CONSIDER THIS: Leaving 2013 Behind

Managing Editor

Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez

As we wrap up another eventful year at the San Benito News, it’s important that we look back on the stories that helped shape the community as we know it today, and I can think of no better place to start than the obvious.

Dominating the headlines in 2013 were controversies the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District was embroiled in, including an unhealthy divide within the Board of Trustees that has arguably served no purpose other than to alienate much of the community. While I don’t believe it was the board members’ intent to create such discontent, it was the inevitable outcome regardless of intentions—good or bad.

Bad blood runs deep within this seven-member board, no doubt, and incursions that at one time seemed few and far between occur seemingly one day after another. And although I’d like to say that it all began on May 23 with the suspension of Superintendent of Schools Antonio G. Limón, the 4-3 split vote was reminiscent of the 2004 ousting of Limón’s predecessor, Joe D. Gonzalez, and therefore predictable. Lines have since been drawn in the sand and are still very much visible.

Now it’s unfair to state that the four board members who placed Limón on paid administrative leave did so in a scandalous opportunity to exact some form of revenge, just as it would be unfair to assume that the three who voted nay are blindly supporting the embattled super for the sake of continuing an allegedly corrupt and clandestine administration. The truth is more likely that all trustees involved genuinely believe they’re doing the right thing.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the constant bickering that usually accompanies nearly every split vote. Yes, some may argue that a healthy dose of opposition and debate are necessary for any governing body, granted, but this board is far from healthy.

After considering every aspect of this rather chaotic political atmosphere, it’s no wonder why the citizens who haven’t yet sipped the Kool-Aid have grown disillusioned. The truly tragic thing about this mess, however, is not necessarily the fact that the public has grown weary of its leadership, albeit important, but that our humanity has been discarded as a result of the melee.

Individually, the board members are not bad people; in fact, they’re rather intelligent, educated, cultured and can be kind, good-natured and God-fearing folks. I’m sure they each have their own personal cross to bear, as we all do, but critics who would so easily dismiss any board member as evil incarnate may be shocked to find that they could have been friends with these trustees under different circumstances.

Consider this: Oscar Medrano is a good man with admirable qualities, and the same could be said about Hector Leal and Julian Huerta; Yliana González has heart and believes in what she’s doing, as does Anna Cruz, June Aguilera and Fatima Huerta—these are my observations of your Board of Trustees as I have come to know them over the years.

As elected officials, their decisions require our scrutiny and their flaws warrant our rebuke. As human beings, they remain in need of our prayers, well wishes and our ability to rationalize.

Though I cannot say for certain whether Limón’s suspension was the right or wrong thing to do, nor am I in any position to determine whether the subsequent investigation into the suspended superintendent may or may not uncover evidence of wrongdoing, what I do know is that San Benito will survive whatever the outcome may be, and we’ll still have to live together as a community long afterward.

More than anything that occurred in 2013, the story of how the public became jaded due to the turmoil within the Board of Trustees juxtaposed with the failure of many to recognize the difference between critical and catty treatment of said trustees is perhaps the most profound.

2014 cannot arrive any sooner for San Benito.

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