Posts Tagged ‘281 referendum’

Referendum Ballot Errors Caught in Plymouth, Complaint Filed

November 27, 2008

The MN Sun-Post reports that a Plymouth resident has filed a complaint that they were not given the ballot for their district’s referendum. The ballot errors were reported in Plymouth precincts. FreedomDogs blog asks: “Incompetence? Malfeasance? Corruption?”

Buried on Page 23A of today’s Crystal/Robbinsdale Sun-Gross is a story not just hinting but telling us our recent local referendum may have been fraudulent, rigged or illegal. (Question:  Had the referendum been lost, which page of this paper do you think a hint of wrongdoing would appear).

I quote the source:

“With several school districts represented in those precincts, there were different ballots for each district.  In all, reflecting Plymouth city, Hennepin County and state races as well as two school district referendums (Osseo and Robbinsdale), there were 35 different ballot styles in Plymouth, according to Plymouth City Clerk Sandy Engdahl.”

Is there a lawyer in the house?  I mean it.  I’m not suggesting that the vote would have turned out different, but according to the story, the screw-ups were across the breadth of the northwest metro.

How the story broke:  Some voters objected on election day that their local referendum was not on their ballot.  That was the start of this sequence of ‘anomalies.’  The situation, we are told, was corrected for the complaining voters.  But, how many voters didn’t catch these screw ups and just voted, cruised on through and went home thinking maybe they were wrong about a referendum on this year’s ballot? The tone of the Post story seems to suggest the mis-allocated ballots were isolated and insignificant.  The paper quoted the Plymouth City Clerk, but didn’t go across the northwest metro to get quotes from other local election officials in the other communities.  (Hard to believe this stellar news-gathering organization could be so shallow, isn’t it?)

We DO know there were wrongful referendum ballots at various polling places across the whole northwest metro – including specific eyewitness reports of missing referendum questions in Osseo School District and in Robbinsdale District 281 – but we have no meaningful information telling us the scope of the “oversight.” The only other quote we have in this story is from Jeff Dehler, communications director for District 281 (we know he has no horse in the race), who said “the problem seems isolated.”

Excuse me?  Ballots without a referendum question?  Or the wrong referendum question?  How do we know some, part, or all of it was isolated, Mr. Communications-director-with-a-triple-digit-salary on the line?  Al Franken would have a galaxy of attorneys poking and probing each chad and dimple, performing legal gymnastics trying to divine ‘voter intent’ for those of us too stupid to understand how ballots work.

The Sun-Gross article went on to quote their only “expert,” the aforementioned Sandy Engdahl, the Plymouth City Clerk as saying “The election judges did a good job – they did the best they could.”

Best they could?  Is this a new election standard – and when was it adopted? (If it is, I don’t have to ask which party adopted it).  Someone needs to dig deeper.  Since we know our local rag won’t, I’m hoping our Dogs of Diligence will put their ear to the ground and use this blog to A) ratchet up any information floating in the halls of academia and, B) report any anecdotal evidences they have concerning the real, full story of what happened.

There’s a stench in the air.  I don’t care if it was an “oversight.”  Somebody or some bodies screwed up.  If it was an accident, I want to know the scope.  If it was intentional, I want to know who’s going to be charged.

Everyone benefits… especially unions

November 12, 2008

A very good read about the real special interests behind the 281 referendum was found at Fraters Libertas blog. The writer discusses the funding behind the Yes & No groups. Below is an excerpt (emphasis ours):

But as the Vote Yes for Robbinsdale Area Schools site reminds us, “Everyone Benefits.” Not equally of course and as is usually the case when you’re trying to figure who stands to gain the most, it helps to follow the money.

This week’s New Hope-Golden Valley Sun reported on the campaign finance reports filed by District 281 referendum groups:

Campaign financial reports have been filed with Robbinsdale District 281 by the 281 C.A.R.E. Committee, which opposed the Nov. 4 referendum, and the Robbinsdale Area Schools “Vote Yes” committee, which supported it.

Ron Stoffel of Crystal, treasurer of the C.A.R.E. committee, reported $375 in contributions to that group between Jan. 1 and Oct. 26 this year.

The committee listed no donor names in its report.

It listed expenditures of $758 for advertising, $38 for postage and $10.69 for fundraising, for a total of about $806.

The group took in four hundo and spent eight. Truly a grassroots, shoe-string, citizen-lead operation.


The “Vote Yes” Committee’s report, filed by John Heinrich of New Hope, reported total income of $22,613 between May 13 and Oct. 20 this year.

That’s over SIXTY times as much as the group that opposed the referendum. And they put that money to good use: (more…)

Stan Mack: Pay no attention to those pesky opposition facts.

November 3, 2008

I received this email today from Robbinsdale Schools, addressed from Stan Mack. We took the liberty of linking to factual data from his words…

Election Day is tomorrow!  I appreciate that you have taken the time to understand our refrendum issues and that you share your views with other members of the community.

There has been a huge amount of information about the referendum.  I hope you will remember just a few things and share with those you know:

Investing in the quality of local public schools is essential if we are to maintain a safe, thriving, vibrant community. (more…)

The one chart Yes 281 doesn’t want you to see

November 2, 2008

Chart: Enrollment and Revenue (RSD 281)

Total enrollment (blue line) & General Fund Revenue (green line).

281 CARE posted this from the Coalition for Minnesota Businesses. More data is available there, and the numbers show that 281 doesn’t need more money but more fiscal responsibility.

Join citizens, business owners and concerned parents by voting NO to the ISD 281 Referendum.

A quote to remember when you cast your referendum vote

November 1, 2008

Going back to the well over and over and over again to water the desert is only going to lead to a dry well.

Letter: “Send a no message”

October 30, 2008

From the MN Sun-Post:

To the editor:

Recent literature left on my doorstep promoting the District 281 referendum points out “Property Tax Relief is Available.”

Are we to infer these existing state programs negate the yearly $222 per average home the 281 referendum will cost?

The Legislature has increased school districts’ funding to make voters think they are “working hard” for property tax relief, still the school district says the vitality of the community depends on millions more from a referendum.

Who are state tax relief programs intended for, the school district?

I recall Channel 5 news reporting last year on the consequences of the failed referendum coming up with a student contriving to convince viewers that if he couldn’t play golf he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on other studies.

Does the vitality of the community really depend on students playing golf at taxpayers’ expense?

In the presidential debate, Sen. Obama referenced that a family must budget by looking at income and then determining what they can spend. It’s time for taxpayers to insist that school districts and city councils do the same, as opposed to calling a list of things they want a budget and inevitably when there is not enough tax money to pay for everything, present it to the public as a crippling cut to that “budget.”

This referendum is not about educating children. It is about ever higher property taxes making housing unaffordable.

Voting no on the District 281 referendum is a chance to send that message.

Mike D.
Brooklyn Park

KARE 11 Reports: Tough Time For A Tax Increase

October 10, 2008

Yes 281 may have gone to KARE to help in their money grabbing effort. But KARE said it all in their story’s title, and included 281 CARE’s response in their report (with video).

Here’s the transcript:

While teachers at the Robbinsdale area schools are conducting business as usual the superintendent, Stank (that’s KARE’s spelling, not mine) Mack, knows that in less than 30 days his schools’ future will go to the voters yet again. “It is a very difficult issue there is no question about it,” Mack said Thursday.

On November 4th the taxpayers in the Robbinsdale area school district will be asked, yet again, to approve a referendum granting 9.4 million dollars to the district’s 17 schools. While Mack says it is a must to vote yes, it will be a difficult decision for voters who are already strapped by a troubled economy. “We are paddling an even stronger issue when it comes to the national economy,” Mack said.

The referendum, according Mack, would reduce class size and provide a lifeline to extra-curricular activities like band and athletics. But Ron Stoffel, an organizer for the vote no movement, says this is no time to be asking taxpayers for more money. “I think people are not going to look favorably to a tax increase because the taxes have gone up already with the gas tax,” Stoffel said. Mack says this referendum must pass for the 12,600 students in his district to even be competitive with kids in the neighboring Wayzata and Hopkins school districts and that he is putting his faith in the voters. “I am cautiously optimistic and I think there is grassroots support,” Mack said. But last year that support wasn’t enough to pass the referendum presented to voters in 2007. It failed by a little less than 900 votes.

We citizens are doing without extras because of high gas, heating and food prices, higher taxes statewide while our retirement funds shrink before our eyes. But “Stank” Mack wants 9.4 million dollars of taxpayer money to save “extra curricular activities?”

Note: be sure to read the comments below the KARE transcript. This one in particular calls out the extra curricular nonsense:

You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, especially when the turnips don’t have solid financial roots these days.  It costs money to bring a referendum on the ballot. There were districts last year who literally spent thousands “studying” whether there would be voter support, thousands spent hiring people to lobby and call potential voters. How much that money would have done if it were spent on the kids!
Enough is enough. We talk about holding an individual responsible for looking out for their own, yet every major institution has their hand out – even the conservative ones! Kids in other 1st world countries get quality educations without having after-school activities and school teams.

I think what I’m seeing is that we’re heading toward that kind of system: schools teaching their subjects, and kids doing the extra-curriculars and teams in clubs and gyms that aren’t related in any way to the schools. On their own dime.

I agree that enrichment activities are important – everyone needs a creative outlet. But we’re sadly at a point where we can only afford the essentials. We have to tell the districts to put the bag of Oreos back on the shelf because we only have enough to get the milk right now.

In other words, Vote NO November 4.

RSD 281: We’re excellent taxpayer dollar stewards, because we say so.

October 8, 2008

Speed Gibson asks where are the gatekeepers at Robbinsdale School District’s new website, as they proclaim themselves an “excellent steward of taxpayer dollars.”

Who’s in charge? Who’s watching and coordinating the content? Who’s doing the proofreading and the fact checking? I point to a page titled “The District is an excellent steward of taxpayer dollars” in regard to the November 2008 Operating Levy Referendum.

Are they wrong? Is the district not an excellent steward of our tax money? I don’t know and neither does the District. I am not aware of any objective basis for making this statement, nor is any given on the web page in question. On many other pages, the phrase “We’re listening!” refers to the recent Strategic Planning process. One major outcome of that study was that more transparency and scrutiny of District spending are needed, which led to the creation of the Financial Advisory Commission in August. They have met twice, but have issued no such opinions yet.

I’m not saying that the District cannot take pride in handling tax dollars responsibly. The mechanics are sound, with the Finance Director having been recognized several times for his expertise. The Board and Administration have worked many hours developing budget cuts, before and after the Strategic Planning process, taking great care throughout. But say it another way. Simply proclaiming yourself as “excellent” is too easily perceived as arrogance.

As Dr. Frank Luntz says, it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.

Note: I checked out the Referendum 2008 page, and clicked on this link: We’re Listening – Letter to the Community

Here’s what appeared:

They should re-word that link to read, “We’re listening, because we say so.”

281 Referendum Show Airing October 4

October 2, 2008

From NW Community Television:

Saturday, October 4, 2008 8:30PM
(Channel 20)

Vicki’s Parlour
The People Have Spoken: District 281 Isn’t Listening

[30 minutes] Repeating every 6 hours through Sunday at 2:30 PM > view programming schedule here.

If you don’t have cable access, you can purchase a copy of the show by contacting NWCT.

Editorials: Time For A Change & Board Is Out Of Touch

July 2, 2008

More 281 residents are speaking up against the current leadership and another proposed referendum in our school district. From the MN Sun-Post July 2:


Time for a change?

To the editor:

Strong leaders can pull a community together. Superintendent Stan Mack does the opposite on all school issues in Robbinsdale District 281.

In the fundraising effort by parents to keep ninth- and 10th-grade sports programs intact, Mr. Mack chose to make a statement that said, “Armstrong parents are better at raising money than Cooper parents are.”

This is totally unacceptable language that Mr. Mack has shown by this type of statement.

A real leader does not put schools versus schools, parents versus parents and even teachers versus teachers. This type of leadership only puts hostility back into the whole school community.

Hopkins School District 270 made the right choice a few years ago to put in a new leader.

Now it’s time for School District 281 to do the same thing.

Jeffrey Beck
Golden Valley


The following letter appears in the printed Sun-Post, but is not offered to view online (however a Vote Yes letter is online). I’ve transcribed it below:

Board is out of touch

To the editor:

Do you find it interesting that the District 281 School Board is begging for money again for the last two years in a row?

The voters rejected their request by a large margin last fall, but he School Board is determined to put their referendum back on the ballot again despite the message we sent them last year.

Aren’t you getting a little tired of public officials ignoring the wishes of the people they represent and stubbornly pushing ahead with their own special interests? I certainly am.

Can they possibly be calling for another huge tax increase at a time when our state unemployment rate is at a 17-year high, energy costs are going through the roof, gasoline is over $4 a gallon, foreclosures are at record levels and the housing market is depressed?

I realize there is no good time to raise our taxes, but some times are better than others, and I can’t think of a worse time than now.

The School Board request may have some merit, but their timing is terrible and the fact that they appear to be so out of touch with what is happening in the economy is troubling indeed.

Could it be that they are so caught up in their own agenda that they couldn’t care less about the problems of those of us who pay their bills?

I wonder what color the sky is in the School Board’s world.

Richard Moon
Golden Valley