As It Is: Montaño took tough questions

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By David Giuliani

Ramon “Swoops” Montaño left recently as president of the Las Vegas City Schools board. He was never one to shy away from controversy or avoid people’s calls.

We should know. The school district has had its share of controversies over the years, yet Montaño has always been accessible to our newspaper. He has spoken with us when it would have been a lot easier for him to get into his bunker.

Patrick Romero is the other member of the board who has been equally accessible. Phillip Vigil has been available to a lesser extent.

The two board members who are extremely hard to reach are Gabe Lucero and Elaine Luna.

Luna has been on the board for years. Lucero started two years ago and hasn’t seemed to overcome his shyness of the media.

Now that Montaño has left, Lucero has assumed the gavel. I hope that in his new leadership role, he chooses to become more accessible. East, of all local government entities, doesn’t need a board president who hides from the tough questions.

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The other day, I went on the radio for an interview on KFUN’s “Over the Back Fence” with radio personality Joseph Baca.

When I got there, about 10 people were sitting in the lobby waiting for their turn to get on the air. Historically, “Over the Back Fence” has been an open mike for the community.

The public hears many different types of people on the program, and it’s not always pretty. But you get a feel for the community. That’s important.

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We may never know exactly why Las Vegas City Schools Superintendent Rick Romero left in an awful hurry. The board said he left for health reasons. Indeed, his health wasn’t great, but he departed days after it became known that he handed another employee one of his flash drives, which allegedly contained offensive files.

We sought the investigatory report into what was on that flash drive before Romero submitted his resignation letter.  Unsurprisingly, the school district’s attorney, Ramon Vigil, declined to give up the report, citing what he saw as various exemptions to the state’s open records law.

Why would we want the report after Romero has resigned?

We figure that a guy who has been collecting a paycheck of more than $100,000 a year must follow a higher standard. He is a role model for the district, so he should undergo more scrutiny.

Also, Vigil himself said the employee who was given the flash drive may sue the district. In that case, the district will have to unveil the report as part of the legal proceedings.

Shouldn’t we know what we’re in for? After all, we the taxpayers will have to foot the bill for that settlement. We’re adults; we can deal with the truth.

David Giuliani is managing editor of the Las Vegas Optic. He may be reached at 425-6796 or dgiuliani@lasvegasoptic.com.