Thursday, June 27, 2013

Heavy Lifting

It's been an interesting week. 

After "maxing out" last week, Erin and I started strength training for the firefighter physical fitness test.  I have not lifted this much weight, with this much intensity, since high school.  It's tough.  And I like it.

Muscle failure (the term body builders and weight lifters use to describe the moment you can no longer move the weight) is something to behold.  You're muscles seize.  You're body tenses.  For a moment, you wonder if the weight will overtake you (as in crush your skull or shred a ligament).

Fortunately, there's someone there to pick up the weight when you fail (the spotter).  For me, that's Erin, literally and many times, figuratively. 

Wouldn't it be nice if we all had "life spotters" - people to pick up the weight when we can't lift it anymore?  Most of us probably do, but we just don't recognize them as much as we should.

Likewise, a lot of us don't know our own strength until challenged.

I'm sore.  I'm tired.  And I know this is just the beginning.  But this is a good reminder that, when put the test, our bodies - and moreover our minds - can do some amazing things, especially if you have a great spotter by your side.

Okay, that's enough about that.  Now, I'd like to get your feedback on a lawsuit filed today;  Nancy Sebring vs. Des Moines Public Schools.  A school board member, the district's general counsel and it's communications director are also named in the suit.

If you've lived in Iowa during the last year, you know what I'm talking about.  This dominated the news for weeks because it involved tax payer dollars, brought into question a leader's judgment, and lets be honest, it involved sex.  Sebring used her public email account to send personal, sexually explicit emails.  Admit it, a lot of people do this, but it's typically in a dimly lit space, in the confines of their home and on their own, personal computers (which may or may not be guarded with multiple passwords and locking devices).

The emails became public because reporters asked for them under Iowa's Open Records Law.  This is oversimplifying the law, but basically, if someone is paid with our tax dollars, we (meaning everyone) is granted access to their emails, phone records - anything paid via tax dollars (as always, there are exceptions... personnel records are off limits, so are investigatory documents while an investigation is underway, etc.).

Sebring is alleging invasion of privacy and emotional distress.  She also claims the defendants conspired against her by leaking emails and information to news organizations and the Omaha School District, which had hired Sebring and then basically said, no thanks.

My questions to you:  Should the public have access to personal emails sent via public accounts?  Do you think the defendants in this case acted in good faith and in the best interests of those they serve?  And finally, do you think you would view this case differently, if the Superintendent had been a man?

As always, I'm hoping for a respectful, enlightening and engaging conversation.  We can all learn from this.

Thanks for reading and have a great Friday!  The weather is supposed to be fabulous!


  1. I can see both sides. On one hand, she used very bad judgment in using her public email for personal use. On the other hand, why is her sex life (personal life) the publics business. Did it affect her job? And if it did, let her go but don't embarrass her in public. What was the motive? I have questioned the school boards motives on several issues.

  2. The Polk county residents paid her salary she used her employers computer to do her private business... If she would've used her own phone or her own computer to do her private business during her work hours then her private emails would've remained private... And as to gender it would've applied if she were a man in my eyes.. If your a high paid public official and your going to email inappropriate content thru your public computer then it's for all to see since we as taxpayers pay the salary for you to do your job... Not to email your private life thru a public forum

  3. Firstly: I love your reflection about "Life spotters"'s a great reminder to thank those we love for just being there through it all!

    Now on to the hot topic! I wholeheartedly agree with "lorriem" here. I think it was a case of poor judgement but I don't personally feel the public embarrassment and punishment fit the crime. Then again, anymore, with all the access to technology and media we have in society, it seems we're all getting a little carried away. Do I think her sexual orientation had an effect? Not so much in the fact that this was made public, but perhaps in the public's reception and perception of it. But we all remember congressman Wiener (am I the only one that still giggles at this?!), although I feel his was much much worse in circumstances, it's being handled much the same.

  4. All "public embarrassment" is Nancy's own doing. The school district couldn't legally withhold her e-mails. And all of this was on top of the disgusting nepotism in which she engaged. Hopefully the judge will award sanctions for frivolous litigation. This lawsuit is yet another example of her dragging her own name through the mud. And showing poor judgment in doing so.