What happens when a hurricane interrupts an election campaign? For me, the campaign instantly becomes a triviality. Making sure your family and neighbors are safe is all I've thought about since Hurricane Sandy struck Hoboken almost a week ago. And then we receive news, while we're still without power, on our wind-up radio, that the nation is determined to hold the election on Tuesday, despite the fact that much of Hoboken, is still recovering, still without power, still seeking refuge. With only two days until election day those of us who care about the outcome of the election find ourselves torn. Do we not campaign out of respect for our community's current predicament? Or do we turn our attention to an election that has been called without regards to our predicament?
Forced Into an Election
We're being forced into this election too soon. Nevertheless, I know that, hurricane or not, the outcome of this election has long-term importance for Hoboken Public Schools. If the Kids First reform slate of Ruth McAllister, Jean Marie Mitchell, and Tom Kluepfel lose this election then majority control of Hoboken's Public Schools will return to former School Board President Frank Raia's "Move Forward" slate. While the slate itself seems harmless enough at first glance, save for the slate's uniform unfamiliarity with Hoboken Public Schools, what is most alarming is who is behind the slate. To anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Hoboken politics, a glance at the photos of the Move Forward's kick-off party says it all. A consolidated who's who of politicians and supporters responsible for raiding the coffers at both the School Board and the City. But three ago Hoboken voters elected reform majorities to both the School Board and City Hall. And in that short time they've been cleaning up the corruption with a vengeance.
A Litany of Atrocities
At the School Board, the Kids First majority has uncovered a litany of atrocities: rigging the results for state education tests in order to obtain "Most Improved School District" status, providing hundreds of no-show and no-bid jobs and contracts, and running enormous tabs at restaurants. Meanwhile, school textbooks were long overdue for replacement and school buildings were falling into disrepair. All of this and much more has been rectified under a Kids First majority. Under Kids First the School Board has, for the first time, been honest about the financial and academic status of Hoboken's Public Schools. They've hired a new Superintendent, Dr. Mark Toback, who is implementing an aggressive plan to get Hoboken Schools back on track. They've eliminated the bogus jobs and canceled the contracts, successfully defending themselves against retaliatory law suits. Not only that, but our school district received an award for financial accounting excellence last year for turning the district's finances around and keeping Hoboken's tax levy flat for three years running, despite enduring severe financial cuts from the state.
Vote to Continue the Progress
Those behind Raia's "Move Forward" slate are desperate to regain control of the School Board. There is no question that under their control, Hoboken's Public Schools will quickly "Move Backward" to the sorry state they were in prior to Kids First majority control. If we must vote on Tuesday, before we've recovered from the disaster that has visited us, then we must vote to continue the progress that Kids First has brought to the Hoboken Public Schools. To maintain a majority the entire Kids First slate has to be elected. On the ballot please vote columns K, L and M, for Tom Kluepfel, Jean Marie Mitchell, and Ruth McAllister.
Kids First campaign page.
For a list of the financial atrocities we can expect under a "Move Forward" majority, see the KPMG audit of the Hoboken Public Schools from 2004 to 2006 that was buried by Frank Raia when he was President of the Hoboken School Board.
For an honest appraisal of the current academic state of Hoboken's Public Schools, I highly recommend reading Jason Yoon-Hendrick's two recent, extensively researched reports recently published in Hoboken Patch.
Photos of the "Move Forward" kick-off party.