Arlington mailers tout black school board candidates

Posted Wednesday, May. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The Lone Star Good Government political action committee has been targeting homes and apartments in Arlington with mailers endorsing Britine Burton and Alisa Simmons and advocating a return of African-American representation to the school board.

Burton and Simmons are challenging incumbents Jamie Sullins and John Hibbs.

The 2-month-old Fort Worth-based PAC has received most of its more than $30,000 in contributions from two attorneys. One of them, Glenn Lewis, has supported Simmons through two earlier runs for school board.

Lewis and Stephen Meeks are partners at Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson. The Linebarger firm collected the school district’s delinquent property taxes from 2009 until the board voted to drop the firm in 2012 and return to Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins & Mott.

Lewis said the campaign support has nothing to do with business contracts — it’s about his long association with equality causes as a civil-rights lawyer before he joined Linebarger in 1999.

“I live in east Fort Worth,” Lewis said. “While it’s not in Arlington, my children went to school in Arlington and we attend church in Arlington. There is a need for another perspective on the Arlington school board.”

A total of $33,300 in political contributions to the PAC as of May 1 were reported to the Texas Ethics Commission. Lewis contributed $5,000 on April 24 and $3,000 on May 1. Meeks contributed $5,000 on April 22, $10,000 on May 24 and $10,000 on May 1.

A report through April 1 showed that Lewis and Meeks each contributed $5,000 to the PAC on March 8.

Lewis said he was happy to contribute when he learned the PAC had been formed to maximize the challengers’ resources.

Fort Worth civil-rights activist Kyev Tatum was quoted in one of the PAC’s mailings about an incident in Arlington in which a white teacher was suspended for pouring pencil shavings into the mouth of a black student.

Tatum said Tuesday that he is unfamiliar with the PAC.

“I think for them, it’s just a matter of timing,” Tatum said of the mailer’s tie-in to the pencil shavings incident.

The PAC was something of a mystery after its first mass mailing.

“I’m not very familiar with the mailer you’re referring to, and like most others, I received it in the mail,” Burton said.

Hibbs, the incumbent facing Simmons, said he has seen “several” mailers from the PAC, including one stating that he was not in favor of students viewing President Barack Obama’s address to schoolchildren several years ago.

“Jamie Sullins and myself weren’t even on the board at that time,” he said. “I wasn’t even in the mix of running for the Arlington school board at that time.”

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins

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