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.

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