Best Philanthropist?

As Kevin Spacey’s Keyser Söze said in the 1995cult film The Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Well, friends, the greatest trick Delores Barr Weaver and her cabal of rich philanthropists ever pulled was convincing society that they were indispensable and that they should be celebrated.

The real heroes are the social workers, firemen, police officers, teachers and others who spend all week working—and for meager wages—but still find the time to volunteer and give what little they have. Where are their awards? Where is their acknowledgement? It’s nowhere to be found, because DBW has sucked all the oxygen out of the room.

Delores Barr Weaver, the wife of former Jags owner Wayne Weaver, has been in the news a lot recently. She was even voted Best Philanthropist in Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax 2018 readers’ poll. Why? It probably has to do with the following: she has given a million dollars to United Way; she’s fighting against human trafficking; and she’s advocating for girl empowerment.

DBW hasn’t been in the public eye this much since somebody stole her Beanie Baby collection from a suite at the stadium when her husband owned the Jaguars.

You know what? I am all for girl empowerment. I am against human trafficking. I think the United Way is a great program. We can probably all agree on that. But—and here is where we might disagree—I don’t believe for one second that Delores Barr Weaver deserves any acknowledgement for her contributions.

You see, she also gave a grand in campaign support to Dave Chauncey, a recent transplant to Jacksonville and a former Teach for America recruit, in his school board bid. Chauncey was running in District 6 against Charlotte Joyce, a lifelong resident, a graduate of Duval County Public Schools and a current public school teacher. DBW’s support of Chauncey is unacceptable.

Yes, girl empowerment is important, but DBW gets no props from me if she is willing to support candidates like Chauncey and Teach for America executive Darryl Willie, who want to privatize our schools and undermine our teachers.

Yes, United Way is a great program, but DBW gets no props from me if she refuses to understand what our children, teachers and schools need.

Yes, human trafficking is detestable, but DBW gets no props from me because her husband underpaid his employees and over-charged his customers, amassing a fortune that none of us will see.

Bill Gates, another philanthropist of note who dabbles in education, recently admitted that all his measures including common core have been failures. And he did so while pumping money into charter schools. Are we supposed to ignore the damage he has done to the teaching profession and all the children who participated in his failed education experiments as we hold out our hands and beg for more?

Why should we thank DBW when, while donating to some worthy causes, she also contributed to unworthy causes. Her preferred school board candidates would dismantle our education system. They would gut the public school model in favor of a for-profit charter racket.

In any case, she is giving money that, were there any justice in the world, would already be in the pockets of working people: her husband’s employees and customers.

These rich people throw money at problems that we as a community should have the resources to fix on our own. But we can’t because the wealthy are so insatiable that they have crafted a society that benefits them, and then allows them to be hailed as heroes for throwing nickels at the problems that have come about for the most part because society doesn’t have the resources to deal with them. So we have to hope for their largesse because society has chosen to make her and her husband wealthy instead of dealing with important issues.

It’s a devil’s bargain and, for most of us, it doesn’t work out. We’re dupes being lorded over by the mega-rich. We’re the orphans too afraid to ask for more.


Guerrieri is a Duval County Public Schools teacher.