Sunday, November 20, 2016

The $5,000 Cost Of John Rhines To The Bridgeport Spaulding School District

I am referring to the costs incurred by the Bridgeport Spaulding School District due to the lawsuits that were filed by John Rhines against members of the school board.  In case there is anyone out there that is not familiar with what I am talking about, you can view information about the dismissal of the lawsuits by the courts in this previous post -
and you can view all the incidents leading up to and including the filing of these lawsuits by going to the "LABELS" section on the right hand side of my blog and clicking on the label "Lawsuit Bridgeport School District".

How much did these lawsuits cost the Bridgeport School District?  Luckily only $5,000 of the total costs had to be paid for out of the school district funds.  The school district was required to pay the schools insurance company that $5,000 as a deductible for the "incident".  The rest of the legal costs were covered by the insurance company.  I don't have the exact figure right now of how much these legal proceedings cost the insurance company but I suspect it would be safe to assume it was into the tens of thousands of dollars?  A lot of money was paid out by others to defend against one man's "speculations".
That is $5,000 that our school district could have used for more important things, like maybe towards the students education.  That is $5,000 that I don't feel that our school district should have ever had to of payed out because these legal actions by John Rhines never should have taken place.  Our school district is still working under the Deficit Elimination Plan, having to work closely with the State Treasury Department.  How did this $5,000 affect the DEP?
What is the true cost to our school district?  The cost is more than money.  The reputation of individual board members were smeared, the reputation of the entire school board and our school district was smeared.  Why?  Because one person, John Rhines, based on nothing but his own speculations, chose to file lawsuits that were thrown out by the courts for having no merit.  There were no facts or witnesses to back up his accusations.  All this drama went on for at least a year before the courts threw it out in May 2016.  It garnered lots of local press coverage.  It caused a lot of division in this community.  The costs of John Rhines actions in my opinion far exceeded just the $5,000 from the school districts funds.

Over and over again during John Rhines speeches during the public comment period at the school board meetings he carried on about the costs of other lawsuits filed against the school district, how it was hurting the students, how it was hurting the Deficit Elimination Plan, etc... etc...   His basis for the lawsuits was to recover money he felt had been inappropriately spent by the school board.  He claimed that the money he hoped to recover by his lawsuit was going to be returned to the schools.  He didn't mention anything that I can remember about the cost of his lawsuits to the Bridgeport School District.  Was he planning on also covering those costs?  Has he at any time since the court threw out his lawsuits offered to pay that $5,000 back to the school district?  Maybe the residents of Bridgeport should hold him accountable for the money he cost this school district and demand he pay that $5,000 back to the school district.  He was so concerned about the other legal costs hurting the school district and mostly the students, is he also concerned about his costs to the district?  In my opinion, if he hasn't offered to pay that $5,000 back to the school district, then maybe he never really did care about the school district and the students that were being hurt.  Did his legal actions ever really have anything to do with that?  Who knows?

Sadly John Rhines won a seat on the Bridgeport School Board in the November 2016 election.  Why do I say sadly?  In my personal opinion, his actions have not been in the best interest of the school board and the district, of the students.  Did his lawsuits actually benefit our school district?  Certainly not the $5,000 it cost and not the damage done to the reputation of our school district.
He claimed that he was going to hold all board members accountable for their actions!  Does he hold himself accountable for his own actions?  Does he feel that the residents of this community should hold him accountable for his actions?  How will he react if they do?
He claimed that the board members did not understand their own policies and did not follow them!  Does he feel that board policies don't apply to him?  Some of the board policies that I have seen him disregard concern the policy for public comment during the board meetings.  The Bridgeport School District policy is that members of the public have 3 minutes to speak.  It also states that speakers must observe the rules of common courtesy.  The common courtesy part I guess is up to individual interpretation to some people.  On multiple occasions he has gone way over the 3 minute policy and when the school board members tried to tell him his time was up, he responded in ways that I felt was sarcastic?  Snarky?  Arrogant?  I am not sure what others might define them as, it just appeared to me that he felt he didn't have to follow the policy himself.  Wonder how he will respond to members of this community if they go over the 3 minute policy during public comment?

I am sharing some of the older school board meeting videos here where the public can view all his remarks about the lawsuits, the DEP etc...  Some of his remarks I find kind of ironic now.  If there are any residents in Bridgeport that have not heard John Rhines speak at the school board meetings, then maybe you should listen to these.  I feel that he does a lot of posturing, threatening, makes lots of accusations,  claims he is a "fact finder" even though he had no facts of wrongdoing when he took this school district to court.  His behavior during some of his comments, especially toward the school board and certain members of the school board, give me concern of how he will behave once he is actually sitting on this school board.  How will he get along with the other members of this school board?  Can we expect more lawsuits from John Rhines in the future?  Can we expect more threats of lawsuits in the future?  Can we expect more threats of him filing complaints with everyone from the State Attorney General to the local media in the future?  Will he threaten to sue members of the public that speak out against him or the school board?  Can we expect the members of the media to conveniently be there again every time there is going to be some kind of incident between him and other board members?  Can we expect more of his "fact finding" failures?  What will the cost of John Rhines being a member of this school board be in the long run?

There may be some people that view John Rhines behavior, his tactics or antics during these school board meetings as a form of bullying.

What do I not expect to see in the future at these school board meetings?
I don't ever expect to see John Rhines get up and admit that his "fact finding" concerning the accusations he made in his lawsuits was wrong.  That it was nothing but his speculation.
I don't ever expect to see John Rhines get up and apologize to Marti Sageman, to other board members, to the school district, to the students, for the damage he caused due to his accusations or the money he cost this school district.
I don't expect to see John Rhines pay this school district back the $5,000 he cost them.

The February 9th, 2015 school board meeting.  John Rhines public comments begin at  about 1:14 in the video and goes on until about 8:34. 

The February 23rd, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 7:30 in the video and go on until about 13:32.

The March 9th, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 4:56 in the video and go on until about 9:46.

The April 13th, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 20:35 in the video and go on until about 26:22.

The June 8th, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 8:28 in the video and go on until about 13:50.

The June 22nd, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 32:00 in the video and go on until about 34:30.

The June 29th, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 1:00 in the video and go on until about 4:09.

The August 10th, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 1:24:50 in the video and go on until about 1:29:24.

The August 24th, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 5:07 in the video and go on until about 7:34.

The September 14th, 2015 school board meeting.  His comments begin at about 3:25 in the video and go on until about 8:25.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Indicators Of Effective School Boards And Board Members

The Michigan Association of School Boards has guidelines for effective boards and board members.

Their guidelines look like a good solid foundation for boards and members to follow.  Probably is a successful plan, if it is followed.  The "if" and "when" they are followed are usually the problems that result in ineffective boards.  Lack of communication  is one of the biggest obstacles to any of these plans being successful.  Communication is an issue I still see as a major problem with the Bridgeport School Board.

The Ethics guidelines part could be expanded more in my opinion. It should include personal behavior and interactions between board members and especially between board members and members of the community.  I have seen or have heard of things between board members and members of the community that I would consider serious ethic violations.

The Culture and Conduct at Board Meetings should include board members behavior not just during the board meetings but also outside of the board meetings, the interactions behind the scenes. 
The first part about "value difference of opinions and don't let differences degenerate into personality conflicts" and also the last part "seek to build consensus and an environment of trust and respect among their fellow board members" are not things that I see happening here with the Bridgeport School Board.  In the almost two years that I have been attending the meetings these two items have been the biggest problems that I have seen.    There have been several occasions where the board meetings have turned into shouting matches  and accusations being yelled at other board members, but they happened at meetings I was not in attendance with my camera.   I am glad I missed those meetings but maybe they are things that the public should see so they understand what goes on at these meetings and where the problems lie.
In my opinion, or maybe more accurately my fear, is that these items will not get better, they will be getting significantly worse in the future.

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meetings

There was a board meeting on November 9th but I totally forgot about it.  Sorry again!!  I can blame it on either the election coverage overload or just my aging memory.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Just Laugh

When you screw up, when you get too serious, remember to just laugh at yourself.

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting November 1st, 2016

On the agenda:
Special Orders -
1. Public Hearing for 2017 General Fund Budget begins at 5:54
Public Comment begins at 7:17
New Business -
1. 1st Reading of the Zoning Ordinance 16-02 begins at 8:55
2. Schedule Second Reading of the Zoning Ordinance 16-02 begins at 22:37
3. Fiscal Year 2017 Budgets begins at 23:46
4. Resolution R16-09 General Fund Appropriation Act 2017 begins at 25:22
5. Resolution R16-10 Police Protection Special Assessment begins at 27:22
6. Resolution R16-11 Fire Protection Special Assessment begins at 31:32
7. Resolution R16-12 MMWA Appoint constituent Member & Alternate Member begins at 32:40
8. Resolution R16-13 SASWA Appropriation Act 2017 begins at 34:31
9. Resolution R16-14 Saginaw County Tax Reverted Properties begins at 36:15
10. Resolution R16-15 Mossner Partial PA116T Termination Parcel #09-11-5-01-4001-000 begins at 37:43
11. America Recycles Day begins at 39:43
Board Member Comments begin at 45:00
© 2016 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

It was a longer meeting focusing on all the business that they need to do each year like passing the resolutions.  The Township Supervisor Augie Tausend does explain after each resolution what it is about.  There was a question from an audience member about the police and fire protection assessments.  There has been No Increase in the amount of the assessments, they will be the same per household as they were.
They have updated the zoning ordinance and have some discussion about the types of changes that have been made.  They will also discuss it at the next Trustee Board Meeting on December 6th.  The changes will be reflected on the website in the future and I believe they will send out a email when that is done.
During the public comment period Pastor Hessler from Faith Lutheran Church here in Bridgeport spoke.  On Tuesday November 22nd the Bridgeport Clergy Association will hold their annual Thanksgiving Community Celebration.  From Noon until 3pm the McNally Chapel in the Bridgeport Historical Village will be open and then at 6pm Faith Lutheran Church will be holding a community dessert potluck.  Faith and Sweets are an excellent combination!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Being A Social Media Princess

Someone made a comment to me today saying that I was a social media princess.  It made me laugh a little.  If I didn't have so much going on in my life I would be sharing so much more here about all the wonderful things happening in our community.  If I only had the time I could be the Social Media Queen!!

I suspect there are some that may refer to me as a social media wicked witch of the west!!  Oh Well you can't please everybody!  All I can say is if you don't like the things I post here, my suggestion is to not do anything that would give me a reason to post about you or the things you do.  There are things I have never shared here and hopefully I never will have to.  I would like to keep this blog just about the positive and good things happening here in our community.

photo credit - social media princess  by jigginess found on Deviantart