hold their contract with DeKalb schools only due to the racial outcry of Gene, Jay and others. In fact, Pam Speaks read a prepared statement at a board meeting stating that she had been pressured behind the scenes to retain the Alexander firm. Pam took the ethical high road and publicly stated that she would not be manipulated.
If a new superintendent investigated exactly where we are spending our legal dollars, that could have an effect on the Alexander firm's income. For example, how many additional law firms do we employ to support the areas in which Alexander is not capable? Where in the budget can we find details of legal fees — which firms are paid, how much are they paid and for what legal services? Could it be that we could easily function without the nearly $1 million annual contract with Alexander? We don't know, because legal costs in the school system budget are concealed. They must be brought into the light and made known to the public. Perhaps supporters of Josie Alexander were afraid that Dr. Cox would have reason to cut the tie.
There is a long and winding road leading from these leaks. It leads to "someone's door". All we can do as citizens is speculate, which I hope we will continue to do until some action is taken. I sincerely hope that those on our school board who care will demand an investigation and an audit. After that, demand that our check register be published online so that the public can monitor who is being paid and how much.