Some answers to Dan Mooney’s ‘lingering questions’ |

Some answers to Dan Mooney’s ‘lingering questions’

Ron Knecht

Dan Mooney’s column in the Nov. 22 Appeal (“Lingering questions …”) is inaccurate and unfair concerning newly elected Carson City school trustee Joe Enge. It’s also condescending to voters and illogical. So, I’m disappointed in my friend Mooney.

Mooney accuses Enge of “an apparent grudge against the school system,” but he does not even say what the alleged grudge is, let alone give any evidence of it. I know Joe Enge from working with him on various matters, including his campaign. First-hand, I know him as a good family man, fine teacher, outstanding textbook author and serious student of public policy and history.

Enge ran for the school board not on a grudge but on a desire to help an underperforming system do better for our children. He won with a clean, positive, issues-based campaign. His opponent, an incumbent trustee, lost by spewing lies and hate, such as the claim that Enge has dedicated his life to undermining education.

Mooney uses the smear tactics that have become staples with the district administration and board and their apologists, especially the Appeal, to stifle dissent, critics and serious discussion of issues. For example, he alleges that Enge “points to false causes for reasons other than contributing to the development of our children and the improvement of our culture.” Mooney does not identify the alleged false causes. Worse, he alleges base motives (“for reasons other than contributing …”) without specifying what the motive is or giving any evidence to support the smear.

Similarly unfounded and erroneous are Mooney’s other smears and labels: “far right”; “political ideologue”; “appears to be angry with the Carson City School District”; “appeasing angry feelings” and “may represent the activist part of that anger.” Anger was not part of Enge’s campaign, but was at the center of his opponent’s campaign. Even Mooney admits that Enge ran to “… make sure someone challenged ideas,” but then he tries to twist that into a negative too.

Mooney condescends to voters by denigrating their choice of Enge and Barbara Howe over two incumbents as a “stunt.” Enge was elected by a strong margin, which Mooney specifies before he speculates that voters had (again unspecified) “misgivings” about Enge and suggesting that “voter anger” was a key. Mooney holds himself out as a Nevada conservative, but his arguments are gutter-low enough to have come from any arrogant benighted liberal in San Francisco, Boston or Washington.

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Mooney is illogical in calling Enge’s opponent “highly qualified,” even though he’s not employed and ran a low-road campaign. The opponent also claimed in a public forum that bullying problems in our schools are the fault of President Bush because, he said, America is “a bully.”

In trying to explain why voters passed the school bond issue, Mooney illogically overlooks the real stunt of the local political year: the sneaky move by the city to contingently increase its taxes by almost as much as school taxes would have declined if the bond issue was defeated. That stunt helped pass the bond issue, and city supervisors should be made to answer for it at the next election.

Mooney also spends a lot of ink on the illogical apology for public education that local educrats hide behind: blaming parents and society for all their own shortcomings and the failures of the public school system. He parrots their argument that seems to be that if one can cite a single social problem that’s not the fault of our schools and educrats, then one has proven that the educrats and the system are absolutely blameless and have nothing for which to account.

The voters to whom he and they condescend saw through that nonsense, just as they see through the Appeal’s continuing puffery for statist liberals in our local school, city and state establishments and its suppression and distortion of conservative viewpoints (which I haven’t space to cover here). That’s why they elected Enge, despite the Appeal’s endorsement of his opponent. Publication of Mooney’s smarmy lecture shows only that he, the Appeal and the educrats need to listen with open minds and learn, instead of continually attacking.

Students, families, voters, taxpayers and the many good teachers all deserve better than the current leadership is delivering. They’ll get it from Joe Enge, despite Mooney’s opinion.

• Ron Knecht, of Carson City, is an economist, engineer and law school graduate who teaches part-time at WNCC and was recently elected a university regent.