Anti-Charter School Signs Mysteriously Disappearing

Group opposing a new charter school proposal said dozens have their signs have been swiped.

Who is the sign swiper?

Dozens of portable roadside signs that profess opposition to a new public charter school in Novato have been stolen in the past week. The signs say "Get Informed. Tell the Board No New Charter School."

The group that placed them all over town doesn't know who the perpetrators are but has an idea it might be someone who would like to see the proposed North Bay Academy be approved by the Novato Unified School District on Dec. 18.

The Save Our Novato Schools group opposes the efforts of the North Bay Educational Foundation to create a new public charter school for kids from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade at a site to be determined later if the school board approves the petition. The foundation plans to appeal to the Marin County Office of Education if the bid is denied by Novato trustees. (NUSD is to present its staff report on the issue at a board meeting at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 11). 

SONS co-founder Ross Ingels said dozens of signs approximately 2 foot wide and 1 foot tall were taken from locations all over the city. He said put up about 30 of them last Saturday and they were all gone by Sunday morning.

"Because of how many disappeared at the same time, we know it was a concerted effort," said Ingels, who noted that the sign stealer(s) would've had to act at the height of last weekend's torrential downpour.

Robert Verhoeff, a co-founder of the North Bay Educational Foundation, said there are two SONS signs in a neighbor's yard right across the street from his house.

"I know nothing about this and I don't know anybody associated with our effort who does," he said.

SONS bought about 100 signs and originally placed some of them in locations that were not approved by city ordinance. A complaint was filed and SONS relocated the signs, Ingels said.

"We're disappointed, but it is what it is," he said. "We kind of expected it was going to happen. ... Now we have a lot of them on private property. It'll be interesting to see what happens."

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Tina McMillan December 08, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Craig Like many members of NCA I support Toni and I support the North Bay Education Foundation Charter. What ever you may think about charter supporters you will be surprised to find us standing beside you on a number of local issues ranging from the expensive downtown office debacle to the need for real change at the county level. I remember when the signs were torn down near Toni's house as well as the awful things said about her in the Patch. Members of SONS have done the same to the charter board and its supporters. If residents want to be truly informed please take the time to go to the NBEF site and read about the Core Knowledge curriculum. There are many of us willing to come to the community to describe the program and what it has to offer. Unlike SONS members that were invited to speak at PTA meetings NBEF members have been excluded from the start. I some how doubt that your perception of the my way or the highway crowd is very accurate if you are comparing Toni's supporters to the charter opponents. This is an issue with members in both groups and where misinformation has permeated the dialogue. It can't hurt to read what the charter has to say. I think a great woman once said information and knowledge are power.... http://www.northbayedu.org/
Barbie Barbarina December 08, 2012 at 03:39 AM
My word, you come across really, REALLY angry and I'm not sure why. It seems to me everyone's hands have gotten a little dirty in this debate. I'm not sure that you can accurately portray NBEF as absolute angels - or SONS as these diabolical monsters. I mean, really. I might also point out that you come across as SUPER defensive, and generally - when somebody hasn't done anything wrong - they don't spend copious amounts of time explaining why they didn't do something. Know what I mean? It's like you're over-explaining why NBEF didn't have anything to do with the signs that disappeared. It's a Friday night. Sit back and relax.
Craig Knowlton December 08, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Plausible theory, except they disappeared on Saturday or Sunday apparently.
Jimmy The Greek December 08, 2012 at 03:57 AM
By that rationale it could also be Father Luke's M.O to say he was harassed when he wasn't. I doubt it. But it could be. I'd like someone to quote something written by a member of SONS that was nasty. I can't recall reading any posts by Ross Ingels or Michael Christian that were nasty in any way. You can't attribute all the negative posts from anonymous posters to SONS, although Tina seems to. That would be like saying all the phony names posting in favor of the Charter are the NBEF board. Saying SONS has made slanderous accusations is pretty serious. I'd like to know what those slanderous accusations are. As far as Father Luke being harassed...that is a shame. As a member of Nativity of Christ Church, I respect Father...but I'd also like to see him spending more time on issues within our community than on secular, selfish ones regarding this charter school.
Craig Belfor December 08, 2012 at 03:57 AM
2 statements- 1) Every private school that charges admission takes students out of the public school system, leaving more funds per student for the kids who actually go there. True, the demographic polarization of upper class schools will have social implications later, but freedom of choice is as important as freedom of speech. 2) The free speech thing is at stake when signs are stolen. While people have to put up with my crazy posts from time to time, it's part of the free speech thing, and I see a bigger problem here when it's stifled. If the charter schools take public funds and don't like the heat, then go private, and pay your own way, unhampered by the public opinions and rules. It's a form of segregation, but what isn't? Housing, cars, clothes, schools-they're all a way of us trying to separate ourselves from people with whom we don't want to be associated. The difference here is public funds.
Jimmy The Greek December 08, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Marys Mama December 08, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Trust me, I'd love to know that my tax dollars were so hard at work that a code enforcement officer was taking care of business on a Saturday night. But somehow, I'm gonna guess that's not the case. And blaming Mother Nature? Don't get me wrong, that was one heck of a storm, but it's not like Hurricane Sandy blew through town. You're telling me that the "storm" we had was enough to pull the metal stakes out of the ground, lift the signs up into the wind, which then apparently took ALL of them to a far enough destination that nobody's reported finding an errant sign land nearby? Sounds sort of Wizard of Oz-ish to me.
Marys Mama December 08, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Listen, we all get it. You want the charter. You don't like SONS. But I can't figure out how you can actually justify: "... SONS has made repeated false and slanderous accusations to the point that it is impossible to separate the lies from the truth." "Wouldn't it be just like SONS to stir the proverbial pot by taking their own signs down and then accusing the opposition." "This ugly tactic is part of a campaign filled with negative rhetoric and lies and that will only hurt the community by its actions. Enough SONS." Have you played NO role in a "campaign filled with negative rhetoric" ??? It seems these three statements I've extracted from your post are pretty negative - and uncalled for. Those with homes of glass ....
John Parnell December 08, 2012 at 08:09 AM
Craig - I totally agree with you about the freedom of speech deal with the signs. If someone really did steal them, then it is deplorable. And as crazy as you may be, i think I usually tend to agree with your comments. However, I don't follow the logic on point 1. If more kids leave the public system for private, how does the funding increase for those remaining public school students? I thought the bulk of the funding follows the student. Is that not true? I think the biggest drawback to making this charter private would be that the students who it would help the most wouldn't be able to attend. Have you checked out this Core Knowledge curriculum, beyond what's been written locally? It is the EL and ED students who are benefitting the most. Forcing it to go private would deny many that freedom of choice you mention, and be even more polarizing. But the option doesn't seem to be NUSD or private - it's NUSD or county. Do we want a public county charter, where no funds go to NUSD? MM - I admit, blaming it on the weather sounds a bit far-fetched, but I think it is as credible a theory as Mr. Ingels's accusations. Who stands to benefit from this publicity? Do you think anyone at NBEF would do this a week before the NUSD vote? And who got themselves into the news cycle one more time? Call me crazy, but I think the most credible theory is SONS self-sabotage.
Jennifer Baldwin December 08, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Assuming it is the Charter School proponents who are taking down the signs is simply making an assumption that serves one groups individual purpose. I am tired of seeing disintegrating signs in my neighborhood posted by the city to inform about paving plans. I'm also tired of driving by the falling apart or outdated youth sports signs just as I tired of driving by the hordes of political candidate signs last month. Does this make me against the paving plans, anti-youth or anti-government? Absolutely not. I just prefer to not look at trashed up yards, littered sidewalks and cluttered road medians.
Craig Belfor December 08, 2012 at 04:33 PM
All of the things that upset you fall into the free speech package, so it's easy to see the downside. Free speech also includes the bums that get $200 a day begging across from Macdonalds and then spend it at the liquor store. They have a sign, so they qualify.
Nancy Prince December 08, 2012 at 05:09 PM
My kids are 28 and 25 and neither of them went to schools in Novato, mostly because they were almost out of high school when we moved here. That is my disclaimer. What I would like to direct your attention to is the CA Federation of Teachers website: cft.org. On the homepage there is a link to a short 8 minute video that was paid with union dues by way of your tax dollars in the form of teacher salaries. The video is an insult to anyone who funds the public school system by way of their property taxes, bonds and other assessments. I encourage you to see what message the CFT wants to send to you, the parents, who just want a good education for their children. The "contact us" area of the website has some easy and quick ways to express your opinions. Good luck to you all!
Nancy Prince December 08, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I forgot one important thing about the video. The one on the website today is not the original. Sometime between Wednesday night when I saw the original on the news and Thursday morning the most insulting part was removed. At approximately the 2:56 minute mark when the "rich" guy is high up on the scale and when the dialogue is something like trickle down to you, the original video has him urinating on the taxpayers below. I wish I were making this up. Although the video was altered, the audio was not. Turn up your speakers and you can still hear the urinating.
Jennifer Baldwin December 08, 2012 at 07:53 PM
The bums at least have only one sign at any given intersection, which they take with them when they depart. I'm not against free speech, just against a dozen signs in disrepair in the same short median stretch.
Andrew randolph December 09, 2012 at 01:47 AM
How ridiculous an argument can these people make (Tina, John)...Tina says "Unlike SONS members that were invited to speak at PTA meetings NBEF members have been excluded from the start." Isn't the founder of this charter , Mary Lonson, the President of Novato PTAs??? So if the opposition is invited to meetings, that alone should tell you how the PARENT TEACHER Assoc feels about it. And if Mary Lonson, as President, could not get their backing, doesn't it stand to reason that there is not broad support? Maybe she should have asked them first rather than try to pull a fast one and sneak this through quickly with a few of her select friends! Go ahead Tina, explain that one away, let the spin begin.......
Tina McMillan December 09, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Not surprised by your comments given the false information you are also spreading on a prior post. "Almost every CK school in California is in PI." Not true. Schools on the SONS website actually got out of PI using Core Knowledge or were able to help their population of ELL kids by keeping the Core Knowledge curriculum and targeting the struggling groups. Just cause SONS says its so doesn't make is so.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr December 09, 2012 at 06:19 AM
I support the Charter School. Regardless of that, the removal of signs belonging to those opposing the Charter School is a disgrace to the history of American democracy. Shame on you. Democracy in this country was hard fought and hard won, and its deterioration is indicative of our loss of democratic principles.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr December 09, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Please Google Louisiana school vouchers. The state passed a law that provided a voucher system for low income students who attended schools that failed state performance criteria so that the students could seek a non-public school education. The Louisiana teachers unions have sued the state to force the students back to the failing schools. Do you still think that unfettered unions are a good idea?
Chester B. Henry December 09, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Andrew, Please do not listen to the posters who commented on your posting . Some people post false rumors all day long and then they always say the other posters are the ones posting them . This is a common practice for them and most people have stopped reading the posts from them as they are tired of the garbage . .
Andrew randolph December 09, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Mary Lonson is the President of Novato PTAs. Tina makes the statements that PTAs excluded her school. That is hardly a believable claim. I also learned that Mary runs the PTA meetings.
TAK December 09, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I recently met Father Luke Palumbis. His advice was to stay focused on the real issue and to engage with anyone who wants to discuss. First, ask their opinion, then listen carefully to their answer. Chances are, you will find common ground. You may well agree to disagree, but when both sides feel heard and understood, everyone can move forward more effectively. We are discussing the education of our children. The stakes are high. Those most involved and informed likely feel the most strongly and have studied the situation and probably feel that they are right. Facts are facts, but, no one’s opinion is more valid than anyone else’s. As I read this article critically and consider the opinions offered, Ross is right. Tina is right. Even Barbie is right – hopefully we can all try and remain calm and respectful as the Trustees make their decision. Dr. Cunningham will present the NUSD staff report at the special charter school workshop on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 6pm at the 7th Street offices.
Andrew randolph December 11, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Tania, unfortunately for you, you lost any credibility a long time ago in this. So did the few other people trying convice us it is more than people see it for.
LoveNovato December 11, 2012 at 07:51 PM
That's funny, I only see TAK, how did you know her name? Anyway, the point TAK is making is valid, not sure what you are talking about with regards to credibility. There's no one position being pushed in what was said. TAK is not trying to convince you of anything other than everyone has a valid point. Most posts on these thread push one opinion or another, including yours, but this one doesn't. I just think what you said discourages meaningful dialogue. But because you don't agree with her position, nothing she says has any credibility?!
Tina McMillan December 11, 2012 at 07:56 PM
AR Your posts show a pattern of repeating hostile and false allegations. Perhaps its time to let each person speak for themselves. The idea that a Priest would say continue to reach out to the community and answer questions regarding the charter is pretty much what clergy are about. They trust that the goodness in people will win out over the bias. Just to keep the conversation accurate. No, MJ does not "run" the PTA meetings. Each school has its own PTA with its own leaders. Serving as PTA council president doesn't give you any sort of inside track. It would be a conflict of interest to do so. On the other hand, SONS members that are also heads of their local PTA's have not followed in kind. They have taken advantage of any opportunity to lambaste the charter. SONS has stated that the district would lose between 3 and 4 million dollars a year if the charter is granted. That has proved false. The district, only calculating the loss of lowest paid teachers, puts it at $1.4 million but when you deduct an average of the pay earned by teachers who actually want to teach at the charter, along with other associated expenses for which the district is no longer responsible and then you add in the revenue the district collects for SELPA, administrative costs, and rent, the effect is neutral.
Andrew randolph December 11, 2012 at 09:16 PM
oh, gee I dunno...... TAK 4:29 pm on Monday, November 5, 2012 Tania
Barbie Barbarina December 11, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Surely I'm not the only one who thinks this thread (and all charter posts) has jumped the shark. Dialogue requires talking AND listening. Instead, anyone who wishes to express his or her opinion, personal observations or anecdotes is "talked over" and accused, in the most recent instance, of engaging in a "pattern of repeating hostile and false allegations." In my cursory review of AR's posts, I'm not finding hostile and/or false allegations. Is he making false allegations because he questions what a priest said? And you KNOW that's false because clergy "are good" and we should blindly accept that? Ask a victim of priesthood abuse. Just because somebody doesn't "run" (i.e. moderate) a PTA meeting, it's disingenuous to say that her position isn't relevant to the discussion about potential conflict of interest. Having served for many, many years in leadership roles within NUSD PTA's I can assure you it creates a sense of discomfort for some of us - as our leadership resource, I should be able to go to her and flush this out. I, for one, don't feel comfortable doing this, knowing her stance on the issue. To all the perpetual posters out there, please stop the aggressive posting, please stop accusing people of things ... not every post requires a wordy response (yes, indeed, I did see your first post to the "crystal ball" post yesterday - even then, you couldn't just answer the two questions - and you were rightfully reprimanded for it!)
Andrew randolph December 11, 2012 at 09:25 PM
not gonna get in to it, but it stands to reason that wehn you say Mary was excluded from PTA that it is a complete joke. She is the president adn I confirmed with our PTA that she runs the meeting agendas. I was even told that she recently said there wouldnt be any discussion about the charter at their meetings. Have fun trying to rationalize that alone with your twisting logic, no interest in talking with you. The facts are what they are.
John Parnell December 11, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Andrew - Your sweet comments exemplify your side's unwillingness to engage in any respectful way. You called me crazy, because I like this curriculum & think the charter deserves a chance. You are rude to anyone with whom you disagree. It doesn't seem that you are capable of engaging in a respectful tone. TAK's comment is about the most even-handed one that has been posted on this issue. Saying that people on both sides are right, quoting a priest to say that both sides should engage, yet should remain respectful; and all you can say is a rude comment. If I remember correctly, your good manners go beyond this issue. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you just as rude to me a few weeks ago, because I voted for Marc Levine instead of your Michael Allen, and you refused to accept his loss, when I wrote a note of congratulations to Assemblyman Levine? I don't think TAK is the one with a credibility problem, and I do think someone with your hostility would have no problem threatening a priest. Was that you, Andrew?
LoveNovato December 12, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Here's the lesson here...people are extra annoying/aggressive/hateful when you don't agree with them. That's it. There's no point in trying to say this person is more hostile than the other, it all depends on which side of the line your opinion happens to fall.
David Randolph December 12, 2012 at 03:55 PM
What gives this group the right to post those awful looking signs all over town? They're nothing more than litter. In fact, if this city council could muster more than one brain, they'd outlaw the posting of political signs—period. It seems as though we have some election going on every few months. Does a sign really influence a person's decision in voting? I seriously doubt it. But three cheers to whomever is making these signs vanish. They shouldn't have appeared in the first place, but unions love to force things on people.


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