Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The People Will Speak

 

By Gretchen Garrity

To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”Frederick Douglass

There is a concerted effort across the United States to quash free speech. In Christian County, the effort is being seen in library and school board meetings with increasing restrictions on what people can say or do during public meetings.

From a 2015 Springfield News-Leader article regarding public comments during open meetings:

“Missouri's Sunshine Law, which requires that most government meetings and records be open to the public, surprisingly says nothing about requiring public comment. Likewise, state statutes generally mandate that cities discuss and vote on new ordinances during open meetings, but don't specifically require that citizens be allowed to speak.”

Perhaps legislators should take another look at the statutes and ensure the right of the public to speak when the people’s business is being discussed and decided by their elected officials.

To not make specific provision for the right of the public to comment during open meetings is to give officials too much discretion over free speech rights. It encourages elected and appointed officials to restrict free speech when their actions are not in concert with the public.

The Christian County Library Board of Trustees is one example. Citizens have been addressing the board for nearly a year about the library’s policy of allowing access to sexually explicit and pornographic books in the children and teen sections.

While citizens are increasingly diligent about challenging the inappropriate books and informing the board of the issue, little headway has been made beyond relocating a book or two, and removing one. The library staff seems adamant that books containing gender ideology, critical race theory, and age-inappropriate introductions to sexuality should be accessible to children.

At the September 26, 2023 board of trustee meeting, Board President Allyson Tuckness, presented a new policy that included restrictions such as “no clapping, no responding, no vocal anything from the audience.” Additionally, Tuckness said if there was any such disturbance the meeting would be immediately adjourned.

The irony is not lost that while children and teens are being used in a “free speech” ploy by organizations like the American Library Association (ALA) and its numerous spin-offs, parents and citizens are having their right to comment on that agenda restricted at library meetings.

This is a direct result of the pressure the library board and staff are feeling from an increasingly alienated public. Further restricting public comment, even to the point of banning any kind of vocalizing from the “audience” as Tuckness refers to citizens, will not deter the public from exercising their free speech.

Dr. Naomi Wolf has written an essay titled “Neo-Marxism and the End of Language” in which she argues that the “changes I see being introduced into English speech in America, are designed to kill off the practices and assumptions of individual freedom and responsive representation that have also been embedded for generations in us as a people.”

While her essay deals primarily with how Marxists are changing the meanings of words and how those words are used in order to suppress free expression, she also mentions this is having a chilling effect on the ability of citizens to comment in exchanges with our elected representatives.

Dr. Wolf writes, “There is a change in how dialogue is being conducted at a public level. Questions are being dissevered from answers and we are being propagandized that that is ok. A feature of the Biden era is that the Western notion that in a representative democracy, your elected officials have to answer you, or at least, have to appear to do so, is being demonstrated to be dead.”

Further on, Wolf says, Questions in public from the public to “officialdom,” or to elites, will soon feel theoretical, cosmetic, or purely rhetorical. Questions themselves will be drained of the positive social valence that they have had in the West. As in any totalitarian system, we will conclude: why even bother asking?”

The public comment policy that is read at each library board of trustee meeting states, As a general rule, the Board will not respond to public comments at the time they are made. The Board may ask clarifying questions, comment, or take action at their discretion. Questions for staff about library operations should be made during normal business hours.”

In essence, a county commission-appointed public body is telling taxpaying citizens they are above responding to stated concerns unless they choose to do so.

At the October 24, 2023 board of trustee meeting, Rep. Jamie Gragg ably contested the board president’s unilateral changing of library policy regarding public comments. (See here.)

When some public officials set themselves above the people, the people will respond, either via their elected representatives or through their own resourcefulness.

@right2winozarks NO MORE APPLAUSE OR EMOTIONS AT ANY MEETINGS!!!!BECAUSE SHE SAID SO. #christiancounty #missouri ♬ Shh! be quiet…! Song loop of thief image - Hiraoka

Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Fake News Weighs In



 

By Gretchen Garrity

It looks like the Ozark School Board has called on their friends in the media after Right to Win Ozarks published an article detailing recent events at the Oct. 19, 2023 school board meeting. Since the News-Leader does not have pictures of the meeting and instead used a photo from the poorly-attended Oct. 10 town hall, it would seem the news outlet was not in attendance.

According to Riley in her published article, "parents and community members have shouted, talked out of turn, mocked the board and chanted "D-E-I" -- an acronym for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts -- or "D-I-E" in meetings."

The article goes on to say "Board members admitted they were not sure if "D-I-E" was just a transposed version of the DEI acronym or a threat, but noted it was unsettling for others in the audience." 🙄

One would hope that the school board and the News-Leader would identify those who chanted "D-I-E" in the meetings. In the interests of truth, please do. It should be a relatively easy thing to do since the board has recently been recording and archiving all the meetings.

Board member Amber Bryant is "demanding" respect. A two-way street when "patrons," as the school district refers to taxpaying residents and parents, are involved. "How many times have we been in these meetings since I've been on the board when people are talking and people are saying things that are rude?" she was quoted as saying.

A school board meeting is not a classroom. It is the local forum of the republic and its elected representatives, working out how best to conduct the business of the school district. Just ask Sen. Mike Moon, who was taken to task by a constituent at a recent work-study meeting of the County Commission. He listened quietly and managed to not call the police in to haul off the resident. In other words, he knows how to govern.

While Riley's apologia of the Ozark School Board mentions the Oct. 19-approved "rules of order for patron participation," she does not address that there was not a public reading of them at the meeting, nor does she say at what point in the meeting the rules were approved and publicly posted.

Let's move on. 

Board member Patty Quessenberry is quoted as saying the "primary purpose of a school board's work session or business meeting is to conduct the public business in an orderly and efficient manner." 

I wonder how many "patrons" are aware that these meetings can be marathon endeavors, the Oct. 19 public portion beginning around 3:35 p.m. and ending around 9:15 p.m. That a public business meeting, with very few public comments, can last over five hours is not a testament to efficiency.

Amber Bryant
Ozark School Board Member Amber Bryant

Later in the article, board member Amber Bryant states the "...board has received complaints about disruptions and "cuss words" from others in the meetings."

If either the Ozark School Board or the News-Leader is unwilling to name who is making complaints or cussing and causing disruptions, then one can only surmise that the paper is publishing what is termed hearsay. And it should be immediately discounted.

One of the few helpful sentences in the article states, "The board tweaked the list during the Thursday meeting and the final version has not yet been posted."

Very, very problematic since that new final version not yet posted was used to remove a taxpaying citizen from the meeting.

One last point. A board member is recorded as saying the school board agreed they heard three outbursts. The comment is on the published video. That is very interesting, since I have almost three-and-a-half hours of audio recording that shows almost complete silence except for the moment when the board voted not to table the agenda item with the student data sharing/agreement (which you can read about here).

If any board member would like to listen to the recording, they can contact me and I will play it for them.

Updated 10/23.

Nanny State School Board's New Rules!

 

 

@right2winozarks #missouri #schoolboardmeetings #christiancounty #ozark #ozarkschool #aliceinwonderland #rabbitholeisdeeeep #rabbithole #redqueen ♬ The Mad Tea Party - The Unbirthday Song (From "Alice In Wonderland") - Karaoke Version - Urock Karaoke

Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Art of Decorum

 

Oct. 19, 2023 OSD board meeting

By Gretchen Garrity

A simple definition of communication can be expressed as the act of exchanging information and ideas through verbal or written means. It implies a two-way exchange. It doesn’t have to be agreeable--disagreement is allowed--but the process of communicating should include a give-and-take with equitable footing for both parties.

At the October 19, 2023 Ozark School Board Meeting, the definition of “full and open communication” as expressed in their Policy BDDH-1 Public Participation at Board Meetings means something entirely different.

Let’s keep in mind that the taxpaying voters in Ozark elect the members of the Ozark School Board to represent their interests regarding the education of Ozark children and the governance of the school district.

Thursday night, a citizen was removed from the meeting for merely murmuring from her seat when the school board discussed renewing a data agreement that gives students’ PII (Personal Identifiable Information) to both DESE (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education), and a third-party entity, NWEA.

That the data agreement and data transfer has been ongoing for many years is an important point.

Have parents authorized or have they been properly informed about the amount and type of private information sharing of their students and families? Have they been informed of the implications for the children?

The citizen did not jump up and down or scream or yell. She did not stop any board proceedings. She threatened no one. Her two chair neighbors simply corresponded their disappointment. She merely gave voice to her disappointment. Additionally, as the person who was sitting next to her, I also expressed dismay over the decision to give away student data, which can be used to determine a child’s future (see here).

In fact, I was the one who actually said, “Shameful” when the board voted against tabling the issue. This was after another citizen had spoken to the board about the danger of sharing students’ PII. Two board members, Mark Jenkins and Christina Tonsing, voted against signing the agreement until it had been looked into further, however, the motion to table the item was defeated on a 5-2 vote.

Apparently, the school board had also passed a new “decorum” policy earlier in the meeting (the public part of which began soon after 3:30 p.m. and lasted until after 9 p.m.). The targeted citizen was not present at the meeting nor did either of us see the flyer on the door when we arrived at the meeting at approximately 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m, respectively.

 

Sarah Adams Orr
Board President Sarah Adams Orr

 A few hours later the new policy was enforced by a police officer who threatened to arrest the targeted citizen if she did not immediately leave the meeting. It was a shameful spectacle of board overreach.

That the school board is unable to act with the decorum and respect it is insisting others use, and is unable to handle the least criticism speaks volumes about its own fitness to serve the public good.

Instead of forbearance and professionalism, instead of reading the brand new policy in the meeting so that all were aware of the restrictions, they essentially laid a trap for an active citizen who has been questioning the board for some months regarding a variety of issues.

Isn’t the essence of education the ability to communicate knowledge in a way that brings understanding, that fosters confidence in one’s position and the ability to defend it?

The Ozark School Board’s action at the Oct. 19 school board meeting betrayed a weakness of both character and confidence in their decisions. Board President Sarah Adams Orr objected to the “outburst,” and said the offending individual would be removed if there was one more incident. But within a moment or two, the board suddenly took a recess, only to return with a police officer who demanded removal of the citizen. While the video did not catch the whole event, there is almost 3 ½ hours of audio that prove the complete innocence of the ousted citizen. It is clear and conclusive. And the live-stream of the meeting should be released as soon as possible to reflect that.

Patty Quessenberry
Patty Quessenberry, member since 1997

 In my opinion, the citizen was targeted because she is critical of some of the board’s actions and is not afraid to say so. In fact, I would suggest that the new “decorum” policy was approved and hastily posted on the door (it’s hard to say when it was actually posted and I cannot find an online version of it), and then used to justify removing her from the public board meeting.

She was targeted by a school board that is arrogant and unused to being challenged. We have seen this across the nation as citizens begin to take back the political power that resides with the People. If the school board had an ounce of decorum and understanding of their public role, they would publicly apologize to the citizen.

Barring that, they should attend a County Commission meeting to learn how to conduct a public meeting, where the People’s business gets accomplished and freedom of speech is not feared, even if it's disagreeable.



@right2winozarks #ozarks #missouri #schoolboardmeetings #bully #police #sheriff #christiancounty #freedomofspeech ♬ action dramatic cinematic(1308615) - makesound

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Pastors' Panel Planned for Show-Me Coach Conference

 https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEgYFl2iHZqZ2bvbDSx_3SdpeeOxpkIxEiyhNryshvt3vvPEKjHtyKK7M3iX2g9B6hZV_kGiMNW4cdq4dQjIWoF1oP96bW3R5IX74U92UazJH1VQqucsM4ePP5LF9RyiydZwr5hoIpA647mmvQJa07ewBCxIV6yHV8ed6pIJYxXx9RUQSzDr83Oi7m3Erekz/s1302/BBB.jpg

By Gretchen Garrity

 

The upcoming Show-Me Patriot Academy Coach Conference, co-hosted by TPUSA-Faith and Patriot Academy, will feature a midday Pastors' Panel. The panel will field questions from attendees.

Rev. Bill Cook, who founded the Black Robe Regiment, and Pastor Reggie Micham are two of the panel members.

I asked both the following question: "What can pastors do today to help Christians become more engaged in civic life?"

Rev. Cook responded, "Lead by example. Be engaged in civic life themselves. Start thinking of their flocks, as encompassing not only those who attend their services, but as the entire community in which their flocks live and move and have their being. As salt and light, churches are “curators” of their temporal domiciles (communities), stewards of the blessings of Liberty. If local government becomes rotten, the local Church, likely, is failing to its curative (salt and light) mission."

Using the 1828 Webster's Dictionary, Rev. Cook shared the definition of "curator:"

1. One who has the care and superintendence of anything.

2. A guardian appointed by law.

                                                 _____________________________

Pastor Reggie Micham, in ministry for 45 years and who shepherds Fellowship Lighthouse Church in Bruner, is active working with citizens to clear the local library of inappropriate materials accessible by children. His church is very active in the missions field and has been seeing significant growth both locally and abroad. Additionally, the church purchased the property next door, with plans to build outdoor space for the congregation to gather and for children to play.

Pastor Micham said, "In First Timothy, we read where Timothy, who was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem, encouraged his congregation to pray for the civil leaders of their times, and this would hold true for the days we are living in. Along with our prayers, there must be corresponding actions. James 2:26 tells us that faith without works, being alone, is dead.  And Proverbs 29:2 tells us when the godly are in authority the people rejoice, but when the wicked are in power they groan. To do, or say nothing in the face of evil becomes evil itself. Pastors have the responsibility to encourage their congregation to stand up for America, do our part to put God-fearing people in office." 

                                              _____________________________

On his Facebook page, Rev. Cook recently said, ""Disobedience to Tyranny IS obedience to God." Asked to elaborate he said, "Websters 1828 Dictionary of the American English Language defines tyranny as, “Arbitrary or despotic exercise of power; the exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice, or not requisite for the purposes of government.” The first tyrant in human history was the serpent who employed deceit to arrogate to himself, Adam’s seat, and authority, thus acquiring the title, “prince of the power of the air.” (Ephesians 2:2). All tyranny is based in and empowered by deceit; a truth born out throughout history since the fall of man. Obedience to Tyranny, therefore, and obedience to God, are mutually exclusive. While one may act out of ignorance, one cannot be obedient to God while obeying tyranny."

          ____________________________________________________________

 "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God"       _____________________________

A variation on the aphorism,Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God,” proposed as a motto for the Seal of the United States, is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. It wasn’t used for its intended purpose but was appropriated by Thomas Jefferson for use on his personal seal.

"A few articles by my friend William J. Federer make reference to the phrase and may be helpful:


 
 
 
 
The Boston Tea Party: Historical background of a revolutionary event! – AmericanMinute.com-William J. Federer"

 __________________________________________________________________________

For information about the conference and to register, go here

If you would like to sponsor the event, which is free for attendees, go here.

Monday, October 16, 2023

How to "Unravel" Your School District's Finances: Must Watch

 

 

Right now, the penchant of Missouri school districts to ask for ever-increasing tax dollars while there is little to no correlation between student academic scores and monies spent, is becoming a major issue. In fact there is a move to max out bond capacities in several local school districts in April 2024. 

The Missouri Freedom Initiative has it right. "The elephant in the room that districts don't want exposed is a very clear trend of steadily decreasing attendance in most Missouri school districts." Host Patrick Holland says this will be addressed in future videos.

At seven minutes in a tutorial begins that shows Missourians how to access their school districts financials on the DESE website. More than excellent.


Saturday, October 14, 2023

Local Schools are not Locally Governed

 


Over at Ozark Schools Support Team, you will find an analysis of the Missouri School Boards Association's (MSBA) Advocacy Positions for its upcoming annual conference on Nov. 3.

The Delegate Assembly Handbook is a revelation of third-party entity control, including the state and federal governments. The MSBA is a private, non-profit organization, yet it wields immense control over local school districts whose school boards are members of the Association.

The MSBA's advocacy positions push hard for more centralized control of schools. You will read such things as:

"Under Tax Credits on P. 4, the MSBA calls for the capping of "potential reductions of state revenue." They even support suspending "issuance of all tax credits until the statutory funding obligations of the state are met." What do you wanna bet the taxpayer would never see another tax credit implemented?"

And this:

"The MSBA's advocacy positions go on, P. 3. The organization supports giving school districts more options for "raising local revenue, including sales taxes." Yes, they now want a piece of the sales tax pie. I hope local elected officials are aware."

And this:

"In fact, the MSBA thinks school boards should have legal standing when tax abatement programs for residential building projects are considered, to the point that they may "participate in all phases of the process...[and] shall have veto power over their portion of any tax abatement project." 

Go read the shared notes here. You have to read it to believe it.



Wednesday, October 11, 2023

We are the Cows they Milk

 

Apparently, Rep. Dean Plocher has announced for Lieutenant Governor. This is the guy who is promoting the selling of our voter data to a third party, Fireside, which is based in Washington, D.C.

Now they want to give away the voter data software. For background go here and here. Here is the latest. We are the cows they milk:


Tuesday, October 10, 2023