Q&A with Skip Greenlaw (10/20/09), Question 3
Skip Greenlaw is the primary organizer of the Maine Coalition to Save Schools, the group running the “Vote Yes on #3” campaign. Mr. Greenlaw only had a few minutes do give us during the day, as he had other radio and television interviews to attend. Of course, that didn’t stop him from getting his message across clearly, as he did in the debate held at the University of Maine the night before:
Thank you for joining me. I know you’re very busy with the campaign, so this is much appreciated.
1. In yesterday’s debate, you used the argument of urban vs. rural school districts, and how this consolidation law affects both differently. Can you describe the effects to our readers?
Well I can’t answer that conclusively. But there is a dynamic that exists and it has a lot to do with different things. It has a lot to do with geography, smaller school sizes, schools with “tighter belts” than others. The consolidation law may work for some school districts, but for others it may not be the best thing. We can’t enforce this upon them and then penalize them for it. That’s not democracy.”
2. What other options do you propose other than consolidation?
Well one of things that I had mentioned before, is I got a call from Aroostook County, that school districts had reduced salaries and hours. They cut $250,000 out of the central office over several years, but they are not getting credit for it. If the governor had initially said to the various school communities and superintendents around the state, ‘we’re in a budget crisis, we need to reduce spending, or we will do something drastic,’ people would have listened. Maine people want to help their government, but this law is being rammed down their throat.
3. What are you doing to get the word out to voters? How much money are you spending on tv ads, newspaper ads, etc.?
We have no money to spend on TV or radio ads. What we have is spent on supplies for the campaign. But no one is getting paid one cent. We have plenty of volunteers, we had over 61,000 signatures and 500 people gathering those signatures, but we do not have money for TV ads. The other side does have more to work with money because they have the backing of the governor.
4. For this veto referendum, a yes vote would repeal the law, and a no vote would keep it in place. Do you think this confuses voters? No. I think the secretary of state has a method of designing questions. They let people comment on the language and are very open with voters. I think the ballot language is ‘Do you want to repeal a law on school district consolidation and restore the laws previously in effect?’ I think that’s what it says. Anyway, we all think it is not a problem.
5. When all is said and done, if Question 3 is not passed, what is your next step?
We have to see what legislature does. We’ll have to wait and see what they tell us do to, what we have to cut. They need to let us know. In fact, we could have a lawsuit on our hands if some school districts are penalized for not consolidating.
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