Public Watchdog.org

D-207’s “Public Opinion Survey” Yet Another Con Job

05.30.18

In our posts of 05.07.2018 and 05.08.2018 we wrote about what a “con job” the Maine Township High School District 207’s proposed $240.7 million building project appears to be.

Today we’re addressing the District’s “Public Opinion Survey” – which we’re calling the “POS” for reasons that should become obvious.

The May 18, 2018 deadline for responses to the POS has come and gone. Now we are looking forward to seeing when, and how, the results are presented and publicized (i.e., spun) by the District.

Despite what it said on the survey form itself, the POS responses will not – repeat, WILL NOT – be used to actually “shape how District 207 moves forward in extending the useful lives of our existing facilities.” The District already has its plans, and it has no intention of departing from them.

What those POS results WILL “shape,” however, is the sales pitch D-207 (and, presumably, its marketing consultants) will use in order to brainwash enough likely voters into saying “Yes” to the project; i.e., what buttons it needs to push in order to hold onto early supporters while winning over the undecideds.

That’s why the POS features questions like:

Q5. Following are some of the arguments people have made in favor of the facility improvements and funding proposal being considered by District 207. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “Not at All Convincing” and 5 being “Very Convincing,” how would you rate each of the following arguments as a reason to vote FOR the proposal?

Or, conversely:

Q6. Following are some of the arguments people have made against the facility improvements being considered by District 207. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “Not at All Convincing” and 5 being “Very Convincing,” how would you rate each of the following arguments as a reason to vote AGAINST the proposal?

In other words, the POS wants taxpayers to tell the District’s propagandists why they might vote for, or against, the proposal so the propagandists can shape their future elevator pitches to reinforce whatever favorable opinions taxpayers currently have, and to change any unfavorable or undecided ones.

What the answers to the POS also will “shape” is D-207’s decision of WHEN to hold the referendum vote – November 2018, or April 2019 – based upon whether the responses to the POS are sufficiently favorable that the D-207 Board is willing to risk a November 2018 referendum.

What’s the risk?

Historically, November election turnouts involve either a presidential or gubernatorial race and generate much higher voter turnouts than April local elections. So if you’re the proponent or a supporter of a boondoggle referendum you will much prefer an April election, where the lower turnout means that fewer votes are needed for passage.

For example, since April 2005 – the first contested Park Ridge mayoral election in decades – turnouts for those April mayoral elections have been 8,114 voters in 2005, 8,698 in 2009, 9,019 in 2013, and 8,098 in 2017. Meanwhile, the Park Ridge turnout for November elections has not fallen below 14,000 voters,

So do the math: You could have passed a referendum in any of the last four mayoral election years with no more than 4,510 votes, while you would have needed at least 7,001 votes to pass that same referendum in any of those November elections.

Which is why you can bet your First Communion money (if you’re Catholic, Lutheran, or Greek Orthodox) Supt. Wallace, the D-207 Board, and all the special interests who want to saddle D-207 taxpayers with almost $300 million ($190 million of principal plus $105 million in interest) of long-term (20 year) debt liability are already contriving ways to push off the referendum to next April – when there won’t even be a mayoral election to spur both interest and turnout – without being obvious about what they are doing.

Maybe they’ll delay disclosing the results of the POS for awhile, claiming they’re analyzing the data in order to present it in understandable form. They also might decide to hold some “focus group” meetings to supplement or clarify the POS data. That probably could buy them June and July, which would then require only a short additional stall until they blow the August 20 deadline for the District to get one or more referendum questions on the November ballot.

Oh snap!

Plus, waiting until April: (a) gives Wallace and the Board an extra five months of propagandizing; (b) gives whatever citizens’ committee is being formed to shill for the project an extra five months of campaigning; and (c) gives the District’s neglected buildings an extra five months of school-year usage to further deteriorate, thereby underscoring the alleged necessity and urgency of the “Moving Maine Forward” project.

As Rahm Emanuel infamously said: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

At District 207, Wallace and the Board appear to be going Rahm one better by never letting a serious crisis – that they created by years of their own mismanagement – go to waste.

Especially if one-third of a BILLION dollars of public contracts hangs in the balance.

To read or post comments, click on title.

4 comments so far

THere is no way this is going to referendum in Nov.

And the sheeple will just go along with the program because they think they are being well served by Wallace and this board.

I started filling out the POS when it came in the mail a few weeks ago before realizing that I wasn’t being asked for my ideas and views because the District might want to implement them but because the District wanted to know whether I was for or against “Moving Maine Forward” and what they might be able to do with my reasons why.

The sick aspect of this is that our tax dollars go to pay our public officials and public employees to lie to us and manipulate us while they hide their own incompetence.

Time for people to wake up.

This D-207 referendum will pass, whenever it’s held, for three simple reasons.

First, it will pass in Park Ridge because over the past fifteen years we have had an influx of young families who moved to Park Ridge for the schools as much or more than for any other reason. Even if they realize that the schools are no longer as good as they were led to believe, they are too cheap to pay Park Ridge taxes and also pay private high school tuition.

Second, it will pass in Des Plaines because, unlike the cheap young families in Park Ridge, their counterparts in Des Plaines cannot afford private school tuitions. But because their houses aren’t as expensive as those in Park Ridge and because they have more industrial and commercial taxpayers to pick up a decent chunk of the tax increase, the higher taxes are a better deal for them than for the Park Ridgians.

Third, the toxic political climate today will prevent individuals from banding together to campaign against the referendum for fear that they will be branded racists, one-percenters, Trumpites, or worse: Against “the kids.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s why the taxpayers almost always lose: The freeloaders have no shame.

Haven’t there been referendums that failed in the past 10-15 years? Library expansion? Oakton pool renovation (not sure if that was a referendum or not)? If the increased cost to the average property owner is significant that could put some headwinds against passage of this referendum.

EDITOR’S NOTE: But no school referendums have failed – in large part because the proponents and supporters of those referendums have been very adept at organizing large and motivated groups of volunteers who are shameless at marginalizing and intimidating opponents with terms like “anti-kids,” “anti-education” and “cheapskates”; and because the local press and community organizations find jumping on the bandwagon easy and painless.

Until the “increased cost to the average property owner” hits at least $1,000/year, the social pressure/intimidation will win out. And even at $1,000/year, that will not lose the support of those property owners with kids receiving the “free” education whose cost will rise from $3,000/year to $4,000 – but only for the first student, and not at all for the second and/or third.



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