Save East Austin Schools PAC vs. Facts

How did something so wrong get into the League of Women Voters’ voting guide?

Cinde Weatherby, president of the League of Women Voters
Cinde Weatherby, president of the League of Women Voters (by John Anderson)

When it comes to voter guides, sometimes it's less buyer beware than voter beware. The new League of Women Voters of the Austin Area guide to the Nov. 7 election contains a misleading statement about the AISD bond election, courtesy of an outside pressure group. The LWV issues a guide for every election: This time, under "Arguments Against" AISD's $1 billion bond, it states: "The Bond Plan would discriminate based on race and class by closing only Hispanic and African American Title I schools in east Austin." The problem is, that's not true. Bond proposals are about spending, in this case on new and improved schools. In fact, its fate determines whether – if or when under­enrolled or structurally unsound campuses close – there will be a nicer, newer classroom waiting for them at their new school.

So how did this loaded statement get in a guide long-acclaimed for being balanced? Cinde Weatherby, president of the LWV, explained that the "for" and "against" sections are not written by the league, but provided by external groups, pointing to a disclaimer: "The League does not edit the material for spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors, nor perform fact-checking" on them. "We're providing you what the pros that are being said are, and what the cons are," she said. So who said the bond will close schools? According to LWV member Frances McIntyre, who worked on the guide, the culprit is the Save East Austin Schools PAC. So why would the league risk its own credibility by including a provable falsehood in its guide? "If we started fact-checking, then we would become liable," McIntyre said.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

AISD Bond, November 2017 Election, League of Women Voters, SEASPAC

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