• Mike Burkons

This is what happened last year. I was wrong and I apologize.

Last year, before I was elected to Council, I was very close with Jillian DeLong and her husband when she decided to run for school board. The election became very heated and at some point, Jillian and her husband took positions that were at best close minded. I attempted to convince them to go a different route, but they continued on their path, which was hurtful to many members of our community.

When the Letter to the Editor was published, I was furious as were many in the community, and I regret the way I reacted to this anger. If you scroll down below my signature, you can read the anonymous letter/ email I wrote in the voice of one of these families and expressing how hurt and unwelcome I believed they must feel upon reading a public letter like this written by the husband of a school board candidate. This was wrong and while I meant everything I wrote, I should have written it under my own name saying the same thing. I didn’t which was cowardly of me but it happened, I am embarrassed by this, regret it but have moved forward.

I apologized to Mrs. Delong last year over this incident but she chose not to accept it. While I respect her decision, at some point I hope she realizes her anxiety over this incident, isn’t because of the unsigned letter I wrote, which only a small handful of people read before she decided to publicly rehash the issue almost a year later, but instead from her and her husband's decision to submit the letter to the editor which was hurtful and viewed negatively by so many in the community. The way I reacted to my anger of the letter to the editor was wrong, I acknowledged that, apologized for it and have moved on.

Mike Burkons

Below is the unsigned letter/email I wrote after the Letter to the Editor written by Delong's husband was published in the CJN. I regret writing this in the voice of one of the parents of one of the families that had recently moved their children into the Beachwood schools with a kid who played football. I should have written the same letter making the same points in my voice with my name signed at the bottom.

Mrs. DeLong, I am offended by the nasty Letter to the Editor your husband wrote attacking the character of one of your opponent's and her son. More specifically can you explain what you and your husband believe is so terrible about the things Bennett Adelson has done for my family and so many other families like ours? Are you upset he has used his self made wealth from his business success to buy rentals to help underprivileged and disadvantaged minority families move into Beachwood to take advantage of the better schools and opportunities? Would you be just as upset if the people who benefitted from this were underprivileged Jewish kids helping their families move here so they could play in the school orchestra instead of minorities who play sports? My kids are much more than just athletes and the one on the football team rarely steps on the field. The school administration’s own investigation and the State Athletic Association concluded no rules were broken. Our school board members agreed and reversed the decision to get rid of the coach. No rules or laws were broken so please explain why you have a problem that someone is using their wealth to help financially challenged minority families move into Beachwood to take advantage of the opportunities and the schools your kids enjoy. Your actions and attitude along with your husband, the rest of the school board and the school administration send a clear message that my family isn't wanted or welcome here. It is offensive to watch all of you pretend to care about diversity or that “diversity matters” when the school leadership doesn't make an effort to hide their disdain for our presence. The letter your husband wrote shows this. How do you think this makes my kids and other kids from families like ours feel? I hope my kids aren't paying attention to this stuff because they would be heartbroken to know of this attitude from the school leadership.

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