Jul 22, 2009

Recall group calls fighting back against this intimidation attempt a conspiracy

HOWELL – The group trying to recall three of the four Howell Public School Board members for casting a vote they disagree with is seeing black helicopters and conspiracy theories because the targets of the intimidation tactic are fighting back.

As you know, there is a misguided effort underway to recall three of the four Howell Public School Board members who voted to fire Superintendent Theodore Gardella after just a year on the job last month. Apparently, the recall organizers are up in arms because the spouses of two of the board members targeted in the recall sat in the parking lot of the Baymont Inn on July 9 when the organizational meeting was held, according to a story in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

According to the story, “Members of the group leading the recall effort said they’re worried that their opponents would monitor an organizational meeting and count the number of people showing up. They believe this type of behavior could be the start of more aggressive and possibly illegal activity.” Are they for real? What illegal activity are they talking about? Fighting the false charges?

There was nothing illegal, shady or creepy about it, and they should have gone inside to the meeting. I can only speculate the reason they didn’t go inside was, perhaps, to avoid a confrontation.

Monitoring the recall is a common and accepted tactic, and they should be doing it. You will remember the recall attempt in 2007 when Republicans tried to recall Democrats who voted for the tax increase that kept Michigan’s government up and running. This, like most recalls, is nothing but raw intimidation, and this is also just an attempt to circumvent the election process.

Only the recall of Speaker of the House Andy Dillon was successful, and Leon Drolet and company had to lie and bend the law to get signatures. It made it on the ballot, but was soundly defeated by voters. The other recalls failed to get enough signatures. They fought off the recall by having people “shadow” the people collecting signatures to give the other side of the story and to stop them from telling lies.

There were a few mild confrontations involving dueling video cameras, but that was because Republicans did not like being exposed and challenged. The sane and rational people opposing this recall/intimidation attempt should do the same thing. It’s legal and an accepted tactic.

In a move I have never head of before in 12 years as a reporter covering school boards and local government, the recall group has hired a Lansing-based attorney. It’s unclear who or how he is being paid. He claims, “surveillance is often the first step of more aggressive steps that could be illegal,” and he also he said “their actions and mind-set could evolve into something more serious.” Really; Like what?

The parking lot incident, apparently, came to light because the recall group, allegedly, “intercepted” emails between a board member and Doug Norton, a retired teacher who previously served as president of the Howell teachers’ union. The recall group and extremist rightwing board member Wendy Day are using that as proof of a conspiracy between the rest of the school board members and the teachers’ union.

Day’s anti-union views – as well as her anti-government, anti-teacher and anti-pubic school views – cloud her judgment.

Day, along with her co-conspirator Vicky Fyke, are founding members of the apparently defunct anti-gay hate group known as the LOVE PAC - (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) that embarrassed the community nationally when it tried to ban Pulitzer-Prize winning books.

Day is actively participating in the recall of her colleagues; a rare event, and perhaps the first time that has ever happened The irony is that the board has been criticized in the past for not working together. When this recall fails, how do they expect to work with somebody who pulled this double-cross against them?

It may appear that the “LOVE” group is not dead, and this is their way to circumvent the election, which are what these type of recalls are deigned to do.

“LOVE” went underground following the school board election in May 2007 when voters soundly rejected the two “LOVE: backed candidates in favor of, ironically, two of the three board members being recalled.

Fyke on this very blog wrote, “I look forward to the next election when we will add two more like-minded people to the school board, and get our important changes accomplished.”

She is not waiting for the election, and this is how she plans to get “like-minded people” on the school board.


kevins said...

Why do you feel you have to lie and spin so much? Are you that unsure of the strength of your position?

The recall group didn't "intercept" anything. Pratt mistakenly sent it to the wrong address.

If it's okay for school board husbands to spy on recall meetings, it's surely okay for people to open and read email that is sent to them.

But you used the word "intercept." Maybe they also used mind control to make Pratt send them the email. Yeah, that's it.

I agree that a board won't work together with someone who supports their recall. But these folks wouldn't work with Wendy anyway. Heck, Pratt voted to appoint someone to the board whose only qualification was that he had called Wendy names. That's a fact. How's that for working with someone?

It's funny. People try to say LOVE is just a few people (which I believe is true), but then they try to blame all of the criticism of the board on a LOVE conspiracy. Either they have a lot of people and power or they don't. Make up your mind. From what I've seen, the person behind the recall got angry at the way the super was fired at a hastily and deceptively called special meeting. Do you have some proof that she is a LOVE member? Because, frankly, outside of the Fyke family, I've seen no evidence that LOVE has more than a couple of people, if that many.

Communications guru said...

I’m not spinning anything, brett.

No matter how they got it - accidental or theft - they intercepted it. I have had my experiences with Day and Fyke, and I choose not to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I have no idea how you can equate sitting in a car in a public place observing what’s going on to spying. I never said anything about the emails at all, other to point out the recall group made the claim it was the emails that alerted them to the presence of Jay Drick and a spouse of a recall target were sitting in car in the parking lot. But the article says they knew they were there because the organizer joked they should invite them in “for cookies.” The emails reveal nothing important or significant. They should be there, and they should be shadowing the people collecting signatures.

Who said the board will not work with” Wendy?” They certainly should not work with her when she pushes her extremist right wing agenda, and her anti-union and anti-teacher agenda. I have no idea who you are talking about when you make the claim “Pratt voted to appoint someone to the board whose only qualification was that he had called Wendy names.” I seem to recall the board appointed someone who had criticized Day on her blog. He was just as qualified as Day. Plus, to get appointed he had to have at least four votes.

Fyke claimed “LOVE” had 2,000 members. I have never tried “to blame all of the criticism of the board on a LOVE conspiracy.” But when you consider that in 2007 Literski Pratt beat the “LOVE” backed candidates, and she vowed she would “be back and win the next election” it’s pretty clear Day and Fyke are trying to circumvent the election process where they failed in 2007.

I don’t have any proof that she is a “LOVE” member because Fyke and Day keep the membership a closely guarded secret. But it’s clear they are involved.

The fact that you “got angry” over a vote is no reason for a recall, and there was no “deceptively called special meeting.”

kevins said...

No deceptively called special meeting? The only way that can be true is that you must believe that the one of the most important decisions a school board can make -- the firing of a superintendent without cause -- was an impetuous, emotional, spur of the moment decision.

Because according to your reasoning, no one at the board meeting considered firing him, but then did so without any consultation..after a board member made the motion, then broke down in tears and declined to vote for it. Now that's leadership. And they made her president...a reward for her vote, I would say.

Or, you can look at the facts another way. On Thursday morning there was no meeting planned. Mid-morning, the VP said she and the pres wanted a meeting. It got called barely within the the legal guidelines for a noon Friday meeting.

The agenda mentioned nothing about the superintendent's performance, nothing about a termination vote and nothing about his evaluation. In fact, his evaluation was scheduled to be completed at a regularly scheduled meeting two weeks down the calendar.

So anyone following the saga and trusting the board to be honest would think the evaluation session was July 13. But they call a special meeting, make no mention of the super's performance in the agenda and then spend an hour listening to the teachers union make a bogus complaint. Then without giving the guy any warning, without giving him a chance to defend himself and without a word of public comment, the board suddenly fires the guy. Nothing deceptive there. Right.

Your choices in defending this board aren't good ones. Either they planned this and have been dishonest with the public. Or they made a rash, emotional decision. Your choice: Dishonest or incompetent? Tough decision, eh?

Communications guru said...

That is correct, brett, No deceptively called special meeting. It was posted as required by law and a proper motion was made and approved. The bottom line is you don’t agree with the vote.

Fine, you don’t like the leadership of the person who cried, so don’t vote for them when they are up for reelection.

The bottom line is this an attempt to bypass the normal election process, and even worse it appears to be the work of a small extremist fringe group to undue an election two years ago where they got their butts kicked.

kevins said...

You should change your name to Black Hole, since your arguments collapse inward to crush themselves:

1. You defend the childish and potentially harassing tactics of the anti-recallers because they are legal, but you bemoan the perfectly legal and constitutionally protected recall action. The recall process does not attempt to bypass the normal election bypass; it is following the procedures specifically written into the constitution to remove elected officials. Why do you have so much distrust of the constitutions?

2. I don't think there will ever be a recall election, but you are already assuming defeat and trying to spin the results. You offer the amazing fact that recall elections succeed because only anti-voters show up and like to vote against politicians. You ignore the fact that it took signatures to get the issue on the ballot and that voters..all voters..have the chance to vote. Those that do, decide the election. You are happy to accept the results of poorly attended school board elections when MEA-endorsed candidates win; but now you are suddenly concerned about the ability of voters in a recall election. Why do you distrust voters so?

3. If the recall election is in November, that's the most heavily attended election, which blows your theory.

4. If the recalls make the ballot, that means that 5,000 valid signatures will have been collected. That's quite an accomplishment and can't be explained away by a small fringe group.

5. Speaking of that, if there are only 2 members of LOVE (and I agree that there likely aren't many more than that), then you admit this isn't a LOVE issue. Two people can't get 5,000 signatures, nor can they influence the outcome of an election.

6. I don't recall that the losers got their butts kicked. Care to supply some data? In fact, if I recall right, one of the union candidates came in last.

7. How can you say Fyke and Day fired Breiner? Fyke has never been on the board nor had a vote. Day has only one vote and is shunned by the rest of the board. Are the other board members sheep? Or are they under mind control? The board majority makes the decisions.

8. You say very few people vote to save a politician's job and then say that Dillon easily defeated his recall attempt. You once again contradict yourself.

9. I can't recall a single successful school board recall in Livingston County. I can only remember one such effort...down in Pinckney...but there could have been more. It takes 5,000 sigs to get a Howell school recall on the ballot. If that happens, it means more than one or two LOVE members are upset.

10. In the past 50 years (well, I don't go back that far), I don't know of many successful recalls of any type in Livingston. Seems there were some township ones, including one or two that seem more than justified. They are pretty rare because a) they are harder to accomplish than you insinuate; b) voters, despite your distrust of them, have to be pushed pretty hard before they will remove an elected official from office.

You guys should quit shadowing, infiltrating and playing Inspector Gadget and go back to trying to act like adults.

Communications guru said...

I should change my name? I’m not hiding like you, brett.

1 You are really spinning, brett. First, the tactics of the “the anti-recallers” are not “childish or potentially harassing.” It is smart and legal. Obviously, Day and company’s charges can’t stand up to scrutiny, and that’s the problem you have. I never said Day and company didn’t have a right to attempt a recall, I said it is abusing the recall law and circumventing the election process. Recalling someone for a vote you don’t agree with is a clear abuse of the intention of the law.

2. Stop playing dumb. The facts support my truth that recall elections have low turnout, and it’s rare that voters will vote to save a politician’s jobs.

3. See 2. It’s rare that voters will vote to save a politician’s jobs, especially when they know nothing about the candidate or the issue.

4. It certainly can be explained away by a small fringe group. Day and her small group are out there lying to people without the people hearing the other side. People are angry with the board for crap she is responsible for, and they are angry at the board as a whole for things two of the three targets had nothing to do with.

5. I have no idea how many people are in “LOVE,” but the two I know for sure are members are pushing very hard. It’s ironic that the last time “LOVE” endorsed candidates they both lost to two of the candidates they are attempting to recall.

6. The link is in the post.

7. Easy. Fyke and Day ran a campaign to embarrass, harass and turn the public and the board against him.

8. Wrong. The difference is Leon Drolet had to use deception to get the signatures, and he had the misfortune to have the recall on the same ballot as his reelection which was also a Presidential election. Those groups hope they are on the ballot when turnout is low.

9. I don’t either. The only successful one I saw occurred in Hartland Township about seven years ago. Recalls are a waste of time unless the elected official has broken the law or is corrupt.

10. See 9.

I’m not sure who “You guys” are, but shadowing is smart, legal and the right thing to do. The childish thing is this recall. But I know your group‘s charges can’t stand up when both sides of the story are presented to a person who may sign the petition.