No politics in Rhee complaint, Brannum says
If there's something Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has said or done over the last three years that Robert Vinson Brannum actually likes, he's kept it pretty much to himself. Count him among the hardest of the hard-core anti-Rheeites.
"Chancellor Rhee seems to take personal joy in being hostile, rude, petulant, and disrespectful," Brannum blogged in 2009 after one of her marathon appearances before the D.C. Council, where he is a fixture on the witness list.
Then there's this from last January: "Regardless as to how hard Chancellor Rhee seeks to reinvent herself, she will never measure up to the competence, intellect or professionalism of [Rhee's predecessor] Dr. [Clifford] Janey as a solid educator. Chancellor Rhee cannot remake her image or shed new skin and be viewed other than as a failed classroom teacher. There is a difference between being a fearless administrator and a reckless tyrant. There is a difference in respecting alternate views and rejecting to hear them."
Brannum, a Ward 5 activist and one-time school board candidate, is also supporting D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray in his attempt to unseat Rhee's boss, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. But he insists that election-year politics have absolutely, positively nothing to do with his decision to pursue an ethics complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) against Rhee for her dealings with the private foundations that are funding a portion of the new teachers contract.
"Individuals are free to say what they wish," Brannum said Monday, but he pointed to OCF's decision to investigate Rhee's solicitation of $64.5 million from a group of four private foundations to support the new teachers contract. OCF director Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery said in a June 4 letter that there is "reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred." Brannum asserts that Rhee improperly burnished her own job security by doing business with funders who reserved the right to pull their money if school system leadership ever changed.
"Until she is held accountable she cannot hold teachers and others accountable," Brannum said.
A Rhee spokeswoman calls his claim "nonsense, " pointing out that the leadership contingency is a standard part of private funding agreements.
Kathy Williams, OCF general counsel, said the agency is just doing its job.
"We have to look into the matter," she said. "The man made a complaint and we're going to look into it."
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