Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 26, Vince Makes the Right Decision

It has been 26 days since the July 25th deadline imposed on Vince Chowdhury to resign from the Jefferson County Board of Education by his fellow members. Finally after 25 days of digging in his heels and ignoring the the public's demand for his resignation, Vince has given notice that he is resigning from the Jeffco School Board effective August 21st. It is about time he decided to listen to the citizens of Jeffco and let the school district move on with the important business of educating children.

We, the organizers of the recall campaign, are grateful for all of the community and media support that we received throughout this time. We hope that this process has demonstrated to the students of Jeffco that a small number of people can make a difference. We stood up and took a stand against a domestic abuser and others rallied behind us. Societal injustices need leaders that are willing to put their busy lives aside and do something about them. Victims need advocates who are willing to expose their abusers and protect others from them. That's what Jeffco's anti-bully programs are all about. Protecting others, solving problems non-violently and taking responsibilities for one's actions. Vince's actions and words set a terrible example for the students of Jeffco but hopefully these students saw the bigger picture over the last few months.

With Vince's resignation, the recall campaign's work is finished. It's sad that the Jeffco Board of Education members, the Jeffco School District, the citizens of Jeffco, and Vince's family had to suffer through the last 25 days. We wish Kathy Chowdhury and her two daughters all the best as they move forward and begin to heal from this experience. Our hearts have been with you throughout these past two months.

Friday, August 15, 2008

More People are Talking about the Convicted Abuser

Colorado Independent has more on how someone convicted of 3rd degree assault on his daughter could still get 596 votes. Goes to show that even Mickey Mouse could get votes if his name were on the ballot.

What were people thinking? Maybe they hadn't heard about the Jeffco school board member, and former candidate for HD 22 in Littleton, who slapped and allegedly choked his daughter--all because she didn't open the garage door!

I guess it's up to you to show Vince Chowdhury what people think by attending the next Jeffco school board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 21st.

Beginning at 3 p.m. the board will be discussing "school board issues" (that's code for "Vince") and then consulting their attorney. My guess is, no rock will go unturned by the three Jeffco school board members who have asked for Vince's resignation already.

The regular meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. Be there!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The People Have Decided

It looks like "the people have decided" not to support Vince Chowdhury in his Jeffco House District race. What a surprise that Chowdhury was soundly defeated after his arrest on June 17th for domestic abuse and subsequent guilty plea on July 8th to 3rd degree assault on his 16 year-old daughter!

Now perhaps Chowdhury will comply with the Jeffco School Board's request to resign from the Jeffco Board of Education. We've heard lots of whining from Chowdhury about "issues" he has with those who are demanding his resignation from the school board. It is time for him to stop the "Everybody has pretty much destroyed my life." and own up to his own actions. The citizens of Jeffco have made it pretty clear that his future as an elected official is now over.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Oops, He Did it Again

By now we've all read the comments that Vince made in an interview with the Columbine Courier last week. After weeks of silence, Vince Chowdhury finally came out of hiding and spoke at length with a reporter, giving us all an insight into his thought process. First, let me state that Mr. Chowdhury should be commended for having a 21-year-marriage in which "he has never had any problems whatsoever". Perhaps once Vince leaves the school board he could spend his free-time writing a marriage guide book for us all to follow. Although if the final chapter ends in a protective order and divorce proceedings, I doubt it will hit the best-seller list.

In all seriousness, however, Vince claims that only a handful of people are asking him to step down. Let us all remind him that that this "handful of people" includes his entire board, whom he has deliberately chosen not to respond to. He indicated that he hasn't responded to Scott Benefield, Jeffco School Board President, because they have "issues". How does a school board member effectively represent his district if he can't even pick up the telephone to answer a simple question from a fellow board member?

I'm quite sure most of his supposed "issues" with the current board president stem from the fact that Vince has actively campaigned, lobbied for, begged and pleaded for the position of board president since he came on in 1999. In the entire time that this "most experienced member of the board" has served, he has never once been able to convince his peers that he should be board president. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride I suppose....

This "personal and family matter" is much more than that. His lack of anger control is a serious flaw in his character that violates the very Student Conduct Code and Jeffco Public Schools Safety Plan that Vince Chowdhury was elected to uphold. This man assaulted his own daughter (a current Jeffco student) and threatened his wife (a current Jeffco teacher) that "she would be next". He then violated a protective order twice and falsified his arrest record by providing his wife's work phone number instead of his home and work phone number. A man who has been convicted of assault and court-ordered to attend parenting and anger management classes does not deserve to be sitting on the Jefferson County School Board.

The students of Jeffco are closely watching this role model to see how he is handling his "fall from grace"(as he calls it). Will he accept the consequences of his actions by resigning as his board members have publicly and formally asked him to do? Or will he continue to even acknowledge the board's formal request of him? As a parent of two sons whom I have raised to respect and value women as well as men, I know what path I'd like him to take.

The Jeffco school board has worked tirelessly to gain the public trust and continue to improve its schools. What the board doesn't need or deserve is a distraction like Vince Chowdhury interfering with their future progress.

Truth Test Reveals Lies

Domestic abusers become very good liars and manipulators. They have to in order to survive. For some, it's a coping mechanism to justify their inappropriate behavior.

Vince Chowdhury is this type of person. In an interview with the Columbine Courier, Vince says in his 21 years of marriage, "I have never had any problems whatsoever." This statement may work with the general (unmarried) public who doesn't know Vince Chowdhury. It doesn't work with the people who have sat through at least one Jeffco school board meeting, his fellow Board of Education members who have publicly asked him to resign and gave him a July 25th deadline (which he didn't respond to), or the people who know his wife and daughters.

Many people have observed Vince Chowdhury display extreme behavior and "lose it" (using his own words) in public. Primarily, his outbursts of anger have been aimed at women.

Chowdhury goes on, in the Columbine Courier article, to say that he's working with his family to make it whole again. This must be very difficult to do with a protective order keeping him from any contact with his wife or daughters.

Finally, Chowdhury's words toward the end of the article reveals the mind of an abuser: "my commitment to our children has not changed..." Abusers follow a cycle of 1) honeymoon phase, 2) the normal phase, 3) the escalation phase and 4) the explosion phase. Vince is acting in the honeymoon phase where he's trying to re-establish himself by wooing people and expressing his sorrow. Vince is trying to rationalize his unacceptable behavior.

We are standing in support of Mrs. Chowdhury and her daughters. This cycle of domestic violence can only stop when one party steps out of the cycle. We recognize that this has likely gone on for years and this June 17th incident was the final straw.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Day 14

Today is resignation deadline plus 14. The Jeffco Board of Education asked Vince Chowdhury to resign by July 25th. It's been 14 days since that deadline came and went without any response from Vince.

Fourteen days of disrespect to his fellow school board members, 14 days of disrespect to the voters of Jeffco, and 14 days of disrespect to the students of Jeffco who are required to adhere to the Code of Conduct even though their school board member is not.

We're encouraging parents, concerned citizens, and students to attend the Aug. 21st school board meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. However, we're asking people to be there by 5:30 since there will probably be limited parking and we'd like to make sure we're all there to greet Vince when he enters the front door of the district administration building. Hopefully, Vince will have resigned by then, but if not, many people will be asking Vince publicly to step down.

Monday, August 4, 2008

More People Coming Forward with Information About Vince's Abusive Temper

Vince Chowdhury's arrest for slapping and allegedly choking his 16 year-old daughter is bringing people out of the woodwork! People who have in the past been too intimidated by Vince's anger and threats to say anything publicly.

This is a part of the cycle of domestic violence and abuse. The abuser threatens the victim and tries to make the victim feel like it's her fault. Vince did this by saying it was his daughter's fault that he lost his cool when she wouldn't open the garage door. Now others, some referring to incidents that happened years ago, are contacting us.

It's hard to speak up about abuse. Oftentimes women are as frightened by how they'll be perceived in public as much as they fear their abuser. Abusers, and specifically Vince, has threatened people he associated with. People have seen him go into rages. I hope these people are willing to overcome their fear of Vince and his threats. Moreover, that these people are willing to go public with what they've seen and heard and even speak at the Aug. 21st school board meeting.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Jeffco Students Speak Up!

Jeffco students now have a way to make their voices heard in the effort to force Vince Chowdhury to resign from the Jeffco School Board. There's a new Facebook group, "Jeffco Students for Forcing Vince Chowdhury to Resign." If you're on Facebook, or know someone who is, be sure to let them know about this group! Moreover, the group is encouraging everyone to attend the Aug. 21st school board meeting at the Jeffco Administration Bldg, 6 p.m.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Reasons Behind School Board Recall Sharpen

I was saddened to read Vince Chowdhury's recent comments in the Rocky Mountain News this morning.  While I am still holding out hope that he will finally accept responsibility for his actions and set a good example for the children of Jeffco by stepping down, that is clearly not the case this morning.  Instead, Vince has attempted to divert personal responsibility by blaming this potential recall on a phantom vendetta and has verbally attacked the women charged with holding him accountable.

Perhaps a remedial summary is necessary for this elected official.  On June 25th, Vince physically assaulted his own daughter and threatened his wife, earning him a night in jail and three criminal charges against him.  On June 26th, he violated a protective order twice and once again was sent to jail.  He falsely listed the phone number to his wife's school on his arrest affidavit instead of his home and work numbers.  On July 8th, Vince pleaded guilty to 3rd degree assault and received a one-year deferred sentence that included mandatory anger management classes.  That same evening, fellow board members took time away from their families during their summer vacation to gather and publicly request his resignation.  They respectfully requested that Vince respond to them by July 25th.  

To the best of my knowledge, Vince has still not responded to  his own board members.  Instead, he has attempted to divert responsibility by stating that "everyone has pretty much destroyed my life", (RMN, July 11th) and "these are nothing but personal vendettas against me" (RMN, August 2).  Well, let me set the record straight.  We want him to resign for the following reasons:  

1.  His colleagues on the Jeffco School Board have formally requested his resignation.
2.  His actions violate the same student code of conduct that he is charged with defending and upholding.
3.  As an elected official, he should be held to a higher standard.  School board members set the moral tone for the district and Vince should be setting a better example for the students and staff of the district.
4.  His assaultive behavior and diversionary tactics send the wrong message to our children.  We want our children to understand that while everyone makes mistakes, you become a better person by acknowledging those mistakes and accepting the consequences.
5.  Vince is not the victim in this matter.  His wife and daughter are.  

Friday, August 1, 2008

Why is this Problem up to Us to Fix?

Elected officials are accountable to people who elect them. The Jeffco school board (Sue Marinelli, Scott Benefield and Jane Barnes) took the heroic stand of asking Vince to resign by July 25th. Dave Thomas recused himself since he's Vince's attorney in this matter.

The school board sought legal counsel and were faced with limited options. They have no power to remove Vince from the school board. They've already taken the stand to publicly call on Vince to do the right thing.

Now it's up to the citizens who vote in Jeffco to speak up! We were given the right -- and with it, the responsibility -- to hold elected officials accountable. Surely, assaulting a child should be clear enough grounds to remove someone from the school board!

Vince, you missed this when you missed the last board meeting

The following letter was read at the July 25th Jefferson County School Board meeting's special meeting, held for the sole purpose of discussing Vince Chowdhury's future on the board. Although Vince's lawyer Dave Thomas (who also serves on the board) showed up, Vince failed to appear.  Hey Vince, just in case you didn't listen to an audio of the meeting, here is what we said:  

"...As an elected official, I feel that Mr. Chowdhury has a duty to keep our children safe and lead them by example.  While an extensive amount of information has been written about the expected code of conduct of our students, it is my understanding that you can continue to serve in your capacity even though you were convicted of 3rd degree assault on your own child this morning.  The 84,000 students that you are entrusted with should be taught that there are consequences to their actions and you have that opportunity to teach that lesson to them tonight.

The district takes its student conduct code very seriously.  This booklet is handed out every fall during registration and a signature showing receipt and understanding of the materials is collected and kept on file throughout the year.  The very first sentence of the conduct code states "The purpose of this policy is to establish a renewed trust based on the humane values of self-respect and respect for others...  It is thus the responsibility of each student to respect the rights of all who are involved in the educational process."  

How can we expect our children to respect a man who was convicted in open court of assaulting his own daughter for the petty offense of not opening the garage door fast enough?  Item 6 under Student Responsibilities states that it is the student's responsibility "to promote the physical safety and personal security of all others, exercising in this pursuit, a high degree of self-discipline, and to not engage in assaultive behavior".  Page 6 of this conduct code further states that third degree assault is grounds for suspension or expulsion.  I am very uncomfortable with the idea of you presiding over a suspension or expulsion hearing for the very crime you were convicted of.  

Thank you for your time this evening. " 

While the Board gave you a deadline of July 25th, none of us have heard from you yet.  Are you willing to do the right thing and step down or do we need to proceed even further down the path of a recall?  Is that the best stewardship of District funds?  Do you care?

We Have But One Purpose

Our goal to get Vince Chowdhury to resign from the Jeffco School District Board of Education is singular: someone needs to stand up for what's right. Since Vince doesn't have the capacity to act with integrity, we will demand it of him in public and private settings.

This effort is also a public statement that domestic abuse is wrong. Plain and simple; there are no excuses. Many people associated with the Chowdhury's have seen the intimidation and control Vince has over the female members of his family. Today we validate these women as humans with the right to live their lives free of fear, abuse and control. Our hope is that they can break free of this cycle of abuse through the shedding of light on the situation and people to stand in support of these women.

Who are we? We're concerned parents and citizens of Jefferson County. We've been involved in school board issues for many years and have seen Vince's pattern of disrespect toward women escalate into numerous instances of inappropriate behavior. For example, on March 1, 2007 Vince was so disrespectful to then-President Jane Barnes during a public meeting that two of his male fellow-board members escorted him out with strong words for his behavior. Unfortunately, Vince has been responsive to no one.

As fellow citizens, we have the responsibility to speak up when this type of situation develops. It is our moral obligation to say, "Enough is enough!" Condoning this type of behavior sends the message to society in general, and our children specifically, that domestic abuse is acceptable. It's not. It never is.