Friday, May 22, 2009

EDITORIAL >> A Hallmark moment

In case you don’t believe that the Pulaski County Special School District Board president has a big head, you should see the billboard he has erected in his own honor at Maumelle.

That head, floating 30 feet in the air, has to be at least 10 feet tall, and really, we suspect understatement at that. With his name superimposed under his picture, the billboard is a not-so-subtle reminder to his constituents that he’s the man behind the new Maumelle-Tim Clark High School to be constructed in their backyard.

PCSSD passed the final hurdle—permission from the state Board of Education to sell an $81 million second-lien bond to pay for Maumelle-Clark High School and the Sylvan Hills Middle School as well.

A Jacksonville businessman driving to Maumelle a few days ago says he nearly lost control of his vehicle when he saw Clark’s leering visage and “thank-you card” to the community. It was a real Hallmark moment.

“Thanks Maumelle for your help with the new high school,” the billboard read, missing a couple of commas and a bit shaky grammatically. “Together we can build a better Maumelle.”

Hmmmm. Wonder what he’s angling for? A long-running fiefdom as lord of the board? Running for Maumelle mayor? State representative from Maumelle?

We suspect that Clark won’t try to have the school district pay for his outsized homage to himself. Only a few months ago, we caught him trying to have the district pay for the soirée he threw for movers and shakers at the Maumelle Country Club in celebration of the Maumelle-Clark High School groundbreaking.

Clark submitted the country club bill for $2,753 to then-Superintendent James Sharpe. Sharpe refused to pay that bill, which had been neither discussed nor approved by the board, and we have to wonder if that was the final nail in Sharpe’s coffin.

The superintendent “resigned” shortly thereafter, to be replaced in the interim by a Maumelle educator chosen by Clark and endorsed by the board.

Near as we can tell, that man, Rob McGill, is capable and hardworking. He’s said he’ll apply for the job full time and is a likely finalist.

Clark does have an ego but still: What’s with the big billboard, Tim?

Until the sign comes down, those traveling in Maumelle can enjoy one man’s paean to himself.