The group that advocated for a yes vote in the recent Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 tax referendum raised less than 20 percent of what a similar group raised for a RB referendum campaign five years ago.
Communities United for Riverside Brookfield High School (CURB) reported raising $5,650 and spending $5,588.96 according to recently filed reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
In the 2006 bond referendum campaign Citizens for Riverside Brookfield High School raised $29,243 and spent $28,728.43 on the successful 2006 campaign.
The lackluster fundraising is perhaps one reason why this year’s referendum was overwhelmingly defeated on April 5 with almost 77 percent of voters voting no.
CURB reported only four contributions of more than $150. Contributions of $150 and below do not have to be itemized on the state campaign disclosure forms. Contributions that make up the first $3,000 raised are not reported according to Sharon Steward, the Director of Campaign Disclosure of the Illinois State Board of Elections.
The largest contributor to CURB, according to the state forms, was Employee Benefits by Design, the district’s long time insurance broker which contributed $500. In 2006 the firm donated $1,000 to the referendum campaign. Lisa Gouwens, who is apparently the wife of RB teacher Mark Gouwens, contributed $400 to CURB, former District 208 school board member Bill McCloskey contributed $250 and RB teacher Sandra Czajka contributed $200.
McCloskey and Gouwens names were misspelled on the campaign disclosure form.
The largest expenditures by CURB were for postage and mail services to prepare and mail out brochures. $3,179 was paid to Northwest Mailing Service, a Chicago direct marketing service provider that has handled RB mailings in the past. CURB also paid the Priority Print Shop in Brookfield $968.45.
In 2006 the pro referendum campaign committee hired the St. Louis based consulting firm Unicom ARC, a firm that specializes in running and advising school referendum campaigns.
In 2006 Citizens for RB paid Unicom ARC $13,821.51 for “consulting.” The committee could afford to hire Unicom ARC largely because it received $15,800 in contributions from the RB Boosters Club. The largest single contribution from the Boosters, $8,000, came nearly two months after the 2006 referendum and was used to make a $7,821.51 payment to Unicom ARC a few weeks later.
This year CURB tried to run the yes campaign without relying on professional help.
McCloskey, the chairman of the 2006 referendum campaign committee, said that he didn’t think the failure of CURB to hire a professional consulting firm played any role in the defeat of the referendum this year. He said that the bad economy was the key factor.
“Those poor people had an uphill battle all the way,” McCloskey said.
No groups which worked against the referendum filed reports with the state Board of Elections. Groups are not required to file with the state until they raise or spend $3,000 on an election and the two groups that advocated for a no vote said they spent much less than that.
Christina Tobin, of National Taxpayers United of Illinois said that her group spent about $1,200 on fliers that were handed out by volunteers. Ed Mantel of Riverside, who said Monday that he was one of dozen or so people behind RBHStaxpayers@gmail.com, said that his group spent “less than a grand” to mail out about 1,500 oversized postcards asking people to vote against the referendum.
Riverside village board member Lonnie Sacchi, who helped organize the people who passed out the Tobin’s group’s fliers, said that his expenses amounted to about $12, the cost of lunch for two volunteers.