Time for another update on Michael Wolfe, Harris County’s wackiest Department of Education trustee. Previous installments are here and here. After months of talking about it, his fellow HCDE Trustees have made it official: They want him to resign.
After voting to censure Wolfe, the board then voted to retain an outside attorney to research possible legal moves if Wolfe does not step down.
In their written censure, trustees said Wolfe skipped meetings, ignored communication from the board, wasted employees’ time, distorted information and expressed support for eliminating the department’s property tax rate.
The department, funded mostly through grants and fees from school districts, assists area districts by running adult education, preschool and special-education programs.
Supporting elimination of the department’s property tax rate may or may not be good public policy, but it’s at least a matter of policy. The other stuff is just amateur night shenanigans that don’t speak well of Wolfe – reread this letter (PDF) that was sent to him last fall by HCDE Superintendent John Sawyer for the full flavor of that. I have no idea if the rest of the Board can actually force Wolfe out, but the fact that they’ve gone as far as hiring an attorney to research it says a lot.
Wolfe, a local GOP activist, described the board’s move against him as politically motivated. All the trustees are Republicans, but Wolfe acknowledges supporting two candidates who defeated incumbents in the primary election.
Raymond Garcia, the board president who was one of those defeated, rejected the claim that the act was personal. Other trustees and even the board’s superintendent, John Sawyer, raised concerns about Wolfe’s performance last October.
“I do need to say, there is no personal vendetta involved here,” Garcia said at the beginning of Wednesday’s six-hour meeting, which mostly took place behind closed doors.
There may have been no vendetta, but I’m sure there was a little extra motivation. And who could blame them for that? The two victorious Republican challengers are cronies of Wolfe’s, which will make him more powerful next year if they win in November. If that doesn’t sound like such a good thing to you, then remember the names Jim Henley and Debra Kerner, because they’re the Democrats running against Wolfe’s buddies. Having them on the Board instead will maintain a level of professionalism that would be otherwise lost.