10.25.15 One reader responds to the Denver Post

election_ballot_box_2We received a message from a recall supporter who had a letter published in the Denver Post in response to their Oct. 14 editorial against the recall effort. Because the Post required him to keep the letter to about 150 words and eliminate the chart and percentages in his original letter, we’re reprinting the full letter as he originally submitted it.

His letter speaks to the board majority’s failure to adequately address teacher compensation, the exodus of our Jeffco teachers, and why we need to recall Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams. We hope you will share it.

I was disappointed by your recent Editorial (Oct. 13th) suggesting that the Jeffco School Board recall effort should be rejected. But I was not surprised. While I have great respect for this paper and its dedicated employees, I have found its coverage of the new board majority to be very one-sided.

To focus on just one example: your editorial questioned why teachers would be upset by the recent pay plan, but neglected to mention that teachers only received a 1% average raise. This is well below market and was particularly painful for Jeffco teachers who gave up raises for years to help the District during the downturn and were promised they would be fairly compensated when the economy recovered. The new board majority broke that promise. I put together a chart outlining the raise that a teacher with a Master’s Degree and seven years of experience received from other districts versus Jeffco in 2015:

School District 2014/15 (Yr 6) Salary 2015/16 (Yr 7) Salary % Raise
Cherry Creek $51,680 $56,503 9.3%
Littleton $49,369 $52,751 6.9%
Aurora $50,373 $53,961 7.1%
Boulder $59,043 $61,909 4.9%
Average of 4 Districts $52,616 $56,281 7.0%
Jeffco $46,646 $47,112 1.0%
Percentage that the Average of Other Districts is Higher Than Jeffco 12.8% Higher 19.5% Higher 6.0% Higher

No wonder Jeffco teachers are upset and many are leaving the District! To make matters worse, the District sent an email to parents touting the “raise” without telling anyone how under market the raises were. That was very misleading. And if the Board majority continues these extremely small raises for the next several years, the effect on teacher pay and teacher retention could be devastating.

I am the son of a former teacher and husband of a current Jeffco teacher, and strongly believe that most teachers are heroes in our community, giving everything they have for their students. Thus, rather than being the enemy, Jeffco teachers deserve to be treated with respect and to be fairly compensated as they were promised during the recession.  Unfortunately, I think’s it’s very clear the current board majority feels differently and thus needs to be recalled.

John Mulhern lives in Arvada with his wife and three children who attend Jeffco schools.

We can’t say it enough: Please vote for Ali Lasell in District 3 and Amanda Stevens in District 4. Then vote YES to recall Julie Williams, John Newkirk and Ken Witt, and choose successor candidates Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon and Ron Mitchell.

Don’t know where to find a 24-hour ballot drop box? Look here.

24 hour Drive-up Ballot locations- Jefferson County, Colorado

Elections Locations for Voting and Ballots – 24 hour Drop-off locations

A list of other ballot drop-off locations is here.

And for early voting and polling center locations you can look here.


 

 

Beware!

 

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Witt, Newkirk, Williams, Johnson, and Merritts. How does that school board sound? Trust us, there won’t be much “local control,” “independence,” or “bridge-building.” There will be record numbers of closed-door sessions and backroom decision-making, driven by attorneys and profiteers, with the least transparency possible. We wouldn’t say that the above sets of ads would always correlate to that kind of lock-step alignment, but in this case we have no doubt.


 

Teacher Executions Now Recommended on Julie Williams’ FB Page, by Her Long-Time Friend

Troubling pre-publication note: As we publish this article, Julie Williams has still not deleted this person as a friend from her Facebook page, though she is deleting others who are complaining about the situation. Wow.

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The rhetoric around the recall is of course heated. But now, multiple, fresh calls for the execution of people, specifically teachers’ union members, that are pro-recall, especially among Julie Williams’ friends, is frightening on a whole new level. Read on for a brief history of how we’ve gotten to this point. [Please note that we are opting to not publicize this person’s name in this article, though there are plenty of screenshots of these online exchanges in our possession, and others have already posted some of them].

December 2014 — JCSBW reported on the fiasco of Newkirk and McMinimee speaking at an event that was “mistakenly” advertised as being co-sponsored by a white supremacist organization.  Following that report both our Facebook page and blog were inundated with vile, hate-filled messages from this former Republican State House candidate, including this message:

I AM ORGANIZING AGAINST YOU AND I ALSO WILLS TART TRACKING THE NAMES OF ALL TEACHERS AND STUDENTS WHO FALL UNDER YOUR SPELL AND WILL OUT THEM SO THEY WILL NOT GET INTO THE COLLEGES THEY WANT AND THE TEACHERS WILL BE SUBJECTED TO PUBLIC RIDICULE.
YOU ARE NOW MY ENEMY! GO **** YOURSELVES!

At the time we deemed them to be threatening not only to us, but to students and staff that opposed the board majority.  Those messages along with our concern for school safety were reported to Jeffco School Security and to the Jeffco BOE.

The security response?

After reading your email and the attachment it appears that the comments and statements are not intended for Jeffco Schools but are directed towards Jeffco Boardwatch.

Jeffco Public Schools strives to be a safe and welcoming environment free from threats, intimidation and disruption for all students, staff and visitors.  Our ability to provide a quality education begins with mutual respect and safe practices that are consistent throughout the District.  Should you receive information that directly targets or threatens our school, students, staff or District, please forward any information as soon as possible.”

(We do think the threats to track teachers and students were a threat on our schools but we opted to not give this person any more attention, while being watchful of him.)

Now this same person has returned on the scene to spew even more direct threats to those that support the recall, stating that pro-recall people and union members should be executed and our children expelled after swift justice (specifically, he recommends “within 24 hours”) from a “conservative” tribunal.

This time his hate and threats have been reported to the sheriff’s office.

The bigger issue is WHERE he posted these threats — on Julie Williams’ Facebook page!

Because her page is private, only friends can post to the page.  Now, we understand we probably all have a friend that has spouted off something we didn’t agree with and couldn’t control.  But to have a friend that promotes executing those in disagreement? That is something difficult to justify.

We can already hear the excuses: “She can’t control what other people say.  She didn’t know he was like that.”

Maybe — if this were his first offense.

March 2014 — This man runs for a state House seat and makes these same type of hate-filled statements.  He was asked to step down as a candidate and in subsequent interviews stated that he was asked to run originally by none other than Tim Neville, Williams’ brother-in-law.  Neville denied the claim, yet Williams approved this man as her Facebook friend — a man her family knew is a white supremacist who makes threats online.

December 2014 — JCSBW reported his threatening activity to the Jeffco School Board, but Williams still approved this man as her FB friend.

One of Williams’ friends had the courage to stand up to the hate spewed on her page and we commend him.  Unfortunately, his post remained up for hours and Williams didn’t do a thing about it.

We can’t control everything our friends say.  But we ask, would you even be friends with this person after you knew what kinds of things they wrote?

And what if they wrote was an insistence upon the execution of the people you’ve been elected to lead?

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Keep fighting, JeffCo! And VOTE! 

Vote for a clean slate: Lasell, Stevens, Rupert, Harmon, Mitchell


 

 

10.8.15 Witt’s Carnival Sideshow

If you saw Witt’s stunt this morning–and it’s hard to imagine that you didn’t because social media has not stopped talking about it since–you know that it was merely a distraction.

  1. The Independent Ethics Commission has no jurisdiction over Colorado school board members (see page 6).
  2. The IEC isn’t meeting until Nov. 6 — after the election.
  3. There’s no reason for them to call a special early meeting (see #1, above).

Witt’s complaint only asks if voting on the matter in a public meeting was a violation of sunshine laws, failing to make the distinction between voting in public and deciding in public. Sunshine laws exist to prevent elected officials from merely rubber-stamping behind-the-scenes decisions in public.

Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams made the decision to hire Brad Miller before the Dec. 13 board meeting.  We know because Bob Kerrigan, president of the Thompson School District Board of Education, told his fellow board members that Jeffco had a school board attorney — and told them this on Wednesday, a full day before the Dec. 13 Jeffco BOE meeting where the issue was first discussed in public.

Not only did Kerrigan know that Jeffco had already hired a firm 24 hours before the BOE met to discuss the issue, he knew that Jeffco would be hiring Brad Miller himself, as reported by the Reporter Herald on Dec. 12:

Kerrigan then revealed that a contract had already been drawn up by a Colorado Springs-based law firm that currently represents Jefferson County schools.

The proposed contract, dated two days after Kerrigan was elected board president, begins: “We are pleased that the District has asked Millers Sparks LLC … to represent Thompson.”

It’s an issue we’ve written about multiple times, and it’s one of many, many reasons to vote yes on the recall.

Meanwhile, we’ll leave you with some of today’s highlights, such as the 7 News story “Jeffco Public Schools board president Ken Witt stunts for attention as he faces recall” (and hopefully this clip will open with the anchor saying “Bizarre news out of Jeffco today” because that’s by far our favorite).

And we’ll end with one of the many, many funny social media posts that we saw in our feed today:

Charles Buchanan on Twitter

Kinda wish Witt had ended the press-stunt with a citizens arrest of himself. #Copolitics #JeffcoRecall #JeffCo

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

9.14.15 Jeffco Recall about Survival of Public Education

Your Childs EducationWe received this from a JCSBW reader and received permission to share it here.

The survival of Public Education in Jefferson County is on the ballot this November as the five seats of the school board are contested. It is a battle that has ramifications not only for Jefferson County but also for the state and the nation. Will extremist right wing policies and outside money interests prevail over a community’s interests and the benefit of its children?

While much has been written, pro and con, about the autocratic actions of Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams, who erroneously call themselves conservatives, little has been said about their mission. To put it succinctly, in the words of former board member Laura Boggs, their intention is to “destroy this district.” Why would anyone want to do that unless he or she had something to gain by doing it?

From their mismanagement of Jeffco’s funds, to extremist attempts alter established AP curricula, to bullying children speakers and other board members, to attempts to intimidate through threats, innuendo, and armed security—their regime seems more like an arm of autocrats of the 1930s in Europe than America in the 21st Century. Their ham-handed attempts at privatizing public education and railroading anyone who would oppose them have, fortunately, awakened a community that values the kind of progressive, award-winning education that their children have gotten in Jeffco for many decades.

Unfortunately, extremist ideologies and corporate profiteers have weaseled their way into the Jeffco School Board and now threaten the district’s very existence as resources have been diverted to non-public/semi-private schools that serve select groups and line the pockets of investors. To destroy a school district one must:

  • Run off the best educators,
  • Cut funds for programs and compensation for staff
  • Increase class sizes
  • Cut funds for construction and maintenance
  • Destroy morale
  • Cut services for schools and community and then hire a PR firm to convince the public that what they’re doing is in the best interest of children.

It’s classic double-speak. In time, the quality of education and the educated will drop. Mission accomplished.

Shame on them when they duped voters in 2013. Shame on us if we allow it to happen again.

Vote to recall Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams. Vote to elect candidates whose interests are genuinely aimed at children and learning. Vote for Amanda Stevens, Ali Lasell, Brad Rupert, Ron Mitchell and Susan Harmon.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!