Host: It was yet another four-hour school board meeting, three-plus hours of which was public comment, most of it asking Bridget Ziegler to resign. That was preceded by a “Ban Bridget” protest in front of the school board auditorium, organized by SEE, the group that Pineview High graduate Zander Moricz started recently. Again, dropping student numbers or vanishing teachers were not on the school board agenda. Nor was Bridget Ziegler. Our news team followed the meeting.
Zander Moricz: You built an entire movement of hate upon a lie, and then right when it mattered most, you tore down the curtain and said, ‘Ta-da! everything I stand for is a lie.’ And in doing so, In showing the world that you do not believe in yourself, not only did you seal your fate, but you sealed the fate of Moms for Liberty. Now I think you don’t know what to do. And so month after month, meeting after meeting, lie after lie, you keep digging a hole, thinking it’s going to take you somewhere, but it’s just taking us to rock bottom.
So I want to beg you, because I can feel it in your soul, and I can see it in your eyes, that this was not the plan, to imagine a life where whether you mean it or not, you apologize and you step down. The only difference it makes is whether you step down now or whether you’re removed later, is how much I have to suffer, how much you have to suffer, how much they have to suffer, how much our home has to suffer. That’s the only difference. But you can put us all out of our misery right now.
Johannes Werner: This was Zander Moricz, the recent Pineview graduate who is currently on leave from Harvard University to dedicate his time organizing young people in Sarasota. But the highlight, or lowlight – depending on what angle you’re looking at it from – was Paulina Testerman’s three minutes, which actually turned into somewhere around 10 minutes. That’s if you include the time Chair Karen Rose shut off Testerman’s microphone and a 5-minute recess she imposed. Here’s the moment:
Paulina Testerman: Good evening. My name is Paulina Testerman. Here we are again. Nothing has changed, and it’s like it’s Groundhog Day all over again. Mrs. Ziegler is still committed to remaining on the board despite our community providing seven hours of public comments asking for her resignation.
Your presence today, Mrs. Ziegler, on this board does not reflect the will of the public that you were sworn to represent. Mrs. Ziegler, while you may lack humility, this community is humiliated for you. Having your personal laundry hung out to dry for all the world to see must be mortifying. How does a heavy dose of your own medicine taste?
Today, I’d like to submit new evidence of Mrs. Ziegler’s hypocrisy. I wish someone would start keeping a log. According to the recent released police report, Mrs. Ziegler, you were interviewed on November 1 by the police regarding the incident. And I’ll just call it the incident. According to the report, you stated that you weren’t surprised by the extramarital activity of your husband.
Karen Rose: Uh, excuse me. We’re not going to—
PT: Excuse me. Please do not censor me—
KR: We are not going to get into a board member’s personal—
PT: Mrs. Ziegler made her bed and she should be held accountable. This is, this is about her, this is about her character, Mrs. Rose—
KR: —We are not going to get into a board member’s, uh, personal—
Robyn Marinelli: Point of order, Madam Chair.
KR: We are not going to get into a board member’s personal life.
PT: [mic muted, inaudible talking]
RM: Madam Chair, point of order.
KR: We’re going to take a five minute break. Thank you.
JW: The board then proceeded to a five-minute recess. After recess, Rose restarted the meeting, and Testerman continued. After a few seconds Rose turned off the microphone again, while Testerman continued without loudspeakers for another two minutes or so, while holding a sign that said “Ban Hipocrisy”. Then, Ziegler intervened.
Bridget Ziegler: Madam Chair, I genuinely appreciate the way that you have handled all today. You can see the teacher in you, and I do not want to overstep. However, given that the nature of the comments are directed to me, and are clearly of a personal nature, and I understand you’re trying to elevate the decorum … I am okay with it continuing. However, I don’t want to disrespect the preference that you’re trying to set, and I do genuinely appreciate it.
KR: You have two minutes.
JW: Rose turned on the mic again, and Testerman proceeded for another two minutes. She ended thus:
PT: I’m a better Christian than you are, Mrs. Ziegler, and I’m not even a Christian.
JW: After 3 hours 15 minutes, the board proceeded to the rest of the agenda. Ziegler intervened several times, discussing school construction and parent volunteering, and in a three-minute monologue she presented herself again as an advocate of free speech. She sounded chipper as usual, projecting normalcy.
Reporting for WSLR News, this has been Johannes Werner.
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Monday, February 19, 2024
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