Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Caucus Endorses the HISD Bond Proposal

The decision to endorse the HISD bond was not made quickly or easily. It was made after nearly a month of investigation, discussion, and debate. Advocates, both for and against, were consulted and met with multiple times. In the end, despite reservations, the screening committee recommended endorsement, and the caucus board voted unanimously to accept that recommendation. When all was said and done, the extensive screening process (detailed below) cultivated confidence in HISD's plan, and therefore, the Caucus's endorsement is enthusiastic and highly credible.

It started with an initial screening in early August. It was clear even then that there were serious questions about the details of the bond as proposed, but, regardless, the screening committee voted to recommend endorsement. The question was then put before the membership at our August general meeting. State Representative Sylvester Turner, Council Members Peter Brown and Sue Lovell, Controller Annise Parker, and other Caucus members voiced concerns about the specific projects proposed in the bond, and, hearing these questions, the membership voted to postpone any endorsement. A special committee was formed to investigate the proposal's specifics, and the Caucus Board was given the power to review the findings of the committee and make the endorsement decision on behalf of the general membership.

Lots of voices and points of view were considered by the investigative committee. Even HISD Superintendent, Dr. Abelardo Saavedra, made a historic appearance before the committee to answer questions about the proposal. This is the first time an HISD superintendent has ever met with the GLBT Political Caucus. At this meeting, Superintendent Saavadra promised changes to the Bond proposal. He also invited the Caucus's input, and promised a seat at the discussion table to the GLBT community. At this point the Caucus decided to not make any recommendations in regard to the passage of the bond, hoping that it would be pulled from the ballot this fall. This hope was founded on the conversation the committee shared with Dr. Saavadra, but the HISD Board of Trustees voted this Monday to go forward this fall with a revised version of the plan.

Yesterday, the committee met once again with a representative from HISD. The revised proposal was presented, and many questions were answered. In general, the committee was very pleased with the changes, but most members were still upset with HISD's poor attempts at community outreach. After a lengthy discussion, the committee decided to recommend endorsement of the revised bond proposal. The Board also met yesterday, and we voted unanimously to endorse the HISD Bond Proposal this fall. I will discuss the details of the new bond and the significance of our endorsement in a subsequent post.

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