Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Have you been noticing the kissin’-cousin coverage the local daily has been giving the Millard Public Schools these days, leading up to the big $78 million bond issue vote Feb. 15? Holy schmoly. Think how much that space would be worth in paid ads, which basically is what it should be.
People who would dare to oppose a huge school ballot issue have a tough row to hoe, and that goes double in small towns. So often, Superintendent Fleeblegetser’s brother, Mayor Fleeblegetser, is the father of your daughter’s boyfriend and the cousin of your boss over there at Fleeblegetser Farm-acy, or whatever. So you have to be tactful when these big school bond issues and tax-levy overrides come up, even when they’re obviously too costly.
Go Big Ed received a query from a reader who works part-time for the local school district in greater Nebraska, but who vehemently opposes an upcoming measure in his school district. He was told by a school official that because of the “rules,” he and any other school employee cannot undertake any political activity, for or against.
If that were true, that’d wipe out the whole town. But it’s false! That official was taking a ride on the Baloney Wagon.
I called Frank Daley, an attorney with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, and he cited two state statutes which pertain to this situation:
(Says that public resources such as school phones, school computers, school paper, school buildings, school rooms, etc., cannot be used in the promulgation of, or the opposition to, ballot issues such as the tax-levy lid override in that district)
(Says that public employees cannot be prohibited from the free exercise of their political rights, including speaking at meetings, passing out leaflets, having their names on advertising, and so forth and so on, as long as they’re not doing it on the job, in uniform, or using any kind of public resources to do it)
Which means . . . as long as Joe Fleeblegetset Jr. uses his own money and stuff on his own time, he can do whatever politickin’ he wants.
If by some miracle he or his group would spend or raise more than $5,000 in a calendar year, they have to report it to the Accountability and Disclosure Commission.
There’s enough to contend with in these big school votes . . . without having to fight school officials who are ignorant of the law. That one ought to go check with the city attorney – you guessed it, Ed Fleeblegetser.
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