“a small ‘vitriolic’ group” drives Mern out

More from the old friend who voted to censure me last December.

He’s chosen to not run for re-election, he said, because of a small “vitriolic” group, including fellow board members Art Johnston and Harry Welty, that continues to criticize the school district largely because of its long-range facilities plan, completed in 2013.

This short, sour, Saturday story on Mern’s imminent departure from the Board says so much and so little at the same time.

Art and I have marveled to each other for a year now at the length’s our School Board has gone to to shut us up. Its usual 5 -2 majority could have done what countless elective bodies have done in the past, simply ignored its squeaky wheels and out voted us. Mern couldn’t do that as chair last year. Even now, when Art speaks, Mike’s general posture is head in hands resignation. If only that was all. Mike just can’t let Art’s complaints about WADMS or other issues go unanswered which turns five minute rants into twenty minute exercises in futility. Judy Seliga-Punyko is similarly afflicted.

But it hasn’t just been a succession of twenty minute finger pointing sessions that has driven Mike out. He has accused Art of assault, a charge that is as toxic as I believe it to be laughable. I must have warned the Board in my blog, which Mern won’t read, that this allegation would likely lead to the worst year in Mern’s life as well as Art Johnston’s.

I was looking forward to working with Mern before getting elected so I’m shocked by how things have spun out of control. I don’t disagree with Mike’s self evaluation, “I’m a fairly friendly guy.” Its another aspect of Mike’s personality which he admitted: “I’ve…never been good with conflict” that may in part explain the last year.

When I served on the Board previously Mike asked me to mediate a hockey dispute when the High School League cracked down on East High when one of its players came back from a brief stay with a verboten professional hockey training camp down in Iowa. It was my first close look at a sport foreign to me and I was pleased to help Mern face down the High School League which earned his gratitude and perhaps admiration.

Then on the eve of my departure from the school board I got an even closer look at Hockey when East’s Hockey tribe successfully removed a school superintendent for tampering with their hockey coach. Mern stood so far back in the crowd away from the heat that it was obvious he wanted no part of it. And yet Mern lit the fuse in the Art Johnston wars. Mern’s self appraisal simply glides over is his role in the current school board negativity that “wears” on him. Frankly if I were a resentful man I would resent his characterization of Art and me as “vitriolic.” Art is stubborn and never more so than when he thinks his significant other is under attack and I blog. As for me……..

I’ll let my eight loyal readers decide for themselves whether I’m vitriolic by leaving them with a sample to savor and spit out if they find it so. Mike made his bed but he won’t sleep in it.

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