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Sample Ballot for Tuesday's Election Contains Error

The sample ballot mailed out to Lawrence Township voters incorrectly instructs voters to “vote for two” candidates to fill a single two-year unexpired term on the school board.

The sample ballot that was mailed to Lawrence Township voters in advance of tomorrow’s (April 17) school board election, and contained an error.

The error appears on the school board election section where three candidates are listed to fill an unexpired term with two years remaining. The ballot incorrectly instructs voters to “Vote for two.”

There is only one 2-year unexpired term; voters will be allowed to vote for only one of the three candidates listed.

Lawrence Township Board of Education President Laura Waters said the error was noticed after the sample ballots were mailed out by the Mercer County Clerk’s Office. She said the correct instructions will appear on the ballot in voting machines tomorrow.

In addition, one of the three candidates listed for the 2-year unexpired term – Joshua Wilson – informed local media outlets recently that he did not wish to continue his candidacy for school board due to “an unforeseen personal obligation.” But his name will still appear on the ballot tomorrow because the deadline to withdraw from the election in time to be removed from the ballot was March 5.

A voters’ guide to the school board election put together by Lawrenceville Patch in cooperation with the Lawrence Township chapter of the League of Women Voters .

Polls will be open tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Polling locations are as follows:

Lawrence Township Polling Locations: April 17, 2012

General Election Districts

Polling Location

1, 4, 7, 15, 20

2, 5, 9, 10

3, 6

8, 12, 16

11, 14

13, 17, 18, 19, 21

Self-Preservation & Cronyism at Lawrence April 16, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Lawrence Township school board member violates the BYLAWS and jeopardizes the public trust. With the upcoming BOE elections less than a day away, there is an opportunity for candidates and existing BOE members to restore confidence in what has become an organization that does not abide by its own BYLAWS. LTPS BOE members are not allowed to serve if they have either ethical or financial conflict of interest according to the BOE BYLAWS. At least one currently serving BOE member enrolls their special needs child in the LTPS system, while choosing to send non-special needs children to private school. This split allegiance poses an ethical conflict of interest as it demonstrates a double standard – a true disbelief in an LTPS education. It also poses a financial conflict of interest as it allows them to direct school funds to programs that differentially reward their special needs child to the disadvantage of other students enrolled in the regular and advanced educational programs. The financial conflict of interest exists because there are quantifiable benefits to their family as a whole to direct school tax funds to the special needs programs that benefit them. This BOE member should resign from holding office.
Self-Preservation & Cronyism at Lawrence April 16, 2012 at 08:07 PM
The LTPS BOE is also at fault and should be publically admonished for its roll in ignoring this ethical and financial conflict of interest. By choosing to allow this individual to serve on the BOE and not holding them accountable to their own BYLAWS, they have violated the public trust they are charged to withhold. There is no excuse for their lack of action. By acting as idle bystanders they are guilty of implicitly endorsing an individual with questionable motives. The BOE has failed to display the kind of ethical integrity they demand of LTPS students. For example, their inaction is incompatible with the criteria of accountability they demand of our students who witness bullying among their peers. Silence is implicit guilt. They are sending the message that hypocrisy is acceptable.
Self-Preservation & Cronyism at Lawrence April 16, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Application of the BYLAWS will benefit the community at large by restoring confidence in the importance of abiding by ethical standards in matters of public service. It will benefit both students and teachers of LTPS by restoring the perception of balance in the decision-making process that determines their futures. If the BOE fails to act in holding member accountable it will be approving the practice of ignoring community adopted BYLAWS of ethical standards. Expressed differently, it endorses the practice of gaming the system for personal advantage.
Bill Michaelson April 17, 2012 at 03:58 PM
There is not a single citizen in all of Lawrence that would not have some disqualifying conflict of interest according to your warped logic. Most school board members recuse themselves from certain votes when appropriate. Your claims of preferential treatment are specious. If you were really doing your homework, you would know that Laura Waters scrupulously separates her parental and public responsibilities. She represents all the children and citizens of Lawrence as a hard-working public servant for zero dollars and zero special preference. If she or her family benefit from her service, it is solely by virtue of the service she provides to us all. She did not abandon her right to send her children to any school of her choosing when she generously accepted the responsibility and the burden of her position as LTPS Board of Education President. She has never hidden her personal circumstances from the public - the same public that has affirmed their preference for her service at the polls three times. I don't see eye to eye with Dr. Waters on all issues, but I have never doubted her integrity or her dedication to ethically serving all Lawrence children. So you may call me her crony; but I know I am simply a colleague, and proud of it.
Dan Toto April 17, 2012 at 06:13 PM
I hope this new board of education does more for Athletics at the High school and middle school level than the last board did or School Superintendent attempted to do.. We need to be more mindful for the Athletic students who care about winning and bringing pride to the community. I am all for privatization of the Athletic Directors position.
Charles Dismukes April 18, 2012 at 05:56 AM
The difference is "(all) citizens of Lawrence (with) some disqualifying conflict of interest" did not choose to run for BOE office and thereby preserved public trust. They did the right thing. I do not share your view that all Lawrence citizens have disqualifying COI. A BOE member HAS a conflict of interest, whether real or perceived, when, by merely executing their elected function to vote, they make decisions that could produce substantial financial gain for their family. It should not be left to self-selected, voluntary, recusal. The BYLAWS are in place to prevent the mere POSSIBILITY of conflict of interest from occurring. No proof of conflict of interest is needed. No specific accusations need be made. They are there to protect the PUBLIC not the BOE; to ensure public CONFIDENCE in the way schools are funded; to reassure public TRUST. A common tactic of discredited individuals/criminals is to claim ignorance of rules/laws. If that does not work to gain credibility and leniency, respectively, they impune the morals/integrity of the whole community to disguise their own misbehavior and mitigate their penalty. Mr Michaelson, a former LTPS BOE member, was dismissed from this position after being accused of identity theft by impersonating a school district employee. He pleaded guilty at Mercer County State Superior Court to avoid a possible fine and jail term. http://www.zoominfo.com/#!search/profile/person?personId=589726709&targetid=profile Lawrence citizens step up!
Bill Michaelson April 18, 2012 at 09:53 AM
Playing hardball, are we? A guilty plea and dismissal from my position? A statement made, even about a public official, with reckless disregard for the truth is still libel, Mr. Dismukes. Check your facts, your reading comprehension, and then check with your attorney. Check your insurance, too.
Charles Dismukes April 18, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Correction - It appears that Mr. Michaelson was not dismissed from the BOE and is a currently serving member. Citizens - note how this individual reacts to a factual error, not by expressing clarification, but by threatening litigation first, and a vailed physical threat of retaliation (insurance?). Is this the kind of person you want setting ethical examples and making financial decisions with your $65M school budget? Do you see how the threat of legal action is the first recourse to action by this individual and those who, like him, are empowered by a false sense of entitlement? Mr. Michaelson - You had better hope that nothing unfortunate happens to me or members of my family. I could not have asked for a more incriminating response. Thank you for sharing your intentions in this public forum. It is appalling that a public official is allowed to continue in office after making a threat of physical intimidation. Whether I pay for a lawyer to defend against intimidation by a bully, or to provide for missing educational resources not available to my children in the LTPS public school system is a matter of personal choice. I hope that other citizens will feel empowered and come to my defense.
Bill Michaelson April 18, 2012 at 03:22 PM
You have not been physically threatened, in a veiled way or otherwise, Mr. Dismukes, to be clear. You have merely been alerted to your errors and invited to consider the potential consequences. Your correction is incomplete, and your libelous statement still stands, uncorrected, and you seem intent on further demonstrating your malice, a component of libel. I ask, politely, that you correct your statements on your own initiative. An apology would be appreciated, too. I thank you in advance.
Charles Dismukes April 18, 2012 at 07:19 PM
It is encouraging to see Mr. Michaelson's return to civil discourse and clarification of his words threatening both physical intimidation (thinly veiled) and litigation (overt). Civility is a pre-requisite to full participation in open public discourse by all citizens. By toning down his rhetoric, Mr. Michaelson has apparently returned to spirited, non-threatening, discourse. Accordingly, I eagerly respond in the spirit of conciliation and clarification, to offer my own further correction. Mr. Michaelson never pleaded quilty to the charge of impersonation. Rather, "Mr. Michaelson, who offered a not-guilty plea when he was arraigned in August, was accepted into the state Superior Court's Pre-Trial Intervention program in December. It is offered to first-time offenders involved in non-violent crimes." Had he not done so, "If convicted, he (would have) faced a maximum of 18 months in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000. The charge is a fourth-degree crime."
Charles Dismukes April 18, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Further, let me openly apologize to Mr Michaelson for both my factual errors, which I believe I have now corrected, and for my own highly emotional and inappropriate wording. In the end, we both need to participate in the process that brings balance to our school budget and restores confidence in the process by which it is attained. Some of my wording does not achieve that, and for this I am sorry.
Bill Michaelson April 19, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Thank you, Mr. Dismukes, I appreciate this. I have not tallied the factual errors nor have you explicitly enumerated them. But you have not explicitly retracted your assertion that I pleaded guilty to a crime. May readers infer this from your choice of the word "both" as being in reference to my initial objection? I agree that the school budget needs balance. Furthermore, I believe the definition of balance can be slippery, as balance is a simple concept, but budget development involves many competing considerations and is certainly not simple. I hope we agree on at least these points too. I can't speak for the Board of Education as an individual, but you are welcome to bring your concerns about budgetary matters before the full Board. There are opportunities for public comment at every regular meeting, and the full budget is always available on the ltps.org web site.
Bill Michaelson April 19, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Sir, it is no coincidence that we call it civil court. My discourse has been nothing but civil. I suggest that the erroneous inference you drew from my mention of (liability) insurance - a suggestion that could only benefit you - may reflect your own current disposition. Certainly, you did not deliberately misconstrue it for rhetorical purposes, did you? Regardless, I apologize for the miscommunication, and I hope you find this (second) assurance convincing. I do make mistakes. I ask that you consider that the people that serve on the school board are human beings with families who are your neighbors in the community. We are unpaid volunteers who suffer the wrath of every citizen that - justifiably or otherwise - thinks that some wrong has occurred. Occasionally, we get angry. Please try to imagine what that is like.
Charles Dismukes April 20, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Mr. Michaelson: Thank you for the clarification about why you urged me to seek insurance. Your response makes me and my family feel more at ease, less threatened. When confronted with statements that my logic (concerning the definition of COI) is "warped" (syn. deviant), and that my "claims ....are specious." (ie., groundless) I felt no recourse but to challenge you. Unfortunately, my tone was equally disrespectful as yours. That was the reason for my apology. I stand COMPLETELY by my previous comments refuting your (and other BOE members) interpretation of the BYLAWS concerning what constitutes COI. I have not leveled a single SPECIFIC charge of COI against any BOE member. I recapitulate, any BOE member that places their own service above guaranteeing the public's trust in BOE decisions is quilty of COI and should be dismissed. The perception of objective, fair, unbiased decision making is INDISPENSIBLE to the process. That perception has been egregiously violated and must be reversed, no matter how many other qualifying attributes a candidate may have. Voluntary recusal is not sufficient; not when a BOE member has rejected an LTPS education for their children but not their special needs child. If one can discriminate among ones own children, what choice might he/she make when when dealing with your neighbor's children? Restore trust. I doubt that anyone can see this response as all of my responses to you on PATCH are listed as DELETED, although all yours are visible.
Bill Michaelson April 20, 2012 at 11:31 AM
I don't know what you are seeing, but I suspect that you are misinterpreting the "Delete" option for a "DELETED" marker. As far as I can tell, all of your posts are visible to all; you haven't chosen to delete any. To the contrary, you have apparently chosen to reinforce the personal attacks by selectively amending your statements to insulate yourself from a lawsuit - ironically with my guidance. I am sorry you were offended by my initial post. A specious argument is one that is superficially plausible. I chose the word warped to describe the stretching of logic to an absurd extreme. Any parent may reasonably decide that different children should have different types of education and may avail themselves of such options. That is not a disqualification for BoE service. To the contrary, I believe it brings diversity of perspective to the Board and is beneficial. But that is ultimately for voters to decide, as they have. I respect your right to disagree with such an assessment, but... My comments were intended to describe your reasoning, not you personally. I hope, in a moment of introspection, you fully appreciate the distinction in the context of this entire thread.
Monica April 20, 2012 at 02:08 PM
These negative comments towards a board member who sends some of her children to private schools and has her child with special needs attend school in district are EXTREMELY INTOLERANT. She has every right, just like any other resident to make that choice. There is nothing "unethical" about her choices. If you really want to go there, ANYONE with ANY type of child (gifted, average, or special needs) who serves on the board would then have a "conflict of interest". If a BOE member has a child that is gifted, are we to feel that it is "unethical" for that person to serve on the BOE? That person might try to steer things to benefit gifted children at the expense of all other students. Really, what it amounts to, is if you really believe that this board member is not "ethical" for having a special needs child in district and serving on the board, you are intolerant of parents who have children with special needs. You are saying that residents of Lawrence Township who have children with special needs should not serve on the BOE because it would be unethical. Shame on you.
Charles Dismukes April 20, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Nonsense. Quite the contrary. Monica is attributing words to me that I have never uttered. All parents who wish to serve on the BOE should be encouraged. But one should not be allowed to represent the whole township as BOE when by ones own actions demonstrate no confidence in an LTPS education. That is the ethical conundrum. Further, by selectively availing oneself of the most costly LTPS services, it could free ones resources to support private education for ones other children. That would be a direct conflict of interest if one could not only vote on such matters, but set the agenda to ensure it is voted upon. Accusations of shame are INAPPROPRIATE. Intimidation like this is commonly used by special needs advocates. The shame belongs not to those of us who view this COI as unacceptable, rather consider those parents and individuals who are empowered by their special needs to take from other children their core educational needs. Two years ago the BOE leadership recommended cutting in half the Kindergarten program serving all our students. Although rejected by teachers and voters, during debate two special needs advocates commented at the public hearing: "Kindergarten was added to the curriculm after creation of the regular 1-12 program and was not really considered needed until recently" and , "Kindergarten is offered only half days in other districts, so why is this not okay in LTPS?" This belief is destructive and self-serving; Stop shaming. Stop COI.
Monica April 20, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I have no idea why you are suddenly bringing up things that special needs advocates have said at past BOE meetings. That has nothing to do with this subject. You clearly are also uneducated as to how much money is saved by a school district when a special needs child stays IN DISTRICT. It is state mandated that special needs children receive an education, whether it is provided in district or out. If a special needs child attends school out of district it costs twice, sometimes three or four times the amount of money it costs to have that same child stay in district. Sometimes this is necessary, and those children need a more specialized education that the school district cannot pay for. In this case, this particular BOE member is SAVING US MONEY by keeping this child in district. The school district does NOT pay to send the other children in that same family to private school. So, how exactly are WE as taxpayers being affected financially in any way??? We are being saved money in this situation! Your actions by publicly trying to shame this person, and also trying to shame Mr. Michaelson are ridiculous. You haven't thought this through...which is why I said "Shame on you". All you are doing is coming off like someone who is intolerant of special needs families.
Bill Michaelson April 20, 2012 at 05:29 PM
We all use government services or their alternatives selectively, depending on whether we find it convenient, preferable or necessary. There is no demonstration of "no confidence." There is simply a preference. Your characterization of the circumstance as a "conundrum" is wildly overblown. If you want all board members to keep all their children in public school, vote accordingly. You've been invited to describe how you might specifically reallocate funds, and it is your privilege to support candidates who represent your views. But LTPS has struggled to contain Special Education costs throughout Dr. Waters's tenure, successfully reducing out-of-district placement tuition costs by millions of dollars to the benefit of the entire Lawrence community. Your continued tirade against a dedicated and very hard-working board member is offensive. Your other ad hominem attacks are also offensive. Please, take some time to examine yourself and then perhaps, tell us what you want other than to simply denounce people. Do you have a specific policy recommendation? Stop questioning people's motives and integrity and get to the substantive specific issues. Then, there will be a chance to have the kind of "civil discourse" you claim to prefer.
mrs mom April 20, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Monica, I think the mere nature of your comments with regard to the expense of educating special needs children in specialized schools is, in actuality supporting, the argument that Ms. Waters has a conflict of interest. I would expect the BOE to be working toward an educational plan that would be beneficial to ALL students. Yet, by Ms. Waters sending her other children to private schools does not send the message to me that she has any confidence in the education provided by the Lawrence School District for every student. Yes, it may be her personal choice, and I agree that she is entitled to make such a choice. However, I would much rather see a BOE president who works hard and believes so strongly in the programs and education of the district that he or she would be proud to have ALL of his or her chidlren educated in LTPS.
Monica April 20, 2012 at 06:16 PM
mrs mom, i understand your position of wanting someone to serve on the BOE who sends all of their kids to LTPS, and it is your prerogative to vote accordingly for members who fit your criteria. My concern about these comments being made about her, are that they are inflammatory, ignorant, intolerant, and misinformed. Her choices have actually saved the township money, and since she has been the BOE President, the BOE has made massive strides in saving this school district enormous amounts of money on education special education students. Most of that money has been saved by bringing special education students back into district from private schools. It disturbs me that people are making such nasty comments, and claiming "COI" when someone has done our district such good. This is how we thank our public servants, who volunteer their time while making such a positive impact? At this point, who cares where her kids go to school?
Charles Dismukes April 22, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Mr Michaelson: Nice try, but “We all” don’t have the same opportunities nor power as BOE members to potentially serve themselves. You have missed the point or deliberately misrepresented the facts to serve your purpose. I doubt you need the following clarification, so this is to inform the general public. Ordinary citizens who do not serve on the BOE can only choose to use or not use LTPS to educate our children and there is no consequence on other families. We pay taxes regardless of whether we choose public or private schooling, and WE CANNOT VOTE on any specific financial decisions. We have no ability to choose any educational services from the LTPS menu. There is no ala carte for us; we have to buy the whole meal. On the other hand, BOE members not only get to choose the items that appear on our menu, but also the portion sizes and the quality of the ingredients. So, BOE members have complete control of how my tax dollars will be spent at LTPS, while I have no direct control. Hence, there are rules in place to prevent BOE missuse that could benefit their family. Rules that I contend have been ignored. This is why your analogy is bogus. Remarks such as yours should be viewed as self-serving or inept. The public should now.
Monica April 22, 2012 at 04:24 AM
The irony here is that Mr. Dismukes seems to have not educated himself on the incredible amount of money that this BOE has saved our taxpayers on educating special education students. Enormous reductions in money spent in this area does not constitute missuse or even appear to benefit this family. The public should know THAT.
Charles Dismukes April 22, 2012 at 04:41 AM
I have already expressed exactly what I and many other Lawrence citizens expect. We expect the BOE to aim for a higher standard of accountability. First, by removing members from serving who do not send ALL of their children to LTPS. Second, by not allowing future BOE service by such individuals even if they later bring all their children back into LTPS. The definition of COI is recognized by every lawyer and every judge. Whether the COI is actually acted upon or not is immaterial. The possibility of conflict is all that needs to exist. That’s in the BYLAWS. Please read them again. Third, institute a one strike and your out policy for all members who are given a court sentence for any crime while on the BOE. Lastly, I am disgusted with the indifference that BOE members and Dr. Lovell have displayed in not acting on these concerns over the last two years, especially knowing how widely they are held. This is not an irrational tirade the BOE is facing. It is not brought by a single individual. The BOE has heard the grumbles in the background for years and members have used denial or intimidation to thwart the will of the people. You must have seen this coming. Your efforts to scoff and humiliate the merits of this case make you equally culpable in the injustice. Two BOE members should make the honorable choice to resign.

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