Former Insider Sheds Light on "Education Not Indoctrination" Slate
Kira Wynne was a dynamic cog in the ENI Slate. Then they turned on her.
Kira Wynne is a graphic/web designer and photographer who has worked mostly with republican political candidates over the last year and a half in Maryland. Kira became politically involved around that time, working on the new website of the online tabloid rag The Tentacle as well as the website for the Frederick County Conservative Club.
“It was a new chapter in my career as I had worked for government contractors most of my professional life. From there, political season rolled around and I became inundated with political candidates as new clients. It took on a world of its own,” Wynne tells The Duckpin in an extensive email interview.
At first, Wynne was very close to The Tentacle’s publisher and perennial Board of Education candidate Cindy Rose. According to Wynne, Cindy was considered a true friend at a time in her life when she really needed one. It saddened her deeply when that friendship dissolved. Wynne stated that she regrets ever getting involved with Cindy in any way politically.
“In the beginning, I thought that Cindy Rose was very knowledgeable in regards to all things regarding the Frederick County School System and the inner workings,” Wynne said. “I still acknowledge that she is a wealth of information and could be a true asset. I knew her for a couple of years before she decided to run again for the Board of Education on a slate. I initially agreed to join the slate but numerous people had informed me of the substantial number of bridges burned in past political endeavors with her, so I decided against it. I didn’t want to be added to that list because I valued our friendship. I was still somewhat naive at that point to just how dirty politics can be even on a local level. Instead, I agreed to be the ENI Slate treasurer, as they had not found one at that point.”
Wynne also agreed to work with the slate and handle the graphic and web design, as well as photography needs. It was agreed upon early on in one of the initial meetings that the group would pay her once they were able to raise more donations. She purchased the domain name, paid for the hosting, the email account, SSL certificate and opened the slate bank account with money out of her own pocket. Wynne built the website, designed the logo, and created palm cards, t-shirts and more.
Everything was going fairly smoothly in the beginning – for a few weeks anyway.
“During one of the meetings we discussed the slate showing up and campaigning at the Frederick Fair and different Republican/Conservative club meetings, etc.,” Wynne continued. “In the beginning everyone seemed to be on the same page. Then all of a sudden Jamie Rose, Cindy’s husband, appointed himself the slate's campaign manager. At the time it was never openly discussed or voted on amongst the slate members – it was just blindly accepted without question because it was clear that nobody wanted to upset or go up against Cindy.”
“Admittedly, at this point there was already friction between myself and Jamie due to previous disagreements, but I never thought that it would carry over and affect things the way it did. I truly felt that everybody involved had a common mission and that we would all be able to work together. That eventually started some tension between me and Cindy. If it had been left there then things would have possibly continued to move forward, but it started to carry over to the rest of the slate.”
Wynne’s relationship with the ENI slate started to really disintegrate during last year’s Great Frederick Fair.
“It was agreed upon by everybody that everyone on the slate would show up on certain days that week and there would be a specific night when the entire slate showed up together,” Wynne explained. “It turned out that Ashley Nieves showed up EVERY single evening after getting home from work. She was like a machine, campaigning her ass off. I was there a couple times with Ashley and while there I kept hearing people ask where the rest of the slate was. Everyone else showed up maybe one, possibly two times that week and the one night that everyone was supposed to show up never happened.”
“In one of our Facebook Messenger chats, I made the comment that I wanted everyone to be aware of what was being said and how it was being viewed by some people – multiple people were asking where the rest of the slate was and why they weren’t out campaigning as well. I prefaced that comment by telling everyone that I was not trying to make anyone feel bad because I know that life happens and some things are completely unavoidable.”
“All of a sudden, an angry reaction came from Johannides, which was followed up by most the other slate members,” Wynne explained. “I was told that I was being divisive and disingenuous and that I had no right to questions them, etc. With the exception of Ashley, who tried to tell them that I was not attacking them or trying to be divisive, but that I was only attempting to inform them of what the current optics were at the fair and what I had personally witnessed several times.”
“Both Ashley and myself encountered this question by a multitude of people – some by other candidates, but mostly by passerby’s who Ashley was interacting with about the ENI slate and what they were fighting for. A common response was, ‘Where are the other members of the Slate? Are any of the others here?’ Had that question not been asked by several members of the public, who clearly just wanted to meet the other slate members and learn more, I wouldn’t have said anything and left it alone.”
It was then decided by Johannides that the online conversation halt and be finished in person at the next meeting. The slate held a meeting a few days later, in which anger and hostility filled the room.
“Cindy decided to attend via zoom so that Jamie could be in attendance. Mark Johannides did an opening prayer, which he used as a passive way to insult both me and Ashley to the group. Yet I was the one being accused of being disingenuous.”
This set the tone for the rest of the meeting, according to Wynne.
“As the evening progressed it was nothing but arguing back and forth – and then they all attacked Ashley (in her own home) and Ashely was shocked because she was completely caught off guard and didn’t understand how this group would just turn on her so quickly for nothing more than defending my comment in the previously mentioned chat. I was mortified with how they treated her. They can attack me all they want; I can take it – but there was no reason to attack her.”
It was at this point Wynne says that Jamie Rose asserted his dominance in the group.
“Cindy signed off Zoom and the meeting on our end continued. The rest of us continued to try to discuss things and work things out. Several minutes later, Jamie sent a text to Johannides saying, “Either Kira leaves, Cindy drops out, or I move out,’” she said. “Mark commented on how manipulative and controlling that was on Jamie’s part and everyone in attendance agreed. It became obvious who was really calling the shots.”
“The next day the slate decided that I did not have to be in attendance at the meetings – which I was okay with. After all I was not on the slate. At this point I had already decided that I did not want to be involved with all that – I didn’t want to deal with the unneeded drama that stemmed from it all. I wanted to at least try to accommodate them till things were resolved, regardless of what the outcome was.”
The group had created a new Facebook Messenger chat group that did not include Wynne. Due to this, Wynne left the old group – not seeing the point in staying in it. They scheduled another meeting a few days later at which point they urged Nieves to attend. Nieves told them that she would attend via zoom as she was not comfortable being in a room with them after the way she was treated in the previous meeting at her house. She was then accused of only attending via zoom so that Wynne could sit in on the meeting. Wynne states that she had no interest in listening in or being in attendance for that meeting so that accusation seemed ludicrous. Ultimately, Nieves did not fall prey to their manipulative intimidation and was asked the step down from the slate shortly after that meeting.
A few days later it was pointed out to a mutual friend, that if Nieves is removed from the slate, they will have to pay to reprint everything – the t-shirts, palm cards, signs and etc. Low and behold, very soon after the slate sent Nieves an email asking her to consider staying on and working together for the good of the slate. Nieves wasn’t about to put herself back into the position of being bullied again and politely declined. The slate then offered to put out a public statement on Nieves’s behalf explaining that she had family issues to attend to and that she was stepping down was not able to run for BOE.
Nieves told them under no uncertain terms were they to release any statement on her behalf, especially one that was a blatant lie. Nieves decided that she was not going to allow the slate to re-route her plans for running for BoE because she legitimately wanted to do what was best for our children and future generations that are impacted by the Frederick County public school system.
Shortly thereafter Wynne was asked to resign as treasurer but to continue on accommodating their website needs, something Wynne said she was not really comfortable doing moving forward but was willing to work with them in the interim. Wynne had no issues stepping down as treasurer – she had already downloaded and filled out the form to transition the role of treasurer to another.
According to Wynne, “The slate then said that they would pay me for my work and that moving forward they would have somebody else handle things – which I was fine with because I had no desire to continue working with them at that point. I was so upset with how everything happened and it took me a week or 2 to fully wrap my my mind around what had just transpired,”
“They made an unreasonably low offer to pay me for the work I had done up to that point, as well as for the domain name and hosting. I agreed without hesitation to the prices they set because I just wanted to be done with it all. They asked for an invoice, which I promptly provided them.”
But even then, the dissolution of the Wynne/ENI relationship became even more strained and complicated.
“They then demanded my photoshop and illustrator files, “Wynne said. “I explained to them that because I was not a 40 hour a week employee and am a contractor, without a contract in writing, I own ALL of my work. I told them that they could sign a contract and pay for the additional artwork if they wanted those files. The initial agreement was in regards to the website and nothing else.
It was at this point that Cindy Rose attempted to lock Wynne out of the website she built and was hosting under her company account. According to Wynne, she temporarily took the site down and emailed the slate explaining that due to their attempt to take over the website and block her access, she had temporarily taken it down and would restore it once they paid a new invoice that outlined updated charges that aligned slightly more with what Wynne would normally charge a client, as their actions made the original invoice null and void. They were also given the option to pay the restoration fee and she would restore the site; however editorial access would not be granted until the remainder of the invoice was paid in full.
After receiving the email sent to the group by Wynne, the group responded by claiming that Wynne was basically holding the website hostage and demanding a ransom for reinstatement of the site without any real provocation.
Wynne again replied by offering to send them undisputable proof of the actions taken to attempt to block her from accessing the site – starting with deleting her admin user account and adding a new web designer as admin and owner of the page.
It was at this point that the ENI Slate threatened legal action.
“The slate then proceeded to threaten legal action against me,” Wynne said. “I told them that I implore them to do just that. I explained that any lawyer would tell them exactly what I had already told them. There was no contract, the closest thing to an agreement on paper was the preliminary invoice I sent them with the prices they initially set. In lieu of paying the invoice, they chose to be duplicitous and dastardly instead. Everything was paid for and created by me – I OWN EVERYTHING – they could hire a team of lawyers if they were so inclined.”
Under US Copyright law, the designer automatically owns all rights to the work they do. All rights and ownership belong to the creator of the work (i.e., the designer). Automatically.
The one exception to this is work-for-hire, which basically means that if a designer is your full-time employee, then any work they create is yours. A freelancer, unless specifically stated in your/their contract, is NOT a work-for-hire.
The ENI Slate eventually sent a new offer to Wynne, which they stated was under advice of their legal counsel - which Wynne declined and submitted a counter offer the next day of only $140 more than their previous offer.
Rather than paying the invoice and resolving everything amicably, the ENI Slate bought a similar domain and put up a new site. Wynne was never paid for any of her work or financial contributions to the ENI Slate initial website setup. Wynne says that at the time she was just relieved to be done with all of it and wasn’t worried about the money – at that point, it was about the principle.
“I won’t back down to intimidation tactics and I will stand up when I see someone else being bullied.”
Wynne has specified that she does not want to do anything that will disrupt the chance of having a majority of right-leaning candidates elected to BoE and if candidates from the ENI slate make it through the primaries, she will vote for them because ultimately having the majority on the BoE is what is best for the FCPS and the county as a whole. However, she vehemently disagrees with the tactics the Education Not Indoctrination Slate has used thus far – especially against other conservative BoE candidates.
“They may have good policies that I can get behind, but then so do the other 4 conservative candidates.”