By Ken Small
This week the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined with the
conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) by filing a brief
against the Clark County School District (CCSD) for withholding public
information again. This is the second time that the ACLU has assisted
NPRI in forcing CCSD to release public information.
For the right causes that benefit the entire population, it’s nice to
see two politically opposed organizations come together for the good
of the people. Congress could take a lesson here. This time CCSD
attempts to argue a new legal “hair split” that district-provided
email addresses of CCSD staff are a communication device and not a
public record. It is common knowledge among followers of the school
board’s shenanigans that this thin argument is a ploy to avoid
republican organizations from getting anywhere near to the advantage
that the democratically-controlled school board has in communicating
with the public.
The handwriting is on the wall for a loss for CCSD in this matter
because CCSD lost entirely in the last legal showdown with NPRI and
ACLU over similar subject matter. However, the last case took a long
time during which the school board wasted taxpayers’ money
forestalling the inevitable.
The importance of the taxpayer-financed email system cannot be
understated, as evidenced by the illegal actions of the school board,
recent history and the cost of its creation.
When a new school is constructed, the cost of installation of computer
networking and software necessary for emailing infrastructure costs in
the range of $1 million. Then there are the costs of hundreds of staff
that maintain it and distribute maintenance and information,
frequently propaganda, through it. What with over 300 schools in the
district, this is a $300 million propaganda machine used at the will
of the democratically-controlled school board. During recent arguments
before the Nevada Ethics Commission, a former school board president’s
attorney attempted to make the argument that it only took a few
minutes of employees’ time to send emails and that was the only cost.
This would be analogous to custom-making a $300 million gun but
arguing that the only cost was the bullets, at $10 each.
The CCSD email propaganda system is a huge expensive tool that has
been illegally used by the school board. During the recent ethics
commission arguments, then school board president Carolyn Edwards took
a plea deal for illegally using it to mass email propaganda advocating
for a tax increase in violation of state law.
Recent history shows the value of the emails because, while the school
board was able to raise a small army of volunteers to advocate for the
tax increase by illegally using the CCSD email system to solicit them
during the last election, NPRI was later able to reach out to teachers
during the time when they are allowed to drop out of the union and
remind them of that opportunity. NPRI’s outreach during the very short
window when union contracts allow CCSD teachers to drop out resulted
in hundreds of teachers dropping the union.
The effects of the ethics commission plea making it necessary for the
board to stop using the emails and CCSD taxpayer-funded staff working
on the clock against taxpayers’ wishes and the law and the disclosure
of the teacher emails allowing NPRI to email the teachers at work
could be a big chink in the armor of the school board members.
Modern memory and a search of the records finds no instance of a
school board member ever being voted out of office. It is widely
believed that the school board members rarely go against the union
because of the value of the union teachers’ political machine. If the
union continues to lose members, it could be decertified and or
challenged by another union trying to represent the teachers.
By the same token, the recent illegal use of the CCSD email system
could have been enough to upset the balance of voter opinion in a
close election — although the loss of the tax increase item during
2012 was about 2:1.
One wonders how the vote would have gone in the last election if CCSD
didn’t have a $300 million gun in which to put those $10 propaganda