[Vision2020] Weitz Lawsuit: A Challenge

Sue Hovey suehovey at moscow.com
Sun May 13 14:01:22 PDT 2007


I commend you for your attempt to solve this.  I have always appreciated you for your insight into problems and your willingness to be a part of the solution when those problems arise. 

The overriding need is to find a speedy solution.  My biggest concern is that the district be able to hire the teachers needed to run the school program, and that needs to be done now...I don't have a solution.  I'm just so frustrated that Gerry W., Jeff Larkins, Ken Medlin, Jim Demeerler, and a few others are so hellbent on a suit so everything will be clear in the long term. They seem not to care about the short term consequences.  Note that not one of the people who is supporting Gerry, and certainly not Gerry himself,  has offered anything constructive for ameliorating the harm which is being levied on the children now in school.  Of course none of them has a child in school,  either.  

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: B. J. Swanson 
  To: vision2020 at moscow.com 
  Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 10:03 AM
  Subject: Re: [Vision2020] Weitz Lawsuit: A Challenge

  I would certainly defer to Bruce Livingston, J. Ford, Sue Hovey or anyone else who can find a speedy solution to this issue.


  What about Moscow School District declaring the $1.97 Million levy increase invalid and running another levy election for $7.57 Million on the next available levy election date (June or September)?


  B. J. Swanson



  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 facts 
    > 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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