The Bowling Green City Schools tax issue campaign is getting personal — and ugly, according to the district superintendent.
At Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Francis Scruci said he considers a sign put up across from his house “as harassment and intimidation.”
Monday, sometime between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m., an anti-campaign sign appeared on Bowling Green Road West from his house on Muirfield Drive. It was not directed toward oncoming traffic, rather directly toward his home, Scruci said.
“This sign is plastered with ‘vote no’ signs including the following candidates running for the board: Brian Smith, Grand Chamberlain and Peggy Thompson.
“While some believe this is a campaign to get my support, I can’t help but think it was placed purposely to let my wife and I know that they know where we live. Therefore, I’m going to consider it harassment and intimidation,” Scruci said.
The harassment of members of the community also has been recorded.
On Sept. 10, board President Ginny Stewart reported to the Bowling Green Police Division ongoing harassment. Stewart, who is a candidate for reelection, declined to comment on the nature of the harassment on the advice of legal counsel.
Board members Bill Clifford, Norm Geer and Paul Walker all said they have not felt threatened.
When asked, Jill Carr declined to comment.
Scruci expects to continue to be a target on social media, “which in my estimation will probably start in about an hour.”
Scruci said he disagreed with the statement that this levy or this board is dividing the community, rather it is one candidate in particular and the opposition should take credit for dividing this community.
The Nov. 5 issue is to build one consolidated elementary school. It will be funded by a 1.6-mill property tax that will collect $20 million, and a 0.25% traditional income tax that also will collect $20 million.
No issue ever has 100% support; every issue starts out 40% in opposition, 40% in support and 20% who need to be informed to decide, Scruci said.
“Very few issues that I have ever witnessed have had this amount of animosity towards the issue and individuals for and against.
“It’s perfectly OK for people to disagree,” he said, adding that the board did its job and took the suggestions of the task forces and decided on what’s best for the community, for the district and — most importantly — for the students.
“What has divided this community is the name calling, the personal attacks, the character assassinations, the egging of people’s homes, the anonymous phone calls, the anonymous letters, the intimidation tactics against board members, administration, teachers and community members.”
That ugliness has also extended to the members of the campaign committee as well as supporters throughout the community, Scruci said.
“Don’t blame this board for doing their jobs and maintaining their professionalism throughout this current campaign,” he said.
Resident Linda Lander, who supports the one school, said a police report was filed after behavior at a task force meeting.
She got the report from the police department, and the perceived threat made at one of the meetings was “bad things happen to good people. Just remember that.”
It was investigated by the police department and the person said he meant nothing by it, she said.
“That person named in that report is also a school board candidate,” Lander said. “This has been going on for a very long time.”
Resident Brenda Pike, while not stating what side of the levy she is on, said she has been verbally attacked. She chastised those who support such action.
“Both sides claim that they want what’s best for our kids. Given that, shouldn’t we care what kind of example we are setting?” Pike said.
For several months, adults have shown children they can behave less than respectively to one another.
‘We say they all belong and matter, that bullying is unacceptable. Yet this is exactly the type of behavior some of us are experiencing,” Pike said.
Ryan Myers, who is running for school board, agreed.
Students and young voters are watching and listening to the conversations and reading the online back and forth, he said.
“What are we teaching them? We’re teaching them it is OK to bash someone simply for having an opinion,” Myers said.
“The mere fact that that I say I support ‘one community, one school,’ I’m automatically stereotyped as being a lackey, as having a diabolical objective, and just in step with all the other conspiracy theorists simply for having an opinion.”
He said it may be the political climate in the country that says it’s acceptable to bash the character of someone you disagree with, but it’s not.
“The fact is we’re disagreeing about a school building and we’re disagreeing about the best way to address student needs. The visceral attacks that keep coming, simply because people have an opinion and wanting to do what’s right, it floors me.”
Myers encouraged people to listen and respect each other’s opinions.