Two years ago Oshkosh residents were about to vote on the 2014 Referendum for Technology. The O.A.S.D. wanted 4 million dollars per year for 7 years, to buy chrome books for all of its students. That seemed a little extravagant to me at the time and I voted against it. We all know now how that turned out. After the referendum passed I learned about a man who had fought against the tax increase. I read about this man and it sounded like he was a concerned taxpayer like me, who just could not afford to have his taxes increased any more.
Fast forward to the end of February, 2016. As I read the newspaper I could not believe what I was seeing. The Oshkosh area School District was putting forth another referendum on the April Ballot asking for another tax increase of 4 million dollars per year for 7 more years. We were not even past the second year of the last referendum and here they were asking for more money. I decided right then and there that I was not just going to sit back idly and have another tax increase imposed upon me. I asked my wife to show me how to log into FaceBook. You see I am not a FaceBook guy, but I had to see if the same man who opposed the last referendum was going to pick up the cause again. Sure enough there was the Vote No page.
After learning how to navigate around on the page I found the man’s name. It was Jim LeClaire. Shortly after that, somewhere on the page I found his contact info. I sent him a text, telling him I wanted to meet with him. He invited me over to his house. After meeting Jim I told him I wanted to learn more about what was happening within the school district and why do they keep putting forth these referendums? I wanted to know where the money was going. I told Jim I had found his Face Book page to be very informative and I believed we needed to get more people onto the website. I wrote him a check to purchase another one hundred signs that would now include the website.
And so my journey began. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined where this journey was about to take me. About four or five days went buy when I received a phone call from Jim. The new signs were here. Great I said I will be right over. When I got to his house I told Jim we have to get as many of these out as soon as possible so Jim posted both of our contact information and shortly after that I received a text. It was from a lady who wanted to know if she could get a sign. I said sure and she texted me her address. I drove to her house and met her in her yard. Her name was Jane and she told me she is currently unemployed and cannot afford another tax increase. I told her that I could not either. I told Jane that we had paid 4.50 for each sign and that all we wanted was to recover our investment. She said she was very sorry, but because of her current situation she could not afford to pay me. I told Jane that it was O.K. I would cover the cost of the sign.
A few days later I heard a knock on my back door. I went and opened the door and an elderly lady introduced herself to me. Her name was Vervain. She told me she lived down the street and had seen the sign in my yard and was wondering if I knew where she could get one. I told her she had come to the right place and I promptly got her a sign. Vervain went on to tell me she was 86 years old and living on a fixed income. She had not received a raise from Social Security in over three years and could not afford another tax increase. I told Vervain that I had not received a pay increase in more than five years. The next day was a Saturday and I received a text from a man I would later come to know as Jeff. After texting me his address I drove to Jeffs house to deliver a sign. I met him in his yard and we started to talk. Jeff told me he is a School Teacher in a Christian School. He stated that Christian School teachers are not compensated nearly as much as the public school teachers and that he had a family to provide for. He went on to say that he simply could not afford another tax increase and thanked me for my time.
I could go on and on about the dozens of wonderful people I have met over the past four weeks. One woman met me at an informational meeting we were holding and she had tears in her eyes. She thanked me for being her voice. As I have traveled down this path and listened to these people their message is always the same. They consistently tell me that they cannot afford another tax increase. They want to know where all of their money is going. Some are on a fixed income, some are unemployed, and some have just not received a raise in compensation at their current jobs. They also tell me that they feel that they do not have a voice in the choices the School District is making with their money. That’s where I have to tell them they do have a voice. I tell them their voice and many, many, other voices are going to be heard on April 5th. VOTE NO