Saturday, November 03, 2007

West Bend school referendum, Is an out of state anti-school group breaking the law?

Hi folks,

Something from the Journal-Sentinel on out of state interlopers brought in to sway the referendum vote:

School referendum backers think telephone campaign violates law

Posted: Nov. 2, 2007

West Bend - A national group advocating limits on new taxes and government spending jumped in on a local school building referendum election Friday, just four days before voters go to the polls.

Americans for Prosperity, which maintains a state office in Milwaukee and has offices in other states, sponsored computer-generated telephone calls that began blanketing homes in the West Bend School District on Friday afternoon, according to local residents.

Several members of a local referendum support group have asked the Washington County district attorney's office to investigate the telephone campaign as a possible violation of state election laws. State laws generally require groups to register with municipal or school district clerks before campaigning on a ballot issue. [my italics]


School District officials confirmed Friday that no individual or organization had registered to campaign in opposition to the school building referendum.

Hmm. So, we have an out-of-state group that jumped into a local issue and decided not to bother following the law? They have friends in the district, though, including our good friend Owen Robinson, over at Boots and Sabers. I know Owen is a big supporter of Americans for Prosperity -- although how you can vote against the single biggest booster of economic prosperity in a globalized economy (improving the educational infrastructure) and still claim to be in favor of prosperity, doesn't make any damn sense to me.

Here's the latest update on this from the local pro-school group,

“Americans for Prosperity” Phone Messages

If anyone received an automated TAXPAYER ALERT call – this is an outside group headquartered in Texas with an office in Milwaukee. They are attempting to sway the election. It is likely NOT a coincidence that they started this on the Friday afternoon before the vote next week. Our DA, Todd Martens, has agreed to investigate if this is an illegal activity over the weekend. This group is not registered as an action committee.

There are three major misleading parts to the message:

  • The use of OUR in the message from a group outside the community to seem like they are local. "for each child added to our district since the last time they hiked our taxes"
  • The use of the immeasurable "since the last time they hiked our taxes". What was the last time? The last referendum? The last time a building was built? The last time the general tax amount was raised? It is impossible to know.
  • To accurately measure cost per student, it would be necessary to determine the number of students that were educated in the buildings over 60 years and then divide that by the referendum amount. 60 Years is given as the average life of a school building in the US. In West Bend we get more life out of the buildings, our average is 84 years.

If you got the above mentioned call, please write a letter and fax it to the DA (262-335-4739). This group may not be playing by the rules that we have been following very closely. If you don't have fax, please bring it to Sara Fleischman's home (1142 Kinross Ct.) this weekend. It will be dropped off Monday at 8am.

It sure seems like a lot of people from outside of our district don't want us to decide how to spend our own money on our future. I wonder why that is?



Anonymous said...

....""although how you can vote against the single biggest booster of economic prosperity in a globalized economy (improving the educational infrastructure) and still claim to be in favor of prosperity, doesn't make any damn sense to me.""

Because Owen is like a guy that pisses into the wind - sometimes you spray yourself. I have to laugh about his post about George Prescott giving $10,000 & then from his comments it is evident that he has no clue who the guy is. George Prescott (besides giving $1.4 Million to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, he also was the lead donor for the expansion of the West Bend Boys/Girls Club) at one time was the big motivator behind the Washington County Republican Party. He put lots of money into the McCollum race (against Doyle). By the time Doyle was up for reelection, he switched to Doyle. I think George Prescott "has left the house" (Republican). I recall John Torinus writing that it was because of the Republican-wide stance on stem cell research, but I think it was also the "no-negotiation" stance taken by the Republican party that culiminated in the election of ding-dong Glen Grothman.

So as the Republican Party weakens in Wisconsin (which allows the Democrats to take over), I would rather see George Prescott putting his money in good causes, and less money into politics (although he can do whatever he wants).

I'm sure Owen can find guys to make up the $$$ difference (lol). What a contrast though, at one time George Prescott was the strength of the Washington County Republican Party, seems like Owen is working on being the weakness of the party. Like I said, he pisses on himself too much.

wbender said...

Boots & Sabers says this: "But notice that the complaint was filed on the Friday afternoon before the Tuesday election."

But also note that this group waited until Friday to do the phone calls - maybe they should have done the calls earlier, to widen the gap - but then what would Owen have to moan about. Good strategy on the part of AFP, because if the Robinsons knew anything about West Bend, they would know that West Benders dislike getting "hosed" probably as much as they dislike higher taxes (although in this case, the taxes are lower). If the referendum fails, I think the community will wake up to the fact that there are outside interests that have agendas of their own that have nothing to do with the future of West Bend.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love the Boy's (Owen) "I read it on the Internet, so I know it is true" intellect.

......And why are we planning on renting trailers at $80,000 per year? According to this, a 1,000 square foot modular classroom would only cost about $60,000. So why rent them at $80,000 per year? How many trailers are we getting for this $80,000 per year?.... Owen Robinson re: article he read on-line - Daily Reporter

Guys like you think he is smart?

Mpeterson said...

My own sense of Mr. Prescott is that he's an old fashioned Republican and an old fashioned conservative -- the kind that, even when you disagreed with them, still made sense. I think of Barry Goldwater, John Dean -- even George H.W. Bush. The so-called neo-conservatives don't even make sense when, for a brief moment, you might suspect you actually agree with them. They don't seem to understand their own grounding assumptions, much less share the values of fiscal good sense and personal autonomy.

Mr. Torinus is usually right about this sort of thing. A lot of people who were Republicans have been driven out by true believers who now hold the party hostage to a set of ideological commitments. Ideological purity has replaced what, since Lincoln, had been civic, and civil, virtues.

Did I say that I thought Owen was smart? He's certainly very clever and has spent a lot of time working in programming. Isn't a degree in IT the best preparation for enlightened political discourse and explaining to your neighbors what's best for them?

I could be wrong about that I guess.


John Foust said...

I think it's going to be fun to watch Owen try to explain why this sort of last-minute swift-boating is fair play, and how he wasn't a part of the planning for this escapade. Check out my parody of his waffling at

Anonymous said...

It's a pathetic commentary about B&S when its owner's wife says of George Prescott, "I think he owned some Pick n Saves". As already noted, this man has given back to the community... in spades. He is also a thoroughly decent individual.

Anonymous said...

John Faust - Great Site! Miss seeing your comments on Boots & Sabers - could not always agree with you, but I sure learned a lot from your comments, which is important for a life-learner like myself. Unfortunately, Boots & Sabers seems to me more geared towards people "talking" and no "listening". Most people don't want to have their world rocked by having to change their mind about something. Pathetic!

Saw a comment at Brew City that you might do a blog? I wish you would - .

wbender said...

The publisher at the Daily News is Steve Ciccantelli (

Several people I spoke to want to register a comment that the Daily News should have disclosed the relationship between their columnists & Americans For Prosperity in their article on Saturday.

Don't know how "in-bred" the Daily News staff is, if anyone knows of contacts higher up the corporate food-chain, please advise.

John Foust said...

Thank you, Anonymous. has been much fun. Yes, I like to substantiate my posts when I can - I love to google and find other articles related to the topic at hand.

In his recent blitz of PR for the AFP rally at the Capitol, I posted info and background about the founders of AFP and the leaders in Wisconsin, for example.

There I also successfully challenged Owen's / AFP's party line on whether it was improper for a UW employee to be using UW email as a contact point for the protest of this rally. I quoted chapter and verse from UW regulations. It wasn't hard to do. It took only minutes.

So why wouldn't Owen and AFP do the same thing before ranting? They're not stupid, but they're wearing blinders, I think. Along with those nifty jodphurs!

Yes, I do have an idea for a Wisconsin political site. Like most good inventions, it stems from a particular itch I'd like to scratch.

Anonymous said...

The Daily News is under the tight control of the owner, Jim Conley, who is based in Beaver Dam. I've been told by a staff member that he stopped editorials from being written and decides which columnists will be carried.

truewbfriend said...

Got to love them trash-talking Wendy & Owen over at Botos & Sabers. I hope some Democrat consultant automatically downloads that site for future opposition research. Imagine some of that crap coming back two-five-ten years down the road when Owen runs for Republican office.

Anonymous said...

Ho, ho, ho... you guys make me laugh.

I won't bother to argue with the drivel, but allow me to offer a few comments:

1) I don't have an IT degree. I have a business degree. And I am not a programmer (not sure where you got that). I have earned numerous technical certifications. I wasn't aware that one required a degree in philosophy in order to be qualified to comment on public policy.

2) I am a freelance writer for Conley and not an employee.

3) I doubt I'll ever run for office.

4)Judging by the results of the vote, I am far more in tune with WB than you folks.

5) Prescott is a good guy, but that doesn't mean that I have to agree with him.

6)B&S has banned precisely 3 people in over 4 years of operation. As of right now, there have been 48,541 comments. We're hardly afraid of debate.

Carry on.

- Owen

Mpeterson said...

Koo-koo-ka-choo Mr. Robinson,

Glad you're enjoying your chuckle and the recent vote.

You'll be able to afford a couple of extra iPods now.

1) A business degree, eh? I have no idea where I got programmer from either. Your use of logic has the character of the way programmers use it. And nobody said you needed a degree in philosophy, or any education at all, to say anything meaningful about politics. I was merely complimenting you on the way your education has obviously prepared you to comment on it.

Plato is quite clear, in fact, that philosophers are utterly useless to societies grounded in money rather than justice. Aristotle pointed out that philosophy and reason are useless in politics. I'm used to being useless. It gives me great freedom.

2) Nobody said you were an employee of Conley.

3) I'm disappointed you'll never run for office. You seem to understand how the whole process works and I think you're doing the rest of us a disservice by keeping your skill set to yourself.

4) You are quite clearly more in touch with the vast majority of West Bend voters than me -- or most of the people I know... but then, I haven't voted for a Presidential candidate who won since Jimmy Carter, so I'm not sure that means very much.

5) Nobody said you agreed with Mr. Prescott, or should.

6) B&S is notoriously popular and even handed, but I just put up the comments that come in, unless they are blisteringly obscene or include references to Deleuzean post-modernism -- sort of the same thing.

7) [for the sabbath] People have to have someplace other than B/S to blow off steam once in a while. God rests, even if the B/S doesn't.

John Foust said...

Owen - nice to see you again!

(4) School referenda are often defeated several times. That's the process. I sympathize with those who don't like the prospect of increased taxes. I also sympathize with the people (hired and volunteer) who are trying to solve the school's problems within the system they've been given. I think there are many more civilized and helpful ways to assist the process than hiring robo-callers.

(6) I eagerly await the proof of your claim that "John has posted under half a dozen different names and he was not always obvous about it." [sic] It's utterly false. If you can't document your claim, please remove this slur on my character.