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fahrenholtz fires back

To the Editor:

Shame on Clancy DuBos. He holds himself out as a journalist, but in his haste to pull together his ad hominem attack piece on my reputation and my opinions on the UNO Charter School District scheme ("Power vs. Kids," July 3), he missed one very important step that even the greenest reporter wouldn't skip. He forgot to call the person he was intent on maligning to see if he had it right. All DuBos did was read a partial quote from me in a source that he regularly ridicules and vilifies, The Times-Picayune, and reprint their editorial in a manner that approaches plagiarism. Neither DuBos nor anyone on his staff bothered to make the two-minute phone call that would have given him a little more background for the attack.

My concerns about the UNO Charter School District scheme run along many tracks:

1. No one from UNO has ever contacted me about this so-called plan and I have not been able to identify any other board member that has been contacted. If they had called I would have sat down with them and discussed it. That is what I told the T-P reporter, but DuBos wouldn't have known that because he missed a very simple part of writing a column -- the research.

2. Contrary to comments made by UNO personnel, Col. Al Davis is not now and never was in favor of the Charter School District plan, a fact DuBos would have known if he or his staff had done more than copied the copy of theT-P.

3. As a lawyer who still remembers that you do the research first before filing, it is my understanding that UNO's plan is illegal under current law. Private nonprofit groups appear to be limited to the operation of only one charter school. That may or may not be the final authority on the issue, and, as I told the T-P reporter, I would be willing to discuss it with UNO personnel. But DuBos wouldn't have known that because his zeal to attack me and my honor kept him from making a very quick phone call to find out if he knew what he was talking about.

4. The startup of a new school district would involve, at the very least, the passing of a statute or two, and a possible change in the state constitution. I am still doing the research on that, but DuBos wouldn't know that because he didn't bother to check with the person he was bent on besmirching.

5. The startup of a new school district would also involve the creation of a new administration/support group that would duplicate the work now done by New Orleans Public School personnel and that duplication could expend anywhere from $750,000 to $1,500,000, depending on how much the UNO visionaries pay themselves. I'm sure that this didn't even occur to DuBos while he was rushing to print with his version of the T-P editorial, but I would have been happy to clue him in if he had bothered to pick up the phone.

6. The legal ramifications of the UNO Charter School District plan within our current labor/management arena (read: union environment) would make the Battle of Gettysburg look like a Fourth of July picnic but, with DuBos being one of the very affluent people in Lakeview (read: white) that he so quickly points out in his attempt to slander me, he quite likely paid little attention to details like labor contracts and facts. If he had just made one call.

I am always ready to sit down and talk with anyone wishing to truly bring reform to our schools.

Jimmy Fahrenholtz

District Three, Orleans Parish School Board


be proud of the blue

To the Editor:

I was pleased to read Gambit Weekly's feature on the New Orleans Police Department ("To Serve and Reflect," June 19). Too often the work of the NOPD and the significant changes it has made under the direction and leadership of Superintendent Richard Pennington are overshadowed by news with a more scandalous or negative bent.

As the executive director of the McFarland Institute, I have had the pleasure of working with the NOPD for several years. The McFarland Institute provides NOPD officers and the people they serve with pastoral guidance and chaplaincy.

The first police chaplaincy program of its kind in the nation, our relationship with the NOPD has shown me first-hand the commitment Superintendent Pennington and his team consistently display in their mission to make the NOPD a stronger organization that truthfully reflects the residents of our unique and diverse city.

Your coverage showcased some of the reasons we have to be proud of our local law enforcement professionals. The advances made by the NOPD mirror to a large extent the work and accomplishments of the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office under the leadership of Sheriff Charles Foti. Following on the success of our police chaplaincy program with the NOPD, the McFarland Institute has recently implemented a similar program within the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office to address the spiritual needs of its officers and inmates. The McFarland Institute looks forward to success with this new program that will match the success we have experienced during our relationship with the NOPD.

As the face of law enforcement changes, we at the McFarland Institute are heartened to know it is a change for the better and applaud the NOPD for this latest advance. We also applaud Gambit Weekly for sharing with its readers yet another interesting feature on an issue that positively impacts New Orleans and its residents.

E.W. Huffstutler Jr.

Executive Director, The McFarland Institute

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