Losing Southside Isd School Board Candidate Files Ethics Complaint Against Community and Media
Community members Juanita Garza and Linda Gamez back Mr. Rodriguez's accusations
According to an affidavit signed by Mr. Rodriguez and notarized by Ms. Chavez, Mr. Rodriguez mentioned a Juanita Garza of the Villa Coronado neighborhood and known supporter, that had told him; that then candidate Julian Gonzales was attending a function at a church called San Francisco De La Espada and that he was wearing a campaign button and passing out flyers. However, Ms. Garza did not sign the affidavit and admit to it on her own, it was Mr. Rodriguez saying that he had been told. This would fall under hearsay in a court of law.
According to an affidavit signed by a Linda Gamez; while attending church at Kings Mission Fellowship Church, she witnessed Pastor Branstrum allowing someone to pass out of fliers in the church and also mentioned they could be picked up at the back of the church as well. She went on to say that Pastor Branstrum held a victory party at his home on the night of the elections. This affidavit was also notarized by board member Norberto Chavez's sister.
As a member of the church in attendance, this could have been witnessed, but for Ms. Gamez to continue to let the "team" know what actions were going on in the privacy of Pastor Branstrums home on a Saturday night, lead community members to believe that Ms. Gamez was a "team" supporter, who was following the actions of the Pastor and his wife to report back to the "team". If her concerns were genuine, she could have contacted the elections office directly and filed a complaint.
Texas Ethics Commission
June 8, 2015, almost two weeks after the newly elected candidates were sworn in; Daniel Rodriguez of 23280 Mathis Rd, San Antonio, TX; former "team" member and candidate filed a ethics complaint with Texas Ethics Commission.
The documents were notarized by board member, Norberto Chavez's sister and in the documents he filed; he mentioned the newly sworn in members of the board as well as members of the clergy, community members and the media. Those listed were as follows:
- Southside Baptist Church, Pastors Albert Byrom & John Lujan, Jr. (Both long time members of the community)
- Former board member, Lisa Salazar
- Community member,business owner and member of Mission Del Lago HOA - Pete Benavides
- Glory Bound Baptist Church, Pastor William W. Baker Jr. & Kenneth Bouldin Jr.
- Kingsborough Ridge Baptist Church, Pastor, Sammy Espinoza & Youth Pastor Johnny Cantu Jr.
- Express News
- San Francisco De La Espada Parish, Pastor Julian Gonzales
- The Kings Mission Fellowship Church, Pastor Rune Branstrum & Berta Branstrum (members of the Mission Del Lago community)
Daniel Rodriguez accused the candidates of running a false and misleading campaign. He accused Abecedarian, the Express News and the opposing candidates along with the community members of circulation of false, misleading and distorted information.
He also claimed that there was a violation of Fair Campaign Practices and that candidates along with others were falsifying facts on Facebook and fliers. He also accused the churches of violating IRS 501 (c3) code that prohibits political campaign activity by a tax exempt organization.
Mr. Rodriguez takes complaint back to 2013 as evidence of wrong doing by Mr. Benavides and Ms. Salazar
According to Mr. Rodriguez's complaint, he goes as far back as April and May of 2013. According to Mr. Rodriguez, the board was then discussing contracts at which time, Mr. Steven Iredale, the current agricultural teacher was asked to resign. Mr. Rodriguez claims, but does not substantiate the fact, that Mr. Benavides' step daughter had applied for the position, therefore Ms. Salazar had used her influence on the board to remove Mr. Iredale to create an opening for Mr. Benavides' step daughter. In his complaint, he mention that other board members conspired as well.
If this was a fact, the Board Agenda and Board minutes for the dates in question, do not substantiate Mr. Rodriguez' claims.During the month of April, there was no mention of Mr. Iredale, the "team" was sworn in on May 15, 2013, during contract's and salaries on the agenda, at which time Mr. Brewer, Mr. Luna, Mr. Chavez, Mr. Cannon and Ms. Guzman controlled the board votes. At that time, they could have renewed Mr. Iredale's contract if they so desired. Mr. Rodriguez was not a member of the board at this time, making his statements hearsay or making him an insider who received information from "closed session" discussions by the "team"; which would be a violation of the open meetings act.
Mr. Rodriguez also claimed that Mr. Julian Gonzales and Pastor Lujan visited Loren Brewers residence to seek information as to his actual residence and not the home of record that Mr. Brewer had listed on his election forms. The same forms that have been in question since the election as Mr. Brewer was working for Haliburton at the time and living in another city, making him unqualified to run for office in the district or hold the position. The residence Mr. Brewer owns on FM1937 is uninhabitable. Mr. Brewer used his ex-wives address as his home of record to run for the board. There was no affidavit from anyone at the residence listed as proof that this actually occurred. More hearsay by Mr. Rodriguez.
Do you support Mr. Rodriguez's complaint?
Didn't verify the facts?
- Mr. Rodriguez went on to complain about Abecedarian, to the point of naming the wife of former school board member Craig Knapp; Maria Esther Knapp. Mr. Rodriguez claimed the articles were belittling to those who did not agree with Mr. & Mrs. Knapp's opinions. Once again, going on hearsay and conjecture.
- Abecedarian began just over 4 years ago and long before the "team" had solidified.
- The "team" used social media to call Mr. Knapp the author of Abecedarian hubpage during this election year; using an erroneous website to spread the malicious, misinformed, and distorted information.
- The "inner circle" of the ESD#6 and their supporters have tried to link Abecedarian to Ms. Salazar, former board members and both current and former members of the Southside ISD community and employees on social media tirades.
Claims of distorted facts...
Mr. Rodriguez claimed that the hubpage, Southside Elections May 2015, Team Accomplishments, mentioned unfounded and distorted facts.
- 1. Agenda item, the board voted to give the Mr. Vela the authority to do all the hiring.
- 2. Under item 1: the superintendent hired his wife Norma Vela (agenda item) to a created position.
- 3. Superintendent, 3rd highest paid Superintendent. (per media)
- 4. Agenda item: voted on unanimously to create a position for Mr. Vela's brother in the athletic department.
- 5. Agenda- newly created position for his wife, his brother, May 22nd, created a position for Theresa Balderas (ally). Will no longer hold the position for 2015-2016 school year. Ms. Balderas has been spreading the fact that she will be going to D.E.A.P. next year. Ms. Balderas is not certified to be a Principal, nor a Vice-Principal (reason she was let go by the district in the first place).
- 6. 7. & 9. Agenda, district pays approximately one million dollars for the new scoreboard, add the cost of the electrical work to complete the set up. The board was purchased from Daktronics, where Pete Vela, the brother of former Superintendent works as a sales representative, this information was provided by Daniel Rodriguez in his complaint as well. The district's first priority after paying off it's "team" member for $120,000 and removing the Superintendent, Dr. Juan Antonio Jasso; was to invest heavily in the Athletic Department.
- 8. Mr. Brewer approached a well known member of the community with a proposition for a position within the district. Supporters on social media continuously mentioned the activities of the board in the role of micromanaging.
- 10. The district check registry showed the expenses of over $150,000 for new trucks at Grande Ford and elsewhere.
There was nothing distorted in the 10 items of Accomplishment by the "team".
Same designer for both centers
Why is it so important...
for the "team" to regain and control the Southside ISD? A school board position, by law, is a non-paid position. The only money the district can spend on a board member is for training purposes. Any other expenditures are illegal.
A board member, by law, cannot profit, nor can their families, friends or allies as this is construed as nepotism. Laws were put into place to avoid corruption within school boards because of the fact that board members do not receive payments of any kind.
So why does the "team" deem it so important to keep and regain control? The "community" athletic center could be the root cause. As in the ESD#6, Ms. Mendelsohn hired and purchased plans from the architecture firm that the "team" used for the creation of the Community/Athletic center. The ESD#6 is still paying for the use of the firm. The district will have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars as well. As long as the plans are owned by the district and valid, the "team" will continue to fight for control.
Ms. Mendelsohn and her "team" promised their supporters a community center and athletic center. And she has continued to fight for such a center.
The only protection the district has to keep history from repeating itself, is for members of the community to continue to stay aware of what is happening in their district. Complacency will lead the district back into the path of the last two years.
While Southside ISD is not the first and probably will not be the last, Southside ISD has shown to be a major reason why the laws need to be changed and enforced. Carlos Uresti, because of the activities of Southside ISD board members has pushed for new law, but is it enough?
The Law has spoken
The Ethics Committee found that the request from Mr. Rodriguez had no merit and was dismissed.
The law has spoken; the election is over and there is change taking place at Southside ISD and the members of the "team" and their supporters continue to fight and promise to continue seeking a way to remove the elected officials and get their justice when it comes to their ex-board members.
© 2015 Lady Liberty