Tuesday, November 5, 2013


UPDATED at 1pm, 11/08/2013:

The judge has dismissed this complaint. 

From the Woodbury Bulletin:

Judge reviews two allegations against pro-District 833 levy group; other complaints dismissed

An administrative judge is reviewing two campaign finance complaints against the committee that has advocated for passage of the South Washington County Schools referendum.
A day before voters settle the District 833 levy measures, Judge Barbara Case of the Office of Administrative Hearings on Monday heard arguments from the Woodbury resident who filed the claim against Committee for VOTE and from the group’s attorney.
Case called the hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to advance the complaint to an evidentiary hearing. She also could dismiss one or both claims.
Andrea Mayer-Bruestle, a District 833 parent, filed the complaint against the Committee for VOTE last week alleging nine violations of state campaign finance and election law. Most involve a mid-October campaign finance report and the use of a Woodbury law office as the committee’s address.
Mayer-Bruestle later withdrew two of her allegations. After receiving the case, Case dismissed others, leaving two allegations of misdemeanor campaign finance violations.
One alleges the committee failed to properly disclose financial information on its mid-October campaign filing.
Mayer-Bruestle said the committee’s report showed cash totaling $2,200 but did not report any contributions and had $3,236 in expenses.
“The question has become, where did that money exactly come from?” Mayer-Bruestle said during the hearing held by telephone conference call.
The committee provided documents showing it had $2,279 left from previous years’ levy campaigns. Committee attorney Alan Weinblatt said the mid-October filing was accurate, though it was off by $79. He said that was the result of a change in committee treasurers.
“I would submit there is no violation of law,” he said.
The other claim alleges the committee failed to properly classify the use of a Woodbury law office conference room as an in-kind donation to the campaign. Mayer-Bruestle said the committee itself acknowledged using attorney Carter Bergen’s office to receive mail and to hold multiple meetings in a conference room.
Weinblatt said Mayer-Bruestle assumed, but did not know, details of the committee’s use of the suite and other information about the office.
Weinblatt asked Case to throw out both complaints. He said Mayer-Bruestle’s claim is not based on facts and was made with insufficient research.
“Based upon that, it is my belief and argument that it is a frivolous claim,” Weinblatt told Case.
Mayer-Bruestle disagreed.
“This campaign is a committee that is promoting a levy asking for the taxpayers to pay more money,” she said. “It matters to the taxpayers where the money came from, and when you list $2,200 cash on hand and zero contributions, it matters where that money came from. It matters. It is not a frivolous claim.”
During the hearing, Case made no indication of how she views the remaining claims. She said she will issue a ruling within three to seven days.
Scott Wente
Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
(651) 459-7600

Saturday, November 2, 2013

UPDATED Could "MNTruth" Be A Prominent School District Volunteer?? UPDATED

Last spring, a blog was developed to attempt to smear me, Andrea Mayer-Bruestle, because there are people in the community who do not like the fact that I choose to hold School District 833 accountable for its actions.  At the time, I was not sure whom actually was behind the blog, since the person administrating it was so adept at hiding his/her identity - a real WordPress Pro.  However, that person may have finally, I believe, revealed herself today on Facebook.

First, let me show you the slander blog:  www.mntruth.wordpress.com:

Just kidding - I won't waste my time and space filling it up with that drivel. Feel free to click the link above to see what was said about me.   Also feel free to make comments as you see fit. In any case, MNTruth got a lot of information wrong, like the name of my husband isn't John (if you know me, you know him, so sorry, MNTruth, you don't know me at all).  He is a very hard-working guy and he does earn an honest living - working his butt off in all weather, maintaining an important part of what keeps our country running, working with something that everyone uses every day. He's all blue collar and I'm proud of him.  

Anyway, the last post MNTruth made was sometime in early May, about the same time MNTruth decided to post a few comments on my blogs: 

Yes, I did remove names from the comments MNTruth left for me.  As I said in my "Not Going Anywhere" post, it is my right as a private citizen journalist to edit what is on my blog page.  Again, you'll notice, the comments here were about smearing me, my family and my friends.  

About a week after the last comments posted on this page, a new website started up called www.unitedfor833.org.  The "About" on this website is eerily similar to the "About" on "MNTruth":

The interesting part about this is the list of names and the fact that the writer says the Unitedfor833.org was built under the advisement of the South Washington County District 833 administration, specifically, Dr. Keith Jacobus.  

Things calmed down for a while, until this fall when I started reporting on the school board race and levy campaign of District 833.  I have friends who are running for school board: Susan Richardson and Leilani Holmstadt and Molly Lutz.  When they have asked for help with their campaign, I've helped: I set up Susan's Facebook page and the Facebook meet and greet event invitation.  I have their signs in my yard.  I've door-knocked with Susan once and helped with a lit drop with a group of volunteers today. Leilani Holmstadt and Susan are sharing expenses, so Leilani's info is on the lit I've helped to drop; otherwise, I've done nothing else with her campaign. I have done nothing with Molly Lutz's campaign - she is someone I've known since the first time the Spanish Immersion parents tried to grab a neighborhood school several years ago.  I support her campaign as a citizen, but I haven't volunteered for her.  My focus has been mainly on watching all the candidates' campaigns and the levy campaign by the 833 Yes Yes Yes group and the school district's information re the levy.  

Apparently, the people I've been watching and reporting on are not too happy about having their activities reported.  Apparently, there are people who believe that the taxpayers should just cough up money any time the school district tells them the sky is going to fall if they don't.  And apparently, "MNTruth" may be one of those people. 

As I said at the beginning, I've had a feeling about the identity of "MNTruth", but it was more of a gut feeling.  Until today.  Today, I believe "MNTruth" decided to step onto the East Metro Tea Party page and personally attack me.  I am an administrator of the EMTP Facebook page and one of the group's organizers because I firmly believe in the Tea Party ideals: Fiscal Responsibility, Free Markets and a Constitutional Limited Government.  I am a ("small l") libertarian, so the Tea Party is a great fit.  Anyway, today a person named "Jim Woodbury" decided to start making the following comments on a variety of posts on our FB page.  Due to the fact that "Jim Woodbury" referenced the comments made on this blog by "MNTruth" and the suspicion I've had about whom was behind "MNTruth" I responded to the comments by calling the person by the name I believed her to be:  Winnie Williams.  

Please note that the person posing as Jim Woodbury failed to address the fact that I responded to him/her as "Winnie." Why not?  If it wasn't Winnie, why wouldn't s/he say so? 

As you can see by the screen shots, "Jim Woodbury" persisted in attacking me.  Facebook has an anti-fake account policy, so "Jim Woodbury" was reported as such.  It wasn't long before "Jim Woodbury" was no longer available.  Knowing that Facebook will remove multiple pages using the same IP address, I checked to see if Winnie Williams' personal Facebook page was available.  This is what showed up:

So, one can only surmise that either Winnie Williams has removed her own page, or it was removed by Facebook when Facebook removed the fake "Jim Woodbury" page.  In my opinion, Winnie Williams most likely is the person who was behind the "Jim Woodbury" and "MNTruth" blog and the person posting nasty comments on my blog. I not only believe this because her personal Facebook page disappeared with the Jim Woodbury page, but also because there are very few people who know the story behind the edited comments from last May - a few select friends and whoever it was posting the comments.  The fact that Jim Woodbury referenced those comments were exactly why I suspected it was the same blogger as MNTruth. Also, Winnie herself references her WordPress and/or software expertise in a variety of places:


Winnie Williams is also the co-Chair of the SWC 833 Yes Yes Yes levy campaign, and on a variety of district committees. 

The question is this:  What is really going on with the school district that would make an otherwise seemingly mellow person turn so vicious when the school district and/or levy campaign are held accountable for their actions and/or decisions?  What is Winnie Williams (if it is her behind these attacks and MNTruth) and the others, (a few of whom seem to be out stealing signs, several of Susan's have gone missing, one today in broad daylight, and attempting to intimidate other candidates and their supporters) trying to protect by their actions?  Do they know things the average citizen doesn't know about the plans the district really has for the levy referendum money?  Or are these folks working at the behest of other people?  Like unions, political organizations or people within the district itself?  Why would my little blog cause so much uproar that they would need to attack me?  As MNTruth said, I'm just a stay-at-home mom with an "average education." 

One last point: On the MNTruth blog, you will notice photos of a family - those are my kids.  That is my family.  MNTruth aka (I believe) Winnie Williams, posted my family photos while attempting to smear me.  If she is MNTruth, this is the person running the 833 Yes Yes Yes campaign.  But you know, she cares about the children...

So that wasn't the last point.  Here is the REAL last point.  Apparently, the Tea Party site wasn't the only place the person posing as Jim Woodbury went today, only below the person is only "Anonymous," but you get the point:

Apparently, whomever was behind the Anonymous comments above, was also busy on The Woodbury Patch today, too.  Funny how the person decided to use  my middle-maiden name: 

And, BTW: The "Britt Hanson" comment is slander; I may be looking for an attorney soon.

"Jim Woodbury" and Winnie Williams' Facebook pages were re-instated by Facebook sometime on Saturday evening. 

Updated 12:01pm November 4, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

UPDATED! SWC 833 Vote Yes Committee Proves It Only Wants "Good" Comments

UPDATED 8:15am November 2, 2013

A week or two ago, this blog reported about how the South Washington County School District 833 Vote Yes levy campaign committee engaged in censorship on their Facebook page.  Apparently, what was suspected is true: If they LIKE what you have to say, it gets to stay.  Otherwise, expect to have your comments censored and to be blocked from their site.

Case in point:

Kirk Burback's comments before they were removed:

Then the site after being blocked:

There is a new comment on the same post that has (so far) been allowed to remain:

It should be noted that Ms. Kay Myhrman-Toso is a DFL supporter who has given thousands of dollars to Democrat campaigns over the years.  She also doesn't seem to appreciate Michelle Bachmann or it seems, the Tea Party:

Supporters like that make one wonder why anyone would want to join the Vote Yes committee supporters.  Of course, Ms. Myhrman-Toso could be chalked up to being a big-government progressive who is always a-ok with the government taking more money from the people.  Because, you know folks, It's for the children.

Ironically, the statement Kirk Burback posted was true: There has been a Complaint filed with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings that lists the address issue as one of the reasons for the complaint


The Vote Yes campaign committee has removed the above-mentioned comment from Kay Myhrman-Toso from their Facebook page:

AND the committee has allowed these comments to remain (at least for now):

Interesting comments re: iPads...But am left wondering what exactly is going to get "loose" if people get out and vote?

Updated 8:15am 11/2/2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Levy Vote Yes Committee Campaign Violations Part II

It turns out that sometime after 3:15 on Friday, October 25, 2013, Committee for VOTE's co-Treasurer, Mary Scholz dashed into the South Washington County District Service Center and delivered the 10-day Campaign Finance Report.  After two emails to SWC833's Communications Director, Barb Brown, the CFR was emailed to me late Tuesday morning.

I also received notice from the Administrative Law Judge who is currently reviewing the case to decide if enough evidence has been given to move the matter to a Probable Cause hearing (via telephone).  Due to the fact that Committee for Vote miraculously filed the CFR at the last minute on Friday,  I have moved to withdraw two charges against Committee for Vote:
 "1.       Failure to file a Campaign Finance Report ten days prior to the general election. (211A.02)2.       Failure to report additional expenditures: print and online advertising (WoodburyPatch.com, Woodbury Bulletin, South Washington County Bulletin newspapers and WoodburyBulletin.com): approximate cost $1440.00.  (211A.02)"
However, I stand by the other charges.

A few items to note on the 10 Day report:

It would seem that Mary Scholz once again missed an important line - "Project Title or Description" is left blank.  Perhaps that was intentional because Ms. Scholz was confused about exactly what she reporting in this section (it's starting to look like Ms. Scholz wasn't given any training on CFRs)?  It looks like she may have been using this area to itemize donations over $100, but it's hard to tell for sure: "Name and Address of Recipient" leads one to believe that the Committee for Vote spent $2500 for Advertising with Kraus Anderson and $2500 for Promotion with the Principals Association.  However, given the amount of money listed in the "Contributions" section, it is more likely that these two organizations would have donated to Committee for Vote and Mary Scholz, in her hurry to file before the 4:30pm close of the DSC on Friday, October 25, 2013, failed to properly fill out the CFR. Again.

Looking closer at the contributions (if that is what these are) and the organizations, it is also important to note that Kraus-Anderson is one of the largest construction firms in the state, and is more than likely the company that will benefit the most by Question 3 - the bond levy - and part of Question 2 - "Safe Schools - passing because it is likely that Kraus-Anderson will be awarded the construction contracts, since it was the company that was awarded the last major construction contract in South Washington County - the $90 million East Ridge High School.

Furthermore, "Principals Assoc," probably is short for "South Washington County Principals Association" which is the formal way of saying "Principals' Union."  "DSC" stands for "District Service Center." Amazing! The Principals Assoc has the same address as the District Service Center.  No wonder the union would want to contribute $2500 to the levy campaign - they probably owe that much for their office space in the DSC...that is paid for by taxpayers...and who else will benefit by a levy passing?  That's right, the principals - when they go to negotiate their contracts they can point to the levy increase (which, by the way, all goes into the District's GENERAL FUND) and say, "We supported the levy increase! You got the levy increase! So give us raises!" Guess what else?  The school principals pay dues to the union.  It was union dues that paid the Committee for Vote $2500 to convince taxpayers that the district needs more of their hard-earned money.  Where does the principals' dues come from?  Out of their paychecks.  How are their paychecks funded? BY THE TAXPAYERS.  Any more questions?

In the Woodbury Bulletin article about the complaint against Committee For Vote, Winnie Williams is quoted:
"....she has talked to people involved in past pro-school levy campaigns and they don’t recall a similar level of scrutiny paid to their activities. 'I don’t know where it comes from,' Williams said."
Gee, Winnie, I wonder???

Updated 4:04pm October 30, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Campaign Finance/Fair Practices Rules Complaint Filed on School Levy Vote Yes Committee

Press Release

Campaign Violation Complaint filed against “Committee for Vote” aka “833 Yes Yes Yes”

For Immediate Release on Monday, October 28, 2013

Woodbury, Minnesota, October 28, 2013:  A Complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings has been filed against the South Washington County School District833’s Levy Vote Yes committee (“Committee for VOTE” aka “833 Yes Yes Yes”) on Monday, October 28, 2013.  The complaint alleges the following violations of the 2012 Campaign Financial Reporting andFair Campaign Practices (MN Stats. 211A and 211B):

1.      Failure to disclose campaign financial information: “$0” total contributions, yet expenditures total “$3236.50” with “$2200.00 cash on hand.” (211A.02

(Exactly whom has donated? According to co-Treasurer, Mary Scholz, it is small bucks from "parents and schools unions"...)

2.      Failure to properly fill out first Campaign Financial Report: no “Office Sought or Ballot Question” listed on Line 2 (211A.05).
3.      Failure to file a Campaign Finance Report ten days prior to the general election. (211A.02)
 (According to District 833 Communications Officer, Barbara Brown, there were several CFRs filed on Friday by 3pm, but none of them were from "Committee for VOTE.")

4.      Failure to report additional expenditures: print and online advertising (WoodburyPatch.com, Woodbury Bulletin, South Washington County Bulletin newspapers and WoodburyBulletin.com): approximate cost $1440.00.  (211A.02

5.      Failure to list use of address and conference room in Parkwood Place building (7650 Parkwood Place, Woodbury, MN; Suite 270 leased by Carter Bergen, PA, building owned by JBL Properties): estimated rental cost (from http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/17616038/7650-Currell-Blvd-Woodbury-MN/) divided by 2 (approximate shared total rental cost $1062.00): $560/month, beginning in June 2013. Estimated Cost: $2655.00 (211A.02)
Contrary to the FB post shown below, Mary Scholz claims the Committee for VOTE uses the conference room at the above address.
 6.      Failure to post signage at 7650 Parkwood Place, Suite 270, Woodbury, Minnesota designating office as “Committee for VOTE” location. (211B.04)
7.      Failure to file Final Campaign Finance Report or Yearly Reports for “Committee for Vote” – campaign committee formed during ’06-’07 South Washington County School District 833 levy referendum campaigns in the years since the committee was formed. (211A.02, 10A.20)

8.      Failure to use correct mailing address on signage and other campaign material (see attached). (211B.04

The "slander" referred to here was one tweet by none other than yours truly, MNHockeyMama, pointing out the fact that the management company of the building at the address listed on all the Committee for Vote's material (except the decals, those have no address at all), had no record of them as building tenants. Somehow, that tweet became "news."

Decal handed out by the Vote Yes committee - see any address or "Paid for by..." statement? Yeah, me neither.
9.      Failure to amend signage, website, Facebook page and online advertising when notified of incomplete address. (211B.04)

This sign and another popped up in my neighbor's yard on Saturday, October 26, 2013. There is nothing "amending" the address listed on the sign - a handwritten scrawl is all it would take to be compliant - apparently, Committee for VOTE believe they're above the law.  I used to believe that it was ignorance and stupidity. Now I know it is arrogance.

An expedited hearing has been requested. 

Updated: October 30, 2013