BY BUDDY NEVINS
Free speech remains alive and well at the School Board…for now.
An attempt to get an Internet blogger tossed off a School Board committee for his views failed last week.
The hero of this story is School Board member Katie Leach, who reappointed web scribe Tom Lauder to the Diversity Committee despite pressure to dump him.
The problem for some is that Lauder founded RedBroward.com. That’s a website that frequently attacks Democratic dogma and candidates.
Subtleties are not Lauder’s strong suit when writing for RedBroward. He tends to be all sharp elbows and pyrotechnic prose.
A 43-yer-old Florida State University poly sci major with a University of Miami law degree, Lauder has mostly moved on to Florida.MediaTracker.org, which pays him. But it is RedBroward that has stuck in the craw of some. These Lauder haters have been quietly trying to pressure Leach, a Republican, to remove Lauder.
At one point earlier this month, recently-elected Democratic member Abby Freedman joined the move against Lauder. Then Freedman met with Lauder and found he was not a monster. She found he was a pretty reasonable guy.
She backed away from trying to block his appointment so it was routinely approved.
Despite that, the pressure on Freedman continues:
Dear Abby Freedman:
It ‘s a shame that School Board Member Katie Leach continues to retain an appointment of hers that harasses and bullies others. She equates “bullying” with diversity….
Diversity committee appointee Tom Lauder is continually bullying many people each day on his website and Facebook page, RedBroward. It’s usually the same people he incessantly bullies.
For months it was even you.
Listen, I don’t mind if he writes a news article discussing issues that affects us, even disagrees with people politically, but what he does is so much worse; It is bullying and harassment, and many of us have witnessed him in action.
The sad thing is….Katie Leach seems to think that this makes him a diverse representative of the Broward County diversity committee!
I hope that you can address this issue again, while I understand for whatever political reasons she may have appointed him are hers, this does not reflect well on her as a representative as a School Board member in District 3.
Surprisingly enough, this message came from the author of a Broward website that also dabbles in politics! This is a woman, who will remain unnamed, makes money because of free speech.
Whether Freedman and the rest of the School Board can continue to stand up to the pressure is anybody’s guess. After all, this is the School Board. It has a history of buckling to the squeakiest wheels.
We can only hope this new School Board will be different.
All this fear of Lauder’s negative influence on the Diversity Committee is misplaced.
The committee is far from political. It was formed as part of a federal court settlement. It is responsible for monitoring the availability to all students of the best text books, modern media centers, up-to-date facilities. They also see if there is discrimination in student assignments and disciplinary actions.
Not a lot of partisan politics in that.
Just ask Lauder:
“I don’t think there is any room for Republican versus Democrat, on the Diversity Committee. It is not a partisan issue.”
And that statement should end the debate about Lauder’s appointment.
But will it?