A consultant for Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidate John Humphries says the nature of Humphries’ recent job change is being distorted by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now(OWN). The Wisconsin State Journal reported last week that Humphries has been hired as a consultant by the same district he resigned from in December. The Dodgeville School Board approved Humphries’ resignation and hired his consulting firm at the same Dec. 12 meeting.
The WSJ quoted Scot Ross, executive director of OWN, as saying Humphries was putting his political ambition before kids:
“This is a sleazy deal that lets a candidate for public office keep getting paid by taxpayers, with no oversight for how he spends his days,” said Ross. “All the while promoting selling out our public schools to chase campaign cash from the private school voucher industry and the billionaires who support it.”
OWN followed up that attack with this tweet:
— One Wisconsin Now (@onewisconsinnow) January 4, 2017
Humphries campaign consultant Luke Martz said OWN’s claim that Humphries will get paid more for doing less is a myth:
MYTH: Humphries will earn $650/day or $39,000 for this contract FACT: Humphries will bill ONLY for work done, with a maximum of 60 days. The daily and total amounts represent ceilings, which it is reasonable to assume will not be hit.
MYTH: This is a sweetheart deal Humphries is being paid more for the same work he was doing before. FACT: Many, if not most, of his previous assignments have been reassigned to other administrative staff. The services he is continuing to provide at the request of the district are because he is uniquely positioned to do so during the time period in question. In the words of the Dodgeville superintendent “Because of the complexity of the position, which requires extensive knowledge of state and federal law and procedures, an outright resignation by Humphries would have left the district in a difficult spot.”
FACT: Not only is the amount Humphries can and will earn with this contract overstated, his estimated daily earnings under his previous contract have been underrated, both amounts for political reasons. Ballpark estimates that have been bandied about do not include benefits, which run at nearly 40% of salary. They also assume 5 full days of work, 52 weeks per year, which is NOT the arrangement most teachers and administrators, including Humphries, work under.
FACT: It is clear Humphries has not only NOT increased his compensation, he has given up healthcare and retirement benefits as well as job security in order to run for office.
Compare that to Tony Evers, who is being paid his full salary with benefits while mostly spending time campaigning.
Martz says there are a number of other myth’s being perpetuated by OWN about Humphries’ job change:
MYTH: There is no oversight of this contract or work.
FACT: The contract is a public record, as are the invoice records. The contract was also approved by the superintendent and the locally elected school board. (Aside: Is One Wisconsin Now suggesting that locally elected school boards DON’T provide oversight?)
MYTH: This contract allows Humphries to be paid while campaigning.
FACT: It is precisely to draw a clear line between campaign work and school related work that the Board and Humphries came to this arrangement.
MYTH: This is an unusual arrangement.
FACT: Many people running for office who have jobs in both the public and private sector have made similar arrangements.
FACT: Humphries has ensured first and foremost that the needs of the students in his district come first. He has done it in such a way that creates a clear line between campaign activities and noncampaign activities.
While attacking Humphries, OWN ignores the activities of incumbent Superintendent Tony Evers. While Humphries made a clean break from full time employment with the district, Evers’ campaign Facebook page gives indications that he is engaging in work hour activities that could be considered political in nature:
Evers can argue that school visits are part of his regular duties as superintendent. But it was Evers who found it appropriate to post this item on his campaign page. And were he to take a leave of absence there would be no ambiguity as to the intent of these day trips.
Here’s an additional, more disturbing, example of how it appears Evers is relying on DPI resources to promote his political campaign.
It begs multiple questions:
1. Why is Tony Evers promoting his campaign in the middle of the afternoon on a school day? (It was posted at approximately 2:30 pm on Thursday, January 5)
2. Why is Tony Evers using students in his campaign materials? Especially students talking about mental health and suicide? Did they give permission? Did they even know?
3. Why does Tony Evers treat the DPI Communications Department like it’s an extension of his campaign machine?
4. Why is Tony Evers putting this material on his campaign Facebook page mere hours after it was posted on DPI’s own Facebook page?
What other reasons might there be for DPI producing these videos, beyond the political benefit of Tony Evers?