We were sent a copy of a letter addressed to us from Council member Wanda Halbert in the wake of our Tuesday blog post, so we’re sharing it here.

As a point of clarification, the clause at the end of the second italicized paragraph from that blog post only appeared for a couple of hours, because we later edited it out. We point that out in the event that you noticed that it no longer appears and wondered what happened to it.

Here’s Councilwoman Halbert’s letter:

I was a little surprised and disappointed when I read the following on your blog:

Right On The Money

While the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioner may object to the cut in funding, they seem to understand that City Council should rightly be considering precisely this kind of issue. In this regard, Board Chair Tomeka Hart set the proper tone when she said: “It is a conversation that the City Council has to have. They have every right to decide what role municipalities play in the school system.”

It was an example of statesmanship that is often lacking in local public affairs, and was especially impressive in light of the intemperate emails that she has been receiving from City Council member and former school board member Wanda Halbert, who seems intent on settling old political scores in her new position.

I am not certain where you are getting your information, however, as a member of the Memphis City Council given responsibility to serve as liaison to Memphis City Schools and Chair of O&M Budget, I have reached out to MCS on several occasions via email to forge a positive relationship and partnership. My colleagues on the Council will attest to the fact, it has been a real struggle working with the MCS leadership.

My direct communication has been with President Tomeka Hart and Vice President Martavious Jones with somewhat negative connotations and attitudes and little more than insults/innuendoes of, “don’t talk to me”. I have attached some of those emails and responses for your personal view, therefore, if anyone told you I was intent on settling old political scores in my new position, they were misleading you obviously to garner the print they were seeking. I contacted several board members and expressed my concern regarding their leadership with the hope the board would be more sensitive to the need to have a positive relationship with the Council, however, I never heard back.

While your interpretation of the President of the school board has been viewed as setting the proper tone, many of us have witnessed her as being insulting, and disrespectful to the legislative body and its requests. As late as last Thursday and Friday, the Council had MCS scheduled for its last budget wrap-up discussion only to receive a call from President Hart’s assistant less than 2 hours prior to the meeting stating they would not be present due to a previous meeting. This is the second time this kind of absence has happened with little to no notification. Mind you, this is after they failed to respond to very important questions submitted to MCS relevant to Council’s budget decision. There is a lack of transparency and accountability at MCS!

In addition, the Council was informed on Friday night, MCS “forgot” to request the dire need for $1.7M in capital funding which was (still) approved by Council on Tuesday. This was followed by members of the school board negatively discussing the Council members during dinner break, unaware they were being broadcast live via the Council speaker system and internet where Council members and reporters overheard the conversation.

Tom, it has been very difficult to be in my position because I love the children of Memphis City Schools and for the past 7 years I have fought to ensure they had the best education they should receive. Often times this fight was met with individuals who attempted to manipulate my personality and intent, however, I am a strong woman who is up for the challenge. The misconceptions about what is really happening operationally, academically, and politically in MCS along with the absence of holding some of our “favorite sons and daughters” accountable is a disservice to our city.

I offer you my contact information should you ever need to discuss any issue that involves me or my representation so there will be no future misrepresentation of any facts. I would appreciate if you and those who support you would give me that much respect.