MMSD: Shutting out the public

Isthmus, November 11, 2005, reports on the refusal of the MMSD administration and Board of Education to release details on a land purchase for a new school. Isthmus posted the full article and supporting documents in the Document Feed of Here are excerpts:

Jim Zellmer doesn’t know whether buying land for a new elementary school on the city’s far southwest side is a good idea. But he’s sure keeping the deal secret almost until the moment of final approval is a bad one. . . .
The deal was kept under wraps until 4:30 last Friday afternoon, when the school district put the contract into media folders just before closing for the weekend. At Monday’s meeting, Robarts and Kobza urged the board to delay approval for one week, to allow for public input, including that of a task force studying west-side school overcrowding. . . .
But Kobza’s motion failed on a 3-3 vote, with board members Bill Keys, Juan Jose Lopez and Johnny Winston Jr. opposed. Keys haughtily challenged critics of the secret deal to “go ahead and file charges”; Kobza urged members of the public to take up his suggestion.
On Wednesday, Isthmus followed through, asking Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard to investigate and prosecute. . . .

2 thoughts on “MMSD: Shutting out the public”

  1. Thank you Jim and Isthmus for following through on this.
    This sentence in the article particularly caught my attention:
    “Keys haughtily challenged critics of the secret deal to “go ahead and file charges”…”
    In deciding to retire rather than run, Keys has deprived us of the chance to learn the limits of the voters’ tolerance for his arrogance.

  2. Looking at the purchase agreement for the land, I found it interesting that the seller sold the land to MMSD for its cost plus carrying costs (5% per annum compounded daily). In other words, the seller was not trying to sell the property to the highest bidder. It wanted to sell the property specifically to MMSD. I presume that the seller (Veridian Homes) expects to indirectly benefit from having a school in that neighborhod (e.g., it’ll be able to sell its homes for a higher price). Such being the case, the district had less justification to keep the deal secret than if it was an open-market, competitive bidding situation. Btw, given the way the property was priced, the clause that gives the seller the right of first refusal to repurchase the property if MMSD decides not to build a school is perfectly reasonable, imo.

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