by David Safier
Before I jump into criticism of the Star on an unrelated topic, let me compliment the paper for its excellent series of articles on poverty. Would that newspaper budgets were ample enough that reporters could be granted the time to do more series like this. Having said that . . .
What's with the Star article about the new TUSD Supe H.T. Sanchez? This "investigative" piece uncovers the information that Sanchez asked the Human Resources Director in his Odessa, Texas, school district to look over the contract Tucson offered him. The HR Director passed the question on to an employment law attorney. The article was written by a reporter for the Odessa American, where they undoubtedly hold a grudge against Sanchez for leaving. Star reporter Alexis Huicochea contributed to the article.
Sanchez used his Odessa district email to conduct personal business, which isn't against the rules. It's not like he was running a contracting business out of his office. He was asking a specific question about his proposed TUSD contract. Sanchez may or may not have written the email on company time. He says he didn't, but even if he did, somehow the fact that a superintendent who doesn't punch a time clock and probably puts in all kinds of hours during school days, nights and weekends did some personal business on "company time" isn't exactly a hanging offense.
Sanchez asked someone he knew and trusted in the district to help him understand the contract TUSD offered him. That's a problem, how exactly? Anyone with any sense is going to have someone look over a big contract like that, and the district HR guy would have a hell of a lot more knowledge about contracts than the superintendent. The HR guy passed Sanchez's question onto a lawyer, which was the right thing to do.
My question is, in what way is this story news in Tucson?
A quick read of the story makes what Sanchez did look shady, but a closer reading reveals nothing improper. The story reads like a continuation of the Star's long tradition of trying to put TUSD and the city of Tucson in the worst possible light, even when there's no there there.
I guess if the Odessa paper reveals some wrongdoing more serious than Sanchez spending a few minutes of company time contacting a school employee about a personal matter, then it's worthy of mention in the Star. But as it stands, this article reveals nothing of import and has more potential for harm than good.