A Tizzy Over Lizzie

School board members duke it out over a no-bid contract awarded to St. Louis radio talk show host Lizz Brown.

"Even if we loose the injunction, the school board will continue to control the money and much of the future money that is collected. The board will continue to control much of the district's operations," says board member Peter Downs, who characterizes the state board of education's assertion that the three-member transitional board will have full authority over the district as "politicking."

"The district will pay for filing a lawsuit," Downs explains, arguing that the takeover is unconstitutional. "If the request for an injunction is denied and the transition board takes over, then we would expect that the transition board would stop payment [for the lawsuit]. That is why there's a fund called Save Our Children's Education to pay the money to keep the lawsuit going."

Board member Jones did not respond to several interview requests.

O'Brien, meanwhile, sees the bad publicity generated by the Lizz Brown contract as yet another blow to a district that's been on the ropes for decades. "This is a joke, and it needs to be portrayed for what it is. They lack the brain capacity to run a school district with a $400 million budget," says O'Brien, herself no stranger to controversy.

"This city and this region is being destroyed by a major institution that's sitting in the center of downtown. Right now we have a golden opportunity for a new advisory board to come in and take apart this system. But the advisory board is really going to have to take it apart: the arms, the legs, the head — everything."

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