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When I read this Our View editorial, my first reaction was that of disgust. The Times has tried to portray itself as object, as allies of ‘the people’. That façade disappeared when they wrote about setting a revote on the Tech-Apollo bonding referendum for this spring.

When they wrote that “a huge turnout expected in presidential election years may not enhance the chances for a school referendum to pass”, the Times essentially said that the right outcome was more important than giving the people the right to make informed decisions based on information gathered during meetings where the school board took questions and answered them on point. If the school board doesn’t answer the people’s questions directly, then citizens should continue to defeat the bonding referendum.

BTW, giving platitude-filled answers doesn’t constitute answering the citizens’ questions. That’s deception, which isn’t tolerated. The citizens have a right to know more of the specifics about the building that would be built with their money. When Barclay Carriar admitted that “80 percent of [the new Tech HS] isn’t going to be designed until after the referendum”, he essentially told voters that they should approve the bonds without knowing what they’d get.

Carriar is an “adviser with Ameriprise Financial and co-chair of Neighbors for School Excellence.” Think of adviser Neighbors for School Excellence as the DFL’s Vote Yes campaign organization for pushing the bonding referendum down voters’ throats. It’s important to remember that the bonding referendum was defeated in November because the School Board tried getting their referendum passed without answering voters’ questions.

That time, with the bonding referendum being the only thing on the ballot, voters rejected the proposal by an 8,460 to 7,393 vote margin. That 53.4% of the people voted to reject the proposal is a major upset.

Supporters and district campaign materials first cited a 10-year maintenance tab of $140 million at Tech. However, as the Election Day neared, credible evidence arose to question it. Yet supporters and even district leaders remain tight-lipped to this day about its validity.

That was a major nail in the School Board’s coffin. That wasn’t the only thing, though, that people questioned. They also questioned whether the buildings both needed to have a capacity of 1,800 students, especially considering the fact that there are 2,700 students in Tech and Apollo right now.

The chances of ISD742 increasing enrollment by one-third over the next 20-50 years is approximately zero. The school board tried convincing their constituents that writing the school board a blank check based on a platitude-filled campaign.

That measure went down in flames.

Earlier this week, SCSU President Potter sent an email to the SCSU campus community saying that SCSU is “a university that values equity, diversity and inclusivity.” Former SCSU Aviation Professor Jeff Johnson is questioning that. More importantly, he’s putting his money where his mouth is:

Click the picture to enlarge.

There’s no doubt that President Potter talks a good game about equity, diversity and inclusivity. There’s little doubt that comparing his statements with his actions gives people ample justification to question President Potter’s integrity.

Especially disturbing is the fact that 5 students witnessed President Potter get in another student’s face during a meeting. That doesn’t reflect the priorities of “a university that values equity, diversity and inclusivity.”

Prof. Mark Jaede has a lengthy history of being a DFL activist/operative. I first came face-to-face with it during the state government shutdown in 2011 but I’d heard of Jaede’s activism before that. This year, Prof. Jaede has taken his activism to a new level when Prof. Jaede complained publicly about this LTE. Specifically, Prof. Jaede complained that the St. Cloud Times editorial started by asking “Why are Muslim leaders silent?” in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks. Later in the editorial, the writer got more specific, saying that there “has been no such response from Muslim leaders around the world to express their condemnation of terrorism and to let the global community know the difference between the religion of Islam and extremism.”

Yesterday, Prof. Jaede posted something to SCSU’s discuss listserv. In his post to the discuss listserv, Prof. Jaede admitted that he’d done “something I have never done before. I wrote to a newspaper asking them to take down a letter to the editor.” Here’s Prof. Jaede’s letter to the St. Cloud Times:

I am writing in regard to the above-referenced letter that appeared today in the online edition of the Times.

The letter is not merely an opinion piece. It makes a claim of fact that is patently false. Muslims all over the world have denounced the terrorism of ISIS. Muslim leaders here in St. Cloud have denounced it, and the Times has printed their statements. Why would you print this letter when you know it to be both false and likely to further anti-Muslim bigotry in our area? And why have the comments been turned off? Responsible readers can’t even point out the falsehoods.

Much as I have disagreed with many opinion pieces in the Times, I have never before been moved to write to object to the publication of a piece. This letter crosses the line. It goes beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.

Please take it down, or at least publish a disclaimer pointing out the falsehood of its central claim.

Mark Jaede
St. Cloud

It’s one thing to ask a newspaper to “at least publish a disclaimer” highlighting the inaccuracies of the LTE. It’s another to ask a newspaper to unpublish an article that’s been posted on their website. That’s called censorship, which is prohibited by the First Amendment. Prof. Jaede said that “this letter crosses the line” by going “beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.” The remedy for crossing that line isn’t to censor the writer. It’s to impeach them with your own LTE.

Methinks it’s time for Prof. Jaede to refresh his understanding of the First Amendment.

LFR’s ‘early years’ were spent mostly offering opinions on international events. That abruptly changed when John Murtha accused the Haditha Marines of murdering Iraqi civilians in cold blood. That weekend, I spoke with Leo Pusateri about the lies that Murtha was told. Later that weekend, Leo started the Murtha Must Go blog on Blogger. (Actually, the first couple of years of LFR were on Blogger, not on this website.)

Thanks to some committed retired Marines and that website, the Haditha Marines weren’t railroaded by John Murtha. Murtha was the quintessential corrupt politician. I kidded at one time that they should rename his office after he died to the ‘Office of Corporate Welfare’. After he died, Nancy Pelosi didn’t take my advice. The good news is that the Haditha Marines either had their charges dropped or they were acquitted.

The next thing LFR dealt with extensively was the anti-war movement, which started with John Murtha and Amy Klobuchar, who I nicknamed St. Amy of Hennepin County. When she ran for the Senate, St. Amy of Hennepin County said “America needs a change of course in Iraq,” Klobuchar said. The measure “continued an open-ended commitment with no clear transition to Iraqi authority,” she said. “My priority is to transition to Iraq authority by beginning to bring our troops home in a responsible way.” I noted at the time that St. Amy didn’t express an interest in winning the war. Her interest was in bringing “our troops home in a responsible way.” It isn’t surprising that St. Amy has been an enthusiastic supporter of President Obama’s lose-at-all-costs strategy in Iraq.

We’re still paying the price for the 2006 and 2008 elections.

At one point, LFR was hacked, which kept the website down for almost a month. Thankfully, I wasn’t silence thanks to Examiner.com. Click on this link to subscribe to my articles. They’re entirely different than the things I publish on LFR.

One of the things that I’m most proud of is the role I played in defeating the School Board bonding referendum here in St. Cloud. The ISD 742 School Board tried passing the $167,000,000 referendum without giving people the opportunity to give input into the project. When the ballots were tallied, 7,393 people voted to approve the bonding while 8,460 people voted to reject the School Board’s proposal.

For a little perspective, most School Board elections and special elections in the St. Cloud area have a turnout rate of 18%. This vote produced a 31% turnout rate. After the measure was defeated, I got an email from a frequent reader of LFR which said in part “They had a turnout strategy and tons of money. You had common sense and the ability to motivate 8400 people to vote. (31% turnout in an odd-year election? with reduced polling places? Just amazing.)”

While it’s nice getting credit for producing those results, the reality is that the ISD 742 School Board was its own worst enemy. LFR was just the amplifier that highlighted their corruption. They tried keeping the vote below the citizens’ radar. They tried making voting as inconvenient as possible. When pressed why people couldn’t see the blueprints for the future Tech High School, the leader of the Vote Yes campaign explained “What a lot of them don’t recognize is, with the cost of designing a building, 80 percent of it isn’t going to be designed until after the referendum. And the plans we’ve got now are still tentative.”

Imagine that. The School Board wanted the citizens, since nicknamed “The Uppity Peasants Brigade”, to give the school board a blank $167,000,000, $115,000,000 of which is for a building that wouldn’t be designed until after the bonds had been approved.

Daniel Stavrum’s LTE in the St. Cloud Times efficiently rebuts Sarah Starling’s diatribe on who voted against the St. Cloud Tech bonding referendum. One of Ms. Starling’s first accusations was that “about 8,000 of you went into our schools, many of you looked our children in the eyes, and told them they did not deserve a higher quality of education because you don’t want your property taxes to increase.” That’s shredded by one of Mr. Stavrum’s first points.

It’s the point Mr. Stavrum made when he said “Let’s be clear. I favored the school levy approval. But I voted no for several reasons. First, we were not given enough detailed information on the new school nor what improvements Apollo needed, nor the plans for old Tech.”

Later, Ms. Starling said “We have failed our children and our entire area’s future. People refuse to live in the St. Cloud area because our schools are horrendous – yet we refuse to improve them. To the people who voted no, why don’t you care about our community?” I wonder how she’d respond to Mr. Stavrum’s saying “Finally, I was amazed by the reduction of polling places from 65 to 13. The Times Editorial Board called this a “mistake.” No, it was a deliberate strategy to disenfranchise rural and elderly voters who might tend to vote no. For example, I live in a rural township, my normal polling place about 1 mile away. The levy plan, however, had me and my neighbors driving nearly 14 miles to vote. Area voters aren’t stupid. School district officials shouldn’t treat them like they are.”

I wrote this post on Sept. 13. I wrote then that “For instance, the school district combined the 2 projects (refurbishing Apollo, building a new Tech HS). The way it’s worded, you can’t vote down the Tech proposal and vote for the Apollo refurbishing. That’s a sly way of forcing people who want to refurbish Apollo to vote for the Tech project, too. That’s a sly way of forcing people who want to build a new Tech HS into voting for the Apollo refurbishing.

It’s pretty obvious why it’s set up this way. That isn’t the same as saying the school district should get away with forcing taxpayers to vote for both projects if they only support one of the projects. This is a scam propagated by the school board. This isn’t a mistake. It’s a feature! It’s intentional.”

I’d like to personally thank all of the Daniel Stavrums of the world for voting against the $167,000,000 bonding referendum. It’s the only way we’ll get the ISD 742 School Board to interact with St. Cloud taxpayers.

Southwest Minnesota State University, aka SMSU, has been ‘recognized’ as being unique, though that doesn’t mean it’s a positive thing. SMSU has ‘won’ the honor of being FIRE’s Speech Code of the Month. According to FIRE’s Samantha Harris, SMSU’s Prohibited Code of Conduct for students bans “cultural intolerance,” which is defined as any “verbal or physical contact directed at an individual or group such as racial slurs, jokes, or other behaviors that demean or belittle a person’s race, color, gender preference, national origin, culture, history or disability, is prohibited.”

Ms. Harris is right in saying that if “students’ free speech rights exist only at the mercy of the most sensitive members of the university community, then meaningful debate becomes impossible.” Ms. Harris adds that under “SMSU’s policy, any speech or expression that another student subjectively finds “demeaning” or “belittling” is subject to punishment. And on today’s college campus, where students increasingly demand the right to emotional comfort, that often includes a tremendous amount of speech, including the expression of unpopular views on political and social issues.”

The question frequently comes back to who the final determiner is of what’s acceptable or what’s offensive. Frankly, I don’t trust anyone to be the determiner of those sorts of things.

Tomorrow, President Potter leaves for his third international trip of the year. He’s heading for Malaysia, Cambodia and Australia. Monday morning, he sat down for a wide-ranging conversation with Jay Caldwell of WJON. The subject turned to the trip at about the 10:00 mark. Here’s a partial transcript of President Potter’s explanation of what they’ll be doing during the trip:

Potter: On Wednesday, I’m leaving on a 10-day trip to Malaysia, Cambodia and Australia. In Malaysia, that has long been a place from students have come to St. Cloud State and we have a strong alumni body in Malaysia and we’ll have our second — we had one two years ago — alumni gathering and we had 60 at the last gathering and we’ll sign a couple of new agreements while we’re there to send students to St. Cloud State. Then we’re going to visit a manufacturing plant operated by the St. Jude Medical Devices, one of their many plants around the world. We’ve been in conversation with them here as for the internships for students born here in the United States and students who come to us from Malaysia and go back and be in their workforce.

Then in Cambodia, the embassy has set up some visits for us to universities there because the United States is interested in increasing student traffic from Cambodia to the US and we have a good reputation in Southeast Asia and we’ve been invited to do that work and we’re also doing the work to broaden our focus on genocide beyond the Holocaust and what Europe did in World War II to those other areas of the world where there have been other major genocides like Rwanda and now the killing fields of Cambodia.

This is disgraceful. First, St. Cloud State is running a huge deficit. Next and more importantly, 15 SCSU librarians had the number of duty days reduced by 20 days each this year. In some of these cases, that was a $10,000 pay cut.

QUESTION: Does President Potter think that the definition of shared sacrifice mean that others make sacrifices and he feels their pain while on expensive international trips?

The Faculty Senate passed a resolution recommending no more international travel. In the spirit of teamwork, President Potter ignored this resolution. Joe Biden once famously said that “a leader without any followers is just a man out for a walk.” In this instance, Potter is that man. The only difference is that this man is out for an expensive international trip on the taxpayers’ dime.

In midterm elections and presidential elections, 65 polling stations are open in St. Cloud. In this year’s off-off-year election, the St. Cloud ISD742 School Board will only open 13 polling stations. According to this St. Cloud Times article, Kevin Januszewski, executive director of business services for the St. Cloud school district, said this move is designed save on the cost of the election. What Mr. Januszewski isn’t saying is that having the election next year would eliminate the school board’s cost of the bonding referendum vote entirely. That’s because there’s a presidential election next year.

Voter participation is at its highest during presidential elections. Further, the cost to the school district drop dramatically because they don’t pay for the entire election. If costs are significantly less and voter participation is at its highest, that’s the sweet spot. Public officials are always saying that they want high voter participation rates. Here’s the opportunity to guarantee that. Why didn’t the ISD742 School Board pick 2016 for this gigantic bonding referendum vote?

Is it because they want low turnout? Apparently so. I noted in this post that voter participation from within the education community was sure to be close to 100% while voter participation from the average taxpayer will at its lowest. It’s historically been that way for decades.

To the taxpayers:

  1. Has the school district asked you for your input into this important decision?
  2. Has the school board informed you about the bonding referendum beyond vague generalities?
  3. Has the school district been upfront with you about the property tax implications for you personally?
  4. Have they explained the ramifications of this property tax increase on St. Cloud’s tax base?
  5. Has the school board explained why they’re holding this vote when voter participation is at its lowest?

Personally, the answer to those questions are no, no, no, no and no. Without answers to these important questions, I can’t support this referendum at this time. Vote no on November 3.

ALERT — THREAT TO DEMOCRACY: A loyal reader of LFR just contacted me with the alarming news that there will only be 13 polling stations open for the upcoming school board vote on a bonding referendum. There’s normally 60 in St. Cloud. The school board certainly hasn’t publicized that fact!

That means the potential exists for thousands of voters to show up at their precinct to vote on this $167,000,000 referendum and find out that their polling station isn’t open, which will cause them to either find their new polling station or go home frustrated that they couldn’t vote.

The school board is 100% liberal. It’s been that way for 30+ years. Two years ago, some Republicans tried getting elected. They were defeated even though they were highly qualified teachers. The word got out that they weren’t “real” education experts, meaning that ‘they weren’t one of us’.

Now the DFL is shutting down 47 of the usual 60 voting stations in an attempt to keep voter turnout limited to ‘their people’ to ensure there’s no opposition to raising our property taxes. If this doesn’t scream of voter suppression, then the phrase is without meaning.

Earlier this morning, I wrote this post urging people to vote no on the school board’s attempt to railroad a major tax increase down our throats. Since I wrote that note, loyal readers of LFR asked me some additional questions that the school district should answer before they get another penny from taxpayers.

For instance, the school district combined the 2 projects (refurbishing Apollo, building a new Tech HS). The way it’s worded, you can’t vote down the Tech proposal and vote for the Apollo refurbishing. That’s a sly way of forcing people who want to refurbish Apollo to vote for the Tech project, too. That’s a sly way of forcing people who want to build a new Tech HS into voting for the Apollo refurbishing.

It’s pretty obvious why it’s set up this way. That isn’t the same as saying the school district should get away with forcing taxpayers to vote for both projects if they only support one of the projects. This is a scam propagated by the school board. This isn’t a mistake. It’s a feature! It’s intentional.

Another question raised by my readers is why the school district is holding the election at a time when literally nothing else is being voted on. As I said in my earlier post, it’s clear that the turnout from the “education community” will be 95% or higher. Those votes have already been factored in. Further, the school board is counting on low turnout from taxpayers. The vote is rigged. The people profiting from these projects passing will turn out in droves. The people who don’t know that there’s an election happening won’t show up, thereby ensuring the referendum passing.

The people running the school board want what they want when they want it. If that means playing dirty, then that’s the path they’ll take. In situations like that, there’s only one way to foil the school board’s plan. That’s to vote no, then insist that the taxpayers vote on 2 separate questions. Then insist that the election be held on Election Day 2016.

It isn’t surprising that the school board hasn’t held a townhall meeting to explain how big the ‘new Tech’ will be or how big the anticipated enrollment will be in the new school. They haven’t said what has to be refurbished at Apollo, either. Considering the fact that St. Cloud’s population of taxpayers is, at best, staying steady, just how many times do these politicians think they can go to the taxpayers’ ATM?

And yes, I meant to say politicians when referring to the school board. They’re as partisan as the legislature.