Good luck following this story about Tom Bloom, the Board of Education, and the County Commission. It isn’t that it is poorly written. It’s simply that it gets to be so confusing that it becomes almost impossible to track.
As I understand it, this is what happened:
1. Tom Bloom ran against Joe Statler for a seat on the County Commission.
2. This county’s old guard didn’t like that, and backed Joe Statler for the position.
3. At the same time, the county’s superintendent of schools, Frank Devono, started filing professional complaints against Bloom as a form of retaliation for his campaign.
4. Bloom won anyway, and was then immediately barred from using his own personal days to attend meetings of the County Commission that he’d just won a seat on.
5. Bloom then sued, basically saying that he ought to be allowed to use his time to serve in his political position, even if Devono didn’t personally approve of Bloom’s victory.
And here we are, with Bloom and Devono facing off against one another. But it is more than that really, because Devono is basically the face of this county’s old guard, a group that thought its backing of Statler in a campaign was all that would matter. Statler was a former representative on our odious Board of Education (a group of people who are almost entirely awful). Statler lost though, and that group’s response has been a ham-fisted attempt to make Bloom’s work on the County Commission as difficult as possible.
This isn’t terribly surprising. As the county’s demographics change - as new people move in and as old people die off - the mechanisms of power are going to change too. It isn’t just in the County Commission’s races that we’re going to see this. We’ll also see it other places throughout the county, including the recent blitzing of the Morgantown City Council, where the same old-guard assumed that simply tarnishing its opponents could win re-election. That strategy didn’t work any better than Devono’s attempted intimidation of Bloom did.
Unfortunately for our local politics, ham-fisted retribution is all the older guard has got. There are rumors abound - rumors which I keep trying to confirm - that at least one of Devono’s responses to Bloom involved cutting funding for projects Bloom supported. I have yet to find individuals interested of saying much more than “I heard that Devono…” but still, that such talk is even occurring troubles me. I’ll look more into it.
And as a sidebar, we probably ought to discuss the following: Bloom, although the victim here, has never been any great shakes. He was a City Councilor who treated disliked constituents in exactly the same way that he’s now being treated and you don’t have to look far to find University High School alumni (where he was a counselor for 30+ years) who say that he ignored them and their needs for students that he personally preferred.
So what we have here is a pissing match between unlikable people. I have higher hopes for this county than such stupidity - and I genuinely believe that the county’s changing demographics may end up being quite useful leaders who recognize that their constituents actually matter - but in the meantime, this scandal is going to waste time and money that could have been saved (and been put to better use) if certain people were willing to recognize that the world is changing.