What was behind the effort by Mike Echols and others to take over Tuscaloosa’s School Board?

Save Tuscaloosa Schools was a campaign that was a product of Mike Echols’ Educate Tuscaloosa PAC

Perhaps the reason for the attempted School Board takeover will never be known? Was there a reason for PACs run by  Mike Echols to throw so much money into the race?

A series of questions were raised in the Read, Listen, Think blog:

Golf course – school parcel land: How the deal was done:

How interesting is it that the main player in this deal was Mike Echols, who was the money man behind the school board challengers?

Why in the world would the entities and individuals involved carry on the negotiations or discussions and ultimately make a deal involving the possibility of a new school – a major decision by any school system – and not substantively involve the school board?

Is it possible that this deal was kept quiet in hope of – or even in reliance upon – the election of a fundamentally different school board? Mike Echols worked the deal out between PARA and the Department of Mental Health. Is it coincidence that shortly thereafter he set about to unseat as many of the then-current school board members as possible? Lee Garrison began to position himself to run for the chairman position as early as January 31st, just fifteen days after the amended lease was filed. Would it have looked bad at that point in time for this land to come available the way it did? Would the questions it has raised have had a negative impact on the campaigns of candidates who ‘knew’ about the land deal?

It has been documented that the campaigns of the board of education challengers last year were largely funded by donations from businesses and individuals who were connected to the construction, real estate and banking industries. Why were these folks so motivated to change the board? Based on the acrimony surrounding the choice of location for Tuscaloosa’s new technical school and the fact that many of the individuals and entities from that battle contributed to challengers in this one, I propose that they did not trust that school board to do their bidding. There are a number of businesses and individuals, many of whom donated to challengers’ campaign funds either directly or through Mike Echols’ PACs, which stand to profit from school construction. Could it be that this land deal was always planned to be held secret pending the outcome of the school board elections?


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