UPDATED: Free to Disagree Disagreeably

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was updated at 5:40 p.m. June 27 to reflect that Concerned Park Cities Citizen does not take credit for the “Ethics 101 ad” that ran in the May issue of Park Cities People.

Emails between Sam Dalton and John Tatum provide a glimpse at how personal debate about elementary school reconstruction can become.

After the two met for lunch, the newspaper’s May issue arrived with an advertisement presented as an Ethics 101 Quiz. It asks readers to judge the integrity and intelligence of school board members.

Dalton, a former trustee who serves on Highland Park ISD’s design and construction committee, complained in his email to Tatum: “You obviously had this ad in the can, yet you didn’t say anything about it. It’s just flat out inappropriate, and very divisive. I’m going to have a really hard time ever trusting you again.”

When Tatum responded, he copied trustees’ district email accounts, making the exchange accessible through an open records request. View the full email here.

Tatum denied credit for the ad, but supported its message: “I believe EVERY Aspect of that AD was TRUE/FACTUAL……I believe our school board trustees have NO INTELLIGENCE…….NO INTEGRITY and the ONLY thing that the ‘I”’ stands for in hp’I’sd is ‘Impunity’ as THAT is how they operate.”

Regrettably, the ad was mislabeled as being paid for by Nick Farris’s University Park City Council campaign, an error made by Park Cities People near press deadline after newspaper staff noticed it didn’t have a “political ad paid for” line.

The Ethics 101 ad and a Farris campaign ad were scheduled adjacent to one another by Tatum’s company, Genesco Sports.

Tatum later told the paper that the quiz ad was paid for by Concerned Park Cities Citizen (CPCC), but a representative of that organization says that isn’t accurate.

“If this ad was something that we wanted to be involved in or put our name to, we would have had it stated in the ad,” Traci Schuh stated in an email. Schuh added that the purpose of CPCC is “giving people who might disagree a voice and trying to do it an agreeable and respectful manner.”

Visit concernedpccitizen.com to see what the organization, claiming 150-plus members and an email list of 2,500, finds wrong with plans for Bradfield and Hyer.

CPCC has its critics, too, including some who attack it anonymously.

Visit concernedpccitizens.com [with an “s”], and see the organization anonymously mocked online with photos of the Pentagon and Mall of America presented as HPISD school designs and statements like, “23 percent of all stats are made up, but we’ve read blogs and know better than professionals.”

On the Fourth of July, I’m told, politics in the Park Cities get put aside for a day. Let’s spend it thankful we’re free to disagree, even so disagreeably.

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