IN MY OPINION….
What is House Bill 514? HB514 is a bill that would allow the Town of Matthews and Mint Hill to start and operate their own charter school system. This bill was presented to the North Carolina General Assembly by Rep. Bill Brawley (Republican) on March 28, 2017 and passed by the House on April 27, 2017 by 78-39 which will now go to the Senate for vote. The vote could be as early as Wednesday May 16, 2018 when the Senate re-convey’s. FYI, In 2016 Bill Brawley has received over 28k in donations from donors involved with charter schools.
On April 23, 2018 Matthews Town Board voted 4-3 to approve a legislative agenda that supports House Bill 514. The vote was supported by Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners John Urban, Kress Query and Chris Melton. In opposition, Commissioners John Higdon, Jeff Miller and Barbara Dement.
In a tweet posted by The Town of Matthews – “The Matthews Board of Commissioners voted last evening (4-3) to support a Legislative Agenda that includes support for HB514 – a bill in the NC General Assembly that would give certain localities the right to start their own charter school, should they choose to do so. Should HB514 eventually be signed into state law, it only gives the locality the right to create their own charter school – it does not mean that the Town of Matthews will take any action, let alone break away from CMS. The Town Board’s vote was in no way a vote to break away from CMS. Should HB514 be signed into state law, extensive additional research and input from the community will be sought prior to the Town Board considering any additional action.”
Really!? Then why all the secrecy and deceit just to say, we may or may not start a local charter school system? Why did the Council place HB514 in the Legislative Agenda for vote? Even the description of HB514 in the Legislative Agenda is misleading, “6. Explore Options/Possibilities for Municipalities to Form School Systems. See HB514 (An Act to Permit Certain Towns to Operate Charter Schools). According to section 10 of HB514 “This act is effective when it becomes law and applies to applications to establish a charter school submitted on or after that date.” Meaning, the Town of Matthews can begin a charter school system on the day HB514 is voted into law whether the citizens agree or not and trust me, THEY KNOW THIS. Furthermore, why should anyone trust Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners John Urban, Kress Query and Chris Melton? During the election Mr. Bailey lied about using his work email account for town business, in 2005 voted to condemn WWII Veteran Neubert Persur’s farm for a park and in 2013 voted to condemn Mr. & Mrs. Wrights property for well-connected individuals of Matthews and was financially supported in the 2017 election by one of the well-connected as well as John Urban. Kress Query and John Urban also supported the 2013 vote to condemn the Wright’s property for the well-connected, and one involved was once Mr. Query’s neighbor. Mr. Urban has made a nice fortune in the development of Matthews while serving as Commissioner. Kress Query also lied about using his personal email account for town business and supported the 2005 vote to condemn Mr. Purser’s farm. Chris Melton is known for criticizing the citizenry for not attending Planning Conference’s and participated with former Mayor Jim Taylor in taking jabs at constituents according to WSOC. I think Chris Melton’s vocab consisted of four words in 2017, I’m Mayor Pro Tem. This was only possible due to Commissioner John Higdon. During the 2015 election John Higdon won by one vote so the Board decided to let Chris Melton serve as Mayor Pro Tem in 2017. So think about it, can you really trust someone who is dishonest, helped well-connected individuals, taken jabs at constituents, condemned a WWII Veterans farm for park? No, the town tweet is normal BS being spewed once again to the citizens of Matthews and it’s being served on a silver platter.
Legislative Agenda – HB514 note- when you scroll down to look at number six for HB514 also take at look at number seven. Funny how Town Manager Hazen Blodgett took the time to label it House Bill 972 but not for House Bill 514. Reminds me of when the Town had to pay the Wrights their attorney fees in 2015. In the Town Budget Ordinance Amendment it is just labeled “Legal fees”. Wright – Refund For Attorney’s Fees Typical move by the Town when they do not want the public to know the facts.
I’m willing to bet this has been in the planning for quite some time which lead to the creation of the Mayor’s Educational Task Force. This was formed by former Mayor Jim Taylor and the only purpose for this task force was to create a charter school system within Matthews. Hmmm, just thinking out loud here, but East 74 Restaurant seems to be a favorite for luncheon dates for Paul Bailey, Kress Query and Jim Taylor. I wonder if this is where all the scheming began? Anyway, for the past two years there has been six meetings for this Educational Task Force which included Commissioner Kress Query, Town Manager Hazen Blodgett and Jim Taylor. The first meeting was on May 16, 2016 and it is noted “What would legislature want from us before we asked for a bill to be written.” The Legislative contacts were Bill Brawley, Jeff Tarte and Bob Rucho. Kress Query was to pursue speaker ideas from Paul Bailey. The third meeting was on August 15, 2016 and in the approved minutes it is noted Senator Jeff Tarte “Raleigh will want to know what the Matthews community wants so they will lean toward a referendum. Money will follow if referendum is successful.” Did anyone receive a questionnaire? During the sixth meeting on Tuesday March 6, 2017 Commissioner Kress Query suggested splitting CMS as an interested option. This split would be three sections: Northern, Southern and Central. This was not a feasible option, but he continued with the thought of a Campus for Multiple Charter Schools which would be sponsored by Matthews. Other thoughts and idea’s were interjected by member’s which lead to Garnetta Smith asking “if task force is interested in Municipal Charter School, as an opportunity to service 5,500 students in Matthews? According to the the approved minutes “The response was favorable to initiate the necessary steps through Raleigh for approval of a Municipal Charter School.” Therefore producing the birth of House Bill 514.
There has been a lot of talk of this being a racial issue. This is not racial, this is more of a power kick the take it or leave it, we know whats best attitude and dirty politics, sadly the children of Matthews are being used. In a tweet by Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James stated “CMS is an agressive ‘my way or the highway’ group of liberal autocrats.” That’s funny because according to an article by WBTV “school board members were told if they didn’t support a candidate running for state office against Brawley in an upcoming election, the bill would go away.” it continues with “Sources also say board members were told if they fired Charles Jeter – the bill would go away.” and when Commissioner John Urban received a text message from a CMS school Board member which he thought was threatening. This lead to political strategist Lawrence Shaheen leaving a voicemail message for that school board member of his disappointment of the text and “said he would find somebody to oppose her when she is up for reelection.” This is the same political strategist that represented Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners John Urban, Kress Query and Chris Melton during the 2017 election.
In a tweet by Dedrick Russell of WBTV “Some ppl in Matthews are ok with paying higher taxes so Town can have own charter school – vote delayed” Interesting when we have not been told what the cost would be or if there will be a tax increase. I’m finding it hard to believe taxes will not increase and I think we all can agree the cost will always go up. Call me crazy, but I never support a tax increase unless it’s in black & white for inspection. It’s our money and this is a massive undertaking by the Town, just because Bill James tweets that the town will not raise taxes is not enough to convince this chick. We’ve heard “no new taxes” before.
In a article written by John Higdon Mayor Pro Tem of Matthews he has stated, “It has not been proven to be fiscally or functionally viable if schools were constructed, or even vetted by our community at large. Public support for the bill prior to our vote was almost non-existent, but dissension rife. This legislation is being rushed through at the 11th hour with insufficient consideration given to the concerns of all stakeholders.”
If HB514 is voted into law this will permit Matthews and Mint Hill to operate their own charter schools and that is terrifying. Matthews Board of Commissioners would be the Board of Directors and they have already failed their first test! When a teacher assigns a project, what is the main requirement for that project? RESEARCH! But, according to Matthews “extensive research” still needs to be done. The Board of Commissioner’s will be responsible in appointing who will operate the school. Need to keep an eye on this, I’m sure no favors will be given here and if you believe that I have some land in Florida to sell. Granted CMS has issues that need addressing and do not get me wrong I am not opposed to Charter Schools. I think they give parents another option who may be dissatisfied with CMS. But that’s just it, this is a decision for parents, not the Mayor and Commissioners. The NCGA House passed HB514 a year ago and the town had many opportunities to inform and educate the community but instead the Town Board chose to sneak the vote in and that is enough to agitate anyone. By rushing HB514 to vote without all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed this could create a tremendous burden upon the citizens of Matthews. We have the right to be heard. There should have been extensive research and community input before the April 23rd vote, but Mayor Paul Bailey and Commissioners Kress Query, John Urban and Chris Melton have made it loud and clear that democracy does not exist in Matthews.
Remember in politics, the truth always comes out, it may take time but it always comes out.
Thank you for supporting MATTHEWS WATCH and please remember to tell your friends and neighbors. God bless. Gina Hoover