Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Valdes says travel flap shows she can't trust School Board members

WESTCHASE — Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes said she cannot trust anyone in the district after she became enveloped in a debate over excessive travel.

"Not one member or superintendent when quoted on the Las Vegas trip stood up and said, 'Wait a minute! We asked her to go.' Not one came up and said, 'This is what we asked this board member to do,'" Valdes said. "So if that's the case, in the future, if they were to ask me to go get an award in wherever, do you think I'm going to trust and say, 'Let me do it?' No."

Those comments came Wednesday during a School Board candidates forum sponsored by the Westchase Government Affairs Committee and WOW, the north Hillsborough community's newsmagazine.

There are two races for Hillsborough County School Board, but the District 1 race pitting Valdes against district administrator Dave Schmidt has drawn the most heat.

Last month, the St. Petersburg Times reported that in the past four years, Hillsborough School Board members spent $150,000 of the public's money for business travel to places such as Alaska and San Francisco.

Valdes ran up a $50,322 travel bill — at least double that of any other board member, including a trip to Las Vegas in 2005 to accept an award on the district's behalf. Schmidt has pummeled her on that, and questioned contributions she accepted from a board member.

Valdes used the forum to challenge Schmidt about his own war chest, which includes a $500 donation from Albert Elia, the husband of his boss, superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

"I took the contributions for two reasons: My opponent took a check from another board member and also her endorsement," he said. "So I don't think there was a conflict there.'' He was just "countering'' her.

The forum also featured District 7 candidates, a countywide seat currently held by Carol Kurdell. She and challengers Stephen Gorham and Jason Mims answered questions about everything from religious holidays to gifted student spending.

The primary is Aug. 26.

Rodney Thrash can be reached at or (813) 269-5303.

Valdes says travel flap shows she can't trust School Board members 08/07/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 8:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile


    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.
  2. Rays blow lead, rally, blow lead, rally again to beat Twins in 15 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 28: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on May 28, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010990
  3. Marijuana extract sharply cuts seizures in severe form of epilepsy


    An oil derived from the marijuana plant sharply reduces violent seizures in young people suffering from a rare, severe form of epilepsy, according to a study published last week that gives more hope to parents who have been clamoring for access to the medication.

  4. 'I ain't fit to live': Police say Mississippi gunman kills 8


    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — A man who got into an argument with his estranged wife and her family over his children was arrested Sunday in a house-to-house shooting rampage in rural Mississippi that left eight people dead, including his mother-in-law and a sheriff's deputy.

    People embrace Sunday outside the Bogue Chitto, Miss., house where eight people were killed during a shooting rampage Saturday in Lincoln County, Miss.
  5. Kushner's Russia ties questioned as Trump cites media 'lies'


    WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats on Sunday demanded to hear directly from top White House adviser Jared Kushner over allegations of proposed secret back-channel communications with Russia, saying the security clearance of President Donald Trump's son-in-law may need to be revoked.