Contrasting Clarion Calls: Ron Mitchell Envisions “Dignity”; Julie Williams’ Friend Urges “Intimidation” and “Harassment”

On the eve of the swearing-in of the “Clean Slate,” the differences in approach to decorum could not be more stark.

Ron Mitchell, one of the five new incoming board members, posted this on his Facebook page:

Tomorrow night as we install the new school board, it is my hope that we can make this transition in a dignified atmosphere. One of my goals is to treat all community members who come to our board room with respect. Please join me as we work to move Jeffco schools forward on a positive note.

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Meanwhile, we are seeing nothing of the sort from WNW’s allies. In fact, quite the opposite to an alarming degree. Right here on JCSBW’s Facebook page, a long-time friend of Julie Williams posted the following:

We are going to harass, intimidate and recall the filth who now think they’re serving our children when they’re serving Union filth.

Differences of opinion: OK. Harassment and intimidation? Illegal. He carries on with even worse language but we’ll cut it off there and won’t post the screenshot this time. The screenshot has been reported to authorities. Remember this is the same person who had been long-time friends with Julie Williams, posted a call for teacher executions and more during the recall just a few weeks ago. Julie Williams was quicker to delete people who criticized Marshall from her FB page than she was to critique Marshall. Unfortunately, we see no one in WNW’s camp critiquing his comments this time either.

ACCOUNTABILITY!

Voters Oust WNW: Determine Them to be Highly Ineffective

Tonight, after two years of Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams obviously answering to outside financiers and ideology, rather than to the real needs of a majority of Jeffco residents, Jeffco voters rejected an advertising onslaught and decided to oust the three of them in a statement heard loud and clear throughout our country.

Although the statement was loud and resonated across the nation, the most important outcomes will be heard in the more hushed tones of classrooms from Westminster to Littleton and from Wheat Ridge to Evergreen, where teachers may once again feel valued and respected, and the students are freed from extremist political agendas.

Beating back a wildly unprecedented $1 million-plus in advertising to prop up the failing WNW, Jeffco voters made a major statement about their independence and the power of real grassroots. Jeffco voters decided that they’d rather do the hard work of struggling through their own differences, rather than be guided by the bankrolled fantasia of strangers and outsiders.

Thousands of parents banded together with students, and yes, teachers, to remove these three from their seats. The narrative that this was all run and manufactured by the teachers’ union was obviously false to anyone that was paying any attention. In the end, the truth won out. Yes, the teachers’ union supported the recall, but that’s an easy call when the actions of the elected officials regularly evoke disdain for the governed. Teachers had been working on pay for performance already in 2013, and had collaboratively taken pay freezes and pay cuts. They are not the monsters that the advertising campaign conjured up, and the majority of voters saw through that false narrative.

There is hard work to do now for our new board. There is a fractured community to unite, and to show that a range of interests and ideas really can be represented through excellent governance, and truly putting kids first.

We have high hopes.

Thank you for fighting, Jeffco!

Last Minute News Flashes

Odds and ends but important nonetheless:

  1. Yesterday on 850 KOA, Ken Witt was asked by the morning host, Ross Kamensky, if there were other “like-minded” school board “reform” candidates on the ballot. Ken Witt’s answer: “Yes!” and “I’m voting for Kim Johnson and Tori Merritts.” Think about constant Executive Sessions and far more secrecy than we have now, and then urge the more independent, thoughtful alternatives: Ali Lasell and Amanda Stevens.

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  1. The ballot news isn’t great, at least as far as returns by party are concerned. So there’s every reason to keep up the urgency. On the other hand, there’s still reason for optimism too. A few days ago, we published news that there were a few more Republican voter ballots turned in than Democrat voter ballots or Unaffiliated ballots. That GOP “lead” has grown as of Saturday’s count. A few people got upset about our posting about this, so it’s worth noting again that we have Republicans on our team, know that many Republicans are voting for the recall, and that it’s only one relevant piece of analysis. To be sure, it doesn’t tell the whole story. The good news is that that gap is still a lot closer than it was in 2013, and we also know that Democrats are notoriously late voters and often close that gap in the last days.  We also know that tens of thousands of unaffiliated voters are in the mix, and we’ve been hearing from so many of them about how they’re voting pro-recall as well. All of this added together portends an extremely tight outcome.
  2. You know this election is important, but there’s a lot of national news outlets covering this story now. One sample is  here and here: note that the Jeffco outcome is being seen as a national test case.

Please do whatever it takes to reach out to family, friends and neighbors who haven’t voted. Call, visit, email, post online. A lot more people than you might think are still considering their vote, or haven’t even opened their ballots.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!

Reprinting our Independence Day Message from 7/4/15

Reprinting our Independence Day message from 7/4/15 for those of you out walking, talking, and knocking today.

Dear Readers:

Our message today is brief. So much has been written about our schools and most readers here know many of the details. So today we share a single concept that hearkens back to our nation’s founding.

It is entirely appropriate to observe that the main power dynamics around the founding of our nation in 1776 are still being replicated today, in our own neighborhoods and in our schools. So much has changed, but human nature has not.

When celebrating Independence Day and thinking about our nation’s birth and freedom this weekend, recall that the basic problems described in the Declaration of Independence were related to outsiders ruling the emerging nation. They were not liberal issues or conservative issues. The Colonial Governors were sworn to the British Crown, and so those Governors and the authorities under them were loyal to their financiers across the Atlantic, not to the people they served. Sometimes that resulted in benefits for colonial Americans, sometimes it didn’t, but the colonial American people grew tired of being ruled by the outsiders. It wasn’t that the British wanted to simply share good ideas or work in partnership with colonial Americans, it was that they wanted to fully control them. Too often that meant that the needs and desires of American subjects weren’t heard or attended to. Americans yearned for that freedom and then fought tooth and nail for it, even against a well-financed empire.

As Americans, we prefer self-rule. Still, we know that the main financiers of the Jeffco School Board Majority’s election in 2013 were from outside of Jeffco. They have hired attorneys and communications professionals from outside of Jeffco. A disproportionate amount of their counsel comes from organizations and individuals based outside of Jeffco. We know that some in Jeffco support their agenda, and just as happened in the 1700s, those who do are paraded before our eyes to make it seem like these leaders do have broad local support. They back it up with stretched stories of magnanimity and successes, twisting information to manipulate as many people as possible. Yet we know that their loyalties are with these outside financiers: people who don’t have kids or jobs or histories or roots in Jeffco. We know that the independent-minded citizens of Jeffco would prefer their own excellent, if imperfect, schools, than schools controlled by those outside our community who do not really care about what’s best for us. These outsiders will try to crush this rebellion with funds, and winning won’t be easy.

While watching fireworks, we are asking you to consider what you can do in the coming weeks and months as we try with all our might to free ourselves from these strangers controlling us with their money, and their locals who have sworn allegiance to their ideas and that money, rather than to our real needs as a community. Our needs may be answered by conservative or liberal ideas, but they need to be our own.

Unlike in 1776, this fight will ultimately culminate at the ballot box. Still, it will take real sacrifice and real courage, but we think that the desire to be free of the control of outside forces is as powerful a motivator today as it was 240 years ago.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!

Jeffco School Board: Last Two Years in Pictures

A quick chronological summary of the events of the past two years, in pictures and videos, starting with the 2013 election:

 

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The Koch Brothers played a major role in financing a victory for WNW in 2013 and are spending incredible amounts to keep them in office in 2015. They don’t live here, and their financing wildly dwarfs funding from outside sources used to support other candidates or the recall.

 

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This is video from the December 12th, 2013 board of education meeting and study session. In it, the board discusses hiring an attorney solely to represent the board.

WNW hire Colorado Springs attorney Brad Miller, in a surprise vote and having discussed it secretly beforehand in violation of Sunshine Laws. Miller represents districts around the state where there’s been Tea Party take over. To this day, only three of our elected board members know what he does.

 

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Virtually everything Miller does is redacted, despite WNW’s campaign of transparency. “Brad Legal Services” is not transparent.

 

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After Ken Witt famously says “I don’t know anything about Dougco,” WNW hire an expensive consulting firm to conduct a “national” Superintendent search. WNW, going against the advice of the search firm, only identify one “finalist,” that WNW already knew, from Douglas County. This “finalist,” Dan McMinimee, was clearly not the most qualified applicant in the pool, but had a “proven” history of union busting, WNW’s main answer to education improvement. Parents and teachers join forces to mock this relationship in public protests.

 

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The new Superintendent tries to be stealthy most of the time but his political intentions are clear.

 

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The Tea Party gathering McMinimee and Newkirk speak at is co-sponsored by the “American Freedom Party,” a self-affirmed White Supremacist party. Newkirk angrily dismisses the co-sponsorship as a “typo” without ever giving any realistic explanation of how those words somehow appear as the result of a mere “typo.”

 

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In the important day-to-day running of the district, McMinimee only offers token opposition to Witt and company, seemingly there only to play the “good cop” and soothe matters when citizens and teachers call foul on WNW’s agenda.

 

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Parents and teachers are locked out of school board meetings.

 

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Julie Williams proposes the censorship of U.S. History from which there can be no complete backpedaling.

 

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Thousands of knowledgeable students react to Williams’ request to eliminate civil disobedience from A.P. U.S. History by walking out of classes. Newkirk and Witt call the students of the district “ignorant” “pawns.”

 

 

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Students begin attending board meetings, organize their efforts, and create “Jeffco Students for Change,” — but their input is summarily and repeatedly dismissed by WNW.

 

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Julie Williams posts an officially listed hate group’s admonition and recommendation for civil disobedience: to keep kids home from the “Day of Silence” meant to highlight LGBTQ students’ challenges. She claims she didn’t read it before posting it.

 

Edward James Olmos, the actor who protrayed L.A. Math teacher Jaime Escalante in "Stand And Deliver".

Edward James Olmos, the actor who protrayed L.A. Math teacher Jaime Escalante in “Stand And Deliver”.

 

People who know education all around the country take notice. Despite dreamy, idealistic “Stand and Deliver” references by WNW, the lead actor from that famous movie sends this picture to Jeffco.

 

fiscal conservativesAs time wears on, the more and more it becomes clear that “fiscally conservative” is only a campaigning tagline for WNW. 

 

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 Julie Williams’ brother-in-law, Tim Neville, is among those illegally using the Jeffco Public Schools logo in campaign ads. The ads also used doctored images of the student walk-outs. These violations are so egregious that even McMinimee and Miller have to put out a “Cease and Desist” memo.

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One more small clip. What is the rush? Why not thoughtful discussion? Why not follow policy? They already have the votes to do anything they want to do, why do they do this?

Against Board Policy, Ken Witt yet again springs a surprise vote about a crucial matter with late-supplied information.

 

Witt ethics

In a political stunt rivaling the strangest, Ken Witt files an ethics complaint against himself surrounding his closed door meetings: a) in a closed-door press conference in which many were kicked out; b) to a governing body that has no jurisdiction over the case; c) this governing body won’t meet until after the election (even if it did have jurisdiction); and d) Witt’s complaint asks the wrong question about the actual law-breaking activity.

 

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Julie Williams’ long-time friend, Nate Marshall, makes multiple recommendations on her Facebook page that teachers’ union members and pro-recall supporters be “executed” “swiftly” by a conservative tribunal. And their kids should be expelled, post-executions. Williams blocks people complaining about these messages long before she removes Marshall as a friend after public uproar. He continues to call teachers “vile” “ISIS-loving” “filth.” Many pro-recall supporters also report having their decorated cars damaged.

 

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See that “Americans for Prosperity” in he upper right corner? That’s the Koch Brothers. People who don’t live here. Never mind that a pay for performance plan was already being worked out when WNW got elected in 2013. The Koch Brothers wouldn’t know that.

 

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Kim Johnson and Tori Merritts try to run a stealth campaign by not associating with WNW, but the trails are everywhere. Johnson in particular claims to be “a little bit of a bridge builder,” and “not selected by any group,” which is reminiscent of Julie Williams’ campaign promise “to always have an open door.” It’s discovered that Johnson was selected after a rigorous process by a group of WNW’s staunchest “no compromise” allies.

 

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Ron Mitchell, Ali Lasell, Susan Harmon, Brad Miller, and Amanda Stevens, a truly independent “Clean Slate,” join forces to reclaim Jeffco Schools.

Need more information? Check out our Recall 101 page. Thanks to our partners at Jeffco Transparency, Jeffco Data View, and Support Jeffco Kids for originally procuring some of these images and videos.

Keep fighting, Jeffco!