11/08/2007

Levy opponents sue for right to spread false information














Levy referendum opponents in two Minnesota school districts where ballot measures were defeated this week are now claiming their right to free speech is under attack. They filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court against a state agency in a preemptive move to stop school districts from suing them over the use of inaccurate information in their "vote no" campaigns.

St. Paul, Minn. — State law prohibits the dissemination of information aimed at defeating a ballot question if that information is known to be false. Alleged violations of the law end up before the state Office of Administrative Hearings.

Attorney Erick Kaardal claims that system is violating his clients' free-speech rights.


Robbinsdale Superintendent Stan Mack described the lawsuit as "amazing." Mack said he can't believe opponents would sue for the right to use false information in a levy campaign. He views the lawsuit as an admission of the tactics used in Robbinsdale.

11 comments:

litigious said...

I think the OTBLers better jump right in and join this lawsuit. They've been using the FIrst Amendment to spread lies for years and it's just a matter of time before someone sues them for it. Hmmmm .... that's not a bad idea. Anyone know a lawyer who'll take on Li'l Bil & Mr. Peanut??

Anonymous said...

So are we to assume that school districts can be sued for providing misinformation concerning the need to pass levies? We are talking about political campaigns here. Or are the pro-larceny levy people above question with the information they provide for needing schools and more money? Maybe a better term for the teacher spouses who fight so hard for those Cadillac benefits and better than inflation raises would be puppets or lackeys or sheep?

Oh, I forget. It's only the union thugs who get to have free speech. If someone speaking out against more taxes gets up in front of the school board to express his feelings and findings, he gets hauled out by a school board member's husband who happens to be on the police force.

Obviously, the thought of professional organizers working against more theft through taxes puts the fear of God in you godless socialists. I guess the unions are the only group that has the right to seek organized professionals to help steal more of my hard earned cash.

Roadkill said...

Inky,

Neither your post nor the linked story provide details as to what the alleged lies and/or false information consisted of. Do you have any further specifics?

Grim Reaper said...

Anon:
What is wrong with you? Are you so blind that you can't see that a society reverting to your ideals,(which were prevalent in the age of the Robber Barons) would result in a world where the rich would get richer and richer and so powerful that the rest of us would become slaves to their economic and political power. This would include you because there's not doubt you are not in the elite top 1% of wealth earners.
Your assumption that socialist are Godless is another example of your consumate stupidity, especially when what you espouse is ultimately self centered and certainly not God centered.
2006 should have been a wake up call for you idiots. The majority of Americans are fed up with Republican trickle down economic philosophy. Your time of reckoning will be in '08. I can't wait!

Ink Stained Wretch said...

Roadkill,
A fair question:

http://tinyurl.com/3dafc4

"281CARE’s main attack came in the final weekend. It sent literature to every home in the district and launched an automated telephone campaign one day before the election.

Both the literature and phone calls contained half-truths and lies, pro-levy organizers said. One accusation was that the district was recruiting minority students from north Minneapolis and paying for taxis to bring them to Robbinsdale. The literature then blamed this for increased violence, gang activity and rising special education costs.

All this is false: The district doesn’t recruit Minneapolis students and doesn’t pay for their transportation; violence and gang activity haven’t risen and special education costs have not gone up because of these students. Mack said 1,300 students from 35 districts are enrolled in Robbinsdale schools, while 1,100 district students use open enrollment to attend schools elsewhere.

However, most students from North Minneapolis who enroll in Robbinsdale are African-American. By using them on their literature, school and campaign officials say 281CARE is exploiting bigotry.

“We’re dealing with race-baiting here,” Mack said.

“This is overt racism,” Smothers said. “Appealing to bigotry is so far off our radar, we never even considered it would be a factor in the campaign.”

Monday’s automated telephone message claimed a phonics program could replace teachers who work with non-English speaking students. This is false and absurd, Smothers said.

The district also was accused of wasting money on two new assistant superintendents. Smothers said they replaced two other executives who left the district -- at a salary savings of $60,000 a year.

Organizers said no one saw Dorr in the district. Other than Stoffel, no one publically associated themselves with 281CARE. RASVoteYes organized a forum about two weeks before the election. More than 300 people showed up, but no one from 281CARE agreed to speak.

The combination of anonymity and distorted information confounded levy advocates.

“We were up against a mean-spirited group of people who submarined the school district,” Green said. “Our message was based on facts and truth and we thought that would appeal to level-headedness and common sense. They appealed to hysteria and fear, and when we called them on it (at the forum), they didn’t show up.”

Anonymous said...

Sounds like CARE281 had a good strategy. Half truths dominate the Vote Yes groups on these levies. They say "it's for the kids," when it's mostly for teacher and administrator payroll and benefits.

I've never read one thing on this blog that ever indicated that there could possiblly be something wrong in the public school system. Never have I read about an idea where something could be cut back to re-arrange the pie and live within the same pie shell. My mentioning of this will bring on the personal attacks by the teacher spouse and union boot lickers who inhabit this pro-socialist blog.

I'm confused as to why you get so upset here when you are called "socialists." You are advocating socialist and Marxist doctrine. You just don't want to call a spade a spade. Obviously, reality is had for you to deal with.

CANRAC said...

Anon

There are some bad teachers in the public school system, an evaluation/merit system which is consistent and accurate needs to be created.

Planning is not always good, both sides in referendums have good points but also manage to twist the facts.

Some school system administrations are top heavy.

There, I've repeated my comments over that I think is wrong with public school systems, I have never claimed perfection.

Anonymous said...

Carnac:

Have you ever stood up in a public forum and stated what you think is wrong with the public school system? No, but you've worked very hard at discrediting those that do stand up and point out the very bullet points you mentioned.

Be honest now, do you truly think the Hudson Public School system is creative, forward thinking system that is preparing our children for what is coming tomorrow? What creative, innovative changes have taken place in the Hudson school system over the past decade? Since the new superintendent two-names came to town? Do you think a vast majority of our public school teachers are made up of the best and the brightest and most creative visionaries who inspire our children to excel into tomorrow's leaders? Come on man, a majority of teachers are women who went into teaching because they wanted to work with kids, i.e. "do it for the children." Probably half quickly find out that they don't really like the job but have a routine down, get decent pay, good benefits, early retirement and their summer off. Call me what you will for speaking the truth here, but you can deny that, if I'm half right, I'm telling 50 percent of the truth and that is pretty scary.

CANRAC said...

Anon

I have spoken at school board, city council, and even the county board as a citizen, but I will admit not lately. I will discredit those who stand up with either unproven facts, theories which are open for counter debate when they are sold as fact, or blatant false or misleading information. The problem is not what information is being communicated, its the manner when it is vindicitve, immature, or simply vicious. I'm sorry but somebody trying to be intimidating with a video camera, name-calling, tearing written information up and throwing it on the floor, or being disruptive, is not a good way to get a point across.

From my personal viewpoint, all three of my kids came out of Hudson schools with what I consider a good education. There were some very good teachers, and some very poor teachers. What I don't like is when the good ones who I feel work hard and go the extra distance get grouped with the bad ones. As far as "creativity" since I my kids all graduated I can't answer.

And I consider public employee bashing wrong in some cases. Once again everybody had choices over their line of work, and years ago public employment was way below the private sector. The teachers union got powerful, wages and benefits improved, and yes, if one is lucky enough to get into it, its a good paying occupation.

Hudson has seen from drastic changes over the past years, a migration of new residents into our community brought new ideas or thoughts which were different from past community sentiment. People moved here (many with young kids) with high expectations on public services, with the economy good cost was not considered an issue. Even though I don't fit the mold, I have considered this a high income community. Things are changing though, people are finding out they didn't move to Shangri-la, and personally I can't imagine a high school referendum passing in the next two years. I think the school board did possibly solve a lower priority need by going with an elementary school.

And I've been alarmed for some time over hs grads being unable to fill out a decent job application or know basic math and spelling skills. Maybe for "creativity" we should get back to the basics of teaching kids how to maintain a checking account, how to do math with pencil and paper, and how to write using paragraphs and complete sentences. Alegra, trig, geometry are nice, but basic life skills are being overlooked before they move kids onto the hard stuff.

My question to you, how do things change??

And lastly, if you can debate without getting low, I will too. One of the reasons I will criticize those who are down on the schools is because with them there is no middle ground, you are either for or against, and get called names or insulted if you don't agree 100%.

Sunny Badger said...

Canrac:

Some interesting points raised in this discussion. What percentage of the "good education" your kids received would you attributed to parenting and what to the school? What other factors might have contributed to the "good?"

As a product of the Hudson school system 30+ years removed, I would agree with you on the good and the poor teachers. I would say the same thing about my education at St. Pats and in the public university system. In the 1970s and earlier, I truly don't think school hand to work that hard to prepare students for the future. Hell, if you dropped out you could still make as much as high school graduates. There was not drug testing, no criminal background check, etc. at the local factories.

It ain't that way anymore. I believe a growing porportion of today's kids are going to be introduced into a hard reality in the future. I lay much of the blame on parents and this culture of consumption and keeping up with the Jones. There's a hard raining going to fall on their parade.

CEO said...

Anon says: "Do you think a vast majority of our public school teachers are made up of the best and the brightest and most creative visionaries who inspire our children to excel into tomorrow's leaders?"

Well, Anon, I think school districts try damn hard to hire the best and brightest. They clearly want them, but they have squat to pay them compared to the private sector.

Speaking of the private sector, how's it doing lately? CEO Prince got the boot from Citigroup after losing billions. Oh, and the stock market is down 1000 points THIS WEEK!!

Way to go wealth builders (I mean losers). It's enough to make a poor peanut vendor cry!

Mr. Prince got a $159 million severance to leave his post. Hard working teachers just get crap from Anon da Peanut Mon who think teachers are living in the lap of luxury compared to him. He dedicates his life to bringing them down to his free-market "entrepreneurial" poverty level.

Hudson has great teachers! But, if the superintendent & school board screw them in their contract negotiations then all bets are off for the future performance of this school district. The superintendent wants a "world class" school district (which is what Anon seems to want), but she wants to pay them peanuts to keep Da Peanut Mon happy.

You get what you pay for.