Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kunze: The Crack In The Conservative Bloc?

This just in:

I have received a very distressing communication which indicates that District 834 School Board Vice Chair is about to announce his official opposition to the new $15 million school levy.

Let me say at the outset that I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this communication. The document is undated and unprovenanced. It may well be an elaborate practical joke at the expense of Mr. Kunze and his colleagues on the Board. I expect that he will comment to local papers about its authenticity next week.

But I will print here an excerpt from what purports to be an open letter written by Mr. Kunze. Here are the first two paragraphs:

"There has been some confusion about my stance on the upcoming levy questions. To clear this confusion up, in no uncertain terms, I do not support the levy questions as they stand.

I have made some mistakes in regards to the upcoming levy question for ISD 834. I have never supported to levy in its current form and agreed to “put on a good face” because I was in the minority. For this I am sorry. I have failed those constituents that have supported me over the last three years. There are certain members of the community that have harassed me about my support of this levy. I guess I owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me make my decision to come clean."

Did Kunze write this? If he did, his open opposition represents a major blow to school funding here in the District. It's going to be especially embarrassing for the remaining members of the conservative bloc on the School Board, Chairman George Thole and Secretary "Choc" Junker. For quite a while now, Thole has been pitching the levy to the public as being unanimously supported by the members of the board.

Thus it's a little late in the day for Kunze to declare his open opposition to the levy, after the issues have been formulated and as they are about to be sent to the public for a vote. If he really did write this letter, he is presenting himself to the public as a man who stabbed his fellow board members in the back after they've been fighting for this levy for weeks. The author of the letter doesn't even claim to have "changed his mind" about the opposing the present levy. Instead, he claims that he was keeping his opposition secret in order to "put a good face" on the whole thing.

What are you to make of a person who does something like that to his allies and colleagues on the school board and to the teachers and kids in the district? According to this letter, rather than take an open position against that would have led to debate, Kunze has been deliberately concealing his opposition to it for months--and he waits until two weeks before the polls to make that opposition known to the public, via the press? Does a person like that inspire your trust?

A person who pretends to go along, but throws a monkey wrench into the works at the last critical moment, announcing that he never believed in the project anyway.

I hope for Mr. Kunze's sake that he didn't write this letter. It doesn't reflect well on his "character."


At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen the letter and it is signed by him and I believe he did write it.

Kunze fails to recognize that he represents ALL constituents in the district not just those that vote for him.

He also has gone against a standing board policy that says members can debate prior to vote by should back the decisions the board makes. From the district's operating norms for the board (see:

"Board members agree to seek and support solutions that they believe will provide the greatest benefit to the largest number of students. Once the Board has taken action, all Board members should support the decision."

Kunze voted in support of the decision to support the decision to levy. See the school board minutes of this meeting at:

See section 5.4 where the vote was taken and section 5.11 where the board unanimously agreed to support the decision (Kunze was there and voted for it).

Most likely he intended to do this all along but think that this close to the election it will be worse and more damaging. High integrity move ... NOT!

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

Yeah, somebody sent me a copy of that regulation you cite, that one that requires all Board members to support the decision, once the Board has taken action.

Apparently Mr. Kunze feels he is not subject to this law. And there may be a reason for that:

What is the "punishment" or "consequence" that follows if a Board member (such as Kunze) will not support a decision that has already been taken?

Do the operating norms for the district prescribe any consequence if one Board member decides to stab the others in the back, publicly, after the decision has been taken?

If there's no consequence for Kunze's action, then he probably feels free to ignore the law. For example, if there's no ancillary provision that gets him "thrown off the Board" for violating the "all Board members MUST support the decision" policy--then there's no teeth in the "all Board Members must support the decision" rule.

And if there's no teeth in "all Board Members must support the decision" rule--then Kunze can say, "rule, schmule", I can oppose the levy if I want and there's nothing no one can do about it, ha ha ha, nyah, nyah, nyah.

Of course, there is an ethical duty on the part of a serving Board member to abide by the norms agreed to... Maybe they should try appealing to Kunze's sense of ethics--BWHAHAHAHAHAH! I just cracked myself up.

Kunze, trying to torpedo the levy a week before the election! And I tell YOU that you should try appealing to his sense of ethics and fair play! BWAHAHAHAHA! I cracked myself up again!

At 2:24 PM, Blogger Stillwater Infidel aka NSA said...

It will be interesting to see who applies and who they pick. I mean who would want to subject themselves to that circus with Thole in charge. If Junker leaves via whatever and Aaronson doesn't run again which is a very good possibility then that leaves Thole, Bud and Buchholz. Maybe you should call John Sievert and Kathy Saltzman to see who they plan to appoint? I hear Lu Shaughnessy is available...

At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is impossible to recall a school board member - unless they go to jail or something.

However, I've heard that there is talk of a board censure of Kunze. That would make sense and certainly possible. Whatever a board member's point of view, they ought to be able to rely on the other's integrity. If not, censure for lack of honesty and integrity is reasonable.

Anyhow, the vibes I'm getting is that he is pretty much washed up politically in town now anyhow. Who'd vote for him after this? Who'd appoint him to anything? You can't trust where he goes or what he does and says.

Even Nancy Hoffman disagrees with him on this levy (have to give her a LOT of credit for that - for considering the facts and making the right decision.). He's pretty much out there twisting in the wind.

Can you imagine what will be said about him if this levy doesn't pass? Yeowwww - he will be the poster child for that one.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

I'm thinking of applying for the job myself. I think it would be fun; at least the interview part. I would "swear to unswerving follow the course dictated by the wise and prudent wisdom of beloved Chairman Thole" and I would promise to be "the School Board member who will NOT stab the rest of the Board in the back a week before the election." And I would promise to show up at meetings more than Kunze did.

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...


Now you say that Kunze's toast, politically, if the levy fails. But have you considered the flip side of that? There are a lot of local "screw the public schools" activists to the right of Thole, and Kunze will be a hero to those guys for what he's done (betraying the School Board and trying to torpedo the levy.)

That's right, incredible as it may seem to people who view the world through an ethical prism, Kunze's decision to betray the Board a week before the election will count FOR him with many conservative voters. Just because you and I think him a weasel, doesn't mean the anti-public school faction will abandon him.

My guess is that Kunze knows exactly what he's doing. He hates showing up for spending votes, and if he'd gone quietly up to election day without a peep against the pricy new school levy forced on us by G.O.P. tax policy, he really would be "toast"--as far as the local right is concerned. In my view, Kunze has always been trying to position himself to be the next Michele Bachmann or Matt Dean or something--a "no new taxes/cut spending" loon who appeals to similar loons. And there's plenty of those around here--that's why all four of the elected officials representing the St. Croix valley in St. Paul are Republicans.

Kudos to conservative Hoffman if she did write in support of the levy, but remember that that's an easier thing to do if you're resigning from the Board.

The Gazette did a fine story on the Kunze betrayal today. Thole's comments indicate that he's a bit dazed and confused by Kunze's narcissism and deadly timing. We will have to wait and see if he b-slaps Kunze around at upcoming meetings.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Courier's piece is also up today, contains some different info & quotes. They also have posted on their homepage Hoffman's "pro levy" piece, as well as Thole's thundering retort.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Stillwater Infidel aka NSA said...

Bill, I think you're right Kunze is playing to the neocons on this one. I'd love to hear what his kids teachers at Rutherford have to say. I think it's time to cut programs, shut down schools, fill up the classroom even more, cut sports and outsource the teachers to India. Maybe we can outsource Thole & Kunze too?


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