Hands off the parents, call me instead

Warren Taylor
October 4, 2017
Vandebilt students earn National Merit Scholar honor
October 4, 2017

The first thing that must be made abundantly clear is that Deanna Cunningham never, in any way ever, spoke an ill word about Daryl Karpinski Sr. during a conversation I recently had with her.

Deanna is a mom, and she is a board member of a girls’ softball team called Louisiana Magic. And although I made it clear in the story I wrote after my talk with her, which appeared last week on the pages of this newspaper that Deanna was not speaking for the team, which is a non-profit organization in existence here for many years, let me say it again.

The story was about Recreation District 2-3 and how they allowed Mr. Karpinski to charge money to what are called traveling teams for unlocking gates and overseeing softball tournaments and also softball practices. We already knew that he was charging $25 to do the honors for some traveling team practices. The money did not go to the district, whose board members are adamant that they don’t charge teams for the use of facilities paid for by taxpayer dollars. How I knew this had nothing to do with Deanna or Louisiana Magic. My initial informant is not even involved in sports.

Deanna was so concerned about someone getting the idea she was criticizing Mr. Karpinski or the board of District 2-3 that she appeared last week at the board’s meeting where she said “I am Louisiana Magic,” and that the newspaper had “taken her out of context.”

“Yes I have paid Mr. Daryl, and Magic uses the facilities,” Deanna said. “I go out there on Friday morning and Mr. Daryl is there with the gates open, I have ice being delivered, I have trucks coming in. I have total access to the concession stands … I don’t have a problem paying Mr. Daryl like the article made it seem because I am paying for the weekend and for his time the entire weekend. When I am there the first thing Mr. Daryl does is bring me a contract. I sign a contract every year for District 2-3. Magic does not have a problem with District 2-3, and we are thankful to you for allowing us to use the facility,” Dianna concluded.

During a meeting break Deanna told me that she wanted the newspaper to print what she said in the meeting, because people thinking she had trashed Mr. Karpinski when the newspaper story came out made a mess of her life.

People, she said, had posted horrible things about her on Facebook. People who ran into her and who called her and who demanded to know how she could do such a thing.

Far fewer people are asking for the Ethics Board to investigate Mr. Karpinski. Far fewer people are asking why District 2-3 board members did not, as the law requires, report what appears to be an ethics law violation to the Ethics Board. But people who can’t read sure had time and motivation to make this woman’s life miserable. Because if they knew how to read they would have known that nothing of the sort was true. So either the literacy rate in Terrebonne Parish is higher than any of us knew, or Mr. Karpinski – who was given the opportunity to give his side about all this but refused and hung up the phone on me – is a man with lots of friends who don’t mind making a dedicated mother cry in his defense. The fact is that Deanna is not the first parent to express fear either before or after speaking the truth about these travel team arrangements. The fear is mostly over retribution for speaking the truth, through teams not getting scheduled field time. And not just in District 2-3. Parents have said that if they dissed District 2-3, other boards would give them a hard time.

Maybe the fears are founded and maybe they are not. But the fact that they exist means there is an unhealthy climate, that something is wrong with the kid sports culture and how it relates to people with the power to make decisions that make parents cry or quake.

So if anyone still thinks Deanna Cunningham said bad things about District 2-3 or about Daryl, even if they don’t get it by this point, perhaps because of the aforesaid inability to comprehend the written word, I’ll make it easy. Call me at 985-413-9889 and I will explain. You want to holler at someone? Holler at me. In my career I have defied the Gambino crime family and I have defied the Ku Klux Klan. So I am not scared of you. Pick on me. But don’t ever pick on Deanna Cunningham again. •