Letter To The Editor: Response to Vol. 18 Iss. 16 ‘Terminated instructor continues fight to clear the record’

By: Linda Oldham, Retired Instructor of English School of CHSS

I am responding to Kathie Winograd’s letter accusing the CNM Chronicle of bias in its reporting on Steve Cormier’s termination by CNM [see vol. 18 iss. 19 pg 3]. A wiser administrator would have kept the silence she falsely claims to have been practicing for “many months” (see the February 28, 2012 issue of the Chronicle) and not prompted the observa­tion that it is ironic that in a letter that says President Winograd takes “allegations of aggression, intimida­tion and physical abuse very seriously,” she attempts to intimidate the Chronicle into silence about an issue it has covered since the day it arose.

I can claim no objectiv­ity in the Steve Cormier case. On the contrary. Steve and I have been a couple for almost 21 years. I know Steve better than anyone else does, and the inflammatory language Winograd uses about him applies neither to Steve gen­erally nor to the incident CNM used as an excuse to fire him. Steve is never vio­lent toward women. I ought to know.

As eleven eyewitnesses testified, “physical abuse” did not happen. That the arbi­trator chose to ignore those eleven eyewitnesses does not mean that they were lying or delusional. I may not be objective, but I can still read, think, and evaluate evidence. I have seen all the evidence in Steve’s case, and I have read the arbitrator’s decision. That decision puts great weight on the testimony of the one witness who backed up the alleged victim’s ver­sion of events. That witness was a student in the alleged victim’s class who viewed the events from far across the room rather than from a few feet away like the other witnesses. The arbi­trator decided that all the witnesses backing up Steve’s version of events were biased, but somehow saw no poten­tial bias in the testimony of a student from the alleged victim’s class. Students are never influenced by their teachers it seems.

I could go on at great length about the injustice of the arbitrator’s decision, but Winograd is right about one thing. The case is over. However, the damage to Steve’s reputation is not, and Winograd seems intent on inflicting as much further harm as possible by saying that Steve physically abused a fellow teacher. He did not. Look at the Chronicle archives (early November, 2011) for the article about the concert incident written before CNM took any action against Steve by a reporter who had never met Steve before. You’ll find that Steve acted appropriately, trying to preserve the peace and defuse the threat presented by the woman who became his accuser.

Winograd’s concern about allegations of intimida­tion and aggression is selec­tive. When she says, “These kinds of behaviors are and will continue to be intoler­able at CNM,” she should add “depending on who the accusations are against.” When a now-retired senior administrator was accused on more than one occa­sion of verbally abusing and threatening female faculty involved in union negotia­tions, Winograd not only did nothing to stop his behavior, she apparently condoned it. The CNM Employees Union has the details.

CNM administration has already succeeded in silencing faculty and staff, with the firing of Steve Cormier being the most powerful move in a long campaign. I hope The CNM Chronicle will not allow itself to be silenced by President Winograd or her minions.

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