I personally think Ben Dibble as president of the Lakota School Board is a better fit than what we’ve had in the past. I can deal with people who don’t think the way I do, since usually the differences are in understanding. But I refuse to deal with thugs who wish to convince me that a lie is the truth. When Ben said “We need more direction from our community on where it thinks our school district should be heading and what level of service it’s willing to fund,” the school board president is speaking from his perspective and political affiliation. Unfortunately flowery progressive types who don’t have much business experience see the world through rose-colored glasses, which corrupts their decision-making. The elements missing from Ben’s statement is that the cost of that funding is up for negotiation. Cost is not a fixed item and that is the heart of the problem at Lakota and every other public school in Ohio and across the country. Public education has a monopoly on education because of government involvement. It is because there is no competition that education costs are so high, and that is why there are not enough tax dollars to fund public education, because the salary expectations are simply too high because there’s no competition to keep the costs low.
In private conversations most of the people on the inside know what the problem is, but they lack the fortitude to confront the situation. So they go on the attack against people like me who point out the problem with varied degrees of coercion. Anyone who knows me personally understands that sending a bunch of latte sipping prostitutes outside of a Kroger store to take a survey against my name with the intention of running me out of the town is not the smart thing to do. That kind of thing is an act of war in my opinion, so that is not the way to solve problems; it will just piss me off. School superintendents and school board presidents know that there are serious problems with the education funding formula and they know it is caused due to their monopoly power. So to close the perception gap and keep people from looking too closely into their affairs without thuggish union coercion is the reason they hire public relations personnel and consultants.
Lakota even though they have agreed to not put the community through another tax increase in 2012 is already making aggressive plans for the near future because they just don’t understand at a fundamental level that the gravy train of the teaching profession is over, and that they must adjust their costs to the market value that is trying to establish itself. Instead, they have decided to fight the community once again and they have loaded up on public relations help in a big way to help put them over the top. On July 16th Lakota approved the contract of Randy Oppenheimer to serve as community relations consultant paying him $67,000 for 50 weeks. It looks as though Lakota was not happy with the work of Elliot Grossman who they paid $73,000 from October 2011 immediately after the $90,000 payout to the previous public relations consultant Laura Kursman, to the present. Lakota has spent a lot of tax payer money on trying to hide their budget management problems which are locked in archaic union contracts that have driven up their employee costs. The public relations consultants are hired to deflect attention away from this problem and place it upon the students who attend the school creating an emotional argument for many parents designed to defy logic.
Without question Superintendent Mantia is excited to see that Oppenheimer worked as a public relations consultant at Fairfield which just barely passed their school levy in the most recent election. Mantia and the Lakota gang hope that Oppenheimer can pull the same strings with his connections to the Middletown Journal and other papers to use those publications as mouthpieces for higher taxes actively promoting the school without journalistic appraisal.
But Lakota didn’t stop there. They are taking the extra public relations step of going on the offense by hiring a very progressive political group called Citizens for Civic Renewal to come from their projects in Over-the-Reign and the Freedom Center to Lakota with a program they call “Community Conversation.” The actual term for this action Lakota is spending tax payer money on, should be “Community Conversion,” because what the Citizens for Civic Renewal are planning to do with “Community Conversation” is just a different name for The Delphi Technique created by Saul Alinsky. For this service Lakota is paying $40,000 to Jeffrey Stec who is the executive director of Citizens for Civic Renewal to “engage” the community and convince them of why they should “step up” and pay higher taxes for the school in their district.
But here’s where Jeffrey will run into problems. What he will run into at Lakota as opposed to his work in downtown Cincinnati is that the people who live in Liberty Twp, and West Chester live there because they wanted to move away from the kind of people Jeffrey is, who is a progressive big government guy attempting to keep all the New Deal and “Great Society” policies progressive politics has enacted over the last century that have driven up taxes, particularly in the metropolitan areas. Jeffery’s group is in denial of those costs and the actual merit of those services. Since he is viewing the world in a progressive manner, he believes that the rest of society has a social contract with each other to always support the policies of those communist leaning programs created during the Cold War in direct reaction to the political conditions of the great Soviet threat. One of those programs was “collective bargaining” for public unions which didn’t start in Ohio until 1983. It has been a failure, and is directly responsible for schools like Lakota to operate at uncontrollably high costs.
There are neighborhoods in Lakota, like Four Bridges, that are filled with younger families who have found themselves in well-paying jobs, but are still immature and lacking world experience. Because they are busy parents they feel insecure in parental roles and wish to believe they can purchase through higher taxes good futures for their children. They tend to support school levies, because they lack worldly experience and just don’t know any better. Jeffery with his group is being paid to further perpetuate that myth. But a majority of the communities in Liberty Twp., and West Chester are older people who have been around and have raised families of their own. Many families are actual entrepreneurs and business managers who have had to make hard financial decisions in their businesses, so they see the truth, and those people will not have any sympathy for Jeffery and his progressive group. Most of the people moved or stayed in Lakota to avoid progressive types like Jeffery, so his “Community Conversations” will not be well received.
I’m sure Oppenheimer will manage to convince the Pulse Journal to write flowery articles about Jeffery’s attempts, and Michael Clark at the Cincinnati Enquirer will eat out of Oppenheimer’s hand, since Lakota has convinced Clark to choose between me, and the school. Newspaper reporters know they need the school stories to keep their livelihoods going, so they will choose who puts money in their pocket 100% of the time, and I don’t put money in the Enquirer’s pocket. The coverage of these “Community Conversations” is already set. It’s bought and paid for with our tax dollars in a hope to convince Lakota tax payers to approve higher taxes on themselves in a district with declining enrollment, where layoffs will become necessary for the next 10 years regardless of levy passage. The housing boom in Butler County is over. There will still be real estate sales, but at nowhere near the levels that the levy supporter, real estate agent, school board members like Joan Powell have enjoyed in the past. They are in denial of their personal circumstances and are hoping that Oppenheimer and “Community Conversation” will supply them once again with the kind of financial gravy they enjoyed in the previous decade.
The cost of that gravy is enormous. In just one calendar year, Lakota has spent a quarter million dollars on four public relations consultants to bring them to this initiative of “Community Conversation” and a structure to help sell it to the public. $250,000 of tax payer dollars has been consumed at Lakota to sell the concept of higher taxes to those same tax payers. At best it is disingenuous to the intelligence of Lakota residents to impose on them more political games by aligning the school of a conservative community to the nonsense of goofy, idealistic progressives whose only answer to everything in life is to spend more money.
My hopes that Lakota would listen to the community and actually manage their finances have just flown out the window. They just can’t get it through their minds that the members of the community do not exist to create jobs for education professionals. We just want our kids to get an education, and for busy parents, they need a day care facility while they work two jobs to live in homes that have $5000 a year property tax obligations. The quality of a school is in the people of the community, not in the employees of the school. As I’ve said thousands of times, every employee at Lakota could be fired and replaced with cheaper new employees, and the quality at Lakota would not decrease, because the kids come from quality households. And those households moved to Lakota to avoid progressive fools who think “big government” is “hip” and an obligation for society. It is in the quality of the people who live in the district that makes Lakota great. It is not the school, or the quarter million dollars spent on public relations to attempt to convince conservative families in the Lakota District otherwise. The problem of education funding is a result of an education monopoly driven by unionized labor resistant to technological changes. The purpose of public relation firms is to hide that fact from the tax payer with glossy, emotional stories about children and community pride. The intent is to survive just a bit longer when the market conditions are demanding changes, so the current employees can preserve their salary demands and meet their retirement options. In the end, it’s far from being about the children, it’s all about the money and the endless desire for more sold behind the mask of “Community Conversations.”