Conspiracy Theory or Accountability?
Tuesday's board meeting was um, interesting. I freely admit that it's great to hear Phil attempt to answer resident concerns in his opening comments, but once the meeting devolved into the school yard equivalent of "I know you are but what am I?" I have to tell you that of the board of 7 people only three of them stood out as being calm and mostly adults.
I want to compliment Brian Augustine for his closing comments regarding his fellow trustee behavior. I agree with him that Trustees should not be interrupting each other; they are actually required to be respectful based on Robert's Rules and no Trustee should ever be told to "be quiet" (Doug Ulrich to Amy Odom) nor should there be shouting moves to close the meeting when there are trustees still speaking. Equally so, trustees need to stop trying to discredit each other by using the Springer Style 'I'll reveal your email' tactic as if everyone doesn't know that Bryan Younge can be overly passionate and Ryan Berman is going to try to twist his words to vilify him.
But of all the things the trustees need to stop trying to shame residents for attempting to get to the bottom of what is going on. I heard an inflammatory term thrown about that residents are promoting conspiracy theories, including saying that I appear to be aggressively promoting said conspiracy theories. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As with so many things, I feel that our majority board choses words that attempt to undermine their critics without regard to what those words mean. We've heard them throw the word harassment around and I've walked through how they are actually doing the harassing -- especially the numerous requests to 'make this go away' if Bryan and/or Amy would resign. So, what exactly is a conspiracy theory versus a demand for accountability?
A conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy of a sinister and powerful groups, often political in motivation, when other are explanations that are more probable. Don't confuse this very negative term with conspiracy which is 'actual covert plots planned and/or carried out by two or more people.'
An example of a conspiracy theory would be if one were to declare that the firing, publicly trashing, and subsequently attempting to Brady Listing our Police Chief was a well orchestrated plan to be able to discredit the Chief when he will ultimately have to testify to what he witnessed in the assault charges that could still be filed against Phil for chest bumping Bryan Younge on May 4th. This conspiracy theory could be expanded that there may be other connections to open cases against either our Trustees or their friends who have had a checkered past with the police. No one is saying that -- but that is what a conspiracy theory is. Another conspiracy theory that is actually being pushed is that the residents (along with a Trustee) are trying to bring down the village in FOIA requests -- the basis of this has been proven untrue and yet, Mr. Berman will not stop trying to convince the public of this theory.
In sharp contrast, a conspiracy is when our Village Attorney advises the Trustees to use their personal email addresses in order to avoid the reach of FOIA. A conspiracy is when our CAO works closely with the legal team to build a case against long term, highly valued employees -- including sending a copy of what seems to be every email said employee sends the CAO to the lawyer.
But my concern is that the majority board does not understand, or worse, refuses to acknowledge that the residents are actually demanding accountability for the actions and decisions made by this board and the administration they support. It is important for them to listen to residents, even their staunchest critics, and understand that the questions being asked; the FOIAs being demanded, are because the public has lost faith in the board's ability to make decisions in the best interest of the village as a whole. We residents will hold the board, all of the board, accountable for their decisions. This is where they have two choices -- 1) step up and fully explain things or 2) work on their resignation or concession speeches.