Apr 19, 2007
Howell Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Breiner is taking a stand against educating the public by canceling a forum for school board candidates set for next week at one of the district's elementary schools, sponsored by the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
Breiner is not only ignoring the function of the schools to educate and inform all of the public, including the people who actually pay for it operation through their taxes, but he is ignoring years of precedent. Breiner is claiming the district policy that states, “District facilities and equipment shall not be used or made available for political campaigns” does not allow the forum.
However, since I have lived in Livingston County since 1998, I have attended at least five political debates at the Howell High School auditorium for U.S. Congress, state Senate, state House, County Commission and judicial candidates. The picture posted above was taken by a friend of mine at a debate I attended last August at HHS for state House candidates.
He is also ignoring the fact that school board elections are nonpartisan.
It makes you wonder why this change. The school board and Breiner have been sources of controversy the past year with the book banning attempt by the anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education). The Howell school board election has taken on an even more importance with the “Love” group running candidates after getting “Love” member Wendy Day on the board last May. The Livingston County Republican Party is making a mockery of the nonpartisan label this year, and it has made a special effort to recruit, train and throw their resources behind candidates in the race.
What makes it even more mysterious is the district had already given the newspaper permission to use its facilities.
According to the article, Breiner claims he did not know permission had been granted for both this and past forums, even though the forums and debates have been publicized by all the media that covers the county. The article says Breiner said “he hadn't read the local daily newspaper in three years.” There is more than one local newspaper. With all the news generated by the school district and other things going on, it’s sad that we have a man in charge of our school district so misinformed about what’s going on around him.
Breiner also says, “They approved something that directly violated district policy," Breiner said. "When I found out about it, I said we can't allow this according to district protocol." "If I had known of them, they wouldn't have occurred," he said.
A forum and a debate are not political campaigns, because they dos not endorse any candidate; it only allows voters to learn about whom they are voting for.
In fact, the only possible violation of the policy was by a newspaper employee, and the newspaper admitted it in the story.
“Breiner said the only other political event at the school that he knew of occurred in 2002 when Buddy Moorehouse, on leave from his news job at the Daily Press & Argus, staged a fundraiser for his unsuccessful bid for the state House.”
A fundraiser clearly violates the policy, and you have to wonder why he did not put a stop to that. The newspaper also failed to mention that Moorehouse was not on leave from the newspaper. Rich Perlberg, then general manager of the Daily Press & Argus, said Moorehouse would never work for the paper again after he left to run for the Republican nomination for the 47th District seat in the state House, but after he lost in the primary he was back at the newspaper shortly after that.
This makes Breiner look extremely bad, especially in light of criticism that the current board is nothing but a rubber stamp for his wishes. Political debates have been held elsewhere, and I hope this is rescheduled for a place like the historic Livingston County Courthouse. But the fact remains that the people who actually pay the taxes to run the schools and pay for the buildings were told they can’t use the building for an important Democratic function.
I always thought Breiner did a good job under extreme pressure, but he is wrong in this case.