On the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11, political hyperbole saturated a Wednesday morning hearing, as attorneys for Beaumont Independent School District, and the respective board candidates suing it, likened one another’s’ election maneuvers to communist regimes.
Three BISD board candidates -- Marcelino Rodriguez, Donna Jean Forgas and Linda Marie Wiltz Gilmor -- filed a lawsuit April 30 in Jefferson County District Court against BISD, board members Woodrow Reece, Terry D. Williams, Janice Brassard, Gwen Ambres and Zenobia Randall Bush, accusing the current board members of rigging the election process to enable them to keep their seats.
In their original complaint, the plaintiffs allege the current board failed to properly re-divide the voting districts before an upcoming election. In turn, the plaintiffs have been unable to challenge the incumbents’ seats and will not be able to do so until 2015.
Court records show on Aug. 28 the plaintiffs amended their petition to seek an injunction to stop the board’s election set for Nov. 5 – which has been called illegal by the District Attorney’s Office.
Without the backing of the county, which is responsible for providing elections, on April 29 the board voted to approve the election, electing to use school funds to pay for the endeavor.
Judge Donald Floyd, charged with deciding the fate of the election, held a hearing on the matter Sept. 11 in the 172nd District Court.
During the hearing, lead plaintiffs' attorney Michael Truncale called the board’s election tactics something that Fidel Castro might do to stay in power.
Chad Dunn, one of the board’s attorneys fired back, saying the plaintiffs were essentially plotting a Soviet-style installation of candidates instead of an election.
The hearing has been continued for Sept. 18.
Case No. E194-295