In December of 2019, Latasha Harrison of Louisville PTO and I met with Dr. Pollio about our ideas to tie the tax increase proposal to creating a more equitable student assignment plan. Building new schools in the West End is critical to cutting back on the number of students that are bused out of their neighborhoods. He shared the timeline of events in order to meet the 2020 election cycle requirements. We asked about their plans to hire a consulting firm and how we would go about submitting our proposal for consideration. You can listen to the audio recording of that meeting here:
In February, 2020, Latasha and I submitted our detailed proposal for marketing the tax increase in accordance with the district’s strict protocols. It outlined many of the ideas that we felt were important. Our proposal was not accepted, but the work still needed to be done, so we set about implementing them utilizing our grassroots networks.
In March of 2020, a few days into NTI, we met with Dr. Pollio and this is the update we received. We announced our programming and fundraisers in order to support the district as they manage through a once in a lifetime pandemic:
In May of 2020, the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools gathered virtually for our monthly meeting. The coalition of seven social justice organizations discussed the tax increase and ways we could counter the Tea Party’s efforts to stop it from going through. On the call was guest Latasha Harrison of Louisville PTO (who had requested to become a member of AROS), Gay Adelmann with Dear JCPS, Greg Tichenor with LSURJ, Leslie Marcelino with League of Women Voters Louisville, and Chris Harmer with Fellowship of Reconciliation and unelected AROS Chair. Four of the seven member groups were present, which meant not only did we have consensus, but we had a quorum. The group agreed to move forward on a campaign to promote the tax increase and began to map out a strategy. Below is a recording of that meeting.
In July of 2020, AROS reconvened. In August, the gaslighting and delays continued. I resigned from AROS in protest and made the following post:
On Sept 23, 2020, more than a dozen representatives from Black-led and Black-allied grassroots organizations met with Dr. Pollio to present their DEMANDS FOR RACIAL JUSTICE IN JCPS! This is the edited replay. The district was given until October 11, 2020 to EARN the People’s vote!
On Oct. 3, 2020, De’Nita Wright and I were guests on Forward Kentucky’s podcast. I didn’t much care for the title of the interview, because the word “drama” felt a bit condescending and even misogynistic, downplaying the seriousness of the games that were being called out by women as they were being played by the white male elites in power. But we rolled with it because we appreciated the coverage, which was becoming increasingly hard to get from the so-called liberal media.
The lies being told by my opponent include one that implies that I put the tax increase in jeopardy by collecting a pledge of 32 signatures, even though the number of signers on my pledge did not make a difference, nor was it fraudulent or part of the lawsuit.
On Oct. 8, 2020, Latasha Harrison of Louisville PTO and I met with Dr. Pollio to discuss the challenges we were having with AROS and JCTA leaders.
The second half of the above video features the press conference that was held by the Coalition for the People’s Agenda Education Committee Decision Making Council to share the results of vote that was held to support the tax increase, along with the reasoning why it was not unanimous, the work that still needs to be done, and our list of demands.
On Oct. 30, 2020, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Brian Edwards ruled that the question on the ballot should be disregarded because Tea Party’s petition did not contain enough signatures for it to qualify for a referendum.
“Voters will still see the question on the ballot and should still answer. The votes will be retained but not tabulated according to the judge who ruled the petition that got the question on the ballot in the first place is not valid.”WAVE 3 Article, Oct. 31, 2020
Kentucky Supreme Court agreed. Here’s a link to the post about their decision on Jefferson County Public School’s own website. It mentions the word “petition” five times, all in the singular form.
Notice again how there is only one group, one group leader and one petition mentioned by the Supreme Court?
Fast forward to this election season. James is invited to host a community update with colleague Sarah McIntosh. I fly into town just to attend and I capture the following livestream:
Please listen at the 17-minute mark for James setting up a lie that he will further perpetuate later in his responses in the Fellowship of Reconciliation candidate survey.
During his presentation he says, “There were a couple of groups. Two. There were two groups who submitted tax petition signatures with fraudulent names on those ballots and using really shady tactics. We took them to court and we won on both of those efforts to set that aside…. Notwithstanding the efforts of those two groups.”
I went up to him after the meeting to ask him who the other group was and he wouldn’t speak to me. He literally turned his back on me. Now I know why.
Yet, in the candidate questionnaire he completed that is posted on the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s website, he states,
As you know, I championed this increase early in my tenure in 2019 and worked diligently to ensure its passage. I remain frustrated that the board’s vote to do so wasn’t unanimous. I am confident it was the right decision, and I defended it proudly to the public throughout 2020.
There were two efforts to stop it. The Tea Party submitted a fraudulent petition to try to force the tax to a referendum. Gay Adelmann also submitted a petition with signatures to try to do the same. Both petitions were thrown out eventually by the Kentucky Supreme Court. That unanimous Supreme Court decision was obtained by fierce legal advocacy from the attorney for whom I used to work and who continues to mentor me to this day, David Tachau.
The tax vote in May 2020 and the subsequent Kentucky Supreme Court decision are the proudest professional accomplishments of my life.
James lies to further his own personal agenda. He does not have students’, employees’ and taxpayers’ best interests at heart. Do we really want someone who lies serving in such an important role?
Next up: Student Assignment Plan Discussions
On Dec. 1, 2020, I sent the below email to my JCPS board member, James Craig. Due to the pandemic, the public was unable to speak or attend board meetings in person at this time, despite our repeated requests (8/20) and objections (9/20).