(W)oe be upon you if you supported my opponent.
You just lost your seat at the table! Just saying!
There's this thing FCPS board member Doug Barnett does. It shows up every once in a while.
I first saw it during the FCPS Board candidate's debate in 2010 when I wrote:
Barnett may be a no-nonsense guy - I don't know - but he also has an unusual interpersonal affect. In the little bit of the debate I saw, I picked up on (what appeared to be) a good degree of self-satisfaction. I wonder how people will respond to him. I do think he will question and challenge Stu on some issues. I'd like to know that his heart is in the right place.Barnett responded positively to the criticism even volunteering that his wife saw the same thing I picked up on.
I even found your critique of my performance during the public forum to be fair after I watched it for myself. In fact, my wife said the same thing you did (now, from her, that stung a little bit!). I made some adjustments to my style (i.e., I got out of lawyer-mode) after that and I think it made me a better candidate.I didn't mention it at the time, but I saw it again, immediately following his delivery of a zinger to Mike Scanlon during a May board meeting. It, indeed, seemed to be tied to the emotion of the moment and also seemed to have a little bit of "I'll show you" in it. As I recall, the video cuts off just before he tosses his water bottle across the floor.
Over the weekend, Barnett apologized for, what I took to be, a bit more of the same - an intemperate and unfiltered emotional response to...something. But what? After all, Barnett won!
Why choose this moment to rhetorically disenfranchise those he represents - whether they voted for him or not?
He told the Herald-Leader that, "I realized my post was inappropriate" but for some reason his Facebook statement indicated apologies to those who may have misinterpreted what he wrote. A plain reading of the statement should be worry enough, despite any misinterpretations by Cleveland's 3,915 District 2 supporters.
I do not know what criticisms Barnett was responding to. In today's political climate, there must surely have been something. But I must say that in conversations with my colleague Roger Cleveland, I never once heard him disparage Barnett, despite having had ample opportunity to do so.
Now in the aftermath of a big win, this unforced error gives solace to H-L columnist Merlene Davis as well as the Herald-Leader editorial board for their endorsement of Cleveland. Davis had apparently seen the same thing I did, inferring it was a childish display, when following Barnett's urging defeat of the school district budget,
Barnett then rocked back in his chair and received applause from the audience.Since the gaffe followed the election, Barnett has the opportunity to right the ship - over time. He has already begun to reach out to those constituents he most likely offended, and in whom he raised suspicion. But, in the short term, this self-inflicted wound takes the shine off what I'm sure Barnett hoped would be a triumphant return to the board room.
Contrition is the order of the day.
This from the Herald-Leader:
Fayette school board member apologizes for Facebook post
that promised 'woe' to supporters of election opponent
Re-elected Fayette County Public Schools board member Doug Barnett on Sunday apologized for a post he made on his Facebook page that said he would not consider any superintendent candidate who supported his opponent in Tuesday's general election.
Barnett's comments, posted at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, after Superintendent Tom Shelton announced his resignation to take the executive director's post at the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, said,
"Well ... ... I hope your afternoon and evening was more interesting than mine! It appears that we are going to select a new superintendent for FCPS. Allow me to say two things that are non-negotiable: 1) I will NOT consider any candidate who will not improve morale within the district or consider employees as key collaborators; 2) woe be upon you if you supported my opponent. You just lost your seat at the table! Just saying!"
In the election, Barnett, a senior staff attorney in the Kentucky Court of Appeals who was first elected to the board in 2010, defeated Roger Cleveland, an associate professor in the College of Education at Eastern Kentucky University, in the 2nd District. The district covers northern Fayette County.
"I was just blowing off steam," Barnett told the Herald-Leader on Sunday in a telephone interview. "For whatever reason, I typed on Facebook. When I realized my post was inappropriate, I deleted it. Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn't directed at anybody. I was just upset about some of the negative things that had been said about me in the campaign. ... I posted something in anger. It was something I shouldn't have done.
"I am so sorry."
Barnett made similar apologetic comments on his Facebook page Saturday.
"Recently, I posted something on this page that may have been misinterpreted by some," the post said. " If you were offended, I apologize to you. I didn't appreciate some aspects of my opponent's campaign and I posted something in anger. Nothing more than that. I have removed the post. I am looking forward to a very open, transparent and inclusive search for a new superintendent."
Barnett said Sunday he would consider all candidates.
"Honestly, I was just trying to gloat a little and that backfired. I didn't mean anything by it," Barnett said. He said the story should not be about him "posting something stupid on Facebook. It needs to be about us finding and attracting the best candidate for Fayette County schools."
Cleveland told the Herald-Leader in an email Sunday that he did not think Barnett's post was an accident. "It was not misinterpreted," Cleveland wrote. "He said exactly what he meant. This is consistent with his Facebook postings and emails before, during and after the election. I did not state anything negative during the campaign race.
"Mr. Barnett needs to understand that the board seat does not belong to him, it belongs to the thousands of stakeholders in District 2. Whether they voted for him or not, they still deserve voice. The election is over; his attention should be on student achievement."
Fayette Board Chairman John Price said Sunday that he expected that Barnett will make the best decision for the students in Fayette County Public Schools.
"As Board Chair, I am disappointed in the post and I am appreciative that it has been removed. I would expect that Mr. Barnett would be willing to listen to any constituent and act to do what is best for our students."
Price said the board would begin discussing the search for a new superintendent on Monday, when the school board has a planning meeting. Shelton's last work day is Dec. 12.
No potential candidates have been identified publicly.
Cleveland said he had no intention of applying for the position.
"I will say this: If the school board does not work collaboratively and if all school board members do not embrace equity, we will be looking for another superintendent in another three years," Cleveland said.