TO: DeKalb County Taxpayers and Voters
RE: Hearsay about Marshall Orson’s performance as a board member
In an editorial meeting today, we discussed that we simply cannot allow hearsay about Marshall Orson to go unchallenged. The hearsay repeated on DSW blog is: [I] “have heard many people who say they will give Orson another vote simply because he did have a hand in the lawsuit settlement and fought for the charter cluster petition.” Here are the facts concerning Marshall Orson:
We know Orson’s record doesn’t match his self-aggrandizing rhetoric.
Heery Lawsuit Settlement
Claim: Orson had a hand in the Heery lawsuit settlement.
Reality: Michael Thurmond and DeKalb County Schools board settled the lawsuit with Heery for $7.5 million dollars. This after the appointed Special Master gutted Heery’s claims and found that DeKalb County Schools had credible claims of approximately $33 million dollars. Heery’s back was against the wall. Losing this case would have made it extremely difficult for them to get any more public contracts. Receiving $33 million in settlement from Heery, instead of a paltry $7.5 million, would have made DeKalb taxpayers whole.
In 2008, Orson received campaign contributions from a partner at the law firm who represents Heery International. Although that partner has since moved to New Orleans, Orson also sits on a community advisory board with a vice president of Heery International. We believe there is definitely a conflict of interest that Orson has never disclosed to taxpayers.
Orson may have had his hand out – or in — but he did nothing for taxpayers and our shortchanged students and teachers.
Druid Hills Charter Cluster Petition
Claim: Orson “fought” for the [Druid Hills] charter cluster petition.
Reality: The well-written Druid Hills Charter Cluster Petition should have been approved. (This comment from one of our editors who has been involved with several charter schools, including helping to write the charters and petitions.) But, Orson let the naysayers at the Palace get too far down the road with their ridiculous “me-first” opposition. He apparently made no attempt to develop a consensus among school board members. In the end, all Orson had was a very red face. Really. Once again, Orson did nothing for taxpayers and our shortchanged students and teachers.
Reality, Reality, Reality, Reality
• On March 23, 2013, Orson voted to spend $1,694,863.98 to buy brand new cars for administrators whose salaries average $100K a year. More than double what most teachers make – and teachers still manage to provide their own transportation to school.
• On February 18, 2013, Orson voted to hire law firm #3 (McKenna, Long and Aldridge) to provide ‘consulting’ services to DeKalb County Schools for $50,000 a month. Do the math – that’s $600,000 per year that won’t be going to the classrooms! Apparently two law firms and a bevy of consultants just weren’t doing the trick. It appears that our school board and Orson, the current District 2 BOE representative, believe in prioritizing lawyers and Palace staff over students and teachers. Is DCSS a jobs program or what? You betcha!
• District 2 did NOT have a voice in the current budget because Orson, one of only two (2) elected representatives on the current school board, chose not to attend that meeting. We would like to point out that Don McChesney (Orson’s opponent in the May 20 election) did not miss one meeting, as far as we know, during the years he served honorably on the DeKalb School Board.
• Speaking of meetings, Orson was the one who pushed through a change in the school board meeting schedule. Now the board’s business is “taken care of” in one overwhelming day per month of meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting. There is no time to study anything that comes up at the work session, thoughtfully consider pros and cons, speak with taxpayers, look at what other school districts are doing or obtain additional information before voting on it. Board transparency is also conveniently reduced because most parents work and cannot attend, or even watch on TV, a full day of meetings. Voting happens before any taxpayers can object. We guess that Orson considers his board salary compensation enough for only one day a month. That works out to approximately $1400 per day. Or $369,600 per year.
Does anyone think that Marshall Orson is worth $369,600?
Once again, please do NOT vote for any school board incumbents. Vote, instead, for change … vote for COSU – Central Office Shake-Up!
VOTE TOMORROW >> TUESDAY, MAY 20