Saturday, April 04, 2009

Division Promoted in MG School Board Race

The following email was dropped in over the transom. It is a blatant appeal to Cottage Grove voters to support candidates from Cottage Grove solely for that reason. As far as I know, the candidates played no role in this message. Very disappointing.

When you go to the polls to vote on Tuesday, April 7th, please consider casting your three votes for Monona Grove School Board as follows:

Jason McCutchin
Mike DuPlayee
Lionel Norton

While we appreciate and respect all four candidates, we are endorsing these three because they have dedicated a significant amount of time to the school district and School Board Committees over the past several years. In addition, all three are Cottage Grove residents with children in our schools.

1. Jason McCutchin has served on numerous School Board committees, including the Ad Hoc Committee that is trying to deal with the under utilized buildings in Monona and the crowded buildings in Cottage Grove. This is a complex issue with no easy solutions. We need someone like Jason who has a solid grasp of the situation voting on the outcome -- this decision could determine whether CG kids are bused to Monona for elementary school. Jason has a background in accounting and finance and he has proven himself to be a listener and problem solver.

2. Mike DuPlayee has been on the School Board since 2002. He has the experience needed to deal with the difficult issues the Board will face in the coming months. We are faced with teacher contract negotiations and the need for budget cuts. As Mike has noted, the easy cuts have all been made. We are now facing decisions that are much more challenging. Mike cares about the education of our children and keeping academic standards high. He is not afraid to speak out on issues that may not be popular in one of our two communities.

3. Lionel Norton has also served on numerous School Board committees and has been very active in the community. He wants to bring new ideas to the table and increase communication with parents. Too often, we find out about School Board decisions when it is too late to change them. Lionel is reasonable and rational and willing to take on the challenges facing our district.

PLEASE remember to vote on Tuesday, April 7th and please spread the word to all of your friends and neighbors. We really need to get out the vote in Cottage Grove. We have the majority of students in the district, yet Monona residents have always out-numbered us on the School Board. In elementary grades alone we have 1,403 students currently enrolled in our district (4K-5). This includes 382 (27%) children from Monona and 1,021 (73%) children from Cottage Grove. These kids don't have a voice in this election, but you do.

Thank you for your time!

Nancy Allen
Kathy Bultman
Kathy Klinke
Eric Nelson & Cathy Gilmore-Nelson
Mary Salvi
Laura Toso
Kristi Williams
Betsy Zande


  1. Embarrassing, to say the least.

  2. How is it different then the elecations of past? I would contend it is not, a little more brazen, yes.

  3. Doug-
    Come down off the ledge. While I agree that this email might be a bit divisive- they clearly laid out the qualifications of the people they are supporting. And, candidate #4 from Monona is definitely running on a platform of "I am the only one from Monona". So, both sides are doing the same thing. It is unfortunate that they used things like percentages and numbers- although again, I am sure that those things were used to argue the opposite way when more kids lived in Monona than CG. I think you are overreacting.
    Of the newcomers, Lionel and Jason have been the most outgoing and approachable. Both have blogged into Peter's blog to explain things, and both have answered questions directly emailed to them. So.... they may indeed be the most qualified... no matter where they live.

  4. Right, Lionel and Jason may well be the most qualified regardless of whjere they live - but the email pitches their candidacy based on where they live.

    Again, as far as I know the email was sent independtly of the candidates.

  5. I want to know why it is OK to tell people to vote for someone because they are from Monona but its not OK when they are from Cottage Grove.

  6. I have always made it my policy to not respond to anonymous blog postings- I prefer to have direct, respectful communication with people face to face. However, I feel it imperative to state that not once in campaigning, in either of our communities, have I ever once claimed that a vote against me would support the idea of raising taxes to benefit Cottage Grove. I have campaigned with open arms in both of our communities, meeting with some of the same people who signed this email. I have said from the beginning that I want to work to unify and strenghten our school district. It is unfortunate that some of our school community members have taken it upon themselves to urge others to vote by zip code. I am disappointed, but will continue to work to make our school district a place where positive people can work together to give all of our children the best education they can get. As always, feel free to contact me at

  7. "Division Promoted in MG SCHOOL BOARD Race"

    Huh, you are offended by this at this juncture?

  8. I hate it when children eat there parents!

  9. "Division Promoted in MG SCHOOL BOARD Race

    Huh, you are offended by this at this juncture?"

    More like disappointed. I've always looked for candidates who have the best interests of the entire district in mind.

  10. Even though I do not generally participate in blogs, the current lie posted about Jessica Ace calls for a response.

    Having spent many hours with Jessica Ace over the past weeks, I have come to know her as a highly principled person who has demonstrated an open-minded willingess to listen and learn, as well as to work on behalf of all the children in the district. She has never made the statement alleged here, that "unless people vote for her they will see the school board raise their taxes to benefit Cottage Grove." That is an outrageous statement and a total fabrication. I am grateful to have a person of her caliber who is willing to run for the board and am sad that in doing so she has to be subjected to such disrespectful treatment.

    The conversation sparked by the posting of the e-mail from some residents of Cottage Grove is a perfect example of why I do not participate in blogs. The anonymity of the posters seems to give them license to be rude, make unsubstantiated allegations, and state flat-out lies as facts. I much prefer face-to-face conversation, and as a school board member, I respond individually, often at great length, to every e-mail I receive. (On rare occasions, when I am aware that another board member has responded to an e-mail to the entire board, when I have felt the answer was sufficient, I have not contributed my own response.) Blogs can be a source of factual information, as this one often is, and they do provide a forum for discussion. Unfortunately, they also contribute to misunderstandings, due to the fact that inaccurate and incomplete statements as well as complete untruths, as in the current case, go out to a potentially wide audience with no accountability. In this way, they can be destructive. I certainly hope that no one judges my own openness and accessibility by my unwillingness to participate in a blog.

    I urge people to step back from the ugliness of people who promote divisiveness and take the time to read the candidates' reponses to questions in the Herald-Independent, including the most recent edition which contains a summary of a forum, and the Isthmus. I believe the forum moderated by a representative of the League of Women Voters is available online at The candidates who have been out going door-to-door have had the opportunity to engage in discussion with voters. Fortunately, there are ways for voters to inform themselves.

  11. ""Division Promoted in MG SCHOOL BOARD Race

    Huh, you are offended by this at this juncture?"

    More like disappointed. I've always looked for candidates who have the best interests of the entire district in mind."

    My point is that the people who signed the e-mail are in some cases the people who have always promoted division.

  12. "My point is that the people who signed the e-mail are in some cases the people who have always promoted division."

    I disagree, at least with regard to the former school board members on that list.

  13. I have gone back and forth about allowing anonymous comments and decided that, on balance, posting them is more beneficial than not.

    I don't post everything people submit, but my general policy is to post and let others respond if they disagree.

  14. I, for one, am disgusted by the lack of respect and integrity that has has been witnessed in this campaign. We have one board candidate who has violated board policy by plastering cars with his political literature during a performance at the highschool, we are presented ridiculous lies as unbiased information on personal blogs, and we have community leaders engaged in the conscious and calculated decision to divide our school district to promote their own agenda. I will be voting for Jessica Ace, I can trust that she doesn't agree with these tactics and is more concerned with improving the academic achievement of ALL of the children of our community. Enough already! Let's focus on the kids. Thanks, Jessica, for being brave enough to stick your neck out and run a clean campaign!

  15. NOTE: Last night, I allowed the posting of a comment from anonymous commenter that alleged that Jessica Ace was telling voters in Monona to vote for her or the school board would raise their taxes to benefit Cottage Grove.

    Upon further consideration, I deleted the comment because it contained factual allegations that I have no basis to believe are true. I, of course, cannot put the genie back in the bottle.

  16. Here is what I find interesting. The School Board Member who responded here- Ms.Fox- is one of those who ran on a platform of open communication and transparency on the board. She talks here about not responding to anonymous posts....

    Yet she does not have any way to actually communicate with her constituents. Ask the School Board member coffees at local places? A blog of her own with no anonymous posting? A column in the paper? Anything?

    She communicates openly with her own group of folks, and when you do that one on one you can say whatever please the group you are with. The only School Board member who openly informs communicates and is transparent in Peter- he puts himself out there publicly and can be held accountable for opinions stated on his blog.

    Where is the accountability for more recently elected school board members who claim to communicate and be more open? Only to certain people, and their views change with the people they happen to be with.

  17. "I disagree, at least with regard to the former school board members on that list.

    Funny, I disagree for that very reason. Perhaps, the way the treated a alderperson from Monona was/is different then the peasant class.

  18. I am not posting any more comments on this post until at least Wednesday. Inflammatory comments may not be posted at all.

  19. Mr. Wood,

    Are you going to post the letter author by Kristin Yates openly endorsing only Jessica Ace because she is from Monona and Lionel Norton because he is endorsed by Susan Manning and Sue Fox. If you do not post this then you are just as hypocritical as the rest.

  20. "Are you going to post the letter author by Kristin Yates openly.....If you do not post this then you are just as hypocritical as the rest."

    First, yes, I just posted it but only because the NCAA championship game is one-sided so I decided to check my email. That was the first I heard of it.

    Otherwise, your comment is idiotic. I was at a city council meeting tonight and then watched part of the second half. I do not get paid for this blog, I do not have a staff searching for stories. I am not a journalist; I will publish - or not - what I decide I want to put on my blog.

    So, please don't call me names in your comments. I usually stuff them in the trasj bin, but published yours as an example of what *not* to say. Thanks you.

  21. "Here is what I find interesting. The School Board Member who responded here- Ms.Fox- is one of those who ran on a platform of open communication":

    Response from Susan Fox to the comment that began:

    Constituents may call or e-mail me, as a number of people have done. Our phone numbers and e-mail addresses are available on the district web site. I return phone calls to discuss issues and I respond to e-mails. I have suggested that the board hold listening sessions a couple or more times per year. After this election, I hope the new board can sit down together for a couple work sessions to hash out board procedures and discuss better ways to engage citizens. I am aware of one school board which holds "big idea" discussions once per month. A particular issue is posted as the topic, and the meeting is open to the public in a participatory way....not just as listeners. I would like to try to get our board to do something like this. I also have ideas about some restructuring of our committee structure. Clearly our board needs more work sessions, so that we can have more open-ended discussions.

    In part because of the hiring of a new superintendent, this current board never even set goals for this year. We need to do this and to develop a strategic plan. Improvement of communication with the public, as well as with school staff members, needs to be a part of this. One thing that I have learned in my first year on the board is that significant change comes at an excruciatingly slow pace. I feel we've been in a bit of a holding pattern over the past year.

    In short, I believe I am accessible, and not just to people I see regularly. Most of the e-mails I've answered have been from people I don't know personally, as is the case with some phone conversations. I'm assuming this poster has never tried to contact me. I would encourage you to do so, if you have a question or just want to discuss an issue.