Shakedowns at Lakota: The trolls robbing openly the business community

It’s not often easy to understand the many veiled ways that a school system, any school system, extorts the business community for extra cash in the pay to play scheme that is what has become of government schools. When anybody talks about the teacher unions as a negative radical force, it goes far beyond the wages that destroy budgets that school boards are constantly having to deal with. It actually seeps into the management of the school system itself flowing over into zoning and finance. When we see these radicals in action they usually present themselves as nice cordial people, perhaps with too much jewelry and perfume–even the guys. Their pant suits would make Hillary Clinton proud as they profess to be “all about the children,” which nobody would argue with because they don’t understand the details. But when the lights are dimmed a bit, or these union radicals are sipping their lattés at Starbucks, their true intentions become much clearer and a hatred for the rich and industrious comes sharply into focus, even as they make plans to strike against a school system over more money such as what seems always to be happening in Chicago. And from the letter presented below, this practice of harassing businesses isn’t just happening in my home district of Lakota, it’s pretty much everywhere that labor unions operate with taxpayer funds.

What makes stories like this hard for people to understand is that its not the direct action that progressive teacher unions create themselves, it’s the results that they instigate as a radicalized political entity. Anybody who has the endorsement of a labor union and is running for school board is playing the game and do the bidding of that radical element. This example is within Lakota, but the same story could be told in Mason, Monroe, or any government school. The foundation for this particular practice at Lakota goes back to the severe mismanagement of the school board that went on when Joan Powell was running things. To a large degree Julie Shaffer has carried on the tradition along with Ray Murray and Brad Lovell. Ray lost his seat a few years ago to Todd Parnell. Lynda O’Connor and Todd have been two votes toward solutions and are both business friendly. For this upcoming election, Jim Hahn is poised to join the school board and like Todd and Lynda, is a pro-business candidate and would be part of the solution. But before we can talk about that we must define the problem that is expressed in the letter presented.

The names were blacked out to protect the innocent on the letter shown here. Even though I have permission to use the letter in its raw form it’s not really necessary for the story. The story is that a real-estate investment by an enterprising opportunity has been trying to gather up the funds to initiate the endeavor and they are being told in this letter that the common practice in public schools operating in this region are demanding even more money to leverage control over the project before a shovel ever hits the ground. And that threat will continue until the owner or prospector of the property makes a payment to the school for the increased value assessed by the legal entity who is also part of the game. Essentially that means that any investment coming into an area doesn’t just have to look at the costs of the project itself, but the amount of extortion money that the local school system applies to them. Of course, if they don’t play then as the letter says, they will be “blacklisted” and will have trouble elsewhere.

Such as in the case of Lakota, this is why incoming projects, shopping centers, home developments either move to some friendlier district without the kind of leverage that Lakota has or they just buck up and shut up so they can do business in our community. The teacher’s union create the false narrative that their employment makes a great school which attracts investment by developers. They have the media platform to get a sympathetic ear from both print and television news because the kids are used as a shield to advance the topic. But the chaos is driven by the insatiable need for ever more money that is always increased by the labor demand for unreasonably high wages, which must be paid for by the “rich,” property owners. Those property owners are of course the general taxpayers who own real estate—they are all looked at as soft targets by the teacher’s union out for progressive changes to society in general. But it is the business owners who take the biggest hit, just as this letter explains. If they want to do business in Lakota, or any school district through Ohio and Pennsylvania, they will have to pay the troll living under the bridge between finance and the local school system.

The worst part of all this is that it is the crazy labor costs that are driving the activism. Business owners typically don’t want to get involved in contentious disputes because the teacher’s union will threaten quite openly to boycott their work, which to any business could mean complete destruction. Its hard enough to come into a community with a business plan to get funding for the project, but then to survive a shakedown by the local school that might put 7% to 10% extra cost into the project. Then to have it all threatened with bad press and a bunch of angry latté sippers from the teacher’s union is often a “not worth it” decision. People may look around Lakota’s district and declare that everything is great, there are lots of businesses and lots of residents. But what isn’t talked about is that there could be more if the school system wasn’t such a negative impact on potential investors. When it is wondered why Lakota has had declining enrollment, this is one of the contributing factors. Or why young people move out of the area once they graduate. Or why Liberty Center still hasn’t leased out all its available space in spite of all the wonderful things it has to offer to the community, the cost of doing business is too high for most, so it limits our opportunities as a community.

Meanwhile the demand for such high cost appropriations does come from the teacher’s unions who are always threatening the school district with increased costs which pushes not so bright school board members like Ray Murray, Brad Lovell and Julie Shaffer into participating in these shakedowns to keep from having to go to the voters every couple of years to get more levy money to pay the unending appetites of the radical Lakota teacher’s union. The businesspeople are easy targets because they often can’t afford to defend themselves once they have sunk a lot of money into a project, then are stuck holding to it once the bleeding starts. Sure, the labor radicals are nice to them and are not shy to ask for more shakedown money any way they can get it with cordial conversation at public events, but make no mistake about it, the practice is vile and is just as criminal as any thief looking to rob a bank. It’s the same thing, only the school districts wait for some investor to come along with bright ideas to do all the work, then once they are too far along to turn back, find they have to secure more revenue to appease the trolls in the school district. And that is just disgusting. It is certainly happening at Lakota in abundance, but to be honest, it is happening everywhere. The reality is that nobody has the guts to cover it which is why it continues to happen on and on and on.

Rich Hoffman

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