Op-Ed: HB1315 violates our right to representation

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Robert L. Buggs Sr.

By Robert L. Buggs Sr., GCSC V.P. Board Trustee

I am from the small town of Madison, Mississippi. We have a saying “… no matter how thin the pancake, it still has two sides.” This is my side in reference to HB 1315.

First, I thank State Representative Tim Brown and the supporters of HB 1315 for reminding the citizens of Gary, Indiana, and the state that racism still exists during this Black History Month 2018. No one ever credited the white bus driver that asked Rosa Parks to give her seat to a white male. Well, I thank Representative Tim Brown and the supporters of HB 1315 for this blatant and discriminatory legislation. It proposes that the citizens of Gary have taxation without representation.

For example, it gives the emergency manager, a white female that resides in Schererville, Indiana, the authority to appoint someone to represent me in the 6th District. This is an elected position. This is legislation that compromises my constitutional right to VOTE FOR WHOM I CHOOSE. It further proposes that ALL reference to the Gary School Board of Trustees “governing body,” designation be deleted in its entirety in SEA 567 and be relegated to an “advisory committee” with no input on anything. The most profound and egregious intent about HB 1315 is that it applies to Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC) ONLY.

A white man, who resides in Crawfordsville, Indiana, has determined that Gary citizens cannot govern themselves nor have the right to vote for their choice of who represents them. That decision will be made for us by a white woman, who resides in Schererville. He wants to make it a state law. This legislation also removes the GCSC Board of Trustees appointee, Attorney Clorius Lay, from the Fiscal Board as authorized in SEA 567. This legislation also proposes that the Board meet once every three months as opposed to SEA 567 provision that the Board meets once a month. It removes the mandate of SEA 567 that the Emergency Manager consults with the governing body. This legislation also wants to make it a law to hire a teacher in July, who will start work in August and be terminated after September 30 without allowing DUE PROCESS. Again, this legislation applies ONLY TO GCSC. The correct language reads, “…makes changes concerning the Gary Community School Corporation and its operation.”

If you are wondering what precipitated this legislation, it is because Board member Buggs questioned the Emergency Manager, Dr. Hinckley, about accountability and noncompliance with SEA 567. Several local and state politicians had warned Buggs that the “state” was “watching” the Gary School Board meeting and “… you, Norman Bailey and Mr. Piggee are being too critical of Dr. Hinckley.” That translates to, in my opinion, “… how dare you Black guys ask that white lady ANY questions.” HB 1315 is in essence the “Buggs, Bailey and Piggee Bill.”

In my opinion, HB 1315 is just a minute part or a smoke screen to take over the City of Gary – period. Gary is a high potential economic explosion. We have ideal ingress/egress, transportation routes, water/lakefront, and large parcels of vacant land that equates to vast new construction opportunities.

To support my opinion, the authority given to the Emergency Manager, Dr. Hinckley, is approved/authorized by attorneys from the Attorney General’s Office, IDOE, ISBA, and DUAB. To Dr. Hinckley’s credit, I have several documents from her stating “… per ISBA, DUAB, and IDOE, I must appoint officers, after a meeting on December 14 involving ISBA, DUAB, and IDOE officials, I was instructed that the appointment had to be made by the Emergency Manager, …On December 13, I met with officials of the IDOE, DUAB, and ISBA to receive direction about filling the vacancy for District 6… per this group. I must appoint the District 6 representative. IC 20-23-12-10-2 (b) “The governing body shall temporarily fill a vacancy on the governing body as soon as practicable after the vacancy occurs.”

Dr. Hinckley has scheduled February 27, 2018 to interview applicants and make her appointment at the school board meeting on March 13, 2018. SEA 567 limits the Emergency Manager’s full power and authority to finances, academics and GCSC operations ONLY. So you see, all the primary state agencies are directing and instructing her to take these unconstitutional actions. Another point of interest that is most important to note about both SEA 567 and HB 1315 is that in case of any litigation, the Emergency Manager will be defended by the Indiana State Attorney General’s office. State collusion?

Finally, Representative Tim Brown is spewing vicious lies about the present board not paying payroll taxes and mismanagement of funds. That happened in 2012. The majority of the present board was sworn in January 2017. None of our state legislators bothered to correct him. State Representative Charlie Brown stated in the newspaper that we were “guilty, guilty, guilty,” to Representative Tim Brown’s false allegations.

The only political leaders that have spoken out publicly against HB 1315 are Indiana State Senator Eddie Melton and State Representative Vernon Smith.

Gary, we have a problem during this 2018 Black History Month — this law for Gary ONLY is blatant discrimination, a violation of civil rights, is taxation without representation, denies due process of the teacher’s labor contract, and it’s all funded by your tax dollars, which are supported and directed by the State of Indiana. This law applies to Gary, Indiana, ONLY. There is no other school district that will be affected by HB 1315.

 

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