The dumbest School Board meeting in history is about to happen
30% of the Polk School Board is either guilty of unethical/illegal behavior or under investigation for it. But grifters want to talk about proclamations and protecting board members from their jobs.
I can’t remember if there’s an “Ethics in Local Government Week” proclamation. There may be. We had so many of them — proclamations, not ethical violations — when I was a Polk School Board member that they all run together for me.
But I know there should be an “Ethics in Local Government Week” proclamation.
And Polk School Board Members Rick “T.I.T.S.” Nolte and Lori Cunningham, like all School Board members, should be forced to vote for or against it publicly.
Alas, various silly folks want to prevent that from ever happening.
As you probably know, DeSantis-endorsed “T.I.T.S.” Nolte just got fined $1,250 for admitting to a campaign felony. And Lori has an Ethics Commission probable cause hearing set for Sept. 8 concerning my complaint about her school uniform business conflicts. (Somebody should also audit Lori’s meeting attendance and calculate a per hour, taxpayer-funded School Board pay rate for her. I bet it would be very funny, in a not funny-at-all way.)
That’s 30 percent of your sitting School Board, both of whom are GOP members, experiencing the sharp end of state investigative processes for their civic/public behavior. Nolte should be looking at some form of criminal prosecution. (More on that a different time.)
Faced with such embarrassing board behavior, the digital torches and pitchforks of a couple of mid-level/wannabe GOP political operatives are out for the blood of …
(Wait for it)
... proclamations. You know, like “Autism Week” and “School Lunch Appreciation Month” and “Walruses-Are-Lovely Day.” Ok, I’m not sure those last two proclamations exist. But they might. Like I said, there are dozens of them, usually three or four per meeting in my day.
Actual proclamations focus on things like drug prevention and attendance programs and local government partnerships and thanking groups that have made particular contributions to the School District’s efforts, etc.
A symbolic, positive connection between the people and their government
Proclamations are civic rituals that connect government to the public in a constructive way. In a general sense, proclamations say this to the communities that elected officials represent:
Hey, thank you and welcome to your government. We value you as people and your efforts to contribute to society. You matter to us. We have to take serious votes about competing interests; but here’s chance for us to encourage you as citizens in a non-committal way.
They can have more specific benefits as well.
A tangible benefit of, say, PRIDE proclamations, is to encourage LGBT children to attend school because school officials tell these kids they are loved and welcomed. Standardized test scores, which are a stupid and corrupt way to measure “achievement,” are unsurprisingly higher for kids who regularly attend school than for kids who don’t. Is a child who feels welcome more or less likely to attend school so they can take your stupid test? You tell me.
So why are silly mid-level/wanna-be GOP political operatives raging against the School Board issuing statements that might make it more likely that kids attend and engage in school?
Why are they targeting all proclamations to try to reanimate the rotting political corpse of the CCDF “movement?” Why are they making common cause with gross CCDFer, self-declared felon, and $1,250 fine-collecting “T.I.T.S.” Nolte?
Ask them. They’re supposedly gonna show up tomorrow night.
Woke, like DeSantis, is crashing as a thing. So now we get this ridiculous charade
But here’s the real answer, if you can’t make it:
Some politicians — including Ron DeSantis — don’t want to say anything in public that is generically nice or welcoming or kind to their fellow citizens who are LGBT, Black, Hispanic, Jewish, Asian or whatever else they regard as an emblem of “woke.”
But these same politicians are much too chickenshit to actually go on the record, with a vote, to declare, “I, politician, reject Black History Month; I reject PRIDE; I reject Hispanic Heritage month; I reject Autism Week.”
So these politicians want to be relieved of their duties — and the consequences that come with those duties. Mid-level/wannabe GOP political operatives are happy to oblige — either for their own self-promotion or to accidentally channel someone else’s, even if they think they’re being sincere.
Eighteen months-or-so ago, mid-level/wannabe GOP political operatives didn’t have to put on this ridiculous charade. As a general group in America and Polk County, mid-level/wannabe GOP political operatives generated a lot of attention back then by openly attacking and mocking anybody, by personal characteristic, whose existence they could call “woke.”
Now, not so much.
Here in Polk, now that the CCDF has been smashed; now that Ron DeSantis is collapsing into Trump-voter-attacking, “slavery was VoTech” parody; now that “woke” as a nonsense attack term is losing its appeal, self-promoting mid-level/wannabe GOP political operatives have to change tactics.
They think proclamations — rather than actual corrupt School Board members — make a juicy target for political advantage. I’m skeptical, though.
The weird use of “proclamation” as some bureaucratic code for “stick it to LGBT/Black/Hispanic/Asian/Jewish people” reeks of cowardice and lack of commitment. It is lame above all. And lame tends not to rile up the gross.
The word “proclamation” just doesn’t have the MAGA-riling power of the word “trans” or “drag.” I think they’re futilely chasing the dragon of bigotry-borne outrage addiction. So we’ll see who actually shows up in all-white Tuesday night.
Really, all white is the uniform they’ve picked. LoL.
A useful past compromise with weakness that has run its course
This situation exists now because of the weakness of my fellow School Board members while I was on the board, prior to the 2018 election that brought in Lisa Miller and Sarah Fortney.
When I first joined the School Board in 2016, I am pretty sure we took formal votes on proclamations. It’s possible my memory is fuzzy; but I’m 99 percent sure we did.
Working with the very constructive and decent organizers of Polk PRIDE, I introduced the concept of a PRIDE proclamation to the School Board. A predictable kerfuffle followed. After a lot of mindless discussion, the Board agreed in a work session — without ever voting — to a sort of administrative compromise.
The superintendent would just pick the proclamations — including PRIDE — and present them to the Board to be read without a vote. I read the PRIDE proclamation; no other board members had to vote or participate; and the School District as a whole signaled its support for LGBT children and the larger LGBT community as valued contributors to the school district and Polk County as a whole.
It was dumb; but it worked out fine.
This compromise with weakness was worth it to me to establish a PRIDE proclamation as a thing. But I was always more than prepared to vote. I never hid from votes — or anything else as an elected official. That’s because I took the job seriously as a job — not a grift, a personal stepping stone to higher office, or as a source of petty personal status.
If you want to publicly object to the existence of gay people or Black History, then vote to do so and take the consequences like an adult
Rather than just undo the compromise with weakness and go back to voting; rather than simply own the “anti-woke” votes the curdled activists of the Republican Party demand of them; rather than live with the public consequences of voting to be gratuitously cruel to diverse groups that make up more than half the Polk School District when added together …
… Rather than do any of that, board members T.I.T.S. Nolte, Lori Cunningham, Sarabeth Wyatt, William Allen, and Justin Sharpless seem poised to beg Superintendent Fred Heid to excuse them from doing their jobs.
To save themselves unpleasantness, they would create a symbolic — but also real — rupture with the civic rhythms and people of Polk County life. They want to widen the distance between the elected board as a local government and everyone in the county it serves. That is stupid and pathetic and weak — all because five board members are scared to take any public consequence at all for anything.
Lisa Miller and Kay Fields seem to be the only two board members willing to woman up and do their jobs. And I have to say, Mrs. Fields’ evolution on the proclamation question has won my respect.
This won’t make you important or fulfilled, Nathan
Voters who chose people like T.I.T.S. Nolte and Lori Cunningham for a generation have killed their own state school system — public and private alike. In many cases, voters were fooled by mid-level/wannabe GOP political operatives, just like those running this stupid game.
But that doesn’t change the outcome or the ultimate citizen responsibility for the destruction — and for the need to comprehensively rebuild. This stupid School Board meeting is pure responsibility avoidance.
Killing proclamations will not hire a single teacher or help attendance or restore a sense of true human development to this dead system of fake data and grifting.
Florida has had the worst American test score “learning rate” for a generation — and Nathan Register, one of the wannabe GOP operatives — does not know or care. He can’t be bothered to actually participate in the hard work of citizenship and rebuilding the state system his bosses killed. So when you see him talk trash about test score performance tomorrow, laugh at him in public.
But pity him also. I do.
Nathan is a very young man, launching himself on a long march toward emptiness. If this is where he channels his personal ambition and purpose, God help him.
This kind of “politics” is a dark void of pointlessness — and it will catch up to you, Nathan. It will rot your soul. There are people you can ask about that — maybe even some folks you’re working with here.
Many Americans, and young men specifically, are struggling with a sense of emptiness. I can’t imagine anything emptier than pretending to hate proclamations because you’re afraid to say you don’t like gay people in public.
So congratulations for helping gin up what will be the stupidest, weakest, most pointless local government meeting in the history of Polk County local government.
You’ll either ride it straight to the Legislature — or to oblivion, which are the same thing these days.