The rules appear to be targeted at board member Wendy Mazer, a conservative elected last May. Mazer endorsed State Representative Jack Hoogendyk in the primary last August. She has also been a critic of the some policies of the board, and has questioned the district's International Baccalaureate program.
Taking the proposed norms one by one:
Board members should not use their board titles when they endorse political candidates because the press and the broader public will assume one board member speaks on behalf of the entire board.Board members evidently don't think much of the level of education of the general public.
A member should defer all press questions to board or district leadership if they think their comments could create ``confusion or controversy.''We can't have any disagreement, can we?
Even if a member voted against the majority, the member should voice support for the board's decision when speaking with the public.They should lie to their constituents?
Mazer had many defenders. One was Jim Rodbard of the ACLU, who was surprisingly right on throughout both stories. Other defenders included many conservatives:
District parents Melanie Kurdys and Mark Anthony Martin, Portage City Councilwoman Margaret O'Brien, Kalamazoo City Commissioner Mary Balkema, and Republican County Commissioners Nasim Ansari and John Zull also criticized the norms or voiced support for Mazer. No members of the public spoke in support of the rules.This sums up the story well:
In an earlier interview, Mazer said she was surprised that none of the board members contacted her after a Gazette reporter questioned them on whether the conduct rules were aimed at her. Mazer was elected in May and is widely considered more conservative than other trustees. Portage City Councilwoman Margaret O'Brien has said she believes Mazer was targeted for her conservatism and for questioning the district administration.