Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Kangaroo Court is Now in Session

In baseball there is an old locker room tradition called the "Kangaroo Court".  The veterans on the team levy fines on other players for such "crimes" as running through a coach's "stop" sign on the bases, failing to hit a cutoff man or wearing your socks wrong on the field.  It's meant to be a joke--and to build an esprit de corps in the locker room.  Tonight, the Oshkosh School Board will vote to create its own Kangaroo Court.  It too will be a joke--but its purpose is to intimidate any members who might want to guarantee open and honest government.

In a nutshell, Board President John Lemberger will be given the power to appoint the members of this "Investigative Panel"--which will look into comments Ben Schneider II made to WOSH Radio and other local media outlets about improper matters discussed in closed session.  Schneider came on our station accusing his fellow Boardmembers of talking about Oaklawn Elementary School options that were not properly noticed before several closed session meetings this spring and summer--and which do not fall under the qualifications for closed session anyway.  In other words, Schneider would be "investigated" for exposing improper action by his fellow Boardmembers.

Given the union influence on the School Board, such strong-armed tactics and thuggery should have been expected.  "We got caught--now let's punish the guy who turned us in".  And what better way to do that than to create an extra-judicial entity--controlled by those seeking vengence--to dole out its own form of "justice".

If Board President Lemberger really wants to focus on "misconduct" by members then he should form a panel that includes actual experts on Open Meetings Law--who will examine the entire process of these closed session meetings this year--not just on the whistle-blowing that turned attention to them.  That means no professor who teaches Principles of Good Government at the University, no attorney who specializes in negotiating contracts for labor unions, no handpicked "concerned parent" for this panel.  If you are serious about "investigating" misconduct, Mr. Lemberger, then this panel should be made up of Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett (who actually has the power to bring legal action against an elected official who violates the law), Judge Thomas Gritton (who does not live in the Oshkosh School District) and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Bellavia (the State Department of Justice expert on Open Meetings Laws).

I wonder who would be intimidated by that truly impartial panel looking into School Board conduct?

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