Stillwater: Anything To Get Elected, I Guess
Still out of town; down in Texas now. Someone posted the following comment after I asked about candidate John Rheinberger's latest campaign material. I had been told that he had printed and distributed something that might deceive unwary voters into thinking that some "education newspaper" was actually endorsing him.
What the commenter told me in reply is worth republishing here on the front page:
This Rheinberger ad is a deplorable example of an election dirty trick.
Here's how it's set up. It's a four-page newsletter printed on newspaper stock. At the very top of the front page, a banner headline says "Special Election Edition!" (Note the exclamation mark; Margot's handiwork?)Below that is a boxed red "nameplate" (think "New York Times" or "Stillwater Gazette")that says, "District 834 News".
Below that is the tagline "Informing 20,000 households about Stillwater Public Schools!" (think, "All the news that's fit to print.")Below that, they even have the audacity to put in "Volume 2, No. 1" along with the date.
The main "story" on the front page is this: "Rheinberger files for School Board." The rest of the 4-page insert is a mish-mash of "information" that seems to actually be a list of opinions Rheinberger has about the future of public schools.
At the very bottom of the final page, in probably 7-point type, is the disclaimer that the whole thing is paid for by the Rheinberger election committee.
It's amazing that such a cheap trick had to cap a remarkably civil, uncontentious school board election. Which brings up the question: Why is Rheinberger so desperate to get on the school board that he would stoop this low?
Well, commenter, thanks for answering my question about Rheinberger's imitation newspaper. If your description is correct, it certainly does sound as if it was designed to deceive voters into thinking that an independent publication endorsing Rheinberger. Very few readers will get all the way to the disclaimer at the bottom of the final page; most will only get the false impression that some school district publication is endorsing Rheinberger before tossing the thing into the recycling. A dirty trick, you say, eh? I wonder if there is some election practices committee that concerns itself with this kind of thing.
If what you tell us is true, I am inclined to agree it is a dirty trick, and thanks again for answering my plea for information. But we must agree to disagree about the school board election being "civil" and "uncontentious." This election has been mucho contentious--I'll bet the incumbent, George Thole hasn't worked this hard to get elected in years. He's so busy he hasn't found time to answer my emailed question to him about his colleague, Mr. Junker. Or maybe he just doesn't want to commit himself to an answer in print, who knows.
As for "civility," well, if you've read the Rheinberger emails to and about me, and Coach Thole's comments to his colleagues and his use of his "sports" column to get his fans to turn out to vote--"civility" is not a biggie, in this particular election.