Local Views: Why I Won’t Be Supporting O’Loughlin for Minnesota House Representative in 39B

Stillwater school board member, Paula O’Loughlin, is running for Minnesota House Representative in District 39B. Here’s why I won’t be supporting her:

In May 2015, the voters of Stillwater passed a $100 million school bond which promised, among other things, improvements to every district elementary school. A few months later, the district proposed to instead close three schools. They called this plan BOLD (Building Opportunities to Learn and Discover).

Soon after the announcement of the district’s BOLD plan, I posted a thank you on Facebook, listing a few Main Street businesses that had made public declarations against the plan. Minutes after that became public, people began sharing my post far and wide.

My inbox exploded with messages from other local businesses, all asking to be added to the list. In a period of a few short weeks, the list grew to about 100 businesses, all joining hands to oppose this plan that would change our community forever.

Some businesses made donations of money or goods to help with the legal fight opposed to the closures, but that was not a requirement to be on the list. The list was simply supportive business owners who did not agree with this hurtful plan.

On February 26, 2016, I received an email from school board member, Paula O’Loughlin. This is what she said:

I have received several inquiries from parents and community members who are very confused as to where the funds raised from the 3/5 event will indeed be going. Someone has sent me a screenshot in particular that notes that the monies raised (and this includes from any donations from local businesses) will be going to the legal funds to support the lawsuit against the district.

Many community members and business owners are understandably confused and concerned that their business, vis a vis a donation and your list, are being attached with a potential lawsuit to sue the district. This is not how they want their monies spent and it is certainly not how they want taxpayer dollars money spent. Community members have also contacted me for the list of businesses so they know which places to boycott until they receive clarification.

Furthermore, businesses have asked if their donations qualify as a tax deduction and want to know if your organization is a qualified charitable organization with 501(c)3 status. Again, several are under the impression that their donation and use of their establishment’s name and reputation is supporting students in all schools, not a lawsuit for private citizens.

I’d appreciate any clarification you could provide.

Thanks so much,

Paula

I felt threatened, receiving this from Paula. This was in February, and she was supposed to be neutral at that point, with an open mind, prior to the board vote on BOLD scheduled for March 3, 2016. Yet she seemed to be willing to help facilitate a massive boycott of our supportive local businesses community.

“Community members have also contacted me for the list of businesses so they know which places to boycott until they receive clarification.”

The list included almost all Main Street businesses. I was never contacted by any businesses that were “confused” about how the funds were to be used. I feared such a boycott could have devastating financial consequences for Stillwater’s treasured downtown.

I felt threatened because Paula seemed to be accusing me of negligently informing businesses what their support meant. This wasn’t true. I also felt threatened because it seemed Paula was implying I could be responsible for possibly contributing to a devastating financial boycott of main street businesses.

And why — just because they had expressed their first amendment right to voice their opinion on an important community matter?

In fact, the district’s own survey showed over 60% were opposed to the school closure plan. It seemed so irresponsible and inappropriate for a public official, who now is asking voters to support her for higher office, to assist with harming our local economy.  Isn’t that the opposite of what an elected official should do?

Fortunately a boycott never materialized. In fact, the community supported our local businesses in droves. Our elected leaders should do the same.

Jenna Weiss

  • Judy Screaton

    I don’t understand how the School Board, including member Paula O’Loughlin, could vote to close 3 Stillwater Schools after promising 834 voters that the $100 milion in bond money would be used to improve those 3 schools.

    It is totally untrustworthy to go back on a promise. What’s more, expecting young children to ride a bus several hours a day to their new school is unconscionable. Did anyone voting on this issue ever consider the effect of their vote on our young children?

    I will not vote for Paula O’Loughlin.

    • Carl Blondin

      Because she is financially responsible and understands that this district annot afford to run 10 elementary schools without seriously harming the quality of education. If ISD 834 had the same building to student ratio as Mahtomedi, Mounds View, or Minnetonka it would have 5 elementary schools. With 7 we have the same ratio as South Washington County, even though our average teacher compensation package is the highest in East metro. Closing unneeded and academically inefficient schools was a fiscal necessity . There is no free lunch.

  • ZWeisberg

    If this is Ms. O’Loughlin’s plan to stimulate the Stillwater area economy then God help us.

  • Carl Blondin

    Jenna Weiss proves my first axiom of American politics: The larger the subsidy, the louder the squealing, when the snout gets yanked from the public trough. Ms. Weiss is just being selfish, wanting to keep open academically and economically inefficient unneed buildings that have taken money away from hiring more teachers for the benefit of all children. There is no free lunch in this veil of tears, Ms. Weiss. To not support either Paula O’Laughln or Shelly Christensen, two wonderful human beings, both of whom have a wonderful pro-publc, education record, against the stridently anti-public education Kathy Lohmer betrays your true colors.

    • Where did Jenna say she won’t support Shelly Christensen? You make a whole lot of ad hominem attacks and huge assumptions about other people, Carl. I can’t imagine it works in court.

      • Carl Blondin

        I did not assume that Greg. I only pointed out that both Paula and Shelly are great people and either would do a much better job than Kathy Lohmer, and that if you do not want to support either Paula or Shelly you are helping an anti-public education zealot, Kathy Lohmer. Get outside of your all-consuming hate. I only pointed out that the 834 Voice/GPS cabal is whining because its snout has been yanked from the public trough and money is being spent on students. That is a fault we all have when money is not being taken out of another’s pocketbook to subsidize our pet cause. The rule applies to all of us, Democrats, Republicans and independents. That is the reason it is my first axiom. Here it applies to the 834 Voice/GPS cabal. Their special subsidy has been cut and they are squealing like stuck pigs. The ad hominem attacks are 100 percent from the 834 Voice/GPS cabal. Director O’Laughlin makes an intelligent vote to insure the best possible education for all students and those who lost their special subsidy act like children. I do OK in court. I have two victories at the Minnesota Supreme Court. Has your lawyer even figured out how to file a Petition for Review at the Minnesota Supreme Court yet? Let me know when that happens.

        • Scott

          You’re an internet troll with a thesaurus. The only difference is you are an asshole in public view instead of hiding behind a fake identity.

          • Carl Blondin

            A troll is someone like you who calls people names. I just state the facts. I know both Paula and Shelly. They are both wonderful people who have made bettering children’s lives their career. A bunch of people upset that their favorite wasteful, taxpayer-funded subsidy, has come to an end are having a hissy fit, and attacking the adult who put children first. Try reading as a hobby. Your vocabulary will improve.

          • Scott

            What you actually do is misrepresent your opinion as fact, then force feed it to anyone within your arrogant presence. My opinion is that you’re an asshole.

            We all have an opinion. That said, I think the following image sums it up nicely: https://i.imgur.com/40Idny0.png?1

          • Jean Anderson

            “Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly.” — Spencer Kimball, American business, civic, and religious leader

          • Scott
          • Jean Anderson

            It’s not something I had to look up, Anonymous Scott. It’s something I live by. And I’m almost certain that Mr. Blondin does not need a thesaurus to write intelligently. Maybe you should use your self-proclaimed intelligence to make a coherent argument instead of profanity and your infantile and intellectually lazy labeling of people with whom you disagree as “internet” trolls (btw, thanks for distinguishing between online trolls and the kind that live under bridges in fairy tales).

          • Scott

            An honest, but long reply was flagged as spam – it’s pending review by Disqus

          • Scott

            Firstly, let’s circle back to square one with what is really at issue here. Jenna Weiss wrote an opinion piece about why she will not be supporting O’Loughlin for Minnesota House Representative in 39B. Fantastic! She clearly is passionate about this issue and took the time to write a letter to the editor that coherently states her opinion based on personal experiences. This is neither fact nor fiction; she is simply a person voicing her concerns that, according to her perception, is an issue that may (or may not) negatively impact the local community. This is our nation’s First Amendment to the United States Constitution at its finest, wouldn’t you agree?

            Enter Mr. Blondin:

            “The larger the subsidy, the louder the squealing, when the snout gets yanked from the public trough.” Mr. Blondin is quite literally calling people that are like minded with Ms. Weiss pigs (and he gets upset when called a name – ironic!)

            “Ms. Weiss is just being selfish…”. Oh, how selfish it is for a person to have an opinion. As I said before, Mr. Blondin does nothing more than misrepresent his opinion and sell it as fact (now that is selfish).

            “Get outside of your all-consuming hate.”, “834 Voice is a mob. A dangerous mob”. He is labeling anyone who opposes his viewpoint as part of a dangerous, angry mob (he seems to take a page from our President’s playbook on this one).

            And finally, this gem: “I just state the facts.” Riiiiight…

            Mr. Blondin is not stating anything factually. He is simply an individual who is incapable of resisting challenges to his views and has come to hold his opinion more strongly than originally asserted. In other words, He turns his opinions into his own set of “facts” because he doesn’t want to believe he may actually be wrong about them.

            I’m sure he is fully capable of citing sourced materials that support his way of thinking, just as I was able to find scientific research that contracts your beliefs about profanity.

            Admit it, it is a hot issue for you and it likely made your blood boil.
            What if I told you that was the point. It was an effort to have you experience the same psychological effect that Mr. Blondin experiences every time he attacks someone with an honest opinion.

            So, when we read a news story that presents both sides of an issue, we simply pick the side we happen to agree with and it reinforces our viewpoint. This is completely normal. But what about those who don’t just resist challenges to their views, but actually come to hold their original opinion more strongly in the process?

            This is actually known as the “backfire effect” and is also completely normal, but not justifiable with jackass behavior like Mr. Bolden’s.

            The definition: “The Backfire Effect is a very strong, psychological aspect in all of our minds. Due to this effect, whenever you are confronted with information and facts that contradict something you believe, instead of changing your view or forming a new opinion, your original beliefs will often be strengthened. You will believe in your previously formed opinion even more vigorously, despite seeing hard proof.”.

            In summary, when I say Mr. Bolden isn’t wrong, he’s just an asshole by going so far out of his way to verbally attack people for simply voicing their opinion, the very same can be said about everyone on the planet. Who am I to argue human nature?

          • Jean Anderson

            First, Strunk and White says, “Do not dress words (like “firstly”) up by adding ‘ly’ to them, as though putting a hat on a horse.”

            Second, the only “backfire effect” here is your persistent use of profanity, which destroys the credibility and integrity of your specious arguments made while hiding behind a fake identity.

            You’re also blowing up your intellectual cred when you say Mr. Blondin (or Bolden) is “quite literally calling people that are like minded with Ms. Weiss pigs.”

            No, Mr. Blondin is using an analogy to account for, as Mr. Marsh calls it, her phony outrage. Literally calling some a pig would go like this: “Scott, you’re a pig.”

          • Scott

            “First” and “Firstly” are both proper grammar, Firstly being more formal of the two. As a concession, I’ve made the edit because I tend to agree with you on which is better. However, the rest of your response is a Backfire Effect case in point. You and Mr. Blondin should look it up. Here is a link to get you started. https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Backfire_effect

            Have a wonderful day

          • Jean Anderson

            Ah, the Wikisphere, the refuge of those who like to win arguments by relying on sources that are routinely characterized as unbalanced, biased and incomplete. Rational Wiki, which you cite, claims to distinguish itself from encyclopedias by openly avoiding any pretentions to neutrality on controversial subjects. Decisions on the site are “made by the will of whoever shows up and does stuff. Mobocracy and do-ocracy rule the day.” Sounds like a highly reliable source.

            Maybe if you would have delved into the external links in the Backfire Effect entry, you would have discovered the 2017 academic study (not cited in the article) that tested 10,100 subjects on 52 issues and “found no corrections capable of triggering backfire, despite testing precisely the kinds of polarized issues where backfire should be expected.”

            Their conclusion: Evidence of factual backfire is far more tenuous than prior research suggests. By and large, citizens heed factual information, even when such information challenges their ideological commitments.

            My conclusion: It’s not a thing, so stop trying to hang your hat on it and using it as an excuse for being a simple vulgarian.

          • Scott
          • Jean Anderson

            Thanks for a further demonstration of your ability to copy and paste, Fake Scott. You share a talent with my cat, who can do the same without opposable thumbs.

          • Scott

            That’s actually quite funny – good one!

          • Carl Blondin

            Let me know if I am missing anything. 1. Voters pass the last bond adding about 900 more seats capacity to the School District with a building reconfiguration that removes all sixth graders (approximately 650 students) out of the elementary schools. 2. School Board closes 3 elementary schools because the District had about 1000 extra seats at the elementary level and could not afford to operate and maintain all that extra empty space. 3. Jenna Weiss gets mad because her favorite elementary school was closed and like the rest of the 834 Voicers has a hissy fit and engages in childish name calling. She and 834 Voice want the District to operate 10 elementary schools and take the money to do that out of teachers in the classroom, overcrowding high school classrooms even more.

          • Carl Blondin

            Save your breath. “Scott” is completely ignorant about District finances and wants to remain so.

          • Carl Blondin

            “Scott, ” do you know what a simile is? Weiss is exceptionally greedy. As are all the 834 Voicers. They (and you) want to spend scarce dollars on unneeded buildings which will result in fewer teachers being employed and more over-crowded classrooms, especially at the secondary level. Too large class sizes at the secondary level has been the #1 problem in ISD 834 for years. There is no free lunch in this veil of tears. Teachers, not bricks and mortar, are the most important variable in this problem. We need more. We will not be able to afford them if we keep 10 elementary schools open. As far as the 834 Voice mob is concerned, I just look at the inveterate lying of its members and their cat calling at school board meetings. Case closed.

          • Scott

            Backfire Effect – Take another look at everything I’ve written. I actually don’t take a political position in this ‘argument’ at all. I’m merely defending the right to free speech, which you have every right to as well. That is why I say, once again, you’re not wrong – you’re just an asshole.

          • Carl Blondin

            I have.

          • Carl Blondin

            Oooo. Some second rate researchers still trying to argue with their moms.

          • Carl Blondin
          • Scott

            A Troll with a Thesaurus – clever! That is a funny image though.

        • If you can’t see how comparing people you have a policy/budget disagreement with to swine is ad hominem and hurtful, you are truly hopeless. Would a Supreme Court justice let you call your opponent a pig?
          The fact you don’t think you’ve made personal attacks by repeatedly calling anti-closure activists livestock really tells me everything I need to know. Like Scott says, you also make huge assumptions about 834 Voice and Ms. Weiss and present them as fact (“greedy,” etc.) which we are supposed to accept in deference to your superior intellect. I heard many many many people at the hearings, in the press, etc. that would not be affected by the closures yet were vehemently opposed, including numerous teachers. Sorry they don’t know the ins and outs of the district budget, but they are the ones who provide the revenue, so they should be provided with the facts, not propaganda, and they should be heard. You’re simply wrong about so much, but inexplicably continue to act like some sort of an authority. You ignore numerous facts about the closure and the absolutely shoddy proposal from admin and review by the board, and the fact that most people who voted for the 2015 bond felt totally duped by the district after they announced the closures. The list of your lies and exaggerations and errors is just too long for my busy day. You are trying to take a moral high ground that simply doesn’t exist.

          Once again: I’m not a member of in any way affiliated with 834 Voice, so please quit lumping me in with your petty insults directed at them.

          • Carl Blondin

            I am sorry that you do not know what a simile is. A simile is a figure if speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid. If I say Tom is as brave as a lion, I am not calling him a lion. If I say Mary is as wise as an owl, I am not calling her a bird. To say squealing when the snout is pulled from the public trough makes vivid the complaining of people when their public subsidy is ended. This idea is usually covered thoroughly in junior high school English class. While I will use analogies in appellate writing and oral arguments , I cannot think of an example of a simile. I did read an analogy in the 834 Voice’s attorney’s brief at the court of appeals using the wizard of Oz. I found it silly and inappropriate for an appellate brief. Perhaps excellent in political debate, but not good in legal writing. Perhaps Ms. Weiss thinks I am greedy because I favor ending $1,200 per year subsidies for hockey parents and using that money to hire another French teacher. If so she is well within her rights to say so, as I am well within my rights to say she is greedy for wanting to keep open unneeded elementary schools at the expense of more reasonable classroom sizes.

          • Carl, my pompous pal, you’re describing a metaphor, not a simile. You’re right, I learned the difference in Jr. High and had it reinforced in my university career getting a degree in English. A simile is saying something is *like* something else, a metaphor makes the kind of direct comparison you employ endlessly. Semantic pedantry isn’t really my thing (though I see you love it) so I’ll leave your grammatical mistake at saying it sure doesn’t give me much confidence that you are well informed about the ins and outs of District 834 or frankly much else, despite your attempts to seem so confident. I also hope none of your prospective clients have a Jr. High-level of English competency or it could hurt business.

            Of course the main problem with your ad hominem attacks is that you insist it’s a fair comparison. You try to force people to accept that anti-school closure people just want special treatment. Sorry, you actually don’t get to force your framing of the issue like that. I know that’s hard for Baby Boomers to get. There are many reasons people have for wanting the schools to stay open, but your “snout/trough” metaphor is not only insulting (it really is) but it’s false. I want kids across this district to thrive. I don’t think that will happen in 400+ student elementary schools. I don’t think it will work for the hundreds of kids displaced from their closed schools. I don’t think you actually know what you’re talking about.

          • Carl Blondin

            I stand corrected, metaphor is correct. And my metaphor is excellent, and not at all an ad hominem attack. Like all metaphors it is an indirect comparison between two unlike things. It is an excellent metaphor because it applies equally to all of us, regardless of our political preferences. We all squeal in protest when our favored programs are cut. An ad hominem attack is something like when you call me pompous, instead of addressing the difficult financial issues I bring up. Take a look at the cold hard facts. The District had to spend $1,600 more per student at Withrow and Marine than at the average elementary school. Running 7 elementary schools is significantly less expensive than running 10. What is your proposal? Run 24 elementary schools? We would run out of money before kids made it to ninth grade. With 24 small elementary schools you would end up with racial segregation problems and the ACLU bringing the district to court. You may be in denial, but the opposition to consolidation was based on greed. A few people wanted extra money spent on their children so they could have cutesy mini elementary schools while other children suffered in over-crowded classrooms. And that is exactly what we had with the mini elementary schools. It really is that simple. Three years ago French 3 classes at SAHS averaged 38 students because we were running mini elementary schools with 17 student classrooms. The district had a gross spending imbalance. And if you think 400 student elementary schools are the norm, you really are out of touch with financial reality. No independent school district in the metro area is building elementary schools smaller than 600 students. Anything smaller is academically and economically inefficient.

  • Tony Snark

    Being a “Voltaire” man myself, I would remind you that “Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities, Can Make You Commit Atrocities”

  • Tony Snark

    “Support” is the key word here. The author does not even live in 39B.

  • Runnergal

    Jenna – please explain to us how you feel threatened by Paula’s communication? The word negligent appears in your opinion piece not her communication. She said that businesses were asking for clarification and were confused, the only way that could be threatening to you is if you feared that the businesses were in fact misled in where their funds were going.

    The fact that so many 834 Voice members feel the need to attack Paula on their Facebook sites and in local media instead of promoting their candidate of choice for 39B shows that the only people here that feel threatened are those that have not gotten their way despite numerous lawsuits, data requests and leaked slanted news stories. If the 834 Voice candidate of choice is Shelly, does she endorse this sort of mud slinging?

    Paula’s courage to run despite the continued personal attacks by 834 Voice says volumes about her character and even more about the inability of a small, but loud group of parents to accept accept and move on. These personal attacks only illustrate your desperation and that all of your substantive arguments have been deflated.

    Harm to local economy? Please provide facts. Yes, a majority of those polled did not want to close the schools. And if you sent out a survey asking if people would like a new Mercedes, most people would answer yes. The key question is how do you pay for it. The board made a tough but financially prudent decision. And a majority supported, not just Paula.

  • Randy Marsh

    Thanks Jenna for some of the phoniest outrage I’ve read in quite some time. I hope you have found an appropriate safe space after feeling so viciously threatened by a woman who was called the most vile things imaginable by your 834 Voice cohorts. Spare me the outrage, or at least try a little harder next time.

  • Earl TDC

    Anyone on this thread attend last night’s 39B DFL caucus at SMS? If not, you missed an opportunity to hear from both candidates – and there is a sharp contrast in professionalism and experience that Paula presented as someone familiar with being elected into public office. Paula is not running to resolve a personal vendetta. She touched on, and resonated with many in our room, an array of reasons why she truly is the best candidate to represent the greater good. Please remember it wasn’t her one vote that closed schools in #834. It was a vote needed after decades of mismanagement and spending by previous school boards and administrations. As I recall, Paula had asked that the SAHS athletic update portion of the bond be broken out as a separate vote after a survey (paid by the district) had found that it was not popular with shareholders. After being involved in the caucus process and after much research, I can safely say that, “I (and additional family voters), WILL be voting for Paula” and encourage others to do the same.

    • Runnergal

      Amen! I also attended the caucus for 39B and echo your comments. We need Paula, someone with the experience and fiscal responsibility to take this seat back. I am confident that other delegates and voters who get to know both candidates will feel the same.

      • Thank you, Runnergal; might you be willing to continue this conversation in an email? If so, please send a note to communications [at] paulaforminnesota [dot] org.

    • Thank you, Earl TDC; might you be willing to continue this conversation
      in an email? If so, please send a note to communications [at]
      paulaforminnesota [dot] org.

  • Tony Snark

    Like so many others I sat reading your story rapt, breathless, and clutching my pearls.

    You posed a question to me on the facebook page; paraphrasing, should “local” candidates be limited to “local” support?

    The answer is no. It’s a hypocritical for you to feign concern over this since you do not even live in the voting district referenced in the article above, in which the entire premise is support. In addition to that, your mock-indignation regarding the list of people/businesses supporting the lawsuits against the district is doubling-down on hypocrisy. You, along with your #Ragtag gang, routinely procure some list or another, start Googling, and proceed to ridiculing those on the list.