ALBANY -- An e-mail from Dougherty County Board of Education member James Bush to Board Chairman David Maschke dated Dec. 15, 2009, indicates that Bush favors a superintendent who is "content to follow rather than to lead."
The Albany Herald acquired the e-mail and other e-mails through the Georgia Open Records Law. While Bush, who has refused to speak to The Albany Herald, claimed he had no e-mail correspondences in regard to the superintendent search, communications to and from him were revealed in the e-mails of other board members who complied with the Open Records Act request.
Bush's Dec. 15 e-mail is in regard to board members each submitting three questions that they wanted to ask the six superintendent candidates they were interviewing later in the month. In his e-mail to David Maschke, Bush stated:
"Mr. Maschke, as you know in reading the applicants resumes, I've kept in mind that the piece of paper submitted cannot possibly completely describe the applicant it represents.
"This job requires judgment, someone who is intelligent and has initiative, analytical ability and leadership skills. We need someone who is dependable, someone who is proud of doing steady, consistent work, and leader who is content to follow rather than to lead."
In addition to Bush's expressed desire in that e-mail for a superintendent who will take operational orders from the School Board, normally a policy making board, other material revealed the dynamics of the board after board member Michael Windom had second thoughts about the Jan. 27 naming of Joshua Murfree, an Albany State University executive, as the "lone" finalist for the superintendent job.
Windom asked for the meeting in an e-mail to his colleagues on Jan. 30, saying he wanted the board to "reconsider our options. Some times in our public service journeys, we sometimes make mistakes. We must be accountable for them. "
"I will be asking to reconsider our selection process of the next Superintendent," Windom wrote. "I will be asking specifically that our colleagues reconsider their choice at the special call(ed) meeting this coming week."
That request raised the ire of Bush, according to an e-mail that evening from Maschke to Windom:
"Bush called me in response to your email. He thinks that if that is how you feel you should call a press conference yourself and announce that you made a bad decision or mistake. I told him he could call you and tell you that himself. He asked me for your home and cell numbers. I gave them to him."
In an e-mail Feb. 1, Maschke told board members he proposed to call a meeting for noon on Feb 3, and on Feb. 2 he e-mailed them again with an agenda that included items on Windom's request in the Jan. 30 e-mail and a Feb. 1 letter from board Attorney Tommy Coleman. In that letter Coleman told the board that in his opinion as legal counsel it had violating the state Open Records Law by only releasing information on Murfree when there were at least two other finalists based on comments by two board members and the consultant conducting the candidate search.
On Jan. 27, Windom and Anita Williams-Brown, who made the motion to name Murfree the lone finalist, told an Albany Herald reporter in separate phone interviews that there were two other finalists. That day, The Herald also uncovered a long-time business relationship between Williams-Brown, as CEO, and Murfree in a nonprofit organization connected with the church at which Williams-Brown pastors.
Williams-Brown, Bush, Milton Griffin and Velvet Riggins, who reaffirmed their vote for Murfree at the Feb. 3 called meeting, all denied having an e-mail records connected to the superintendent search, though e-mails from those who complied with the request -- Maschke, Windom and Emily Jean McAfee -- show e-mails were sent and received from all except Griffin.
Bush, meanwhile, has been short with board members and personnel as the controversy has lingered. During the Feb. 18 called board meeting about the CRCT test erasure analysis, Bush interrupted Superintendent Sally Whatley as she was presenting her three-page statement, a copy of which all board members and media were provided before her comments.
In the same meeting, he accused board member McAfee of "grandstanding" when she asked a question about hiring Albany attorney Willie Weaver and another lawyer to help him to defend the board in the lawsuit filed Feb. 4 by The Albany Herald, WALB and WFXL, who asked the court to require the board to obey the state Open Records Act and release the names of the other superintendent finalists. Maschke responded to Bush's terse public criticism of McAfee comment by telling Bush that personal attacks on other board members would not be tolerated.
On Wednesday, the School Board voted 6-1 to accept a settlement of the suit. Under the agreement, which has not been finalized, the board doesn't admit to any wrongdoing, but does agree to release the names and information of three of the six candidates it interviewed in late December. Identities of two of finalists -- Roy G. Brooks of Little Rock, Ark., and Vayla Lee of of Clayton County -- were uncovered by The Albany Herald and WFXL, respectively.
As part of its Open Records request, The Herald also received paper copies of Murfree's 56-page PowerPoint presentation, which he was unable to give to board members during his hour-long December interview. He e-mailed to board members Dec. 22 his presentation with this response note:
Pursuant to yur (sic) request the powerpoint is attached. I wish that time would have allowed me the opportunity to present the presentation. I am requesting that this presentation only be viewed by the Board! Thanks for the opportunity to be intrviewed (sic). The size of the presentation was placed in a three slide format for note taking. My Vitae gives a clear indication of my past work history and current positions. If any further informatin (sic) or data of any sort are needed, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Murfree's PowerPoint presentation, "The Vision to Lead Tomorrow's Future," also has numerous spelling and grammatical errors. Near the end of his presentation, Murfree provides sayings he considers to be important: "We Cannot Direct The Wind, BUT WE CAN ADJUST OUR SAILS ..." Anonymous. The next is, "I AM BECAUSE WE ARE AND BECAUSE WE ARE; THEREFORE, I AM."
Under recent books he has read, Murfree lists: "Purpose Driven Life," Rick Warren; "The Art of War," Sun Tzu; "Instant Replay," Jerry Kramer; "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," Robert Kiyosaski; "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership," John Maxwell; "The Secret: What Great Leaders Know -- And Do," Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller; "Strengths Based Leadership," Tom Rath and Barry Coche (The second writer's name should be spelled Conchie).