Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rapid Referendum Response - Part 1

Part One of a Six Part Series.

Jim and I have been fighting for education reform and education spending reform for almost 6 years now. We fully believe that schools have a spending problem and not a funding problem. Our techniques for fighting referenda can be found on our old website Citizens for Reasonable And Fair Taxes. Jim's Boston Tea Party describes tax fighting methods we've employed in the past. Such methods are also effective against excessive tax warrants.

The Minnesota Association of School Administrators felt our techniques were so successful they developed the Rapid Referendum Response. What to do when your district is blindsided by anti-referendum attacks.

MASA's Rapid Referendum Response booklet cover includes "How school districts can deal with organized referendum opposition while keeping their eyes on the prize: a high-quality of educational environment for all students." Referenda are about money and money only (hence the "prize") By now I hope you all know that there is no link between education spending and performance.

Estabrook's last stand: Barring the schoolhouse door

The following piece appeared in the Union Leader. The piece is so well written no commentary is needed readers should go to the Union Leader website to see a number of really great comments by Union Leader readers.

The editorial strongly mirrors both Jim's and my views on said subjects.

Estabrook's last stand: Barring the schoolhouse door

SEN IRIS ESTABROOK, D-Durham, is retiring from the state Senate at the end of this session. In what may be her last major act as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, she spent days this week blocking an important amendment on public kindergarten that was requested by local communities.

The Legislature has mandated that every school district in the state provide publicly funded kindergarten. Only a dozen districts do not offer public kindergarten, primarily because voters have rejected it. But the Democrat-controlled Legislature doesn't care what the local communities want. The Democrats want public kindergarten in every community, so they have decreed that it will be so.

Some communities complained that they could not possibly get new kindergarten buildings up and running by the Legislature's 2009 deadline. So the House passed a sensible revision: districts can meet the kindergarten mandate by tuitioning their students to a private kindergarten.

Estabrook has stated that she wants kindergarten programs offered through the public school system, and nothing else will do. It's her way or the highway -- again, no matter what the local parents and educators want.

It is fitting that probably her last major effort as Senate Education Committee chairman is to block local communities' attempts to have their children attend kindergarten programs chosen by the local community. It is just the latest in her many attempts to deny choice to parents and students, forcing them to stay in public schools that often don't work for them, for the sole reason that those schools are run by the public education monopoly.

On the bright side, parents and students in New Hampshire can hope that Estabrook's replacement in the Senate will be more interested in educating children than in keeping them trapped inside a 19th-century-style factory school system that works for only some of them.

Quote of the Day - "This source of corruption, alas, is inherent in the democratic system itself, and it can only be controlled, if at all, by finding ways to encourage legislators to subordinate ambition to principle."
James L. Buckley

Friday, May 30, 2008

Granholm's Tax Warning - A Tax Warning for New Hampshire

During the last couple of years I have been working on my families genealogy. I became interested in genealogy because as a child my mother told me I was related to the Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

It appears that tax fighting is genetically encoded in me as Sam Adams and I our distant cousins, we share a great grandmother. My extended family has been in New Hamsphire and Massachusetts for well over 400 years.


With the current trend by tax-eaters to get legislators to reject the tax pledge people should be aware of what will happen if a broad based tax or income tax is passed. An income tax will not reduce your overall tax liability but will insure a larger group of tax-eaters through increased state, county and school employees. These groups will continue to spend at rates greater than the rate of inflation and will request even more tax increases in the future. The larger these groups become the more lobbying power they will have to push through more taxes.

Hat tip to our friend Pete the finance guy for the following piece which appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Granholm's Tax Warning

May 28, 2008

It's no fun to kick a state when it's down - especially when the local politicians are doing a fine job of it - but the latest news of Michigan's deepening budget woe is a national warning of what happens when you raise taxes in a weak economy.

Officials in Lansing reported this month that the state faces a revenue shortfall between $350 million and $550 million next budget year. This is a major embarrassment for Governor Jennifer Granholm, the second-term Democrat who shut down the state government last year until the Legislature approved Michigan's biggest tax hike in a generation. Her tax plan raised the state income tax rate to 4.35% from 3.9%, and increased the state's tax on gross business receipts by 22%. Ms. Granholm argued that these new taxes would raise some $1.3 billion in new revenue that could be "invested" in social spending and new businesses and lead to a Michigan renaissance.

Not quite. Six months later one-third of the expected revenues have vanished as the state's economy continues to struggle. Income tax collections are falling behind estimates, as are property tax receipts and those from the state's transaction tax on home sales.

Michigan is now in the 18th month of a state-wide recession, and the unemployment rate of 6.9% remains far above the national rate of 5%. Ms. Granholm blames the nationwide mortgage meltdown and higher energy prices for the job losses and disappearing revenues, but this Great Lakes state is in its own unique hole. Nearby Illinois (5.4% jobless rate) and even Ohio (5.6%) are doing better.

Leon Drolet, the head of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, complains that "we are witnessing the Detroit-ification of Michigan." By that he means that the same high tax and spend policies that have hollowed out the Motor City are now infecting many other areas of the state.

The tax hikes have done nothing but accelerate the departures of families and businesses. Michigan ranks fourth of the 50 states in declining home values, and these days about two families leave for every family that moves in. Making matters worse is that property taxes are continuing to rise by the rate of overall inflation, while home values fall. Michigan natives grumble that the only reason more people aren't blazing a path out of the state is they can't sell their homes. Research by former Comerica economist David Littmann finds that about the only industry still growing in Michigan is government. Ms. Granholm's $44.8 billion budget this year further fattened agency payrolls.

There's another national lesson from the Granholm tax dud. If Democrats believe that anger over the economy and high gas prices have put voters in a receptive mood for higher taxes, they should visit the Wolverine State.

Just a few weeks ago taxpayer advocates collected enough signatures in suburban Detroit for a ballot initiative to recall powerful Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, who was one of last year's tax-hike ringleaders. Voters seem to think there would be rough justice if for once politicians, rather than workers, lose their jobs from higher taxes.

If I paid my taxes as carelessly and dishonestly as the politicians spend them, I would have been in jail long since. – Richard Needham

Thursday, May 29, 2008

All in the Fam...: Note to Subway: It's Too Late

I just want to say my problem with Subway's apology is the following line "Our intention was to provide an opportunity for traditional schools, many of which we know have trouble affording athletic equipment, to win equipment."

That line honks me off because public schools have a spending problem and not a funding problem. Maybe if there were not so many educrats in schools, schools could afford to buy athletic equipment.

I think Subway has taken enough heat for their gaffe and any public school people who feel sorry for them should patronize Subway more.

I think it is time to close the whole "subwaygate" story with some very well written thoughts from the following BLOG.

All in the Fam...: Note to Subway: It's Too Late

John Hingley said...
Well, it looks like Subway finally did issue an apology (sort of):

My name is John Hingley and I am the CEO at Andiamo Systems, a social media measurement company. We advise on basic 'rules of engagement' when it comes to Reputation Management, many that Subway violated. Some of these rules include:
1) Issue a timely response or you will appear guilty and/or insensitive to the issue.

Subway took too much time with their somewhat weak statement.

2) Have the response come from a responsible person with authority.

Their statement was not signed off by anyone!

3) If you were wrong, admit it. And explain how you are addressing a resolution.

Clearly Subway skirted any type of genuine apology.

These are just a few, but some of the most important rues to abide by if a company truly cares about their reputation and brand value.


Tomorrow morning at 8:10 a.m. the attorney from HSLDA who represents New Hampshire Homeschoolers will be on WNTK 99.7 on Wake Up New Hampshire with Judy Paris and Dorien Jaye. If I remember correctly the HSLDA attorney is Michael P. Donnelly, Esq.

Subway Apologizes

Subway Apologizes

is pleased to pass along the following apology from Subway restaurants.


We at SUBWAY restaurants place a high value on education, regardless of the setting, and have initiated a number of programs and promotions aimed at educating our youth in the areas of health and fitness.

We sincerely apologize to anyone who feels excluded by our current essay contest. Our intention was to provide an opportunity for traditional schools, many of which we know have trouble affording athletic equipment, to win equipment. Our intent was certainly not to exclude homeschooled children from the opportunity to win prizes and benefit from better access to fitness equipment.

To address the inadvertent limitation of our current contest and provide an opportunity for even more kids to improve their fitness, we will soon create an additional contest in which homeschooled students will be encouraged to participate. When the kids win, everyone wins!

Homeschoolers are a powerful group!

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association 10 states allow homeschoolers to educate their children in total freedom with no regulation from their state government. Fifteen states have the requirement of parental notification only. The remaining 25 states have moderate to high regulation.

Homeschoolers are a large group and when motivated can be very successful when initiating change but all too often homeschoolers sadly go for appeasement or sticking their heads in the sand.

In New Hampshire with SB 337 we are taking a step backwards. Some feel appeasement is best. Many homeschoolers, homeschool because they want to provide the best education possible for their children. Granite Staters should fight for what is best for our children and that is total freedom from regulation from our state so that we may focus more energy on actually educating our children. If large states and blue states such as Texas, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey can have total freedom to educate their children why can't we here in New Hampshire work for the same?

The following outstanding piece appears on the American Thinker website.

May 27, 2008
Subway Bans Homeschooled Kids from Essay Contest

By Ned Barnett
Subway -- the multi-national fast-food sub-shop giant -- has shot themselves in the foot. Again. The goal of their latest promotion was to win the loyalty of parents of grade school-aged kids -- to increase market share, revenue and profits. It was supposed to be a simple exercise in business marketing and promotion.

The outcome, however, was far different. By banning homeschooled kids -- children who are educated at home, as an alternative to public schooling -- Subway has ignited a firestorm of opposition from a vocal segment of the marketplace. Homeschoolers, offended by the ban, spontaneously -- and almost literally overnight -- organized a national Subway boycott that already has Subway's corporate spokesman hunkering down. All this happened over a holiday weekend, a time when people usually have better things to do. Imagine the impact today when millions of homeschooling parents are back in front of their computers, and discover what Subway has done to them.

America currently has something on the order of three million children being homeschooled; those children represent an adult purchasing population -- including parents and grandparents -- of well over five million often affluent people. Homeschooling parents are frequently supported by their local churches, and many other potential Subway customers -- who are not themselves homeschoolers -- still admire the self-reliant spirit reflected by these parents. These Americans might willingly join in a boycott against firms that show disrespect for homeschoolers.

Subway, by this careless -- or intentional -- ban on homeschooled children, could have easily offended 10 million American adults. Oops.

But why is this snub at homeschoolers even an issue? Homeschoolers face constant harassment from "officials" at the state and local school board level, as well as from teachers unions, and they are therefore more than a bit sensitive to perceived commercial discrimination. By banning homeschooled children from their essay contest, Subway has -- accidentally or intentionally -- placed themselves firmly in the "enemy's camp."

School boards generally oppose homeschooling, and the National Educational Association and other teachers unions relentlessly lobby against homeschooling, for two reasons.

First, homeschooling parents -- by teaching three million kids nationwide -- replace the equivalent of 100,000 union teachers.

Second, Federal and State public school financing is based on per-enrolled student -- and both the teachers unions and the school boards see homeschooling parents as literally taking federal funds out of their coffers or paychecks.

True, these schools don't have to provide services for homeschooled children, but with a strong entitlement mentality, the school boards and teachers unions adopt the position that they are "owed" this money. They fight in every way they can to hang onto every last dollar, and if this means opposing homeschooling or school vouchers, so be it.

But how did Subway get into this mess? Subway's "Every Sandwich Tells a Story" essay contest, conducted in cooperation with the quickly repentant Scholastic News Service -- which sells strongly into the homeschool market and which immediately and publicly apologized when this issue came to their attention -- specifically bans homeschooled kids from the contest. The remarkably poorly-spelled rules read:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Contest is open only to legal residents of the Untied (sic) States who are currently over the age of 18 and have children who attend elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted.

You'd think Subway would learn. In late 2004, 50 of their German franchisees created a table-top in-store ad that showed an obese Statue of Liberty. This promotion was tied into the German release of the film "Super Size Me," and it boldly mocked Americans' proclivity for eating fattening fast foods. Subway's decision-makers apparently thought that nobody outside their German franchised Subway stores would notice this anti-American in-store ad -- but within days, Congressman Tom DeLay was denouncing Subway from the well of the House, waving the table-top ad before the cameras for all to see. Outraged Americans -- who objected to an American company publicly mocking America in Europe, just to make a quick Euro -- quickly abandoned Subway in droves.

With this PR blunder, Subway quite possibly helped kindle the skyrocketing growth of Quiznos, a competing sub-sandwich shop that caught on almost immediately after Subway's "gaffe."

Faced with 24/7 media coverage and a virtual Internet firestorm of protest that was melting their market share, Subway's response was glacial. The story simmered for close to two weeks before Subway's spokespersons began to try to turn down the heat -- but by then, the damage had been done.

History may be repeating itself. Subway's partner, Scholastic, quickly backed away from the contest, publishing this apology on a number of homeschool websites and discussion boards:

"Our intention was never to make independent schooled children feel discriminated against or excluded from this specific promotion ... and will make sure eligibility is open to everyone in future promotions."

Except to say, "Unfortunately, I do not have enough information at this point to respond," when asked to comment on this homeschooling brouhaha, Subway's spokesman, Kevin Kane did respond to this gathering crisis. If history does repeat itself, Subway will stonewall for another couple of weeks before trying to ease the pain of this self-inflicted wound. And, as with their 2004 "Fat American" in-store promotion, which backfired so painfully, their response may yet again be too little, too late.

Ned Barnett is a political strategist and the owner of Barnett Marketing Communications in Las Vegas, Nevada. A PR crisis management expert, Barnett has been a university professor and has written nine published books on public relations and marketing communications, and writes a regular column on crisis PR for the International Association of Business Communicators.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Jim will be on Wake up New Hampshire with Dorien Jaye and Judy Paris on WNTK - 99.7 FM tomorrow starting at 7:10 a.m. Please listen and call in if you get a chance.


What does a three year old do with a marker.....

while Mommy is in the shower?

Our appearance on "Fox and Friends"

Our appearance on "Fox and Friends" this morning was the culmination of arrangements set in motion by Fox early Memorial Day morning. Having never done this before, we found it an interesting learning experience.

We'd like to share some details about this experience in case any of you get a similar opportunity.

Having caught the attention of Fox from the numerous links to our blog, we received a call from a program coordinator to appear on their 6:45 segment. They needed to locate a video satellite station near our home. As we feared, the closest station available for this time slot was located near Boston - A 2 hour drive.

To meet the 6:45 taping deadline, Fox sent a car to pick us up at our home at 4am. With entire family in tow, we drove to the station.

Almost nothing happened until we approached the taping time. The technicians explained the basics but little else. I spent our waiting time in a TV room trying to associate names with the faces of show hosts. This turned out to be pointless as a live video feed of the hosts was unavailable during the actual taping.

The producers pressed us to have our three year-old daughter Anastasia appear on the set - an idea I had repeatedly expressed reservations about prior to taping. (My concerns turned out to be justified, as Anastasia was totally uncooperative.) Our 11-month old son Alexander sat in Cathy's lap, seemingly compliant until 10 seconds prior to the show.

The technician explained that we would appear briefly for a "teaser shot" prior to a commercial break and that the main segment would occupy a single shoot. During the shoot, they cut to commercial and returned to us. We suspect this was in hopes of calming Alexander down as the host commented about him "shutting up".

During the show, we had no idea what viewers were seeing. Our camera light was on the whole time, even though we weren't on screen. Later in the shoot we were unaware of being on screen and started looking around.

The children were much noisier on the set than it seemed on TV - noisy to the point of severe distraction. Before arriving, the program coordinator assured me that there would be a supervised off-set area for our children to wait until after the taping. This was not the case so we had little choice but to keep them in arm's reach.

Cathy and I have a slightly different take on the segment where the judge provided legal commentary. I felt that it falsely suggested that we advocated some sort of legal action against Subway, whereas Cathy considered it routine for the show.

To be clear, we never wanted nor believed in the possibility of legal action against Subway's contest rules. Furthermore, in reviewing over 12 pages of blogs on the subject, I have not seen a single poster call for legal action. I think we can all agree such a lawsuit would be frivolous.

Jim Peschke

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

HSLDA Responds to Request, Regarding Subway Contest

I sent the following request to HSLDA regarding the Subway contest rules against homeschoolers.

From: Peschke
Date: 5/24/2008 2:48 PM
Subject: Subways says no to homeschoolers.

Dear Sirs,

Subway says no to homeschoolers.

Contest is open only to legal US residents, over the age of 18 with
children in either elementary, private or parochial schools that
serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted.

It would be nice for you to drop them a line on behalf of
homeschoolers across America. I know we have a homeschool group that
meets for physical fitness activities we should not be discriminated


I received the following in response. I also informed Ms. Ridley that we were the family that appeared on Fox and Friends this morning.

On May 27, 2008, at 1:02 PM, HSLDA Legal Dept. wrote:

Dear Cathy,

HSLDA is very disappointed to hear of Subway's exclusion of homeschoolers in their contest. For this reason, we are in the process of drafting a letter to Subway expressing our disapproval and requesting that they change their contest's policy to include homeschoolers. We believe that Subway will be changing their policy soon since not only has a homeschool family already been featured on Fox News upset about Subway's contest, but many homeschoolers have on their own accord already contacted Subway in outrage of being excluded.


Vanessa N. Ridley
Legal Assistant

Today the following was posted on the HSDLA website.

Open Letter to Subway: Let Homeschoolers Enter Contest

May 27, 2008
Subway Restaurant Headquarters
325 Bic Drive
Milford, CT 06461-3059

Dear Sir/Madam,

By way of introduction, I am the President of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and we represent 83,000 member families nationwide. This letter is to draw attention to your “Every Sandwich Tells a Story Contest,” and the unfortunate fact that homeschoolers are not allowed to participate.

The rules clearly state: “Contest is open only to legal residents of the United States who are currently over the age of 18 and have children who attend elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted (emphasis added).

It is extremely disappointing that Subway would choose to exclude the estimated 2 million homeschooled students.

We understand that the competition is focused on traditional public and private schools because the grand prize of $5,000 of athletic equipment is designed to be used by a traditional school and not an individual family. A potential homeschool winner, however, could simply donate the grand prize to a public or private school of their choice or to a homeschool sports league.

Homeschooling is a thriving educational option. All the available research shows that homeschoolers are excelling academically and socially. We do not deserve to be overlooked.

We hope that you will reconsider the rules of your competition and choose to amend them to include homeschoolers.


J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

Thank you to the HSLDA for being a strong advocate for homeschooling families.


Subway sandwich contest: Homeschoolers not wanted

The following story appeared on the World Net Daily website. Please link to the story to view all the informative links on their site. Thanks to all of our friends and colleagues who woke up early to see us discuss this subject on Fox and Friends.

Subway sandwich contest: Homeschoolers not wanted
Spelling-challenged promotion offers gift 'bastket' to winners

Posted: May 24, 2008
7:00 pm Eastern

By Jay Baggett
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Subway, the sandwich restaurant, wants to hear your child's story – unless he or she is homeschooled.

The national chain's "Every Sandwich Tells a Story Contest" offers prizes and a chance to be published on the Subway website and in Scholastic's "Parent & Child" magazine but specifically excludes homeschoolers:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Contest is open only to legal residents of the Untied (sic) States who are currently over the age of 18 and have children who attend elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted.

Subway's website promotion not only misspells "United" States, but offers the grand prize winner a "Scholastic Gift Bastket (sic) for your home."

The 2007 winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee was Evan O'Dorney, a 13-year old homeschool student from Danville, Calif.

Contestants are urged to write, in 500 words or less, a story that has a beginning, middle, and end using one of four provided story starters:

The Mysterious Meatball
When the invitation to the Meatball came in the mail...

Turkey Doesn't Live Here Anymore
There was a loud knock on the door, but when Salami Sam opened it ...

The Race to Red Onion Ranch
Everyone gathered in the center of town for the start of the race except ...

Nothing Better
The smell of fresh baked bread coming from the store was so good that ...

The contest, launched in January, has a deadline of June 30, 2008. A grand prize winner and 6 runners-up will be selected on July 15 and announced approximately a week later.

The company's website promotion encourages submitters to describe in their essays "random acts of fitness," such as eating right, exercising, playing sports and living a healthy lifestyle.

Subway has marketed itself for several years as a healthy alternative to fast food, featuring spokesman Jared Fogle who went from 425 pounds to 190 pounds on a daily diet of the chain's lower-calorie sandwiches.

The exclusion of homeschoolers, presumably because the grand prize includes $5,000 worth of athletic equipment for the winning child's school, has caught the attention of bloggers who educate their children.

Valerie Bonham Moon, writing for HomeEdMag, referred to the exclusion as "Subway's P.R. gaffe."

"By now, the Subway sandwich shop marketing division must know how bad of a decision it was on the part of whichever wonk who decided to expressly exclude homeschoolers from their latest contest. E-mail lists may not be utterly aflame over the exclusion, but there is more than one p---ed-off homeschool mom spreading the word. I've been reading their e-mails."

Moon notes Subway, with a bit of forethought, could have easily included homeschoolers:

"One of the more obvious work-arounds that the developers of the Subway contest could have included for homeschooling parents who entered on their children’s behalf, was for the equipment to be donated to a local park, or to a school of the winner's choice. Problem solved – good will all around. Too bad that it didn't play out that way.

"I look forward to seeing how the Subway wonks handle their self-inflicted wound."

(Story continues below)

The blogger at Capturing Today, a homeschooling mother, isn't waiting for the self-inflicted wound, suggesting homeschool families "act now!"

"Excuse me, but there are MILLIONS of homeschool students in this nation and this is just discrimination. A homeschool student could easily donate the athletic equipment to their homeschool athletic association, local park, athletic center, neighborhood center or the like. I realize they are doing this to have a mass-marketing effect, but they could have just as great a media response from a charitable homeschool student donating the prize.

"I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for us to make our voices heard that we as homeschool families are tired of being cast in a negative light.

Jim and Cathy Peschke, blogging at Croydoncraft, expressed their displeasure by entering an essay on behalf of their 3-year-old homeschooled daughter who, while visiting a Subway restaurant, breaks into tears upon learning she's not eligible to enter the contest.

"I cried and cried, and asked Daddy if we could leave. He said 'Certainly. Not only will we never visit a mean old Subway store again, we'll organize a B-O-Y-C-O-T-T of Subway stores by all your homeschooling friends!'

'I sure hope Subway changes their silly policy so Mommy and Daddy can take me back for more sandwiches.'"