Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 1, 2013

Robocalls give added stir to issue on district utility tax

WESTWOOD — Some voters in the Fairview school district are angry about robocalls they say are propaganda disguised as polls.

The calls purport to be polls about the 3 percent utility tax opponents are trying to defeat, but are actually attempts at discouraging people from voting against it, opponents say.

“Under the guise of taking a poll, they are saying things like ‘are you aware that if the utility tax is not passed, your child may have to be driven long distances to other county schools,’” said Joe Weis, a member of the committee spearheading the anti-tax campaign.

The committee Weis heads is collecting signatures — for the second time — on a petition to take the tax before voters. The school board enacted the tax in December but state law enables voters to rescind it via a special election if enough of them sign the petitions.

The committee already submitted one petition with enough signatures to trigger the election but the school board sued, claiming the petitions were improperly worded. The committee agreed at a court hearing to repeat the petition process using wording suggested by the judge.

Weis said he had listened only to a part of one of the calls captured on his answering machine, and based on the telephone number, it appeared to have been placed from Atlanta, Ga.

The calls apparently started coming Tuesday and several Westwood residents have called him since then complaining they have received the calls as well, he said.

Those residents described calls resembling a marketing technique called push polling, designed more to sway public opinion than to gauge it.

Fairview Superintendent Bill Musick said he knew nothing about the calls and that they had not been initiated from his office. He said he did not know whether any school board members had taken the action. “I can’t speak for the school board,” he said.

The board did not discuss or authorize any polls at its most recent meeting on Monday.

District finance director Ernie Sharp said he had not seen any bills or other evidence that the district is paying for a poll.

School board chairman John Burke refused to confirm or deny whether board members had initiated the calls. “We, as a board, are assessing the support for continuing operations of our school system through a 3 percent utilities tax,” he said.

The tax would be collected on gas, water, electric, sewer, telephone, satellite, and cable bills. The board has said it wants to use the proceeds for a major overhaul of the high school and addition of a middle-school wing.

Previous boards tried to enact similar measures in 2005 and 2007; both of them were rejected by voters.

Weis said the committee has collected almost as many signatures as it needs but will continue its drive. “We want to make sure we have plenty more than we need,” he said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (

606) 326-2652.

Text Only
Local News
  • Stumbo says Bissett 'handpicked' by McConnell

    Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo said Wednesday there’s an obvious reason the president of the Kentucky Coal Association has publicly defended Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s support of the coal industry.

    July 30, 2014

  • colepotteronline.jpg Acoustic jam night at Callihan's

    With the onset of  patio season, the staff at Callihan’s American Pub & Grill have adopted a new program for Wednesday’s open-invitation entertainment with the all new Callihan’s Acoustic Jam Session, providing a stage for local talent and a spotlight for a featured musician each week.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Golf scramble will benefit Paramount Arts Center

    Paramount Woman’s Association’s seventh annual Ladies’ Golf Scramble is scheduled for Aug. 11 at Bellefonte Country Club.

    July 30, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Parking, history, and some wiffleball

    The calendar flips to August tomorrow and some students in the area will be back in school next week.

    July 30, 2014

  • Students need better counseling to contribute more to the region, working group says

    A group studying how education can lift the economy of Appalachian Kentucky has several ideas, including a “counseling for careers” approach that would begin for students no later than middle school and continue through high school.

    July 30, 2014

  • Tensions rise among city commission members

    The controversy about City Manager Ben Bitter’s moving expenses revealed a division in the Ashland Board of City Commissioners.

    July 29, 2014

  • ambulance.jpg Ambulance flips on Winchester

     One minor injury was reported after a passenger car collided with an ambulance at the intersection in front of the Paramount Arts Center on Winchester Avenue around 10 a.m. Tuesday. Independent videographer Adam Black witnessed the accident and reported the ambulance was traveling south of Winchester with lights on and siren activated when it was struck in the rear quarter panel by a passenger vehicle that had a green light for the intersection and failed to yield for the emergency vehicle.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0730Grimes_080.jpg Grimes campaign comes to Lexington

    A recent poll that has twice previously shown Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes with a slim lead over incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell now has McConnell up by two points.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • U.S. 60 yard sale will be Friday and Saturday

    Bringing bargain shoppers from miles around, the U.S. 60 Yard Sale officially begins Friday morning in Carter County.

    July 29, 2014

  • John Cannon: Bracing to stand on her own 2 feet: 7/30/14

    My youngest granddaughter, who will turn 5 on Sept. 2, has been fitted with a pair of ankle braces to help prevent her from falling down so often.

    July 29, 2014