District shouldn’t have promoted ‘yes’ votes | Letter to the Editor

During the 2015 Enumclaw school bond campaign the school district arranged private meetings with 22 businesses and organizations within the district to do sales pitches for the upcoming election (District officials told me that these organizations asked for Mike to come and give the pitch for the bond. This sounded highly unlikely). When I went to the organizations the superintendent spoke with, I asked the people there: “Was Mike Nelson here to get a yes vote?” They all said yes.

During the 2015 Enumclaw school bond campaign the school district arranged private meetings with 22 businesses and organizations within the district to do sales pitches for the upcoming election (District officials told me that these organizations asked for Mike to come and give the pitch for the bond. This sounded highly unlikely). When I went to the organizations the superintendent spoke with, I asked the people there: “Was Mike Nelson here to get a yes vote?” They all said yes.

Washington laws are clear on this subject. I filed a complaint with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission about my concerns. After months of getting no determination from the PDC, I went to their office in Olympia to find out what’s taking so long and a PDC employee told me that the PDC has had terrible mismanagement.

A month later the PDC found no wrongdoing. Go figure!

How they came up with this determination is beyond me.

Public Disclosure Commission’s own documents says: “In no case will the PDC view a marketing or sales effort related to a campaign or election as normal and regular conduct.”

This is a direct quote from the PDC document titled: Guidelines for School Districts in Election Campaigns. Under the “Not Permitted” column: regarding school employees on the clock, “Shall not coordinate informational activities with campaign efforts, in a manner that makes the district appear to be supporting or opposing a ballot measure.”

At several of those meetings the chairman of the Vote Yes committee was coordinated by the district to attend and encourage everyone to vote yes to giving the district $86 million. How can this be legal?

And now we find out that what the district sold us, and is taxing us for, is far short of the sale pitch. The district is short $22 million on a $63 million project. And no one at the district confirmed what a consultant said they would get from the state and it’s also several million dollars short.

Again, how can this possibly be legal?

The school district won the election by four votes.

At the next school board meeting they held a big celebration and gave out gifts to the two co-chairmen of the Vote Yes committee and went on bragging about how much time and effort the district and the Vote Yes committee put into the win. They were bragging about selling the taxpayers new classrooms, a fancy new gym and a brand new, state-of-the-art performing arts center that the whole community can use.

How many voters would not have voted yes had they known the district hoodwinked them for their vote only to find out they don’t get the fancy new gym or the state-of-the-art performing arts center? I’m guessing a lot more than four voters.

This is utter incompetence or simple deceit from the Enumclaw School District.

Again, how can this be legal?

Ted DeVol

Enumclaw

 

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