One man’s trash

Submitted by Don Dodd - An Examiner Editorial

Dr. Carrol “Butch” Thomas, the superintendent of the Beaumont Independent School District, wears a lot of hats. In addition to being a self-proclaimed leading educator of black students, Butch has tried his hand as event center impresario and would-be hotelier. During the recent BISD ballot referendum and board election, he served as a political commentator and campaign booster – all strictly non-partisan, you understand. Thomas also took a turn as media critic, describing news reports of the parade of BISD felons and miscellaneous other offenders as “nonsense.” In his work with accused criminals, he tried to rehabilitate indicted BISD contractor Calvin Walker even before the federal government can put him on trial.

To that august list of Butch initiatives, it appears we need to add the title of scrap dealer. Well, not exactly a dealer because any sentient business person would not give away items of value without receiving something in return. In this case, however, The Examiner has learned many truckloads of desks, chairs, tables, filing cabinets, audio-visual rolling carts, gym lockers and other items have been removed from several BISD campuses over the past month only to turn up at local scrap yards. The value of these items has been estimated at tens of thousands of dollars, but the money these dealers paid didn’t end up in the BISD treasury.

That is bad news for the actual owners of that purloined property – the taxpayers of Beaumont whose hard-earned money purchased the stuff in the first place. According to a local antiques dealer, many of the items being removed have significant value, including wooden desks worth several hundred dollars apiece or more.

In addition to the items being sold as scrap, there was an attempted delivery of a load of furniture to a residence reportedly occupied by the BISD warehouse supervisor. That operation was halted when the rented van quickly departed after the occupants realized their actions were being photographed – and not for the BISD newsletter.

It is understandable why they might be a little camera shy – this wholesale giveaway of public property is clearly illegal, according to the Texas Education Agency. The agency said BISD had violated the law by not following the proper procedures for disposing of the items from its campuses.

Once they realized these events had attracted attention, BISD officials sent their in-house police department to shut down this free-for-all — after truckloads had already been sold off by private citizens tipped off by district officials that there was money to be made. Subsequent investigation should identify the miscreants involved, but don’t hold your breath.

Those familiar with BISD know what comes next. Thomas will put on another well-worn hat to become the Great Explainer and insist it was all legal or maybe an administrative error and everything is fine – and anybody who says different has racial motives.

Whether Thomas personally orchestrated this giveaway or simply created an environment of entitlement that allowed it to occur is of minor concern. This fish stinks from the head.