So the Great Apple Controversy is over.
After stating she wouldn’t vote for it, and after stating he was “inclined” not to vote for it, and after saying she wanted more time to study the issue, Gilbert School Board members Julie Smith, Daryl Colvin and Stacy Burk joined Lily Tram and Jill Humpherys in supporting the deal that will bring an Apple-related company to our area, and with it hundreds of jobs to the East Valley and millions of dollars to the district Smith, Colvin and Burk represent.
Let’s be honest here: Smith, Colvin and to a lesser degree, Burk, embarrassed the district with their behavior.
The deal is this: Gilbert Public Schools is one of several governmental entities with tax power over the land and building the Apple-related company is to purchase. The company asked to be declared a Foreign Trade Zone, which gives the company many breaks, including, if the entities agree, a significant cut in taxes. All of the other entities agreed, with GPS being the final one. Without their signing on, however, the deal was in jeopardy.
Most would’ve thought this was cut and dried: The company gets their breaks, the various entities get increased revenue, and the East Valley gets the prestige of the Apple label associated with it.
But apparently Smith, Colvin and Burk had some problems with it, with Smith flatly stating that since the deal was contrary to her principles, she would not vote for it. Colvin, after “consulting” with the Goldwater Institute, was ready at that point to vote no.
And Burk? Well, she just didn’t have enough time to decide. So the initial vote as postponed to the next day. That meeting was cancelled, since it violated the open meeting rules. So the meeting was moved to the next week.
In the interim, however, Burk decided to vote for the deal — even though she didn’t agree with giving companies these kinds of breaks. Wanting it both ways has been a hallmark of Burk’s time on the school board.
Smith, who was adamant about voting against it, particularly since she had consulted with fellow conservative Town Councilman Victor Petersen, changed her mind, too.
And Colvin? Well, he popped up on Channel 12 News announcing that he was prepared to vote for it.
So Smith and Colvin were against it before they were for it, and Burk sat on the fence.
Profiles in courage.
But here’s the outrage. Both Smith and Colvin blamed the whole fiasco on ... others.
For Smith, it was the district administration; on some obscure website called Gilbert Watch, Smith wrote the following: “It is unfortunate that the vote was delayed due to a failure on the part of administration to provide all necessary information. I am greatly disappointed with the handling of this situation. Our citizens deserve better.”
And Colvin, in his TV debut, claimed that “staff blew it.”
Both Colvin and Smith had the topic in hand for 17 days prior to the vote. Both stated they had consulted others about the issue. Both had more than two weeks to ask district officials whatever questions they might’ve had.
Apparently they didn’t.
And so, when it blew up in Colvin’s and Smith’s face, they blamed someone else for their own mistakes.
Reprehensible behavior. They should be ashamed of themselves. And at the very least, they owe “staff” and “administration” an apology.
But Smith is right about one thing: Our citizens do deserve better.
• Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.