The question is not if Washington Local violated state law during its Issue 2 levy campaign in 2014, but to what extent

Updated with Patrick Hickey's statement

My curiosity was stirred in watching everything going on at Washington Local and stirred even more once Superintendent Patrick Hickey blocked me on Twitter for stating the obvious. Seeing a disturbing behavior here I decided to look at some things that were done in the past to really get a grasp on how things are run in Washington Local….and I did not have to go far to find out how bad things were run during the 2014 Issue 2 levy campaign.

We can all agree that when you operate in a certain environment, there are some things that are well known to anyone including rules and regulations. If you pay a lawyer, you expect them to know the laws and proper procedures. But it seems like "Levy 101" items at Washington Local are missed by the leaders who are paid to know what is OK and not OK. There are no excuses on why these laws are being violated, and there are questions that the citizens of the district need to ask the board members and their administration (I don’t live in the district).

The two campaign 101 items are: If you publish election material, it is quite clear that you need to put the name of the campaign that published the information on campaign brochures. And if you are a school district, you need to put a firewall between yourself and your levy campaign.

The folks at Washington Local schools in no uncertain terms are violating these laws, and you would think they would be knowledgeable of levy laws, especially when they run multiple levies over a period of time in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2011. These laws could have been broken before during previous levies, but the district still has much of its campaign items up almost a year later, so I am choosing to focus on this campaign.

Even while Sylvania School was being scrutinized for doing the same thing, Washington Local leaders continued until this day to keep offending information up even after multiple stories about other violations came to light. We can summarize that the folks at Washington Local either are ignorant of the laws or they don’t care - both of which are bad for the "experts" who are supposed to be serving in this position.

Here are some levy campaign 101 violations:
1. They housed the levy web page within the district site. That is as big of a no-no as you can get and pretty shocking. It is well documented law.

“Under *no circumstances* [emphasis mine] is a web site to be used for commercial purposes advertising, political lobbying or to provide financial gains for any individual. Included in this prohibition is the fact no web pages contained on the District’s web site may: (1) include statements or other items that support or oppose a candidate for public office, the investigation, prosecution or recall of a public official, or passage of a tax levy or bond issue; (2) link to a web site of another organization if the other web site includes such a message; or (3) communicate information that supports or opposes any labor organization or any action by, on behalf of, or against any labor organization.”

This happened in 2011 too - OMG - don't get me started on this page
1a. The district is housing levy campaign materials on district servers - http://www.wls4kids.org/files/user/21/file/Talking%20Points%20for%20Web.pdf - remember there is supposed to be a firewall, not allowing district resources being used to disseminate resources. Note this one does have abbreviated campaign committee notation to show it is clearly paid for by campaign committee.
2. Promotion of levy using official school channels (in addition to the Web site)
2a. Facebook
2b. Vimeo and here, here, and here.
2c. Twitter *at least once (time 2:55 pm)

3. Campaign material did not have proper committee information. The school was distributing campaign materials that looked like information materials from the district. Who produced this “fact sheet”? Who runs the Twitter and Facebook accounts?
3a. So if someone says that it was the committee, #1 why did no one correct it and #2 why was it distributed using official channels? Yes, this is run from the levy Facebook page (who manages?) but it is posted on the levy Web site on Washington Local servers.

Even the Ohio School Board Association has disseminated a FAQ for levy campaigns.

Questions to ask the school board and candidates
1. Will they investigate who is responsible and hold them responsible?
2. What policies will they set to be sure this does not happen again?
3. Do they condone this behavior?

And this always leads to the question, if Washington Local leaders have violated these well documented and publicized laws, what other laws have they violated? (We know of at least one other incident) I have sent the following letter to Mr, Hickey:

=======

Patrick,

Hi, my name is Chris Myers, and I have some questions for you. I did some poking around and found your district has partaken in some illegal campaign activities during the Issue 2 election in 2014. http://swampbubbles.com/20151014/question-not-if-washington-local-violat...

I would like to get your statement on the following:

Washington Local violated state law during its levy campaign in 2014 by housing and promoting levy materials on your district Web site. Is this something you asked for? Who handled publishing this information?

http://www.wls4kids.org/files/user/21/image/Poll%20Watch%20flyer%20for%2...

Who created this document? Ohio Election law is clear that a campaign disclaimer must be added to campaign related materials to show the group that supported it. This does not have it. Without it and through the dissemination of this document through district channels are we to assume the district designed and printed levy marketing materials?
Was this document created by the district or by the committee?

Have you received training on levy dos and don’ts? When did you receive it?
What will you do to stop your district from violating the laws in the future?

I also wrote about you threatening to sue Terri Kern. I forwarded some questions to your lawyer but have not received a response. I am re-sending to be sure you received them.

Why do you think it is necessary to threaten to sue a citizen and taxpayer of your district? What specific items do you have a problem with?
Did you try to work it out with Ms. Kern prior to your threat?
Do you think it was appropriate for your lawyer to call Ms. Kern a “Nut Job!”?

Thank you, and I look forward to your response about the levy violations and your legal threats against Ms. Kern. I will be sure to add them to the items I wrote.

Chris

==========

I will let you know the response when I get it; I plan to look further into this question.

==========
Patrick Hickey's statement:

Hello Chris,

Our levy campaigns are run by the Citizens School Advisory Council. I will be taking your concerns to them so that if they/or we have violated we will be sure to correct this in future campaigns. The CSAC creates all documents of a persuasive nature and if they missed a disclaimer they will correct it in the future. I have received multiple trainings on levies over the last 30 years but I don't have a record as to when.

We are allowed, as a district, to give our citizens factual information about the district as long as we don’t persuade or elicit a vote for the campaign. Some of the same material may appear in both district and CSAC documents because we provide them the facts. CSAC used the twitter account @WLSLevy. CSAC paid for all communications that asked people to vote including literature, mailings, signs, radio ads, billboards, etc. No Vote for Issue 2 signs were placed on district property. Paid for by the Citizens School Advisory Committee appeared on all literature that asked for a yes vote.

In terms of your questions about Ms. Kern, I am a 30 year educator with a history of success in making the lives of kids and staff better. Our organization was named the Top Workplace in Northwest Ohio by an independent firm and I was named the top leader. Our district is growing in shrinking city. We have done amazing work and 57 percent of our kids live in poverty. Despite that number the Fordham Foundation lauded us for increasing our performance index score despite an increase of 200 percent of our kids living in poverty. Our commitment to special needs children is unparalled. I encourage you to look at my bio on our website to see what this district has accomplished under our Board and Education and my team's leadership.

Saying all of that, I am a human being with a wife of 27 years and a family. Just because someone is a taxpayer does not give them the right to print lies, call names, and insinuate immoral and abhorrent behavior. Ms. Kern is doing so on a daily basis. I have not said one word to Ms. Kern nor have I made any public comments about her defamatory statements. My attorney asked that she cease and desist from defamatory statements. If you reread his letter he did not threaten a lawsuit. In terms of your last question, my attorney accidently sent something not meant for her. We all make mistakes but I cannot speak for him. However, Ms. Kern has called me a sociopath, narcissist, asshole and a clown and worse on a daily basis.

Thank you for bringing the levy information to our attention.

Patrick Hickey

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Who sits on the Citizens School Advisory Committee? Are members appointed, volunteers, what? I can't find very much about this committee. Here's one link: Talking Points - Levy Campaign of 2011

What I'm wondering is if the CSAC is nothing more than a front for the WLS school board, enabling them to get the message out for the next levy without violating the use of resources regulations - much.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

wondering that too.

With you asking questions, you may come into the crosshairs of Mr. Baumhower and his crew...

"Saying all of that, I am a human being with a wife of 27 years and a family. Just because someone is a taxpayer does not give them the right to print lies, call names, and insinuate immoral and abhorrent behavior".
Insinuate immoral and abhorrent behavior? So PH never had sex with those two teachers?
So when PH was banned from school property for two weeks it was all a mistake?
Having sex with subordinates and then stalking one of them must not be immoral and abhorrent behavior in PH's opinion and apparently the WLS BOE also.

Hope I didn't offend anyone!

On social media it is clear that the district was posting resources that promote a yes vote, the web site is not so clear, so for now I will take that one back. This is just the first step so stay tuned. Acct Dan not worried about that :)

Lol

I figured you'd be able to handle it!

Do you think any laws were broken when Lindsay Webb, a Patrick the stalker Hickey fan, sent out mailings to residents of Washington local telling them who to vote for on the school board and to keep the existing administration in place. These letters were on the city of Toledo letterhead and postage paid by the city of Toledo. How do these people get away with this shit? Keep the gravy train rolling.

Hope I didn't offend anyone!

The disclaimer at the bottom shows it is campaign related. Nothing in the Toledo Muni Code prevents the use of logo in campaign materials.

So while it is of questionable taste, because the letter attempts to portray itself as official city business, it is not business due to disclaimer and not illegal.

Perfect use for a politician who cares more about the ends not the means.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.