Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Second Open Letter to Mayor Tommy Battle

Phil Riddick check presentation
Madison County Commissioner Phil Riddick, second from right, presents Mayor Tommy Battle with checks totaling $60,000 for construction of a new city park on Chaney Thompson Road in south Huntsville. Looking on are city Parks Manager Steve Ivey and Recreation Director Greg Patterson. (Steve Doyle |

Dear Mayor Battle,
It's me RedEye again. We haven't talked since you held a town hall meeting on the neglected side of town (aka District 1), to ask the taxpayers who have the least to give more, and support a 1% sales tax increase that will benefit the taxpayers who have the most. But I digress

I am writing you this time to talk about  public education in general, specifically the Huntsville City Schools.  During a recent press conference you said  you want to continue an ongoing push for better roads, new industry, a stronger city school system and "more inclusive" municipal government.  Oh really?

At the  recent HCS BOE rezoning meeting, which excluded comments from the public,  you agreed with superintendent Casey Wardynski   it’s time to be recognized as a progressive city that can make color-blind decisions without the federal government scrutinizing every plan to build a new school

You say you want Huntsville to be recognized as a stronger "more inclusive" municipal government but your actions, specifically your support of the superintendent, don't match (for lack of a better word) your words.

Do you support nepotism, favoritism, and intimidation to control schools, and parents not being allowed to speak at public meetings?

Do you support the BOE violating their own rules?

Do you support the BOE refusing to meet with Huntsville's black community leaders? The answer to that must be yes, because it is  my understanding you recently held a meeting with local black clergy and excluded black elected officials.  Is that that the kind of "more inclusive" municipal government you're talking about?

Do you support the desires of the citizens of north Huntsville not to change the name of J.O. Johnson High School to Mae Jemison being ignored?  Were you one of the elected officials who told Casey Wardynski it would be a gargantuan mistake to change the name of a school named after a confederate war general?

Do you support staffing under achieving schools who need the best and the brightest with non certified teachers?

Do you support re-segregating Huntsville City Schools?  I have to ask because at the recent MLK Unity Breakfast you noted  the two schools with the highest test scores were also the most diverse schools. This comment received a huge round of applause from the audience (except those of us who knew better). Well Duh! New Century Technology High School, and The Academy for Academics and Arts, are magnet schools, that's why they are diverse, and also why they have the highest test scores. Which makes me wonder if you are aware the WARdynski plan you said you support will end the majority to minority transfers which increase diversity, and will force parents to send their children to low achieving neighborhood schools? 

Lastly,  and most importantly to, do you support the construction of the new J.O. Johnson High School .06 miles from an active rock quarry, and, would you want your children to attend such a school?  Would you want your family members to work in such an environment?  Are you aware the president of the city council was among the vocal opposition to a rock quarry being located 2 miles from schools in Madison County, citing air quality concerns?

Need I remind you again north Huntsville residents are taxpayers that voted for you twice because you promised we would not be marginalized and our concerns minimized.  North Huntsville taxpayers aren't asking for special treatment, nor are we asking for the government to take care of us.  Para phrasing the words of the late great James Brown, we don't want nobody to give us nothing, open up the door and we'll get it ourselves.

We didn't ask for a new high school.  We don't want to change the name of the school,  and we don't want the new school we didn't ask for, want, or need,  to be located .06 miles from an active rock quarry.  You might as well build the new school next to an industrial park.


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