“Community Conversations” at Lakota: Why a “NO” vote is the taxpayer’s STRIKE
Do you want to know what spending $160,000 tax payer dollars buys you? Well, at the Lakota School System which is in my home district, it buys a lot. I have sent dozens and dozens of Letters to the Editor over the years to The Pulse Journal, which is my hometown paper, and I have never received so much grief as I did when I submitted the letter below in direct response to Karen Mantia’s announcement of her “Community Conversations” program, which is essentially a new way to spin the old Delphi Technique, which has been covered at this site extensively. You can read about Mantia’s announcement of this new program which is starting to hit Lakota neighborhood streets as this posting is going up on Thursday, September 13, 2012. CLICK HERE to review that article.
The letter I submitted this past week came back at me and the reporters tried to explain my figure of $160,000 spent on “Community Conversations” was wrong and that if I wanted to revise my statement I could try again in the future. Further, they let me know that the real number for how much Lakota is spending on their “Community Conversations” program was only $40,000, which is true if one only looks at that small piece of the pie. But I explained to them that I considered all the money spent on public relations to be direct factors into how much the school district was willing to spend on passing another levy, and that number was $160,000 as outlined by their own article on the matter seen at the below link.
I told them that if they didn’t want to publish my letter that I’d find another way. From my view point, my letter will be seen by more people if I publish it here on Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom than in The Pulse Journal, but I wanted to give the paper the opportunity to show that they were not lap dogs for the Lakota School System. But their response showed that they are clearly in line with the public relations strategy that the school has formulated for the 2012 school year, which is to clean up their image, and lay the foundations for a levy increase when the LEA contract expires in 2014. By then, they hope that the public has forgotten all this levy failure mess, and they can begin to inject more money into their unmanaged budget with tax increases and smiling faces convincing everyone that it’s “all for the children.”
To get an idea of the kind of lap dog reporting I’m referring to, that hiring public relations specialists will purchase, have a look at the latest Michael Clark article from The Cincinnati Enquirer as seen below. This is what I wanted to give The Pulse Journal the opportunity to dispute, but they obviously showed their leanings, which is perfectly fair. But they cannot wonder why people will seek out other sources to get their news, if the newspapers simply become purchased advocates for the union controlled education system.
My article as I wrote it appears below. I had originally thought the real public relations number was between $165K to $167K but I was willing to concede to the $160K number reported by The Pulse Journal. However, the spirit of the letter was to convey the disrespect the district was showing by refusing to listen to the vote of the tax payers in the previous three levy attempts. The district was instructed in face to face conversations how to manage their finances, which is reflected in the letter below and they have ignored those instructions. Instead, they have elected to purchase advocats for higher taxes to build consensus among just enough voters to turn the numbers in their favor on the next levy attempt which they plan before the 2014 LEA contract is up. As Karen Mantia said, Lakota does not have a levy on the ballot this year, but it soon will, which make no mistake about it, the “Community Conversations” is directly attempting to ease community tensions enough to pass a future levy. That is why my letter below is worded the way that it is:
I find it arrogant that Karen Mantia from Lakota made mentioned she was seeking hosts for the “community conversations” program that Lakota is spending $160,000 tax payer dollars on in order to find out what the community wants. After three failed levies I would have thought they would have figured everything out by now. So let me reiterate what Lakota should have already been doing all along, but need to implement before the LEA contract is up in 2014, where the union employees will expect a restoration of their pay increases, wrecking the budget and dictating another levy attempt.
Lakota is expected to provide an excellent school system that is one of the best in Ohio. Lakota is expected also to lessen its tax footprint on the community for which it resides. Lakota is expected to acknowledge that it has declining enrollment and should have no problem balancing its budget now that fewer students are attending school in a community with fewer households in the district with children in them. Lakota is expected to force its employees to take a 5% pay reduction before it ever considers another levy. Tax increases impact businesses at a much higher rate than the residents will have to pay. And Lakota is expected to push its high dollar employees off the payroll in exchange for younger, cheaper employees to keep its budget under control.
Very easy—and Lakota could have saved $160,000 to learn it. All they had to do was read this paper.
Currently in Chicago the teachers are on strike turning down a 16% increase in wages. They are demanding a 30% raise and are presently marching around the streets of Chicago leaving the children high and dry, proving that the unions do not give a damn about any children. In 2008 Lakota had their union threaten a strike which forced the school board to cave under the pressure and give all the teachers a pay increase, which caused a budget deficit forcing Lakota to attempt to pass three school levies to balance their budget. People like me, fought those tax increases because we don’t like what the union did, and I refuse to give them more of my money for their despicable acts against my community. My argument from day one was not against the Lakota School Board or even the administrators, it was with the unions that control public education and I decided a few years ago that I would not support them any longer. I will not support a system that feeds them even indirectly, and I want their hooks out of my community. My anger comes when the school superintendent and school board members apologize for their lack of management by siding with the unions because they fear the kind of strikes that Chicago is currently going through, and Lakota went through just four years ago more than they do the voters.
When I organized a tax resistance against Lakota’s levy attempt I did it as a citizen strike against the union demands. A “NO” vote is the only voice a tax payer has, and it is the job of the school management to listen. At Lakota when they decided to hire public relations personnel to attack the NO voters, which is what they are doing, they are telling people like me that they fear the teachers union more than they fear my ability to organize against their school levy, and that is an insult.
When after three votes to decline tax increase proposals, the school district elected to spend $160,000 to attack the position of the NO vote, that action is a declaration of support in favor of the Lakota teacher’s union, which is the cause of all the financial trouble. If the school spent $160,000 of tax payer money trying to undo the position of the teacher’s union I would consider the money well spent, but instead they are attacking those who are refusing to pay additional taxes to support a greedy labor union.
In essence, a NO vote isn’t any different than what the teachers union in Chicago is doing when they failed to report to work, or Lakota attempted the same in protest over their pay and insurance contributions, only the NO voters have a right, and obligation to say NO. The unions do not have a right to the money they are asking for and if they refuse to work due to a strike, then the job of management in the school system in question has an obligation to find employees who will do the work, because the tax payers paid for that work, and not for public employees to march around in the street holding signs and demanding infinite amounts of money. When a voter casts a NO vote, they are also on strike against the unions themselves, and for that the newspapers, the television stations and the schools owe those people the same respect they give to the pro union supporters, and if they don’t, they are guilty of supporting one side, and not the other.
That’s when the crime of using tax payer money, like what Lakota did, and The Pulse Journal debated with me over in my Letter to the Editor to attempt to erode away the NO vote, (THE TAXPAYERS STRIKE) becomes a serious matter. All supporters who pick the side of the union have declared that they respect the taxpayers who voted NO less than they do the teachers union who will threaten a strike on a whim to get what they want whenever they want it. And that is a mistake.
Without the taxpayer, there is no union. Without the taxpayer, there is no school. Without the taxpayer, there are no people to read the newspapers, or watch the news. Without the taxpayer there is nothing. It would be thought that there would be more respect given to the tax payer by all the parties above, but they don’t because in history the unions are far more radical and nasty to deal with, where the tax payer has been peaceful and shown themselves to be willing to be shoved around and bullied.
That is, until now…………………….
When Lakota tries their fourth levy attempt, they will learn that they had far less to fear from the unions than the taxpayer, and they will wish they did what I stated in my Letter to the Editor. They chose poorly in fearing the strike of the unions over the strike of the taxpayers.
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