If Jack Davidson runs for re-election to the Lawrence school board, thereÃ¢ÂÂs one vote he shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt count on.
Mick Lowe, principal of West Junior High School, sent a blistering e-mail to Davidson, ripping into him for opposing the boardÃ¢ÂÂs proposed $59 million bond issue for school construction and renovation. The strongly worded message was just one more example of the strong feelings the proposal has generated among officials and district patrons.
Ã¢ÂÂIt was political pandering at its finest, aimed at playing to the sentiments of (the) no-growth, no-tax-at-any-cost element of our community that is dedicated to preserving the past with little regard for the future,Ã¢ÂÂ Lowe wrote to Davidson.
Davidson, the only board member to vote against the bond-issue plan that will appear on the April 1 ballot, said Tuesday he didnÃ¢ÂÂt appreciate political advice from a district administrator.
Ã¢ÂÂThe administration has no right to tell me to run or not to run,Ã¢ÂÂ Davidson said. Ã¢ÂÂI know theyÃ¢ÂÂre aggravated, but I do represent a certain group of people in this community.Ã¢ÂÂ
School administrators typically shy from the sort of confrontational message to board members that Lowe sent Davidson. Lowe is retiring as principal after this school year.
For his part, Davidson said he hadnÃ¢ÂÂt decided whether to seek another four-year term.
Davidson has consistently supported parts of the bond issue, specifically spending $28 million to rebuild South Junior High School and expand Lawrence Alternative High School. But he voted against the complete package because, he said, the overall cost of the bond issue was too high and the plan would close three elementary schools.
In his e-mail and a subsequent interview, Lowe said he considered Davidson a Ã¢ÂÂhypocriteÃ¢ÂÂ because he supported full funding of his pet projects while berating his colleagues for earmarking money for other buildings.
Ã¢ÂÂYou essentially left your colleagues to do the Ã¢ÂÂ'heavy liftingÃ¢ÂÂ while you watch from the high ground. Politics is the art of compromise, and you totally missed the mark in that regard,Ã¢ÂÂ Lowe wrote.
Lowe also criticized Davidson for sticking to a campaign pledge to not support elementary school consolidation. Lowe was put off by DavidsonÃ¢ÂÂs comment about Ã¢ÂÂpromises made are promises kept.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂAs a leader,Ã¢ÂÂ Lowe said, Ã¢ÂÂthe problem isnÃ¢ÂÂt going away by simply hanging on to platitudes.Ã¢ÂÂ
Davidson said he viewed the e-mail from Lowe as an indirect message from the districtÃ¢ÂÂs administration.
Ã¢ÂÂHe needs to understand, I consider it a statement of the administration,Ã¢ÂÂ Davidson said.
Lowe said that wasnÃ¢ÂÂt the case.
Ã¢ÂÂThat was absolutely my thoughts, my reaction,Ã¢ÂÂ he said. Ã¢ÂÂI didnÃ¢ÂÂt consult anyone else.Ã¢ÂÂ
Lowe also sent the e-mail to the six other board members and Supt. Randy Weseman.
Scott Morgan, school board president, said he would defend any personÃ¢ÂÂs right to speak his or her mind.
Ã¢ÂÂThat goes for anybody in the district,Ã¢ÂÂ Morgan said.
Morgan said he viewed the message as one manÃ¢ÂÂs opinion about an important topic. ItÃ¢ÂÂs not an indirect attack on Davidson by the superintendentÃ¢ÂÂs office, Morgan said.
Ã¢ÂÂJack should know this administration well enough to know thatÃ¢ÂÂs not the way Randy would operate,Ã¢ÂÂ Morgan said.