Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rapid Referendum Response - Part 2

The Rapid Response Referendum booklet has "Examples of what the opposition can be like." Granted they may not be specifically talking about CRAFT but we will make it clear what we do and do not condone.

They include the following in bold with our responses not in bold.

Attempts to overwhelm superintendent/staff with information requests:

* Contracts with attorneys, financial advisors, construction managers, architects
* Contracts with administrators; salary settlements
* Audits and budgets
* Enrollment projections

We at CRAFT never suggest that people overwhelm superintendent or staff with requests. We suggest people get school contracts whether or not a tax increase is on a ballot. All of the above information should be posted on school websites as to show their financial transparency and not to hide anything from both taxpayers and parents.

Its quite telling that school districts consider fulfilling information and transparency requests as a nuisance. We consider answering taxpayers questions a fundamental responsibility of any government agency, not an auxiliary activity.

Implies impropriety by district staff (received bribes, gifts)

CRAFT has never implied impropriety by district staff. However we know groups who have uncovered impropriety by doing thorough investigations of their school district. Ex-principal charged with stealing funds

Becomes watchdog for inappropriate employee campaign activities

History shows that school districts cannot be trusted to self-regulate and campaign fairly. There is nothing wrong with every parent and taxpayer making sure this happens and pointing out infractions when they do occur.

Challenges use of school attorney - misuse of funds

We have never done this.

Opposition group uses a name that sounds supportive, and often plays of district logo

Hmm. Citizens for Reasonable And Fair Taxes....we think not. If this were applied as the criteria to discern a group's motives, one could just as easily find a referendum support group.

Uses email for speed and ease of sharing

Yep and we suggest everyone do this. Its fast, effective, and inexpensive.

Challenges data accuracy and hires own "experts"

We at CRAFT have never hired "experts", although we won't hesitate to challenge the accuracy of data when appropriate.

Disrupts election process:

* Questions judges' relationships to districts
* Non-homestead property owners show up at polls and get angry when they're told they can't vote
* Examines and challenges absentee ballots.

We at CRAFT have never done this, nor have we found it necessary. The point of non-homestead property owners is however valid. Turning away ANY property owner constitutes taxation without representation.

Goes for "sticker shock" on total tax costs entire life of the bond

Schools should be honest and tell taxpayers the total cost as well as the annual cost, taking inflation and assessment increases into account. Anything less is dishonesty on the part of the school district.

We at CRAFT plead guilty. When homeowners discover the total cost of a tax increase proposal, they frequently turn against it.

Attacks district's Achilles Heel (statutory operating debt, open enrollment issues, large, retirement packages, poor test scores, unhappy residents due to consolidations)

Much of this "Achilles Heel" list consists of unacceptable failures on the part of school management. We have no sympathy for "large retirement packages", "poor test scores", or unhappy residents. Such failures are squarely the responsibility of the district. They strengthen the argument against empowering ineffective management with more tax dollars.

Bundles misinformation within accurate information - plants a "seed of doubt"

Districts frequently make this accusation but invariably never provide specific examples. Be wary when a district accuses a taxpayer advocacy group of "spreading misinformation" without providing specific examples.

We actively encourage taxpayers to check facts and if you make an error correct it as soon as possible.

Uses multiple pieces and phone calls to voters in last few days (automated calls, flyers, on cars, last minute lies)

We at CRAFT have never used automated calls. Other groups have used automated calls and referred people to our website. We never tell lies but school districts frequently accuse groups of lying, never willing to point out any actual lies.

Greatly increases "no" vote

Guilty! Informing the citizens of the truth increases no votes.

Can be anti-public schools-religious basis, home school bias

This is completely untrue and is an ad-hominem attack used time and time again by school district employees and officials.

Steals lawn signs

We have never done this and never condone this. "Yes" signs only remind people to get out and vote. Yes signs remind people to vote no. No signs have been so frequently stolen that we encourage people to place the signs as close as possible to their homes. We had one person spot a school employee sticking vote no signs in a truck.

Misuses mail/Newspaper boxes

We have specifically told people not to put information on mailboxes. People have put our materials on mailboxes but we have asked them not to do it because it is illegal. We never condone doing anything illegal.

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