[Vision2020] [Bulk] Re: Weitz Lawsuit: A Challenge

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Sun May 13 08:36:56 PDT 2007

Bruce Livingston stated:


"I fear that the only folks unharmed by this lawsuit are those to whom the
public schools are unimportant, because the lawsuit will not damage their
thoughts about whether Moscow is a good place to live or establish a
business.  For the rest of us, the day this lawsuit was filed remains a dark


Quick Question, Mr. Livingston:  Who do you consider "those to whom the
public schools are unimportant"?


We ALL should consider public schools to be important, VERY important.
Public education is not merely something neat-o to have, like an ice rink.
Public education is an absolute necessity.  It affords opportunities for
each of us to learn as individuals and all of us to grow as a community.
Without public education, we might as well set our clocks back 300 years and
restrict education to only those that can afford it.


I am certain that there are many local citizens, like myself, without
children who believe that a community's public education to be a measuring
standard of its future. 


Seeya round town, Moscow.


Tom Hansen

Moscow, Idaho


"I think one of the best ways to support education is to make successful
private schools like Logos prosper through tax exemption."

- Donovan Arnold (July 11, 2005)


From: vision2020-bounces at moscow.com [mailto:vision2020-bounces at moscow.com]
On Behalf Of jeanlivingston
Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 7:40 AM
To: J Ford; vision2020 at moscow.com
Subject: Re: [Vision2020] [Bulk] Re: Weitz Lawsuit: A Challenge


JFord asks:

> What about asking for a "judicial opinion" or judicial review" of the
> as presented by the interested parties? Does Idaho have such an option or 
> would a judge(s) be willing to do this? How about the AG looking at the 
> "facts" and issuing an opinion? If those come back negatively opinoned, 
> wouldn't that at least be a "warning" to other potential filers?

The Weitz lawsuit is styled as one seeking a "declaratory judgment and
injunctive relief."  The declaratory judgment portion of the lawsuit asks
the judge to do precisely what you suggest.  That is what is happening.  

One may seek an opinion on the merits of an issue of Idaho law from the
Attorney General, but this is only "authority" in support of whatever
position the A.G. decides is the correct outcome under! the law, and not
"precedent."  A judge, and the ultimate arbiters of state law questions, the
Idaho Supreme Court, would be free to decide this case differently from the
opinon issued by the Attorney General, and the court system's answer would
be the final say.

As authority but not precedent, an Attorney General opinion will suggest an
answer but it could be "wrong" in the eyes of a later reviewing judge.  I
suppose an A.G. Opinion could "warn" of a probable outcome, but it will not
carry any weight in terms of forcing those, who might bring a lawsuit that
suggests an answer different from the A.G. Opinion, to face any additional
consequences for doing so than already exists under existing law.  

I suppose the upshot of this is that the declaratory judgment action is
designed to get to an official statement of what the law is.  An A.G.
Opinion or Idaho Tax Commission ruling will merely suggest what the law
possibly/probably i! s.  

BJ Swanson has suggested that the parties mediate and agree to abide by the
answers suggested by the Attorney General and the Idaho Tax Commission.  As
I think about this, a potential problem arises, one raised by Gary Crabtree
and Sue Hovey already, i.e., the lack of binding effect on non-parties.
Entering into such an agreement would bind the MSD and Dr. Weitz from
contesting the decisions of the government agencies, but other concerned
citizens could still contest the validity or invalidity of the outcome
reached in the proposed mediation decision.

Until thinking the process through in writing this answer, I had been
initially receptive to BJ Swanson's mediation suggestion, but the lack of a
decisive answer that could come from mediation gives me pause.  On the other
hand, a year (or three or five) of operating the Moscow Schools without the
significant portion of the money (a fifth, a quarter, a third?) that is
provided by the indefinite, per! manent supplemental levy, will be so
harmful to our children, schools, and this town as a whole  that I hate to
contemplate it. What alternatives do others see?

Moscow's attractiveness to business and prospects for growth with people
that value and support public schools would seem to be damaged significantly
in the near term by this lawsuit.  I think that Dr. Weitz is hoping,
somehow, to help the schools in the long run with his lawsuit by forcing a
re-vote ultimately of money for the schools and hoping to see money
allocated for his pet projects.  However, it seems unlikely to me that there
is much hope for that prospect to amount to much for a very long time, no
matter how favorable the outcome from Dr. Weitz's perspective, given the
short term damage.  

That is why I think his approach was misguided and unhelpful, no matter how
much I support Dr. Weitz's desire to increase professional technical
education ("PTE") offerings for our ! children in the Moscow public schools.
I fear the backlash against his approach will damage the long-term prospects
for needed PTE offerings in which the Moscow schools indisputably are
lacking.  (Assuming that Dr.Weitz's lawsuit had not been filed, I note that
some new PTE programs that came out of November's MCA forum were being put
into place at the alternative school.  I hope that still happens.  Those
courses need to be made available to the kids at the high school, too, and
not be stigmatized as "just" alternative school offerings, but I am willing
to get there with smaller steps that will allow some experimentation and
time to establish a track record of success.)

I fear that the only folks unharmed by this lawsuit are those to whom the
public schools are unimportant, because the the lawsuit will not damage
their thoughts about whether Moscow is a good place to live or establish a
business.  For the rest of us, the day this lawsuit w! as filed remains a
dark day.  

Bruce Livingston

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