After recently threatening to file ethics charges against Board President Susan Pirro if the minutes were not amended to include discussion of a controversy involving Pirro's signature on a political flyer, Troyer was appeased at the Jan. 25 Board of Education meeting.
At that meeting, Troyer's letter stating the nature of the controversy was officially included in the board's permanent records.
A permanent record of a slip of a pen
The controversy in question was related to school board members' support of candidates during the November, 2006 Town Council elections.
During the Nov. 30 Board of Education meeting, Board President Susan Pirro admitted that she had signed board member Mark Bruscino's name to a political flyer. The flyer was a piece of campaign literature that expressed support for the Elwell Team slate running in the Nov. 2006 Town Council election.
Pirro made the admission after approximately 30 minutes of heated discussion between members of the board and their detractors.
However, at the subsequent Dec. 21 Board of Education meeting, it was revealed that none of the particulars pertaining to the signature controversy were detailed in the official meeting minutes.
Board secretary Edward Walkiewicz defended his decision not to include the signature debate in the minutes, stating that only actions of the board, such as a vote, should be reflected in the meeting minutes.
Despite this disclaimer, Tom Troyer demanded that a letter be inserted into the official minutes that would provide a more complete picture of what took place at the November meeting.
In his letter, Troyer decried what he saw as the "political infiltration of our school system." Troyer additionally wrote, "to say that these minutes do not reflect the discussion between citizens and board members is an understatement," adding that to approve the Nov. 30 minutes "would not only be irresponsible...it would be a rejection of our obligation as trustees."
Troyer said in an early January interview that if his letter was not included in the record, he would bring ethics charges against Pirro. The inclusion of Troyer's letter was unanimously approved by a vote during the Jan. 25 board meeting.
Troyer satisfied for now; Reinl not satisfied yet
Following the board vote, Troyer seemed pleased that his letter was now included in the official meeting minutes.
"I'm satisfied," he said. "Now there is some record of what transpired. If there is ultimately some type of an investigation, they can ask for the minutes of the meeting."
Troyer looked to some ways that future meeting minutes controversies could be avoided.
"We could make it an official policy that people can't sign any political flyer or get involved with politics," he said, noting that the Feb. 26 petition filing deadline is approaching for the April 17 Board of Education election, in which three board seats out of nine will be up for grabs. "I mean, sometimes I agree with Mayor Elwell, but a broken watch is right twice a day. I still think meetings should be televised. I've always wanted them televised. The council should make a motion and do it."
While Troyer's letter is now on the record, longtime board member Eleanore Reinl also felt compelled to put forth her own letter to be put into the record regarding the signature controversy.
In a letter submitted to the board at the Jan. 25 board meeting, Reinl wrote that the minutes should reflect that in response to citizen questions, Board President Pirro "responded that she lied and signed another board member's name to said (political) flyer."
Reinl explained why she felt moved to submit her own letter to the board to be considered for inclusion into the minutes at the upcoming Feb. 15 meeting.
"What happened took place at a board meeting," she said. "These are serious things that took place, and they should be recorded. I don't feel that it is a good precedent for the Board President to be admitting to these charges and then still serving as Board President. I've served on the board for 28 years, and I find this whole thing very upsetting. What do the students think? You have to have principles and you have to have integrity. Politics does not belong in school board matters."