THEN: Amid much fanfare, Ben Canada was appointed Portland's schools superintendent in 1998. He should have done well. He came from a bigger town, Atlanta, where he had faced far more intractable problems, and this appealed to Puddletown's inferiority complex. But Canada smiled too much and did too little.

He lost the support of teachers, middle-class parents and, finally, a coalition of minority activists who charged he was ineffective at serving their children. Pushed out of office in 2001, he departed with a $300,000 parachute.

NOW: After Canada was ousted, the onetime lay minister said he was considering returning to seminary. Instead, he joined the Texas Association of School Boards in August 2002, where he works for a guy named (we're not kidding) Jim Crow.