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SF 104 silences voters, erodes constitution

Mar 13, 2013 - Parker Jackson, Lyman

Editor:

Voters across Wyoming have been silenced. Your vote doesn�t matter. At least, that�s what they want you to think.

�Since the 2010 election, those on the left, both Democrats and �Republicans� who have abandoned their professed party at heart, have constantly undermined Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill. Their goal: to legislate the undoing of an election, ignoring the voters and Wyoming Constitution in the process.

Unfortunately, they have at least temporarily succeeded. �Even if you didn�t vote for Cindy Hill, you should be concerned.

�When the legislator stripped Hill of virtually all duties in Senate File 104 (SF104), they also eliminated the people�s voice in education.�� From now on, your vote is for a purely ceremonial position, a figurehead who will appear at �Teacher of the Year� ceremonies and prepare a yearly report. If SF104 is not undone, there will be no more interaction with teachers or students. The Wyoming Department of Education will be geared only toward federal compliance, not toward instruction or student achievement.

�How could this happen in Wyoming? �

As recent weeks have shown, Wyoming has been infiltrated by an elitist, establishment, �good old boy� network, consisting of people from legislators to lobbyists, reporters to longtime bureaucrats, all of whom have become masters at beating the system.

The �good old boys� control our government, decide the fate of bills before they are brought up, and throw around money to decide who wins elections. They are well funded both in their businesses and campaigns by lobbyists, contractors, and lawyers who line their own pockets with tax dollars.

This group has become so influential that they essentially dictate how the legislature will vote, based on inferred threats of denying committee assignments or killing bills based on the sponsor.� They yearn for more government, more control, more of your tax dollars, and, ultimately, more power.

�Prior to Supt. Hill�s election, the Legislature began micromanaging both our schools and the WDE. In response, frustrated voters elected a new superintendent.�In 2010, Cindy Hill ran on a message of improving instruction and combating corruption in our education system. She broke many unspoken rules of establishment politics, soundly beating a Republican incumbent in every county in the primary, then going on to trounce Mike Massie, another Senate �good old boy,� in the general election. Both decisive elections frustrated entrenched politicians and longtime WDE employees; they knew she threatened the corrupt policies and ineffective legislation they were responsible for.

�After she took office, many highly paid and unproductive contractors, consultants, and state employees, accustomed to cushy deals and lavish vacations, abandoned the WDE of their own accord, moving on only to take positions in the governor�s office or other government agencies.

�However, Cindy Hill pushed forward, improving education across the state. She consolidated the Laramie assessment office into the Department and fixed many prior mishaps with the PAWS test. She focused on improving classroom instruction and, by extension, student achievement. As a result of Supt. Hill�s efforts in coordination with the local school districts, she is the only suprintendent in decades who has seen test scores increase across all grade levels two years in a row.

�Despite these results, many in the system chose to ignore the details. Worse, they sought to discredit her by conjuring up accusations, such as saying she missed deadlines and misappropriated funds. Following these specific allegations, two huge facts largely went unreported.

�First, the Legislature�s own liaison, Ruth Sommers, stated in a report to the Joint Education Committee that Supt. Hill and the WDE �did meet the deadlines� required by the accountability bill. In fact, Hill�s team had gone further and completed work that was initially supposed to be done by other groups. Rather than admit that the allegations were unfounded, Sommers blamed �formatting error� in their initial report.

�Second, the WDE was audited, covering nearly every expenditure in a $20 million budget. They came through with an accuracy of 99.65 percent, perhaps the best audit of a state agency in history. On top of that, Supt. Hill and the WDE are reverting more than $1 million dollars, saving funds from every account.

�When the �good old boys� could do nothing else to discredit or silence Cindy Hill, they invoked sly legislative tricks and questionable constitutional measures to pass SF104 and a resulting budget amendment, ordering physical removal of Supt. Hill from the WDE and the stripping of duties, staff, and funds.

�Consequently, Hill filed a constitutional lawsuit based on her constitutional charge over the �general supervision of the public schools.� Cindy Hill announced that she will run for governor in 2014, in hope of bringing lasting change not only to a corrupt system, but to solidify the progress that has been made in education. If these two efforts don�t pan out, things will go back to business as usual for the �good old boys� and all educational growth that originated in the WDE over the last two years will be halted or undone.

�During the debates on SF104, voters from all over the state sent massive waves of e-mails and phone calls demanding that their legislators represent the people. Instead, the majority of legislators turned their backs on their constituents and their constitution, deciding to serve only personal interests.

Following the passage of SF104 in the House, another massive wave of communication went to the governor�s office, asking him to buck up and veto the bill. Instead, he happily signed it.

Will you let them get away with it?

��2014 can be the year that Wyoming voters take back their state. If your legislator has voted against his or her constituents, party platform, or the Wyoming constitution, consider running against yourself. Pull their voting records and see if they are sticking up for what they say they are. The only thing that will solve this epidemic of corruption is more public involvement.

�We the people know best. Sometimes, we just need to prove it.

The Wyoming Center for Constitutional Law has been set up to aid Superintendent Hill in her Constitutional challenge of SF104. Contributions can be sent to:

Wyoming Center For Constitutional Law

P.O. Box 4021, Cheyenne, WY 82003

����

Editor�s note: Parker Jackson is a legislative aid to State Rep. Allen Jaggi, R-Lyman

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