Monday, February 24, 2020

Any "-gates" at Richland 2?

You've got to read the February 21st article on about Richland 1 and a letter sent by its superintendent to teachers about the bad press that Richland 1 has been getting.

Titled "What Can We Do About That?" the article digs into a letter emailed to teachers by Richland One superintendent Craig Witherspoon. He is apparently feeling unfairly attacked on these topics:

* No-bid contracts of $500,000 in science programming;
* An advertising budget increase of 5,500% in five years;
* Hiring of Tameika Isaac Devine (Jabber & Devine P.A.) "for 'complex' legal work outside her primary field";
* Jacketgate

It took an investigative effort by, The State and The Post and Courier to dig out this news.

"Bad press"? Oh, how the truth stings...

But you'll remember who wrote about the sweetheart deal involving Tameika Isaac Devine and Richland Two that sprang into existence in January 2019. Isaac Devine is the wife of Richland One School Board Chairman Jamie L. Devine. She is also a Columbia City Councilwoman. She is with a small law firm (two attorneys; both black) that lists absolutely no relevant (bond) experience on its own website. That tiny law firm benefits from Richland 2, because the Richland 2 School Board gave its own superintendent (Baron Davis) the authority to direct its bond counsel, Burr Forman, to associate co-counsel on the bonds for the purpose of diversity. In other words, pass out some of the dough to Jabber & Isaac.

Richland Two does not need to be paying indirectly to train a small law firm. Presumably, the bond work cost to Richland 2 did not increase. Did Superintendent Davis tell Burr Forman to give some work to Jabber & Isaac and pay them out of their fees?

Burr Forman is a huge regional law firm with specialization in school and public bond work. A female lawyer handles Richland 2 bond work. (That's diversity.) No doubt Burr Forman has many black professional employees. (That's diversity.)

How that permission ever slipped in a January 2019 Bond Resolution and got past the Richland 2 Board is anyone's guess. Well, maybe not. It was at the very end of a long, complex legal document. Reading it probably put a number of Richland Two board members to sleep. By the time they got to the end of the document, if most of them even read it that far, they must have missed the give-away at the end. Just a few bland words gave away the store.