Tag Archives: Board of Education

Brooks County Board of Elections 2012-07-17

The person chairing the Brooks County Board of Elections didn’t like George Rhynes recording their public open meeting, and didn’t know that state law says anyone can.

She asked repeatedly:

What are you doing?

Several people explained to her that Georgia law says he can. Then she unilaterally declared an executive session without any vote or saying what it was for. Several people explained to her she couldn’t do that. Her response (after the video clip):

Video by George Boston Rhynes for bostongbr on YouTube.

I just am feeling very threatened at this point, very picked on and torn apart.

Eventually she declared the meeting adjourned without any vote. Various people explained to her she needed a motion and a vote for that, too.

Then they suspended someone from the election office until an investigation could take place.

I would post names of the various people, but I can’t find any list of members or employees of the Brooks County Board of Elections online.

In addition to the Quitman Board of Elections not understanding Georgia’s sunshine laws, Continue reading

There’s a lot of info I don’t have —Jon Parris

A response to Leigh Touchton. I’ve appended a couple of comments. -jsq
I said I wouldn’t reply… but I am! :-)

Ms. Touchton, your points 1-3 make plain what I mentioned witnessing during my professional experiences. My feeling was that those facts alone presented a strong case for dismantling the city system.

I do understand the desire for a disenfranchised group to avoid becoming even more marginalized… my hope was that equally shared resources and a uniform administrative/infrastructure system would create more parity and greater accountability.

There’s a lot of info I don’t have, perspectives I need; I must say, being a native Valdostan, I was BAFFLED

Continue reading

Some reasons our members oppose unification —Leigh Touchton

Leigh Touchton, president of the Valdosta-Lowndes NAACP, responds to a comment by Jon Parris. I’ve appended a clarification. -jsq
I can describe some reasons our members oppose unification.
  1. We believe VBOE has discriminated against black students with alternative school referrals.
  2. We believe VBOE has discriminated against black teachers in hiring, firing, promotions and demotions. I can’t describe the details of personal cases, but last year when the RIF directive came down, nearly 60% of those fired were black, and black professionals only represent 20-25% of the employees.
  3. The VBOE system is over 70% black students, yet the black students are not given equal opportunities to achieve. I can describe issues we brought to the Department of Justice, as well as issues about the Alternative school, and a very serious issue about how the Alternative school was given a different school code, which we believe was a ploy to artificially inflate the test scores at the students’ home schools. We have evidence that we gave to the DOJ that students were sent to PLC based on minor infractions.
  4. Many of our members went through the consolidation in the sixties and don’t want to see their children put into a situation where they will be even more of a minority. Our children are in the majority at Valdosta City Schools, but yet we still fight serious issues of discrimination and inequality in education.
  5. Many of us attended the CUEE education session at Serenity Church, and did not hear anything that changed our minds.
  6. Many of us distrust an “education” initiative brought forth from the Chamber of Commerce. Our branch is a member of the Chamber, and we support Chamber events and some policies, but we don’t support this one. I can’t remember a time when “business” thought it knew what was best for education except when school privatization was going on, and the studies indicated that there was no benefit to that direction insofar as student achievement.
Mr. Parris and Mr. Rowell, come to some of our branch meetings and we’ll be glad to talk to you about it, so you can hear directly from us, I am unable to completely explain the many different opinions that were presented at the branch meeting when this came up for a vote. Also, a former teacher named Dr. Marilyn McCluskey has written about many of the issues we were involved in, and these descriptions can be found at her blog TheNakedTruth4U.

-Leigh Touchton

Note it was Alex Jones who commented on this blog today; I’m pretty sure Alex Rowell has a different opinion.


Brad Lofton’s Selective Memory

I see by yesterday’s VDT story about the Lowndes County Board of Education (LCBOE) meeting that Brad Lofton, executive directory of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA), is reported as saying:
The people … that are opposing the plant … have yet to agree to sit down and talk with the authority directly about the plant.
He said somehing similar at the 29 Sep 2010 meeting of the Valdosta Board of Education (VBOE). Except then he at least admitted that I had gotten the VLCIA presentation. Yet even then he forgot about the other people in this picture of that 10 June 2010 meeting at the VLCIA offices:

Pictured: Natasha Fast, Angela Manning, Allan Ricketts (Project Manager), Geraldine Fairell, Ken Klanicki, Brad Lofton (Executive Director)

Even earlier, Dr. Brad Bergstrom and Seth Gunning got a presentation from the VLCIA.

I pointed all this out a month ago, after the VBOE incident.

Why does Brad Lofton, a public employee, keep standing up before elected bodies and saying something that is not true?


Excuse me? Nobody but me had gotten a biomass presentation from VLCIA?

An open letter to Brad Lofton and Allan Ricketts,

Watching a video of your speeches to the Valdosta Board of Education (VBOE), I was astonished to see Brad Lofton say nobody in the room but me had sat down and gotten a presentation from VLCIA!

Brad Bergstrom has already reminded you that Bergstrom and Seth Gunning sat down with VLCIA months ago. I hope you weren’t failing to count Dr. Bergstrom because he wasn’t physically in the same room at the time you made that astonishing assertion.

And what about these people?

More here.

Sitting directly in front of Lofton in those pictures of that June 10th meeting in the VLCIA offices is Pastor Angela Manning.

I see later in the same video Allan Ricketts contradicts Brad Lofton by referring to that very meeting that I organized on June 10th. Yet one of Ricketts or Lofton (I can’t see which) at the very end of the video claims VLCIA answered every one of Pastor Manning’s concerns.

As I already pointed out directly to Brad Lofton before the VBOE meeting, listening to the VLCIA persuaded Pastor Manning to oppose the biomass plant, organizing a town hall at which numerous people spoke about the biomass plant, mostly against. In case there is any doubt as to Pastor Manning’s position on the biomass plant, she has since spelled it out in a letter directly to Brad Lofton:

“I stand with the NAACP, the SCLC, the American Lung Association, and any other group fighting against the bio mass plant.”

In my above message to Lofton, (sent, once again before the VBOE meeting) I listed four unanswered concerns from the June 10 meeting at VLCIA. He responded by ignoring half of them and inadequately answering two of them. When I pointed this out to him, he failed to answer any of them and asked for assistance in recruiting jobs. When I offered such assistance his whole response was:

“We’re moving forward with permits in hand. Have a nice day.”

All the messages cited in the preceding paragraph were exchanged before the VBOE meeting. Yet Lofton and Ricketts stood up before the VBOE and asserted all concerns had been answered. Is that how someone acts who is seriously trying to answer concerns of the community?

I do not appreciate Brad Lofton and Allan Ricketts using my name to support the misinformation they conveyed in their speeches to the Valdosta Board of Education.

When I first heard about this proposed biomass plant, I thought it was green energy. Attempts to obtain objective information about plant emissions and fuel sources for all the similar nearby plants, together with repeated presentations such as this from Brad Lofton and Allan Ricketts, have persuaded me and others to oppose the proposed biomass incinerator.

John S. Quarterman

Videos of pro and con biomass speakers at VBOE

Karen Noll took these videos at the 29 September 2010 meeting of the Valdosta Board of Education (VBOE). Much more about that meeting here.


Dr. Gretchen Bielmyer speaking against the biomass plant.
Dr. Brad Bergstrom speaking against the biomass plant.
Brad Lofton and Allan Ricketts speaking for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) and the biomass plant.

Biomass Rezoning Minutes, County Commission, 9 June 2009

In the message from Prof. Manning, he says
I did address the county commission on this topic over a year ago – in a public forum at a scheduled meeting.
He provided no date nor link, but since this is the only Commission meeting minutes for which I can find his name, I’m guessing this is the one he meant. I’ve quoted here the relevant item, and I’ve added paragraph breaks to it to make finding individual speakers’ names easier. See also the VDT writeup. I would like to ask people, especially academics, who want to cite sources to actually cite them, not allude to them by some vague description.


Regular Session
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Chairman Ashley Paulk
Vice Chairperson Joyce E. Evans
Commissioner Richard C. Lee
Commissioner G. Robert Carter
Chairman Paulk called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.


REZ-2009-05 Wiregrass Power, LLC, 2637 Old Statenville Hwy, 0164 025. 22.1 ac., E-A to I-S,

County Planner, Jason Davenport, presented the item, stating that both the Planning Commission and TRC recommended approval with conditions.

Chairman Paulk asked those in attendance to be patient with the Commission as the item was considered, since it was an issue that many in attendance may want to speak.

Dr. Michael Noll, 2305 Glynndale Drive, spoke against the request and presented the Commission with a list of questions prepared by himself, Dr. Brad Bergstrom and Mr. Seth Gunning.

Mr. Fred Deloach III, 1411 New Statenville Highway, addressed the Commission requesting that tires and coal be added to the list of prohibited fuel items.

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Thomas J. Manning Responds

Brad Lofton sent me this today.


From: “Brad Lofton”
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:54:58 -0400


Thank you for providing my correspondence on your blog. Here is an e-mail below from VSU professor Tom Manning who has experience in biomass research and instruction. He has supported our project enthusiastically from the beginning. I would appreciate you including this as well.



From: Thomas J Manning [mailto:tmanning@valdosta.edu]
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 11:37 AM
To: ‘Bradley J Bergstrom’
Cc: ‘ReplyTo:’; ‘Cc: Allan Ricketts’
Subject: FW: Thank you to the Valdosta Board of Education

Dr. Bergstrom,

I believe you are playing a game of semantics with your disparaging argument concerning my qualifications (quote below). Some key points:

1. I did address the county commission on this topic over a year ago – in a public forum at a scheduled meeting.
Continue reading

Joy Towles Ezell: Florida Sierra Club biomass policy

A Sierra Club reply to Brad Lofton, copied to the Valdosta Board of Education and others.


From: Joy Towles Ezell
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:27:54 -0700 (PDT)

As the former Conservation Chair and the former Energy Chair of the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club, and as the former Energy Chair of the Big Bend Group of the Florida Chapter, I must “set the record straight”. Today’s National Sierra Club policy is not as strong as the Florida Chapter’s policy was against burning biomass. I can speak only to Florida’s SC policy, so I submit to you the policies of the Florida Chapter and the Big Bend Group concerning the burning of biomass during my tenure, with our press release concerning the now defeated biomass plant in Tallahassee:

The Florida Chapter Policies were also published, in part, in The Pelican, Spring 2004, the official Florida Chapter newsletter.

Here is the Chapter policy on ‘biomass.’

Florida Chapter Sierra Club policy opposes biomass production:

“We continue to oppose the development of biomass production as an
alternative to solar and wind power. Biomass production depletes the
environment by decreasing topsoil, using more water, fertilizer and
diesel fuel than it is worth and creates more pollution.”
Page 8. http://florida.sierraclub.org/Pelican/spring04.pdf

Continue reading

Brad Bergstrom: “unnecessary and very sad”

A reply to Brad Lofton and Michael Noll, copied to the Valdosta Board of Education and others.


Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 21:25:37 -0400

As Dr. Noll said, you do indeed have a reading comprehension problem, Mr. Lofton.  I most decidedly did not "discredit" my colleague; I said his opinion was just as valid as mine.  I discredited you, sir!  I replied to your, frankly, absurb misstatements with some documented facts, even the statistics made publicly available by the EPD.  And once again you respond with nothing but more unsubstantiated assertions.

As to your insinuations of my alleged "unilateral" opposition to some unnamed industry, I have no idea what you're talking about.  I think you are grasping at straws.  Your unsubstantiated assertions have now strayed into personal accusations and rumor mongering.  That’s completely unnecessary and very sad.

Brad Bergstrom