I lost count long ago the number of public government hearings I have covered as a reporter. Over the span of many years in the trenches, I thought I had heard everything there was to say in a public meeting of elected officials and senior public administrators.
Then came what I heard Monday night in little ol’ Farmersville, Texas.
I was attending a school board meeting of the Farmersville Independent School District on behalf of the Farmersville Times, one of the weekly newspapers I work for on a freelance basis. The board convened the meeting, then went into private session to discuss matters exempted from public view by the Texas Open Meetings Act.
The audience left the meeting room. We waited outside. Then the door opened and the board reconvened the open meeting. I returned to my seat, with notebook and pen in hand.
The board and the superintendent began discussing the search for a new superintendent who will succeed the gentleman, Jeff Adams, who will retire at the end of the current year.
Adams went through much of what was discussed in private session. He talked about timetables and assorted aspects of the search for candidates. Then he said, the following: He offered to “dig up dirt” on the applicants if there was any dirt to be found.
I don’t recall flinching or reacting in any visible manner. I didn’t see any such reaction from the school trustees.
However, I have slept on it overnight. I am now a bit startled by what the superintendent offered to do on behalf of the board.
I don’t recall ever hearing a senior government administrator, let alone an elected official, ever make such an offer.
I haven’t discussed this directly with Adams. Nor with any of the trustees. I am left to wonder about the motivation for agreeing to do such a thing, or to saying it in public. The trustees and the superintendent surely knew why I was there and that my note-taking didn’t cease when I heard the superintendent make the “dirt digging” offer.
I won’t pass judgment on the wisdom of the offer. I merely want to assert that I thought I had heard everything … until Monday night.