Confehr: Two systems face challenge in like fashion

Friday, November 6, 2009

Events at school headquarters lately reminded me of litigation explained one New Year's Eve over a decade ago at a wedding party when a lawyer married a deputy clerk from another county. They were wed at 12:01 a.m. partly for tax purposes. She became his secretary.

Anyway, loads of lawyers attended and a reporter took wedding pictures with the same camera used for car crashes and other events that became the topic of conversation after toasts, well wishes and such got dull. News was committed that night.

One of the lawyers -- call him Peter -- had a client who'd been accused of trespassing at a public school and the client claimed it's impossible to trespass on public property during regular business hours. The school's reply mentioned concern for children's safety because of the man's association. He's a Klansman.

Peter was pleased because Civil Rights cases were cracking down on the organization. Members were becoming liable for damages associated with the group, thereby putting personal accounts at risk. As a result, there were claims that it had reformed or was really just an advocacy group for certain views.

But, much to Peter's dismay, the local leader of that advocacy group issued an announcement saying the trespassing defendant was seen by the membership as too violent to be a member of the local, so the associational defense wouldn't work. What Peter should do was discussed in the wee hours of that morning.

How's this related?

It's not the association.

Several months ago, a fired school bus driver wanted public documents from the school system and after photocopies were available, with sensitive information blacked out, there was a bill attached for several hundred dollars. That's a bit much and besides it's public viewing that's required. The system's now a defendant in a case unrelated to public record issues.

Last week, a bus garage employee was represented in front of the school board as he sought what he sees as justice. His association is standing by him. Apparently, he pays dues. A few days later, there wasn't much of a problem when our reporter went to view public records on the bus garage employee. System leaders might be pleased for much of that record to be published.

What's remarkable is this? At one point in time, you're a part of a group and then later, you're not. In the other situation, the viewing rules get exaggerated and later they're not.

It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out the time, place and space relationship when it comes to someone's, or a group's best interests.

Everything is relative.