Our great client, Platte County R-3 School District, in the northern part of the Kansas City, Missouri, metropolitan area saw the ugly effects of outside influences and money on its bond issue election last week.
The district – which has been growing in student count by leaps and bounds, with no end in sight – had a proposal that would solve the problem, with some new construction and expansion, and would take advantage of the lowest borrowing and construction costs anyone has seen in years. The price tag was reasonable, but not pocket change. However, the general mood among the campaign committee was cautiously optimistic.
That all changed with the arrival of a last-minute, well-funded attack campaign from well-known out-of-towners who call themselves “Freedom PAC.” Their goal was to scare, and they knew just how to do it – by carpet bombing the community with simple, frightening messages that bred mistrust and took the community’s eyes off who would actually benefit from passage of the proposal.
While local people were clearly operatives, make no mistake: This was not a grassroots, well-intentioned effort to offer another point of view. This was an effort that was well-funded by out-of-town interests who saw Platte County’s proposal as one more domino.
Now that they have succeeded, they’re moving on, leaving the school district to pick up the pieces and try to figure out just how it’s going to accommodate the needs of all those students.