Sometimes, the AATTP inbox can be a depressing place. A parent sent us a message asking for our help in exposing the local Tea Party’s agenda in the West Clermont School District in Ohio. As she explains,
I am a parent of children in the West Clermont School District in Amelia, Ohio. Recently our school board was taken over by a majority of Tea Party activists. They are not focused at all on bettering our schools or education for our children. They only care about furthering their political agenda.
At one of the last board meetings the three Tea Party school board members met without the knowledge of the other board members and put a motion forward to remove the current legal counsel and replace them with one they supported, which is also an anti-union firm and one who has no experience in education. This action clearly violated our Sunshine Laws.
I would like to ask you to share this Petition link with your supporters. We are currently trying to remove them from office and any other support we can get would be greatly appreciated![/box]
Naturally, we asked our reader for more information, and what she showed us was unsettling!
The citizens of West Clermont, Ohio are standing up to Tea Party takeover of the local school board. While the Tea Party majority has been a dangerous issue for the local school district, a group of citizens has asked three members to resign following a slew of potentially illegal actions.
The Tea Party is a group that supposedly represents transparency, fiscal responsibility, and Freedumb–however, we’re not seeing much from the Tea Party members of the West Clermont School Board. At a recent meeting, Board President Tina Sanborn, Vice President Mark Merchant, and board member Jim Lewis decided to take drastic measures in order to ensure that children will have the best education possible: in a surprise move, the three introduced a surprise motion to hire a new law firm.
Unlike the multiple professionals specializing in different legal areas that West Clermont currently utilizes, the Tea Party board members feel that it’s time they just hire one law firm with a very important specialization: fighting unions. The need to overcome the plague that is the modern union is so important that the Tea Partiers used their majority to put forth the motion, second it, and vote “yes” without previously announcing their intentions or initiating a vetting process for Frost Brown Todd.
Vice President Merchant insists that, despite that he and his fellows do not know how much is currently spent on legal representation, the Tea Party’s chosen anti-union crusaders will be cheaper. Frost Brown Todd’s contract proposal is for a flat $90,000 per year plus expenses–quite a leap more costly than the average legal expenditure of an average of $75,500 over the past three years.
Board Member Tammy Brinkman pointed out that Frost Brown Todd has no experience “with school boards–with any kind of education law any worker’s comp, any labor laws–anything like that. How can they be a good thing for us?”
What would justify the Tea Party’s recommendation that, to save money, the school board must tack on an additional $15,000 plus expenses to their legal costs? The lawyer who, under their plan, would be representing the school district is Kevin Maloof. Maloof is the President of the West Clermont Education Foundation, a fund-raising group. School board members Mark Merchant and Tina Sanborn are also on the board of the WCEF.
Merchant denies accusations that they are simply trying to hire a friend. “No, no friendships involved. It’s strictly financial. We’re trying to get the best legal representation for the money spent,” he said when challenged on that point. Merchant says the motion to hire new, more expensive legal counsel was introduced ”for the purpose of increasing the ability to stimulate cost reduction,” whatever that means. Despite that he does not know anything about current expenditures, Merchant says that because of investigations he and his Tea Party pals have done, they know it will be cheaper.
Brinkman responded to Merchant’s motion by noting that the change to Frost Brown Todd was never mentioned to other members of the board, and told him (to raucous applause from those in attendance) that putting such a motion on the table with no prior discussion was “inconsiderate at best.”
Board member Steve Waldmann, who was also taken aback by the surprise legal counsel change, remarked that “It is absolutely absurd that that would come to this floor with no prior discussion and no vetting process. I’m appalled.” Brinkman added, “During the ‘board comment’ section at that. It wasn’t even an agenda item for us to be given information prior to the meeting to consider.”
According to Brinkman, there is much more to this than a blatant attempt for the local Tea Party to do a favor for a friend (as if that is not bad enough). When the three TEAs met in private to discuss the contract, Brinkman says they violated open meeting laws. During the meeting, Superintendent Keith Klein stated that he was directed by a board member to hire Frost Brown Todd–another illegal suggestion. Only the full board can make such an order.
After a shaming by the reasonable members of the board, the assembled masses, and the Superintendent, both the motion and the second were withdrawn.
If we have ever wondered if the Tea Party is truly dangerous to society, all we need to do is watch as this meeting unfolds. If you would like to make a statement against this, please sign this petition started by concerned citizens who refuse to tolerate this. The petition, which asks for the three unfit board members’ resignation, gained 100 signatures in its first hour and continues to grow.
Many signers have left veryclear reasons why they wish to be rid of the local Tea Party.
Kent Frye of Batavia, Ohio noted,
[box type=”shadow”]This is no way to earn back the community’s trust. Just when I thought a school board couldn’t get any worse… I think Forrest Gump said it best, “Stupid is as stupid does” and you are three prime examples! Please gather what respect you have left and resign.[/box]
Jill Glenn of Cincinnati wants change:
[box type=”shadow”]These “tea party” people need to focus on the schools not political party agenda. I’m embarrassed to have them on the board in my township.[/box]
Krystina Karns of Cincinnati worries about the children’s future if these three stick around:
[box type=”shadow”]Our kids, for three years now, have been struggling with these people in office. As parents we listen to our children complain a get upset about not having art classes, gym, or a library. Parents have been pulling their kids out of this district because of this. Something needs to be done and getting rid of these people is one of the first things that should be done. Our kids deserve a great education not just a good one.[/box]
David Johns of Amelia sees through their agenda:
[box type=”shadow”]Punishing those that are most critical to the success of our kids (breaking the Teachers Union) should not be the #1 item on the agenda – especially under the guise of a ‘cost savings’. How shamefully incompetent and short-sighted.[/box]
Message after message reveals the heartbreaking situation in the district.
See it for yourself.
Split in to two parts, the following is the meeting in question: