A Message From The Publisher
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
School Board member Debbie Hixon has asked that she be given a reprieve from discussing her loss in 2018. OK. That’s fair.
Let’s discuss 2020- 2022 since she has been on the Board. Hixon is infamous for saying she is just learning her job when she makes serious errors. In fact, she has said it twice that I can recall. Not sure if her latest misstep can be just swept away by simply saying, “Silly me. I am new. I didn’t know. I am learning.”
It’s been two years. Where has she been?
There are classes that Board members must take, and I am more than certain ethical behavior of elected officials is covered.
So, let’s get into the weeds – why don’t we?
Red Broward is reporting that Hixon worked for the cryptocurrency giant, FTX that recently filed for bankruptcy. The organization has lost a reported $15 billion in one week. You read right. Not $1,500, $15,000 or $15,000,000. FTX has lost $15 billion… that’s 15 with nine zeroes behind it. Furthermore, the legitimacy of the organization is in question, therefore they are not collecting any additional funds or donations until this can all be squared away.
FTX’s CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, has resigned under great scrutiny, but not without Red Broward connecting him to consultant Barbara Miller. Miller is close to Hixon and Rod Velez. She ran both their campaigns for School Board with success. She, however, did not dot all I’s and cross all T’s when it came to whether Velez could actually hold office. Velez has a violent felony conviction from the 1990s where he “pistol whipped” a man causing him “great bodily harm. Velez has not sought and been granted clemency and thus was not sworn in as the new Board member on November 22.
But back to Hixon. Hixon was paid $49,000 to market and promote FTX. And promote it, she did. She used her influence as a Board member to ensure students participated in the program’s competitions and district departments attended FTX events.
Can you say, HUGE conflict of interest and a violation of her oath of office?”
To make matters even worse, under Hixon’s push for Broward’s participation in FTX contests, a team of Broward high school students competed against teams from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach and were awarded $500,000. The Westside Gazette did a congratulatory story on this amazing accomplishment for those students. It seems now that these students may not get their prize money which was earmarked for some of the students’ college tuition and costs.
Question: Has Hixon found herself dealing with this excruciating FTX headache?
Hixon seems oblivious and is exercising her privilege as she takes on the seat of Board Vice-Chair. It appears that like Superintendent Vickie Cartwright, she doesn’t think the rules should apply to her. In fact, she is indignant. She hasn’t even professed her usual, “I didn’t know. I am just learning and understanding my role as a Board member” in response to this huge hiccup.
Hixon should Resign Now!
Others in Broward have taken the dead man walking trek out of the KC Wright Bldg. for lesser. We do not want to hear that you were unaware of the conflict. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. It’s been two years. She should Resign effective immediately!
Hixon isn’t the only person connected here. Superintendent Vickie Cartwright is also responsible and entangled with FTX and can no longer use the “but, I just got here” to get a pass.
For quite some time I was wondering what the connection was between Hixon and Velez. Hixon supported Velez’s run for School Board Seat 1 and Velez mentioned Hixon’s name and the MSD tragedy plenty on the campaign trail. It is now coming together with FTX. Interestingly, I never heard Hixon complain about Velez’s mentioning of MSD though she admonished Black folk for “throwing it in her face”.
Speaking of Velez, he was declared the winner of School Board Seat 1 over Marie Murray Martin on Tuesday, November 8. The actual swearing in was yesterday and Velez was not sworn in. Jumping ahead of the swearing in, Velez posted on social media for “serious inquiries of qualified appointees” for several committees: Audit, Area Advisory, Bond Oversight, Broward County Council of PTAs/PTSAs, District Advisory, Diversity Committee, ESE Advisory, ESOL leadership, Facilities Task Force, Human Relations, Parent/Community Involvement, Qualifications Selection and Evaluation, Small Business Advisory, Superintendents Insurance and Wellness Advisory, Technology Advisory, Title I Advisory and Wellness and Learning Support.
Many of these positions have been filled since Velez put out the initial request; however, his initial request excluded people from volunteering for one committee, Facilities Task Force (FTF) because Ryan Reiter, the Desantis-appointed Board member is slated to represent Velez on FTF… not to be mistaken for FTX. Reiter’s time on the Board ended last week. Reiter has been very vocal around the appointment of the Chief Facilities Officer and disagreed with former Board member Daniel Foganholi’s assessment of Cartwright’s errors in hiring, then not hiring Willie Hopkins for the Chief position. He spoke up a lot around the creation of the Chief Facilities job description and admitted to spending a lot of time picking the brains of Judy Marte, the Deputy Superintendent of School Operations. Facilities falls under her administration.
The question here is whether it’s legal, ethical or using plain old good judgment for Reiter to have expressed interest in being assigned to this position before his stint as Board member was complete. Additionally, was it ethical or even smart for an elected, but not yet seated Board member to publicly solicit for people to take on these roles? It demonstrates a great deal of immaturity, entitlement, or a combo of both on the part of Velez. Now that he hasn’t taken a seat, those people he has selected to these committees may not be serving in them at all.
Velez showed up at the Board meeting on Tuesday and told the others that he hopes to join them soon. How presumptuous. If the truth be told, Velez needs to withdraw from this office effective immediately. A lawyer doesn’t get to apply for and be given a job to practice law before passing the bar. And if he gets the job and it is found out that he doesn’t have his license, he is forced to withdraw or be terminated. This is a bold demonstration of privilege if I have ever seen one.
Reiter is currently the seven-year Director of Governmental Relations at Kaufman Lynn Construction. The question begging answers is whether serving on the FTF creates a conflict of interest if Kaufman Lynn has intentions of bidding for construction contracts or currently has contracts with the Broward? Not sure, but we will keep you posted.
There is a lot to clean up in Broward Schools and the Westside Gazette is here for the long haul.