Chris Jacobs has avoided education policy issues since his resignation from the school board to become County Clerk. In that special election, he was dogged by criticisms of his long tenure on the board and has since remained silent on education issues. Political operatives from both parties implicitly understood that Jacobs sought to distance himself from his school board tenure, which lacked substance.
The editorial calls for moving the May school board election to November, whereas to coincide with more intensely political elections. Jacobs writes, “it is very easy for a particular special interest group to hijack the election by turning out a small number of voters.”
Many observes find the concern hypocritical. Jacobs has orchestrated massive and secretive fundraising efforts that dumped huge sums of money into these low turnout May elections.
Parent activists, who are just now finding their political leverage in the district’s governance structure, are upset with Jacobs for the editorial. To move the school board elections now would serve only to disenfranchise parents, they argue. Competing in a November general election would be too costly for most community activists and parent groups, who see the proposal as “an effort to protect monied interests in the education system.”
Jacobs is calling for the change at a time when Carl Paladino’s influence has waned considerably in recent months, and activists are calling for his resignation in light of four schools being removed from the state’s failing list — an accomplishment attributable to Dr. Pamela Brown, who Paladino slandered relentlessly in the local media.
Carl Paladino is the father of Jacobs’ sister-in-law.
Observers are wondering why Jacobs would expose himself to criticisms of his school board tenure after spending so much energy distancing himself from it in recent years. Jacobs writes:
For this one election, polling stations are staffed throughout Buffalo for the entire day at a cost of over 100,000 taxpayer dollars.
The problem with such a low voter turnout is that it is very easy for a particular special interest group to hijack the election by turning out a small number of voters.
The original concept of a May election, and it was a laudable one, was to remove the School Board election from the “politics” surrounding November elections.
Beyond the apparent objective of defending the influence of money in school board elections — which advantages Jacobs and Paladino in a very apparent way — political operatives expect something more sinister is afoot. There is widespread speculation that moving the school board elections to November will help Paladino defend his badly tarnished majority, since parent groups cannot compete with the same financial footing.