Gaming the Voter Guide in Jefferson County

I actually had to dig my Jefferson County voter guide out of the trash after I read this story from the Denver Post. Thomas Graham of Arvada totally gamed the guide.

Here are Graham’s comments, published at taxpayer expense:

The following summaries were prepared from comments filed by persons FOR the proposal: …

Senior citizens with fixed incomes are hard-pressed to shoulder increases 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 This increase could create a pad until the oppressive TABOR measures can be repealed, and the Amendment 23 extra millions for schools be made permanent.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.

The Post reports:

Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said the district was prevented by law from substantially changing or eliminating Graham’s comments.

Graham submitted the language minutes before the deadline for inclusion in the booklet that voters began receiving this weekend, Stevenson said.

The district’s lawyers said case law prohibits “substituting their judgment with our judgment,” Stevenson said.

The language is totally inappropriate (even if it’s hysterical). As much as I like the spending restrictions of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, I don’t like the provision that requires tax funding for the distribution of people’s opinions about ballot measures.

Article X, Section 20, subsection 3(b)(v) states that a voter guide must be sent out with the following:

Two summaries, up to 500 words each, one for and one against the proposal, of written comments filed with the election officer by 45 days before the election. No summary shall mention names of persons or private groups, nor any endorsements of or resolutions against the proposal. Petition representatives following these rules shall write this summary for their petition. The election officer shall maintain and accurately summarize all other relevant written comments. The provisions of this subparagraph (v) do not apply to a statewide ballot issue, which is subject to the provisions of section 1 (7.5) of article V of this constitution.

I wish TABOR had been simpler; maybe then it would not have been continually eroded.

Update: 9News reports additional interesting details on the matter. It turns out that Graham is 84 years old — one of the senior citizens of which he writes.

Jefferson County Schools superintendent Cindy Stevenson said (9News reports), “This did not come from Citizens for Jeffco Schools or from the district… I want to be very clear, we cherish our seniors. The statement in there is cruel.”

No, what’s cruel is Stevenson’s plan to forcibly take more money from citizens like Graham to spend on other people’s education (and, incidentally, Stevenson’s own salary). The proposal is cruel; Graham’s statement merely reveals that cruelty.