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, January 21, 2015

Dealing Appropriately with Speakers That Violate Board Policy...

Should a member of the audience be able to usurp our meetings,  utilizing antics and shenanigans that are disruptive, divisive, and antagonistic?

…..I think not, and it is for that reason that I’m astonished by what transpired and what was allowed to occur at last night’s school board meeting.  I spoke to the board’s attorney, secretary, and to the superintendent of schools about what was coming.  This was not a surprise, yet it still was allowed to occur.  Astonishing…..

Because it was my turn in the rotation to select a guest to bring the pre-meeting prayer, I selected a Rabbi from Pensacola’s Temple Beth-El.  Rabbi Joel Fleecop was delivering a very respectful prayer to those of us assembled for the meeting, and he was rudely interrupted by a member of the audience who began chanting and praying loudly on a rug right next to the podium.

A member of the audience that spoke subsequently chastised the Chair for not stopping this loud and distracting stunt; the speaker said that because of the chanting, he could not hear the Rabbi’s prayer.

Nothing was done to stop this chanting, which was the first disappointment of the night.

Later, when this individual who had interrupted the invited Rabbi had his three minutes to speak, he came right out and started insulting me and my invited guest, deridingly referring to the Rabbi with an anti-Semitic barb, calling him a “Token-Jew”

nothing was done to derail this man and his ad hominem attacks.  

When this member of the audience insulted me, insinuating that I “used” my guest as a prop, I maintained my bearing, fully expecting some leadership from the dais and the chair to shut down this personal attack against me. 

Didn’t happen.

We have a rule against addressing board members other than the Chair, and this infraction was not addressed.

We also have a rule against personal attacks, which also went unenforced.  

A total loss of control.  

Very disappointing.  

It is one thing for this individual that loves disrupting our meetings to try to push the envelope—I half expect him to do so.

The big disappointment is that he was allowed to do so in blatant contravention to board rules of decorum-----that I did not expect.

So when this person got finished insulting me, my guest, and then he decided to start reciting a 

satanic prayer, I walked right out on him, right out of the room.  I wasn’tgoing to listen to a minute, not a nano-second more of this guy’s vitriolic garbage, and I won’t in the future either if he is going to blatantly walk all over our rules unabashed.

Additionally, I will not sit silently if this individual comes to our meeting and tries these sorts of stunts again and is not restrained.  Out of deference to the Chair and the rules of the board, I was silent through this blatant violation of the rules.  I won’t be next time.

I’m not indulging this disruptive person, and I never will.
The issues that transpired last night will be a subject I put on the agenda for an upcoming workshop so that, hopefully, we won't let things get out of hand at future meetings.


Apple Biter said...

Your blog will not allow a long enough response. I'll email it to you. Feel free to post it, as I will yours.

Jeff Bergosh said...

I'm praying for you Dave, because I think you are lost. I'm not going to debate you here or anywhere else. We simply have fundamental disagreement on the one issue you are interested in, the one that has been settled in court via numerous SCOTUS rulings that support what we're doing and how we're doing it. We've been diverse, you know that, I thought that was what you were after- but that was never really what you were after, nope. You want it to be about you and making a splash in the media and drawing attention to yourself. I'm not contributing to that anymore. As I said, I'm praying for you, not because I'm some sort of "Super Christian" I know I'm not, just a sinner who falls short all the time. I'm praying for you because you are lost.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly sure that a School Board sponsoring clergy led prayer is against the rules.


They will sue your Board, and win if you all are silly enough to challenge.

Anonymous said...

If you're a dick and you want the world to know it, say "I'm praying for you" to people you disagree with.


Apple Biter said...

Yes, I know you won't publish or answer such contradictory comments.

Pray all you want Jeff... on your own time. I support that right. But don't lie and say you welcome diversity - with ECSB's first ever (unwittingly token) non-Christian prayer... only after being called out for discrimination. Don't say I present loud interruptions when I never have. Don't say what you are doing is legal when no SCOTUS decision has ever supported SCHOOL BOARD prayer. And don't call someone's prayer vitriolic garbage when you won't even hear it - despite imposing your prayers on people there for a business meeting.

What you can do is create a written policy to make it clear how that discrimination and exclusion are not part of the process. You can embrace the prayer, instead of saying it occurs before the meeting, so it's OK... but my prayers are not. neither of these will satisfy me. You need to drop it.

This not about attention to me. Who would want this kind? It's about attention to the illegal state-church entanglement practiced by the ECSB and their censorship of unwanted minorities. You have no idea how many people get upset because they are subjected to prayer at public meetings. Your eyes are literally closed, so you don't see. They often tell me. And they don't keep attending.

I find it interesting that you impose acceptable styles of prayer on the meetings, yet you want to suppress others. If you don't want me to pray my way, quit asking me to pray your way. Have a moment of silence for everyone to pray their own way. Or find something appropriate and secular, as was done in November and December.

Meantime, go read Matthew 6:5-6 and see what it advises. If you can't follow civil law, at least respect His command.