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Groups Divided on School Referenda Say It's Not Nasty, Yet

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

The questions have divided voters enough for two distinct camps to come out swinging ... in the pocketbook and in public relations.

People can find opinions about Tuesday's vote almost everywhere in yards, on the web and on the radio.

Nan Brien of Mad City Grumps, Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools, says "in the last two weeks, things have really heated up."

But have the issues and information gotten lost in the fury?

School board president Carol Carstensen says, "I think that I always appreciate a lot of discussion, but I often think that what is happening is not discussion but throwing brick at each other."

Supporters and opponents of the questions seem slightly more optimistic.

Kirby Brant of the group Get Real says, "I don't think it's gotten too nasty yet, but I think it is going to."

Brien says, "We have said from the outset that we respect each other's opinions. We're both trying to present the facts."

The race to get out the vote is one week away for referendum supporters like Brien.

The group has raised more than $5,500 to spread its message.

"We're gonna spend it all," she says.

Madison Cares, which also supports the referenda, has raised nearly three times as much.
Brant says, "I would think people would notice that it's a bunch of people financially interested in outcome, ganging up on taxpayers and using every kind of device."

Kirby Brant says Get Real has raised about $3,000 to get out the vote against the questions.

He says Get Real enjoys broad public support, unlike Madison Cares and Grumps. Nan Brien disagrees.

She says, "It’s all individual contributions."

No special interest groups, no unions.

Madison Cares counts among its supporters, Madison Teachers Inc. The union spent nearly $10, 000 in radio ads for Madison Cares, with $2,000 in a cash contribution.

But Madison Cares members say individual supporters outnumber special interest groups.

More information on the referenda, Mad City Grumps or Get Real can be found on the Web at:

Madison Metro Schools

Mad City Grumps

Get Real

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