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(Update one week later, 12/21/2021):
Thanks to an outpouring of public sentiment over the past week, the Williamson County Commissioners Court appears to have backed off their inappropriate threat and decided to allow the pass-through of federal pandemic relief funds (CARES Act) to both Leander ISD and Round Rock ISD, acknowledging that there is an established process that is underway for parents to express their concerns to school officials regarding books.
We didn’t need to go through this obnoxious charade.
They jumped into a manufactured controversy over books without understanding the processes involved at the school district level. That’s the point of “staying in your lane.” They do not have the authority to regulate another local government’s policies–certainly not what books appear in the libraries of schools. These politicians have used our kids as pawns in a ginned up culture war that does nothing to improve the lives of families in our county.
This episode is just the latest example of the poisonous brand of politics that Bill Gravell has brought to Williamson County government in the past three years. He would rather inflame and divide than do what is best for the people of Williamson County. It is laughable–and entirely predictable–to hear him today bemoan the divisions among our residents that he himself chose to exploit with this cynical and failed power play.
(end of update)
Today was one of those days–they come all too often–when Williamson County politicians make headlines for all the wrong reasons. The news came out of the regular weekly session of Williamson County Commissioners Court:
1) The Commissioners voted 4-1 to disburse federal dollars from the CARES Act to all the school districts in the county EXCEPT for two: Leander ISD and Round Rock ISD. Why? Because they disapproved of some books that (they believe) appear in the libraries in those districts.
Our kids are being used as pawns in a hysterical culture war–a war of choice. This is pure political theater, as evidenced by the fact that Bill Gravell would be fine with having the federal funding come through Travis County instead (since some students in LISD and RRISD live in Travis). I believe in local control. And that includes the principle that local governments need to stay in their own lane (as stated by the one dissenting vote, Commissioner Cook).
After all, Williamson County has enough problems of its own without trying to tell cities or school districts what they should do. This leads to the second big piece of news today.
2) Williamson County settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of Javier Ambler for $5 million. This is a small step for justice, but there’s more to be done. Those responsible need to be convicted. And it is a reminder that Bill Gravell supported former Sheriff Robert Chody in his pursuit of fame on LivePD, even after he knew about the killing of Javier Ambler (but before the public knew).
I love Williamson County, and it’s painful and embarrassing to see it treated like just another battlefield of cynical culture wars that don’t accomplish anything for the families who do the living, working, dreaming, and striving in our communities. I need your help to turn the tide in 2022.
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