Monday, August 27, 2012

Goodbye, Mary Schuh: RIP

Posted By on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 2:30 PM

The Range is saddened to report the passing of Mary Schuh, a longtime local government watchdog with the Pima Association of Taxpayers who stepped up to run for the Amphi School Board at a time when the board needed a big change.

Mary Schuh
  • Mary Schuh
Schuh died late Saturday night, according to longtime friend Nancy Young Wright. She was 78.

Wright, a former state lawmaker who served alongside Schuh on the Amphi School Board, remembers that Schuh was “fearless.”

“She was dogged and determined and smart and funny,” says Wright, who is now seeking a seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors. “I’m really going to miss her.”

Wright remembers that Schuh was skilled at piercing the often arcane details of budgets and other government actions through humor.

“She never really quit,” says Wright, who recalls that last year, Schuh was going after Pima Community College for open-meeting law violations.

The late Chris Limberis profiled Schuh in 2000 during her run for the Amphi School Board:

Woodard is facing a tough opponent in Schuh, who has launched scathing attacks against Amphi's board and administration. A former substitute teacher at Amphi, Schuh has been critical of the district's land-acquisition policies, its relationship with the non-profit Amphi Extension Program (AEP), and the Board's long resistance to allowing constituents to speak at an open call to the audience. (See "Recall and Remembrance" for details).

A longtime resident of the neighborhood around Amphi's Lulu Walker School who has served on Amphi's recently created volunteer budget committee, Schuh offers detailed critiques of the district's spending that come from close examination of budget lines. She complains that district officials have stonewalled requests about administrative cell phone bills and details about the legal relationship between Amphi and the non-profit AEP, which uses district resources without a legal contract.

In a recent forum, Schuh displayed her smarts when a questioner asked about funding to operate a new high school. She was able to recite numbers about what was needed, how much has been reserved for the opening and where the money will come from. She also is the only one who can actually tell you what the district's tax rate is and what that figure means to a homeowner.

She also appeals to voters on common and common-sense issues. Bond funds have not been spent in needy schools, leaving students shut out of necessary classroom space. She gets into such detail that she can talk about how the boys don't have enough bathrooms at Amphi High School because money hasn't been spent for repairs.

For all her fury at government, Schuh has had to show that she won't get on the board to just fight and to simply attack. She has pressed for simple board reforms and for the members to treat the public — and each other — with respect.

The disdain by the current board, she says, is revealed by poor agenda management or agenda manipulation that creates overflow crowds for meetings that "begin on a Tuesday and end on Wednesday." She promises to stop the district's habit of making key decisions around midnight or in the early morning.

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