Wegener’s comment on Knight’s religion out of bounds

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board April 11, 2012 10:20 am

Kyle Knight’s religion has as much to do with his current dispute with other members of the Baker 5J School Board and Superintendent Walt Wegener as his hair color does.

Which is to say, nothing at all.

That’s why part of an email that Wegener sent on Sunday to Knight and the four other board members is both inappropriate and unnecessary.

In the email, Wegener recommends Knight resign rather than be censured by a majority of the board during the meeting that was, when Wegener sent the email, two days away.

Knight declined to resign. He was censured during Tuesday’s board meeting.

Wegener, in the email laying out what amounts to his case for why Knight should resign, fails to confine his remarks to topics which can at least be defended as relevant to Knight’s actions, and their potential effect on the school district that Wegener oversees.

Specifically, Wegener wrote:

“Also, Kyle claims to be part of the LDS church. I think many of those good people would be deeply concerned about a church member who actively lies in public and regularly violates his oath to God.”

Knight doesn’t “claim” to be a member of the LDS Church — he is one.

So what.

Never mind how presumptuous it is of Wegener to imply that he knows what Knight’s fellow Mormons think about Knight’s actions as an elected school board member.

The truly egregious part of Wegener’s email is that he resorted to citing such a personal issue as Knight’s religion to try to convince him to quit.

The LDS comment isn’t the only dubious phrase in Wegener’s email.

He also implies that Knight shouldn’t express his opinion about school board business unless he has the approval of the rest of the board. Wegener wrote:

“Each time Kyle signs his name or claims to be a “Member of the Board” when he publicly shares his opinions he violates his oath.”

Now, we’re all for elected officials working together.

But the notion that no individual official’s opinion is worthy of a public airing until it’s been vetted by all seems positively Orwellian in its embrace of group-think.

As we stated in an earlier editorial, we disagree with Wegener’s contention that Knight was wrong to release to the media information about a former school district employee suspected of using a district purchase order to buy personal items.

Yet we understand, given that Wegener is worried that Knight could have subjected the district to civil liability, why Wegener felt compelled to urge Knight to resign.

But Wegener’s referring to Knight’s religion, in what seems to us a transparent attempt to shame him into quitting, is indefensible.