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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Meeting that Wasn't

The 17th of September was a quiet, calm day.  Very little fanfare, a routine, garden variety, run-of-the-mill work day for me after a tumultuous day and night that had occurred on the 16th of September-the day before.

But something was not right.  Something seemed peculiar.  The meeting we had all lived through and witnessed the night before was a real event. It happened.  It was not a dream.  It was a train-wreck of the worst kind and the effects of it were still on my mind.

Yes, we had a tremendously emotional meeting on the 16th, we fired a popular coach, and we witnessed a significant display of civil disobedience.  We watched a meeting get out of control.  Thank God it ended up diffusing itself, with some well-placed improvisation, some additional discussions on boring routine agenda items, some luck, and the presence of 6 Armed Deputy Sheriffs encircling our dais. 

But before it ended, threats were made.  Persons had to be physically restrained.  One person was held back by three grown men.  Threats were made. How many weapons were in the room, over and above the guns in the Deputies’ holsters?  Nobody knew, and nobody knows.  Was that kid in the video holding a weapon?  Couldn’t tell. More Threats were made, loudly.

“I’m going to KILL HIM!”-this was one threat that was made from the group in the audience, and it was reported to the appropriate authorities.  But who said it?  Nobody could specify who it was.  Kill who?  That’s my question as the newspaper reports I’m the pivotal third vote to fire the coach.  Kill me?  Or was this threat directed to Bill Slayton, the other vote to fire the coach?  Or was it directed to

 the superintendent, the person who brought the recommendation.  Kill him, I have to assume, means kill one of the three men on the dais who voted "for" the recommendation.  Staff was shaken.  People were on edge.  What should we do?

So the 17th comes, and nobody says anything, nobody does anything and no communications from administration to the board about the surreal meeting of the night before. Nothing.
Crickets.  A massive “Black Hole” type of a leadership vacuum.

So on the 18th; I utilized proper channels to organize a special meeting to address the lingering aftermath of the meeting.  Security, investigating all the allegationsof misconduct surrounding athletic eligibility, and development of a policy toprevent such a spectacle from ever happening again.  Something had to be done.

After significant initial resistance, the special meeting was called by the superintendent; it was to occur on Tuesday, Sept. 30th.

An agenda was produced, and it was published.  The meeting announcement was prepared and sent to the PNJ.  (More on that later).

The Friday before the meeting, I provided back-up for my items.  These back up items were never linked to the web-site so the public could view them.  I was told they would not be, either, as this would make it appear that the items were endorsed by the district, not the board.  Okay.  No backup.  I’ll bring back-up materials to the meeting.  No problem.  Unusual, but no biggie.

I requested the meeting agenda be revised to allow for discussion among the board prior to a vote on my resolutions.  The request was denied.  Okay, I’ll amend the agenda at the table.  We’ll have the discussion anyway.  Why the resistance, though?  Really?

But then the day of the meeting comes, Yesterday, and late word (literally hours before we’re to meet) that there’s been a snafu and the meeting can’t go on.  It seems the PNJ did not run the advertisement when they were supposed to, and because of that the meeting could not be held because it was not properly advertised.  Are you kidding me? - That was my first thought. 

Sure enough, the PNJ dropped the ball.  Should we have caught it?  Yes.  Should we have been suspicious when the notarized proof that is ALWAYS sent from the PNJ to the district on the day of an official meeting advertisement is run  was not received?  Yes.  Is this another broken process?  I’m afraid  it appears to be so.  Here's why.  If we run these ads all the time, and know that 1-3 days after a notice runs we ALWAYS receive confirmation, notarized in the mail, from the PNJ—then why were red flags not raised when after the 22nd, 23rd, the 24th, the 25th, and 26th of September-- we still did not receive the official, notarized hard-copy confirmation of the meeting announcement’s publication?  How did that part of the process break-down?  A simple phone call, even as late as the 24th or 25th, to the PNJ asking where the notarized letter was, could have resulted in a new ad being placed in time for a proper and legal notification.  And then we could have had the meeting.

But that did not happen. 

This, apparently, was the meeting that was never supposed to be.  Fought from the start, stymied in every way, road-blocked at every turn.  Cooperation?  Nope, None.

 So everyone that had planned to attend was left in the lurch, at the last minute.  Problems that would have been discussed by the board will now have to wait until the next meeting, the regular meeting on the 21st of October.  Meanwhile, the threat was made—actually many threats have been made since that meeting—and nobody’s talking about what’s being done about it.  I guess that will have to wait until October 21st

I’m bringing all three of my resolutions back, at the night of the regular meeting, as “items from the board.”  These items have been delayed due to circumstances beyond my control, but they are still legitimate, important issues that require a discussion at the board meeting.  They will be back, the issues remain unresolved so far as I can tell.


Kevin Green said...

If I didn't know better i would think this reads like a movie. Let's don't forget the limits that were persued in the original investigation! Principal not aware of inveatigators on school grounds, parents not advised, minors being questioned without an unbiased adult there, and said minors advised not to tell their parents of the questioning! Surely these kids were a threat to our national security right? No they may or may not have had improper contact with a coach! Now we see the lengths one will go to protect this investigation.... The reason for yesterday's meeting not happening is laughable and an insult to everyone's intelligence! I will say it again... It's been personal from day one and every day confirms that more and more!!!

Jeff Bergosh said...

I think we were hit with the perfect storm of events that led to the meeting not happening. I realize people make mistakes, and in my opinion it was a series of mistakes that led to the advertising snafu. With this said, I have already sent in the items that I will be bringing to the next regular meeting, and this time, hopefully, it will go without a hitch.

Gulagathon said...

It does need to be investigated on who made those threats. I've worked with kids from that area, and a good amount of those kids do not come from stable households, and this circumstance leads some to not think about the consequences of such language. In other words these kids rely more on unbalanced emotional thoughts and behavior than rational behavior in particular moments.They say what they want because that's how they feel at the moment, no matter how outrageous. They don't care about the reasons on why the coach was fired, they just don't want him fired, no matter if the coach was out of line for playing those players, and not listening to the principal and superintendent. Kids can curse out teachers, and cause disruptions in classes in some schools with no real consequences for their actions. They can threaten to KILL somebody, and some think that saying that is ok because that's how he feels. I say to hell with that! Who threatened to kill somebody that person needs to face the consequences of that language.

Gulagathon said...

When you have a large amount of illogical kids ticked off, the worst kind of group think sets in. There will likely be little amount of rationale in the atmosphere. You'll have kids try to out mad the next guy, just to show that he's mad too, better yet he's more mad. Too much backwardness is running the public school system. Threatening peoples lives should not be tolerated! This shouldn't be tolerated especially at a school board meeting. Who is talking like this at a school board meeting? Some kids get so used to this kind of crazy talk that they just lose their minds. Some talk like this in school with no consequence, now they feel like they can do this in the real world.

Anonymous said...

I did not hear the threat but would caution assuming it was from a kid.... I was there and the adults were as vocal, if not more vocal, than the kids! This is a prime example of guilt by association.... I've seen those kids from that area in the past... Come on man this is 2014!!