Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meet the Candidates Thursday Evening, and Something Strange in Advance

Thursday evening, October 21, at 6:30 p.m., other local candidates and I will be at Shelley Elementary School in American Fork (602 North 200 West) for a meet-the-candidates event sponsored by the American Fork Youth City Council.

It will be a typical format, with the audience submitting questions in written form and a moderator choosing some to ask the candidates. We candidates will get opening and probably closing statements, plus a minute or so to answer each question.

I'm looking forward to seeing you there. Please introduce yourself. There should be plenty of time to talk face-to-face afterward.

Meanwhile, here's a rather strange thing related to this event. Recently, Ron Firmage, Director of Bonneville UniServ -- essentially the Utah Education Association's umbrella organization, which administers several local teachers unions, including the Alpine Education Association -- sent this e-mail message to union reps around the Alpine District, expressing the importance of union members attending this event, because he's afraid that, if too few of them do, it might not be "fair and equitable."
Dear reps,
As the election for School Board nears, there are a few races that are becoming somewhat heated. One of the races that has become quiet [sic!] contentious is the Alpine School Board race between Tim Osborn and John Burton. We would like to make you aware of an upcoming “Hear the Candidates Meeting ” that is going to be held, at Shelly [sic!] Elementary, on the 21st of October, at 6:30 pm. This is scheduled to be a question and answer format. We feel like there may not be equitable representation at this meeting. We would like you to please get this meeting date out to your members and strongly encourage them to attend. We would like fair and equitable representation on both sides and feel that this may not happen.
Thank you for all you do,
Ron Firmage
Bonneville UniServ Director
(I deleted the phone numbers below the signature, in case he doesn't want them posted on the Web, but if anyone wants to call him, let me know and I'll supply them to you individually.)

What's odd about this is his evident concern that the event will be unfair, unless union members are there in force. But, as long as both candidates show up this time, I'm not sure how someone would slant such an event, to keep it from being "fair and equitable." Even if there were no one there from the union side to plant questions for its candidate, a competent moderator would make sure the questions were balanced. Even if the moderator didn't do that, the candidates could answer the fair questions they wanted to be asked, not the unfair ones actually asked -- and even score some points off the loaded question. There's no public vote taken at such events, so numerical representation doesn't matter much. Each candidate gets the same time to answer each question, and the people running the event go out of their way to be fair in other respects.

Perhaps Mr. Firmage owes the event organizers an apology for questioning their competence or their motives in an official communication.

In any case, you may be interested to know that Mr. Firmage's union has officially endorsed my opponent. This is no surprise, and I appreciate them for clarifying the race. The choice for American Fork and two precincts of Pleasant Grove voters really is clear:

On one hand is yours truly, Tim Osborn, who believes that the people should be in charge of their public school system, and that the people, through their elected representatives, should be the ones setting the school district's mission, goals, and values.

On the other hand is my opponent, a good, honorable, well-respected man with a long career as an administrator in the district, who is nonetheless an establishment insider favored by the local educational establishment, which wants to institutionalize its own values in our public school system, and for the most part already has.

By the way, in case you're uncertain about the union's values, the first words of Bonneville Uniserv's Mission Statement, as of this writing, are "to provide progressive leadership" (my bold). So I suppose I should thank them for being clear about their motives, too, not just for clarifying my race with their endorsement of my opponent.

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