The questions were sent by Connect2Culture President and CFO Clifford Wert, the former head of the Joplin Progress Committee, representing a board that, according to its website, includes former R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff among its members.
Wert, a resident of the Webb City R-7 School District, was the first citizen to question Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder at his introductory press conference, asking him about his leadership philosophy, seeming to want to know if he was going to go about running the district with the same policies as Huff.
In the message to the candidates, Wert notes that IRS regulations do not allow Connect2Culture, a 501c3 organization to endorse candidates, which raises the question of what would be the purpose of collecting the information.
501c3 groups are allowed to provide information as long as it has done in a non-partisan fashion, but this seems to be another way for the former Joplin Progress Committee members, who are already pouring money into the board of education campaign to spread the word about which candidates they should support.
This could easily be done through use of the intertwining organizations that have attempted to push through their vision of what Joplin should be no matter what the costs, including Citizens Advisory Recovery Team and Bright Futures Joplin.
The text of Wert's message is printed below:
I am writing to you in my role as President and CFO of Connect2Culture. We view the upcoming April election to be crucial to Joplin’s future and to our ongoing efforts of growing the cultural offerings for our City and its citizens, especially our succeeding generations represented by our children and students.
The views of all candidates are extremely important to the Board of Connect2Culture and the constituency of those who support our efforts and pay attention to our various forms of communication. As a 501c3, Connect2Culture cannot and will not endorse any one candidate over another.
Therefore, we request your written response to the following questions. Please remit those responses directly back to me and copy our Community Arts Director, Emily Frankoski, who is copied on this email by March 7, 2016.
1. State your vision for student participation through the Joplin Schools in the varied aspects of cultural arts in Joplin.
2. Are you supportive of the School-Community Partnership proposed by Connect2Culture at the November 2014 School Board meeting? If yes, why? If no, why not? Please explain/elaborate.
3. How do you see the Joplin Schools partnering with Connect2Culture’s efforts to establish an Arts, Entertainment, Education, and Historic District from 7th to 10th Streets from Joplin to Wall Avenues?
4. What other open-end comments regarding cultural arts in Joplin would you like to make?
Thank you for your desire to serve our community and its students. We look forward to receipt of your reply. If you would like to meet with me personally to garner additional information that would potentially assist in your response, please reply to this email and we’ll coordinate a date and time.
What purpose could this letter have other than to provide information that could influence voters?