It’s stupid to suggest that someone be shot because of how she does her job. It’s unfortunate when people in the public eye don’t consider the consequences of the words they choose to make a point. It’s just as unfortunate when stupid comments and unfortunate choices drag on and detract from the real and important work we need from our public officials.
Laura Boggs, who in her three years on the Jefferson County school board has been a controversial and divisive figure, recently appeared on a radio talk show where the show’s host, Jason Worley, said Jeffco Superintendent Cindy Stevenson “should be shot” because the district employs a full-time staff person to communicate via social media, a claim the district disputes. Boggs appeared to agree with Worley.
Worley’s choice of words was unfortunate at best and more likely stupid, insensitive and inappropriate. A more sophisticated public figure than Boggs would have found a way to agree with the general point but to steer Worley away from his inappropriate hyperbole. But as we’ve seen over the last three years, Boggs is anything but a sophisticated public figure. On substance, she is a minority of one on a whole variety of issues. In style, she is ham-handed and lacks basic skills of collegiality in working with her colleagues and staff. She finds little support from other members of the board.
As you’d expect, Boggs’ colleagues on the board took exception to the comment and discussed it thoroughly at the board’s Oct. 25 study session. Boggs acknowledged that it was a “terribly inappropriate comment” and sent a letter of apology to Stevenson. Each of the other board members used the meeting as an opportunity to scold Boggs publicly. That should have been enough. But at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting last week, Boggs was censured.
For what possible reason is there benefit in wasting more of the public’s time to take this largely ceremonial and punitive step?
I disagree with virtually everything Laura Boggs has done as a member of the Jefferson County Board of Education. I trust that Jefferson County voters will make her a one-term member of the board when her term ends next year. Having said that, she is a duly elected member of the board who, whether the other board members like it or not, represents a viewpoint that is shared by a sizable number of people in this county. One aspect of Boggs’ tenure that is beneficial is that it has highlighted the board’s ill-advised policy of trying to stifle individual members from speaking out against board decisions with which they disagree.
Being sworn in as a member of the Board of Education should not reduce or eliminate any member’s ability to speak out on issues of importance. And being a pariah on the board should not make anyone a punching bag, either.
Laura Boggs should have reacted to the comment on the radio differently. Her colleagues made their feelings about it known in a public meeting. That should have been enough.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.