James Colbert, Jr., the superintendent who delivered a “battle plan” against legislative attempts to abolish a redundant education agency, secured his own financial protection in recent contract negotiations.

Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees renewed Colbert’s contract with the district a few months ago, and in his negotiations, he pushed to amend his contract to guarantee his salary even if the entity he’s hired to administer ceases to exist.

The contract says that if the district is abolished through state, regulation, or decision of an authorized agency, entity, or official, “the Department shall pay the Superintendent an amount equal to one year of the Superintendent’s annual total compensation under the Contract (i.e., salary and all benefits) or the total compensation equal to the amount to be paid on the remaining term of the Superintendent’s contract, whichever is greater.”

This reinforces the theme of his speech that exposed his primary concern—serving himself, as opposed to serving the public.

Interestingly, Colbert made no effort to ensure that HCDE employees receive the same 14068216_10157344467280343_8231334977959056437_nridiculous benefits, even though just last week he was heard “rallying the troops” saying they would fight together in this “war” of self-preservation. He even went as far as to order customized lanyards imprinted with the military equation for victory to hand out to district staff.

The contract renewal and the video both show that HCDE’s superintendent is largely in his position out of sheer self-interest, rather than public service. His redundant and bloated agency serves as his personal cache of taxpayer dollars. His recent actions demonstrate he will do anything to ensure it stays that way, even if his “public service” is no longer needed.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.

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