Freshwater: Only a partial recusal

| 14 Comments

Update: Full text of Thompson’s letter below the fold.

In an update to my recent post on Board members recusing themselves from participating in the Board’s decision-making on the Freshwater matter I said that Steve Thompson, Freshwater supporter and former (apparently) fund-raiser, had decided to recuse himself in the same manner as Paula Barone. That now appears to be false. In a Feb 25 story in the Mt. Vernon News we learned that

Board member Steve Thompson also recused himself from discussing and voting on existing litigation.

He did not recuse himself from the administrative proceedings relating to Freshwater’s contract termination.

In other words, he’s planning to participate in the Board’s action on the outcome of the administrative hearing. That puts him squarely back in the conflict of interest soup and puts the Board at considerable litigation risk.

Hat tip to phred on mvohio.net.

The full text of Thompson’s letter partially recusing himself from the Freshwater affair:

Date: February 24, 2010

To: (All members of the Board of Education, listed by name)

Dear Board Members:

I am seeking permission from the Board of Education to remove myself from discussing and voting on existing litigation regarding the Freshwater matter. At this time, I am not recusing myself from administrative proceedings relative to Mr. Freshwater’s contract termination. I will remain fully engaged, as a member of the board, in all other matters.

Thank you, in advance, for your understanding of this request.

Sincerely,

Steve Thompson, Member
Mount Vernon Board of Education

Copies to Superintendent Steve Short and Treasurer Barbara Donohue

He’s left himself a little wiggle room with the “At this time” phrase, which echoes that in Paula Barone’s letter recusing herself, but it seems clear that in spite of his significantly greater ethical problems he intends to participate in the Board’s actions regarding the referee’s recommendation based on the evidence heard in the administrative hearing.

His recusal does mean that he won’t participate in Board discussions and votes on potential settlements of the federal suits, which is interesting.

14 Comments

Could that be part of the strategy - if he takes part and the result is unfavorable to Freshwater, can the board be sued for conflict of interests and then attempt to redo? It may not make much sense for such a situation to work, but it’s an idea (maybe a stupid one, but still an idea).

Can Steve be personally sued for the cost of the first trial if the decision must be set aside due to his conflict of interest?

Um, maybe I’m a little slow on the uptake here but if Thompson is an ally of Freshwater, then who is likely to sue over the conflict of interest?

RBH Wrote:

That puts him squarely back in the conflict of interest soup and puts the Board at considerable litigation risk.

This makes one wonder what is going on behind the scenes. Provoking costly lawsuits has been a tactic that has been characteristic of the ID/creationist agenda.

Is there any evidence that the DI or other ID/creationist organization may be behind this and has evolved a higher level of stealth?

c-serpent said:

Um, maybe I’m a little slow on the uptake here but if Thompson is an ally of Freshwater, then who is likely to sue over the conflict of interest?

What I am thinking is that if the situation goes against Freshwater, his allies can point to Thompson and say that since he had a conflict of interests, regardless of the results, then the whole thing is invalid and needs to be redone. Not sure if that would work, but it’s a possibility (based on my very limited understanding - I may be completely wrong here).

c-serpent said:

Um, maybe I’m a little slow on the uptake here but if Thompson is an ally of Freshwater, then who is likely to sue over the conflict of interest?

The investigations division of the Ohio Ethics Commission is just a phone call away.

Mike Elzinga said:

Is there any evidence that the DI or other ID/creationist organization may be behind this and has evolved a higher level of stealth?

If so, they’re at an invisible level of stealth. I don’t doubt that Freshwater, Matolyak, and Hamilton are getting advice from various sources, but there’s no clear evidence of it.

You know, considering the politico-religionists’ disdain for any legal system outside of Leviticus, as well as for the secular world in general, they certainly are awful keen to make every possible use of these systems to create as much ruckus as possible. And of course if the legal systems didn’t have as many deliberative systems build into them, they’d all bawl like a calf that they were being oppressed.

It’s not too much different from Bin Ladin turning ordinary civilian infrastructure into an engine of death. Oh, the foul, fetid mortal world, we are elevated so high above all that, except when we want to get our hands dirty making life miserable for People We Don’t Like.

He did not recuse himself from the administrative proceedings relating to Freshwater’s contract termination.

In other words, he’s planning to participate in the Board’s action on the outcome of the administrative hearing. That puts him squarely back in the conflict of interest soup and puts the Board at considerable litigation risk.

So where are the school district lawyers then? At Dover, the school district’s lawyer told them that what they were doing was illegal. They just ignored him. It was illegal.

Doesn’t look like the fundies really care about litigation risk or how much money the school district ends up spending. They often hate public education and could care less if it was destroyed.

This is the scorched earth strategy. Or more correctly the biblically correct Samson strategy. Destroy everything you can on your way down and out. It is a lose-lose strategy, not a winning one.

If the school board just hunkers down, they will ultimately win. The creationists never have good lawyers, a good legal strategy, and they invariably end up shooting themselves in the foot. This is what happens when you try to violate the US constitution and lie a lot for jesus.

RBH said:

c-serpent said:

Um, maybe I’m a little slow on the uptake here but if Thompson is an ally of Freshwater, then who is likely to sue over the conflict of interest?

The investigations division of the Ohio Ethics Commission is just a phone call away.

Unfortunately the Ohio Ethics Commission is not going to be any help. I went to their web-site and obtained their phone number ((614) 466-7090 ) and spoke with an investigator about Thompson’s actions. According to the investigator , in a broad sense Thompson’s actions might be unethical but in order for his actions to fall under the Ohio Ethics Commission’s authority there has to be a fiduciary benefit for Thompson, his immediate family or , in a few limited cases, a business partner. Apparently throwing a vote for personal or religious reasons isn’t enough to initiate an investigation with the Ohio Ethics Commission. In short, if Thompson was getting paid in some way to vote one way or another on the Freshwater issue, there might be an investigation. On a positive note, this might have some bearing on Paula Barone’s recusing herself. Perhaps she can “unrecuse” herself as Thompson apparently plans on voting.

RBH said: I don’t doubt that Freshwater, Matolyak, and Hamilton are getting advice from various sources, but there’s no clear evidence of it.

And if they were getting legal advice from Dishonesty Institute spokes-pimp / lawyer Casey Luskin, there still wouldn’t be any evidence that they’re getting legal advice.

Based on the evidence of the Dover Trial, I can’t imagine how anybody - even creationists - could possibly be stupid enough to trust legal advice from the Dishonesty Institute.

CMB said: In short, if Thompson was getting paid in some way to vote one way or another on the Freshwater issue, there might be an investigation.

But he IS getting “paid in some way” - just not in this life (in his and Freshwater’s and Matolyak’s and Daubenmire’s twisted worldview).

I am, of course, completely unsurprised that the clearly-compromised fundamentalist board member lacks the ethics and moral compass necessary to recuse himself.

In Kitzmiller v. Dover the legal advice came from the Thomas More Law Center, not the Discovery Institute. The Discovery Institute withdrew from the case even the support of getting them expert witnesses. Behe still testified, but that was apparently a personal choice of Behe’s. Steve Fuller testified, but while he’s published a lot by the DI, he’s not a Fellow or paid a salary by them, and doesn’t represent them. Significantly, of about 6 expert witnesses courteously arranged by the DI, 4 changed their minds and refused to help, including William Dembski.

The Thomas More Law Center is named that because of the martyrdom More achieved standing up to Henry VIII over an Act he wanted Parliament to pass.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 28, 2010 11:27 AM.

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