By any reasonable standard of measurement, Pinellas County is fortunate to have a man of the competence of Clayton Wilcox as superintendent of schools.
Not only is the guy super competent, but he is a personable fellow of good humor, fortitude and great patience.
And great patience and fortitude (and a measure of good humor) is what Wilcox needs in dealing with the seven folks (all women right now as it turns out) who are, collectively, his boss.
Hey, we Pinellas folks don't want to lose Wilcox either because he gets tired of a lot of wheel spinning and silly harassment and decides to decamp, or that, foolishly, someone not in tune mounts a campaign to give him a ticket out of town.
That is why the election of School Board members September 5 is important.
And even more important and what this corner is focusing on today is the race between Nancy Bostock and Mary Russell.
First, though, a quick primer on how the School Board election works. It has been said to raise some confusion with the most important people in the county. Those folks being the voters.
It used to be that the board was political - that is, members elected on a party basis. But by referendum some years ago it became a non-partisan election to be held on primary day.
A candidate for school board who gets 50 percent or better on primary day is elected. If less than that in a mulitiple candidate race, the top two vote getters face off in November.
This year's races saw some shuffling.
Bostock and Russell, both sitting members of the board, wound up as opponents in the at large seat number 3 by the choice of Russell.
Bostock announced for that seat 16 months ago to make it very clear as to what her plans were.
It was thought by some that Russell would go for the at large number 3 seat.
But no. Russell opted for a head-on match with Bostock.
The outcome should definitively settle some matters - chief of which is that one of these two women will not be on the School Board.
There is a strong sentiment among some very responsible observers that Russell will be the one not answering present when the new board is assembled.
Russell has gotten a reputation as the party to blame for marathon board meetings. The School Board needs to get back to the business of providing the best opportunities for the county's children and build on improving academic achievement in the schools.
These are the two top objectives of Wilcox.
Bostock is aboard with that also.
"We need to work as a team," Bostock, who is finishing her second term on the board, says. "There is no room or time for attacks."
It seems that Russell goes on at length with discussions of her disgruntlements on matters that could really be better taken up in an office meeting.
One responsible observer, preferring to remain anonymous for the nonce, takes what has to be regarded as a fair view - "I truly believe that Mrs. Russell cares for our children and teachers but she has no idea how a board functions. She continues to monopolize the board's time on administrative issues and personal attacks on the superintendent. Her actions have alienated her from many people including her fellow board members."
There it is in a nutshell.
Why would the School Board, having gone to the trouble of hiring what is regarded as a very good man, not strive to make him the best executive he could be?
What would be the gain in nit-picking the guy at every turn of the road?
Just recently, because of the hijinks of Russell, a School Board meeting dragged on for something like more than seven hours.
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