School District Uses Tax Dollars to Pay for Political Advice on Bond Measure

The Barstow Unified School District voted unanimously December 8 to contract with two consulting firms – the Lew Edwards Group and Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates – to assist with polling and strategy to pass a school bond to raise money for improving school facilities.

The services will cost approximately $40,000, plus expenses. Additional polling could cost $45,650 more, and direct mailing would cost $21,000. (CalTax: “Direct mailing” in these situations often consists of slick campaign-style mailers designed to encourage a “yes” vote on bonds, without directly violating the law by actually including a “vote yes” message.)

Bonnie Jean, vice president and managing director for the Lew Edwards Group, told the district’s Board of Trustees that the November 2016 election may be a good time to put a bond on the ballot, because the presidential election is likely to increase turnout. “Generally speaking, higher voter turnout helps because in presidential elections, you have vote demographic groups who don’t always turn out,” Ms. Jean said. “You have younger voters who are more likely to support these kinds of measures. For your community, you have more Latino voters who are also more likely to support these types of measures. So you are looking at a more favorable demographic of voters.” (Source: Desert Dispatch, December 9.)

January 5, 2016

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