Monday, August 29, 2016

Racism In Bridgeport - Yes, No?

This is a follow up to something that was brought up at the Monday August 22nd school board meeting.  I saw a discussion online over the weekend that made me think more about the subject of racism and specifically pertaining to it here in Bridgeport and from our school board.  I could list the official definition of racism or all the incidents of it throughout history in our world, but instead I will share my view of it.  I believe it is born of ignorance and empty hearts by people that are not "color blind" but instead are "blinded by color".  It is real and has been in existence in our world throughout our long history and used against many ethnic groups, not just one group.

This weekend I saw a discussion on the Facebook page for the Bridgeport Alumni.  The football coach had shared a photo to promote the calendar used for fundraising for the football team.  In the photo you can see that all the players are black.  Let me also add that I don't like the term black or African American or colored -- They are labels, and I don't feel that any person should be identified by a label.  Labels I feel minimize the uniqueness and humanity of an individual.  The only label I do like is "my fellow man".
A Bridgeport alumni made a remark on that photo/post that I think most people would automatically perceive as a racist remark.  I perceived it as a racist remark which is why I took several screenshots of the conversation.  I do not know this person that made the original remark so I do not know what is truly in his heart. Maybe he did not mean it in a racist way or did not believe it was racist.  I heard there was more conversation on this post after I took these screenshots but it was deleted before I saw it all.  I will share here what I did see.  I will say that this is not the first time I have seen a comment on the alumni page that I perceived as racist.  There have been a couple remarks in the past but I will add that it was only a couple.  But to see them, and see them used against children, is heartbreaking.  To see those remarks made by Bridgeport Alumni or parents makes me sad.  Here are the two screenshots that I took of the conversation: click on the photos to see the conversation

I have always viewed Bridgeport as a open and welcoming community.  I suspect that racism does exist here more than I would like to believe.  I don't personally see it because I don't associate with people that are racist.  This year I have not been able to attend a single community event, have not been out and about speaking with people in this community.  Just because I or other people don't see it doesn't mean racism does not exist.  I am sorry for anyone in our community that has had to suffer because of the ignorance of small minds and hearts.

So yes racism is real and no acts of racism should ever be allowed to stand unchallenged.  Racism should never be minimized either.  The word racist is a very very powerful word and it also should never be used lightly. That word has the power to permanently tarnish or destroy a person. To call a person or an act racist when it may not be the true case, I feel just succeeds in marginalizing the true and serious acts of racism.

Now back to racism and our school board.  There were several meetings that I was not able to attend and the terms "race based"and "racism" where used there. One of the meetings I heard even had the term "racist" used towards other board members.  I have had to ask around about these incidents and so the information I am sharing here is second hand.

First there was a regular school board meeting that I was not able to attend.  I don't know for sure what date this meeting was held because I have missed several.  I believe it involved the hiring of the new assistant principal for the high school.  My understanding is that this woman is black.  I don't know the whole backstory to who all may have applied, what their qualifications were, why this woman was chosen.  What I have heard is that she was hired by a vote of 4 to 3.  One or more of the  3 members that voted no were then accused of being racist by another of the school board members.  This was done publicly during this meeting.  I feel that it was a highly inappropriate and irresponsible thing to do!!  I suspect the lack of communication and the division that I see as a real problem with this board plays a part in all of this.  If one or more of our school board members request more information, wants to know what an applicants qualifications are, and those board members just happen to be white -- That does not make their request or decision to vote no a racist act!!  That is ignorance to assume it is automatically racist because those board members were white!!   I would expect all of our board members to make sure that they are well informed and are making the best decision possible for the future of our school district.  If they are going to be accused of being racist every time they do something that another board member does not agree with, that will make this board nonfunctional.  One or more of these board members may have felt that way personally but it never should have been said publicly during that meeting.  I would ask that board member to truly check their heart and think long and hard before they ever make that kind of accusation again.
I have also heard that a board member said something along the line of "we should be hiring more blacks" or "we should be hiring only blacks".  I don't know the exact words spoken or the context of the statement.  I agree that diversity is a good thing.  But what if the minority person being hired is not the best person for the job?  What good is achieved in the long run then?  Bridgeport schools are at a critical point in their future and they need the most qualified people that will have the most positive impact.  Every applicant should be hired based on their qualifications only, not the color of their skin. We are right back to being blinded by color.  I believe that we are all human, brothers and sisters, all God's children.  I judge people by their heart and soul, not the color of their skin.  Until all of mankind can view their fellow man color blind, we will not make any progress.

There was also the workshop/retreat that the school board members participated in back in July of this year.  Four of the board members were able to attend, Pat Nelson, Robert Lange, Dempsey Allen, Tedi Morris.  Three members were unable to attend, Marti Sagemanm Larry Long, Jay Bruns.  Some of the things discussed at this retreat were their concerns about and plans for the future of  the school board.  At the August 22nd school board meeting Deb Macon from the MASB gave a presentation and shared many excellent things and also the "concerns" expressed by those board members in attendance at the retreat.  The concerns expressed by some of the attending board members were their own opinions and perceptions.  Once they share those thoughts publicly and especially once those thoughts were shared by the MASB member during the meeting on the 22nd, they are then being perceived as accusations.  When it is shared and becomes an accusation, and being made by someone that is a person of authority, or someone held in esteem, like our school board members, then that accusation will more likely be assumed to be true by the public.  I don't feel that those thoughts about "race based" or "racism" should have been shared publicly during that meeting on the 22nd.  That was perceived by me and others in this community as accusations being made against some of our board members and whoever those comments may have been directed towards were unable to defend themselves against it during that board meeting.
JUST BECAUSE AN ACCUSATION IS MADE DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MAKE THAT ACCUSATION TRUE!!  All you have to do is look at recent events over the last year involving our school board and even in our sad national politics to understand that an accusation is not the same as the truth!!

I would like to remind every one of our school board members that your words and acts are setting an example for our children here, so choose your words wisely and set an example that will be good for them to follow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting August 22nd, 2016

On the agenda:
- There were no speakers for the citizen participation segment.
- MASB Governance Team Discussion begins at 1:00
- Middle School Student Handbook Presentation & Approval begins at 28:45
- Personnel Committee  Report & Special Education Supervisor Contract Approval begins at 43:13
- Building & Grounds/Finance Committee Report begins at 53:04
- Board & Superintendent Comments begin at 1:12:48
© 2016 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

The first speaker was Deb Macon from MASB.  The discussion was about the school board and what their role is and how to effectively govern.  I was impressed with the speaker Deb Macon.  She seems very competent and passionate about the work she does.  The school board has already had one day long session workshop and will have several more in the future. I agree with most everything said here especially like the plan to be more proactive rather than reactive.  Moving forward out of crisis mode and looking toward the future.  I agree that there are two districts here.  There is still division within our school board.  That is a complicated issue and has I believe multiple factors causing it.  I believe that lack of good communication, and a lack of understanding, contribute to the division.  Every school board member needs to work hard at making their thoughts and feelings understood to the other board members and secondly to the public as well.  Perception is everything here.  If you vote no or vote yes on something, then you need to say why you do so.  Be as clear as possible.  If others understand exactly why you take a stand on something, there can be no misperceptions about the reason.  If I understand why you vote yes or no on something, even if I don't agree with you, I will respect your decision. If someone just votes no or votes yes with no explanation, then their reason is now totally up to their fellow board members and the public's own interpretation or perception, and worse it will be up to their imaginations.
The one thing I hope is never the cause of any division among our school board members is influence from outside the board members.  If anyone else whose goal is not unity and understanding, cooperation between our board members, then their voice needs to be shut out. The answer to building a stronger school board and working for the future of this district is never to shut out your fellow board members and try to drive them away, to remove them from the board!!  That is never the answer.  If our board members have problems working together, it is not the fault of any one board member, I feel it is the fault of ALL the board members.  Here is where we go back to better communication and understanding, respect for each other and their voices.  Some may feel that I try to influence the board.  If I harp on them to work in unity, for better communication and understanding, for transparency, to remind them that they have only one goal and that is the future of the children and this school district - That is fine.  But anything other than that, then this school board needs to tell me to shut up and to go jump in the river!
Now onto the subject of racism and this school board. I think I have mentioned on this blog before that I have seen true racism in the deep south 40+ years ago.  It was real and it was scary.  Racism is not a term I take lightly and would never use lightly.  It was stated that some actions on this board are perceived to be race based and that the community believes that there is racism in this community and on our school board.  I disagree with this.  Back when I was a child and the first black students came to our school they were welcomed with open arms in our schools and our community.  I will admit that I have seen what I would call racism in our community nowadays but I do not believe it is from our community as a whole, only from some ignorant individuals.  There is ignorance and ignorant individuals all over the world, not just in Bridgeport.  As for our school board, I have gone over and over several incidents in my mind that I believe were interpreted by others as racism, but I am not willing to call it racism, not by any of our school board members.  Here again we need to go back to a need for better communication and understanding.  I believe that some of the perceptions of racism may come from the hiring of individuals from the Buena Vista and Saginaw School Districts.  I will admit that I heard some comments made in the past after school board meetings by members of the public, not by any school board members, that I personally perceived as race based.
Hiring individuals from these two school districts is kind of a double edged sword.  No matter what decision is made it will be perceived by one side or the other as a race based decision.  I have heard both sides of the argument.  I have heard from members of this community that our Superintendent and some members of the school board just want to hire from these two districts because they are black and they worked in those districts.  The public's perception is that both Buena Vista, which is no longer in existence because it had become so dysfunctional, and the Saginaw School District which is also failing according to the state, may not be the best place to be recruiting new hires from. If those school districts were failing, it must be because all the staff and administrators were failures.  It is way more complicated than that!!  Let me play devils advocate here and present the case of my uncle.  He was a teacher in the Saginaw and Buena Vista School Districts.  He loved teaching and he loved his students.  He was a teacher at Brunkow Elementary when he passed away much too young.  He was beloved by the students and his fellow staff.  He was a great teacher and co-worker.  If he was alive today and he applied for a position in Bridgeport, would some not want to hire him because he came from a failing school district?  That would be Bridgeport's mistake for only looking at him as coming from a failing district as a disqualification.  But at least no one could call that racism since he was caucasian. I believe that the actions of our administration or school board members concerning the hiring of staff from either of these school districts are not a race based decision, but is being based on their perceptions of these individuals qualifications or lack thereof.  It is not right to just throw out an accusation of racism, either way, towards any members of our school district without a complete understanding of their reasons for the decisions they made.

Next up was a presentation by Mr. Baker of the new Middle School Student Handbook, the board approved it.  There were also several new hires approved  by the board.

Next up was a report and recommendations from the finance committee meeting.  There had been discussion about outsourcing some janitorial services for just one of the school buildings but that will not happen right now because the financial numbers show it is not the best decision right now.  The best thing from the nights meeting was the presentation by board member Larry Long of new advertising signs that will be sold as a means of fundraising for the athletic programs.  It is a great idea!!  It is a good way to raise funds for the programs, good way to get the community involved and rally the support needed for our school athletic programs.  I see it as a win-win all the way around.  Kudos to Larry Long and others for the great idea and for the work he has put into making it happen!!

Also during the board member comments Marti Sageman discussed plans for this years homecoming parade.  She is doing a great job on that so Kudos to her also!!  Superintendent Selby talked about some new advertising  and marketing they have been doing for the school district. Board President also spoke about the meeting they had with the Michigan State School Reform Office.  His comments I think will be reassuring to residents of this school district that have been concerned about the future of our district and especially Atkins School.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Looking For Something? Look On My Facebook Page

I post many things on my Facebook page that never make it to this blog.  I share events and photos that are of interest to the Bridgeport Community there.  And I often share the videos there of the various board meetings before I get them here onto the blog.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Dismissal Of John Rhines' Lawsuit Against Martha Sageman And The Bridgeport Spaulding School Board

I suspect that most residents in Bridgeport have either been following this lawsuit or at least heard talk spread around Bridgeport about it.  I just recently found out that the lawsuit(s) were dismissed by the courts back in May 2016.  I have yet to see any news reported by any of the local news outlets about the dismissal.  I can understand where the larger news organizations have so many stories to cover that they were not aware of the dismissal.  I thought perhaps that our smaller local news, the Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald, would have reported the dismissal but I have gone back through my issues going all the way back to April and could not find the story.  Hopefully they will be posting it soon so that all Bridgeport Spaulding residents are aware of the facts.  I won't try to recap all the accusations included in these lawsuits.  You can get most of what the accusations were about just by reading the documents I will be posting here.
I went to the Saginaw County Courthouse and took a look at the court files for these lawsuits.  There are two huge files.  I had a limited amount of time I could spend there that day and it was no where near enough to even begin to go through all the legal paperwork.  There looks to be some fascinating reading in those files.  I will be going back to review more of the case files when I have enough time to do so.  I got copies of some of the documents that I think will give a good view of the arguments against the lawsuits.  Obviously those arguments won because the suits were dismissed by the courts.  John Rhines had made some serious accusations and from what I read in the documents, John Rhines own testimony, he did not have one single piece of evidence to back any of his accusations up.  Not one piece of evidence or one single witness to back up his claims.  His speculations, his accusations, caused a lot of turmoil here in the Bridgeport School District  at a time when this district did not need that kind of trouble.  He sounded very convincing when he got up and spoke at the school board meetings with his claims, in the TV interviews, in the interviews with the news organizations.  I believed his claims.  Perhaps if I was better versed in the law and particularly these claims, I would have questioned them from the beginning.  After reading these documents, I am not sure what grounds he thought he had to even make the accusations.  It appears to be just speculation and hearsay with no proof.

The first pages I am posting here are showing the date of the dismissal, May 26th, 2016.  The lawyers for both sides signed a "Stipulation For Dismissal" document on May 17th and the judge signed the "Order Of Dismissal" on the 26th.
To view these pages in a larger more readable format just click on each image.

The next 8 pages I am posting are the "Defendants' Motion for Summary Disposition".  Basically this is the argument by the defendants to have the lawsuit dismissed.  This specifically deals with the accusations that Marti Sageman had any hand in the separation agreement with Jennifer McDonald, that there was no wrongdoing in the dismissal of Jennifer McDonald, that Marti Sageman did not benefit in any way from the dismissal, that Marti Sageman did not misappropriate funds, that the school board members did not engage in a coverup of any supposed misappropriation or supposed wrongdoing.  Obviously the defendants arguments won.  If you read these documents you will see why they won.

The last 4 pages I will share here are another "Motion for Summary Disposition" by the defendants.  This one specifically deals with the accusation that the school board violated the open meetings act.  And again it does not appear that John Rhines had any proof of his claims.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Finance Committee Meeting August 11th, 2016

The two main topics they discussed in this meeting were raising funds for the athletic programs by the selling of banner advertisements.  Also discussed was the custodial maintenance positions and outsourcing of several of those positions.

These meetings are probably not of interest to most of the Bridgeport residents but they should be.  Decisions that get made and the items that get brought before the full board for votes start here in these meetings.  The one thing I have always felt when attending any of the committee meetings of the school board is that none of the members take these decisions lightly. They take every factor into consideration and how they will affect the schools in the long run.  Things like the current state oversight of the schools make a impact on the decisions they have to make.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting August 10th, 2016

On the agenda:
New Business -
- 2017 Budget begins at 1:59
Old Business -
- North Gateway update begins at 4:35
- Cass River Trail Head update begins at 7:16
- Davis Park Canoe Launch update begins at 8:50
DDA Coordinator's Report begins at 11:14
DDA Member Comments begin at 19:39
© 2016 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Wednesday's meeting was short, mostly just setting future meetings and updates on some of the current projects in the works here in our beautiful little township.  I am looking forward to all 3 of these projects.  They will bring so much to our community! I have watched more and more people using the historic bridge and the trails since it first opened.  It is great to see people having their wedding, prom, family gathering photos being taken on the bridge.  You see whole families out walking the trails or just enjoying the views from the bridge.  When the Cass River Trail Head project finally gets done, I believe that will draw even more people here to enjoy the beauty of our Cass River.  The canoe/kayak launch I suspect will be one of our most popular attractions!  The landscaping project on the Dixie toward Buena Vista is moving along.  They do have the Bridgeport rock in place now there and the landscaping will follow.  I have been wanting to get out for days to photograph the rock and the progress in Davis Park but have not been able to get out there. You can follow the Davis Park project progression on the Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Facebook page.  They keep sharing photos of the progress and it is looking good.

There is always a lot of good information in the DDA Coordinators Report and the board member comment period.  One of the things they talked about was that Jill Thieme from the Cass River Yacht Club provided the lunches that day.  I got lucky and got one of those lunches and wrote a little review here on the blog about it.  Summary - It Was Outstanding!!  I think that the Cass River Yacht Club is Bridgeport's hidden little gem.  The best food in town and not enough people know about it.  If you haven't tried it, you need to!  If you are one of the many that just rave about her food - Help Spread The Word!!

The next board meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Do The Ends Justify The Means?

Just taking a break from the heat and thought I would share something that keeps crossing my mind.

How many people truly believe that the ends justify the means?  Some might argue that if the intended end is for the good, and the means are used out of a sense of trying to do what is right then it is OK.  Is it ever really OK?  What about when the means become worse than any wrong you think you are trying to right?  Who have you become now, The Slayer or The Monster?  What is the price that you are willing to sacrifice for the end result?  Your integrity?  Your compassion?  Your sense of right and wrong?
Getting in bed with the devil will always exact a heavy price! We are all born into this world naked and alone with nothing but our honor and our soul.  We leave this world with nothing but our honor and our soul.  Are there ever any means or ends that could possibly justify losing either?

Bridgeport's Own Cass River Yacht Club

I attended Wednesday's DDA Board meeting and the lunch was being provided by Jill Thieme from the Cass River Yacht Club.  Today just happened to be my lucky day and several of the board members were unable to attend. There were several of those lunches left over and I was kind of like "I would be willing to try one and then I could write a review of their food".  I was going to include my review in the post about the board meeting, but after I ate that lunch, I thought that Jill and the Cass River Yacht Club and the magic fairies they must have working in the kitchen deserved their own blog post.

I will admit that I am probably one of the few people in this town that has never eaten at the Yacht Club.  Year after year I keep hearing everyone rave about the food there and I keep saying I am going to go try it out, but I never have.  Well after that lunch today, the Yacht Club has a new customer.

The lunch was a Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap.  It was outstanding!  The wrap is loaded with goodies and I don't know if it is just the combination of the ingredients or if they have some kind of secret ingredient in that wrap; but it is a must try! 
Also included with the lunch was their signature home made potato chips.  I had their chips once before.  They provided them for all the volunteers at last years Cass River Cleanup here in Bridgeport.   They are really good!
Also in the lunch was a muffin.  Now I will admit that I have a serious sweet tooth and muffins and cupcakes are two of my weaknesses.  This muffin had blueberries in it and it tasted like maybe it had also applesauce?  Or some kind of spice? It was very moist.   And I believe it was a cream cheese frosting.  I do know that it was delicious and that I would like the recipe for it.  That might cause some problems because I would end up making them too often and then I would end up putting on weight, but I swear I would try some self control if I could just get my hands on that recipe!

A member of my family went to a large meeting within the last year and each member was required to bring some food.  My family member got a take out order of the Yacht Clubs Chicken Noodle Soup for the meeting.  Everyone at that meeting just raved about the soup and there was not a single drop left after the meeting.  I have heard so many good reviews of their food.  I can't remember all the individual items people have talked about, but a few that I can remember are their burgers which are said to be the best you will ever try, and also their fish is supposed to be very good.

So this is my first official "food review".  I don't think I am quite ready for Bon Appetit magazine but I hope I have made my point here.  If you have never eaten at the Cass River Yacht Club - Give them a try, I don't think you will regret it!

They have a website where you can review their menus: Cass River Yacht Club
And they also have a Facebook page:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting August 8th, 2016

On the agenda:
- Intermediate School District (ISD) Presentation Regarding Lease Agreement begins at 0:40
- Motion and vote to approve the ISD Building Lease Agreement begins at 30:40
- There were no speakers for the citizen participation segment.
- Agenda Adjustments begin at 31:56
- Atkins Elementary Quarterly Report begins at 33:37
- Priority School Update begins at 1:19:03
- Consent Agenda: payment of bills, board report, minutes begins at 1:42:04
- Treasury Update begins at 1:47:15
- Discussion of community service and the athletic program begins at 1:49:35
- Board And Superintendent Comments begin at 1:57:35
© 2016 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Wednesday August 10th:  Sorry it has taken me two days to get back here to write the blog post.

What is the main thing I took away from Monday's school board meeting?  POSITIVE AND MORE POSITIVE!  It was a long meeting but I think it was good.

First up on the agenda was Kathy Stewart from the ISD to discuss their students in the "Challenging Behaviors Program" and the lease of classroom space from the Bridgeport Spaulding School District for these students.  It was a good discussion and it sounds like a win-win for everyone involved, especially the students in the program.  I hope everyone will take the time to listen to it.  I was happy to see the board members vote to approve this lease agreement.

Next up was the Atkins Elementary Quarterly Report from Mrs. Duran.  I will admit that most of this information was way over my head but it did sound very positive.  I believe the school is going in the right direction and I applaud everyone that is working hard to make it happen!!  This was a long discussion, full of a lot of information, and I hope everyone will take the time to listen to it all.

Next was the Priority School Update by Mark Whelton.  Another good discussion full of a lot of positive information.  Please take the time to listen to it.

Treasury update - Positive
Community Service and Athletic Program Discussion - Positive

Some may think I sound like a drunken parrot cackling Positive over and over --  but I really do think this whole meeting was very positive!  One of the things I really liked was all the discussion, questions and answers back and forth between the board members and the speakers.  School staff members joining in the discussion from the audience.  The public really misses out when they don't attend these meetings.  Hopefully they will take the time to watch it all.

Another thing that I think can be viewed in this meeting is how all the different people working together can really make a change.  Each person brings a little different perspective to the mix, a different approach to the problems.  And instead of  the differences clashing, they truly help to enhance it all, to bring it all together to make it work!
That is why I am sorry to see Larry Long leaving the school board.    Larry was an integral part of the whole.  I felt he was a balancing part of the whole.  I think he had a lot to offer to this board and district.  I saw the frustration at times that he felt and that is too bad that it had to happen.
If everyone on this school board or any other public body were all just clones or zombies walking lock step to one drummer, there wouldn't be a need for a full board, just the one drummer calling the shots.  But this is not and should never be how public bodies function.  Each member of a public body brings something different, something unique to the mix. Every opinion and approach from the various members should be as valued and respected as every other one of the members.  It is that joining of different ideas that can make things happen!!

Thank You! and a few random musings

As I sit here waiting on the video from the latest school board meeting to upload to youtube I thought I would share a few thoughts since I haven't done that in quite awhile.

As I approach 25,000 views to my blog I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you that have taken the time to come here.  I find it humbling and mystifying.

Here are some of my favorite thoughts/sayings that have had some meaning in my life recently.  They are things that I have always known but sometimes I need to be reminded of these truths.

--  Always trust your first instinct, that gut instinct that tells you when something is not right!  And when you override or disregard that first instinct, and those little red flags keep popping up, those nagging feelings keep coming back, Listen To Them!!  I had to be reminded of this truth again recently, but unfortunately it was a little too late before I woke up and listened.  Another sad lesson learned the hard way.

--   Sometimes this world, the people in it, are backwards and upside down.  Things are meant to be used and people meant to be loved.  But for some people, it is the things they love and people that they use.  The things can be anything from small material objects to power and control.  When temptation is put in their path, they can't control themselves.  To them, people are just things to be used, manipulated, controlled.  Used to achieve their own agenda's.  They get drunk from the power.  They will destroy anyone that stands in their way or that they cannot control. When you can no longer be used to do their bidding, to further their agenda, it is then that it will be you that they turn on next.   Their true character will always come out in the long run.  You just need to keep your eyes, your mind, and your heart open so you can see the truth. But sometimes it is too late and the damage has been done.   It is helpful if you do some serious self reflection first.  Are your words and actions reflective of who you really are?  Or are they the words of another?  Maybe you need to take a step back, remove yourself from the situation, then watch it play out like it is a show you are watching on a TV.  What do you see?  Are you seeing the entire picture from all angles?  How do you feel about what you are seeing?   If you don't like what you see then it is up to you to make the change.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Lawsuit, Election, and some random musings

This post has been hard for me to write and it may end up being long, so bear with me here.

Bridgeport resident John Rhines was a vocal critic of the Bridgeport School Board.  He filed a lawsuit against board member Marti Sageman and then added other members of the school board to the lawsuit (s).  Marti Sageman was accused of some serious wrongdoing.  I am not going to go back into all the details here.  You can see the old posts on my blog or just go to Google and you can find all the news stories about the accusations and the lawsuit.

What you won't find on Google are any news stories reporting that the lawsuit was dismissed by the judge.  I don't have the exact legal wording from the court papers but I believe it was dismissed either for lack of merit or lack of evidence.  I am not a legal expert and since I don't have the documents, forgive me if I am not citing the correct cause for dismissal.  To me the main point is that it was all dismissed by the judge.  There were several accusations with one of them being that the school board violated the open meetings act.  I believe the judge was going to allow that part of the suit to go forward but I believe it was dropped by all the parties involved. Possibly the school board did violate the open meetings act but I do not believe it would have been done out of malicious intent, perhaps out of  lack of understanding of the rules, but I don't think that counts as a serious crime or a deadly sin.

As far as I am concerned, and I hope others feel the same way, Marti Sageman and the school board are exonerated from any accusations of wrongdoing.  This is over and it is time to move on.  There is a lot of work to be done for the children, the school district and the community of Bridgeport.  And it can only be done when everyone works together.

What did Mr. Rhines lawsuit accomplish?  I don't know if it accomplished anything other than waste a lot of time, energy and money.  The only ones that I can see that benefited from this suit are perhaps the lawyers.  I suspect they all took a nice paycheck to the bank.  I don't begrudge them their money.  Good lawyers earn their pay.  As far as lawsuits, sometimes they are the only way to achieve justice when someone has been wronged.  I don't have a problem with them when they are truly needed, but they are not always the best way to handle situations.  Sometimes it seems to me that this country has become too lawsuit crazy.

Now lets discuss Carla Citizen Bridgeport resident and blogger.  Let me go on a little diversion here into national politics.  This current presidential election cycle to me is the most disgusting and disgraceful that I can remember in my lifetime.  The only good that I have gotten out of it, and a few things going on in my personal life, is that they have made me do some serious soul searching.  Some serious reflection.

Now back to Carla Citizen.  Before I started attending the school board meetings I did not know Marti Sageman personally.  I knew her name and that she was involved in the schools but that is all I knew about her.  After I got involved with the school board meetings then I started hearing horrible things about Marti Sageman.  But these are not things that I have personally witnessed or have any first hand knowledge of.   Criticizing  Marti Sageman or anyone else here on my blog, based solely on the word of others is not acceptable.  Not to me and it should not be to anyone else either.  People love to talk, especially trash talk and trying to beat others down.  That is something that I personally hate but yet I have fallen into that dark trap of listening and judging based on all the wrong reasons.
Marti Sageman has said things or acted in a certain manner at meetings that I was unhappy with.  But so have others, on the school board and the township board.  So have residents at these meetings.  I don't think that I have criticized anyone else as harshly as I have Marti Sageman.  Well maybe Police Chief Dave Duffett a couple of years ago.  BTW, now that I know Chief Duffett, I think he is a great guy and a excellent police chief. I am glad that we have him as our Police Chief here in Bridgeport.  He has always treated me with respect.  Respect that I don't feel he owed me.  That tells me a lot about his character.  I feel he is a better person and a much more forgiving person than me.

Was my criticism of Marti Sageman over the top?  Yes it was, at times way over any acceptable level of  criticism.  Was I wrong at times in my judgement and criticism of her?  I would say most likely I was.  For these reasons, I would like to publicly apologize to Marti Sageman for the things I have written.  I have not treated her with the respect that she and every other person deserves to be treated with.  Hopefully Marti and I can move forward and build a relationship.  I have had some interactions and conversations with Marti and she treats me just fine.  She treats me also with the respect that she does not owe me.  She has every right to just slap me along side the head but she doesn't.  If she ever does, well, I had it coming.

Now to the future. Hopefully I will be back to attending all the township and school board meetings.  And I will try to write my blog.  Will try to share information with our Bridgeport residents.  I will still have my opinions, but hopefully they will be more tempered, more thoughtful.  I am a person that gets emotional and passionate about things. That can lead me to react first and think second.  I am going to try and improve on that.  I will still criticize things or our public officials if I think they are wrong.  Just hopefully I won't be going off on any over the top rants.  If something really upsets me then maybe I will approach that official and discuss it with them first, try to discuss things rationally and calmly. There are so many positive things happening here in Bridgeport, really good people here.  I will try to keep this blog more positive.  There has been enough negativity and nastiness in this current national election to wear me out for the rest of my life.  How many of you can stand the nastiness, the lack of civility that is happening in our country right now?  I watch what is happening and see how so many are being swallowed up and swept along with the ugliness.  Others like myself are stepping back and saying "This is not acceptable!..  This is not who we as a nation are...  This is not what made this country great and this is not the way forward".  If I got into national politics on my blog here, I would end up going way over the top and they would be putting me in a straight jacket and locking me away!!  I think it is better that I stick to the wonderful community we have here..

Now for the upcoming school board election.  There are 4 seats that expire this time.  Dempsey Allen, Tedi Morris, Marti Sageman and Larry Long.  According to an article in the Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald, there are 5 people that will be running in the November election for these seats.  Larry Long is not running for re-election.  Dempsey Allen, Tedi Morris and Marti Sageman are running to continue on the school board.  There are 2 residents that will also be running for the school board, Michelle Young Albertson and John Rhines.

Writing this blog is a challenge at times.  I want it to be informative, I want to motivate residents to get involved in our community.  This blog is also based on my opinion, which I have more than my fair share of.  Should I endorse candidates or not?  Is sharing my opinion of candidates the same as endorsing them?  I don't know.  I am not a professional journalist.  So I will just share with you  my thoughts on some of the residents running for school board.
Dempsey Allen and Tedi Morris --  If you have ever read my blog posts you have probably seen me write about them. I think very highly of both of them!  I have watched them in action as members of the school board and I have spoken with both of them one on one.  I believe they are truly good people and I don't doubt for a second their love of this community and school district or that they will work hard for the betterment of this district.
Michelle Young Albertson -- I have never met her in person and do not really know her, but I do know of her and I think very highly of her.  I think she is the kind of person that would be a great asset to this school board.  I am actually excited that she is running for a seat.
Marti Sageman -- Some are going to love her, some are going to hate her.  She has been a member of the school board for many years.  She has done good things for this school district and no one can deny that.  She has done good things for the Bridgeport community also.  She was involved years ago in a community project that was very dear to my heart.  She did a good thing that I will always be grateful to her for.  She has put in more time and energy for the good of this community than I could ever dream of doing.   Marti can still be a positive force in this community and this school district.

What am I hoping for in the future for our community?  Civility, Compassion, Empathy, Honesty, Integrity.  People making an effort to understand others.  People working together for the betterment for this community and this school district.  A theme that was brought up at the Aug 3rd township trustee meeting is that we are all neighbors, all members of this community.  The future of our school district depends upon the future of our township and vice versa.  We need to work together for the benefit of all.  I know it is not always easy.  People are passionate, people are opinionated, people feel strongly about their beliefs and their goals and will stand steadfast by them.  There are clashes of personalities.  Power struggles.  Egos and personal agendas.  But all these issues have to be put aside, people have got to learn to work together, sacrifice, reach out.  People have got to learn to better communicate with each other. People must put their personal feelings or prejudices aside.   Most of all, everyone in any public office has got to make their first  and only priority to do whatever it takes to work together for the betterment of this community.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting August 3rd, 2016

On the agenda:
Special Orders -
1. Public Hearing - Flint River Dike begins at 3:12
2. Public Hearing - Sidewalk repairs begins at 7:00
Public Comments begin at 1:00:25
Comments by Township Supervisor Augie Tausend begin at 1:09:56
Unfinished Business -
1. Resolution R16-06, Flint River Dike - Designating special assessment district begins at 1:14:40
2. Resolution R16-05, Flint River Dike - Establishing hearing on special assessment roll begins at 1:16:01
New Business -
1. 2016 Sidewalk repairs/payback begins at 1:18:41
2. Resolution R16-07, Purchase offer of vacant Township property - 3255 Cardinal 09-11-5-08-2221-000 begins at 1:20:27
Board Member Comments begin at 1:24:10
Meeting ended by going into Closed Session - Pending litigation - McAlister vs Bridgeport Township
© 2016 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

I have missed being at the township board meetings!  I think Wednesday nights meeting was a good meeting.  The sidewalk repair issue does bring in a good crowd to the meetings.  The public hearing for the sidewalk repair issue lasted almost one hour.  The residents are able to get up and speak their mind, present their problems.  I like that the board takes the time to listen and respond back to the residents.  Hopefully everyone will work together and get it all done.

The other main item on the agenda was the Flint River Dike issue.  I will be totally honest here - I hate dikes.  I think they are an abomination of nature, but that is a subject for another day.  I am also sympathetic to those that choose to live along the river, especially the farmers.  Who doesn't remember the flood of 1986?  Just in case you don't here is an old news story from the Argus Press, April 4, 1986.  Click this link to read the story --  Some Losing Fight With River 
The purpose of Wednesday's hearing was  "for consideration of public improvement, and to tentatively designate a special assessment district.  The intention of the assessment will be for maintenance and repair of existing dikes and erosion control structures along the Flint River."
There will be another hearing on September 6th, 2016 for the Flint River Dike special assessment roll.

I usually mention that I hope those watching the videos will take time to listen to the board member comments at the end.  There were a lot of good comments made in this meeting, several times.  There was the public comment period starting at about 1 hour into the meeting.  Heather McLeod is running for Saginaw County Treasurer and introduced herself at the meeting.  The Principal of Bridgeport High School, Mr. Lagalo also spoke during the public comment period.  Augie Tausend made some comments after the public comment period.  Who really listens to the prayer said before the meetings?  I do, and I have heard some good things spoken then. Pastor Ron Sinclair said the prayer for this meeting and he mentioned something that came up other times during this meeting. We are neighbors, a community, living and growing together.  That is something that we all need to remember, we are a community and we need to work together.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bridgeport School Board Meeting June 13th, 2016

I have been dealing with family matters for months so I have not been able to keep up with all the happenings here in Bridgeport with the community and the schools.  SORRY!!
But I will be attending all the meetings, hopefully, from here on out.  I have missed out on sharing a lot of good things that are going on here in Bridgeport, from our parks department to our schools.

This video is of the last school board meeting held in June.  I got the video posted to youtube but never got it shared here on the blog.  I could try to write a recap of the meeting but I honestly can't even remember what was discussed.

The next school board meeting will be held on August 8th and another on August 22nd.