From the Clocktower – Private meetings. Public problems.

From the Clocktower – Private meetings. Public problems.

By Kathi Bliss

Editor/POST-REGISTER

For several weeks now, I’ve watched as allegations about something that was said (or not said) in a closed meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees has blown a hole in the community that I love.

I’ve heard several versions of the comment – some more hateful than others, some completely innocent. All of them, most likely, are out of context. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that no one except the seven people sitting in that room at the time that comment was made will ever know the truth of the statement made.

My guess is, the truth is somewhere in the middle. My guess is, the comment itself, and the context in which it was made, is open for interpretation depending upon who is doing the talking and who is doing the listening.

Unfortunately, there is no recording. Unfortunately, we, the citizens cannot judge for ourselves what was actually said, what was meant, or why the comment was made in the first place. The comment is destroying our community, and why?

We don’t even know what was really said.

I shudder to think how many other things have been said in closed meetings that the public is unaware of. I can’t dare imagine how many hateful, bitter and angry comments have been made behind those closed doors, under the protection and sanctity of “executive session.”

But I’ll be more than willing to bet my right hand that the LISD Board of Trustees, all six of them, have engaged in and allowed conversations under the guise of “executive session” that not only have no place behind closed doors, but are most likely in direct violation of the Open Meetings Act.

We all know why the Board says they go into executive session. But what do they really talk about, once they’re in there? Are they truly being good stewards of our community? Are they actually following the letter of the law?

Given the public behavior of the Trustees last Thursday evening, I have serious doubts.

As a resident of this community, a voter, a citizen and a taxpayer, I’m challenging you, Trustees, to stop it. In fact, I hope the rest of the community will join me in DEMANDING that you stop it.

That’s enough business conducted behind closed doors. Enough hiding. Enough smoke and mirrors, and enough subterfuge. Enough decisions made without explaining what you’re actually doing or why you’re doing it. Enough.

This community is not your personal playground. We elected you to answer to us. We elected you to advocate for our interests, and for the best of the community. Are you?

We don’t know, because you won’t tell us what you’re up to.

When we elected you, we placed our trust in you to behave in the best interest of this community – not in the best interest of your families, of your friends, your own prides and prejudices… this community on the whole.

And the fact of the matter is this. We don’t trust you anymore. How can we trust you, when you refuse to tell us why you’re making the decisions you’re making? How can we possibly trust you when you intentionally, actively and consistently hide from us?

How did we get here? What happened behind those closed doors that the six of you have become so fractured, so dysfunctional and so venomous that you can’t conduct business anymore? How did we get here – and more importantly, how do you intend to get this district back on track?

It’s time to come into the light of day, ladies and gentlemen. If you’re ashamed to conduct your business in public, perhaps you should rethink the business you’re conducting.

Or perhaps we should rethink who we allow to conduct our business.

Every meeting of the school board for the last eight years, the trustees have spent time in executive session. EVERY MEETING. The school board conducts more business in executive session than they do in public – far more.

Again, I hope the rest of the community will join me in saying:

“Enough is enough. Those are public offices you hold, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to start performing the duties of those offices in public.”

kathibliss@post-register.com

1 Comment

  1. Alice Romberg says:

    Kathi, good article. Public business should be conducted in front of the public. Education is absolute. If we have board members acting like kindergarten students themselves, we cannot produce a workforce educated to compete in this century. Keep up the good work you do at the paper.

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