Static: Wednesday, February 2, 2005
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Lament at Leisure

“It doesn’t add up,” a Fort Worth Star-Telegram headline proclaimed over a Jan. 30 editorial blasting Fort Worth schools superintendent Tom Tocco for his snake-oil tactics in selling the district on the $15 million I CAN Learn computer math labs that are proving to be a helluva lot more profitable to Tocco’s old chums in Louisiana than to the district’s students.
The daily’s indignation is certainly deserved, but it’s also hypocrisy taken to high art. Where was the Self-Righteousgram during those first eight years of Tocco’s reign when Fort Worth Weekly was the only one reporting that the emperor was not only nekkid but eating all the seed corn to boot? The daily paid no attention when the Weekly questioned whether Tocco would do to Fort Worth what he’d done at every school district he’d headed before our clueless board hired him — spent districts into the red and then bailed out with golden parachutes that got bigger with each exit (“The Truth About Tocco,” Sept. 19, 1996). Staff writer Betty Brink’s cover story also revealed that the married super was having an affair with a school vice principal (who was promoted to principal during the affair). Tocco might have been sent packing back then if the Star-T had written incensed editorials at the time. Might have saved the taxpayers a bundle, or at the least the $16 million stolen from the district in a bidding scam that went on for five years. The daily paper of record ignored whistleblowers on that rip-off, too, until the informants whistled in the Weekly’s direction.
Well, what can you expect from a paper that didn’t even know an FBI investigation was going on until this rag broke the story? For years, top school officials refused to take Weekly reporters’ calls, poo-pooh’ed our stories and generally tried to sit on every piece of embarassing information they could (that’s a lot of sitting), with little regard for children or taxpayers. Telling the truth about the district made Static’s colleagues personae non gratae, while the Star-T sailed merrily along writing happy stories.
Once the bidding scam became known, the Startlegram rediscovered its journalistic purpose and started digging into the muck of the Tocco regime. But with Tocco already floating to parts unknown, strapped to his Cowtown-sponsored parachute, it’s kind of late. Here’s a suggestion: When the next fulltime superintendent is hired, and he starts bringing in his own people and programs, bullying trustees, and sitting on public information, do your job and tell the story then instead of waiting until after the super has already screwed the pooch.

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