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Terry and Abe

Here’s another get-to-know-Terry Grier story, focusing on his time in San Diego. The most interesting bit to me is right here:

Abelardo Saavedra, the man Grier is in line to replace in Houston, endured more than his share of criticism for making big decisions without public input during nearly five years on the job. And many of Saavedra’s biggest proposals — courting outside groups to take over troubled high schools and scaling back busing for HISD’s popular magnet school program, for instance — failed after meeting swift and powerful opposition. His $805 million bond referendum in 2007 almost died because of intense lobbying from some of Houston’s most powerful black politicians and activists, who felt left out of the process.

But HISD school trustee Paula Harris, who was part of the unanimous vote to name Grier as the sole superintendent finalist, said Grier has the political skill to succeed where the less charismatic Saavedra stumbled.

While the two men may have some similarities, Harris said, “Terry’s going to be able to sell his ideas better.”

I can believe that Grier will be a better politician than Saavedra, and that he will have less trouble selling some of his ideas as a result. But part of Saavedra’s problem wasn’t so much the sales job as it was the lack of public input before the sales pitch. If Grier repeats that pattern he’ll have trouble no matter how good his political skills are. Get people on board beforehand, especially when making changes, and the rest follows a lot more easily. We’ll see how good he is at that.

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