A Fort Worth school board member continues to buck the system for secrecy

bus

Ann SutherlandIf it’s not one veil of secrecy it’s another.

The veteran member of the Fort Worth school board walked into a public meeting the other day and when a plan of hers was derailed in a public vote, she said, "I do feel that when board members make agreements among themselves, that their character should be sufficient that they keep those agreements," Sutherland said.

The plan was the selection of officers for the board.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Linda Campbell notes that Sutherland’s statement appears for all the world like the trustee had been engaging in some back room deal making.

Campbell writes, ‘”it sounded for all the world as though someone lined up votes before Tuesday night -- or believed they forged an agreement outside public channels. But walking quorums, secret compacts, scheming, conniving and vote manipulation flout the Texas Open Meeting Act.”

We’ve been there before with Sutherland and her bent for secrecy in doing he public’s business.

She was also outspoken when district trustees approved a policy requiring board members retain their email records. Sutherland was one of three voting against the measure, and she received a schooling in an S-T op-ed. She was defended in a counter opinion piece by the very stellar alt pub Fort Worth Weekly, which named her "Watchdog of the Year" in 2010.

Earlier this year she wanted to keep the names of applicants seeking an appointment to a board seat private, before saner heads prevailed and advised that would violate state law. Really, who does she think she works for, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association?

Sutherland has no problem using the state’s sunshine laws when they benefit her.

There's a lot to like about Sutherland; she's a brassy high-achiever and has no problem bucking the system. Mavericks are good. But she might need this gift.

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Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of 'school bus' by flickr user Rosa Say, used via a Creative Commons license.