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Hood calls in a favor

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Never let it be said that Mayor Glenda Hood isn't connected. Or that she won't pull whatever string necessary to save face. In the case of a flap over a Parramore charter school, a parochial issue if there ever was one, Hood appealed to the state's highest-ranking executive, Jeb Bush.

Hood contacted Bush because of the "PR nightmare" the city created for itself by breaking a $100,000 contract with the state. City officials unknowingly broke that contract when they promised exclusive use of the John Jackson Center to Nap Ford Community School officials in October. The contract with the state, which helped fund some of the center's outdoor facilities, said the fields and courts had to remain open to the public.

After the hurdle came to light, Hood got Bush to waive the $100,000 and allow the school to take over the facilities for two years -- until the school can move to another city-owned building.

Several Parramore activists were outraged that Hood made an end-run around a lower-level state employee, who had ruled against the city last month. "This is a cover-up," said Sylvia Young, denouncing the city's "by-any-means-necessary" tactics.

Yet the city still has to answer to the federal government for a $249,999 contract the city entered into with the National Park Service. That money was used to make interior and exterior modifications to the Jackson Center in 1991. And the federal contract stipulates the building "shall be maintained in public recreation in perpetuity."

Which means the city will be scampering to find a new home for the school unless George W. feels as compassionate about the issue as his little brother does.


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