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Levy Opposition Identified

Franklin voters can now place one name with the previously anonymous opposition to the city’s May 6th school levy. A small number of “Vote No” signs have appeared throughout the city courtesy of a Jack Chrisman, an apparent outsider and anti-tax activist.

Unclaimed flyer expressing opposition to the Franklin City Schools levy.
Unclaimed flyer expressing opposition to the Franklin City Schools levy. Joshua Todd

The sign’s disclosure reads, “I am expressing my first amendment right to display this sign. It is private property, do not remove. For more signs contact: Jack Chrisman…” The disclosure provides a phone number and an email contact indicating that Chrisman’s nickname is “No Tax Jack.”

A Warren County Auditor property search shows that a Jack Chrisman owns numerous properties in the county, but all listings are located in the Lebanon City School District. With no properties in Franklin, Chrisman’s stake in this levy was not immediately clear.

Chrisman was previously mentioned in a 2011 Dayton Daily News story about a legal tactic aimed at limiting local governments and taxes. The article identifies Chrisman as “No Tax Jack.” Two area attorneys represented Chrisman in suits across the state alleging “public records and public meetings violations” in various municipalities, a strategy that, if successful, could yield legal awards as high as $50,000, according to one of Chrisman’s attorneys.

Chrisman is the second person associated with the opposition to Franklin’s school levy. The other is Kelly Kohls of the Warren County Tea PartyKohls is also named in the aforementioned Dayton Daily News article. One of Chrisman’s attorneys had previously given a presentation to Educate Ohio, a group that claimed Kohls as a member. Kohls was quoted in a largely misleading Media Trackers article expressing her opposition to the Franklin levy.

All told, Chrisman et al are part of a broader effort to “limit the growth of government,” a rightist goal typically aimed at the ever-growing size and scope of state and federal governments. Chrisman and Kohls also share another characteristic: neither seems to have a vested financial interest in the outcome of the Franklin ballot issue, making their outsider influence seem ideological in nature.

The appearance of the “No” signs is the latest in an ongoing and escalating series of incidents undertaken by a largely anonymous opposition. Campaign officials and supporters have reported several strange occurrences: One official said his email was hacked. Several sup porters have reported that their “Yes” signs were knocked down or stolen, and in a bizarre incident, a local attended a campaign meeting and offered to display a large sign supporting the levy; however, the sign was never displayed. The local was asked to return the sign but has not done so as yet.

Someone against the levy also put out an unclaimed “robo call” repeating many of the claims found in an unsigned flyer distributed around the city in recent weeks. The 800 number mentioned in the message has been associated with Tea Party “robo calls” on a variety of issues in the past. In total, the opposition to this levy appears to be largely, if not entirely, a Tea Party operation, with the only known financier being an outsider.