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Columbia Heights' Grant Nichols' excellent adventure in anti-Islam denial

A co-worker somehow commandeered his cell phone, says the embattled Columbia Heights School Board member.

A co-worker somehow commandeered his cell phone, says the embattled Columbia Heights School Board member.

Grant Nichols embodies busy.

The workweek sweat on his brow comes from toiling on the production floor at IWCO Direct, a marketing company headquartered in Chanhassen. When he's not earning an honest paycheck, "Biscuit," as he's also known, fills his time coaching youth sports, participating in the Lions Club, attending services at First Lutheran Church, and looking out for the north metro's future as a member of the Columbia Heights School Board.

With so many people to see and places to be, it's completely understandable how a fella might lapse in being a vigilant custodian of his cell phone. According to Nichols, that's exactly what happened earlier this month. 

At six past four in the morning on Sunday, September 6, Nichols says someone who'd hijacked his online credentials took to the world wide web. An earlier Facebook posting had mentioned Muslims.

To which Nichols... er... um... someone posing as Nichols replied, "No they are just unsanitary by bringing water into a bathroom and making a mess. Besides washing their feet, armpits in the sinks in the bathrooms. Powder on the toilet seat. Touching door knobs after they wipe their butt with their hands. They leave it a mess and no one says anything about that? Thats ok though. You probably don't work with any of them?"

The comment was quickly deleted. Nichols was equally quick distancing himself from the inflammatory remarks. He denied authorship, speculating that someone at work had made the post through his phone. 

"I should have kept it better locked down than that," he told MPR's Tom Post. "I should have been watching that stuff. I didn't do anything wrong, but I feel bad that it happened."

Nichols' excuses for the insipid bathroom habits commentary has done nothing to quell the forest fire furor created by the social media musing. 

Last Tuesday, a 3-1 vote by the Columbia Heights School Board fell one vote shy of the number needed to oust a member, thus saving Nichols' spot on the panel. Nichols abstained from the vote, saying he was worried about his safety.  

In a letter he reiterated his claims that a co-worker had used his phone without license, writing, "It was done on my Facebook account, and therefore was a result of my carelessness with the security of my phone."

The statement also said Nichols pledged to "guard against future mistakes with my phone."

Three days later, hundreds of Columbia Heights High School students staged a 45-minute peaceful protest. Gov. Mark Dayton visited the school that same day and called for Nichols to resign from the school board immediately. 

Over the weekend Nichols stood tenacious. 

  

"Message to Governor Dayton!........No I will not resign," read a Facebook post under Nichols' name. "I will not be bullied by party politics for doing nothing. Local government should stay local government. I am fighting for the future generations. No one should be guilty by assumption....  Failure of democracy is when sheep just follow one sheperd. Its called dictatorship."

Wanting to know if the recent Facebook was legit and if Nichols took responsibility for not doing a spellcheck, City Pages called the embattled education official yesterday. An IWCO Direct receptionist said Nichols couldn't take calls because he was working on the production floor. Repeated messages left at the number listed for Nichols on the school board website went unreturned.