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Community reaction to the news of recall efforts against Blackfoot School District trustees Scott Reese and Jenny Hong has been mixed, with some patrons showing strong support for the school board members.
Start-up recall petitions against the two were turned into the Bingham County Clerk's office late Monday by a local group, "Concerned Citizens of District 55" because of the board's actions regarding former superintendent Scott Crane's $220,000 separation agreement. Scott Bigler, organizer of the group contends that "the community has lost trust in the board."
Board members Pete Lipovac, Mary Jo Marlow and Taylor Johansen will not be recalled because their terms will be ending in May and the community can opt to vote them out of office. Hong and Reese technically have until 2015 before their terms are up.
Now that the start-up recall petitions are complete, the group [Concerned Citizens of District 55] now has 75 days to gather the required signatures (65 for Reese and 212 for Hong) for the final recall petitions. The two can choose to resign at anytime stopping further recall proceedings. Or, once the final recall petitions are confirmed and they [Reese and Hong] are properly notified, they can then choose to resign within five days or a recall election will take place.
Patrons Greg Cobia and Serrina J. Slay concur that Reese and Hong should step down.
"If they had any integrity, they would resign," Cobia posted.
"I agree. They should resign if for no other reason than to show this community that they'll do what is right at the very least, and save the taxpayers the cost of the recall," Slay added.
Ralph West of Blackfoot brought up an interesting point, asking, "Does anyone know what these board members are paid for their public service?"
He went on, "Rather than a lynching, those with ropes in hand should be ready to give up their free evenings to public service. I am not condoning what the board did, because I don't walk in their shoes. I feel anyone ready to oust them should be prepared to take their place and the public heat that goes along with it."
"I think we undervalue those in the community who genuinely try to make a difference even without pay," added Kelly Moulton. "When they make mistakes in an effort to progress forward in bad situations, the rest of the community is incredibly quick to judge and persecute them. They simply tried to make the best of a bad situation."
Tony Catt stated, "Before we are quick to judge, the whole story needs to be known. Unfortunately Mr. Crane won't tell his side of the story. As troubling as it is, I think these two did what they had to do to keep from hemorrhaging more district money through legal fees."
Kathie Fitz Payne exclaimed, "The school board needs to let us know what the situation is. If those involved are not going to tell us the whole story, then we as citizens are left to make the best judgement with information that we 'do' have."
The Morning News has placed numerous phones calls to Scott Reese and Jenny Hong to get their comments on the initial recall efforts against them; however, the calls have not been returned. Reese indicated earlier this week that he would be making a statement within a few days.