Well, I have always spoken my mind, and I checked my calendar, and I’m not scheduled to change anytime soon.
It has recently come to light that state Senator Joe Booth has accepted a job with the Sussex Tech School District. The position is being described as a liaison between the district, small business and industry.
So there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding this new job that my senator has taken.
First and foremost is, who knew about this and when? It would seem that this job was being considered during the GOP primary race that Sen. Booth was involved in and subsequently won. A race that was decided by 120 votes. A race that also was basically the general election, since there is no Democrat challenging Mr. Booth. This is not a rehash of the primary race, that boat has sailed. But if it had been known during the primary, that Sen. Booth was being considered for this government job, well in a race decided by 120 votes, it clearly could have been a difference. So why didn’t Mr. Booth disclose this information?
We also must ask did any of the notable Republicans who endorsed Mr. Booth know about this job? Such as Gerald Hocker, and Collin Bonini. Have they, or will they denounce Sen. Booth for taking this job and for not allowing citizens to weigh it when deciding the primary?
Other questions surrounding this situation are, how much does it pay and where is the money coming from? Sussex Tech has said only that the money is grant money. For any other information concerning this, the district has said that people asking questions will have to file FOIA request. And so the rumor mill is in full operation. Some are guessing that the money is coming from “RACE TO THE TOP” funding. This money is intended to be spent on students, not more administration. People are also guessing that the salary will be in the neighborhood of $100,000. . This could all be settled, if either the district or Sen. Booth would speak up. So far no response from Sen. Booth.
Now some may be asking, what’s the big deal? Sen. Booth wouldn’t be the only legislator working for the state. This is true. But that doesn’t make it right either. Sen. Booth would be working for a school district that is run by the state government. Sussex Tech doesn’t hold referendums to increase its funding. Those increases are decided by the state legislature. Sen. Booth could recuse himself from these votes, but it would be extremely difficult for his influence not to be felt in Leg Hall.
Let me say that my thoughts on this matter are in no way an accusation that Sen. Booth is doing anything illegal or even unethical according to current rules. But the appearance of impropriety and the clear conflict of interest will cast a shadow over his every vote in his upcoming term.
I would also say that in my opinion, every state Senator and Representative should be and are liaisons between business and industry and every school district . I feel that for one Senator to set himself up as a champion of one district, over the interest of the others, well it seems as if he would be doing a disservice to the other districts of Sussex County who are in direct competition with Sussex Tech due to school choice. There are other school districts within his senatorial district that may now suffer a loss, due to Sen. Booth working to move business and industry in the direction of his paying job at Sussex tech. This goes against the oath he swears to serve all of the citizens of his district,and not just the students and families who send their children to Sussex Tech.
I hope that my senator will reconsider this move. I hope he will put the good of all the citizens in his district ahead of any personal monetary consideration.