For some in the local education/union/non-profit cabal, the passage of yesterday’s school levy wasn’t nearly satisfying enough.
“Winning” — which was all “for the kids,” right? — only served as preface to the final act: revenge.
If you had the audacity to oppose the levy, you might want to think twice about saying so publicly, especially if you own a business and care about your livelihood. If you voted no, you are a dissenter, and therefore, you must be destroyed.
On The Electric’s Facebook page, commenter Cory McKinney drew the ire of a person called Shelli Lavinder-Schwalk. According to GFPS’ website, Lavinder-Schwalk is the President of the Great Falls Education Association. That’s not true, of course; Lavinder Schwalk hasn’t been the GFEA president for years. She now works as a field consultant for the Montana Federation of Public Employees, the parent organization of the GFEA.
When McKinney quipped that landlords will raise rent, Lavinder-Schwalk urged all GFPS staff to boycott Mckinney’s wife’s business, Bright Eyes Cafe (formerly Five Loaves).
Interestingly, though, it wasn’t Lavinder-Schwalk who first identified Mckinney’s connection to Bright Eyes. McKinney can thank serial commenter Carrie Smale Galvez for that.
Incredibly, Galvez actually claimed she was trying to help McKinney — by sending a flag to educators, on a Facebook page heavily trafficked by educators, that McKinney is “often critical of GFPS.” Then, Galvez issued her own veiled threat to boycott Bright Eyes.
It is unclear where McKinney “verbally lashed” at Galvez.
As for Lavinder-Schwalk’s comment, you won’t be able to find it in the original thread. After receiving a tip from a reader, I called the GFEA to confirm her employment as president. I spoke with current president Bob Griffith and Linda Ballew, who told me that Lavinder-Schwalk has not been with the GFEA since 2018. Curiously, her comment disappeared about 20 minutes after I spoke with Griffith and Ballew.
I was able to capture a screenshot, though (nice try, all).
No matter your feelings on a particular policy question, assaulting the livelihoods of the very community members who pay our educators’ salaries and benefits, and just because they merely disagree with you, goes too far.
Lavinder-Schwalk obviously discredited herself, but here’s betting that in the eyes of MFPE boss Amanda Curtis, her vitriol will be celebrated instead of condemned.