School board member Dick Mammen offered an apology—of sorts—Tuesday for his outburst directed at schools activist Bill English two weeks earlier.
Mammen offered the kind of conditional apology that’s become popular among elected officials who have second thoughts: “I do want to offer an apology to my colleagues and to the public if my comments, which were rather strident that evening and emotional, caused any discomfort or offense to anyone.”
The apology (video clip below) wasn’t offered to English by name. But it came minutes after prominent black figures allied with English criticized Mammen’s comments during the board’s open-mike opportunity.  Jerry McAfee, pastor of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Minnesota State Baptist Convention, said English speaks for the latter group. “I know that all of us sometimes get caught up in emotion,” McAfee said.
Mammen made clear he’s still irked by an April 24 op-ed piece signed by English and Lynnell Mickelsen. It criticized the now-adopted teacher contract in terms that Mammen felt were personal and strident  He responded the same night during English’s oral comments to the board, noting that the co-chair of the Coalition of Black Churches lives in Plymouth and making reference to a closed alternative high school with which English was associated.
Before Mammen’s apology Tuesday night, English challenged Mammen to a “public debate over the need for substantial reform in K-12 education” as an example to students over how to handle differences. Mammen said he’ll consider that.
“I’m sorry that it happened,” Mammen said of his outburst. “I know it made people uncomfortable.”
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