Pro-school group calls statements in voter guide sabotage

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By Vicky Gits

Citizens for Jeffco Schools on Monday called for an apology and termed satirical comments published in the Jefferson County Tabor Notice last week as “inaccurate, misleading and offensive” and a “direct attempt to sabotage passage of 3A/3B.”

The comments, which appeared as “pro” statements in the voter guide, suggested that seniors who live on fixed incomes would be better off living in “more modest accommodations” and that a vote for the tax increase and bond issue would be “consistent with a presidential candidate’s promise for change, and hope for progress toward the Socialist utopia through education.”

“These people should recognize their reduced productivity calls for them to be replaced by the youth of our nation,” the commentary says.

“This statement in no way reflects the views of the campaign, and we call on Mr. Graham to apologize to the people of Jefferson County for this blatant attempt to distort the facts,” said Lesley Dahlkemper, co-chair of the steering committee of Citizens for Jeffco Schools.

A retired World War II veteran and civil engineer, Thomas A. Graham of Arvada said he had no plans to apologize to anyone.

“They don’t monopolize this thing,” Graham told the Canyon Courier. “They think they’re the only people that can write for this thing. This is the only way we can be heard. The citizens committee has lots of money.”

Graham said he took his comments to the school district and insisted they be published along with anything submitted by the citizens committee.

“I said, ‘Everybody has a right to do this.’ The comments that I made were almost all factual. That’s the way people really feel. I talk to the people with the signs in my neighborhood.”

Graham opposes the school bond on grounds that the proposed capital improvements are “totally unnecessary.”

The statements were published in a TABOR Notice that was recently distributed to every household with a registered voter in Jefferson County. The entire text of the TABOR Notice is available on the Jefferson County website under the Elections Division. (See TABOR under Voter/Election Information.)

The TABOR Notice describes the published comments as “summaries prepared from comments filed by persons FOR the proposal” and does not identify the authors of the various lines of commentary.

“When you see something as so preposterous, it just makes you think of satire,” Graham said. “Then I thought, ‘This is a serious matter.’ ”

The school-related ballot issues 3A and 3B are seeking voter approval for a $34 million mill-levy boost and $350 million bond issue.

The statements are included in the Tabor Notice by the school board, without any review or editing by the elections division, Josh Liss, deputy elections supervisor in the county clerk and recorder’s office, said Monday.

“The Tabor provisions require counties to publish notice if there are any issues on the ballot that are TABOR issues,” Liss said. “We coordinate with entities that are on the ballot, and they contract with us to put the notice in a book. They submit the pro and con statements to us. We do not review for content.

“Both the pro and con sides are provided by the district and are based on summaries of statements received for citizens,” Liss said.

Excerpt from the TABOR Notice mailed to households in Jefferson County the week of Oct. 3.

“Senior citizens with fixed incomes are hard pressed to shoulder increase in property tax. These people should recognize that their reduced productivity calls for them to be replaced by the youth of our nation. This measure calls for some of the property taxes to be earmarked for “Expanding options for career job skills and technical training to prepare students for today’s work world.” Half of these should be committed to the following:

"Seniors on fixed incomes, to whom this school tax is burdensome, need training, as well as compassion. They must be offered the opportunity to learn how to locate more modest accommodations than those they currently occupy and how to cope in other communities if necessary.

"This tax increase furthers the goals of our teacher unions. It is consistent with a presidential candidate’s promise for change and hope for progress toward the Socialist utopia through education. This increase could create a pad until the oppressive TABOR measures can be repealed and the Amendment 23 extra millions for schools be made permanent. The same criteria and logic should be applied in consideration of ballot question 3B, resulting in a resounding approval of the $754 million debt. This will add as much as $69 million to the $34 million for 3A annually, a picayune amount considering the future of our youth and well-being of the District’s employees."