Melaleuca Inc. took out another full-page ad in the Statesman Sunday -- again suggesting that the teachers' union is jeopardizing $38 million in teacher bonuses by opposing state superintendent Tom Luna's Students Come First education laws.
A couple of things jump out in the ad (which I don't have in electronic form, but you can see for yourself on page 6 of Sunday's Insight section):
* The ad says the $38 million in bonuses are mired in legal uncertainty -- even though the bonuses were funded by the 2012 Legislature. The question is in the timing, as the ad accurately notes: Voters will decide on the three laws Nov. 6, districts will get the bonus payments on Nov. 15, election results will be certified on Nov. 21, and districts must pay out bonuses by Dec. 15. The ad does not note that Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, a Republican and the state's go-to source on election law, has said that the bonuses can be awarded as planned on Nov. 15, since the merit pay law will be on the books no matter how voters decide on the Nov. 6 referendums. Luna, a Republican, has sought a legal opinion.
But in the ad, Melaleuca makes a none-too-subtle pitch, especially to teachers: Ratify the merit-pay law and the uncertainty goes away. "Teachers deserve to be paid based on merit and results in addition to their regular salaries. Not only this year! But every year! A 'yes' vote on Proposition 2 (the merit-pay law) leaves nothing in question. With a 'yes' vote, deserving teachers will receive their bonuses now and in the future. That is how it should be."
You can't accuse Melaleuca of being coy here.
* The Melaleuca ad again trots out an old claim: that Luna was the victim of union thuggery during his campaign to get his bills through the 2011 Legislature. The ad features a large photo of Luna's vandalized truck, and says this of the debate during the 2011 session. "In typical union style, it got ugly!"
Fairly clear insinuation. The facts are, the vandalism case was never solved and no one was cited.
All in all, in this ad Melaleuca plays bad cop role on Luna's behalf.
Here's a link to our Sunday editorial on the merit pay issue.