First I get a parking ticket for dropping my son off at school.
Now, a Prairie Grove policeman has threatened to arrest me to trespassing in a public hall waiting for the not-so-quiet, but top secret, hush, hush District 46 school board members to come out of its executive session. I talked a bit about this yesterday.
I have never been threatened with arrest before.
Let me lay out the background.
It is obvious from Northwest Herald reporter Nick Swedberg’s stories (1 and 2) that District 46 has a lot of strange things going on.
So, at the urging of a district resident I have know for a long time, I decided to attend the meeting held on election eve.
I arrived late and, as usual, took photos of the public officials.
Elected folks probably don’t know how many pictures it takes to get a decent one. One candidate emailed me during the campaign asking if I had put up the worst picture I had taken of him.
I told him it was the best I had obtained.
I’ll write other stories about what happened in the meeting, but, when I entered a woman, who turned out to be a McHenry Marlin Swim Team Mom and who serves on the board, was being talked down to by her colleagues.
Her name is Charlotte Kremer.
She reminds me of Huntley School District 158’s Larry Snow when he first got elected.
All alone against a hostile ruling majority.
This is a small district, but the seats for the audience in the school library were filled.
Kremer was trying to get some items taken off the consent agenda.
And, the board members were hassling her.
I wonder what part of the word “consent” they don’t understand.
Then, a board member named Karen Bowman made conciliatory sounds.
Boy, did she fool me. She seemed reasonable while there was an audience.
I’m sure that’s the public persona she wants to project.
The other members of her clique quickly fell into line with Bowman and Kremer got her discussion, but behind closed doors.
When this open part of the meeting was concluded, the audience cleared out and the board members had a little break. Then, the doors were closed and the real meeting began.
Everyone waiting outside figured it was about the really generous three-year extension on Supt. Fasbender’s contract, plus whatever Kremer wanted to discuss.
First I got some name spellings from the PTO vice president and the lady from Oakwood Hills who told the board that she though Fasbender was the board president because she seemed to be running the meeting. Then, I talked with two of the candidates challenging the incumbent school board members–David Etling and Sharon Rogowski.
I met the Northwest Herald reporter, an intern from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
As I do with virtually all executive sessions, I took some pictures of the wall and door. The Venetian blinds were down, but open, as you can see in the top picture.
Next, I noticed that one could see in through the vertical windows of the two doors.
Superintendent Fasbender was nicely centered in one, so I tried to take her photo. She ducked right, then, left to avoid the camera lens. You can see I got her picture. I can’t figure out why she didn’t want her picture taken.
Bowman, by this time, was browbeating Kremer.
She was vigorously gesturing.
Then, she was shouting at the top of her lungs.
“You’re going to hear from me!” she screamed.
It really startled me until I figured that this 12-year school board member had just completely lost control of herself.
At one point, someone got up to close the Venetian blinds. So, I took a picture of that.
And, then, I noticed there was about a foot of unblocked window between the bottom of the blinds and what I think was a fairly wide chair rail.
The Bowman tirade continued.
That’s when I got this picture I published much too early Wednesday morning.
Bowman saw me tying to take her picture and lunged to the Venetian blind, which was behind an easel. She jerked on one end. The blind collapsed, as you can see in the next photograph.
At some point I started laughing.
Lowering a blind didn’t stop her voice from getting through the window.
The more I heard and saw of this totally unacceptable behavior, the funnier it stuck me.
As I mentioned yesterday, my laugh is pretty piercing.
They probably heard my reaction to the outrageous way Bowman was acting toward her fellow board member.
I have never seen a school or village board meeting so out of control, except maybe in the late 1960’s, when Algonquin Township Supervisor George Starr rapped his gavel so hard so many times that I thought he would break it. (A local Richardson Publications Mike Royko, code named Phoenix, wrote a column filled with variations of “Bam, bam, bam.” It was a long column.)
But Bowman’s completely out-of-control rant certainly takes the cake for the last three decades.
Some administrator, whom I figured was the business manager from the report he gave, walked out of the room across the hall into the gym. He didn’t say a word.
After the previous admonitions about paper use, apparently for at least the second year, from board member Manish Shah, I figured they couldn’t find any paper in the library to cover up the vertical door windows and he has been sent to find some and, maybe some Scotch Tape.
Things quieted down inside and some of those left waiting for the doors to be opened were talking for, I don’t know, 5, 10, 15 minutes.
Then from the other direction, down the hall walks the finance guy, followed by a policeman.
“If he doesn’t agree to leave, then, I’ll have to arrest him for trespass,” the Prairie Grove policeman said.
I can’t remember the order of who said what, but the business type, a guy named Tanner, said, “He was heckling.”
Not true. But my laughter must have been less obnoxious than Bowman’s hectoring of Kremer.
He asked me if I was going to leave.
“I haven’t been asked,” I replied.
The Tanner guy then said, “I’m asking you to leave.”
The policeman asked, “Are you going to leave?” as I was trying to take notes.
I said, “Sure.”
Then, I asked the policeman’s name.
He said he’d tell me when we got outside.
I said, “Let’s go” and started down the hall toward the door I had entered.
“You don’t give the orders,” he said sharply.
When we got outside with the business guy, the officer said his name was “Sechho-something-or-other.” He gave me a number: “8210.” I got that.
As I was walking across the parking lot he said, “Don’t come back.”
“Not tonight,” I replied and drove home to type election stories until 4 AM.
And, here is a parting quote from a commenter:
The District 46 School board has lost control. Their own Board Member (Manish Shah) has summed it up best in an interview with the NW Herald reporter Telma Guzman after the public was allowed back into the meeting:
“We act like buffoons in front of the community. We need to work together.”