Here at the Voice For Liberty in Wichita, I wrote many articles about the USD 259 (Wichita school district) bond issue that district voters passed a few weeks ago. A few people took issue with what I’d written. Taking advantage of my policy that allows anonymous comments, they left some comments. It turns out that some of these commenters had something in common with each other, something they chose not to reveal.
Most of these comments were pretty lame, taking me to account for not having spent time in the schools. (If I don’t disagree with the claim that some schools are overcrowded, why should I go and observe overcrowding?) Some said that since I didn’t have positive ideas of my own, then I wasn’t eligible to criticize the school district. (They must not have been reading very closely.)
I noticed that a few of these commenters used computers that had the same IP address. That’s the Internet address that a computer uses to communicate over the Internet. It’s sort of like a telephone number, but different in some ways. For example, many organizations use network address translation, where all computers in an organization appear to the outside world to have the same IP address. Through some investigation, I’m pretty sure that USD 259 uses this method.
Commenters named John, Dave, Isabell, and Tony all use the same IP address. (These names may or not be their real names.) If you search the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) database for the IP address they used, you’ll find it belongs to USD 259. Also, through another method I’ve also confirmed that this IP address is used by USD 259 personnel.
What can we conclude from this? All I can say is that these four commenters posted comments from computers within USD 259’s network. I don’t know the identities of these people (they might all be the same person, for all I know), or the location of the computers they used, or whether they’re teachers, administration, staff, volunteers, or students. I don’t know whether they’re posting on the job or before or after work, or during lunch or coffee breaks. I have answers for none of these questions.
But I do know this: None of these people disclosed that they obviously have a relationship with USD 259 except for Isabell, who said she had children in Wichita schools. Generally, when engaging in public debate, people will disclose relationships they have with the matter of interest, especially when they have so much to gain from something like the passage of this bond issue.
These comments made from school district computers raise a few questions:
Did school district employees use taxpayer time and computers in attempts to sway the election?
What other non-work activities are they using taxpayer funded computers for?