Lakota School Board Activism: How things work behind the press releases

It is righteous to provide updates to the latest correspondence by the Lakota school board, especially when misdirection is involved.  Below is a reply to a letter that was sent last week by my friend and No Lakota Levy supporter Graeme George.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW.  The letter that Joan sent, who is the current president of the Lakota school board and one of the strongest advocates for higher taxes in the Liberty Twp, and West Chester area, indicates that the school board played no part in the levy antics that went on prior to the election which they won by less than 1%.  The letter from Joan is a declaration of innocence and a statement of neutrality of any wrong doing in a close election.  Yet it is clear from the Pulse Journal picture on the link above with Joan framed on the far right she was extremely active in pushing for levy passage.  Since the school board is regulated by many laws preventing them from levy activism, they often rely on an inbred chain of command that does the dirty work for them, so that they can always have deniability—such as what Joan proclaims in the letter.  So read the document for yourself dear reader, and then I’ll explain how the process works from my personal experience.

From: Joan Powell []
Sent: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 10:42 AM
To: ‘Graeme C. George’; ‘Mantia, Karen’; ‘Dibble, Benjamin’; ‘Murray, Ray’; ‘O’Connor, Lynda’; ‘Powell, Joan’; ‘Shaffer, Julie’
Subject: RE: Lakota School District Levy – November 5, 2013.

Not a single dime of Lakota money was spent on signs in this campaign.  Every sign was bought and paid for by a community committee who raised money from individuals.  Nor do we condone the stealing of signs in any way and as a Board/District has no knowledge of these activities. These young men made poor choices and if proven guilty should pay the price of their crime.  Sign stealing or damaging is not condoned or considered acceptable behavior.

Unfortunately every election is tainted by unwise actions by individuals, some young and some old.  We allow the police to investigate, and the courts to dole out appropriate punishment.   So far we have heard nothing that indicates that these incidents were coordinated in any way.

On behalf of the Board,

Joan Powell

President, Lakota Board of Education

I must call attention now to the event which occurred to me personally on March 15th 2012 when I responded to the constant criticisms against me with a scathing diatribe directed at the perpetrators.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW.  The school board had just suffered its third levy defeat and they had to break things loose.  My affiliation with No Lakota Levy had just delivered a powerful wallop when they started Yes To Lakota Kids  which garnered a lot of press coverage—particularly a Forbes article which got the attention of Lakota in a big way.  CLICK TO REVIEW.  The Forbes article came out on March 6.  Upon seeing it, the school board became very concerned, so vice president of the board Julie Shafer went through my blog postings and found a response I had made in the wake of the Kroger Survey incident that she could use to attempt to smear me personally and posted it on her Facebook account specifically to encourage outrage among the levy supporters.  CLICK TO REVIEW THE KROGER SURVEY.   Up until this point my side and Lakota’s side had been fast and loose with the mudslinging, which was fine.  They called me a greedy businessman and selfish meanie, and I called them latte sipping prostitutes with big asses.   All’s fair in love and war, so it wasn’t a big deal.  I had said far worse about Lakota and their supporters prior to Julie’s Facebook posting, but after March 6th, Lakota got scared—really scared because they saw what No Lakota Levy was up to, and they had to stop it, or fail to exist.  They had to turn up the heat a lot and come after me in a way that was technically illegal, but from their perspective they had to.  They had to maintain their emotional leverage upon the community, which the Yes To Lakota Kids was undermining—articulated in the Forbes article.  The Lakota school board took personal action against me as activists to remove my name from contention hoping to destroy No Lakota Levy so that they could attempt another levy attempt during the summer of 2012.  So Julie put up what I had said with the intent to create activism among the school levy supporters.  That was her entire purpose.

Superintendent Karen Mantia then got on the phone and applied heavy pressure to what she considered “leaders of the community” with Patty Alderson being one—one of the wealthiest and most influential people in West Chester, and Cathy Stoker the West Chester trustee being another hoping to build a consensus against me of high-profile “women” a well-known progressive trick, the same one used against Mitt Romney during the latest presidential election—not because of what I said about levy supporters, PTA moms, or anything else, but because Mantia didn’t have an answer to the Forbes article.  No Lakota Levy had reached out to the Community Foundation, which is a good group to partner up with because several No Lakota Levy people were on it, but well before March 6th they declined to be involved with No Lakota Levy because I was too divisive.  This was before I ever said anything about them being prostitutes to their husbands or having asses the size of car tires.  That came after the refusal to team up and the reasons provided, and was part of my pissed oftness in the blog posting which I couldn’t reveal without throwing some of my friends under the bus.  So No Lakota Levy started their own charitable group which led to the Forbes article causing major political issues.  It didn’t take much at that point for Mantia to call in support and convince Alderson to speak against me at a school board meeting that following Monday, as reported loyally by The Cincinnati Enquirer.  Patti Alderson, board chair and CEO of the Community Foundation of West Chester and Liberty Townships, complained about my comments publicly to the board, which she had never done before until right after the Forbes article.   Alderson said she wanted to clarify that her group, which also raises money for needy Lakota students, had no affiliation with Yes To Lakota Kids.  Then West Chester Trustee Catherine Stoker said to the Enquirer that “the language used by Mr. Hoffman is not only egregiously offensive, but reflects badly on the No Lakota group that Mr. Hoffman supports.”  From there a host of other women stoked directly by the Lakota school board said about me, “I was very disgusted by the blog Rich Hoffman posted,” said Lakota school mother Kim Hesselgesser. “I was also very saddened for this extremely disturbed man. To me it is evident that he has some agenda that goes far beyond increased school taxes. Although I hate the fact that he is getting exactly what he wants – a lot of media attention. I feel it is worthwhile to make the public aware of who they are truly supporting when placing No Lakota signs in their yards. Pro levy or no levy…is that the type of person you want leading a group in our community?” said Hesselgesser.  Then there was another, Laura Sanders of Liberty Township said “Mr. Hoffman uses misogynistic and vile language when addressing women and mothers because most teachers are in fact, women and mothers. “He wants the public to think that he is merely attempting to rein in public school spending, but his underlying mission is really one of hatred and fear of women earning decent salaries. He alone is the destructive force behind the last three levy failures, and I hope this … convinces the women in our community that he is not a rational or credible source for the counterpoint argument,” said Sanders.

Again, nothing I said in those particular blog postings were things I haven’t said before publicly, and privately.  Yet the timing is important because it all centers on the positive press that Yes To Lakota Kids received particularly after the Forbes article.  The school board had no comment for the paper; they instead let Patty, Cathy, Kim and Laura do their talking for them.  But, all those people were brought together by Karen Mantia and the antics of Julie Shafer indirectly from the Lakota school board.   They could not win the debate, so they took a page out of an event that had just happened to Rush Limbaugh over the Fluke controversy.  I know this first-hand because people close to Julie have told me; Lakota hoped to force me into a weakened public apology the same way Limbaugh was forced to do, as I was using a similar strategy as Rush Limbaugh.  However, I’m not Rush Limbaugh.  As No Lakota Levy did want to distance themselves for predictable reasons in a similar way that sponsors left Rush Limbaugh’s show Julie and the gang do not know of the events that led up to my comments in the first place where I told my friends that the “fat assed bitches were hurting children to extort money from the Lakota community and they needed to be stopped!”  I made that comment when I learned that No Lakota Levy would be on their own in helping kids with their sports fees, about the same time that I learned a bunch of levy whores gathered at the Kroger Marketplace smearing my name to everyone who entered the building that they could get to talk to them.  The phantom hand of the Lakota school board was involved in all these activities, and I could either take it, or tell them what I thought of them.  Regardless, Lakota was going to try to go for a new levy because they refused to deal with their teacher’s union collective bargaining contract which was causing the tax increase requests.  Lakota had already been beaten in several elections and never did answer the questions posed by No Lakota Levy.  They simply did as Obama does, and that is ignore all unpleasant information and cover up their involvement with perpetual deniability.  So what did I have to lose?  Nothing.  I had a book coming out soon unrelated to education and I wanted separation from education issues, and the controversy helped sell a few extra copies.  So it was no skin off my back, and the fan fair delayed the levy vote for two years, which was very good for the Lakota community.

So when Joan says that the school board had nothing to do with the sign theft, and the pro levy activity regarding money and other pro levy activity, what she means is that their hands didn’t directly participate—but that they do passively participate through the channels described above.

That story is just one of many.  It is not the exception, it is the rule.  I have no doubt that through similar channels, the Lakota school board encouraged fundraising for the pro tax position, they encouraged sign theft, and they helped create a culture of maliciousness through their inner circles.  They have legal deniability, but they are indirectly guilty.  When Joan said in her post-election comments that many things “set the stage,” part of what she is talking about is described above.  She has done a lot of table setting.  On the fourth attempt, I did my own thing while No Lakota Levy tried to be fair and righteous, which was a Lakota strategy, to take the edge off the rhetoric which they couldn’t match.  And the sign stealing was just as bad as it always was.  The media were in Lakota’s corner, and the money flowed into the Pro Levy movement through channels shaped by the school board.  Joan didn’t do the work directly through the board, but around the edges in the way that Julie put out the article I had written with the same intentions to create activism among their supporters.

That event I was involved in was the most personal example I have of how these kinds of things occur, so I can speak from the authority of experience.  That is why I can call “bullshit” on Joan’s comments in her letter.   Legally, she and her school board are covered.  They have done no wrong under the law—but through whispers and notes under the desk, they’ve had others do it for them, so that the evidence could never be traced back to them.  That is how they pass school levies—not through proper justification of income management, but through manipulation, deceit, and an arrogance that is socially destructive.  It is important to remember that it is these people who run the schools that teach our children, and these are the measures they think are acceptable to get what they want.  It should then come as no surprise when some of the students under their care try to hurt other people with coercion, or find themselves on the bad side of fate, because the kids are learning it somewhere, and the guilt falls squarely on school boards like the one at Lakota.  They want the responsibility of being the center of the community.  They can take the fall when things go bad.  Letters like the one Joan wrote mean nothing to those who actually know how things work, and now you dear reader know it too.

End of Part One, read Part Two in the next installment

Rich Hoffman