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0736, 10 Apr 19

More Reaction to Failed Referendum

There are a couple of interesting pieces in the Daily News today in response to the referendum. First this, from local columnist and business leader John Torinus who expresses surprise at the failure of the referendum:

Note that all seven sitting School Board members supported the passage of the $47 million project. They sincerely believe that Jackson needs a better building and that the high school needs upgrades for safety and STEM education purposes.

So does Superintendent Don Kirkegaard.

So does the business community for economic development purposes. It’s hard to recruit talented employees without a first-class school system.

None of them will drop this issue from their priority lists for the district. They will undoubtedly listen to the voters and come back with a lesser number in 2020.

This is the vein that I commented on yesterday. There is an arrogance and condescension dripping from the view that all of the “right” people in town supported the referendum but the little people were too stupid to vote correctly. There is no willingness to accept the will of the people. No, the only thought is to bring a referendum back in another election with better packaging. This kind of elitism and disdain for regular folks is the same attitude that feeds support for Trump.

Then this from Superintendent Kirkegaard:

While a majority of residents who voted did not support the referendum, this provides the West Bend School Board and me with valuable information regarding improvements.

I sincerely hope that residents feel they had adequate information to make their decision. Through informational meetings, mailings, website posts, social media posts and emails, we tried to offer all the details on the proposal.

In addition, I am grateful to have met many people in the community through my presentations and less formal interactions.

As the West Bend School District and the board move forward, we will continue to engage with the community on the issues of facilities improvements and their funding. We will seek feedback from some who voted “no” and some who voted “yes” to gain insight on their reasons for their vote.

The vision of the West Bend School District is “Excellence for All.” Let there be no doubt that regardless of referendum voting results, our staff each day lives that vision to provide the best education and the best experience possible for the amazing children we are lucky to serve.

That’s a very nice note. As a citizen of the district, I appreciate his attitude, willingness to accept the will of the voters – even though he disagrees with it – and the forward-looking focus on executing the mission of the district. Well done.


0736, 10 April 2019


  1. dad29

    Torinus’ elitism has been known for about 20 years.

    Until about 4-5 years ago, that was acceptable.  Then came the over-reach, probably beginning with GWBush’s “democratize the world” silliness, the Constant-War push by the NeoCons (and others) and finally the Bush NSA’s totalitarian spying.

    Not to mention the Bailout of the Elites (ONLY) of ’08-’10….

    Odd, isn’t it?  A rather benevolent guy with a “conservative” label blew it for the Establishment, and blew it big-time.

  2. Mark Hoefert

    Saw several weird things in that column.

    “Note that all seven sitting School Board members supported the passage of the $47 million project.” My records show that the 1st resolution (to borrow $47M) passed 6/1 – Ken Schmidt voted no. The 2nd resolution (to put it to the voters) passed 7/0.  No responsible official would vote against letting the citizens decide. As it turned out, Ken’s position on his first vote was upheld.

    “So does the business community for economic development purposes. It’s hard to recruit talented employees without a first-class school system”: Most employees commute to work, sometimes out of their district.  Several Board members commute to jobs outside of the West Bend School District.  Seems like the talent is choosing to live in the West Bend School District, but not choosing to work in the district.  The issue of attracting talent might be more of an issue for the employers to resolve.

    “The Tea Party worked hard to attain the “no vote”: What Tea Party?  That is so late-2000s.  Not aware of any organized opposition. Saw one home-made “Vote No” sign, lots of pro-referendum signs, even at the homes of school board members.  A lot on social media, both sides well represented in that regard.

    “They will undoubtedly listen to the voters and come back with a lesser number in 2020”: Don’t know that a lessor number would have passed. Some people saw this failure as a vote of no confidence in the board and administration. I thought John was an angel investor/venture capitalist.  Wonder how many businesses were funded that have had 4 different CEOs in a 3-year time span, maybe 5 CFOs (that is an estimate – hard to keep up – the one we have now was hired about a month before the referendum), and a Board with an average tenure barely over 1 year at the point where bonds would have gone on sale.  Would have loved to sit in on that due diligence meeting when information is gathered to rate the bonds.  In my previous life as Exec. Director of the West Bend Housing Authority, I facilitated several double-tax exempt General Obligation bond issues for Cedar Community. Our last one was rated AAA by Moody’s.  It was conduit financing (not a debt of the City), but the prep for the due diligence went pretty deep.  Perhaps because schools have the ability to tax, the due diligence is not as in-depth.

    I do give Kirkegaard credit for trying.  But it was always my opinion that a Superintendent needs to have the opportunity to develop a trustful relationship with the community – this was too much, too soon.

    I was also surprised to hear that the focus of the referendum support group was on Jackson, and that there was not a similar effort for the rest of the district.

    I wonder how they will decide which “no” voters and which “yes” voters to seek input from. Feeling that I should try to be part of a future solution, I did email a Board member and offered to meet, and indicated that I would be comfortable with Kirkegaard being in on the conversation.  No response.  But they can put me in the column of voted “yes” on all past referendums/sat in on many referendum study committees over the past 40 years/Voted “no” this time.  And I found that I am not alone – so maybe they have already found their quota for that.

  3. MjM

    and come back with a lesser number in 2020.

    That is the “Plan B” you were looking for, Owen.

    It always is.

    And then in 2021 or ’22 they will put forth a second spendapalousa.

    They always do.

  4. guinness

    Maybe a district wide survey mailed out to learn why it got voted down. If they really want answers, why not ask everyone?

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