Friday, January 23, 2015
Janesville School District Insiders Retaliate Against Whistleblower, Scandal Spreads
Get out your biggest box of popcorn and pull up your most comfortable easy chair because the Janesville school administration cover-up exposed by a union representative while performing a routine check of school board candidate petitions just turned deeply political.
According to this posting at the Janesville Community Facebook page, Janesville school District Board Commissioner Bill Sodemann has filed a Freedom of Information Request on Carla Quirk, a candidate for Janesville School Board. Apparently, because Quirk's nomination petition checked out OK, Sodemann views her as the whistleblower's candidate and therefore, the opposition. Whatever opposition he is opposing. It seems.
From my perch, Sodemann's move also breaks the local ice that was beginning to stack up against the union rep, Dennis Hughes, who some have viewed, unfairly I must add, as an outsider looking to cause trouble in Janesville when he discovered two school candidate nomination petitions were improper.
Now, Sodemann has turned Hughes discovery and report inward within Janesville's political power structures in school district and county government, perhaps as a diversion to remove scrutiny from Superintendent Karen Schulte or to further damage the whistleblower's integrity - or both.
As part of his FOIA search request, Sodemann names names that read like the board roster of the Rock County Democratic Party. No known area republicans were on his target list. But because of Sodemann's one-sided partisan approach omitting republicans, any contacts Quirk may have had with republicans will be screened out from his FOIA inquiry. So much for seeking full disclosure.
There is also a small but interesting parallel one could draw from Sodemann's attempt to squelch the whistleblower, to the defense used by the right-wing special interest, Club For Growth, against the state's investigation into Scott Walker's illegal campaign activities.
Sodemann it would appear, is attempting to shut down "conservative" or "liberal" free speech by seeking the private emails of a public sector worker without just cause, as opposed to the mountains of evidence pointing to criminal activity from Walker's first John Doe investigation. No relationship of course, but an interesting note I thought worth mentioning.
Whatever his deeper intentions, Sodemann's actions appear first as a vindictive political retaliatory strike against the union rep's recent discovery of obstruction and possible cover-up at school administrative offices and not as some random citizen's inquiry to keep things honest as written up by the Janesville Gazette.
That's not all. In what appears as the second leg of the district's two-pronged approach to further degrade the whistleblower, the clerk who originally accepted the nomination papers of the four candidates running for the school board, only to have two rejected later after thorough inspection, has filed a restraining order against the representative.
The Janesville school board will hold a regular meeting this Tuesday night. The union representative plans to attend and hopes the board will address Superintendent Schulte's executive involvement and conduct in the apparent cover-up. This could get more interesting.
Personally, I find the school board commissioner's and the clerk's action reflexive of the state's top-down divisiveness and regressive direction set by none other than Gov. Scott Walker. Wisconsin missed a great opportunity in November to turn the page on Scott Walker and rid itself of his cynical punitive style of "collaboration." Instead, we have political cold war tactics digging itself deeper in Wisconsin communities for the long term.
Welcome to the new normal.
Posted by Lou Kaye at 9:54 AM