I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Context of the Quote

The PNJ story in today's edition captures a portion of the flavor of the conversation I had with David Suhor after our last school board meeting.  There is a bit of a history of back and forth between he and I, no question about that.

But with respect to the quote, I simply reacted to what he has stated in writing and to the comments he has made online, and that I perceive these comments and statements as both a demand and a threat. 

Essentially this individual, David Suhor,  has stated that unless we allow him to come as our individual, hand selected invited guests whenever and as soon as he wants , he will do a "Satanic Prayer" when he is eventually invited by one or more members of the board to come and bring greetings.   

I did tell him that I would never allow him to be my guest and represent me.  I told him that would never happen, ever.  The issue is not about the content of whatever message he wants to bring, it is about him trying to muscle his way into our meetings by making demands and threats.

I also told him I'm not sticking around to listen to his Satanic Prayer, ever.

Our attorney researched this issue and has stated that our current practice of allowing each board member, on a rotating basis, to bring an invited guest to the meeting for the opening prayer is legal, and does not need to change. 

Another board member has already stated she would invite him to come to our meeting to give the invocation, but he declined her invitation. 

So at this stage I can only assume, as I've thought all along, that this individual is out to make a headline, a splash in the media.

Not on my turn to select to guest he won't. 


Apple Biter said...

1) You cannot turn away those who represent religions you don't like or that you fear. That's called discrimination and it is illegal under Galloway. 2) Your first question, when asked if you'd allow an invocation was "Are you Christian". No? Then no, not ever. That's illegal. 3) The invocation is not about representing board members. If so, you'd have only Bible-thumpers speaking... wait, you do. It should be open to ANYONE who wants to participate. That's part of the case law you think applies (Galloway). 4) Mrs Hightower accepted the offer once the date was cleared (at some personal expense). She then got some pressure, warned it might be pushed back to December (when she would not be attending), and eventually revoked it out of fear it would offend her constituents. It seems that the audience doesn't want to hear prayers (they don't agree with) at government meetings. That's ironic. It's what happens to non-Christians every month. 5) It's not about 'spiking the ball'. But that is EXACTLY what happens EVERY MONTH that non-believers are turned away from equal participation. 6) Ms Waters (attorney) did not endorse the current system. She said it would be legally perilous to keep it up. She knows it is wrong to discriminate, put up religious tests, retract invitations, refuse/ignore others and generally try to 'keep it Christian'. I feel for her. I'm sure she'd prefer the board not discriminate or open itself to litigation, but you are refusing and claiming personal privilege to justify your discriminatory choices.

Bottom line, Just follow the law or get out of the official-led prayer game. Leave the praying and preaching in churches or at home OR open it to all, fairly and without filtering by personal or religious privilege. This is America. Our representative bodies should not establish a religious preference or turn away alternative blessings. A moment of silence respects ALL beliefs and avoids litigation. It's what you prescribe for the rest of the school system. It's how the board meetings should start. Why not lead by example and practice what you preach?

Jeff Bergosh said...


There was never a litmus test about the content of what you want to do; it's not about that. It is about your insistence that I invite you as "my invited guest". Your demand that I do this. I don't have to invite you just because you demand it. Another board member invited you and you declined. You've made this some sort of a personal thing and that's what has me convinced you simply want to spike the football in my face to make as splash. I won't allow you to do that ever as my guest when it's my turn in the rotation.

Lorraine said...

Jeff, I am curious of what the school attorney's legal reasoning for her position is, if you don't mind sharing. I am just curious, I take a neutral stance on this in general.