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Letter: Former Council Member Questions School Board Endorsements

Ferndale resident Helen Weber submitted this letter to the editor.

Ferndale Patch welcomes letters to the editor.

The following was submitted by Ferndale resident, volunteer and former City Council member Helen Marie Weber.

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It seems impressive that so many elected officials in the Ferndale area are listed as endorsers of the CLEAR candidates for the Ferndale School Board. In the city of Ferndale the elected officials are nearly unanimous in their support of the CLEAR slate. Amazing? Or regrettable? Are the City of Ferndale elected officials ganging up on the current School Board members and trying to replace them?

Seven people sit on the Ferndale School Board. It appears the Ferndale Council is maneuvering to unseat those from the current board who appear on the  ballot. In their collective wisdom is it time to elect a new majority? And, if so, why? What is the unspoken agenda of the Council.

Why are they dissatisfied when the School District and Ferndale High School has been making steady progress and Ferndale High School has recently won acclaim for academic improvement.

Do the Ferndale Mayor and the Council need to make this choice for the community? If problems were real, wouldn’t it be natural to meet jointly & explore solutions. Teamwork within the community would be advanced with this approach. Unfortunately, endorsement is an easy path but not always the wiser one. It does not further the healthy partnership needed between the School Board and City Council members.

Helen Marie Weber
Former City Council Member
Ferndale, Michigan

Thomas Gagne October 11, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Those are interesting questions, Helen. It would be interesting to find out if the majority of school board members would endorse different council candidates? I've attended two joint meetings between the school board and city council. They were both very polite, with members of both sides expressing similar admiration for the other. Both council and school board listed their greatest achievements and rosy forecasts for the future. I detected no hints that anyone on either board thought the other was inadequate, or anything other than praiseworthy. But such superficiality is the result of trading independent thinking for collaboration and candor for politeness. It might be that both bodies, or at least council, wanted to morally support the other in public, but many council members may have privately believed the school board needed to be more transparent, more focused on district residents, more concerned with planning, and more conservative in their bond request. But had they said that publicly and earlier, they may have lost the support of the large number of residents that believe the school board is doing a great job and is beyond criticism--or the residents that feel criticism is always a bad thing. But ultimately, yours and my comments are speculative. You'll have to ask the council members why they support the BOLD slate.
Nathan Schoenfeld October 11, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Well said Helen!
Matt Nowaczok October 11, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Helen, I see it through a different lens. The members of Council are simply expressing their individual feelings about the candidates and collectively they have all aligned. I see nothing wrong with each individual member being able to say who they support, similar to what you have done for the CBE slate. That said, I agree that as a GROUP they should refrain from input into this election, however, denying them the ability as individuals to speak about the schools that affect them and their children just doesn’t seem right. Have a great day!
Robert Bokram October 12, 2012 at 01:13 AM
i agree that Helen raises good questions. What is the basis for the council members endorsement....I can only presume, and I won't, unlike some others who like to hear themselves talk. On the other hand, we know why Dave Coulter expressed support for one of the CLEAR candidates.....friendship! Coulter has expressly written that he does not insert himself into local campaigns, except for this one time, because he is a long time friend of the candidate. I recall that when Coulter knocked on my door before his election, he has me to carefully consider his positions on the issues, his experience, his history of activities in the community. But apparently his personal/professional standard for endorsement and support is much lower....friendship. It is this type of endorsement that give politicians a bad name....the height of hypocrisy, Do as I say, not as i do. Coulter's simplistic approach to candidate selection should be resoundly rejected....I trust that our community will set a higher standard for their personal electoral choices !
Greg Pawlica October 12, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Helen, I have always had, and will continue to have, a tremendous respect for you and your standing on the issues in Ferndale. I consider us friends, but I know we have not always seen the same sides of the same coin...I think that's what friends need, sometimes. I'm a little disappointed in your approach of trying to show support for your candidates (CBE) while knocking down the oppenents' supporters (BOLD). While I don't disagree that some of your questions are invalid, I would argue that you trying to create a conspiracy that doesn't exist by implying that the city council members are "maneuvering to unseat those from the current [school] board." No offense, Helen, but that is pretty low. I know you are have always supported freedom of speech and standing for what you believe in...I think I've seen you more than once standing at Woodward and 9 Mile on a Monday evening with your PEACE and NO WAR signs practicing that right. Can't our elected officials show THEIR freedom of speech by endorsing candidates that are opposit of your choice? Because you are not aligned with them, does this mean it is a conspiracy? Perhaps a better road traveled would be for you to ask the City Council members directly as to why they are supporting candidates that you're not? I know that the majority of the council are friends of yours...that shouldn't be hard to do. Perhaps a better question would be...why aren't you supporting the STRONG DEMOCRATIC/LIBERAL thinking candidates?
Dave Coulter October 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
My friendship with Kevin Deegan-Krause developed while serving with him on the Library Board, where I saw first-hand his leadership skills in planning and executing the successful expansion of the library. I'm proud of what we accomplished and make no apologies for supporting him now. My friendship with Helen goes back even further, so I'm disappointed she sees a council conspiracy where none exists. This has been a heated campaign, but voters would be better served with a debate focused more on issues than accusations.
T. Scott Galloway October 12, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I think it is important to state very clearly that the Ferndale City Council has taken no position on the School Board race or the candidates. Just as Helen did while she was on the City Council, each member of Council chooses whether to INDIVIDUALLY endorse a candidate or ballot proposal. The fact that three of the five Council Members independently arrived at the decision to endorse the BOLD candidates should in no way be interpreted as some official action by the Council itself.
Kevin Deegan-Krause October 12, 2012 at 08:58 PM
There are some people who do us honor just by considering us friends. Dave Coulter is one of those and I am humbly grateful for his comments here. Helen Weber is another, and I stand in awe of her lifelong commitment to peace and justice--and Ferndale. We disagree on this one (not-unimportant) issue but I look forward to a day in the near future when that disagreement is over and we can work together on all manner of truly important things.
Robert Bokram October 13, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Mr Coulter - I don't begrudge your choice for school board, but am very disappointed by the basis of your decision. When you knocked on my door before being elected, you asked me to carefully consider your credentials (yes, I voted for you and would again). Yet you have admitted that, despite a history of refusing to insert yourself in local politics, you are now offering your support based on friendship, not the issues/positions of the candidates (you can reflect on your opinion of the candidates credentials, but your expressed, wriiten reason is that your decision was based on friendship). I acknowledge that this reflects our human nature, but in your position, I would expect you to set a higher standard for your public support of a candidate (or issue, for that matter). Voters should not tolerate a politician who makes a policy decision based on friendship (special interest relationship) and this is clearly a case of a political quid pro quo. I can only hope that voters demonstrate a more thoughtful, considered approach when they step into the voting booth.
Robert Bokram October 13, 2012 at 02:09 AM
I would love to hear the rationale of each council member, considering that they never interviewed ALL of the candidates, or explored their positions, before deciding on who to support. To me, this reflects a political, not objective decision-making process. How many of us solicit only one bid, before making a large investment?
Jim Dyson October 13, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Successful expansion of the library? Wasn't there an awful flood and the library had to be closed for months? Hasn't the library been through 3 directors in 4 years? Is that the plan for the schools, 3 superintendents in 4 years? Didn't Kevin Deegan-Krause resign from the library board because he said the six year term was too long? Couldn't he end up with a six year school board term? All important questions to be asked during the upcoming forum.
Matt Nowaczok October 15, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Mr. Dyson, I’m sorry to mention this but I cannot find anybody named Dyson on the voting registry in any precinct in the Ferndale School District or on the public tax rolls anywhere. I hope I am mistaken, but it looks like you might be using the name “Jim Dyson” instead of your real identity. The same thing happened a few weeks ago with somebody calling himself “Lawrence Munson.” If you really feel the need to be anonymous, at least let people know by using a name that doesn’t pretend to be real. Just saying.
Ferndale Resident October 15, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Can you blame him, with people such as yourself digging through records just to get info on people who post here on the Patch? That's a good example of why I choose to withhold my name from this site.
Robert Bokram October 15, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Yes, Matt, you do appear a bit compulsive here......
Matt Nowaczok October 15, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Just calling a spade a spade. Plus, I am a pretty big dork. :).
Craig Covey October 20, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Actually, meetings between the school board and city council were a great way to coordinate and communicate, started by Mayor Porter ten years ago. They happened for several years, but stopped halfway through my term as mayor. We tried to set up the joint meetings, but our City Clerk had no luck in getting the school board to schedule one with us in 2009 or 2010. We ought to bring those annual meetings back next year.
Craig Covey October 20, 2012 at 04:35 PM
We like you Matt...and you are not a dork....LOL

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