Crusading hyper-local blogger Robert Cox has announced the launch of his campaign for a seat on the local school board. Just months after a death threat was painted on the side of a boat owned by an employee of the local school district in New Rochelle, NY, Cox filed a stack of signed petitions from voters including a number of prominent New Rochelle residents, among them current and former elected officials, school board members, community leaders, parents fed up with declining academic results and property owners fed up with ever increasing taxes.
"I figure 'Don't get mad, get elected'", said Cox about the death threat as he walked out of New Rochelle City Hall on Wednesday.
Exposés of the school district by Cox on his Talk of the Sound blog have become the bane of school officials determined to cover up problems in the district over the past several years.
"It has finally gotten to the point where residents have said enough was enough", said Cox. "Child rape in a school building, drug-dealing murderers working for the school district, the wholesale misappropriation and theft of school property by employees, guys working no-shows jobs getting tens of thousands of dollars a year in overtime not to mention declining test scores and abysmal on-time graduation rates among minority students."
Widely known in New Rochelle for his hyper-local muckraking web site, Talk of the Sound, Cox has for years exposed waste, fraud and abuse in the local City government and school district. Last month he broke a major story on allegations of sexual molestation of a male student against an Elementary School Assistant Principal. Police arrested the man a week later; he is currently locked up on $500,000 bail. Other stories have exposed misappropriation of school vehicles and equipment by employees, wholesale inventory theft, book censorship, double-dipping by state pensioners, no-show jobs, assaults on students, arrests at the high school, drug dealing students, "sexting" a nude image of a child by school district employees, employees operating private businesses during the middle of the school day while collecting tens of thousands of dollars a year in overtime pay and much more.
Cox has attended over 100 school board meetings, more than most members of the school board so finding the time to be involved will not be an issue.
"You really have to want to make a difference to run for school board," said Cox. "There is no pay, lots of hours and always someone who really hates any decision you make, and the elected term is for five years."
The death threat over the winter came about as a result of another investigative report on criminal activity by school district employees working at a truck depot run by the maintenance department. Two weeks after raising questions in one article as to why the depot manager, James "Jimmy" Bonanno", was allowed to store his personal boat on school district property, Cox returned for a follow up investigation to find the words "Bob Cox Sleeps with the Fish" painted on hull of the boat next to an image of a skull and crossbones. In a related story, Cox revealed that another employee hired by Bonanno had 17 prior arrests including larceny and drug trafficking at the time of his hire, two more while working for the district and six more within three weeks of leaving the employment in the district including second degree murder. Williams is now serving life in prison for the crime.
Cox has fought and won changes in the school district such as putting every school board meeting on TV, live broadcasts whenever possible, publishing board resolutions online prior to the board meetings, creating digital audio recordings of meetings.
If you would like to support Robert Cox's campaign to bring accountability, transparency and financial responsibility to the New Rochelle school district you can send a check made out to "Friends of Robert Cox" (email here to get the address) or you can donate via PayPal.