I think its very interesting that Kathy Wyenandt is still celebrating the passage of the Lakota levy of 2013 as her calling card to get into the Ohio Senate. At a recent debate some of the things I heard her say about her role in passing that levy stirred me the wrong way. In ways that I’ve written plenty on, that levy was personal and had evolved well beyond just a healthy debate between opposing sides. When she talks about No Lakota Levy as the organized resistance to the tax increases that were proposed three other times prior and went down to defeat, it was my face that was in the front of it, and it was my reputation that they attacked when they couldn’t win any other way, so I disagree with Kathy Wyenandt who became the fourth campaign attempt at passing that ridiculous tax increase at Lakota schools. After listening to her I think we need to set the record straight because there was some really bad action going on with that effort for which Kathy was in the middle of and we need to talk about it.
Kathy Wyenandt is taking credit for her role in passing that tax increase so let’s review what happened. After three levy attempts for which I was the spokesman of the No Lakota Levy group the school board targeted me personally to get me out of the way of their opposition for another attempt which they were talking about doing in the following spring. I had two problems with that, the voters had spoken on three previous attempts, a resounding no, and Lakota wasn’t listening. Instead they made it personal and went after my character directly, siding with the Cincinnati Enquirer in bringing great harm to my reputation in an effort to smoke out all the No Lakota Levy supporters whom I represented often on WLW radio. The organized labor efforts of the teacher’s union and the levy supporting moms of Lakota went on quite a campaign against me, because they couldn’t beat the arguments I poised at them in live debates on the radio, on stage at various forums, and anywhere else they wanted to fight. Because their premise on the whole thing was wrong. So they lobbied WLW to stop supporting the No Lakota Levy campaign, which led to the firing of my radio friend Doc Thompson while on his honeymoon, which was a very low blow to him. He and I talked about the situation and he spilled the beans to me as to what went on behind the scenes at WLW in conjunction with Lakota lobbyists, all which occurred at the same time in a coordinated fashion. No school system should have that kind of power against the tax payers who pay their bills and hire them to manage their district. There were other elements, but the Lakota position was certainly a corporate decision on behalf of Clear Channel that wasn’t there in the 2013 election.
I had my much publicized fight with the core levy supporters when I called them all “latte sipping prostitutes” essentially as I was outraged that those people did not respect the previous 3 elections and kept scheming and plotting until they got their property tax increase, and it caused a separation of No Lakota Levy from my representation. I wanted out in a lot of ways because I was sick of talking about education issues. I wanted to publish a book I had been working on that wasn’t related at all to public education, yet my actions with the Lakota levy was setting me up on all kinds of television, radio, and other public formats that wanted me to be their education spokesman, so the longer the Lakota levy issue went on, the more trapped in it I became. I was hoping that after that third attempt they would stop and listen. But they didn’t, instead they spent more tax money on more consensus building efforts and showed they intended to try for a fourth wasting more of my time, so I blew up and the rest is history. We agreed to a cease fire, I moved on to other things and Lakota started plotting for that fourth attempt a year and a half later for which Kathy Wyenandt was brought in to help. And even with all that, they only won by 1% of the vote, not at all a stout and convincing victory. No Lakota Levy was there to organize a resistance but in looking back, I think we all agree we should have stuck together and if we had, there is no way that Lakota would have won. If Lakota tries again, we are talking about getting the band back together again.
The big turn in the vote was Sheriff Jones, the popular Republican who thought it was time to support Lakota because they had promised to use some of the money for increased security. Many of the No Lakota Levy people were willing to join with Jones to give Lakota a chance and some voters followed, enough to give Lakota a very small victory. After the win, Lakota did with the money exactly what I said they would do, they gave raises to the teachers even though they should have been laying off due to declining enrollment. They had been operating as a surplus for several years due to that declining enrollment but now they find themselves in the same trajectory of surplus spending and are talking about yet another levy. I just had a talk with several No Lakota Levy people the other day and we are seriously considering to meet that levy attempt in the same way we did on the previous three attempts that defeated the tax increase. Playing nice like many of them wanted to in that 2013 attempt stung in the end and the taste has been bad for everyone because many feel like they were lied to by Lakota. We have all been focused in getting a third conservative vote on the school board, but that has been not nearly as effective as just voting no on school levies. But the status quo of just passing more property tax increases every so many years is just not an acceptable option. If Kathy Wyenandt wants to take credit for that tax increase, which she clearly does, then have at it. But the truth of the matter was that Sheriff Jones changed the numbers, and we had split our efforts within No Lakota Levy. Only by dividing and conquering did the levy pass. It wasn’t that Kathy reached across the aisle to Republicans and Democrats to build a coalition. It was simply that Jones and his followers wanted to give Lakota a chance, which they have squandered.
I have spoken to Kathy on several occasions now and everyone seems surprised that I am not some raving lunatic on that matter. In fact during the three previous levy attempts I was very friendly with everyone, including the pro levy people. I was always happy to argue the facts. But I have a very bad temper, I can handle it just fine, but when someone punches at me or even thinks to, it doesn’t go well for the perpetrator. I have never taken an attack on me lightly and when Joan Powell and Julie Shaffer on the school board decided to attack me personally, that was the end of the cordial activity. It was they who weren’t listening to what the voters said, and insisted on continuing to make levy attempts until they wore voters out into just saying yes. It was one of the most crooked schemes I have ever seen and it ruined my thoughts on public education forever. I don’t think those people should be anywhere near educating the next generation and I could tell stories all day for the record, and if this extortion scheme wasn’t so wide spread in virtually every government school, there would be serious legal issues. I have not told all the stories I know about these people because honestly, I have wanted Lakota to improve its image, for or community’s sake. But since its government, it gets overlooked and we are all supposed to take it smiling. It was with each levy attempt that Lakota made that caused me to think that the John Dewey system of education was a ridiculous failure that needed to be completely reinvented, which is where I am on all education topics these days. Most of the No Lakota Levy supporters do not feel as strongly as I do on the matter, they just don’t want to get ripped off by the school that harms their projects. I however think public education as a concept needs a complete re-invention, so I don’t want to spend a further dime on any of it until we have that discussion. If not for my experiences with the Lakota levy attempts, I might not feel that way, but the more I learned, the more I despised the process.
It certainly helped that when Kathy Wyenandt came along, she didn’t look like the bottom of someone’s shoe the way previous pro school advocates presented themselves. That certainly helped take the edge off all the hatred that had been brewing between the various groups in the process. But that hatred was created by Lakota not listening to the voters and insisting that they just keep going to the voters until an election went their way. They cut busing as an extortion tactic, they took away sports programs, they played lots of games when the real meat of their problem was their excessive payroll. Kathy made it easy for Sheriff Jones and some other local leaders to give Lakota a chance, which they have blown, of course. And if Kathy wants a rematch, let’s have it. I bet Lakota wouldn’t get 1% of the vote today. And I think she knows that which is why she wants this senate job, because everyone knows Lakota is going to try for another tax increase because they do not have control of their budget. And when that happens, Kathy wants to be in Columbus so she doesn’t have to face the fact that the levy win in 2013 was a falsehood of smoke and mirrors, and once people realize that, she won’t be able to use it for an opportunity for higher office.
I am always happy to have a professional debate and discussion about everything. I am used to dealing with people who do not agree 100% with my view of the world and I can talk to a person like Kathy and many of these other pro tax advocates without getting mad at them. But when they take a shot at me and make it personal, then my policy is worse than Donald Trump’s policy of hitting back twice as hard. I tend to hit back until there is nothing left of the other side and I do that in everything in my life. So any past that we have had where Lakota used people like Kathy Wyenandt to advance a tax position they shouldn’t even have been asking for is on them, and all the anger that came from that attempt which is still as strong today, if not stronger, than it was prior to 2013. The problem was and always has been that after the first levy attempt that was defeated way back in 2010, Lakota should have managed their labor contracts differently. But instead they chose to pass their mismanagement off onto the community to cover the insane expenses of their collective bargaining agreements to the taxpayer, most of which do not have children in the school system. And today there are more of those people voting than there were in 2010, so a rematch to set the record straight would be a welcomed occasion. Whether or not its No Lakota Levy or some update of that concept, I’ll be there to meet it with those also interested, and the truth will be obvious.