Tuesday morning, the first thing anyone heard on the radio, or their television, was about the previous evening's District School Board meeting and the revelations that two board members were involved with the parents of the boys involved in the harassment and bullying and were trying to steer the proceedings. When the word got out, all around the county, in the beauty shops and small mom & pop stores, in the fire stations and the local gas stations, at the schools and wherever groups of people gathered, the only thing on people's minds was last night's district school board meeting.
This was the biggest scandal to hit the county in ages and that it happened in what most people felt was the sacred hall of educating and protecting their children was appalling. People were so incensed over it they called the radio and television stations for more information. Many people called their county commissioners and some even called their state representative all demanding a full review and investigation into the two men involved and why the school district didn't have the proper rules and protections in place. Some even demanded that those men resign from the School Board altogether.
At school that morning, Collin was immediately mobbed on his arrival by his friends and supporters and any other student who had been treated as he had been. They all looked up to him as the leader who would make a difference, since they knew he wasn't a part of the 'in crowd' who ruled everything from the school yards to the playgrounds to the sports activities. These kids were tired of being treated as second class people and were very happy to know things would soon change, and for the better.
Over at Simon Bloomberg's house, he and his nephew, Eli, and a few 'friends' were meeting to discuss the previous evening's events at the school board meeting. They all couldn't believe how William Jackson was able to tear open a supposedly 'safe and friendly' political haven for the well to do and well connected. They knew they had to meet that same William Jackson later that day when he and his client Ken Thomas met with them to discuss what happened at the hospital the previous week.
"Simon," Eli said, getting his uncle's attention. "How will we handle these two men? Do you think they have anything on us, like they did Drucker and Jordan? And how did they get that information anyway? How can we stop them before they open up a can of worms on us tonight? What do you supposed they'll do?"
"Eli, SHUT UP!" was all Simon could say at the moment.
Everyone stopped in their tracks when they heard that and watched Simon. They knew he had a bad temper and they never wanted to get on his bad side, ever. They could sense that Simon Bloomberg was under some pressure as he was still trying to figure out what to do.
"Eli, if you hadn't hired that dumb bitch nurse, we wouldn't be in this mess. I told you not to get involved with those people, and now we may have to cut our losses. This William Jackson is no slouch as we now know from last night. He does his homework and comes prepared, so you can bet he has an ace up his sleeve. And with Judge Richards, looking over our shoulder, I think it will be best to throw that dumb bitch to the wolves and make some sort of an apology and say we are implementing new procedures etc. etc.. What do you think of that?" When Simon finished speaking he looked around the room waiting for someone to answer.
Bill met Ken and Andy at Three Finger Cove for lunch and ate one of Momma's Maria's wonderful Mexican meals before sitting down and working out their strategy for the evening's hospital Board of Director's meeting. Momma Maria served steak and chicken fajitas, home made cheese enchiladas, refried beans, fresh hand-made tortillas, guacamole, diced tomatoes, lettuce and shredded Monterey jack cheese and sour cream. The three men walked away from the table stuffed and needing a nap because the food was that rich and so wonderfully good. Instead, when they got up from the table, they loosened their belts one notch and slowly proceeded to Ken's Study and got to work.
"So, what did you think about the school board's decision last night to adopt your entire proposal that essentially covered everything we wanted them to," Ken asked Bill as they let their lunch digest some.
"I was totally surprised at first, but of course they found themselves in the proverbial 'hot seat' when those two clowns tried to railroad the meeting, thinking no one would ever figure they had close ties to the students who were involved. The board had to do something to save face with the community, and knowing I had done the research, they knew what I would give them would be better than anything they themselves could muster in a short time.
"I was also happy they decided to ask for the parents to form an ad-hoc group to do essentially the same thing. It will be an independent group who will research and devise rules covering harassment and bullying along with its reporting, handling, and corrective measures, to include the disciplinary measures will go along way throughout the school district. That in itself will make it easier for everyone to accept and adhere to it, knowing it was the parents who helped in it. But only time will tell."
"It sure would be nice that if tonight's meeting goes just as smoothly," offered Ken.
"Smooth? You called what happened last night smooth?" joked Bill. "I figured they would be loaded for bear, last night and never let us get to the meat of the meeting, but Drucker's and Jordan's antics up front sure helped us get what we wanted. Okay, now, enough about last night; we need to get ready for tonight."
The three men used what remained of the afternoon to review the plans they came up with over the weekend. They played 'devil's advocate' on each other trying to look for any weaknesses in their presentation of demands for changes to the hospital policy. By 5 PM, they figured they were ready and so Bill left to go home to get showered and changed and would meet Ken and Andy and Collin at the meeting.
At 7 PM, the president of Board of Director's of the Hospital District called their Special Session to order. He took the roll call of the Directors and found all seven were in attendance. He then asked the secretary to read the agenda and reason for the Special Session so that all the Directors and those in attendance could know why the session was called. To any novice onlooker of public Boards, they would say that everything was above board and that this was the first time these people were hearing about this. But in reality each Director knew exactly what was going on as they had all met at Simon Bloomberg's house a few nights ago.
"Is the petitioner here, tonight?" asked the Board President, Julius Eberhard.
"We are, Mr. President," responded Bill Jackson.
"Please, sir, explain why it is that you requested this Special Session of the Hospital District's Board of Director's and please be brief," announced the Board's President.
Bill Jackson immediately explained what occurred at the hospital last Wednesday. He explained everything that happened from the time Mr. Thomas and Mr. Marshall arrived to see Collin, through the nurse's decision to deny them legal access to their client and ward and then the administrator's attempt to have them arrested for demanding that legal access. Mr. Jackson also relayed the subsequent meeting with Eli and Simon Bloomberg and how Eli Bloomberg acted as if he was the sole arbiter and that his word was 'law', no matter what the actual law said.
William Jackson, without prompting from the Board President, then proceeded to explain what they saw as required changes which needed to be immediately implemented in the running of the hospital. Bill then insisted that the nurse in question be fired for her crude and impersonal actions that day, and for acting as a self appointed lawyer and judge and jury without asking for assistance from the hospital administrator. He also called for the hospital administrator, Eli Bloomberg, due to his lack of knowledge of the law, his absence of personal control and hotheaded temper and his actions and lack thereof be reprimanded. Bill Jackson also requested that the reprimand be placed in his personnel file and that he be placed on 90 days probation for his uncaring and insensitive attitude that day.
When Bill finished, he sat down and immediately there could be heard some murmuring in the nearby crowd and throughout the hearing room. The Directors also had some side conversations before the Board President, Julius Eberhard, gaveled the room to be quiet and took center stage.
"Mr. Jackson, that sure is a lot of demands for such a simple incident don't you think?"
"No, Mr. Eberhard, I do not!" replied Bill.
"I didn't hear anything in what you said that would warrant such actions by this Board nor have I heard any serious occurrences that even rise to our holding this Special Session," the soft spoken Board President said in an attempt to squash the meeting and let it all fall through the cracks.
"Then sir," began Bill, while calmly remaining seated, "I think it is time you did your job and ask to hear from the witnesses, which I assure you there are some. Then you, and that esteemed Board, can determine for yourselves if what I have said bares any truth. Be well aware that one of your colleagues, Mr. Simon Bloomberg, was present for a portion of what occurred that day, and did his own personal inquiry into what transpired."
Not liking what he just heard, Julius Eberhard spoke up and in a very sarcastic tone and while shaking his finger said, "Don't tell me what is my job and how I am do it, Mr. Jackson. I've been doing this job ever since the hospital district was formed and I even helped set up these procedures which you were able to use to have this Special Session called tonight. Do you understand me, Mr. Jackson?"
It appeared to the assembled crowd that there was going to be a pissing contest between the older Board President and the not too much younger lawyer, William Jackson. Everyone held their breath in anticipation of a 'knock down dragged out verbal fight' when Simon Bloomberg spoke up and said, "Yes, I was there that day and I see out in the audience some of the people who were involved and others who have direct knowledge of what occurred that day. I recommend we move forward and hear from them so we can make an informed decision."
For those who could see Julius's body actions and face contortions they could tell he was not pleased that Mr. Bloomberg spoke up and kept him from doing what he had intended all along which was to dismiss the allegations and close the meeting down without any decision being made.
Bill and Ken and Andy sat in their seats straight faced looking at the man fume and waited for him to make the next move. Everyone remained silent while they, too, watched Mr. Eberhard as he looked around at the other Director's and then directly at Bill Jackson, Ken Thomas and Andrew Marshall.
"Thank you, Mr. Bloomberg," began Mr. Eberhard, "Yes, I agree that it would be prudent to hear from those who took the time to attend tonight's meeting. I am sure they have knowledge of what happened that day and wish to tell what they know. Do I hear any objections from the Board members?" Not hearing any motions nor seeing any raised hands, Mr. Eberhard continued by saying, "Since there are no questions or objections, then I ask the hospital administrator, Eli Bloomberg, to step forward and be sworn in and give his testimony as to the events of that day."
While the Board began to hear from the witnesses, Bill and Ken and Andy discussed how that meeting was almost a mirror image of the school board meeting the previous evening. They then listened to everyone's testimony and when Bill was allowed to cross examine them, he was able to get them to change their slanted and biased statements into what really occurred.
After about an hour of hearing testimony, from Eli and the obstinate nurse and the hospital's head nurse, along with Deputy Sheriff Fischer and both Ken and Andy, the Board President called for them to go into Executive Session where only the Board members could be present while they deliberated the issue.
Out in the meeting room proper, many people, who knew Mr. Ken, as they continued to refer to him as, came over to talk to him and offer him their support. A few people were also at the School Board meeting, the night before, and they too compared the beginning with what happened the previous evening. While talking to those people, Ken nonchalantly began to hint that there needed to be other people from the community who could, and should, run for those respective Boards. He also let it be known to those around him that he would be willing to help anyone who was interested in running and left it at that.
In the Executive Session, Julius Eberhard got into Simon's face and told him in no uncertain words how he didn't appreciate what was done out in the meeting room. The words then exchanged between those two got so heated that the other Board members had to intervene and separate them before they came to blows. The men then began to argue amongst themselves as to how they should proceed. Mr. Eberhard made it clear that he wanted every allegation to be voted down and that those two men out there made to apologize for wasting their time here tonight.
Thomas Webb and Richard Mason agreed with him but Russell Murray and Lance Ritter saw that they were in a 'No Win' situation and they needed to find 'In Favor' of the charges or at least some of them. That brought up more arguments between the Hospital Director's and it looked like they would accomplish nothing. While all this was going on, the Board's lawyer sat back and watched. He knew that if they didn't reach a decision that night, they would have their hands full and with an election being held that coming May, he knew those up for reelection could not bare NOT to have a decision that night.
"Gentlemen," spoke Wendell Carroll, the Hospital Director's legal counsel, "let me remind you that there is an election this coming May and there are at least three of you looking to be reelected. In my opinion, you need to come up with a resolution tonight because if you don't, Mr. Thomas out there, will come down on all of you and the hospital district."
"He can't do anything," said Julius. "He's still wet behind the ears and doesn't know anything about anything. Let him try it and see how far he gets. He isn't the only one to have people in high places. Let him call in those supposed 'high rollers' and see how they fair up against our local people. Elections always are local, not state wide, and local people will listen to the people who have served them and not some pipsqueak who just moved in here."
"Boy are you so wrong there, Julius," spoke up Lance Ritter. "I had a friend tell me from his first hand observation how the people acted towards him and his boy the other day at DMV. He told me they all treated him as if he was royalty and they personally thanked him for everything he did for them, or their families, after the storm. They even gave up their positions in line to let him go ahead of them. This man may be new to the area but he has made his mark and if he were to go against us he'd have the majority of them behind him in nothing flat. Let's not assume anything with this man. Let's get down to the question at hand and go home."
The men sat there stunned for a few minutes while they let what Lance had said register in their brains. Then they got down to discussing the issues. Eberhard was the first to make a motion which was to squash every allegation and send Mr. Ken on his way. It was immediately voted down 4 to 3. Then Scott Dixon made the motion to accept every issue, and that too was voted down 4 to 3. The men continued to make motions and argue while time was passing by.
It was already way past 9 PM and there was no indication that a resolution was imminent so many in the crowd began to get restless and began to leave. Collin saw a few of his school friends there, so he kept himself occupied talking to them and their parents. Ken and Bill kept themselves busy by focusing on what they could or would do depending on the Board's verdicts. Bill also had an ace up his sleeve, as he did last night, but was withholding it until he knew how the Board was going to act. Time was passing by and all anyone could do was to wait for the Director's to come out of their Executive Session and announce what they are or are not going to do.
Inside, at the Executive Session, the Directors were still no further along and it appeared that the only way they were going to resolve their deadlock was to compromise. They continued their deliberations and began to tie different ideas together that by 10:30 PM they had reached their decision. Now all they had to do was 'sell' their compromises to the two men out waiting for them. Wendell Carroll preceded them out to the main meeting room and announced that the Board was ready to reveal their decisions.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I know it is late but I want to thank you all for waiting for us to deliberate and thusly decide these important issues before us tonight. We heard both sides tonight and I do believe we know what happened that night in question. The thing is, there are also mitigating circumstances that also have to be taken into consideration when making a decision that can be acceptable to all. The Directors' also know that Mr. Thomas can take these issues further into court if he doesn't like what we have decided tonight, but that will be his decision.
"It was apparent to this Board that the nurse was out of line when she refused Mr. Thomas access to his ward, Collin Wilkinson. She could have and should have handled it differently but she did what she did and will be reprimanded for her actions and demoted and given additional interpersonal training. She will not be fired as the complainant's wish. As for the actions of the hospital administrator, he will not receive a reprimand as he came upon the situation after the fact and took prudent actions to protect the hospital and its staff."
Ken was fuming from what he had just heard. He was going to stand up and say something about the actions of the Board when Bill grabbed his arm and motioned for him to remain seated. Bill then stood up and asked if he could speak with Mr. Carroll before the Board publishes their findings. Julius Eberhard asked for and received a motion and a second and the vote was 4 to 3 in favor of a 10 minute delay. Bill and Wendell walked over to a corner and began to talk.
"Wendell, I am surprised you allowed them to do what they just did. It won't do any good for me to ask you to try to persuade them into changing their minds, but what I will say to you is that I know about the meeting at Simon Bloomberg's house with every Director in attendance. I also have video of them arriving and leaving and their times. We both know they all flaunted the State's Open Meetings Act, and can be charged and when found guilty fined and relieved of their position. I want you to know that my client has already contacted local residents and asked them to run in the upcoming election."
Wendell Carroll just stood there with his mouth wide open as he listened to Bill Jackson tell him, in no uncertain terms, that the Board made a BIG mistake and they needed to reconvene and reconsider their actions. Then he heard his fellow counselor tell him what no attorney wants to hear, that he would also have to address the Bar Association and account for his actions that night. He now felt as if he had just been punched in the gut and couldn't get his breath and Bill Jackson was still talking to him. Wendell then held up his hand and Bill stopped.
"How did you ever find that out?" asked Wendell. "We all arrived at different times and by different directions and no one used their own vehicles. There is no way you could have known."
"You forget that Mr. Thomas is more than a very, very rich man. He is a man possessed! He will do everything, in his power, to make sure Collin is never treated anywhere's near what happened to him since he was kidnapped. He will spend his entire fortune if he has to, to make sure that boy has a normal life from here on. When we got back from the hospital that day, he had every one of you watched and video taped and even this meeting is being taped. Now the ball is in your court. Tell them what you will, but remember we have video evidence and we may even have audio evidence from inside Simon's home as well." When Bill Jackson finished talking, he walked away and never looked back.
Wendell Carroll, on the other hand, felt as if he was going to piss his pants after hearing what he just did from one of the most powerful and influential lawyers in the county if not the state. He knew what he needed to do but wasn't sure if the Board would reconsider their actions. He walked to the front of the meeting room and whispered something to Julius Eberhard who in turn whispered the same to the other Board members.
Five minutes later, Mr. Eberhard gaveled the Board back into Executive Session and they all shuffled back to their private meeting room.
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