Bill Ferguson’s Tenuous Relationship with the Truth

State Senator Bill Ferguson has a tenuous and casual relationship with the truth, and an experienced TV personality like WBAL TV education reporter Tim Tooten should know better than to just take Ferguson’s word as gospel.

In a report that is in serious need of a fact check, Tooten lets Ferguson get away with some whoppers.

Baltimore state Sen. Bill Ferguson said the state needs to check its math. He believes some of the blame should rest at the feet of the Board of Public Works.

“So a number of the schools that are suffering right now are schools that the city schools tried to get funded, but air conditioning projects took precedent because that was the mandate from the Board of Public Works,” Ferguson said.

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Ferguson is referring to a December 2017 school improvement report from the Maryland Interagency Committee on School Construction. It shows that the Board of Public Works deferred seven Baltimore City school building projects at a cost of $33 million. Among the projects turned down were almost $10 million to replace doors and windows at City College High School and more than $6 million to replace boilers and install a new pipe heating and cooling system at Samuel Coleridge Taylor Elementary-Middle School.

There are several blatant falsehoods here.

First and foremost, the Board of Public Works has not “deferred” any of the projects on that list, because they have yet to be presented to the Board of Public Works for approval.

The Interagency Committee (IAC) and its staff make recommendations to the Board of Public Works. The Board of Public Works considers those recommendations, usually in late January. One would think that Ferguson, a state senator since 2011 who also occupies leadership position, would understand how the process works prior to spouting off. But the facts wouldn’t fit his narrative, which is why he needed to fool Tooten with half-truths and spin.

Here are the actual facts about the seven schools listed in Ferguson’s fallacious tweet:

According to the IAC’s preliminary recommendations for the state’s FY 2019 school construction allocations for Baltimore City Public Schools:

  • Curtis Bay ES/MS is #30 out of 37 on the city’s priority list.
  • City College HS was #34 out of 37 on the city’s priority list.
  • George Washington ES/MS was #35 out of 37 on the city’s priority list.
  • Gilmor ES was #36 out f 37 on the city’s priority list.
  • Highlandtown PK-8 #37 out of 37 on the city’s priority list.

Five of the seven schools Ferguson lists are at the bottom of the Baltimore City Public School’s priority list. Why is the state going to fund projects that are barely priorities for the school system itself?

The other two schools Historic Samuel Taylor Coleridge ES and Garrett Heights PK-8 are #4 and #5 respectively on the priority list. This fact, however, is not an acquittal of Ferguson’s specious claim or Tooten’s lackadaisical reporting.

The Board of Public Works had, in fact, approved $7 million in HVAC projects for both schools in FY 2016 and FY 2017. However, in June 2017 Baltimore City Public Schools rescinded funding for these projects.

In lieu of flash cards and sock puppets, here it is in picture form so even Ferguson can understand.

Again, given that Baltimore City Schools just rescinded funding only six months prior, and given that the school system had other priorities, why would the state allocate funding for projects those projects again? Why would the state allocate money for projects that the Baltimore City Schools had themselves deemed no longer a priority?

The facts speak for themselves, and the facts are highly inconvenient to Baltimore City Democrats. This is why instead of addressing the facts, Ferguson chooses to invent his own and whines like a baby when he gets called out on his BS.

Our advice to Tim Tooten, who after his years of experience shouldn’t need a refresher on this but apparently does:  try doing a little research and fact checking before taking what a politician says as the gospel. And when it comes to Bill Ferguson, don’t trust, but definitely verify.

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