Favorite

The Pulaski school caper 

I wrote briefly last week about the Keystone Kops caper in which Pulaski County School Board member Tim Clark and a district principal, Michael Nellums of Mills High, collaborated on setting up a video sting of Gwen Williams, another School Board member.

Williams was a key vote last fall in a simmering controversy over the teachers union. Clark and Nellums shared an anti-union objective. People with whom Clark and Nellums dealt clumsily put together a video of Williams taking an envelope with perhaps $100, supposedly to influence a favor on a sidewalk contract at a school in her zone. The video and a bogus letter about it were sent to the School Board.

As the instigators no doubt hoped, the video was turned over to authorities. Investigators did a thorough job. They uncovered, not a crime by Williams, but what Prosecutor Larry Jegley described as a "juvenile" plot to discredit Williams.

Clark insists he had only been responding to what he thought was a legitimate complaint about Williams. Nellums has dummied up (and lawyered up), but his allies insist "everybody knows" Williams was prone to such suasion. Nellums' allies also offer a number of other straw men, several racial in context.

• The prosecutor just wants to put the black man – Nellums – down. Forget that, in doing so, the prosecutor exonerated a black woman and tabbed a white man as the financier of the plot. If Williams' critics are so sure she's dirty, why didn't they just complain to authorities, rather than cooking up a scheme complete with a handwritten script, clandestine meetings, dozens of phone calls and a wad of cash stuck in a Ritz cracker box?

• Williams is a poor woman, a discount store clerk, whose grasp isn't sufficient for school board service. Let voters be the judge of that.

• Williams went along with an unconscionable decision (pushed by Clark, by the way) to pour Pulaski school construction money into neighborhoods of white privilege, such as Maumelle, while forsaking black neighborhoods like College Station. This again, is no justification for a black principal's schoolboy antics.

• The prosecutor was tougher on Michael Nellums than on police in recent shooting investigations. I don't buy it, but those cases aren't on trial. The issue here is inexplicably stupid actions by people who lead school districts. (Nellums is also a member of the Little Rock School Board.)

Prosecutor Jegley says he looked for every possible way to allege a crime. Had the instigators gone directly to authorities – rather than planting a bogus claim with the School Board – they could have faced a false report charge. Nothing else, Jegley said, "met the threshold for bringing the justice machinery to bear."

Mockery fits the offense. I like a reader's photoshopping of pictures of Nellums and Clark into a picture of the cinematic heroes of the movie "Dumb and Dumber." But stupid as those movie characters were, they had good hearts. There was nothing good-hearted about the scheme aimed at Gwen Williams.

Nellums' record, by the way, is littered with trouble – disputes with a co-worker; allegations of tricks by the man he beat for Little Rock School Board; funny business in the recent Little Rock School Board superintendent search.

Williams' attorney has said she'll sue. Good. Meanwhile, the Pulaski School Board should make permanent Nellums' suspension as a school principal. He and Clark also should resign from their school board seats, but that would require more grace than they've demonstrated so far.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Baker Kurrus: Opposes Little Rock School District tax proposal

    Baker Kurrus has written a monumental essay explaining why he opposes the proposal in the May 9 special , the Little Rock lawyer and businessman who long served on the Little Rock School Board and spent a year as its superintendent after the state takeover before being fired by Education Commissioner
    • Apr 28, 2017
  • LR City Board to meet Sunday to discuss crime

    The Little Rock City Board will have a special called meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday to discuss the recent increase in violent crime episodes.
    • Apr 28, 2017
  • How low can they go? An insulting flyer for Little Rock school tax

    The group pushing a huge addition to personal property tax payments in the Little Rock School District have hit a new low with their latest pro-tax flyer. A vote against it means you hate kids.
    • Apr 28, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • The end of democracy in LR

    The state Board of Education was scheduled to talk this week about the Little Rock School District, under state control for two years because six of its 48 schools failed to meet an arbitrary pass rate on a standardized test.
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • Internet looting continues

    The 2017 legislative session concluded without passage of a bill to encourage internet merchants to collect and remit taxes on sales in Arkansas, though internet giant Amazon has begun doing so voluntarily.
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: O'Reilly's fall

    • O'Reilly should run for president. He's already cleared one major hurdle by proving he's a…

    • on April 27, 2017
  • Re: Intracity tourism

    • I love being a tourist in my own backyard. One of the advantages of being…

    • on April 27, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation