Tuesday, November 15, 2011

School Millage Fails by 55% - 45% Why?

from mlive.com
MATTAWAN — An organization headed by former state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk sponsored robocalls last week warning Mattawan school district residents about the cost of a $59.9 million bond issue on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The Citizens’ Alliance for Life & Liberty paid for a round of calls on Nov. 7, the day before the election, and then another round Thursday, said Hoogendyk, the organization’s executive director.

Hoogendyk taped both messages, including Thursday’s call thanking residents for voting. About 55 percent of Mattawan Consolidated School voters rejected the request, which would have financed construction of two new elementary schools and upgraded technology for secondary students.

In the Nov. 7 call, Hoogendyk said the Mattawan bond proposal was “about four times higher than any previous bonding proposal in the school district’s history. .... If you are over 40, you will most likely be paying this tax increase as long as you own property in the school district.”

Hoogendyk, a Mattawan schools resident, said the point of the call was to provide information on an important local issue.

“I don’t want to hide the fact that I was personally opposed to the bond and I wanted it defeated,” said Hoogendyk, who is well-known for his strong anti-tax stance.

The Nov. 7 call did not say the call was from the Citizens’ Alliance for Life & Liberty, which was an oversight, Hoogendyk said.

Although state election law does not require identification for robocalls, Hoogendyk said his group paid for the second round of calls on Thursday to make it clear it sponsored the calls earlier in the week.

“I wanted people to know it was us,” Hoogendyk said. “We weren’t trying to run and hide.”

Hoogendyk said the group paid for 5,000 calls to Mattawan school district households. That’s a little more than the number of votes cast Nov. 8.

The Citizens’ Alliance was founded a few years ago as a nonprofit and registered as a political action committee with the mission of “protecting the right to life, liberty and property,” said Hoogendyk, who became the alliance’s executive director in February.

He said CALL is not “a Tea Party group per se, but its philosophy aligns with the Tea Party.”

The organization is based in Kalamazoo and does not have any paid staff or an office. Hoogendyk, who works as a political consultant, said he receives some consulting fees from the group.

This was the first time the alliance has targeted a local ballot issue, he said. It had focused on state issues, including right-to-work and immigration legislation and education spending.

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