Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting May 8th, 2017

On the agenda:
- Agenda Adjustments begins at 0:43
- Building & Grounds/Finance Committee Report and Action begins at 8:36
- Personnel Committee Report and Action begins at 14:59
- Consent Agenda begins at 21:12
- ISD Board Election Discussion begins at 22:04
- Discussion Of Sinking Fund Proposal begins at 25:40
- Board And Superintendent Comments begin at 37:42
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 8, 2017

Results From The May 2nd Bridgeport Spaulding School District Millage Elections

The good news from the May 2nd election is that the 18 mill renewal operating expense millage did pass by a vote of 717 Yes votes to 385 No votes.  Sadly the 3 mill sinking fund proposal failed.  The vote was 532 Yes to 570 No.  I am not sure why the sinking fund lost by just 38 votes.  Are people just tired of all the taxes they have to pay and thought this was unnecessary?  The sinking fund proposal wasn't an extravagant wish list, it was for needed repairs and upgrades.  I was looking at the unofficial precinct reports from the Saginaw County website and found the results interesting.  The 18 mill proposal passed in all 5 of the Bridgeport precincts and both of Buena Vista's precincts.  The sinking fund proposal passed in both of Buena Vista's precincts and 3 of the 5 Bridgeport precincts, but lost in Bridgeport precincts 3 & 5.  The most surprising result was from Spaulding Township.  They have 1 precinct and that precinct voted down both proposals.
I know it is not unusual to have a low voter turnout on special elections that just have local items on the ballot but it was sad to see how low that turnout was here.  The Bridgeport Spualding School District will try again this fall to pass the 3 mill Sinking Fund proposal.  Hopefully they will be able to get the word out to help inform the public and get it passed this year.

Here are the precinct results for anyone that may be interested in seeing how the vote went.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting May 3rd, 2017

On the agenda:
- Public Comment begins at 4:10
Unfinished Business -
- Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) begins at 9:13
New Business -
- R17-07 Mid Michigan Waste Authority Amended & Restated Resolution begins at 15:07
- Tatham Rd. Water Main Project - Bids begins at 16:53
- Job Description - On call Incident Support begins at 18:31
- Township Attorney List begins at 19:38
- Board Member Comments begin at 21:24
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

For those that do not attend these meetings and don't watch the full video, the meetings are always started with a prayer from one of our local pastors.  I find them usually insightful and inspiring and hope people take the time to listen.  I only list the starting times for the agenda items in these videos that I think the public would be most interested in listening to, but I hope that the public will take the time to listen to the full meetings.
First up was a speaker during the public comment period that was in favor of medical marijuana and facilities.  He spoke about what he feels are the benefits of this but he did not mention the crime that it brings into the communities.  There is a lot that could be discussed about medical marijuana and the benefits or problems that go along with it all, but I am not going to get into that on my blog.
The Township Supervisor discussed their reasons for not approving the licensing of facilities etc... during the vote on the MMFLA.  He does have a valid point in that the law here in Michigan was poorly written and implemented, and it all is still being litigated in the courts at the taxpayers expense.  They should be publishing the full ordinance on their website.  If anyone is interested in reading it you can check there or contact the township offices.  https://www.bridgeportmi.org/
Township Manager Rose Licht always has updates and information on things going on in the township during the board member comments at the end of the meetings.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting April 24th, 2017

On the agenda:
- Citizen Participation begins at 0:33
- Agenda Adjustments begins at 3:03
- MDE Partnership Agreement Discussion begins at 4:52
- Discussion of the Superintendents Evaluation begins at 1:04:21
- Board and Superintendent Comments begin at 1:07:29
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Sorry I am so late in posting this meeting.  I was planning on reviewing the full discussion on the partnership agreement with the Michigan Department of Education before writing my blog post, but I have not gotten that done.  It was an hour long and very informative discussion and is worth the time to listen to.
Just a reminder that if you are looking for a meeting video and it is not up on my blog here yet, look on my YouTube account - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9CDuA3sJJPg8uWmmwZHLKA/feed
or on my Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/citizencarla/

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Some Thoughts On The May 2nd Special Election For Bridgeport Spaulding School District

I am getting some feedback about what people are saying about this election on May 2nd, how they are planning on voting, and I feel the need to address these things.

First thing I noticed is that there is a lot of misinformation being shared out there about these two ballot proposals so I put together all the information I could find into one post and shared that here on my blog.   You can see it all in this post - Information For May 2nd 2017 Ballot Proposals For Bridgeport Spaulding School District 

It is the responsibility of every voter to inform yourself of the facts about this issue, and any other issue.  Don't just listen to what other people may be saying, get the facts yourself.  The information is out there and if you have any questions about it you could probably contact someone within the school district to help clarify it.
Here is some of the misinformation I have been hearing from people:
- They are lying when they say these are not tax increases....
- They are lying when they say these are not new taxes....
- Bridgeport screwed up something when the students came from Buena Vista so that is why they are having to pass these proposals now....
- What they are saying about these proposals aren't the same as what is on the ballot....
So lets address these comments - The 18 mill non-homestead levy is just a renewal of the existing millage that has been approved by the voters in the past and has been in place for years and years.  It is the same exact amount as before.  It is not new and is not an increase.  The only connection this has to the students from the former Buena Vista school district is that the areas in Buena Vista that have been absorbed into the Bridgeport Spaulding school district will now also vote on this issue.  The 3 mill sinking fund proposal is to replace the 6 mill levy that was in place and has now expired.  This money will only be used for repairs and upgrades.  You can view the video that was made about the 3 mill levy here - Bridgeport Sinking Fund   I have looked at a sample ballot for the election on the Michigan Secretary of State website and I see no difference between what the information sheets say about the two proposals and what is on the ballot.  You can view the ballot here - https://webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC/selectpublicballot.aspx

If you plan on supporting these two proposals, please don't just assume that they will pass with no problem.  Share the information in my post above and help inform other voters.  And please make the effort to get out and vote YES on May 2nd because every vote will matter!!

Now I want to address some of the negative feedback I am hearing on why some people are planning on voting no on these two proposals.  Some of it is truly trying my patience and boggling my mind!!

First we have the regular naysayers, the Debbie Downers, the people that complain about everything and will just vote no based not on the actual information but just what their friends are saying about these proposals.  Maybe it makes them feel empowered to vote no?  Sticking it to the man?  I truly don't understand their thinking and behavior.  All I can say is that maybe they need to get some Valium and get a life!!

It is some of the other negative things I am hearing out there that I find very disheartening. I guess I will start with the thinking by some that they will never vote for these two proposals as long as so and so is employed in this district.  So if they are not happy with one or more people in this district, if they are not happy about the way they think things are being run, then they will vote down these proposals.  First I have to ask if their thinking is based on true facts or rumors?  Rumors, gossip, speculation and accusations can be a dangerous thing and people love to spread it all around.  Again I have to wonder if by doing that makes them feel empowered?   People need to also remember that there are two sides to every story, actually there are three sides to every story - Your side, Their side, and the truth that usually lies somewhere in the middle.
I don't like some things I "think" are going on in our district, I would like to see some people long gone from our district, BUT I will never vote no on these proposals just to try and hurt one or more people.  Who would really be hurt by voting down these proposals?  The students and their futures, the school district, and yes even Bridgeport Township would be hurt.  People need to think long and hard about who would be hurt the most by a no vote and what the far reaching consequences of that vote would mean.  Are you really willing to hurt the students and district just to hurt one or more people in this district?  I beg you to think long and hard before you vote no.  My conscience will not allow me to vote no and I pray that others will not also.

Some of the other negative feedback I am hearing is things like "they waste money".  Do you know that for a fact?  I don't.  Most of the information pertaining to the school district is open to the public.  I am not sure how much of the financial information is open but if you have concerns then seek out answers.  Contact someone in the district and ask questions.  Attend the school board meetings where you can publicly raise your concerns and the committee meetings.  I missed two committee meetings this month, a personnel committee meeting and a finance committee meeting.  These meetings can be very informative so I am sorry that I missed them.  The public also has the option to request information through the Freedom Of Information Act.  Use that right.  I don't have the time to attend all the meetings or to request documents, information etc...  Even if I did, I honestly would not understand it all and am not qualified to make a judgement on it all.  So please seek out answers to any concerns you have and base your vote on the facts, not rumors.
Other concerns I have heard is that people don't think they are being honest about the needed repairs and upgrades, feel that they don't need new bleachers.  I think the video for the 3 mill levy shows honestly some of the needed repairs, but I suspect it doesn't show all of them.  If you have concerns, then contact someone in the district and take a look for yourself.  Ask people who work there everyday what is truly needed.  As for the bleachers at the high school, yes money has been raised in the past and I believe the visitor side bleachers have been replaced, volunteers have also donated materials and labor to make some needed repairs on the main bleachers and paint them.  But does that mean then that they don't need to replace them?  I don't know exactly what their reasons are for that or exactly what their plans are.  Are they maybe planning on replacing the old wood bleachers that will always need more and more maintenance with new aluminum bleachers?  If you have concerns about that then just ask someone in the district that would be able to give you the answers.

So to any Bridgeport School District resident that has questions or concerns, please seek out answers, seek out the truth.  Get involved, volunteer your time, donate money.  The Bridgeport Schools have a lot of needs and the community could really step up and help them.  The Bridgeport Community Church has their sign out in front of the church and they recently had a message on there that said something like "The Bridgeport Schools Support Our Community" and on the other side of the sign the message was "The Bridgeport Community Supports Our Schools".  I am hoping that on May 2nd the Bridgeport community will come out and show that support by voting yes for these two proposals!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Information For May 2nd 2017 Ballot Proposals For Bridgeport Spaulding School District

 just click on any photo to see a larger image

I am hearing some misinformation being shared about the two proposals that will be on the May 2nd ballot for the Bridgeport Spaulding School District so I am gathering all the information out there and putting it in one place. 
There are two proposals - one is a renewal of the 18 Mill Levy for Non-homestead Properties in the Bridgeport school district, which now also includes some properties in Buena Vista Township.  This levy is one that has been approved by voters in the Bridgeport Spaulding school district for years and years.  This is just a renewal of the same amount.  This is not a new tax, this is not a tax increase.  Here is a information sheet explaining it all:

There is also a 3 Mill Sinking Fund Levy on the ballot.  This will replace the previous 6 mill levy that was in place but has now expired.  Here is a short video about the levy:

I would like to add that there are more repairs needed than what they mention in this video.  One of them is repairs needed for the track at the high school.  If those repairs are not done soon, then later down the road it will cost a lot more to fix the problems.
Here is a fact sheet explaining the 3 mill levy:

Here also is a screen shot of a sample ballot for the May 2nd election:

Voters will vote at their regular precincts on May 2nd.  The polls will be open from 7am to 8pm. The township office will also be open on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 from 9am to 2pm for absentee voting only.
These proposals have also been covered in the Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald and on MLive.  The Bridgeport Township Governmental Offices have also shared information about the millage's on their website. 

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting Time Change for April 24th

The school board regular meeting for this evening has been changed from 6pm to 5:30pm.  Hopefully there will be an update from the Superintendent and the board on the partnership agreement with the state.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting April 10th, 2017

On the agenda:
- Agenda Adjustments begins at 0:32
- Instructional Services Presentation - Rebecca Hornack, Director ISD begins at 3:14
- Consent Agenda begins at 52:20
- Partnership Agreement Update by Superintendent Selby begins at 54:17
- Board And Superintendent Comments begin at 1:06:50
- Discussion about the Building Trades Program with John Lagalo begins at 1:21:30
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Sorry but I am too sick to write anything about this meeting right now.  Maybe in a few days if I get better I will comment on it.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding Special School Board Meeting April 7th, 2017

This was a brief meeting that was held just to discuss school policy on honoring former school employees and alumni and the renaming of school facilities.  Policy is in place for a reason and it does need to be followed.  It probably would be a good idea also if they put together a committee made up of various groups like board members, school staff etc... to make these recommendations.
Sorry again if you have trouble hearing the discussion. At past board meetings it seemed they used to make sure that the speaker was on and that every member used the microphone when they spoke.  They don't seem to do that anymore.  I have no idea why.  They may be able to hear each other, but they need to remember that they are not in a private meeting, they are in an open and public meeting.  The public has the right to hear what is discussed.

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting April 4th, 2017

On the agenda:
- Public Comment begins at 4:32
New Business -
- Resolution R17-05 Alltel Communications begins at 16:30
- Workman's Compensation begins at 18:02
- Southfield Drive Road Improvements begins at 20:03
- Admin/Dept. Head Wage Proposal begins at 21:43
- Independent Contractor Agreement begins at 22:37
- King Road Drain Project begins at 25:41
- Resolution R17-06 Water Rates and Fees begins at 29:15
- Bridgeport Water Supply Rules and Regulations begins at 31:23
- Introduction to MMFLA Ordinance begins at 58:15
- Accounting Dept. Update begins at 1:01:14
- Waste Water Treatment Plant Land Application Bid begins at 1:14:53
- Board Member Comments begin at 1:18:38
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Sorry I am a few days late in getting this posted but I am really sick this week.
There were some informative updates by Jaeleen Davis from the Birch Run/Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce and Representative Vanessa Guerra  during the public comment period.
This meeting was a lot of township business stuff.  Of interest to the general public would probably be the Southfield Drive Road Improvements, King Road Drain Project.  The discussion was long about the Water Supply Rules and Regulations and that may be of interest to the public.
They also set the date of May 3rd during the regular board meeting that they will discuss the MMFLA Ordinance.  That is about the Medical Marijuana Facility Licensing Ordinance.  Hope I have that right.  There are a lot of views on medical marijuana and the medical dispensaries.  I won't get into all of that on my blog here.  I will say that I am not in favor of having a dispensary here in Bridgeport.
Ron Rachwitz gave a nice presentation for the accounting department and some of the information that is available on the township website for everyone to see. I found it interesting and informative myself and hope people will take the time to listen and check out what is available on the website.
The board member and township managers comments are always interesting, and sometimes humorous.  Augie Tausend is sometimes quite entertaining!! -- 1:19:40 into the video

Friday, March 31, 2017

Watching The Watchers

I said a few months ago that I wanted to keep my blog positive, to just share the positive things that are going on in Bridgeport.  I really do want to do that, but things are what they are, and I have to call things out as I see them.
It has been a struggle for me to try and keep up with the blog because of family issues.  I haven't posted anything in about 9 days.  Please don't think it is because I don't care about Bridgeport.  And don't think it is because I am not aware of things going on here.  I may be a little behind others in keeping up with events, but eventually I do find things out.
I truly would just like to walk away from this blog because of the time and energy that it takes for me to keep up right now.  If I did give up this blog I wouldn't worry about the Bridgeport Township government, the trustees, the manager, the DDA department, the police department.  I think they are all doing a great job and I have a lot of faith in them.  I see a bright future for Bridgeport with all of them in place.  My only regret is that I haven't been able to keep up with sharing all the wonderful things they have been doing.

It is the future of our school district, our school board, the future of the children that keeps me from walking away.  I have some serious concerns about it all.  I suspect there are some out there that think I am a rambling maniac, that I have some personal problems, maybe even a personal vendetta.    That is not what is going on, please believe me.  I have some serious concerns, some I have shared, some I have not.    There is some information I have been keeping for almost a year that I really want to share but haven't done it.  Not yet, but I see it as being necessary in the future.  Sorry if this sounds really crazy.

So back now to the school district and the school board.  I have seen some good people done wrong in this district, and have seen some bad people come out ahead.  It is disheartening to watch.  There are some current board members that have made accusations against others in the past that they didn't know their place or their roles on the school board, in the district, that they were overstepping their bounds.  But now from what I am seeing and hearing, those same board members are way overstepping their bounds, way overstepping their responsibilities and their duties.  It is just more of their hypocrisy. Sad. 

I have stated in the past that if someone is claiming racism and I don't see it that way, I will say so.  BUT, when I do see racism, I will call it out!  There is something going on right now in this school district that I do believe is based on racism.  One person that is involved I do believe is a racist.  Things I have seen in this persons behavior and heard from this persons mouth myself, makes be believe they are a racist.  We have some really good people in our district.  They care about the children, they make a difference in the lives of the children.  We can not afford to lose these kinds of people.  We have already lost one and that was a sad day for the Bridgeport students.  What I am hearing right now sounds like there is a witch hunt going on towards another of our good guys. There are some innuendos or accusations being made that are way out of line!!

Here is my promise to Bridgeport - If this nonsense doesn't stop, If you try to continue with this, If you try to destroy this good man - I Will Not Tolerate It!  No one in Bridgeport should tolerate it!
To the person or persons that are involved in this, I Will Come After You!  And that is not just for the person or persons actively involved in this -- This is also for the ones that are sitting back and keeping your mouths shut, Sitting back and covering your own ass so you keep your jobs or your little positions.  I am not threatening anyone with any kind of violence or anything like that.  I am just saying that there are some truths that need to come out, I will tell them.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting February 27th, 2017

On the agenda:
- Citizen Participation begins at 0:42
- Agenda Adjustments begins at 11:28
- District Improvement Plan Presentation by Regina Lamontagne begins at 12:40
- Personnel Report begins at 1:09:08
- Discussion of the Curriculum Committee Meeting  (includes a discussion about consolidating Thomas White and Atkins) begins at 1:11:40
- Board And Superintendent Comments begin at 1:44:30
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

In the citizen participation period, the Bridgeport Girl's Bowling coach Amy Morales introduced Bridgeport Senior Ally Neelis.  Ally has qualified for the individual state finals and is the first girl to qualify in the schools program history.  Also qualified for the individual boys state finals is Bridgeport Senior Kris Polk.  They needed some financial support to cover the costs of travel etc... to go and I hope they received it.  Congratulations to both Ally and Kris!

Regina Lamontagne provided an almost hour long update on the District Improvement Plan.  I am not qualified to say if this is a good plan or a bad plan.   It sounds good and also sounds complicated.  I truly hope they can make it work.  The Bridgeport students deserve the best!!

It took me several days to get this board meeting video uploaded and ready to share.  It has taken me even longer to write this blog post because there is something that has been weighing on my mind and I have been deciding on how to address it or whether to even address it at all.  There are actually many things that weigh on my mind with the Bridgeport School District but I will keep it to just this one item in this post.

It is the plan they talked about in the Building & Grounds/Finance meeting on Mon Feb 27th, which I do have posted on this blog and YouTube, and then again in this regular board meeting.  They are talking about consolidating Thomas White Elementary with Atkins Elementary and Atkins Middle School.  Kindergarten through 8th grade would all be housed in the Atkins building.  I can usually see both sides of an argument, I can even debate both sides with myself, but this is one I am struggling with.

They have looked at this option in the past for the cost savings it would possible produce, but I believe that it ended when it was decided that the cost savings would not be enough to justify the change.  The Bridgeport School District will be getting out of deficit soon it is projected, which will be great.  We have the much needed renewal of the 10 year 18 mill non-homestead levy and the 3 mill sinking fund levy up for vote on May 2nd and I hope that they both pass.  The financial health of our district is an issue that should be getting top priority, without it we are doomed.  Bridgeport does not have the tax base that it used to have, and we continue to bleed students from our district which means we continue to bleed money coming in.  I don't believe that we are bleeding as many students as we were but any loss of students is a loss to our district in so many ways.

They say they are looking at this option now for academic reasons.  They do discuss this line of thinking in both of these meetings on Monday. That is where I am struggling, to see their line of thinking.  My question is why can't they solve those academic issues without having to consolidate the schools to do it?  Will consolidating the schools actually help to solve those issues?  Are the underlying problems causing the academic issues so ingrained in our district that it would take a total overhaul to fix them?  Would it take a complete overhaul from the school board, to the administration, to the teachers and staff to fix them? Another words, a total house cleaning.  Is it someday going to require the state to step in to fix the academic issues?  I pray not!!

When I look at the school districts surrounding us, especially the higher achieving districts, I don't see any school that has 9 grades housed in 1 building.  You have to take into account that some of these other districts are larger districts, with larger tax bases.  Even the smaller districts, ones closer to the size of Bridgeport, are benefiting from the school of choice option and drawing in students from the poorer performing districts. Saginaw Township has several elementary schools with only grades K to 2nd, several with K to 3rd or K to 5th in one building.  I believe Freeland has K to 2nd.  Frankenmuth and Birch Run have K to 4th. Carrollton has K to 5th.  Would having 9 grades in 1 building truly be condusive to academic success and to the environment for the students?  I don't have an answer to that question, but I hate to see our district be used as a test and end up failing.  It is the students who will suffer the most if it turns out to be a failure.  And also in the end the whole school district, and the township, will suffer if it turns out to be a failure. There is a lot at stake here and failure should never be an option.

So it sounds like consolidating these three schools into one building would create one new school.  There would no longer be a school in our district that is in priority status.  At least that is what I got out of discussions from both of these meetings.  That sounds great doesn't it?  It was even mentioned in both meetings that getting out from under the School Reform Office would be a unintended beneficial consequence of consolidating the three schools into one new school.  But if the underlying issues that caused the school to fall into priority status are not fixed, then how long before the new school falls back into priority status again?  If only the same several grades continue to fail, will the entire new school fall into priority status?  I don't know how having the 9 grades in the one school will affect those kinds of issues.   So maybe by consolidating the schools into one they can bypass the SRO for awhile at least, but what about the students in all of this?  Will the schools continue to fail for the students?  What will the future hold for the students?  This is their future.  There really is only one priority in all of this and that is the students, PERIOD!!  If they can get around the SRO but continue to fail the students, then what is the point in it all?  Will it just be delaying the inevitable?

One last concern I have about this plan is that some parents will not support this plan and instead will pull their students from Bridgeport and move them to another school district, or never enroll their students in Bridgeport to begin with.  I do not know how parents will feel about this.  If parents will pull their children from Bridgeport because of this plan, Bridgeport can not afford to lose many more students.  They have not voted on this plan yet in a school board meeting but I think they will be voting on it in the near future.  From what I heard in these two meetings, it sounds like they are seriously looking at this and making plans on moving forward with it.  If there are parents or concerned residents in our district that approve or disapprove of this plan - you need to let the administration and school board members hear your thoughts on this.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Building & Grounds/Finance Committee Meeting February 27th, 2017

- Meeting starts with some discussion of the option they are looking at of consolidating Thomas White Elementary with Atkins Elementary and Middle School.
- Discussion about the damage from the printer fire at Atkins begins at 7:55
- More discussion about the possible consolidation of Thomas White and Atkins starts at 15:42
- Discussion of maintenance and repairs for the high school buildings and other school properties including the old grade school/Administration building begins at 18:53
- Discussion of projected budget for 2017/18, including discussion of the BEA contract and custodial work begins at 37:40
- Discussion of the two ballot proposals begins at 52:40
- More discussion of the proposal for Thomas White and Atkins consolidation focusing on the academic and other issues begins at 57:20
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Sorry about the volume with the video.  Someday I will invest in a external microphone to help pick up the audio, until then you will need to turn your volume all the way up.
It was a very informative meeting.  I don't think the general public truly understands all the many factors that are involved in the running of our school district.  Hopefully people will watch these committee meetings and understand the kind of decisions that the administration and board members have to make.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School District Ballot Proposals For May 2nd, 2017

There will be two proposals on the May 2nd special election for the Bridgeport Spaulding School District.  One is for the renewal of the 18 mill levy for 10 years.  This is not a new tax or a tax increase for anyone and is only non homestead properties.

The second item on the ballot will be for the 3 mill sinking fund levy for a 10 year period.  It will only be used for much needed repairs of school buildings, school security and technology.  This will be replacing the 6 mill bonded debt levy that expired in 2016.


Things You Can Never Buy

My Monday Musings ....  The most important things in life are things that money can't buy.  Some people in this world will never understand that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding Schools And Transparency

Every year the schedule is set for the regular school board meetings and that schedule is available on the Board Of Education page on the schools website and also posted by the door at the high school. I share that information each year here on my blog so the public can easily find it.  They also hold special board meetings if necessary and they used to hold the boards' committee meetings on a fairly regular basis.  They have the Finance/Building & Grounds Committee, the Policy Committee, the Personnel Committee and also a Curriculum Committee.
Since the spring of 2015 I have been getting notices by email of any special board meetings and any committee meetings.  I had requested to be notified by email of the meetings and it has not been a problem until now.  Back in December 2016 I sent an email to the school administration inquiring about the meeting notices because I had not received any in months.  I was told that they had not had any committee meetings in months except for a Curriculum Committee meeting that had been held in October 2016.  I didn't inquire as to why I had not received a notice for that one because I just figured it was an oversight.  I was very busy back in October and probably would not have been able to attend anyways.  I also asked in this email if they would still be sending out notices in 2017 for the special and committee meetings and was told they would.  They asked if I would like to remain on the list for those meeting notices and I said that yes I would.
We are now in the middle of February 2017 and I have yet to receive a notice of any special or committee meetings.  They held a special board meeting on January 30th 2017 that was a training session for the board members conducted by the MASB.  I did not receive any notice of that but did happen to find it on the BOE page on the school website.   I was surprised that I didn't get a notice but didn't pursue my puzzlement at not getting a notice.
At the regular board meeting on Monday February 13th, I discovered that they had held another Curriculum Committee meeting earlier that day and again I had not received a notice that the meeting would be held. After the regular board meeting was over I did inquire as to whether they would still be sending out the email notices about meetings and am still trying to understand the response I got.  I am not sure if I will ever get another notice about any special board or committee meetings again, but my impression is that I will not get them any longer.  My understanding of the conversation is that the special board meetings will be posted on the BOE page on the school website, and that notices for committee meetings will be posted by one door at the high school.  I did look after I left the board meeting and the notice for the curriculum meeting was posted there.

All these meetings must by law be "open" which means that anyone can attend them and I am free to record them.  From the BOE Bylaws and Policies it states:
Section 1000 - Board Bylaws
1375 Mailing of Notices and Documents to the Public

Recognizing that the public has a right to request, in writing, paper copies of any Board  documents  that  are  created,  issued  or  disseminated  on  a  regular  basis,  such  as: Notices  of  scheduled  Board  meetings,  Board  Committee  meetings  (if  such  meetings  are posted by Board policy) agendas, minutes and newsletters, the Board hereby sets the cost of  such  items  at prevailing  cost  per  page.  Printed  or  electronic  news  media  are specifically exempted from any subscription fee.

Approved: December 14, 2015
LEGAL REF: MCL 15.233, 15.266

So it would appear to me that according to their own bylaws that they would provide me with any notices of the special board and committee meetings.

The Michigan Open Meeting Act is confusing at times to go through but the jest of it is that all meetings must be open and posted prior to the meetings being held. As far as any requirements to notify members of the public, it could be a little clearer in my opinion.  I found this on the states OMA workbook:
A public body must send copies of the public notices by first class mail to a requesting party, upon the party's payment of a yearly fee of not more than the reasonable estimated cost of printing and postage.  Upon written request, a public body, at the same time a public notice of a meeting is posted, must provide a copy of the public notice to any newspaper published in the state or any radio or television station located in the state, free of charge.

Again here I would interpret it to mean that I should be notified of these meetings since I have requested to be notified.

The school fills the minimum legal requirement of the meetings being posted by just posting them on the BOE webpage and on one of the doors at the high school, but in my opinion it is a slap in the face to the spirit of the law.   All public bodies must be perceived by the public that they serve as being "Open and Transparent".  If the Bridgeport schools are no longer going to send out notices to members of the public of meetings, then that is what I call operating in the shadows.  Do they really think that members of the public should have to go to the school everyday and check that one door to see if there are going to be any meetings?  Some people might think that they don't want the public to know about the meetings, don't want the public attending.
Back in May 2015 there was an issue concerning no notice being sent out about a committee meeting.  John Rhines had forwarded me an email exchange between Pat Nelson and Carol Selby concerning that meeting. I don't know where John Rhines got that email exchange from.  In the email that Pat Nelson sent Carol Selby, he expressed concern that they had finally begun rebuilding trust with the community and the staff and he was worried that if the meeting was not being posted, that they may be in violation of the OMA and would erode the trust of the community and they would be perceived as not embracing transparency.  I do have the email exchange and can provide it if anyone doubts it.

I have to wonder what has changed since then?  Do they no longer feel they need to be perceived as open and transparent?  With everything going on with this school district now, I would think they would want to work extra hard at building the trust of the community.
So Bridgeport, if I ever get another notice of a special board meeting or a committee meeting, I will try to attend and share the video with the public.  Sorry,  but I do not have the time to go to the high school everyday and check to see if there will be meetings.  Sad dark days for Bridgeport it looks like to me.

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting February 13th, 2017

On the agenda:
- Consent Agenda: payment of bills, approval of minutes etc... begins at 1:42
- 2016-17 Amended Budget Discussion & Approval begins at 4:26
- Update on status with the School Reform Office and update from Jon Chapman begins at 14:15
- Board Member and Superintendent Comments begin at 42:56
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Again I apologize for the low volume at times during this meeting.  Some of the board member comments and discussion is very hard to hear even when you are present in the room.  They have several microphones to share among all the board members but they seem to make no effort to use them.  For the board to effectively communicate with the public, the public needs to be able to hear them.
There was no public comments at this meeting. The audience members consisted mainly of staff members.

Superintendent Carol Selby talked about how things are progressing with the School Reform Office and about the SRO's recent visit to the district. It sounds like the administration and others felt this visit went very well.  The SRO may have their review/report on our district ready by early to mid March.
Atkins Elementary Principal Jon Chapman gave a presentation concerning the visit to the elementary by the SRO, and also shares the information and data that they shared with the SRO.
There was one comment/question that surprised me.  A school board member had to ask if the elementary holds Parent - Teacher conferences.  If you have been a board member for several years and you don't know that, that is a problem in my opinion.  I know that there is almost no usable information on the schools website, but I would think that all board members would be aware of that kind of information.  I think they may hold them several times per year?
Chief Financial Officer Pete Basile discussed the 2016-17 amended budget.  I have added a copy of the budget that was handed out to the audience.  Click on the photo to see a larger more readable version.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Can't Fix Stupid

Monday I was again reminded of the saying "You Can't Fix Stupid".  When you have to deal with ignorant people, liars, hypocrites, you just want to pull your hair out!!

I keep trying to remember this but it is hard some days 

Some days I can only find one way to deal with them

At least there is some hope for the stupid in this world

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting February 8th, 2017

On the Agenda:
Introduction of Birch Run/Bridgeport Chamber members begins at 2:05
Public Comment begins at 3:15
New Business -
- Saginaw Future discussion begins at 4:33
- DDA Meeting Schedule begins at 6:46
- Knights Inn discussion begins at 10:01
- Streetscape opportunities discussion begins at 11:55
Old Business -
- DDA Coordinator's Schedule begins at 14:55
- Carpenter's Plaza update begins at 16:16
- Best of the Best Awards begins at 18:11
DDA Coordinator's Report begins at 20:18
DDA Board Member comments begin at 27:43
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

The meeting starts with the introduction of Ted Valley and Jaeleen Davis from the Birch Run/Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce.Ted Valley is the President and CEO of the chamber and Jaeleen Davis is the Vice President.  I think they will end up being called the Dynamic Duo.  During the public comment period Jaeleen spoke about the upcoming Best of Awards dinner and award ceremony being held on February 16th.
There was some information about the townships partnership with Saginaw Future and some of the benefits we receive from them.
There has been a purchase agreement placed on the Knight's Inn here in Bridgeport.  Hoepfully that works out and the business will be back open fully.
The beautification committee meeting had discussed looking into Streetscape opportunities in the future here for Bridgeport.  Those ideas sound good and hopefully that is something that we will see in the future.
Carpenter's Plaza is looking really good.  The demolition is complete now and the property is cleaned up.  In one way I hate to see those buildings go because they were a fond part of my childhood.  I loved going to the IGA with my mother and shopping there.  You knew almost all the other members of the community and it was like a community gathering whenever you went.  Two of my favorite memories are the Faygo Black Cherry Soda I would get there and the new soft rubber kick ball I got every year there.  I waited every year for them to put up that huge rack that held all the balls and then picking out my new ball.  Hoffman Drugstore was also nice, they had a nice lunch counter.  Again it was a community gathering there. That was all back in the days when you greeted all your neighbors and everyone helped each other out.  Back in the old days.   Same thing with the laundromat.  So part of me is sad to see those buildings go, but it was time and it looks very nice now.  Hopefully we will see something nice go in there in the future.
DDA Coordinator Steve Dobis gave updates on the two beautiful "Rock" areas here in Bridgeport.  I do love those two areas. Also some updates on other landscaping maintenance areas here in Bridgeport and thanked the community members who sponsor these areas.
The gorgeous flower pots will be back this year.  They should be out during the week around Memorial Day.
The next DDA Board Meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 8th.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting February 7th, 2017

On the agenda:
Public Comment begins at 4:33 (Presentation by Bridgeport Spaulding School Superintendent)
New Business -
- Resolution R17-04 Michigan Municipal Executives begins at 17:49
- Town Board Meeting Schedule for May 2017 begins at 22:23
- Fire Department Service Awards begin at 23:46
- Firefighter of the Year Award begins at 25:27
- Police Department Officer of the Year Award begins at 26:38
- Township Employee of the Year Award begins at 28:09
- Police Officer Oath of Office - Jeffrey Madaj begins at 31:06
- Police Officer Oath of Office - Daniel Hernandez begins at 33:37
- St. Matthews Walk for Hunger begins at 36:28
- Renters Deposit forum meetings begins at 37:56
Board Member Comments begin at 41:22

The meeting started out with a presentation during the public comment period by Carol Selby Superintendent of the Bridgeport Spaulding School District and Pete Basile the Chief Financial Officer for the school district.  Carol Selby gave a update on where they are concerning Atkins Elementary and their Priority School Status, and the work they are doing with the states School Reform Office.  She also gave the board members several handouts that have been sent to the parents of Atkins students.  I will share them in a separate blog post because I want to dedicate one entire post to all the latest updates concerning the schools.
Pete Basile talked about the tax proposals that will be on the ballot for a special election on May 2nd.  One is the renewal of the 18 mill non-homestead tax for the schools.  This is not a new tax, just a renewal of 10 year tax that has already been on the books.  This renewal will now also include properties from Buena Vista Township that have been absorbed into the Bridgeport Spaulding School District.  This tax renewal is only on Non-Homestead properties.  There was also a 6 mill Debt tax that has been on the books but that will now expire I believe and will be replaced by a new 3 mill Safety Fund tax instead that will be for repairs and upgrades etc....  So it will actually be a decrease in your total tax amount going forward.  He says that the Bridgeport Schools are scheduled to be out of the deficit this June for the first time in 7 years.  I know they have been working hard on achieving that and it is critical for the future of our school district.  The future of our school district really depends on the passage of this 18 mill renewal and the 3 mills.  This is for the future of our children, our school district and our township so I am hoping that the Bridgeport residents will come out and VOTE YES on May 2nd.
Also because of the special election being held on May 2nd, the regular township trustee meeting for May has been moved to May 3rd.  I should also add that special elections are usually paid for by the townships, but the state has allocated special funds for this election so it will not cost Bridgeport any money.

Jaeleen Davis, the Vice President of the Birch Run/Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce also introduced herself during the public comment period and shared information about the upcoming Best of Awards Dinner and Awards that will be held on Thursday, February 16th at Candlelight Banquet Center here in Bridgeport.

There were awards presented by the Bridgeport Fire Department and the Bridgeport Police Department.  First up were service awards for the fire department employees.  Fire Fighter Kyle Kalnbach for 15 years of service, Fire Fighter Jason Leidel and Fire Department Captain Ron Boensch for 20 years of service, and Fire Chief Pat Nelson for 25 years of service.  Captain Ron Boensch was also recognized as the Fire Fighter of the Year. **The fire department is also looking for more volunteer fire fighters.
Also Bridgeport Police Officer Dennis Howe was honored as the Officer of the Year.  And Bridgeport Township employee Chris Cramer was honored as Employee of the Year.
Congratulations and Thank You to all the award recipients!!
Also Welcome to the two newest Bridgeport Police Department officers that were sworn in:  Jeffrey Madaj and Daniel Hernandez!!

The St. Matthews Church Walk/Run for Hunger will take place this year on Sunday, September 24th.
The township will also be holding two forums for landlords concerning the handling of renters deposits for water and sewage.  The township will be sending out letters to all landlords.  The meetings will be held at the Governmental Center on February 27th at 12 Noon and on February 28th at 6pm.
During the board member comments, Rose Licht gave updates on two local businesses that will be adding some jobs this year - KUKA Assembly and Test Corp. and Orchid Unique Instruments.
There will also be a water main project that will be taking place this spring on Tatham and some of the side streets.  There will be also a gas line project that will last about 4 months and will be out around Sheridan, East Moore, Dorwood, Curtis and Townline Roads.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bridgeport Township Meetings & Holiday Schedules

Here is the meeting schedule for the Bridgeport Township Trustee Board meetings and the holiday hours for the township offices for 2017.  The DDA Board meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 12 Noon.  All meetings are held in the Bridgeport Governmental Center.
And my yearly reminder that all Bridgeport residents can sign up for the Constant Contact emails from the township.  The emails keep you updated on a wide variety of information that is important and informative for residents.  You can sign up on the township website http://www.bridgeportmi.org/

Friday, February 3, 2017

Expanded Video Of Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting October 24th, 2016

This is a video of the school board meeting from October 24th, 2016.  There was first a presentation by Yeo & Yeo and then a workshop for the school board members with Deb Macon from the MASB.  I only stayed for part of that workshop and so in the original blog post I only posted the first part of the video with the presentation from Yeo & Yeo.  This video includes also the part of the workshop that I stayed through.

2017 Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting Schedule and Member Directory

Here is the school board schedule posted for 2017:

click on the photo to see larger version

And here is the member directory for the school board members:

 I try to also attend the various committee meetings held by the school board when I am aware of them and able to attend.  Anyone can contact Robin Johnson in the school board office and request to be added to a email list to be notified of any school board meetings, changes etc...  You can also check the Board Of Education page on the Bridgeport Spaulding School website: http://www.bscs.k12.mi.us/BoardofEducation
There has not been a Finance/Building & Grounds Committee meeting since August 2016.  The last Personnel Committee meeting was held in August 2016.  The last Policy Committee meeting notice that I can find in my email was from February 2016.  There is also a Curriculum Committee.   There was a meeting held for them in October 2016.  I can not find any email notice for that meeting but I don't think I would have been able to attend even if I had known about it.  That would have been a good meeting and one that the public probably would have been interested in.
If I get any notice of any upcoming meetings I will try and attend. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Special Meeting January 30th, 2017

This was a special meeting for the school board. Deb Macon from the MASB provided training on how school boards are to do the yearly Superintendent evaluations.
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Sorry it has taken me so long to get this video uploaded.  The meeting is 3 hours long so it takes a very long time to upload to YouTube.  I started uploading it on Monday evening and after over 24 hrs of uploading, it crashed and burned.  So I started uploading it for the 2nd time on Wednesday morning.  After 34 hrs it was successfully uploaded and processed for viewing on YouTube.
This meeting was just the training session, no other school board business.  My battery finally died about 1 minute before the MASB trainer was finished.  There was just school board member closing comments after that.  Carol Selby did give some updates on how they are working with the School Reform Office to provide them with the information they are requesting.
* I almost forgot to add the information and link to the MASB website.  They have an excellent website with lots of information.  Their main page is http://www.masb.org/  
and the link to the section for the Superintendent evaluation can be found at http://www.masb.org/supteval 

I feel the need to add some information here because of a comment that was made during the training session.  I am no videographer or skilled in editing videos.  That should be very obvious by my videos that I post.  I also don't alter these videos in any way.  There were only two videos that may be considered altered.  There was a Finance Committee meeting back in early 2016.  They are not supposed to discuss  student or staff names publicly but there were names mentioned in this one.  At the request of the Superintendent I tried to edit out the 1 or 2 minute section when the names were mentioned.  But I failed, I ended up with only that small section that I was trying to edit out.  Luckily I was able to undo my failed edit and leave the whole video intact.  I changed the privacy setting on the video from public to private so it could not be viewed and was going to go back another day and try again to just edit out the names.  I never have tried to edit it again, but I have now gone back and made the video public again.  So anyone can view it now, names and all.
There was another regular board meeting back in the fall of 2016.  It was another workshop training session by Deb Macon from the MASB.  I didn't stay for the entire workshop and I really didn't figure that anyone would be interested in watching half of the workshop so I was able to edit that one to cut out the workshop part.  I mentioned in the blog post that I had not uploaded the full video with the workshop included.  I had learned from my almost disastrous failed attempt at editing the other video to first make a copy of the video.  So I do have the original video with part of the workshop included.  If there is anyone that would like to view it, just let me know and I will upload it and post it.
Viewers will notice "breaks" in some of the longer videos.  That is due to me having to change the camera battery.  I used to always note that at "1:45:30" in the video that you will see a break due to my changing the camera battery, but I have gotten lazy and have not been mentioning that.  I figured that anyone that has been watching these videos for any amount of time would figure that out by now.  But I will go back to doing that again.  I can't always find the exact point where the break is, but I will try.  Viewers will also notice "breaks" in the videos when the board does things like go into closed sessions.  Or in this meeting, they took a short break because the meeting was so long.  The breaks come from me turning the camera off and then back on when they return to the meetings.  I don't usually mention the time period that it happens because it should be obvious why there is a break there.  Now I borrowed a new camera from someone to tape this meeting.  It is higher quality and has a much longer battery life, but I had no familiarity with this new camera.  I don't know why but I ended up with 7 different video segments instead of the one continuous video that the other camera always gave me.  I am "assuming" all the segments are there, but I haven't actually watched the entire 3 hr video to be sure.  I had to combine those 7 segments to make them all one video.   That took over two hours.  I have watched different sections to see if there is a visible break, but I couldn't find any.

I can't promise that I will make it to every school board or township board meeting.  When I think about the school board, I don't even want to go to those meetings. But there have been enough people contacting me and encouraging me to continue, so I will be going. The school did hold a town hall type forum to discuss Atkins Elementary but I was not aware of the meeting so I missed it.  They may be holding another town hall type forum in the future and I will attend and share the video.  I would like everyone to have the accurate information about everything that is going on rather than the hysteria and misinformation that I have seen being posted online on social media.

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting January 11th, 2017

On the agenda:
Special Orders -
- Reappointment of Members begins at 0:55
- Election of Officers begins at 3:00
Public Comments begin at 8:00
New Business -
- Personal Property Tax Exemption begins at 9:00
- McNally Foundation - North Gateway Maintenance begins at 18:30
Old Business -
- 6379 Dixie - Former Days Inn begins at 19:30
- 2017 DDA Coordinator's Schedule begins at 22:30
- Motion / Approval of Monies for Dixie Highway Improvements begins at 26:47
- Cass River Trailhead Update begins at 35:35
- Canoe Launch Update begins at 42:32
DDA Coordinator's Report begins at 44:25
DDA Board Member Comments begin at 47:13
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Special School Board Meeting To Be Held January 30th, 2017

Looks like there will be a special school board meeting on Monday, January 30th, at 4pm. It says the purpose is to have the "Superintendent Evaluation Training" and "Any Other Business That May Come Before The Board". 
They usually send out a notice by email for meetings but I did not receive a notice of this meeting. I just happened to find this on the BOE webpage.** I did call and the meeting is still scheduled to be held**
Maybe they will get one step closer to actually doing the Superintendent evaluation.  I believe there is supposed to be one done every year?  I am not sure when the last time one was done.  I don't believe they ever did one for Tom Hill, at least not after I started attending the meetings.  And I don't recall them ever doing one for Carol Selby either. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bridgeport Spaulding School Board Meeting January 9th, 2017

On the agenda:
- Presentation by the Saginaw ISD begins at 2:17
- Organizational Meeting / Election of Officers etc... begins at 19:40
- Check Register and Minutes begin at 39:42
- Middle School Mackinaw Trip Discussion & Approval begins at 43:53
- Atkins Quarterly Report begins at 57:54
- Board and Superintendent Comments begin at 1:24:42
© 2017 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved

First let me say "Good Luck" with trying to listen to most of this meeting. Turn your volume up as high as it will go and use headphones if you have any.

The presentation by the Saginaw ISD is about the renewal of the 18-mill non-homestead property tax that will be on the May 2017 ballot.  The Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald has a article about this in their January 11th edition.  The article discusses the 18-mill tax and also a new 3-mill "sinking fund" tax they will be seeking approval of.

I have been thinking long and hard about whether I will continue to attend the Bridgeport School Board Meetings; I still have not made a decision either way on this.  I have also spent days thinking about what to say about this school board meeting and the future of the school board.  So bear with me because this will be long.

The first meeting of the school board each year is the organizational meeting where they elect the members to serve in the various positions.  I was hoping for new leadership on this board and I am disappointed with the outcome.  Pat Nelson was made president again.  Robert Lange is vice president, Tedi Morris is secretary.
I was sad to see that John Rhines was elected as the Treasurer.  First off, I would think that position should have gone to someone that has been an elected board member for some time already.  Someone that has experience on the board, someone that has experience on the finance committee, someone that hopefully has gone through the training at least that is provided by the Michigan Association Of School Boards.  John Rhines has none of those qualifications that I am aware of.  John Rhines is a newly elected board member.  He won the election in November 2016 by a slim margin I think of about 27 votes?  He ran for a school board seat in 2014 but lost.  In 2015 he didn't run for the board.  He did though file a lawsuit with accusations against board member Marti Sageman and other board members.  He had no proof/documents or witnesses to back up his claims, he even admits in the court documents that it was all based on his own speculations. That case was thrown out by the courts as having no merit.  The filing of that lawsuit alone should have disqualified him in the eyes of the public at least of ever being elected a board member in my opinion.  His lawsuit cost the Bridgeport School District $5,000.00 in legal fees.  So even after all this, he then gets elected by the other board members as the treasurer?  Am I the only one in Bridgeport who is astonished by this?  I was at least hoping to hear John Rhines say in this meeting that he was sorry for the damage he did to the reputations of other board members and this school district, to offer to pay back the money he cost this school district.  Not a word about it at this meeting.  If these are the qualifications you need to get elected treasurer of the school board, maybe the school board needs to raise their standards????  Are my values and opinions out of date with the times?
In one of the past meetings board member Tedi Morris raised a concern about electing board members for some of the positions on the board, if they had charges made against them. Whether or not they had been convicted of those charges.  It was in the January 11th, 2016 board meeting.  Why then didn't she or any of the other board members have a concern about electing the man that filed those baseless charges, that were later thrown out by the courts, to one of those positions on the board?  To me, that is HYPOCRISY.  Maybe all the board members need to review the ethics portions of the board policy manual.

There are probably some people out there who are thinking right now "Why does she keep harping about this lawsuit?" or "Who Cares"?   Well, I do.  And this is my blog and I will share my opinion here.  I feel that this lawsuit speaks to what I see as his character.  It is not just the lawsuit that makes me uncomfortable with him being elected to this school board.  It is other things I have seen that make me uncomfortable with what I view as his character.  I will share a few of them with you here.

On December 11th, 2016 I wrote this blog post - http://bridgeportmusings.blogspot.com/2016/12/facebook-friends-and-your-privacy.html
It was about something very personal that Marti Sageman had shared with her friends on her Facebook page while she was being sued by John Rhines.  Someone took a screenshot of what she posted and shared it with another person.  That other person shared it with me.  What I didn't reveal in my post on December 11th was who it was that shared it with me.  That person was John Rhines.  Here is a screenshot I took of the email where he shared it with me.  I can provide the entire email if there is anyone that doesn't believe me.  If you are suing someone because you truly believe they committed a wrongful act, that is one thing.  But to relish in the pain and suffering you are causing them is another.  At least to me it is.  Maybe I am overreacting to this incident?  You can click on the photo to read it.

There was another incident involving Marti Sageman and the lawsuit that made me very uncomfortable with it all and with John Rhines character.  I believe it was in December 2015 that John Rhines and Marti Sageman had to give video taped depositions to the court for this lawsuit.  Philip Ellison was the lawyer for John Rhines and I believe that he is the one that deposed Marti Sageman.  I believe this deposition may have lasted for 3 hours?  Would I want to be grilled by Philip Ellison for 3 hours?  NO.  I think I would rather be waterboarded!!  Marti Sageman is about 70 years old?  Forgive me Mrs. Sageman if I am wrong on that.  This is not meant in any kind of a demeaning way, but I feel that Mrs. Sageman is someone who can get emotional very easily.  Someone who could get rattled very easily.   Especially when being questioned for hours by someone like Philip Ellison.  I can't remember for sure what the date was when I had the conversation with John Rhines about Mrs. Sageman's testimony during this deposition.  Sorry but this past year has been very hectic for me.  In this phone conversation I asked him what she said in her deposition.  His response was that they couldn't "break her" or "trip her up" and get her to admit that she was behind the firing of Jennifer McDonald etc....  If anyone is not familiar with this lawsuit, you can view lots of the legal documents pertaining to it here on my blog.  I also have posted some of the pages from the dismissal of this lawsuit. 
I was very surprised when he told me that they couldn't "break her".  At some point during this conversation he told me about the deposition being video taped.  I stated that I would like to see that video.  My reason for wanting to see it was because I had believed that she was guilty of all his accusations against her up to this point.  I felt that if I could watch the video, and see her face, listen to her voice, I would know if she was telling the truth or not.  The conversation took a turn that made me feel very uncomfortable then and still does to this day.  John Rhines became very "hyped" up in my opinion.  He started laughing and saying that he was going to throw a "viewing party" and invite everyone to come watch the video.  Everyone could sit there and laugh at the distress that Mrs. Sageman went through during the deposition.  It turned my stomach.  It also made me question if getting to the truth was really his true motivation behind the lawsuit.  At least at that point in time, if it was still the true motivation.  I didn't say anything to him then.  I just went along with his conversation because I really wanted to view the video.  I don't believe he actually had the video of the deposition at that time and I don't know if he ever got one.  I thought about all this for days, maybe weeks, after this phone conversation with him and I kept thinking to myself  "You Moron, you couldn't break her or trip her up because there was nothing to break her or trip her up on".  I don't know if he really ever did hold a viewing party, but I feel ashamed and guilty for not speaking up to him then and for having any part in what he was doing.

There is another incident that makes me question his character.  During a regular school board meeting on July 20th, 2015 the board went into a closed session.  A closed session is exactly that and the information discussed in there is confidential.  This closed session involved the separation agreement for Jennifer McDonald, and it indirectly involved the lawsuit since that is a big part of what John Rhines lawsuit was based on.  He also filed a lawsuit against them for a Open Meeting Act violation based on his claim that they held a "secret meeting" by holding that closed session.
John Rhines told me in a phone conversation after the July 20th meeting that the board member Tedi Morris told him some of what went on in that closed session.  I can't remember everything that John Rhines said Mrs. Morris told him, but part of it stuck in my head.  Mrs. Morris supposedly told him that she "read the riot act" to the other board members during the closed session based upon their decision to vote to approve the separation agreement that had taken place in 2014 between the school district and Jennifer McDonald.  I believe that Mrs. Morris told him that she told the other board members that they were probably violating the law, etc..., that she really gave the other board members an earful!!   I don't know if Mrs. Morris told John Rhines anything about the actual legal aspects of this closed session, I don't know if she actually told John Rhines anything at all about this closed session.  I only have John Rhines word that this happened.  If it did happen, Mrs.Morris was in the wrong no matter how much she told him. In my opinion at least.  In the court papers from the dismissal of the lawsuit, John Rhines claimed that he had no knowledge of what happened in that closed session from July 20th.  From the court documents it states "Importantly, Plaintiff testified that he has not talked to any Board members about what occurred during the closed session, and he admitted that his only knowledge of what was discussed or occurred at the closed session was what the Board read and voted after coming out of the closed session with respect to the subject Agreement."
Maybe I am looking at this with too simple of a view, maybe I am missing some kind of gray area.  But to me, either he was being truthful when he told me that he discussed that closed session with Mrs. Morris OR he was being truthful when he told the court that he Had Not discussed the closed session with any of the board members.  It can't be both can it?

Some of my other concerns about John Rhines and the future of this school board involve his interaction and communications with members of this school board, before and even after he filed the lawsuit against them.  The impression I got from John Rhines, from my many conversations with him, was that he was being given a lot of information from board members about what was going on behind the scenes concerning other board members and board affairs.  This is based strictly on the things that John Rhines shared with me, I never heard any of this personally from any of the board members myself.  I will share with you several examples of why I believe that he was working closely with,  and that information was being shared with him by board members.  I think it is important to remember that he was not a school board member at these times, and some of the things took place after he had filed the lawsuit against Marti Sageman and other school board members.

Before the April 13th, 2015 school board meeting, John Rhines had sent me several emails wanting to know if I was going to be attending that meeting.  He said it was going to a "good one".  Either by phone just before the meeting or in person at the school just before the meeting, John Rhines told me that Dempsey Allen would be asking Marti Sageman to step down as school board president at that meeting.  Dempsey Allen did ask her to step down in his closing remarks at the board meeting.  She was forced basically to resign as board president.  How did John Rhines know that was going to happen?  My impression from talking with him was that it was all planned out ahead of time, and that someone shared that information before the meeting with him.

Another incident that happened was when he told me that the school board members were going to vote board president Jay Bruns out and vote Pat Nelson in hopefully.  This took place at the January 11th, 2016 board meeting, and exactly what John Rhines said was going to happen happened.  Jay Bruns was voted out and Pat Nelson was voted in as board president.  My impression was that it had all been planned out by other board members before hand and that their plans had been shared with John Rhines.

The last incident that I will share, was shared with me by John Rhines concerning a school board meeting that took place on June 13th, 2016.  John Rhines told me that Pat Nelson and Jay Bruns had been having a very heated email exchange going back and forth between the two of them.  Supposedly at some point Jay Bruns made a comment along the lines of "I hope the state does take over this school district, then maybe something will finally get done".  I have never seen this email so I don't know the exact wording of it.  But it sounds like Mr. Bruns was very frustrated  in this exchange.  So John Rhines told me that Pat Nelson was very upset and that he would be bringing this up at the June 13th board meeting.  John said that after Pat discussed it publicly in the meeting, then John was going to ask for clarification on the date of the email and that he would then FOIA the email exchange.  His plan was then to share it with me and have me publish the email on my blog.  During the closing board member comments of the June 13th meeting, Pat Nelson does bring up that he had a disturbing, negative email exchange with another board member. He gave the date of the email during his comments.  This starts at about the 1:24:00 mark in the video of this meeting. John Rhines does interrupt Pat Nelson while he is speaking, asking for the date of the original emails that Pat Nelson is referring to.  After the meeting John Rhines approached me and said " I will FOIA those/that email tomorrow and give it to you to publish".  I just replied back to him that I would not be publishing it, that I was too busy and I walked away.  Once again here, what John Rhines told me would happen at the board meeting, did happen exactly the way he said it would.
I felt this was being done for no reason other than to smear the reputation of Jay Bruns and possibly be used as grounds to try and force him from the school board.  I wanted no part of it.  Was Pat Nelson a party to John Rhines plan to share that email on my blog?  I have no idea.  I have never asked Pat Nelson if that was his intention or if this was a plan by John Rhines alone.  I can understand Pat Nelson discussing his frustrations with someone, but I don't feel it was appropriate to be shared with a member of the public.

The school board members are expected to listen to the Bridgeport residents when they have questions or concerns about something involving the district.   But I believe there are things that should be discussed with members of the public and then there are things that should Never be discussed with members of the public.  EVER.  Confidential information, problems within the school board among the members - Not for public consumption.

My impression from my conversations with John Rhines was not only that information was being shared with him, but that he was at times actively working with members of this school board.  And possibly doing so to undermine other school board members.  I head things from John Rhines like We need to get rid of Marti, We need to get rid of Jay, We can't depend on Larry.  My impression was that someone wanted to get Marti, Jay and Larry removed from the school board.  Some of the things he said to me left me with the impression that "they" & "we" meant him and some of the board members. This impression of him is again based on just his word alone.
If anything that John Rhines said to me, if any of my impressions of him and also of his interactions with other members of this school board are accurate, then I have a problem with that.  This is not the kind of morals, integrity, honesty that I hope to see in the school board members.  If this is the true character of John Rhines, or any of the other board members, then I don't feel they belong on the board.  In my opinion, if any of the board members shared any confidential information with John Rhines, especially while he was suing Marti Sageman and the school board, then they should step down from the board.  If any board members were actively working with John Rhines to undermine any of their fellow board members, then they all need to step down.

What do I see for the future of the Bridgeport School Board?  Nothing good.  I think about Michelle Young Albertson.  She just got elected in November 2016.  I don't really know her personally, but I do have a good impression of her.  I believe that she is a sincerely nice person, an honest person.  I can't ever foresee her engaging in the kind of behavior that I fear was really committed by other members of this school board.  I believe that she will do her utmost to work for the betterment of this school district and for the staff and students.  But what will happen if she disagrees with the actions of some of the other school board members?  What if she openly opposes them on some matter?  Will she become one of the "obstacles" or "adult problems" that Tedi Morris referred to in her closing comments at this last board meeting?  Will she be back stabbed, undermined, have one of her emails shared publicly?  Will she be openly treated with hostility in the board meetings by the other board members?  Will she be shut out by the board president?  John Rhines told me that after Pat Nelson became president of the school board back in Jan 2016, that he was going to remove Marti Sageman from as much as possible on the school board and just stick her on the curriculum committee.  Why?  Because they only meet maybe a couple of times per year, and that way they wouldn't have to deal with her too much. And once again, he was exactly correct in what he said would happen.  What will the future hold for Jay Bruns on this school board?  Is he going to also be removed from everything and hidden away on the curriculum committee so they don't have to deal with him?  What will happen to anyone on this school board who doesn't go along with the will of the majority?  With the leadership?  With the little clique?  I would never want to be on this school board because I would feel like I would have to watch my back every minute.

I am sorry Bridgeport but I have no faith in these board members.  I see nothing good in the future for this school board.  Effective leadership?  Sorry, I haven't seen it since Pat Nelson became president.  They are a "High Functioning" school board now?  Well, I guess their opinion of what makes a highly functional school board is different than my definition.

So my message to the Bridgeport residents is if there is anyone out that that gives a damn about the future of this school district and the students, then start showing up at the meetings.  Pay attention to what is going on.  Hold this board accountable for their actions and also for any failures.
The next school board meeting is being held on January 23rd.  Will I be there?  I doubt it.  If no residents show up, then I guess it doesn't matter then what ends up happening to this school district.