An Ahwatukee man who has declared himself a candidate for one of three seats on the Kyrene Governing Board generated outrage twice in the past week with postings on Twitter – one in which he used the word “retarded” and another in which he falsely identified an Arizona State University student as the gunman in a multiple shooting at the Westgate Entertainment District.
The postings were made by Scott Weinberg – a vocal frequent critic of Kyrene’s equity program both during school board meetings and on social media who was ejected from a board meeting last October for calling its members “cowards.”
They are becoming a contentious election issue even before candidates can file their ballot petitions for the Nov. 3 election.
Wanda Kolomyjec, an Ahwatukee Democratic activist and Arizona State University faculty associate, rapped the LD 18 Republican Committee for supporting him after he posted the two controversial tweets.
The day after the May 20 shooting in which three people were injured, Weinberg misidentified the suspect, posting that he was a “left-wing #LGBTQ student and Youth Ambassador.”
He later removed the tweet and apologized, posting:
“Earlier this morning I tweeted information about the #WestgateShooting that had not been confirmed. I removed the tweet less than an hour later after additional research caused me to question the accuracy of the information. If I was mistaken I will apologize.”
He said, “Several people reached out to vouch for the individual who is close in age and has the same name as the #Westgate shooter. I apologize for my mistake. I should have properly vetted the information before tweeting it. My intent was to criticize the #AZMedia and not to cause any harm.”
Despite the apology, Equality Arizona released a statement that read: “Mr. Weinberg took to social media to falsely accuse and baselessly attack a young man who is a member of the LGBTQ community… Mr. Weinberg’s attack was not only a lie, it was also an attack propagated this young person simply because they are an out-and-proud advocate for equality for all.”
Weinberg stirred more anger from some people in the community with his use of the word “retarded” in two separate posts last week.
He posted “this is retarded” above a screen shot of a Canadian woman who had created a “hug glove” so she could hug her elderly mother, whom she hadn’t hugged in two months. In a YouTube video, the woman hung a plastic sheet from a clothes line and extended two portions of plastic around her arms so she could hug her mother while they were on either side of the sheet.
In another post he wrote “retarded!” in capital letters.
When one person wrote, “Please stop using an outdated slur that targets people with disabilities” on May 20, Weinberg wrote, “Please stop being offended by the word ‘retarded.’”
In another exchange, someone posted a video about Special Olympics, telling Weinberg to watch it and ”u will rethink ur post.”
Weinberg wrote back, “Relax, Mike. It’s just a word. It can’t hurt you.”
But “Mike” replied, “I am in the Special Olympics words hurt that hurt a lot.”
The exchange prompted another poster to write, “This quote explains the internal justification this candidate applies for using slurs. By electing this candidate to the #Kyrene School Board, this is what this candidate will say when he hurls slurs at children and their parents.”
Weinberg has often used Twitter to criticized members of both the Kyrene and Chandler Unified governing boards. He is a member of an advocacy group called Purple Parents, which has attended a number of board meetings in both districts.
He and other members of that group want both districts to drop equity programs and policies aimed at reducing achievement gaps and disparities in discipline between white students and students of color.
But his posts last week pulled the LD 18 Republican Committee into the fray.
Several Republicans have privately criticized the committee for allegedly supporting Weinberg.
During an appearance before that committee Feb. 12 in which he outlined his positions, Weinberg showed a PowerPoint presentation that called Kyrene Superintendent Dr. Jan Vesely a “left wing superintendent” and stated “Democrats are destroying America.”
Another slide called the equity program “anti-capitalist and anti-white.”
His posts on Twitter prompted Kolomyjec to post a message stating:
“The Republican Party in Legislative District 18 is supporting this person as a candidate for Kyrene School Board. Mr. Weinberg has appeared at their meetings with rousing support. My Republican friends, are you okay with this? If not, please reach out to your party and ask them to stop supporting this person.
“There HAS to be a line. There HAS to be a line,” she said, noting that even if they can’t support Democrats in the nonpartisan race, there are two independent candidates “who have the best interests of our children in mind and would make excellent school board members.”
Candidates cannot begin circulating petitions to get on the ballot until June 6 and must file by July 6. However, they are required by law to file statements of interest before they can circulate petitions.
Weinberg has filed that document but also announced he was running when he addressed a Kyrene board meeting “call to the public” segment.
He has been a regular speaker during those segments, which have not been held since the board started meeting virtually because of social distancing guidelines.