Thursday, October 28, 2004

Northwest levy fight bitter

Opponent claims threats; police investigating

By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer

COLERAIN TWP. - A critic of Northwest Schools told police he's received calls threatening his family, the latest incident amid heated debate as voters face a combined 5.75-mill tax levy for the district.

Colerain Township Police escorted a levy campaign leader out of a Northwest school board meeting room on Monday night, and a levy foe criticized a board member's personal finances during the meeting.

Police say such rancor over a school levy is unusual.

"Sometimes there's opposition, sometimes not," said Lt. Dan Meloy.

In his 15 years with the department, Meloy said, "I don't recall any increased (police) demand in response to a school levy."

Joe Platt, 38, says in the nine years he's lived in Colerain Township, there haven't been problems beyond a few signs disappearing during previous campaigns. This year's feuding troubles him.

"You're dealing with children," Platt said. "Absolutely, I'm bothered by it."

Northwest, an 11,000-student district, is seeking approval of a 4.75-mill operating levy and a 1-mill permanent improvement levy. The combined levy, if approved, would raise $8.6 million and cost the owner of a house valued at $100,000 an additional $170 a year, according to district figures.

Mark Haverkos, who has challenged Northwest spending on his Web site,, said an anonymous caller traced to Colerain Township left two threatening messages Tuesday at his West Chester Township home. West Chester police said Wednesday they are investigating.

. He said he pulled his daughter out of Northwest schools last year and moved to West Chester two months ago after repeated clashes with the district.

Haverkos this week also filed a complaint with Colerain Township Police, alleging that levy campaign co-chairman Marlon Styles Sr. threatened him as Haverkos was setting up a video camera to tape the Monday meeting. Police escorted Styles out; he did not return several calls seeking comment.

In the meeting, Haverkos' wife Susan, a former PTA president in the district, read a statement questioning new board member Karen Sims' qualifications. She cited Sims' personal financial troubles, including an August bankruptcy filing, and called for her resignation.

"If she was a teacher or a coach, it would not be relevant," Susan Haverkos said afterward. "It would be out of line. But she's responsible for the budget."

"If I thought my personal difficulties were relevant, I never would have applied for the position in the first place," Sims said. She said the difficulties stemmed from a job loss. "It's not financial mismanagement. It was misfortune."

Spokeswoman Acacia Allen said the district would have no comment.


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