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

J Ford privatejf32 at hotmail.com
Sun May 13 20:25:21 PDT 2007

1.  Have YOU actually talked to Dr. Donicht and/or Dr. Weitz and asked them 
if they are willing to talk to the public about this issue?  If not, then 
how can you possibly say that they are unwilling to?  This is the most open 
bunch of people this town has.

2.  The "law (being) involved" in this situation was brought around because 
Dr. Weitz initiated this course.  It was NOT the lack of communication from 
MSD or Dr. D. or the School Board, all of which are VERY, VERY open to 
public comment, interest, involvement -- which is sorely lacking when it 
comes to the MSD.  When is the last time ANY of you willing to bad-mouth the 
MSD, et al, went to a school board meeting?  WHEN!?  Or called them or wrote 
them a note, etc?  The only way they have heard from any of you is during 
the elections.  PERIOD!!!

3.  NO party or public office can simply "just hold another election".  It 
is complicated, time consuming and the county/city are involved.  Enough 
said, eh?

4.  "It certainly is more productive than sitting around twirling our 
thumbs, wasting time, and cursing at whoever ever finds problems and wants a 
ballot election to be legal."  This is just trash talk!

5.  No one in the MSD is "bashing" Dr. Weitz.  IF he is being "bashed" it is 
by people who are frustrated with his actions and lack of compassion for a 
significant part of our population that really do not have much of a say in 
what happens to them...certainly not when it comes to which one of their 
favorite teachers and/or subjects is going to get the axe because someone 
files a suite that is fruitless and ill-conceived.

You all want this to stop, why not GET INVOLVED with the schools, the MSD, 
the School Board Meetings, etc?  Why wait until a very real and very ugly 
threat happens?  GET INVOLVED NOW!!! in a positive and productive manner.

J  :]

>From: Donovan Arnold <donovanjarnold2005 at yahoo.com>
>To: keely emerinemix <kjajmix1 at msn.com>, Sue Hovey <suehovey at moscow.com>,   
>      vision2020 at moscow.com, Jeff Harkins <jeffh at moscow.com>
>Subject: Re: [Vision2020] [Bulk] Re: Weitz Lawsuit: A Challenge
>Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 19:45:13 -0700 (PDT)
>I would like to thank Dr. Harkins, Bruce Livingston, Gary Crabtree, and BJ 
>Swanson and others for their thoughtful, intelligent, and productive 
>insight regarding this MSD funding issue.
>   Dr. Harkins I think explained the situation best. But I do think that 
>the personalities of both Weitz and Donacht are also in play and what 
>Swanson was trying to work on.
>   Unfortunately, I don't think Weitz or Donacht want to talk to the public 
>or people they disagree with, which is unfortunate and what got the law 
>involved in the problem to began with. I think public officials should 
>always be open to hearing from the people they serve, especially people 
>like BJ Swanson who always means well for her community.
>   If the MSD was serious about helping the kids, not winning a public 
>political and legal battle, they would simple hold another election asking 
>for a 4 year funding request at current levels and hold a separate ballot 
>question asking for the $7 million increase request. The people would vote 
>and the issue would be resolved quickly.
>   The answer really isn't complicated here. Just hold another election 
>that is legal and resolves the legal issues addressed in the suit. I don't 
>comprehend why that is so difficult to do. It certainly is more productive 
>than sitting around twirling our thumbs, wasting time, and cursing at 
>whoever ever finds problems and wants a ballot election to be legal.
>   Bashing Weitz isn't going to "help the kids", holding a legal election 
>will. The question is, what is MSD going to do, hold an unquestionably 
>legal election or keep bashing Weitz? I think their actions will 
>demonstrate their priorities.
>   Best,
>   Donovan
>keely emerinemix <kjajmix1 at msn.com> wrote:
>       P  {  margin:0px;  padding:0px  }  body  {  FONT-SIZE: 10pt;  
>FONT-FAMILY:Tahoma  }    Brilliant, Sue -- and thank you for your 
>passionate, clearheaded reasoning on this.
>   From: suehovey at moscow.com
>To: vision2020 at moscow.com; jeffh at moscow.com
>Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 13:32:50 -0700
>Subject: Re: [Vision2020] [Bulk] Re: Weitz Lawsuit: A Challenge
>   Jeff,  If what you are saying makes sense now, why did it not make sense 
>a decade ago when to have gotten a court decision might not have been so 
>harmful?  Gerry Weitz would have been a natural for that responsibility 
>when he was on the board and his children were in school.
>   You say,
>   " No two non-elected citizens (albeit that they are both individually 
>involved in the matter - Weitz and Donacht) are in a position to represent 
>the vast interests of the array of stakeholders evident in this matter."
>   Really, that's exactly what Gerry Weitz did when he filed the lawsuit.  
>He assumed he was in a position to invalidate the votes of the taxpayers of 
>this district.
>   Whether or not permanent levies are a "bad" way to fund public 
>expenditures, is your opinion; however, it continues to be the law.  You 
>wrote in several hundred words what you could simply have reduced to a 
>single sentence.  Why didn't you just say, "we in Latah County have a 
>number of projects to fund: parks for children, playgrounds, an ice rink, 
>so if we cut back on the funding for their education we might be able to 
>consider those other options."
>    Well golly, now at least they'll have somewhere to go when we close the 
>school doors.
>   Sue
>     ----- Original Message -----
>   From: Jeff Harkins
>   To: vision2020 at moscow.com
>   Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 10:24 AM
>   Subject: Re: [Vision2020] [Bulk] Re: Weitz Lawsuit: A Challenge
>The Weitz/MSD lawsuit raises a plethora of issues about taxpayer funding of 
>public interests.  At the core of the lawsuit appears to be the issue of 
>whether or not the school levy process was in conformity with Idaho legal 
>protocol.  Because "public education" is important to most of us in the 
>MSD, it is critical that there be no ambiguity or uncertainties about the 
>"legality and integrity" of the levy event.  Unfortunately, it appears that 
>some individuals have concerns about just that.  Consequently a legal 
>assessment (via a lawsuit) is underway.
>As this involves decisions of legally elected public officials (school 
>board members), the use of non-elected citizens to arbitrate the issue is 
>inexplicable (the Swanson proposal).  No two non-elected citizens (albeit 
>that they are both individually involved in the matter - Weitz and Donacht) 
>are in a position to represent the vast interests of the array of 
>stakeholders evident in this matter.
>Properly so, this is a matter for our courts.
>As community members ponder this event, here are some things that might be 
>useful to consider:
>Permanent levies (levies in perpetuity) are a "bad" way of funding public 
>expenditures.  The most egregious decision a current generation can make 
>regarding public programs is to deny future generations the choice of how 
>their tax dollars are spent.  Referred to as a problem of 
>"inter-generational equity"and stated in simple terms, current generations 
>should not encumber the ability of future generations to invest their 
>public resources in those programs deemed essential by those future 
>generations.  Permanent levies have the potential to do just that.  The 
>reason we use "balanced budget" systems in state and local government is to 
>provide reasonable assurance that the current generation "pays its way".  
>Perhaps the Weitz/MSD lawsuit will give us reason to reflect on the 
>"permanent levy" approach.  We can probably achieve greater public 
>accountability for school district resources if there is some reasonable 
>limit to the life of a levy - say three years or four years.
>  Returning to the taxpayers to reaffirm their tax investment is an 
>effective means of accountability.
>One of the things that concerned me about the recent levy election was the 
>lack of a detailed spending plan for the additional supplemental funding 
>request.  Future levy requests should be required to have a complete 
>line-item level of detail to support the additional funding request.
>This is a particularly volatile period for public education.  New 
>technologies and new educational processes are working their way through 
>educational systems.  We want to be sure that we leave adequate room for 
>future generations to have flexibility in design and delivery of public 
>In Latah County, as in most jurisdictions,  we have limited public 
>resources to invest in what at times like seems like unlimited public 
>projects - sort of like the diamond appetite on a zirconium budget.  The 
>school district wants or needs a new high school, or junior high; the 
>county wants or needs new facilities (law enforcement center, county hall, 
>fair grounds); citizens want or need new parks and playgrounds; citizens 
>want or need a permanent location of the ice rink; county residents want or 
>need road improvements; Moscow wants or needs to address the issue of water 
>distribution; some Moscow citizens would like to have their streets paved; 
>and so on ............. It is time that we assess carefully our public 
>needs and prioritize our preferences.  Allowing our public institutions to 
>gain additional resources by simply being the first to the trough does not 
>serve the public interest.
>As our property tax rates are once again at the highest levels of Idaho 
>Counties, it is incumbent upon us to reflect on our priorities - and the 
>proper expenditure of our limited public resources.  If some of our 
>citizens are correct in their assessment that we have reached our 
>sustainability limits (e.g. water, quality of life), then we must be 
>extraordinarily judicious in our commitments of tax dollars to public 
>projects.  For example, if we are at our sustainability limits, the public 
>school census has probably peaked.  Fiscal austerity would suggest that we 
>impose significant fiscal restraint in funding public programs.  If there 
>is a prospect for future economic development, the sooner our community 
>explores the possibilities and moves forward with them, the sooner we can 
>begin to take advantage of a growing tax base and move forward the many 
>public projects that we want to have.
>Weitz is to be commended, not vilified, for taking the first steps 
>necessary for us to engage in serious dialogue about our public 
>infrastructure investments - and to place the responsibility for those 
>investments where it belongs - with the taxpayers.
>At 07:40 AM 5/13/2007, you wrote:
>   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 
>    > "facts" and issuing an opinion? If those come back negatively 
>    > 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."Â  The declaratory judgment portion of the lawsuit asks 
>the judge to do precisely what you suggest.  That is what is happening.Â
>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."Â  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 
>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.Â
>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.Â
>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. Â 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 
>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.Â
>Bruce Livingston
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