The first step in fixing anything, especially when it comes to organizations that are run by people, is to put good people in charge. The West Chester Tea Party hosted a Meet the Candidates Forum at the Lakota West Freshman building on September 1st, 2011, where all five candidates made their case for why they should be elected to the two seats that are coming open on November 8th. At Lakota, where there is much dispute about how to spend the enormous $160 million dollar budget it takes to run that school district, picking good school board members is of utmost importance. So for your convenience I videotaped the entire presentation and have included it here for your entertainment and information.
When watching this, be patient, sometimes, especially at the beginning, the candidates forgot to use the microphone so the sound is off at times, just bare with it, because it will improve. Turn up the volume and relax. It’s a long video, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but it is packed with a lot of information that will assist you in making the correct choice at the voting booth. After the video I will provide a review of who I think are the best candidates for the job in the order I’d recommend them, best to last.
After watching all that, here are my favorites:
Lucas Hall: Lucas is a very confident young man, still in college who just graduated from Lakota himself. I thought he performed remarkably well and had a fresh, uncorrupted perspective about education and what it is supposed to do for students. Ironically, I think his age is to his advantage, because he hasn’t grown up and out-of-touch yet, which happens to so many adults. I believe out of all the candidates, Lucas wants to be a school board member for all the right reasons and he will have my vote. Fresh eyes can bring fresh ideas and that is what I want to see on my school board. He is very mature, probably more so than most adults, but he has not yet become cynical to innovation. And he is the safest bet to being a candidate who has not been tainted by the labor union yet.
Mark Etterling: Mark is a good firm conservative, and a businessman. He’s also a pilot which is a plus in my book. Pilots tend to be organized, and cool under pressure, and they know no matter how messy things are on the ground or in the circles of politics, a pilot knows the calm of the sky where they can climb above the clouds to gain fresh perspective. Mark has some very good ideas about how to stretch dollars provided to the school, and he is open to the legislation passed by Senator Bill Coley which allows teachers to make money online and expand their teaching range to other districts by bringing more competition to education, which needs to happen desperately. I will be voting for Mark.
Lynda O’Connor: Lynda is a good person, I think she is very sincere and tries hard to represent Lakota as honorably as possible. The biggest knock against her is that she is a current board member, and she voted for the levy request. It is for that reason that she’s number three. If Lucas hadn’t done so well in my opinion, I wouldn’t have a problem voting for Lynda even though she made me very angry with her vote for yet another levy. One thing these people have to learn is that education is not a football game where revenue in 2005, or even 2000 is not equitable to the value of education, so revenue should not be expected to always increase. After speaking with Lynda I think she is capable of understanding that, but the current education culture, driven by unionized labor has created a belief that behaves like a bottomless pit, and Lynda has been stuck between that culture and the fresh ideas that most ambitious school board members have when they first get started.
Julie Shaffer: Absolutely not! She ran against me in past campaigns and she has completely bought into that whole unionized culture, which makes education unnecessarily expensive. She has been on the finance committee so she understands the numbers at play but she does not understand the relative impact of continually rising taxes against the community. She has been so close to the situation that she cannot see the “forest for the trees.” People like her will only continue to spend money with an eye to more taxes to subsidize her idealistic view of education. I watched Julie after the meeting and the union representatives were very friendly to her. One thing about politics, most of the politicking goes on after these meetings, not during. It is the friendships that are formed in those conversations that ultimately takes someone like Lynda and makes her vote “YES” when she’d love to vote “NO” but it’s those friendships that tip the balance. Julie is a spokesman for the labor union. She chooses to put blinders on to the real problems in favor of her relationship with those union reps who speak so friendly with handshakes after the meeting, but will not think twice about using that friendship against Julie during the next labor dispute. I want someone who will stand up to the union, not lay down at their feet.
Jamie Green: Are you kidding me! NO, NO, NO, NO! Jamie is a former board member and was responsible for many of my headaches during the 2004 and 2005 campaigns. She is a big spender who thinks it’s more than appropriate to spend money like it comes from a bottomless pit. It was the board she was a part of that put Lakota on this path of fiscal failure and she certainly hasn’t fought against the union in any way that I see. Again, our community needs board members who will push back against the labor demands, not lay at their feet, we need managers not “yes” people. If there were 400 candidates running for school board at Lakota, Jamie would be number 400 on my preference list. To know who Jamie Green is, look at her quote at the 55:35 minute mark of that video. We don’t need people like her on our school board. People like her have been part of the problem for years, and a vote for her is a vote to stuff more money into the pockets of organized labor at the expense of the people who actually build the community.
The intention of this particular article is to provide reference to the voters of Lakota out there, so I will withhold my usual commentary for the sake of length. To learn more about this event and my opinions of it, read this link for the details.
But before I close this article out, I am compelled to pass along a note I received just this very morning, which can be seen at the end of the linked article. That note is from a former member of the Lakota School Board, and is a very good friend of mine. I will share it here in closing for those to read and understand as information pertinent to this upcoming election for 2 new Lakota School Board members. Choose, and choose wisely:
This is one of your very best essays, Rich. You touched every point with the precision of a surgeon. You are one of the very few who really get the charade that was performed by Sandy Wheatly and Jamie Green. Both of these women are totally in the clutches of the OSBA and the union. Both served on the board with total disregard for the students. My friend, Helen Shumaker, pointed out to them over and over what was really happening in education. Their reaction was to make fun of her. She provided them with volumes of documentation. It meant nothing to them. I was at the board meeting one evening when two board members brought up the subject of a very controversial book. Many parents complained regarding the content of the book and why couldn’t a book that was less controversial be used.
Sandy Wheatly was the president of the board, as I recall. She had put this approval off until she could allign her troops to the board meeting. The union showed up in full force to demand that the book be used and member after member got up with statements as to how the teachers were the professionals and book burners would not censor their choices in materials. Pages written and delivered right out of the “Change Agents Handbook.” Every one of them were dressed exactly like hippies from the sixties. I could not believe they had the audacity to attend a board meeting in shorts and the required Berkenstocks.
One of the board members meekly asked if they would put the book in the library instead of making it required reading. The meeting got pretty intense, mainly by the teachers. Sandy Wheatly held up a large book and said that it was on “civility” and she suggested that everyone go along with that premise. Another trick used by those that use the school children for their own agenda. I watched the thorough manipulation of the crowd at this meeting. Another Rodney King moment. What eventually happened was that many books were purchased for the library and the books were used in the classroom. They always get their way. They alway cover up for the worst among them and they always operate on the emotions. Wheatly quotes the Bible, but in my opinion she has always managed to do the devils work.
For the answer to everything as to why labor unions fail, check out this link: