State Journal: Secrets of the 'Green Door', Bashing the board

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Revelations about the school-funding secrets that lay behind the "Green Door'' are continuing to roil the political waters in the Georgia legislature.

Press accounts and state investigations last month disclosed that, during the past six years, House leaders have put about $2.3 million into the account and used it to fund more than $768,000 worth of special projects in their districts.

The special account paid for such school projects as library-roof repairs, new tennis courts, and lighting at baseball fields, budget documents indicate.

The funds came from a little-known account allegedly used by members of a House budget panel nicknamed the "Green Door.''

In response to the reports, State Superintendent of Schools Werner Rogers last month said he no longer would issue any checks from the account.

"It's not my intention to spend any more from that fund'' unless an emergency should arise, Mr. Rogers said, adding that the $250,000 left in the account probably will revert to the state treasury.

Speaker of the House Thomas B. Murphy and several powerful "Green Door'' members have been accused of keeping the account hidden from other state officials and using it as a slush fund.

But Mr. Murphy recently asserted that the existence of the fund has been public knowledge all along and, if state officials did not know of it, "it was because they were too stupid to read it'' in the budget.

A New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate is making criticism of the state board of education a major theme of his campaign for the Democratic nomination.

At a press conference at his 9-year-old daughter's elementary school last month, Ned Helms, a Concord businessman, blasted the board and said he would ask members to resign if elected.

The board has been "at war with the schools, community, and business leaders,'' Mr. Helms said in an interview, adding, "The board is driving a wedge between parents and the community.''

Mr. Helms also accused the board of having a "private agenda'' of support for school choice and opposition to a community-based school-improvement program. "They fought it tooth and nail,'' he said.

But Pat Genestreti, a member of the board, vigorously disputed the charges.

"We took no position on the school-improvement programs, we leave school choice up to each district, and, if he read the minutes of our last meeting, he wouldn't have so many silly errors in his speeches,'' he said.

Vol. 11, Issue 37, Page 19

Published in Print: June 3, 1992, as State Journal: Secrets of the 'Green Door', Bashing the board
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