In Regard to TaxFACTS, I Told You Thusly!

If you back people into a corner often enough, they're bound to come out fighting!

After being accused of some intemperate columns lately (who me?), instead of issuing my trademark “I told you so,” I’ll simply echo Sheldon Cooper’s milder Big Bang Theory refrain, “I told you thusly.”

Though I have to say that wasn’t nearly as much fun.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve tried to teach you people, as even fictional physicists will attest, for every action in this life, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Unless, of course, you write a column about or , in which case some reactions are more equal than others.

And it’s this very regard that I’ve tried to warn y’all about the . While they certainly performed a valuable service by sounding the runaway School District spending alarm, like most folks who vastly overestimate their importance, that group has no clue as to when to back off and let the pendulum complete its swing.

As my good friend and occasional WRMN Left, Right and You radio co-host Tim Elenz likes to say, “It took years to get the state into this mess, and it will take years to get us out of it.” And the same thing goes for that .

All that said, especially when you consider their host of challenges, I think this School Board iteration has made the mental shift much more quickly than most.

But back to my self-righteous meanderings.

My regular readers already know my longstanding supposition has been that the TaxFACTS group’s inability to moderate and adjust their approach to an evolving situation will ultimately make the School District versus Geneva citizen situation even worse.

And now it has!

As evidenced by where District 304 teachers, dressed in highlighter green “United We Teach” T-shirts, came out in force to urge the board to “"ignore the bullies,” and give teachers “the respect and compensation that we all deserve.”

So I’ll reiterate my equal and opposite reaction argument while reminding you that I told you thusly!

While I may not completely concur with their logic (we’ll cover that on Wednesday), I don’t blame those teachers for ratcheting up the rhetoric one bit. Especially when you consider the increasing number of parents who , I would be sick and tired of that insistent hammering a group who tend to be bullies on their best day and something else entirely on their worst.

Fed up and figuring there was nothing left to lose, my somewhat unmeasured response would be something along the lines of “The heck with you, I’m going for everything I can get in these contract negotiations!”

Trust me, those teachers were mild by comparison.

What actually did manage to amaze me about that board meeting wasn’t the green shirts, but the TaxFACTS group’s blisteringly oblivious reaction to coming face-to-face with a healthy dose of their own tactics.

One of ‘em had the nerve to say, “I’m kind of appalled that you guys are wearing these shirts in the schools. I would recommend that you make a motion as a board to disallow that messaging. These teachers are here to teach. They’re not here to give propaganda. It’s just not right.”

I’d say something about pots and kettles, but I’m guessing you’re way ahead of me on that one. Ain’t it funny how, whenever anyone stands up to the them, bullies always run right to mommy.

But the utterly incomprehensible cake topper had to be this one. TaxFacts founder Bob McQuillan, with a straight face, said he’s been attending School Board meetings for six years and “there has been no harassment of any School Board member.”

The only thing that could surpass that kind of chutzpah would be GOP Senate hopeful Todd Aikin writing a book on the female reproductive system.

First, we watched previous Board President from that position after succumbing to a frightening cardiac reaction that came as a result of all the TaxFACTS falderol heaped upon him.

Then, board member Mike McCormick, the man who was supposed to bring TaxFACTS balance to the District 304 budgetary force, received anonymous threatening letters labeling him a “turncoat” when he realized Rome wasn’t built in a day. And then someone threw dog poop on his front porch.

And we’re not even talking about their persistent emails, their use of FOIA laws as a bludgeon, and that general board meeting badgering.

Again, I’ve always said their message is a reasonable one, but the messengers clearly aren’t. In fact, they’re the ones who are creating this equal and opposite reaction, and now we’re going to have to pay for it, literally.

Just like it is with the national stage, this is exactly what will happen when we allow a small group of loudmouths dominate the debate.

“The district is not in a healthy situation,” McQuillan said. “This display tonight is not about the students; it's about compensation and a Cadillac benefits package. Why is it so important that every teacher receive a salary increase every year? Why is it that teachers cannot understand that this is not 2009 anymore?"

For the answer to that question, Bob, all you have to do is look in the mirror.

James September 04, 2012 at 04:10 AM
If the radical TAXFACTS people are so worthy, why is it that none of them can get nominated a seat on the board? I have many assumptions but the key one is a lack of process thinking through viable solutions. All I see is a lot of hypocrites with nothing better to do than whine and complain, learn the terms sunk cost and move towards solutions.
Max September 04, 2012 at 04:20 AM
1) To say that the Teachers' Union tactics are an appropriate reaction to TaxFACTS personalities is rather low-brow misdirection, even for a Patch "Opinion" blogger. As far as I can see, TaxFACTS is just trying to keep us from getting into any deeper financial trouble. If TaxFACTS were really being aggressive, they'd be looking at possible legal remedies for what this School Board has done to tax-payers. They are not doing that, so we should applaud their restraint. 2) The Green-shirt group and other rah-rah posturing of the so-called "Education" Association is right off the typical union menu. Any time a union gets significant resistance to their whining about "fairness", they do the cheer-leading "solidarity" T-shirt/Bumper Sticker ploys. After that fails, personal attacks on high-profile members of the opposition, some less subtle than others, inevitably follow. The more scared the union gets, the more offensive they become. It can be quite entertaining, for those who remain out of the line of fire. 3) Remember, though, that 10,000 tax-paying families and businesses CAN'T GET OUT of the line of fire here. There is nowhere to go, unless one can find a sucker to buy ones way out of the mess that the School Board has gotten us all into.
Max September 04, 2012 at 04:21 AM
4) And remember this: the teachers are not a party to the contract. Neither are the tax-payers. The contract exists between the Union (Geneva Education Association [NEA]) and the School Board. < http://bit.ly/OJC25H > 5) Everything the Union does is done in order to make the Union look good to potential dues-payers. What motivates the School Board is sometimes more difficult to discern, but rest assured it is aimed at making their jobs easier, no matter the cost to the taxpayers. If it were otherwise, would they have lied to us? 6) If voters are not exercising effective control over the School Board (and from the looks of our 300+ million high-rate debt, we are not), then we are all just hapless passengers on this rudderless Titanic known as D-304. We must not allow the Board to knuckle-under to the "Education" Association. The Board have already proven that they need lots of adult supervision. Without it, who knows what they will give away this time?
Max September 06, 2012 at 01:21 AM
"Hammering" is also a well-known technique for inducing an opponent to do something stupid (like wearing green shirts to class, for example) out of frustration. What will the GEA think of next, in order to divert attention from their representation dilemma? The GEA must establish a reputation for reasonableness -- they will need it. This economy will not turn around significantly during the term of a new contract. If the GEA think they are being hammered now, they will REALLY be surprised a few years from now when they come back for another bite at the apple. Go along to get along, GEA. It could get worse.
John R September 06, 2012 at 04:00 PM
@ Mitotero the guy pacing around at the back of the room was probably Bob McQ. He normally paces in the back or sits on the edge of the stage, resting his head in his hands, directly behind the podium. I actually find it a bit unsettling. I like Jeff agree that the taxfacts folks have some valid concerns. But for some reason they don't want to hear it. Especially, if you disagree with some of the ideas floated on these threads. Or God forbid stand up for the school board. And don't stick up for the teachers as they have plenty of disdain for them as well. If you want first hand accounts reach out to a board member. Come to a meeting and witness it first hand. This Board is very conservative. They are good people from our community who have spent countless hours volunteering for this board. It's a shame that they have been subjected to such intense community bullying. And even more of a shame that so many sit back and witness it and don't say a word. Thanks for speaking up Mitotero. I'm hoping to make the next meeting. I normally sit in the back left hand corner. Feel free to introduce yourself. John Rice


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