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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Prior Lake Paper Calls on Controversial School Board Member Chris Lind to Resign

Lind sounds like Michele Bachmann. Prior Lake American:

Back in our Nov. 17 issue, we criticized residents calling for Chris Lind’s resignation as a Prior Lake-Savage Area School Board member-elect. We did so because Lind, no matter how people feel about him, won a seat on the board fair and square in a public election.

But that was before Lind threatened to sue the school district for his June 18, 2007 termination as a district employee. The news came last week that Lind’s attorney, David Thompson, had served the district with a notice-of-claim letter demanding a monetary settlement for damages.

We seriously question whether Lind can be an effective leader on the School Board in a district he plans to sue.

As we wrote in that Nov. 17 editorial, Lind will become an elected official when he takes the oath of office at the Monday, Jan. 14 board meeting. Since his election, this newspaper’s staff and many others in the community have called on Lind to reach out in an open, direct manner, explaining the circumstances of his firing. He has not done so, and now, with news of his planned lawsuit against the district, he presumably cannot.

As a result, Lind won’t be able to serve both himself and the school district. Therefore, we urge Lind to reconsider his plans to take office.

By all appearances, Lind has not broken the law and is simply doing what he has the legal right to do. However, he has given the impression that he’s content to allow speculation about his circumstances to divide this community – not exactly what most people would expect from an elected official.

We wonder how Lind could sit quietly in his seat Monday night when the School Board discusses, in open forum, his request for a monetary settlement. But that’s what he’ll have to do.

The irony of Lind’s situation – as attorneys have made clear – is that if he chooses to file an official suit against the district, his personnel file and any school district documents regarding Lind’s termination will become public.

The further irony is that, whether the circumstances of Lind’s firing are made public or forever shielded from the community’s view, Lind will find it very difficult to do what he claims to have set out to do by running for School Board.

As Lind said in our Oct. 27 candidate Q & A, “I believe in being open, honest and specific so you know what I believe.”

We hope he abides by that promise.

It sounds like he doesn't. Comments are quite heated.

One of his defenders posted this:

Frogsong posts: KRaM A good journalist will...
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A good journalist will include the "who, what, where, when, why and how" in the lead of a story, so "why, why, why, why, why" doesn't cut it with me.

Why? Why is Mr. Chris Lind being wrongly persecuted to the point that he is unable to support his wife and four children?

Why? Why have misinformation, half truths, distorted "facts", out-right lies and emotional responses to these things been so emphasized in our local newspapers and those of our neighboring school districts, as well as Minneapolis and St.Paul?

Why? Why do people believe only one side of a story without getting down to the truth?

Why? Why do people believe outrageous rumors about what Mr. Lind has been accused rather than search out the truth?

Why? Why do people not understand that the school district has treated Mr. Lind not only unfairly, but illegally?

One cable network calls its news "Fair and Balanced" but in my opinion it is not fair nor balanced. I had hoped that the newspapers in our communities would be fair and balanced but in my opinion they often have been neither. Some examples are below.

FALSEHOOD: Mr. Lind refused to be on the finance committe of the school board even though he campaigned partially on finances.
TRUTH: Mr. Lind accepted the position on the finance committee and also asked to be on the curriculum and building committees.
FALSEHOOD: Mr. Lind was accused of several inappropriate actions that led to his dismissal.
TRUTH: Mr. Lind was accused of three incidents.
FALSEHOOD:According to many, Dr. Westerhaus stated the main reason he resigned is because Mr. Lind was elected and caused the levy and referendum to fail.
TRUTH: Mr. Lind was elected with over 3000 votes and was 4th in a list of 8 candidates.
The levy and referendum failed because local issues are the only way people can protest high taxes and wasteful spending, or not being satisfied with something. Dr. Westerhaus unfortunately was not of the same mentality as Minnesota's (and South Dakota's) Hubert Horatio Humphey "who did not turn away after defeat". (Quote from the Opinion Exchange section of the "Minneapolis Star Tribune" on Sunday January 13.) Our school district has a history of many levies and referenda being defeated up to three times before being passed. In addition to this, Mr. Lind has only 1 of 7 votes on the school board and Dr. Westerhaus, who has been such a successful superintendent, evidentally felt that was a threat to him and his record. How unfortunate for our district!
FALSEHOOD: Our local newspapers are unbiased.
TRUTH: If so, why was the letter supporting Mr. Lind from a girl who is on the student council at Prior Lake High School published but not put online like letters of those who have opposed and in many instances, slandered Mr. Lind?
FALSEHOOD: Mr. Lind ridiculed a girl by telling her it was "National Pick On Lesbian Day".
TRUTH: The girl has written a noterized letter stating that she was not rediculed as was a part of the "joke". It may have been a foolish thing for Mr. Lind to say but in light of the student involved it was not serious. It became "serious" when someone supposedly heard Mr. Lind's part of the conversation,and supposedly reported it to Mr. Massura and Mr. Massura recorded this heresay information.
FALSEHOOD: Mr. Lind spoke of celibacy with a child.
TRUTH: When approached by a young man who had graduated two years previously and who asked Mr. Lind about Biblical perspectives on celebicy, Mr. Lind spoke of St. Paul's gift from God to be able to be celibate if one wanted to, or was expected to be so.
FALSEHOOD: Mr. Lind spoke of bi-sexuality with a child.
TRUTH: The child was an upper-classman who asked what to do because his girl friend was bi-sexual. The conversation was limited because Mr. Lind evidentally was told by the boy that he was going to break up with his girl friend any way, so Mr. Lind did not even have to answer the question.
FALSEHOOD: Mr. Lind has threatened to sue the school district for a six figure amount.
TRUTH: No amount was stated in the letter asking for mediation. Mr. Lind is only trying to clear his name so he can support his family.
FALSEHOOD: Parents are informed about their children's activities and classes in our schools.
TRUTH: Those young people who are in need of council because of sexual concerns can be a part of the GLTB(Q) group, which I heard is called a "class" without their parents knowledge or permission. Girls who become pregnant have been counseled and even had arrangements made by school employees for their abortions without parental knowledge.
FALSEHOOD: Mr. Lind is inappropriate in his relationships with students and other young people.
TRUTH: Mr. Lind tells those who come to him and ask his opinion about Biblical perspective on issues of sexuality responds to them in love and Biblical passages, which many of us believe are the infallible TRUTH of God. Therefore young people are given a choice of what to believe. Similar questions may be about the theory of evolution and the theory of Intelligent Design and so students are given choices to consider. I thought "choice" was very important in our society!

The battle in our community today is not only about Mr. Lind, Dr. Westerhaus and Mr. Massurus and those of differing opinions. It is a battle of truth versus lies, rumors and distorted facts. Perhaps, I dare say, it is even a battle between Love and Hatred. If God is Love, as His Word states, who is Hatred? A law of physics says that for every reality their is an opposite.

The misinformed, gullible and ignorant people are not Hatred. They are perhaps deceived. It remains to be judged which camp I am in. In which are you?

Frogsong, From your post,...
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From your post, you obviously have access to sources that are beyond what is available to the general public. I have yet to see the exact specifics for which Mr. Lind was disiplined - which is at the start of this entire controversy. If you don't, then your statements are as much conjecture as the rest of the statements that have been made in the public discourse and therefore simply add to the ongoing controversy.

Until Mr. Lind files a lawsuit (and the records become available to the public) or Mr. Lind voluntarily releases his records, conjecture is all that can occur.

Mr. Lind - search your heart and come to a decision. End this controversy one way or the other. Either file and get on with the lawsuit, or release the records so the truth can come out. If you were truly wronged, then you deserve compensation for damages. If not, then consider how this controversy is affecting the children and the school district for whom you have just sworn to serve in the best interest.

Another Chris Lind supporter disagrees:

Well stated frogsong! Chris Lind has remained silent as not to have any statements taken out of context by our media who thrive on creating controversy and slanting a story to fit their agenda. What is taking place in Prior Lake is a form of "Bullying or Mobbing", which the school district forbids but is guilty of by Westerhaus and Massaros.

A group of the Stand by Me committee have continued to degrade Mr. Lind in the newspapers and media. Their agenda was to publically degrade Mr Lind and force him to quit. They then would be able to have Westerhaus stay. Is Westerhaus a part of this plan? Mr Lind is not a quitter like Westerhaus and has not allowed the media and special interest groups to manipulate him. The real truth may come out in the courtroom with witnesses and not a con-******ed report from an HR person and his attorney sidekick. Both of those administrators should be fired by the board for poor decisions which may cost this district plenty! I hope Mr Lind and his attorney takes them to court!

Here is the website about "Bullying and Mobbing". Think about all the the degrading articles, emails, phone calls, and public humiliation this group and newspaper has put Mr.Lind through.

The word "mobbing" denotes a behavior by coworkers, superiors or subordinates, who attack a colleague's dignity, integrity, and competence, repeatedly, over a number of weeks, months, or even years. A person is being subjected to emotional abuse, subtly or bluntly, often falsely accused of wrongdoing, and is persistently humiliated. Dr. Heinz Leymann, a psychologist and medical scientist, pioneered the research about this workplace issue in Sweden in the early 80s. He identified the behavior as mobbing and described it as "psychological terror" involving "hostile and unethical communication directed in a systematic way by one or a few individuals mainly towards one individual." Mobbing is emotional abuse committed directly or indirectly by one or a group of co-workers directed at anybody. People who have been affected by mobbing are suffering immensely. The social and economic impact of the mobbing syndrome has yet to be measured in quantitative terms. Mobbing can only persist as long as it is allowed to persist. Organizational leadership plays the most important part in its prevention. By enforcing decency, civility, and high ethical standards in the workplace and by creating a nourishing environment, bullying and mobbing will not surface.

I do believe after this is all said and done this community will owe Mr. Lind a public apology!

Submitted by PLsince1976 on January 14, 2008 - 7:12pm.

The Prior Lake American makes it clear they have regularly contacted Lind for comment:

For the record, the Prior Lake American has repeatedly attempted to get Chris Lind to speak with us for the stories we've published. He has refused, and continues to refuse, to do so.

Submitted by Lori Carlson on January 14, 2008 - 7:44pm.

Take home message. Chris Lind is an embarrassment to Prior Lake.


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