On Wednesday, October 18th, 2018, we had a School Board Meeting, and in that meeting, once again, as she is in the habit of doing, Board President Marianne Kearney-Brown, decided to take a recess when she heard ideas she did not approve of. She has an idea that if a speaker has something to say that she disagrees with, she will interrupt them and declare a recess. What it is is a passive aggressive power play, to enforce her ideas on her fellow board members and the audience. It is totalitarianism. The video of it is here.
This time she ended my right to speak, and totally decided to deprive me of my First Amendment Rights. Included is an e-mail exchange with Ms. Brown.
Last night was another instance of Board Member Marianne Kearney-Brown overreaching her authority and attempting to usurp the liberty of members of the community to speak. Her tactic, which she has commonly used, is to say that opinions are off topic, and to silence fellow board members and members of the audience if she does not like what they have to say.
I agree with her on a lot, but her desire to silence dissent is very dangerous, and she repeatedly does it, after having been repeatedly warned not to. Last night she specifically said this was the board’s meeting, and that audience opinions were not welcome. Apparently, she thinks she runs the board, and she will allow opinions she likes. David Horowitz of Front Page Magazine, has a great quote. “Inside of every progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out.”
She later approached me and said that she was stressed with family matters. I understand and sympathize, but just because any of us has family issues does not mean we can silence fellow citizens to attempt to ease our pain over our loved ones illness. Elected leaders have a duty not to allow personal matters to interfere with their public judgement. If Marianne cannot refrain from her personal life clouding her public judgement, she ought to resign. I understand and sympathize with personal pain, but I certainly don’t agree that that is an excuse for us to mistreat other people. Life is 10% what happens to us, 90% how we respond to it. We choose our response, we don’t choose our circumstances. Our circumstances reveal us to ourselves.
She displayed hypocrisy, as an audience member, one of her staunch supporters, came up and vehemently criticized me, and Marianne let her go on without interrupting her once. Ten minutes later she is busily engaged in lecturing me on what I can and cannot say, unblushingly. So we see, Marianne’s supporters are allowed to say whatever, and those she disagrees with are silenced. This audience member, who I admired actually, and was shocked to hear her attack, said she shuddered to think of her children being in schools with me as trustee, called me and others an idiot, questioned my math skills ( preposterous as I was in the Nuclear Navy) and said I was unfit to be on the school board because I didn’t have children. That’s interesting, because I never saw the requirement that school board members have children. Matter of fact, since we are in America, and our nation was founded by men who were all Christian, Christians get instruction on raising children and family from two men who history shows were both single and childless, and that would be Jesus and Paul. The audience member had no reasons for her opinions at all, but simply let loose on an emotional and hysterical rant, and thought that that was quite reasonable. It’s not. If I disagree with someone for a position, I do so for concrete reasons, not based on feelings. I asked this audience member if she had read my reasoning on my website, and she said she hadn’t. Said she didn’t want to. So, she doesn’t care to evaluate my ideas and words, but doesn’t mind getting up in public and disagreeing with them strongly. Does that sound like critical thinking to anyone? If parents, teachers, and board members have these attitudes, how are we supposed to teach kids critical thinking?
We are not in China. We are in the United States of America. It would be one thing if I were using profanity, lying, or stating ideas that were demonstrably false. That would justify silencing me. But I am not. So there is no reason to silence me, unless we have totalitarians running loose. I am not a slave. As such, the idea that I can be silenced just because is a reprehensible one. It is fascinating that in 1861, when the Civil War broke out, slaves were not permitted to read, and this kept them in slavery. Today, we are in a near slave state, with 20% of the population below the poverty level, and our utopian leftist billionaire overlords in Silicon Valley aren’t giving one dime to help kids read. Why? Because they love the idea that they are the masters, and we are the peons and need to shut up and let them rule in peace. They like it that we don’t read. It helps prevent us from getting uppity and escaping the Democrat plantation. This is why I am very disturbed at 70% of Vallejo’s children not being able to read. The idea that we are creating mindless drones who are being shaped into the pattern that the utopian tyrants want should disturb every sane human who has read “Fahrenheit 451”, “Brave New World”, “1984”, or “Animal Farm”.
Free speech does not require the consent of those in authority. I shouldn’t have to come to school board meetings or city council meetings and wonder if the audience or school board will let me talk. I have the right to talk because I am a human being. That is a basic right. If Marianne does not like what I have to say, or anyone else, then you can be quiet and listen, and express your disagreement when IT IS YOUR TURN TO TALK, OR IN PRIVATE. You do not interrupt people because you disagree with them. Ruscal has a funny idea that if ideas are disturbing or cause people discomfort, that means they are bad, and not to be tolerated. That is ridiculous. By that definition, anything that causes Ruscal or Marianne to feel bad must be wrong and cannot be tolerated at school board meetings. The school board meetings are not a safe space. If people don’t like the ideas, then bring their own ideas. Ruscal makes up his own rules, and reads a blurb that essentially menaces audience members with removal for opinions he doesn’t like. This doesn’t bother Ruscal, as he does not understand totalitarianism very well, apparently, and doesn’t realize he is imitating the mistakes of past tyrants.
It’s pretty amazing we are in America, and our very nation was created when a King tried to silence the free speech of his subjects, and we fought a Revolutionary War, to establish that all men are created free and equal. Yet, here we are, two centuries and change over, and we are repeating the exact same mistakes.
I appreciate Board Members Lawson, Ubalde, and Worel for upholding free speech, and request that Ruscal and Marianne take free speech training. They are coming dangerously close to inviting a First Amendment lawsuit that the District can ill afford.
It’s wise to remember the words of Henry David Thoreau, which were echoed by Martin Luther King Jr.
“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”
If speaking the truth to power, means going to jail, then I would be happy to go!!
I respectfully request that my right, as a citizen, to speak be upheld, and that frivolous interruptions over claims that I’m off topic, which not one has been substantiated, be stopped immediately!
If people don’t like what I have to say, and don’t want to hear me speak, then may I recommend ear plugs? We need to put our big boy and big girl pants on, stop being snowflakes, stop being easily triggered, and recognize the school board meetings are not Safe Spaces! I am not coming to board meetings to flatter anyone, and I am not an obsequious sycophant, like so many I see at the board meetings, who think never disagreeing with anyone is a virtue. It’s not, its called cowardice. Healthy families, communities, businesses, and organizations are based on everyone being allowed to air their opinions, and where dissent is not silenced.
I would appreciate it, Marianne, if you would share this with Dr. Schussel, and Ms. Sears, and any of your other supporters who are tempted to come up and unreasonably let loose in public on audience members.
I am sending this to everyone, as I assume everyone on this list is interested in what goes on at the school board. If any are not, please let me know, and I will remove you from the mailing list.
Elected officials, and public employees have a duty to hear all opinions, so this does not apply to them.
Criticism is very productive. The absence of it is very unhealthy. It refines us, and makes us what we ought to be.
Here is a great article on why criticism is good for us. If our ideas are right, then the criticism is unfounded. If not, then we can make them better. There are no negative aspects of criticism to the wise person.
There is a great quote on how we get wisdom, from suffering.
“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
It was quoted by Robert F. Kennedy when he announced Martin Luther King Jrs death to a tense crowd.
Dear Mr. Messano,
The applicable code here is Section 54954.3 of the Brown Act which states:
(a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by subdivision (b) of Section 54954.2. However, the agenda need not provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body on any item that has already been considered by a committee, composed exclusively of members of the legislative body, at a public meeting wherein all interested members of the public were afforded the opportunity to address the committee on the item, before or during the committee’s consideration of the item, unless the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard the item, as determined by the legislative body. Every notice for a special meeting shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body concerning any item that has been described in the notice for the meeting before or during consideration of that item.
Section 54954.3 governs meetings of legislative bodies in California. It gives the public free speech rights to address an the item before the legislative body, either before or during the
the legislative’s body’s deliberation on that item. It does not recognize any right to speak on matters other than the item on which the board is deliberating.
Agenda item 8.12 was to consider the approval of a contract for Chon Renee Dance Studio to provide after school dance classes. We gave you an opportunity to address the consideration of this contract. You used this time to give your opinion on other issues. The VCUSD Governing Board had no legal obligation to allow you time to speak on any matter other than the Chon Renee contract during its deliberation on the Chon Renee contract ,.
Dear Ms. Kearney-Brown,
I was addressing the fact that we are paying lots of money for programs that are after school, when we aren’t even educating kids on basic science, math, English, history, and Civics.
I very much appreciate Trustee Lawson’s remarks last night on history, as that is the root of our problems. None of our problems are new, and they were successfully dealt with in schools just a century ago. The trick is to find out how did they use their time, and what habits did they have, and then learning to imitate them. To the argument that we are in a different day and age, and can’t go back, yes we can. Technology changes, but human nature never does. Our biggest problems are that Silicon Valley and other tech billionaires had $3 trillion of wealth poured into them, and this technology has not helped children at all, and it has gone a long way in making them corrupt, uninformed, uneducated, and given them the attention spans of hummingbirds.
That government governs best which governs least. It’s entirely within the purview of a citizen of this community to criticize the use of taxpayer money for community organizations and after school programs.
In 1912, our children tested way better than today, without us giving one dime for public schools. https://www.bullittcountyhistory.com/bchistory/schoolexam1912.html We also didn’t have after school programs. It is not the job of the taxpayer to be paying for this stuff. While I dearly love my mother and father and am grateful for my childhood, welfare had a deleterious effect on my family, and I saw it in person. Before Wilson and FDR, we didn’t have welfare in America, and the American spirit was alive and well.
A big part of the problem is shown here.
Chon Renee Dance studio, the soccer contract, the Kajukenbo contract, and others are all expenses that are not necessary to educating the children. If parents love these services so much, they can go work, make the money, and pay these businesses out of their own pockets. And if these businesses love the children so much, they can provide the services for free. As a business owner, I never sought to profit off of schools. I would be invited to advertise my business at schools, where I donated sums of money, and I rarely did. In my mind, I was involved with the schools to volunteer, not to make money off of children.
When we are running million dollar deficits, it’s time to cut the fat. Let the parents take care of their own children. It is not Joe Taxpayers job to take care of the children outside of educating them. It’s the job of the wealthy and the churches to take care of the fatherless children, and we now have half of our children being born outside of marriage. That is radically different from just fifty years ago, and it is a fact that is routinely ignored at school board meetings. It will be said its not our job. Well, whose job is it then? It’s a problem in our community, and it’s every member of the community’s job to speak out on problems so they get addressed. Complacency, apathy, and cowardice will never solve problems. Also, force the parents, the wealthy, and the churches to live up to their obligations, and stop passing their issues on the taxpayers. The school also should not be paying any funds, or have any employees involved in passing this bond with taxpayer money.
I pulled cards on all the after school programs, and had plenty of material to present on why paying all this money out is a bad idea for all involved, when you decided to end my speaking time, which was a gross violation of my First Amendment rights. Further, it did not seem to bother you when Ms. Sears got up and gave a searing and emotional testimony of her dislike for me. Her attack on an audience member, when I was unable to rebut and defend myself, is unprecedented in public meetings I attended, and I’m pretty sure Robert’s Rules don’t allow for that.
We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak, and in the future, I would appreciate if I am allowed to speak uninterruptedly. It really is an insult that I even have to discuss my right to speak, or even, somehow ask for it. We just got done fighting for civil rights for everyone in the 1960’s, and now, your actions are attacking my civil rights. I don’t interrupt you when you are talking, nor do I interrupt anyone else, and I strongly disagree with plenty, and see plenty that is off topic as well. I expect the same treatment in return.
I have found out many valuable things when I was patient and listened to ideas I didn’t like. If you consider what I am saying, that may be true for you as well. Impatience is not becoming of a leader. Neither is being impetuous and inconsiderate. You may also elect to ignore my remarks and refuse to consider them, but you do not have the right to suppress them. Rather than seeking to suppress ideas you don’t like or understand, it would be wise to let speakers have the benefit of the doubt, and let the audience decide. If you or members of the audience disagree with what I say, you are free to express that publicly as well.
Thank you for reading, and please attend School board meetings. We need more citizens in Vallejo who are willing to learn the issues and to speak up for liberty and justice. If we do not do it, fellow citizens, who will?
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