December 19, 2016/updated Dec. 26, 2016
John Newkirk’s article was first published December 7, 2016, and then was published online December 17, with live links to his references.
As always, John carefully documents the claims and conclusions that he makes.
Note to the reader: In 2013, concerned Jefferson County taxpayers elected three conservatives (including yours truly) to represent their interests on the Board of Education. Within minutes of the election — two weeks before we were even sworn in — the teachers union began a campaign to unseat “these bastards.” My latest Opinion column delves into the recall election’s surly evolution and its ultimate consequence. It’s also an admonition to the teachers union to heed the old Chinese proverb: When you set out to destroy someone, first dig two graves. ________________________________________________________________
Newkirk Opinion Column, December 7, 2016
To the casual observer, the failure of Jefferson County’s school tax proposal last month was a head-scratcher. Why did our district vote down new school taxes when neighboring districts passed theirs? Why did Jeffco say yes to Democrats Hillary Clinton and Michael Bennet, but no to Democrats on the Board of Education? Why did so many residents who’d never opposed a school tax vote no for the first time ever? A surprising number of voters have contacted me about this, and their common threads bear repeating. So, to best share their sentiments, allow me to channel the gentleman from Virginia for whom our humble county is named:
When, in the course of taxable events, it becomes necessary for the People to deny a request for increased school tax levies, a decent respect requires that we should declare the causes which impelled us to this action. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that the future of our Republic rests upon the preeminent education of our children, and when public education fails to meet its potential, it is the right and duty of the People to alter it. Therefore, let the facts be submitted to a candid world. You have endeavored to portray our sub-50% academic proficiency as acceptable, so long as our District ranks higher than neighboring districts.
You have encumbered public assets with dubious “Certificates of Participation” in order to fund projects which, given sensible analysis, could have been completed without debt.
You have proffered an increasingly tendentious view of our Nation’s history, accentuating the negative, belittling the affirmative, and thereby defrauding our children of a proud birthright. When our duly elected representatives questioned this, you set forth a false censorship narrative and induced our children into truancy, all in a vulgar exploitation of impressionable youth by those in positions of trust.
You did not hesitate to subject our representatives to malicious harassment and scurrilous rumors, and in your zeal to disparage became so lost to humanity that not even their children were spared your offensive.
We expect our representatives to serve their full terms, yet you had them untimely ripped from office via a duplicitous recall election which we subsequently learned was neither “parent driven” nor “a grassroots effort” but funded almost entirely by your labor unions. In doing so you sent us an indelible message that, while you will eagerly accept our tax dollars, you are less than eager to accept our direction.
Accordingly, with these Declarations, understand that it is not our intent to give offense, but to provide the Administration with reasonable justification as to why we remain disinclined to approve any further tax increases until such time as meaningful change is both accepted and effected.
We are, respectfully,
The Jefferson County Taxpayer Majority
Bottom line: Jeffco’s school tax measures didn’t fail because they were “poorly worded” or “not specific enough.” They failed because tax proponents squandered their political capital on a deceptive recall election that left a bitter aftertaste with voters once the truth came out. For the teachers union, the 2015 Jeffco recall was a textbook Pyrrhic victory — a frantic fever dance that ultimately cost their members millions in lost revenue (and which should haunt their short-sighted strategists for years to come).
Make no mistake, a thoughtful bond and mill levy crafted by a bipartisan board would have passed. Instead, disaffected Conservatives, Libertarians, and Independents who could have pushed it over the top voted no — in what they saw as the proverbial taxation without representation.