Paul Strelzin’s latest debacle has put the future of El Paso’s kids in serious jeopardy. There is no doubt that EPISD desperately needs the latest Bond election to go in its favor in order to deal with the problems the district is currently experiencing with its schools. Unfortunate the ones that will ultimately suffer the most will be the children of the community. Strelzin’s actions in regards to the letter should come as no surprise to anyone as Strelzin has consistently shown his inability to garner any sense of responsibility for himself or those around him. This in itself is a serious problem for the Bond election.
The now infamous letter has created a problem that needs to be decisively dealt with today. Instead, the Board of Trustees and Charles Tafoya have neglected to meet this challenge upfront and instead have avoided addressing public scrutiny. The ethics complaint filed by Jerry Jarvis is a good start in determining the culpability, if any, of Sterlzin in this debacle but it is unfortunate that it took a private citizen to start an investigation instead of the district itself. This does nothing to inspire confidence. Paul Strelzin has publicly stated numerous times that he was directed by someone within EPISD to send the letter out. If this proves to be true then the proper authorities will ultimately deal with the actions of the “unnamed individual”. The problem is that by all accounts EPISD seems to be intent on proceeding with the proposed Bond election in October.
EPISD just cannot afford to lose a second bond election as the needs of the children and the community needs to be addressed today, not tomorrow. The longer these needs take to be addressed the more expensive they will ultimately be for the taxpayer. As well prepared as Tafoya seemed to be in regards to the passage of the Bond election, his latest actions seems to betray that Tafoya wasn’t serious about this Bond in the first place. Upon the initial revelation of Strelzin’s letter, Tafoya or the Trustees for that matter, should have immediately and openly accepted their culpability, if any, and taken responsibility on this matter and moved on. Instead what the public has witnessed is a government entity intent on covering up for their friends instead of dealing with the issue resolutely and efficiently. This has now created a serious problem for the school district and the proposed bond.
By not immediately dealing with this situation, EPISD has unwittingly, it seems, given Paul Strelzin leverage against this “unnamed” person. Strelzin’s past and current actions demand that the community be ever watchful of any access of public funds by Strelzin. By allowing Paul Strelzin to leave unanswered the question of whether a high-ranked official within EPISD in fact authorized him or helped him with the letter allows Strelzin the power to possibly threaten the derailment of the Bond election in the future should he choose to do so.
Assuming for a moment that the school district is able to overcome this “letter” problem in the eyes of the public and then proceed with the election in October. What is to stop Paul Strelzin from privately approaching the district, a few days in advance of the election and threatening the election by publicly naming the individual? Any revelation by anyone a few days before the election that “so and so, a high-ranking official” may have been involved in the letter fiasco would surely derail any possible passage of the bond, especially a few days before the election. Whether Paul Strelzin would actually do this is unknown at this time but the mere possibility that he may do this creates a serious credibility issue for the public. Whether a high-ranking official was or was not involved in this letter is irrelevant at this point. The issue is the actions of EPISD to date in regards to the letter. Coming clean a few days in advance of the Bond election will surely be too late, as the damage would have already been made and may have already compromised the election. The time to address this issue is today, not tomorrow as allowing it to fester in the public consciousness only breeds further distrust in the community. Allowing Strelzin an opportunity to leverage this in the future by his “silence” today, further erodes the public’s trust on those leading the Bond election.
If in fact a “high-ranking” official was involved in this fiasco and no action from EPISD has been forthcoming than there is no choice for the public then to assume that EPISD cannot be trusted to properly manage the monies the public is asked to extend. On the other hand, if EPISD did nothing wrong on this issue, then its continued silence only empowers the person who created this debacle in the first place and further betrays a sense that EPISD is still a part of the “good ‘ol boys club.”
Money requires trust and those seeking it can only earn trust, EPISD’s actions to date do not inspire any trust. Paul Strelzin’s involvement may have already broken several laws and his actions in the past do not inspire confidence in him. Allowing him the opportunity to leverage secrecy or silence in the future does not inspire trust in those seeking our money. Either Tafoya and or the School District immediately and resolutely investigate this issue to the satisfaction of the community or they can just simply kiss their bond election goodbye.