It wasn’t that long ago that these three were deliriously celebrating victory together as their poorly-focused, record-setting, falsely-advertised-for-the-kids $669,000,000 EPISD bond miraculously passed, once again saddling El Paso taxpayers with an average additional $230 per year in property taxes.
While doing nothing to elevate the level of quality in the #43 ranked Texas education of El Paso’s border students OR supporting their over-worked and underpaid educators.
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If I could choose two words that perfectly describe Superintendent Juan Cabrera and EPISD Board President Dori Fenenbock they would hands down be the words “TONE DEAF”.
They both display a stunning lack of awareness when it comes to how they are perceived by most El Pasoans.
I pointed this out when I debated Fenenbock on ABC-7 Xtra before the bond was passed.
I confronted her on two very apparent conflicts of interests that were, in my mind, problematic in view of their efforts to pass the bond.
The first one was the fact that both her child and two of Cabrera’s children were students at Coronado High School, which just “happened to be” the recipient of the largest amount of EPISD bond dollars at around $74,000,000 for a major rebuilding project.
The second issue was her ties to The Meyers Group which just “happens to be” in the family. Her sister is married to an owner of the group. The Meyers Group is quickly becoming a major player in El Paso’s real estate sector, with the twin 22-story Shadow Mountain Luxury Condos/Hotel AND the downtown Camino Real Hotel restoration project.
She gave me a blank stare and nodded her head as if it never occurred to her that those would be perceived as conflicts of interest.
It was then and there that I knew something was amiss.
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Then came Superintendent Cabrera’s commissions/bonuses/rewards for passing the astronomical bond.
A $44,500 thank you cake with an additional 20 sick days and 15 vacation days slathered on as frosting. Think of that frosting as an additional $47,000 that Cabrera can convert into cash if he plays his cheatin’ cards right.
Never mind that he probably already has the largest pay and benefits package when added altogether than any other district superintendent in Texas.
It never occurred to him, Fenenbock or Susie Byrd that it might be perceived as greedy and self-serving.
After all, they sang the “Hallelujah! It’s For the Kids” chorus non-stop as they rained down their propaganda from heaven to our mailboxes and TV sets.
After all, the teachers in the trenches were facing measly 1% raises, health insurance hikes, and most insulting — a property tax increase — while Cabrera’s pockets were lined with wads and wads of Thank You cash.
After all, Dori Fenenbock insisted that Cabrera MUST be showered with all that bank or else he just might hop the fence and abandon El Paso for greener pastures in some tony school district that’ll pony up even more pay and benefits.
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And now it looks like this Superintendent is returning the favor by actively soliciting support for Fenenbock’s potential run for political office from local politician Shane Haggerty, in exchange for a contribution to his runoff campaign.
The Tone Deaf Twins have now entered the realm of politics…Susie Byrd’s world.
And now the 3 amigos are quickly becoming the 3 stooges.
Poking each other in the eye. Waving their accusatory fingers. Making their funny sounds. Pulling on each others ears.
Susie Byrd and Bonnie Escobar are thick as thieves and she doesn’t want Fenenbock, who is considering a run for Beto’s congressional seat, to interfere with her BFF’s possible run for the same seat. Maybe?
Cabrera pleads temporary loss of memory on all details when called out by Shane Haggerty, whom he offered the campaign contribution in exchange for supporting Fenenbock’s potential run. And the superintendent’s tone deafness is a shovel he’s using to dig himself into a deep hole every time he opens his mouth and tries to defend his actions.
There’s a she said, he said, she said dynamic at play now that Haggerty has gone public.
UTEP education leadership professor John Daresh says its “mystifying” and “unethical as hell” if its true that Cabrera is campaigning on behalf of his boss Dori Fenenbock.
He also stated, “I’ve never seen anything as sort of brazen as trying to recruit something for a person who pays your salary, which was just elevated to a level higher than most people in El Paso make.”
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The current EPISD superintendent, board president and board members are a flimsy house of cards that passed a ridiculously expensive bond to give the impression of getting things done while ignoring the real issues. On the heels of a devastating district corruption scandal, they took short cuts in the hopes of presenting a united front that appears to have it all under control and in the rearview mirror.
Just one problem...they forgot about the kids and their educators.
The worm is turning.
The apple is rotting.