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The Marshall legacy

The Chron has a story that looks back on the long career of outgoing HISD Trustee Larry Marshall. No question, Marshall was a star as an educator, and left an indelible mark on HISD thanks to the well-regarded magnet school program that he helped create. He should be riding off into the sunset amid hosannas and praise. The reason he’s not is captured here.

Larry Marshall

Larry Marshall

Questions about his consulting work surfaced early in his board tenure, when a former HISD administrator, Frank Watson, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the district in 2000.

Watson, who oversaw employee benefits, alleged he lost his job because he refused to do a favor for one of Marshall’s health-care clients. The district ultimately settled the case with Watson.

Marshall’s past consulting work for Community Education Partners also has drawn scrutiny. HISD contracted with the company to run its alternative schools.

Marshall has said in court records that he stopped consulting for Community Education Partners after the school board passed a strict ethics policy in 2004. The new rules banned the district from doing business with companies that had financial ties to trustees and close relatives.

At a board meeting in June 2010, Marshall defended his past consulting work amid criticism from community activists.

Since I have been on this board, I have sacrificed over $500,000 of income that could have been generated, to put something back into a system that I got something from,” Marshall said, before voting with the board majority to renew HISD’s contract with Community Education Partners.

Emphasis mine. If the reason you stopped doing something is because a “strict ethics policy” was put in place that forbade from doing what you had been doing, you might want to take a moment and reflect on the nature of your past actions. Similarly, if you are upset that being in public service is preventing you from earning a wad of money, you really ought to consider resigning so you can go ahead and collect that payday you so obviously want. Unless, of course, the only reason that treasure trove exists is because of your power and connections as a public servant, in which case it just sucks to be you. But seriously, if you’d be rolling in the dough if it weren’t for you meddling kids those pesky ethics rules, then do everyone – including yourself – a favor and step down from your position so you can become a lobbyist. You’ll have all the earnings potential and far fewer enforceable ethical constraints.

Anyway. Perhaps this story was unfairly slanted against Larry Marshall – he refused to comment on it, so we don’t know what his side of the story would be. I’m sure I have a skewed impression of Larry Marshall because almost all of what I know about him stems from his ethical issues. I knew basically nothing about his early career as an educator, which really was stellar. But whose fault is that? Larry Marshall chose his path. For all the good work he did earlier in life, HISD is better off now that he is exiting from service to them. I wish him well in retirement, and I hope I never see his name in a news story relating to HISD purchasing or contracting processes again.

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One Comment

  1. Joe White says:

    Benedict Arnold had an illustrious early career, too.