By Ronda Watson Barber
For the record, one of my superpowers is making white men mad. I delight in the practice. I often find myself giggling out loud and then writing a letter, column, or both!
My life work is advocating for small and Black-owned businesses. I take no prisoners. Black-owned businesses deserve to be incorporated in public entities purchasing schemes, PERIOD. Black people pay taxes. Impeding the education of Black children is not acceptable and in my opinion malfeasance. Advocacy is hard work and not for the weak.
With that said, rumor has it that several members of Columbus City Schools Operations leadership are unhappy about my critique of departments, the publicizing of the nasty encounter I had with the Capital Improvement Karen (that the District did nothing about) and my exercising my right to assess the mess in the division.
Alex Trevino is supposedly unhappy that his job performance evaluations are posted on OhioMBE.com. Yes, they are! They should be. He is the director of Capital Improvements in a public school district. He is paid with tax dollars. Most of his personnel record is public. The information was forwarded to me by district officials under a public records request.
Alex began the Operation Fix-It program. It has been deployed for several years. Is it successful? Why have CCS buildings received so many Columbus Health citations and complaints about unhealthy, unsafe, and unclean classrooms? The teachers’ union cited building conditions are a reason for striking. I would ascertain Operation Fix-It would do just that. Fix stuff. Did it?
Why would Trevino think that he was above being criticized for the nasty buildings? Have you seen his office area? It has been remodeled multiple times during his tenure. He and his staff have a clean safe environment to work in. It is modern. He has multiple computer monitors and the best equipment to perform his tasks, funded by taxpayers. He should put as much effort into Operation Fix-It and the conditions of buildings for Black children as he does in decorating his office area.
Trevino, aided by the demoted and now promoted COO Maurice Oldham, engages in pity behavior. I said so in a letter forwarded to School Board President Jen Adair, Interim Superindent Angela Chapman, and Board members Tina Pierce and Judge Eric Brown. Since his records are online, his department doesn’t advertise upcoming construction projects in OhioMBE. The Columbus Dispatch condemns actions by the district on a regular basis. Alex still advertises in the Columbus Dispatch.
What the sad duo of Trevino and Oldham fail to grasp is not advertising in OhioMBE doesn’t hurt me at ALL. It does though directly impact Black-owned businesses that didn’t receive the information because someone’s feelings are hurt. My advocacy for Black vendors and critique of district practices are not valid causes for Columbus City Schools Capital Improvements to discontinue a relationship with OhioMBE.
Many Black LEDE vendors depend on OhioMBE to provide them with contracting opportunities. Moreover, utilizing OhioMBE as a repository for Columbus City Schools Construction projects is a show of good faith for outreach and inclusion efforts in the district’s purchasing scheme which could use improvement according to prior documented numbers in previous LEDE utilization reports.
I will continue to voice my displeasure with the leadership in Operations on OhioMBE.com, to the elected school board and voting community. Why? Because I can. It can not continue to be business as usual. I have said this before and it still rings true. “I find more often than not that many white employees think that because they work for a poor urban school district populated primarily by Black children, they can act, say and do whatever they want. They don’t believe they have to work professionally because of the population and community they serve. There doesn’t appear to be any accountability for their actions. They behave poorly towards the district’s constituents and then take their paychecks and other district riches home to other communities. Poor Black children are subsidizing the education of working and middle-class families in the suburbs. Many district employees live high on the hog at the expense of Black children. I have never seen a taxpayer-financed organization maltreat the public on a regular basis. There is the staff who won’t pass out their business cards. Some directors won’t meet with LEDE vendors. Many act as those we, the community, should be honored that they are assisting us with our tax money.”
Boy Bye! Columbus City School Board, 2023 must be different.
“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” ~ Jay-Z
Just my thoughts…rwb