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Watchdog Group Keeps An Eye On The Polls

A property tax watchdog group had volunteers keeping a close watch on the polls Tuesday to make sure everything was legal in the Post Falls school election.

“You want someone there just to keep an eye on things,” said Alan White, a member of the Kootenai County Property Owners Association, explaining that the school board conducts its own elections.

“While Idaho code provides for them, it is unusual to have them,” Janie Anderson, clerk of the school board, said of the poll watchers.

Their scrutiny of the polls brought criticism from some voters who support the school bond.

“Now that I know they did it, I think of them even less,” said Michael Hunt, who voted for the bond. “A watchdog group (for poll watching) is pretty much a waste of time.”

But opponents of the school bond appreciated the efforts of the property owners.

“It’s a good idea. It stops ballot stuffing,” voter Linda Jessop said.

Many voters were indifferent about the poll watchers.

To bond supporters, the information the Kootenai County Property Owners distributed over the weekend was more upsetting than their poll watchers.

The group left fliers on doorsteps and paid to insert them into local newspapers.

“It was dirty politics that they did it at the last minute,” Hunt said.

The group just recently decided what information to include, said White, explaining the timing.

Several bond supporters said the fliers contained misleading or inaccurate information. A quote from school board chairman Kevin Schneidmiller was out of context, Superintendent Dick Harris said.

The quote from Schneidmiller the group used in its fliers said, “…we could have built a new school for $14 million.”

Schneidmiller had continued to say that a $14 million school would not meet the school district’s needs, would not last as long as a more expensive school and, therefore, would be more costly in the long run.

“I take exception with most everything on there,” Harris said.

White said the property owners’ information is accurate.

“We stand by our fliers,” he said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Laura Shireman Staff writer Staff writer Heather Lalley contributed to this report.