After passage of an opt-out On June 19th, former (and once again) Gubernatorial candidate Lora Hubbel made a point to be all over the media talking about her efforts to “Stop the Opt Out:”
Armed with petitions, clip boards and a vehement distaste for taxes, Lora Hubbel is carving a path to 6,000 signatures.
Hubbel, a Republican candidate for governor and former state legislator, believes the Sioux Falls school board should have done more to inform taxpayers about a move to bring more money into schools through increasing local property taxes.
That’s why she’s leading “Stop the Opt Out,” a group working to refer the board’s decision to a public vote.
If the opt out were to make it to a public vote, and taxpayers voted it down, the Sioux Falls School District could face decisions about program cuts as reserve funds dwindle, Business Manager Todd Vik said.
“If they do get too low, the things that will suffer are special programs … and salaries,” Vik said, adding that special programs include reading programs and those for English language learners.
But Hubbel isn’t buying it.
“I feel no pity for them,” she said.
Fast forward to this past week, and Hubbel’s group “Stop the Opt Out” fell far short of the 6000 signatures she planned to deliver:
SD Learn and Stop the Opt Out, two groups with the same mission of letting taxpayers weigh in on the school tax levy, both fell short of the 5,374 signatures, which needed to be turned in by 5 p.m. Friday.
Mary Buysse, who led SD Learn, said Friday that the Fourth of July holiday impeded the group’s ability to collect signatures on their petitions.
They were a “few hundred” short, Buysse said, declining to disclose how many signatures the group received.
“We really believed we were going to make this today,” Buysse said after the 5 p.m. deadline passed.
The group did not bother to turn in the petitions to the Instructional Planning Center, though a few dozen signatures were turned in by Lora Hubbel, leader of Stop the Opt Out, who believed they were “stragglers” added late to the game.
Shortly on the heels of the announcement of the failure of the measure to be referred to an opt-out, in typical Lora form after directly turning in a few dozen signatures, Lora Hubbel took to social media to blast the other group collecting signatures with a flame thrower:
So what’s the truth in this matter? It’s not the fantasy that Lora Hubbel is trying to sell. Not in the least. Why? Because what I’m hearing is the actual story is one of Lora glory-hounding for the Media, and little more.
Here’s what I’m hearing. A source is telling me that as the SD Learn group was preparing to turn in petitions, Lora dropped off with the group the signatures that her people had collected. Approximately 314 signatures. That’s in comparison to over 3500 signatures that the SD Learn group had collected.
So, despite mugging for the cameras constantly on this issue over the past few weeks, I’m told Lora had collected fewer than 10% of the signatures of the other group. As it was offhandedly described to me, her efforts consisted of handing out petitions to a few friends, and then spent the rest of the time scraping up her flooring. That might be an exaggeration, but as I’m told, providing fewer than 10% of the collected signatures to the effort is not.
Unfortunately, with the Hubbel end of the effort not coming close to the efforts of the other group, it was quickly evident that the petition drive was not going to succeed, despite strong efforts in the final days. I’m told the group collected 500 signatures on Friday, alone. Unfortunately, with a short 20-day window of referral, the 4th of July holiday greatly hampered efforts.
Falling short of the needed 5374 valid signatures for referral, I’m told the group that held the bulk of the signatures declined to turn the documents in as those would become public documents, and there were teachers who signed who may have feared retaliation should their named be made public in connection with the effort.
So, despite the tale that Lora is trying to spin, if her efforts had been able to produce an equal number of signatures to the SD Learn group the referral would be well on it’s way to the ballot box.
Maybe she should have put her efforts into producing, instead of rolling like-minded allies under the bus.
(Postscript: I’m hearing the SD Learn group is going to be filing as a Statewide PAC group to formalize their efforts and continue what they’re trying to do to empower parents and taxpayers in School Districts across the state. They already have plans for efforts in other communities.)