Central Valley SD and the Shea Machine
The On-going Assault on the Central Valley School Board
The attempted takeover of Central Valley School District Board (CVSDB) by far right Shea Republicans did not end with the voting in the November 2 General Election. Prior to the election, CVSDB meetings were disrupted by a fired-up group of parents protesting mask mandates; recall petitions were filed against seated Board members who were not up for re-election; a write-in candidate, Brett Howell (remember that name), filed against Teresa Landa, a previously uncontested candidate for one of two open seats on the Board; and a bogus “non-profit” (Washington Citizens for Liberty) was used by Pam Orebaugh, a candidate for the other open seat, and her ally, Rob Linebarger, to gather an undisclosed amount of money to support all of this political maneuvering. (More orientation is available here.)
Reasonable people came to the defense of the CVSDB by mounting a write-in campaign to elect Stan Chalich, a retired educator, to challenge Orebaugh.
In a general election in which only 38.64% of voters registered in the CVSD turned in ballots, Pam Orebaugh, the anti-vaccination, anti-mask far-right candidate, was elected over write-in candidate Stan Chalich by 10,129 to 8,018 votes. Garnering eight thousand votes on a local write-in campaign is an impressive achievement (Howell managed only 3939 as a write-in for the other position, losing to Teresa Landa’s 15,412).
When Pam Orebaugh takes her seat on the CVSB she will be one of the six school board“directors”, against five of whom the triumvirate of Orebaugh, Linebarger, and Howell leveled nasty, venomous attacks. Those efforts included filing petitions to recall the three directors who were not up for reelection (petitions that were rejected by Judge Harold Clarke III in late October, finding every charge “legally and factually inadequate”).
Once Pam is seated will CVSDB meetings be further disrupted by her band of obstreperous anti-mask, anti-vaccination, anti-science, far-right followers? Will their ongoing nastiness make volunteering to serve in the unpaid position of school board director unpalatable to reasonable people? The campaign against the CVSDB shows no sign of letting up—despite the election results.
This pseudo-Christian movement railing against legal efforts to control the Covid pandemic always traces back to a few leaders, Caleb Collier, Matt Shea, and Gabe Blomgren. (See here and here.) Collier and Blomgren are joint hosts of “Church and State,” a podcast spread on Facebook, on which Brett Howell appeared on November 11th. In that podcast Howell spread lies, doubts, and innuendo against Teresa Landa (the candidate who bested Howell’s write-in campaign for CVSDB). Howell and Collier, if you click on the podcast, will waste a half hour of your time suggesting that Teresa Landa is ineligible to serve on the Board and calling for her to step down. This time there is no mention of a recall petition. Howell’s and Collier’s purpose is to rouse the anger and suspicions of their cult and anyone on the periphery they thing they can attract to their cause, not to mount an actual legal challenge. Jim Allen, writing in the Spokesman on November 11th gives Howell’s and Collier’s recognition with an article entitled “Newly elected Central Valley school board member’s residency challenged by opponent.” (No wonder that Howell and Collier speak fondly of Mr. Allen’s notice during their podcast.)
This podcast, entitled “EXPOSING FRAUD”, by yesterday morning had been shared 51 times and seen by “2K”, so this breathless bullshit has an audience of gullible Facebook followers. “Church and State”, the Facebook page says,
is about getting people plugged into politics and back into pews. The U.S. Constitution and the Holy Bible are our pillars & Only God King.
and “Dispelling the Myth of Church and State Separation”.
The address on the Facebook page is still that of Ken Peters’ non-denominational Covenant Church at 3506 W. Princeton on the near north side, but during the podcast Collier notes that funding is provided by “On Fire Ministries”, On Fire Ministries is located in a beehive of politico-religious activity in a warehouse building at 115 W. Pacific (just north of AutoRain), a building Matt Shea rented after he left Covenant following a dispute with Peters. Shea has launched a thinly documented new school, Kingdom Christian Academy, in order to support and insulate his politico-religious cult. If you take note of the names Collier, Shea, Blomgren, and Peters you will find they pop up with regularity among the ranks of the armed far right.
We ignore these people and this assault on school boards at our peril. Reasonable people need to attend school board meetings, take note of the goings on, and support the reasonable folk who are donating their time and expertise to the education of our children. If the Matt Shea, Pam Orebaugh, and Caleb Collier set succeeds in frightening good people away from serving on the school boards we are in for big trouble.
Keep to the high ground,