Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet

\Call the Tune by Mike Anthony

\”Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony

Why is Rich Franz serving on the Mehlville Board of Education if he believes that it’s not about the kids?

Many of the roughly 25 speakers hammered home that point during last week’s Board of Education meeting that drew more than 200 people who showed their support for the board’s recent decision to roll up the district’s tax rate.

The tax-rate roll-up is a revenue-neutral action, meaning the district is projected to collect the same amount of tax revenue this year as last year under the provisions of the Hancock Amendment. However, some residents will pay the school district more in taxes and some will pay less based on the assessed valuation of their home.

So where did this notion come from that Franz doesn’t believe it’s about the kids? An online publication reported Franz’s comments at the board’s Sept. 27 meeting as follows:

“(Board member) Tom (Diehl), I want to compliment you on reading your speech, you did that really well, obviously it came from the heart,” Franz said. “What you folks don’t understand … this isn’t about the kids, this is about those folks sitting in those seats not trusting us as a board. Folks, they don’t trust you.”

When a question was raised about Franz’s comments, the online publication published more of Franz’s remarks from that meeting:

“What you folks don’t understand and these folks sitting out here do is — and by the way, I’m tired of the NEA trotting out that lame thing about ‘oh it’s for the kids’ — you know what? This isn’t about the kids, this is about those folks sitting in those seats not trusting us as a board. And if you’re not hearing that, you’re not paying attention. Folks, they don’t trust you. I’ll say it again, they don’t trust you.”

Wow! What a cad this man must be if he truly believes that it’s not about the kids. The problem is Franz had a lot more to say that wasn’t reported by the online publication. Here’s exactly what Franz said at the Sept. 27 board meeting:

“… Tom, I want to compliment you on reading your speech. You did that really well … Obviously, it came from the heart. Where to start? First of all, our teachers have received 15-percent pay raises in the last five years. The fact that your board froze their pay is disingenuous. And (board Vice President) Larry (Felton), I don’t appreciate your inference that people who wouldn’t be in favor of this tax increase don’t appreciate the kids.

“Fact of the matter is, every one of us on this board is here because we care about the kids.

“What you folks don’t understand and these folks sitting out here do is — and by the way, I’m tired of the NEA trotting out that lame thing about oh, it’s for the kids. You know what, this isn’t about the kids. This is about those folks sitting in those seats not trusting us as a board. And if you’re not hearing that, you’re not paying attention. Folks, they don’t trust you. I’ll say it again, they don’t trust you. You have an obligation to earn their trust. You are not credible in their eyes and you have an obligation to do that.

“Whether you choose to do it with this issue is up to you, but I for one realize that we have an obligation to the students and to those people out there in the seats. You don’t owe the NEA and the teachers and the administrators and the classified employees anything. You owe the owners of the school district and at this point you all and me included, ’cause I’m on this board, we have failed to earn the trust of these folks and it’s about time we start doing that.”

This column is not a defense of Franz.

Quite frankly, he’s more than capable of defending himself. People have every right to rail against him, but they should be armed with all the facts.

Our guess is not many of those speakers last week attended the previous board meeting and only knew about Franz’s comments from a Facebook page started by the Mehlville Community Taxpayers for Mehlville. The group’s initial post states:

“At a September 27th, 2011 Mehlville School Board meeting, minority elected Rich Franz stated, “This is not about the kids.” We beg to differ! Join the Mehlville Community Taxpayers for Mehlville Face-book page today as we combine forces, as well as whatever differences we may have, to tell Rich Franz and others like him that this is most definitely about the kids. It has been about the kids for generations, and it will be about the kids for generations to come.”

Consider the phrase “minority-elected.”

We’d be hard pressed to recall any school board candidate who has received a majority — more than 50 percent — of votes in any election. For example, consider the 2008 election in which Drew Frauenhoffer, Erin Weber and Karl Frank Jr. were elected to the Mehlville school board. With a voter turnout of 10.75 percent, Frauenhoffer was the top vote-getter, garnering 3,592 votes.

In April’s election with a voter turnout of 18.89 percent, Franz received 3,969 votes while the top vote-getter, Elaine Powers, received 5,686 votes.

Folks, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Get the facts for yourself instead of going off half-cocked.

The United States of America is the greatest country on the face of the earth and our system of government is the best.

Like it or not, Franz was duly elected to the Mehlville Board of Education.

To paraphrase one of the speakers at last week’s meeting: If you don’t like it, move.