It isn't pretty for Wenmark:
Minnetonka school board member's education murky
Questions have been raised about how a veteran Minnetonka school board member has portrayed his past affiliation with the U.S. Naval Academy.
By Patrice Relerford, Star Tribune
Last update: November 01, 2007 – 2:18 PM
Less than a week before the Nov. 6 elections, veteran Minnetonka school board member Bill Wenmark is at the center of a controversy about how he has portrayed his affiliation with the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Critics have cited material listed on his website, since clarified, and a two-year-old incident at a board meeting where Wenmark referred to the academy as "my alma mater" when he was congratulating a local midshipman for his accomplishments.
Wenmark acknowledges that he never was a student at Annapolis. He said in an interview Tuesday that "alma mater" was merely a term he used to describe his affiliation with the academy when he worked as a noncommissioned officer and senior corpsman at the Naval Academy hospital.
"I was making a compliment to a friend of mine at a board meeting," Wenmark said. "I slipped on a word."
Slipped on a word? I never heard that expression before.
Wenmark, a certified respiratory therapist, served in the U.S. Military from 1966 to 1970, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. He was first elected to the Minnetonka board in 1999 and was reelected in 2003.
His website, billwenmark. net, until recently listed in his résumé, under "Education,"United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland," without further explanation. It now lists, under a heading for "Military Service and Education, 1966-70": "United States Naval Academy Hospital/Clinic, Annapolis, Md."
The questions about his affiliation with the Naval Academy first arose in a local weekly newspaper story about the upcoming elections.
Wenmark and Cal Litsey are the only school board incumbents running for reelection this fall; incumbents Judy Erdahl and Peggy Stefan didn't seek reelection. Challengers Doug Anderson, Alice Everett, Paul Luehr, Lisa Wagner and Karen Walkowski also are campaigning for the four board seats up for election.
Wenmark isn't too happy with the scrutiny:
'Board members hate me'
"All of this is a hit piece," Wenmark said in a telephone interview with the Star Tribune. "This is all about taking down Bill Wenmark.
"My current school board members hate me and they want me off the board."
Wenmark has been at odds with fellow board members on some major issues during his time on the board.
In 2005, he joined former board member Dave Eaton and some residents in criticizing the district's International Baccalaureate (IB) program and arguing for it to be cut during a round of budget reductions. IB proponents noted that Wenmark had joined in a unanimous vote to approve the program just two years earlier.
The strib fails to mention that Wenmark also joined with Dave Eaton pushing for creationism to be taught in the Minnetonka public schools under the guise of "teaching the controversy."
The Strib also noted his poor attendance record:
He also has faced criticism for his attendance record.
Judy Budreau of Excelsior is a co-founder of Tonka Focus, a school watchdog group she and other residents started about two years ago. The group's records show Wenmark attended 68 percent of the board's meetings from Jan. 1-Oct. 4, the lowest rate of any member.
Erdahl, the board chairwoman, said she had no part in criticizing Wenmark's comments about his ties with the Naval Academy. But she did note how Wenmark had missed several key votes this year as well as other board discussions.
"Bill has some wonderful talents and he does a lot of good," Erdahl said. "But his attendance has been an issue."
Wenmark said he's missed meetings for business and personal reasons but that he's committed to the school board.
"This is a lot [of] to-do about nothing," he said. "Let's talk about public education."
Tonka Focus did a community service by documenting board member attendance records. This is valuable information for voters.