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Winkler: ‘I have no plans to resign’

Despite outrage over alleged posts online, Saugus board member will ‘fight to the last minute'

Posted: June 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Saugus Union School District board member Stephen Winkler

 

Saugus Union School District board member Stephen Winkler remains defiant in the face of mounting criticism over controversial online posts that have been attributed to him.

“I have no plans to resign,” he told The Signal Wednesday. “I will fight to the last minute.”

At the center of the criticism are online postings Winkler made to Facebook, Twitter and allegedly to YouTube.Those postings make sympathetic references to Nazism or depictions of animal cruelty. One calls Saugus district teachers names.

Accounts

While Winkler took full ownership of the Facebook and Twitter accounts that are in his name, he maintains the YouTube channel is the result of someone hacking his personal email to create an account in his name for reasons unknown.

Winkler said his Gmail address that is linked to the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts was likely hacked some time ago.

This may be, Winkler says, because he sometimes forgets to log out of public computers or writes down his log-in information and leaves it places.

“I think I was probably somewhat careless with my email and somebody got my password or username,” he said.


Email password

Despite receiving regular email updates from YouTube, which he dismissed as junk, Winkler said he never suspected his email account was linked to the site.

Winkler also said he has not changed his email password since the YouTube account was created on March 19, 2007, because he is afraid he would forget it.

“I don’t like change and I don’t have a good memory,” Winkler said. “So I might change the password and forget the new one.”

Winkler’s Twitter account does include links to YouTube videos, but Winkler said he does not recall linking to the videos or the posts that reference them.

While Winkler maintains the YouTube account is not his, there is similar activity on all three accounts.
A March 2 Twitter post, for instance, links to a video from a singer.

Videos from the same performer also appear regularly in the user activity on the YouTube account in Winkler’s name and on Winkler’s Facebook page.

But he often “shares” Facebook posts and “retweets” Twitter posts without reading them, Winkler said.

Winkler also acknowledged that he used to post to The Signal’s website, signalscv.com. Several posts he made, including one where he said all animals and hunters should be killed, were deemed inappropriate and subsequently taken down.

Public anger

Santa Clarita Valley residents have expressed anger over Winkler’s alleged conduct since details first surfaced earlier this week.

A blog, titled “Furious Parents in the SCV,” has been set up in recent days to document Winkler’s alleged online activity and call for his resignation.

But Winkler said he hoped people would listen to his side of the story before drawing conclusions about his character.

“In America we do not condemn people until they are proven guilty,” he said.

Winkler also said a post on his Twitter account, which contributed to the more widespread scrutiny of his social media activity, has been taken out of context.

In the post, dated May 28, Winkler refers to teachers as “an effete core of impudent snobs” who encourage a spirit of “national socialism.”

The post was not directed at all teachers in the Saugus district, Winkler said, but a small group who applauded a quote from Henry Ford made by Saugus Teachers Association President Debbie Rocha at a board meeting.

“I regret that they thought I meant all the teachers, I just meant the small core that applauded,” Winkler said, noting his objection to Ford’s stance of anti-Semitism.

Some people have also contacted The Signal in recent days expressing concern that Winkler may not live within the boundaries of the Saugus district and is thus barred from serving on the district board.

But Winkler said he rents a room in Valencia near Santa Clarita Elementary, a school in the Saugus district.

Hearing

The extent and nature of Winkler’s conduct will be front and center at a special meeting of the Saugus district board Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the district offices, 24930 Avenue Stanford in Valencia.

District officials will give Winkler a chance to address the allegations against him and give members of the public a chance to speak on his conduct.

Winkler said he has no plans to back down from the comments he has made online.

“If I feel something strong about something, I speak out on it,” Winkler said. “I am sorry that some people disagree with me.”

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