Touchy Subject: The Unhappy Ending of Otis Mathis…

♦ Apparently some people REALLY enjoy meetings…♦

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.

Albert Einstein

DETROIT — There are situations in life where when you see them or read about them, you honestly think someone is playing games with you. There are people that you think have to be actors getting paid to screw with you because what they do cannot possibly be legit. That’s what living in this city is like these days. Just look at the elected officials and citizens alike. Their stupidity knows no bounds. Their tone deaf ignorance coincides with the collective apathy of the people around them. Toss in a culture of conspiracy theorists, paranoia, enabling and second/third/fifteenth chances and you get such champions as Kwame Kilpatrick, Monica Conyers, Martha Reeves, JoAnn Watson, and the list goes on. However, in March I was introduced to a man that makes the shenanigans and tomfoolery of those people seem well thought out.  It is not often in this day and age that I am literally stunned when I hear something about an elected official in this city. It is even more rare that I am amazed by the same person’s actions twice. Enter: Otis Mathis. Let’s Go.

If you recall back on March 4, I first talked about Mr. Mathis, the President of the Detroit Public School board, when it became public that he has a tiny problem grasping the whole English language/sentence structure/grammar thing. It was one of the most astonishing things I’d ever seen. It’s one thing to drop the occasional grammatical error. Even Michael Jordan missed free throws from time to time. But This!?:

“Do DPS control the Foundation or outside group? If an outside group control the foundation, then what is DPS Board row with selection of is director? Our we mixing DPS and None DPS row’s, and who is the watch dog?”

The copy editor in me just wanted to beat the breaks off of whoever allowed him to hit “Send” on that e-mail. It was bad enough that you essentially had a functioning illiterate (I have always wondered about that term, because how can you adequately function if you can’t flippin’ READ?) as the President of the School Board, but the details to how he got there were even more maddening. Coupling that with the laissez-faire way that people around here just accepted that the school board president could barely read or write as if there was NOTHING off about it was even more startling (“His job, though, is to represent the community. His lack of writing skills is prevalent in the community. If anybody does, he understands the struggles of what it’s like to go through an institution and not be properly prepared.” o_O!?). The culture of enabling in Detroit has lead to a myriad of problems in this city’s political infrastructure. In other places, Mathis would’ve been forced to relinquish the President’s post, if not his spot on the board itself. In Detroit, the city collectively responds with Why you be hatin’?!”, blames the media, and swiftly sweeps it under the rug. Well, Mr. Mathis topped himself last week. Actually, I guess he didn’t exactly “top” himself.

Late Friday afternoon, which in media circles is the best time for political figures to sneak news like this below the radar because it’s heading into a two-day news dead-zone called the Weekend, Mathis had tendered his resignation, then tried to rescind it, after Detroit School Superintendent Teresa Gueyser accused Mathis of committing “inappropriate acts” during a meeting between the two on Wednesday. This is where it gets weird. Apparently, Mr. Mathis liked to, ummm, pleasure himself during meetings with Ms. Gueyser as she called it his “usual habit”. I shall let her tell the story from here:

“On many occasions, I have asked him not to touch himself…President Mathis continued to fondle his genital area for approximately 20 minutes, or the entire time I was talking…at one point, I lifted some papers from my binder above my eyes to separate my peripheral view in order to avoid watching his activity….He then re-zipped and unzipped his pants again; again placing the hand with the handkerchief inside the zipper area; this time moving his hand as if to be masturbating in front of me.”

…and…scene! Wowsers! o_O!? So to recap, not only is Otis Mathis a “functioning” illiterate, evidently he’s also a sexual deviant. I mean seriously…C’mon SON!! WTF are you playing pocket pool in a professional setting, boldly in front of a woman? That’s Not Cool! I understand that business meetings make a lot of people wanna blow their brains out. But…umm…dude. This kind of disturbing behavior was apparently occurring on a regular basis. Gueyser claims she has told former board President, and current member (and Renaissance alum) Carla Scott about this, but Scott denies it. Other board members claim that this is the first time they’ve heard of this, but considering these are the same people who acted as if they didn’t know dude couldn’t read or write, I find that difficult to believe. Then there’s board member Reverend David Murray (little known fact, this guy legally changed his first name to “Reverend”) dropped this gem on ’em after the shit hit the fan. And by “gem” I mean one of the most offensive, tone deaf, cluelessly amazing quotes you will ever read:

“It happens to a lot of young men. They engage in behavior they feel is harmless and it’s offensive to certain people…It could be deemed offensive, but some women are more sensitive to those types of things than others. I feel bad for him because he probably felt that it was something she would probably like or she got humor out of it.”

Oh, dear. Ok…ummm…Mr. Rev. Murray, I respectfully ask…Are You High? Did this guy really just claim that Mathis was a “young man” who may not have known any better!? I know this ain’t XXL Magazine but NEGRO PLEASE! Young Man, My Ass! Dude’s 55-Years-Old! Five years younger than my dad! And before you say “Well Jay, maybe Murray didn’t know all the details. Give him a break.” Here’s what this fool said to the Detroit News on Monday:

“Like I say, it’s not that uncommon for people to behave in that fashion, especially if the person is coming on to them. In most workplaces, they tell you you shouldn’t have any social carrying on in the workplace.”

Not only did he continue to dismiss beating one’s meat in the office as “not that uncommon”, he then follows it up by blatantly saying that Gueyser was probably “coming on” to Mathis? Are You Fuckin’ Kiddin’ ME!? It’s these types of comments about this type of behavior toward women in the workplace that cause women such as Gueyser to not immediately report things such as this. Hell, would you be quick to file a complaint about your boss or colleague diddling themselves repeatedly in professional meetings, if one of the higher-ups would simply accuse you of flirting with them and brush it off as a youthful indiscretion by a man old enough to be most people’s grandfathers? About the only things Mathis did right was apologize to Gueyser and resign immediately. However, in true Detroit form, he did try to change his mind and act as if the whole thing never happened the next day. That didn’t work out too well as he either forgot, or just plain didn’t know, that resignations are FINAL. He tried to explain it off by claiming that “health problems” (that he refused to actually identify) are the reason for his behavior. Whatever, Fool! “He Gone!” (© Hawk Harrellson) DPS is trying to do its best WWE impersonation and act as if Mathis never existed, but the toothpaste is already out of the proverbial tube. Ok, maybe that isn’t the best imagery.

Lost in all this silliness is that little detail of the school board being on the verge of being wiped out by a movement to give control of the Detroit Public Schools to Mayor Dave Bing and Financial Manager Robert Bobb. The school board would lead you to believe that everything is fine the way it is. Sure it is. We’re supposed to trust a group of people to run the Detroit schools, the WORST in the country, who willfully and defiantly allowed a simpleton to be their mouthpiece? Yeah, that’ll get people to take you seriously. Elect a man president who doesn’t know the difference between “role” and “row”. I have been on here before talking about what needs to be done about DPS, which included running all of these clowns off the school board. Why stop at Mathis? Murray should’ve been booted for those dumb-ass comments, and the rest of them are about as clueless and immature as a group of 5th graders.

I ask this question all the time: When will enough finally be enough Detroit? When will we finally be tired of being the nation’s longest running joke? When will we finally get serious about our schools and our city? Not everyone deserves a chance. Not everybody needs to be an elected official. Not every dude who’s an alleged “Reverend” has goodness in his heart. Not every slow student needs to be passed on to the next grade. And just because you voted for them doesn’t mean they are the best people for the job. I hope I’m done writing about this “ra-tard” Otis Mathis. He may be a bigger embarrassment to Detroit than anything named Conyers, Young, or Kilpatrick, and that’s pretty damn hard to do.  As I said back in March, The only way this city will ever get its swagger back is by changing its collective attitude toward education and start developing higher standards for itself. What else is gonna need to happen for Detroit to finally get that hint?

Until Next Time, That’s The Way It Is. Wednesday, June 23, 2010.

The 214th day since the Detroit Lions’ Last Victory

Take Care, God Bless, Always Dare to Be Different, and G.O.M.A.B. Σ

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Jay Scott Smith

What’s Happening! The name’s Jason…but for the sake of this blog, you can call me Jay or Jay Scott. I am a 37-year-old Journalist, Detroit Native, Man of Sigma, and Charismatic Enigma…That About Covers it for me! lol You wanna get in contact w/me, well, here you go! G.O.M.A.B. to my Blu Family! (ΦΒΣ/ΖΦΒ)

3 thoughts on “Touchy Subject: The Unhappy Ending of Otis Mathis…”

  1. I’m a little late on this but man you are on point with this one and that Reverend has to be one of the most sexist and stupid men I’ve ever heard of. The whole school board is just a lost cause and it’s actually really sad.


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