Political group criticizes school board campaigns - Coeur d'Alene Press: Political

Political group criticizes school board campaigns

Complaint filed in Cd'A; Post Falls 'endorsements' debated

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Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 12:00 am

A Republican activist group is questioning school board election campaigns in Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene.

The Kootenai County Reagan Republicans filed a letter of complaint with the county prosecutor and the sheriff's office alleging that the Coeur d'Alene Education Association violated several Idaho statutes by offering compensation to candidates running for election to the school board.

"Frankly, I'm shocked that no one's brought this up before," said Jeff Ward, president of the Reagan Republicans group.

Marty Meyer, a member of the CEA, which is the local teachers union in the Coeur d'Alene School District, told The Press that the organization does not give money to candidates, although its members may donate as individuals.

School elections are nonpartisan, and candidates and their campaigns are not subject to campaign finance disclosure laws.

"This sounds like a red herring, bringing this out during an election when people are trying to focus on issues that are important to students and parents," Meyer said.

In Post Falls, the Republican group is criticizing endorsement information on a flier distributed by school board incumbent candidates Dave Paul and Michelle Lippert, and asking why the two weren't joined by their opponents when they spoke at recent parent-teacher organization meetings.

Post Falls School District's attorney, Charles Dodson, said there was no violation of state law and the incumbents have voluntarily agreed to not use the endorsement information for the rest of their campaigns.

"I have not seen the kind of stuff that's been going on in the last month or so here in Kootenai County," Jeff Ward said. "I've never seen anything like this before in school board elections."

Ward signed the May 9 letter of complaint sent to Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh and Sheriff Rocky Watson. The letter requests an investigation on behalf of Kootenai County Reagan Republicans and the citizens of Kootenai County.

The complaint alleges that the teachers union violated state statutes prohibiting "bribery in official and political matters" and "gifts to public servants by persons subject to their jurisdiction."

The violations stem, Ward says, from letters sent by the local teachers union, inviting school trustee candidates to participate in the association's "recommendation process." The letters state that a candidate "may receive critical organizational and financial support" should the teachers union decide to recommend the candidate to its members.

Meyer, who signed the candidate letters and coordinated the interviews for the education association, said the process has been in place for years.

"We do this with legislative or school board candidates, to find out what their views are before deciding whether to support them, and to make sure our members have information about candidates and issues that are important to them," Meyer said.

Ward said the problem is that the teachers union contracts directly with the school district.

"Contracted organizations can't give money to the people that make decisions about their contract," Ward said. "If they had a separate political action committee, that would have been fine."

The way Ward sees it, the teachers union is "offering money for terms."

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh told The Press his office would be working with the sheriff's department to evaluate the complaint and determine what kind of investigative effort might be necessary.

In the Post Falls election, Paul and Lippert's flier states that they were endorsed by seven parent-teacher organizations or parent advisory groups in the district.

While representatives of those groups say no formal votes on endorsing candidates were taken, most of those in attendance at the recent meetings in which Paul and Lippert asked to speak at support the two.

Ron Lahr, a KCRR board member who is also co-president of the West Ridge Elementary PTO, said he was shocked at first to read that the PTOs would "endorse" candidates. But then he learned that no formal votes were taken.

"In my opinion, the PTOs did nothing wrong," said Lahr, adding that he believes the candidates shouldn't have listed the "endorsements" if a vote wasn't taken.

Paul said he believes the complaint is knit-picky, but the candidates agreed to remove the reference from future materials related to the campaign.

"I guess it boils down to how you define endorsement," he said. "I would define it as 'support' for a candidate. There was a clear understanding of a strong level of support from those in attendance."

All of the principals, who are a part of the organizations and were present at the meetings, agree that most in attendance support Paul and Lippert.

School organizations listed included Ponderosa, Prairie View, Seltice, West Ridge, Post Falls Middle School, Frederick Post Kindercenter and Post Falls High.

Principals said PTOs are loose-knit groups that rarely take formal votes or get involved in politics. The organizations generally focus on improving school conditions for students and staff through fundraisers. Decisions are generally reached through consensus.

Lahr said granting the requests of some candidates to speak at meetings and not inviting the others in return also doesn't pass the "smell test" of election campaigns. He also said it's obvious that the candidates' reasoning for speaking to the PTOs was to promote their campaigns since the election is Tuesday and they normally don't speak to the groups otherwise.

But school district attorney Charles Dodson said allowing candidates to speak at such meetings does not violate state law.

"I do note, however, it may have been a wiser choice for the PTOs, upon accepting the request, to authorize opposing parties to also express their views and desires ... ," Dodson wrote in a memo. "Be that as it may, that is a matter of choice for the PTOs and not for the school district to impose."

All of the principals said that, had Bonnie Beaulieu, who is challenging Paul, and Robin Moser, who is challenging Lippert, requested to speak at their PTOs, they would have been granted the time as well.

Paul said he does not find it unusual for school board candidates to meet with PTOs to discuss the election.

Lahr also believes a statement on the candidates' flier mischaracterized a Press editorial published prior to the March supplemental levy in which the newspaper praised the district's leadership for its fiscal responsibility.

Mike Patrick, Press managing editor, re-iterated the newspaper's view.

"The Press editorial board did not endorse any school board candidates at any point this year," Patrick said. "We did praise the Post Falls School District's leadership for strong fiscal responsibility, a belief we still hold."

Post Falls Superintendent Jerry Keane said he has emphasized to staff that it can't use district resources or time to engage in politics.

"I have no evidence that school resources have been used inappropriately," he said.

Paul said school board elections are supposedly nonpartisan, but he believes this one has become partisan and is an extension of a contentious legislative session in which sweeping education reform laws limiting collective bargaining by unions and implementing merit pay for teachers were passed.

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  • Rogue Cop posted at 12:56 pm on Fri, May 13, 2011.

    Rogue Cop Posts: 2315

    hayden_guy - We'll have to agree to disagree, I reckon. Public employees' dues money is what is typically used for campaign donations or it is sometimes channeled through PACs. Either way, the source of the money was public funds initially. When those donations are used to back a particular candidate, it is because the PAC believes that candidate will be sympathetic toward the union. That's not a theory or a secret. They blatantly profess to backing candidates that will advance their cause. That cause is largely economic. The difference is basic. Private donations aren't publicly borne. There is even a difference between private and public sector unions.

    If you want to argue that ALL corporate donations and ALL union donations be eliminated, I agree with that. But every time the LEFT tries to regulate corporate donations, they want to give a pass to unions so Organized Labor can impact elections. It's the age-old Labor vs. Management, us vs. them, good vs. evil argument.

    Again, my point is that money used to support candidates from public employee unions is a conflict of interest because if/when the union supported candidate gets elected they are under pressure to now support the economic gain of those public employees by using public funds. It becomes a recycling of the public's money and the public is unrepresented in the process.

  • hayden_guy posted at 6:23 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    hayden_guy Posts: 400

    Rogue Cop- You really don't see a similarity between a business donating money for financial gain and extra business from the state and people donating money to possibly getting more favorable working conditions?

    It is 6 in one and a half dozen in the other.

    One small correction on what you wrote- "but it's not the same as public employees giving public money to candidates who will in turn vote in favor of economic benefits to those same employees."

    No, it is public employees giving their private money to the campaigns that they support. This is no different than private employees giving their private money to candidates that will favor private contracts instead of hiring public employees.

  • Rogue Cop posted at 6:12 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    Rogue Cop Posts: 2315

    Rad Rev.....You don't like janitors or cops who eat donuts. No wonder you're unemployed. You've never seen a job you liked. Well, I guess if you can get enough stupid people to pay you tithes Reverend, you'll be able to eat Top Ramen. DANG, was that a lightening strike?

  • hayden_guy posted at 5:53 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    hayden_guy Posts: 400

    ...what do you mean by "your janitor"?

    Why would the teachers' union care about me?

  • Rogue Cop posted at 5:51 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    Rogue Cop Posts: 2315

    hayden_guy: I looked at a few or your links. The comparison between private business donations to candidates and the CEA donations is far-fetched at best. Therein lies the problem with public funds (yours and my money) being used as political donations in a quid pro quo to candidates.

    Private business donations are not public finds. That's the basic difference. If you want to allege graft or bribery and can support it with evidence go for it, but it's not the same as public employees giving public money to candidates who will in turn vote in favor of economic benefits to those same employees.

    hASS, please let the adults have their discussion, will ya? Just sit over there with the other mushrooms and pretend you understand what's going on.

  • hayden_guy posted at 5:38 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    hayden_guy Posts: 400

    "Don't you think it odd that the challengers for the school board positions have been DEEMED INADEQUATE, unqualified, and ill prepared to make education decisions?"

    ....according to who?

  • RadRevD posted at 5:19 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    RadRevD Posts: 3333

    to hayden_guy...

    Try not to get your knickers in a bunch!
    Don't you think it odd that the challengers for the school board positions have been DEEMED INADEQUATE, unqualified, and ill prepared to make education decisions?
    Why are the challengers considered different than you or your janitor in the eyes of the teachers unions???

    I am convinced it's because they are not aligned with the Progressive-Democrapic Party!

    to yellow press...
    RIGHT ON!!! But you missed one important activity: Death of all rebels.
    Recall when Cambodia was thrust into communism. That nation resorted to agrarian living and much of it's thinkers, leaders, and teachers were killed or put in work camps.

    surprise, surprise! Rogue is going to investigate in between donuts!

    Progressives lie, cheat, and steal their way to success.

  • hayden_guy posted at 5:08 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    hayden_guy Posts: 400

    Found the site-

    Summary of what you will find in it (for members of the Senate Education Committee)-
    $100 donated to Tom Luna from his campaign fund, from Micron- $500, Apangea Learning $250

    John C. Andreason- Apollo Group- $250

    Pearce- Apollo- $250, K12- $150

    Fulcher- Ed Networks of America- $250
    Micron- $1000
    Idaho Cable Telecommunication- $800 (hopeful provider of the school online network?)
    K12- $700

    Edu Networks of America-$250
    Micron- $750

  • Hassss posted at 3:22 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    Hassss Posts: 760

    Dan... all anyone wants is honesty. Don't think we can find it anymore in Idaho.

    They, people of this great state voted for all REPUBLICANS, cause they said NO MORE GOVERNMENT!!!!!!!!!. Now, they, those they voted for are taking away all their rights. So what did they really vote for.............COMMUNISTS/DICTATORS.

  • Hassss posted at 3:18 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    Hassss Posts: 760

    Thank you Hayden Guy. Thank you.

    Waiting for the Rogue to research it and come back with....welll.........with


    Again, thank you Hayden Guy :-)

  • Dan Gookin posted at 1:27 pm on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    Dan Gookin Posts: 689

    Good info, Hayden Guy. Question: would you favor Trustee candidates submitting sunshine reports, as legislative and city council candidates do?

  • hayden_guy posted at 11:51 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    hayden_guy Posts: 400

    One more link-
    "K12 - which received $12.8 million in Idaho tax dollars last year - funneled about $44,000 to Luna's campaign. Luna got another $5,500 from Apollo group of Phoenix, parent of the online University of Phoenix, and $7,450 from executives of Scantron Corp., which is moving into online education. And nearly $15,000 is tied to Joe Scott, grandson of Joe and Kathryn Albertson, who, as of two years ago, had 355,000 shares of K12, each valued at $33.77."


  • hayden_guy posted at 11:48 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    hayden_guy Posts: 400

    Sure thing-


    If you need more, let me know.

    I do not have time to look for it now, but I know there is a site on the State of Idaho that has all the financial disclosures of campaigns, where the money came from, how much, etc. It is all public record.

  • Rogue Cop posted at 11:34 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    Rogue Cop Posts: 2315


    Who exactly are these " online education companies", and can you give us a name or URLs? I'd like to research who they are and how much money they donated to Republican candidates.

  • yellow press posted at 11:31 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    yellow press Posts: 89

    Hello friends! I just thought we should take a look at some ideas that have brought us to where we are today ... the 10th plank of the good ol' manifesto.

    1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
    2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
    3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
    4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
    5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
    6. Centralization of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.
    7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
    8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
    9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
    10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.

    So, If you didn't notice, these planks are from The Communist Manifesto. And if you are American like I am, we are both communists, therefore, we don't need to worry about who runs our schools, because the right choices will be made for us regardless ... for the greater good. .... Don't worry about it.

    Regards comrades!

  • apathoid posted at 9:48 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    apathoid Posts: 211

    This is actually comical. The CEA is upset because the Republicans are trying to influence a political election by accusing the CEA of trying to influence a political election. Am I the only one that sees the irony in this? I'm actually sitting here laughing about it.

    This one is ALMOST as good as the joker last week that claimed to overhear a candidate's "hidden agenda" at a public meeting held in a local restaurant all the while admonishing the group to not hold public meetings to discuss their agenda's.

    I love watching liberals get nervous! They make absolutely no sense even when they AREN'T scared, but when great candidates show up to touch their Sacred Cows, the rants of the Progressives become a comedy show.

    Keep it up fellas...I will laugh all the way to the polls as I cast my vote firmly AGAINST the status quo.

  • hayden_guy posted at 9:37 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    hayden_guy Posts: 400

    Rev- What do you have against custodians? Are you inferring that somehow he is less of a person and does not know how to negotiate?

    Once again your posts leave me shaking my head....

  • RadRevD posted at 9:29 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    RadRevD Posts: 3333

    btw...Progressives field a janitor to negotiate SD271 CEA contracts!
    Why is SD271 deferring preventative maintenance on buildings and equipment?
    Does anyone care where all the IT'S FOR THE KIDS! money is going???

    We need new leadership on the school board to fix the broken well.
    Current leadership exhibits disregard for the squandering of property taxes for:
    1. unusable building plans
    2. un-budgeted excesses on unaccountable special needs students
    3. emergency maintenance that could be handled inhouse.
    4. your favorite...

  • RadRevD posted at 9:22 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    RadRevD Posts: 3333

    Progressives hate being outed for what they really are: anti-conservative global socialists!
    They scurry like rats and cockroaches when the light of Truth shines upon them.

  • local res posted at 8:06 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Take back , Perhaps your memory is failing you. You post on this site have always been progressive (which means I don't believe that you are smart enough to know how to spend your money, so I a progressive will do it for you). You can not go back to proclaiming I use to be a GOP. That does not fly. You promised us you were moving, why are you still here? Did you also forget that ahem.. promise also?

  • DavidK posted at 8:04 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    DavidK Posts: 47

    Well what a mystical revelation, Jeff Ward speaks and as if he were the reincarnate of E.F. Hutton he commands all to listen: "The way Ward sees it, the teachers union is "offering money for terms.""

    I AM WAITING, WITH BAITED BREATH AND ANTICIPATION....Jeff answer the question: WHY CAN'T THE REAGAN REPUBLICANS FIND QUALIFIED CANDIDATES? Airline maintenance managers, stay at home conservative moms and mechanics are not qualified candidates...

    Mr. Ward are you so cavalier with your thickly viscous rhetoric that even you don't know whereof you speak? There are many people in the community that demand answers to those policies statements you carelessly toss about, such as how are your endorsed candidates going to ensure school safety...is the expulsion of students forthcoming en masse? And with your "conservative values" train in full engagement, replete with social program budget cuts, I ask where or how you plan for the migration of these expunged students into our community without even basic education levels? Are more prisons next on your agenda?

    And how to manage the budget cuts, in the face of continued assaults from Otter's Boise and McConnell's Washington fiscal emanciptationesque policies apparently taking hold? Should we continue to erode the salaries of qualified and dedicated teachers, all "union busting" talk aside, suppose we didn't have union to represent the teachers, and we paid them the $15.00/hour that you suggest. Where will the Idaho teachers of the future come from? What quality would we get at that salary level?
    You say bonuses!!! I say future cuts...sorry teachers no bonuses this year...we can't afford them....your district achieved all the levels that Luna(tic) suggested...sorry you finished 4th and we only pay win, place and show...better luck next year...

    The computers, as Take Back has stated below are from China, help desk from India and parts from Brazil....technical help costing $35.00/hr to come from some wise Reagan Republican somewhere in Idaho who says its only capitalism...I'll start a consulting business to fix the machines and networks to make this little engine that could, go.....or are you in favor of going out to hire more techies...can't do that we need to privatize...can't expand govenment!!!! Please Jeff do tell....

    And yet inspite of all these problems, inspite of the wonderful job that our schools and trustees have done in OUR DISTRICT, you are bent on upsetting the apple cart because we are supportive of paying a decent living wage for a PROFESSIONAL TEACH CORPS and everyone connected realizes this but you and your clan. This costs money, money that needs to come from somewhere if your cohorts in Boise wont pay....just remember it costs less to educate than it does to incarcerate.

    Voting in candidates that have no relevant experience in dealing with school administration issues in not only wrong but is ill advised.

    The question is JEFF: why are these the best candidates that you could dig up to run for the boards....couldnt you find someone with an Education degree or a Child Psycology degree or a Masters in Public policy or someone with something other than a "child in the system" and a plaintive statement about how they "know how the system works?"

    As the old saying goes Jeff, stick to monthly party meetings with chips and salsa and a keynote speaker that demonizes everything you can get your hands around, tell everyone you could do better if only given the chance and then start a campaign to discredit and demonize the opposition...thats the way to win Jeff...but remember this, Stephanie Powers and Michelle Lippert are way out of your league, all they have done is dedicate time and effort to make this school system better all the while realizing that improvement is an ongoing process....thats right Jeff...PROCESS....

  • WhitePine posted at 7:39 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    WhitePine Posts: 137

    Ward is correct. We have never seen school board elections like this. The election is no longer about the needs and interests of the students, it is not about thoughtful, educated, intelligent people seeking to serve their community. Ward and his ilk have dragged the elections into the gutter. They have made them into a extreme right wing showcase of non-ideas and out right lies.
    Go to the Kootenai County Reagan Republican web site and learn who NOT to vote for.

  • mister d posted at 7:37 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Once again the small group known as the rr's try to make something out of nothing. They endorse candidates that parents do not want, candidates that seem to not have their children's best interest.

    Candor, i doubt with the lies and foolish policies luna pushed, he will not see another term in office.

  • hayden_guy posted at 7:35 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    hayden_guy Posts: 400

    Using the rationale of the RRs, all of the online education companies that donated to Luna, Goedde, etc. are guilty of bribery. If there are repercussions to this to the candidates and the CEA, a letter of complaint should be issued about the above mentioned state elected officials and the "bribes" that they took from K12 and the other online education companies.

    Might as well not allow campaign contributions at all if this is a concern of theirs.

    Be careful RRs, you might get what you are asking for and set up precedent.
    Have to give the RRs credit though on creating a smear campaign.

  • somewhereinthemiddle posted at 6:31 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    somewhereinthemiddle Posts: 92

    Just another attempt by the "Reagan Republicans" to keep themselves and their candidates in the news in the days leading up to the election. They are the ones who have turned a non-partisan election into something else entirely. Their campaign propaganda implies that they are conservative candidates and that their opponents are not, which is not true. I don't believe there are as many people as you think who are in favor of the changes made by Luna in the past couple of months, including "conservatives." They (Luna, Otter, Goedde) may have been elected "by a landslide," but that's because they didn't campaign on these crazy ideas. It doesn't hurt either that their opponents had a (D) after their names on the ballots, which in Idaho means death to an election bid. Vote May 17th for Dave Paul (zone 3) and Michelle Lippert (zone 2) for Post Falls School Board.

  • Candor posted at 6:05 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    Candor Posts: 35

    TakeBackTheUSA: You may not be alone but you are in a very very small group if last November's election is any indication. Luna, Otter, Goedde, and Nonini all recieved electoral landslides with the help of the much-maligned Reagan Republicans. The election trends in North Idaho show your "conversion" is definately swimming upstream.

  • TakeBackTheUSA posted at 5:46 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    TakeBackTheUSA Posts: 765

    If the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans had their way there wouldn't be public education. Every kid would be home schooled, with a free China made laptop of course. The funny thing is that I used to be a diehard GOP fan but Luna, Otter, Goedde, and Nonini managed to convert me. I'm sure I'm not alone.

  • Candor posted at 5:24 am on Thu, May 12, 2011.

    Candor Posts: 35

    Another case where the NEA, and the democrats they always support, think they are above the law. For them bribery laws apply only to defense contracters who pass cash under the table to Congressmen but when the union offers money to school trustees who agree to give them sweetheart deals in school district contracts, thats perfectly OK. Give me a break.

    Whether its Wisconsin, New Jersey or Idaho the teachers union demand the rights to conrol the schools (and run them into the ground) and demand tax increases if they don't get exactly what they want. If someone challenges them, like Governors Walker and Christie, Supt.Luna or the conservative local school board candidates (Hamilton, Seymour, Beaulieu, and Moser) they get our the long knives, h*ll bent on destroying their opposition. When will we realize that union mantra "what about the children" is roughly translated "show me the money!"

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