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This article strikes me as pretty well done.
The one issue is the statement "Union members each donated $41 on top of regular CEA dues to be used for the small donor committee, Harris said." I strongly doubt this is correct because the PAC that received this money and made the donations did not list its donors. Under Colorado statutes, a PAC must disclose "the name and address of each person who has contributed twenty dollars or more."
At least it is clear now that the state teachers union is funding Ms. Dover and Ms. Huron, almost exclusively, but the suggestion that it is local money is either inaccurate or the PAC is in pretty serious violation of the law.
I could not agree more with the principles that Ms. Dover lays out:
• Keeping politics out of the School Board;
• Local Control;
Actions, however, speak louder than words. Let’s look at Ms. Dover’s campaign:
• Politics—All of her radio ads are paid for by a political action committee and about 76% of the contributions to her campaign are from a PAC;
• Local control—The two PACs that are financing Ms. Dover’s campaign are not local. They are from the Front Range and at least the one that has contributed to her campaign is run by the state teachers’ union.
• Transparency – It is impossible to determine who has contributed to these two PACs and despite my repeated calls for some explanation, Ms. Dover has refused to do so. Given the magnitude of this PAC financing from outside our area, it seems to me that some explanation is required.
It is easy to say you stand for particular principles, but it is another thing to live by them.
I am not suggesting in the least that Ms. Dover is a bad person or anything other than an exemplary citizen. Quite the contrary. Congratulations to Ms. Dover for having the courage to run for public office.
What we have here is a substantial difference of opinion. I just think that it is bad policy to have the state teacher’s union control our local school board. My dad served on the local school board where I grew up for at least a decade. I understand the value of independence in the school board because at the end of the day, when it comes to the local education system, the buck stops with the school board.
Well, the points I have been raising have gotten attention on the Front Range. Here is a news story that came out today:
Ken, apparently even that would be enough. I just learned that a political committee in Thornton, Colorado has spent a few thousand dollars on radio adds for Ms. Dover and Ms. Huron. The name of the committee is Every Student Deserves Opportunity. It was formed on October 4 and has yet to file any financial report, so we have no way of knowing where this money came from.
It sure seems odd that candidates advocating local control and avoiding political involvement are getting the vast bulk of their resources from political committee's on the Front Range.
I looked at this a bit further and here is another curiosity. The corrected reports filed by Ms. Dover and Ms. Huron were identical in wording and filed within 2 minutes of each other. You have to think this was coordinated and you have to wonder if CEA was coordinating.
As to Ken's point about a conflict of interest, it is pretty obvious. The school budget is a little over $25 million. 86% is for salaries and benefits. Not all of that is on union contracts and I can't pin it down exactly, but from the budget it looks like somewhere in the range of $16-18 million is paid on union contracts (so about 70-75% of the total school budget
As to Scott's point, I am not aware of anything illegal at this point (although every time I look at this I seem to find another can of worms), but it is certainly a relevant consideration in evaluating the candidates. This is made harder by the failure of Ms. Dover and Ms. Huron to explain the situation.
Something is wrong here. Yesterday I took a look at the contribution and expenditure reports of the school board candidates. I was a bit alarmed to see that almost 90% of Ms. Huron's contributions came from the Colorado Education Association, the state teacher's union organization. The same was true for almost 76% of Ms. Dover's contributions. I posted a comment about this on the candidates' interview articles asking for an explanation. Then, also yesterday, both candidates filed their next reports early, backing out the CEA contributions and saying the contributions were from "Public Education Committee." The article above describes this as "a group of local teachers given via a CEA small donor committee." I do not see how this is possibly true. In its latest reports this political committee lists 37 contributions to candidates all across the state and lists its receipts as $50,000 from "various member contributions."
This is no model in transparency.
Margaret, I just looked at your contribution and expenditure report and I see that just less than 90% of your contributions come from the Colorado Education Association, which is, of course, the state level organization of the teachers' union. The other 10% ($200) came from you personally. Would you care to comment?
Michelle, I just looked at your contribution and expenditure report and I see that almost 76% of your contributions come from the Colorado Education Association, which is, of course, the state level organization of the teachers' union. How do you see this as being consistent with "keeping public education local and not controlled by outside interests," which you advocate in this interview?
I attended this forum and it was pretty well done, although the questions were not very well designed to point out the differences in the candidates. The most telling moment was about 45 minutes into the program when the candidates were asked what innovations they would like to see the school district pursue. Both Michelle Dover and Margaret Huron chose to answer the question making the assumption that there were unlimited funds, although that was not part of the question as it was asked. The line of the night came from Anne Lowe in answering this question when she indicated that she was going to take a different angle because "we just talked about the financial constraints on the school system."
You can see the video of this presentation at the Freedom Conference here:
Videos of other presentations will be uploaded in the next couple of days.
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