“Even with these cuts, Lakota schools are still worth “cheering” for. We are not part of a losing team, but our children and grandchildren could lose out on future opportunities if there isn’t more financial support. So, let’s drown out the Rich Hoffmans of our community by making the next levy a successful one. If that happens, we all win.”
“GO TEAM GO…….HURRAHHHH”
The above statement was written by Lakota Levy cheerleader Laura Sanders, who responded to my Letter to the Editor in the Today’s Pulse April 14th edition. The letter she is responding to I have placed below for ease of review. As to Laura’s fantasy that she will drown out the Rich Hoffmans of the community, I have very bad news for her. I can swim longer than anybody she knows and I can shout louder—far louder than I have so far displayed. So if that is the path she and her levy cheerleaders wish to follow, I am looking forward to it. I have also placed below the letter she put in the paper for analysis. I will answer her assertions following her text.
First the letter I submitted:
The Lakota Levy Cheerleaders
Combined with the Lakota Superintendent’s articles here in the Journal, the “Community Conversations” program, along with a few pro Levy speeches, and I can’t help but feel that I’m watching a football game where the home team is losing 45 to 0 yet the cheerleaders are still on the sideline with their pom poms in hand completely oblivious to the events happening on the field of play still reciting the “cheers” they learned in practice.
Much to their dismay, the “Levy Addicts” who are pounding the drums for another tax increase this year and are attempting to soften the resistance with new strategies, the score up on the board is not in their favor. Lakota as a district is about to see an influx of income from the Liberty Way Development, the Carriage Hill Development, and the continued growth of the Union Center corridor. All the tax revenue coming in from these activities will be more than the previous year. Combine that trend with the 10 year projection of declining student enrollment due to the number of homes in Lakota without children increasing–balancing the budget without a tax increase should be easy.
The old mantra that education is for the “kids” is old and worn out. Nobody believes it any more just like nobody believes the home team is going to win when the score is so lopsided yet the cheerleaders are still on the sideline saying the same mindless drivel that they have the entire game. What the levy supporters want with tax increases is simply a glorified community babysitting service. What I have learned about public education these last couple of years does not lend credence to any kind of education quality even for so-called great schools like Lakota. For the 18,000 people who have turned down these levies over the years for multiple reasons, we have no choice but to support the product now, which is currently too expensive. It is simply unfathomable to ask for more, especially when the score is so lopsided—in spite of the mindless cheers.
Now, Laura Sander’s response:
Lakota Schools Still Worth ‘Cheering’ For
Here we go again:”……levy addict…glorified community baby-sitting service.”
Wasn’t Rich Hoffman already discredited by the media one year ago because of phrases like this and previous comments such as “…crazy PTA moms and their minions of latte drinking despots with diamond rings the size of car tires and assess to match…”
Maybe Mr. Hoffman thinks its clever using metaphors comparing levy supporters to mindless cheerleaders (another attack on women). Unlike his approach, I prefer to use facts.
Mr. Hoffman claims that Lakota will “see an influx” of tax revenue after new developments are built. That sounds great, but it’s not reality. Commercial property contributes very little to school funding and has not kept pace with residential growth. Gov. John Kasich cut $1.8 billion from schools over the last two years and his current budget increases funding for charter schools and proposes additional vouchers on private schools, once again depriving public education of money.
Ohio’s charter schools received $775 million from the state last year. That amount of money could fund numerous public school districts.
Lakota Treasurer Jenni Logan predicts the district will face a $1.8 million dollar budget deficit by 2014. This is after $35 million in cuts over the last three years, which has resulted in minimal bus transportation; larger classes; fewer days for art, music and gym; no reading specialists; a dismantled gifted program, etc.
Even with these cuts, Lakota schools are still worth “cheering” for. We are not part of a losing team, but our children and grandchildren could lose out on future opportunities if there isn’t more financial support. So, let’s drown out the Rich Hoffmans of our community by making the next levy a successful one. If that happens, we all win.
Now to address Laura’s points:
- I never said the cheerleaders were women or girls. Isn’t it sexist and presumptuous of to assume that all cheerleaders are “women?” Just because they are traditionally women does not mean that cheerleaders are not men too. They have men sometimes, especially in college. Whether there are men or women, cheerleaders have a job to do and that is to engage the audience with positive entertainment no matter what the actual conditions of the game. That job is more difficult if the score is so bad that it is obvious the team they are cheering for is going to lose. It helps the cheerleader’s task to not pay too much attention to the facts on the field and just repeat what they have been taught in practice, no matter what the reality on the field displays to them. It is a proper metaphor for what is going on at Lakota with the cries for yet another levy. Laura and a handful of others have behaved very similarly to the metaphor I used. But I never said the cheerleaders were women.
- Laura’s plan might have been to discredit me in the media with her fellow cheerleaders but what she didn’t understand was that rules have changed. (TO READ WHAT LAURA SAID ABOUT ME IN THE ENQUIRE CLICK HERE) For instance dear reader, have you ever been in a classroom atmosphere where a question was asked, and you knew the answer, but you were afraid to raise your hand for fear that you’d answer incorrectly and look like a fool. Then as you look around you discover that only one guy in the class was raising their hand. The rest of the class felt just as you do, and kept their hands down. Then that one guy is called on and answers the question and then you are angry with yourself because he said the same answer that you had in your mind. If you had only had the guts to raise your hand, you would have been right. Well, I’m that guy with his hand up, and when I say something I am saying the same thing that most of everyone else is already thinking. Most people agree with me. After I called levy supporters “latté sipping despots with diamond rings the size of car tires and assess to match” I was saying what most everyone else was thinking, but was afraid to speak it public. (CLICK TO READ MORE) I brought up the PTA moms because I knew of a few cases, especially one at Cherokee Elementary where boycotts were organized against businesses that did not support the school levy. (That would be the J.D. Stackerz Bar and Grill situation between a high-ranking administrator calling PTA members personally to organize a boycott in direct violation of Ohio Revised Code ORC 3315.07 (C) (1) and (C) (2) described below.)
(C)(1) Except as otherwise provided in division (C)(2) of this section, no board of education shall use public funds to support or oppose the passage of a school levy or bond issue or to compensate any school district employee for time spent on any activity intended to influence the outcome of a school levy or bond issue election.
(2) A board of education may permit any of its employees to attend a public meeting during his regular working hours for the purpose of presenting information about school finances and activities and board actions, even if the purpose of the meeting is to discuss or debate the passage of a school levy or bond issue.
- I sat on the story because the owner was terrified to come forward in fear of losing her business. Well, guess what, she lost her business a few months later. I took the story to The Enquirer—who didn’t cover it and I took the story right next door to the Pulse Journal who wouldn’t touch it. With the kind of power the business owner felt was against her, she asked me to sit on the story, which I did. Surely all the Levy Cheerleaders know all about it. That kind of behavior is extortion, and is an attempt to win elections with coercion which if this wasn’t a government school would be considered criminal activity with jail time attached. Because it’s a school with a tremendous public relations budget, no court would attempt to enforce Ohio Revised Code ORC 3315.07 (C) (1) and (C) (2). I find stories like that one appalling, and made even worse because they are done behind the cover of children. I consider anybody who would engage in that kind of activity to be morally bankrupt and a detriment to society. You are lucky I held back my tongue on that comment because a lot more descriptive dialogue was on my mind. Now, for the other case which I have document release, CLICK HERE to view.
- As to my being discredited let me shed some light on that little topic. WLW was running dry, we covered education till we were blue in the face and it was starting to drag on the ratings. They wanted to swing more toward sports talk radio; I wanted to take the rhetoric to a higher level because of the behavior by the school board after the third levy failure and the decision by Karen Mantia to not engage the teacher’s union with a pay reduction. So we were going to part ways anyway, especially after Doc Thompson left. Traditional newspapers like The Enquirer and The Pulse were stuck between pro levy people and me and they had to pick a side. After Michael Clark’s behavior with the exclusive I gave him regarding Yes to Lakota Kids, I knew where he was going, in the direction where his wife was employed—in public education. So traditional media did pull away, and I had been holding my tongue to keep them in my corner until I had a suitable network built that could sustain those loses when they occurred. Once I had it secure, I let my tongue speak. In addition apparently Laura missed this Channel 19 interview once it was announced that Lakota wouldn’t be seeking a levy in 2012. CLICK HERE TO SEE FOR YOURSELF. So much for discredit.
I. I knew when Karen Mantia arrived in town that she would seek to attack No Lakota Levy diplomatically and split us from the inside. That is after all what she did in Pickerington and the people from up there warned me ahead of time what her mode of operation was. In a personal meeting I had with her I got a wonderful feel for how she was going to play her hand. So I started to set up my operation independent of my partners in No Lakota Levy. If they stayed, great, if they broke, I could still proceed on as planned. They had showed signs of cracking earlier in the year, so I didn’t think they’d stay the course through a fourth attempt. On the third levy, they handled the sign delivery around the community during the last two weeks of the campaign and little else. I took care of all the media work, the blog postings, the debates and anything else that came up. If I lost them politically for the fourth levy attempt, which I felt was Mantia’s strategy—based on our meeting, I would have to maintain my ability to continue. In future levy attempts I would need the more radical members of the No Lakota Levy front to continue the fight. Many of them were frustrated that I didn’t hit the school hard enough often enough. My response was that a day would come when we would be able to hit as hard as they wanted. But for now, in the early stage of these levy fights, we had to save the best tricks for later—which we have. Most of the primary members of No Lakota Levy wanted to form Yes to Lakota Kids which I wasn’t crazy about, because they were tired of being called selfish businessmen—again by the PTA community. The threats of boycotts and other harassing measures were unconscionable in my opinion, and I couldn’t get Michael Clark from The Enquirer to cover those stories either. This left those members to strive for a public image campaign with Yes to Lakota Kids, which I felt was just feeding the monster. The sports fees shouldn’t have been put in place and even though we were raising $10,000, it felt to me like a drop in the bucket. So I wasn’t happy, but I represented their interests out of friendship. In private, on my blog, and elsewhere I voiced my opinion. Laura’s desire to make some of those comments one of sexism is a surrender on the pro levy position. They know they cannot win based on their arguments, so they played the progressive “feminist” card in an attempt to remove me from the debate. But, as predicted, there were a lot of silent handshakes and smirks about my comments from people who had been thinking the same thing. I just gave them a vehicle to vent their frustrations. A lot of the votes that the pro side wins from arm twisting, extortion, and other forms of coercion came back my way due to my controversial comments, which is what I needed to do on my side to prepare for the next try. Voters were just waiting for someone to articulate what they were already feeling.
II. Now as to facts………….I have delivered facts, upon facts, upon facts. Laura’s statement that she is dealing with facts whereas I am not is typical of the pro education debate where they ignore all facts except the ones they wish to see. It’s that cheerleader mentality again. If they look up on the scoreboard they don’t want to see a 45 to 0 score. They simply look at the clock to see what time it is. They ignore the actual score because they have a show to perform, and can’t let the facts ruin their desired reality. So here are the facts as she addressed them.
- Laura ignores in her statement that Lakota has a 10 year declining enrollment projection which means that student enrollment will be decreasing. That means Lakota will have to lay off teachers, consolidate schools, and roll back their staff to accommodate the lower student levels. With tax revenue staying the same, and enrollment going down, any idiot should be able to balance their budget. That is unless they plan to give away the farm on the 2014 labor contract that is coming up with the LEA.
- Laura obviously doesn’t know anybody with commercial property who has to write a check on their property values at $1.5 to $5 million dollars. Businesses are taxed at the same rate as residences, and there is a lot of business in the Lakota district. To say that commercial business does not contribute much to school funding is like saying that the sun does not contribute to sun burn. It’s a statement based on levy propaganda and a denial of the facts.
- Kasich did not take money away from Lakota in 2012 and the spending on school vouchers and charter schools is a very good thing which I support 100%. Public schools need to become profit motivated and drive their costs down, not up. I want to see a chart that shows the per pupil cost at Lakota going down each year, not trending up. Education options are what drive down costs, and I am happy to see that Kasich put more money into charters. To speak otherwise is to be a stooge for the labor unions who wish to maintain a monopoly status on public education. If Kasich had thrown the $775 million dollars she discussed at Ohio’s public schools the unions would have gobbled it up like a black hole. They’d be hungry for more money the very next year. $775 million dollars does not go very far in public education. Not when the budget just at Lakota is near $200 million with undeclared costs added of course.
- If Lakota is predicting a $1.8 million dollar deficit in 2014 it is because they have mismanaged the money the tax payers have already sent them. The fact that Karen Mantia cut bus transportation, dismantled the gifted program, reading specialists, has fewer days for art, only says that she did exactly what she was taught in Levy University at the OSBA Conference in Columbus point for point. If Lakota decided to cut those types of programs instead of doing what No Lakota Levy told the school board to do, and that was present a 5% reduction of wages to the union, they are guilty of mismanagement. They have let the “tail wag the dog.” They have failed to handle their labor contract, it’s that simple, and that failure is on her management style. As a former teacher herself, Mantia aligned herself with the employees of Lakota and not the community who pays the bills. That is her failure and if there is another levy, it will be due to her mismanagement of the finances provided, especially since student enrollment is on a sharp decline.
I spent a good part of this past Friday evening speaking to a reporter about virtually everything that I’ve said here. We are living in a new age; traditional media doesn’t hold the same power that it once did so creativity and innovation favor those on the side of the truth. The only thing that has held back others from jumping on the No Vote bandwagon was fear, because they have truth on their side, which is what I explained in a speech recently to a group I spoke to in Oxford. CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW. My hope after the third levy attempt was that I could inspire more people to step forward so that it wasn’t always Rich Hoffman doing everything, because that can only go on for so long. To have a healthy resistance, the formations have to constantly change, and new players have to be rotated in and out just like in a military engagement—because that is what we are fighting. Public education is not a nice institution that is protecting children as it’s sold; it’s a government propaganda machine and a babysitting service for parents too busy to care for their own children. I really don’t care if that makes people angry, because it’s true, and there are enough residents at Lakota who have grown children who know that it is. In the next levy attempt it is my hope that there are 20 levy fighters doing what I was doing in the first three at Lakota. I think that will be the case, and if it’s not, then I will pick up the slack……………..gladly. I’m happy to be civil if the pro levy people are, but if they wish to be uncivil—like they usually are, I will respond—as I have. Meanwhile, my advanced position on all public education is that it should be abolished as a tax payer funded entity off property tax. If Laura Sanders wants certain things for her child to learn, then she can pay for it. I’m tired of paying money for people like her to benefit, while they constantly complain that other people should pay more taxes. CLICK TO REVIEW THE KIND OF THINGS KIDS ARE BEING TAUGHT ABOUT EDUCTION FROM THE LAST CAMPAIGN. That kind of thing makes me absolutely sick. And when she states that commercial businesses do not contribute much in property taxes, she’s clearly not up to speed.
So go ahead and test me Lakota people. Go ahead and think that people are going to fall for the same old emotional arguments of the past, the accusations of sexism, selfishness, and compassion, and see where it gets you. I have saved a lot of people hundreds of thousands of dollars around Lakota and I purposely kept the budgets low in the previous three levy attempts so that the coffers would be there when I needed it. So when Laura Sanders says as she did in the opening of her letter………….. “Here we go again” that’s right. If they want to go again, they will see more fireworks than they’ve ever seen before……especially since my next campaign will be using new media, not traditional media. I don’t have to worry about offending people in the next attempt, now that the resistance network is built with fresh faces. For me this is a moral argument now, not just a financial one.
I would say this to Lakota. I am happy to do as I promised at the beginning of the deal in 2012 when it was agreed to not put a levy on the ballot. I am happy to leave Lakota alone in my crusade against public education if Lakota keeps its head down and out of the voting booth. Take the declined enrollment and ride off into the sunset, because if Lakota puts itself on my radar, it will be their own fault. That is a bit of friendly advice. Or, Lakota can listen to the winds of war from the pom poms of Lakota’s Levy Cheerleaders and see who can swim the longest and shout the loudest. And I know where the Vegas odds makers will put their money—and it isn’t on Lakota.