By many accounts Saratoga Springs School Board candidate John Brueggemann provided the most polished presentation at the League of Women Voters forum Wednesday night. In a venue that provided an unthreatening vehicle for presenting oneself, he excelled. I expect that he drew effectively on his years as a professor at Skidmore.
A closer look at the substance of his public record continues to raise troubling questions, however.
Central to Dr. Brueggemann’s narrative is his repeated assertion that his positions are based upon the sound advice of experts.
In an earlier post I reported that his Facebook page stated that
“I take comfort in the fact that our protocols are aligned with the recommendations of the New York State Insurance Reciprocals which insures some half the schools in the state. It is their considered view that Grounds Monitors should not be re-armed.”
This statement is simply false. There is no other way to fairly characterize it. At a public forum on safety in the schools, the representative of the insurance company told the audience:
“Whether they do or don’t, is a question for the community and the school board, and as a risk manager, I’m going (to) lean either way.“
It is important to acknowledge that the insurance representative emphasized that the school system would need to carefully assess how to address the need for training the monitors first.
All of this was covered in an earlier post on this blog, but what is extremely disturbing is that as of today (May 10), weeks after this misrepresentation was brought to Dr. Brueggemann’s attention, the erroneous information remains on his Facebook page.
It is not as though this were some minor technicality, it is central to his position that the monitors not be re-armed. I find it inexplicable that he not only has failed to acknowledge his original error but that he continues to promote it. After all, Dr. Brueggemann is a professor of sociology who professionally operates in an environment in which fastidious accuracy is a prerequisite.
This is not the only example of his ignoring critical information central to his repeated claim that his position opposing the re-arming of the monitors has the support of experts.
In many ways, just as disturbing has been his omission of the testimony given on behalf of the Saratoga Springs Police Department.
I would ask the reader: who would have greater insight into the resources necessary to provide protection to the schools than the police department that is charged with that responsibility? Assistant Chief John Catone advised the audience at a School Board meeting where Dr. Brueggemann was present, that he viewed the support of armed monitors at the schools as essential in order to maximize the ability to respond to a threat at the schools.
Now I am sympathetic to the position that any expert advice should be considered with some skepticism and weighed against other relevant information. The problem in this case is that Dr. Brueggemann has inexplicably not even acknowledged that this advice was given.
Again, it is hard to understand how a scholar with Dr. Brueggemann’s credentials can assert that all the professional advice supports his position when he is fully aware of the police department’s advice which counters his position.
Which brings me to what I find in many ways the most disturbing aspect of how Dr. Brueggemann has performed in this campaign. Dr. Brueggemann not only ignores these kinds of troubling facts, but he refuses to respond to legitimate inquiries about these omissions.
One of the most important aspects of being on the School Board is the willingness to engage with citizens who may be critical of decisions that a board member may make. Citizens do not have license to be rude or offensive in questioning the members of the School Board, and Dr. Brueggemann has every right to dismiss someone who behaves offensively to him. What he should not do, as a member of the School Board, though, is refuse to address valid questions put to him that are of significant importance to the community.
I have written several times to Dr. Brueggemann with concerns. While Dr. Brueggemann cannot be compelled to answer such questions, one would have expected at least a courteous acknowledgement. One might expect this, but in Dr. Brueggemann’s case one would be disappointed.
So I am using this blog to make a courteous request of Dr. Brueggemann.
I am offering him the opportunity to publish his unedited answers to the following questions on this website. My three questions are:
1. Why have you not corrected your Facebook page to accurately present the position of the representative of the district’s insurance company regarding the re-arming of the monitors?
2. In asserting that your position that the monitors should not be re-armed is based on the advice of professionals, why have you not acknowledged that the police department does not support this?
3. Assistant Police Chief Catone was quite specific in laying out the reasons he believes the monitors should be re-armed. Would you please address the points he has made.
As indicated by the title of this blog, I find it deeply troubling that Dr. Brueggemann appears to be unwilling or unable to address critical issues regarding his platform. I am hoping that he will show me and the public that my criticisms are unfounded by taking up my offer and responding to the above questions. I hope that he will respond in the constructive spirit that has prompted my questions.