PONT Talks Follow the Money, Conspiracy Theories, Kickstarter Campaigns, and “Movie Mad Men” –

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – CONTACT:  Parents of New Trier                         Wilmette, IL: March 9, 2017 (PM)

Parents of New Trier talk Follow the Money, Conspiracy Theories, and a Kickstarter campaign by “Movie Mad Men” – that Promises to Reveal PONT’s Nefarious Deeds!

Parents of New Trier (PONT’s) Jasmine Hauser and Betsy Hart sat down for an interview on the ongoing controversy following New Trier’s racial Seminar Day. The controversy now includes a soon-to-be-released “documentary” attacking PONT, and a big-money Kickstarter campaign, overwhelmingly funded by people outside of New Trier,  so filmmakers’ can “expose the truth” about them.

 “I am willing to stake my professional reputation and livelihood on telling this story. There are outside, well-funded entities trying to inject partisan politics into our harmonious school district. . .”  Lead filmmaker, to the Winnetka Current.

Q: Wow – you and Parents of New Trier have really got some Wilmette fellows with their knickers in a twist. What’s with the “documentary,” and the Kickstarter campaign – for $15,000, but they are hoping to get $25,000 – to fund it and reveal the “truth” behind “Parents of New Trier”?

J: We are as curious as you are to see what the Movie Mad Men or Mad Movie Men – producing something about a spear – come up with if they go through with this. Their 30-minute “documentary” is set to open in Wilmette next week. Of course, we think the plot lines they’re working with aren’t particularly entertaining – so we’ve got some ideas they can run with instead if they want some input.

B: Exactly – the Mad Movie Men are all focused on “dark money” and PONT and secret influence. But, have you ever seen Jasmine Hauser and Kellyanne Conway in the same room at the same time? No? Well, just think about the implications of THAT for a minute! Whoa.

J: Right. And, Betsy Hart is a writer. And Donald Trump tweets a lot. See the connection??

Q: Okay okay, let’s be serious. That’s the point, the Movie Mad Men, as you call them, are alleging a lot of stuff about “dark money,” “outside influence” and “national interests” behind Parents of New Trier and the recent controversy around New Trier’s Seminar Day.

B: Yep, you’ve figured it out. I just want to see the movie so I can find out where the dark money went so I can get a few dollars of it before I go on spring break with my family.

Q: Please.

J: Okay okay. Look, here’s the thing. These guys say they already have the “truth,” and that it MUST get out, NO MATTER WHAT – but apparently only if people cough up $15,000 oh but preferably $25,000.

B: If you have to get PAID to tell the truth you say you already have, doesn’t that kind of show the whole thing to be a lie? Or let’s ask this question: Mr. Movie men, if you don’t get the bucks – are you going to keep the “truth” a secret?

Q: Admittedly that’s the $64,000 question.

B: No, it’s the $15,000 – $25,000 question.

J. Good one Bets.

Q: You’ve asked a good question. Now answer some. Speak to the “questions” the filmmakers have, and they stories they and their backers are spreading about you. 

J: We have – we’ve been transparent since day one and it’s all true. PONT is a local,  organic and growing group of New Trier parents and taxpayers focused on New Trier issues. And guess what? We are still local, still organic, and still growing!

Q: You ladies are having way too much fun with this – let’s play 20 questions:  You have one slick website, parentsofnewtrier.org – some people have trouble believing moms did that.

B: Hey, not just any moms – New Trier moms! The website is awesome, isn’t it?  My brother used a standard word press template to create a platform, in about two days. I paid him $250, and several hot meals. (He now says he regrets taking the hot meals as part of the deal.) I also bought the domain name, I think all in that was another $140.

J: Then, a group of New Trier moms, including Betsy and me and bunch of us at a planning session around her kitchen table, put the content together (WordPress is pretty easy) in about eight  days. Or maybe 10. It all kind of took off from there.

B: I’ve told this story a million times but I love it because it’s about what happens when women get together for a cause. There’s nothing as cool. And we were so passionate about what we were doing — it was exciting to see this resource of the website come together.  And that’s how we’ve always viewed it. A thoughtful, balanced, constructive resource for fresh voices on problem solving on race relations and related issues – we are really proud of what we did and how people continue to use the website!

Q: Wait a minute – you did this out of passion – what about all the dark money you got?

B: Good grief, dark money? We didn’t even get any green money!

J: No kidding. You know Betsy I’m beginning to think we really didn’t do this funding thing “right.” The Mad Movie Men are looking to make $15,000 – $25,000 to prove that we took all this “outside money.”  Oh and so far, more than 60 percent of their kickstarter support has come from outside of the New Trier district. There’s even a guy from Lon–

B: Seriously? 60 percent? And they are attacking us for “outside money” we never got?

J: Yes – please don’t interrupt. It’s all right there on Kickstarter.

And the opposition to PONT, the lobbying group Stand.org, solicited money with every email they sent. But they did it by representing themselves as “I Support Seminar Day” — and now they are using the 6,000 names they got from their lobby group-driven petition drive to solicit more money and political action for Stand.org. In other states, and nationally. Wow.

I mean, are we the only ones who funded what we believe in with our own money?

B: Good grief sure looks that way. Apparently integrity pays — just not in cash!

Q: Okay I want to circle back to that whole Stand.org thing another time, let’s stay on topic here. Did you receive any outsideor for that matter “inside” money?

J: No

B: No.

Q: Did you ask for any outside money?

J: No.

B: Never.

Q: Did anyone offer you money to conduct this effort, or try to get on board and offer you money after it started?

J: Nope. Nada.

B: Nyet. Nein.

Q: Did anyone outside of New Trier encourage you to do the PONT effort?

J and B in unison: No.

Q: Is any of the PONT effort being done to have an impact on local elections?

B: What local elections? Okay, seriously, I knew there were some local elections taking place in April, but I was so busy working full time, and engaging in PONT activities, for about two weeks the cat box didn’t get changed and my refrigerator smelled. I’m pretty sure my girls and husband were okay though. At least no one looks hungry.

Look talk about having zero bandwidth to influence anything else! The answer is a confirmed NO. Good grief, I figured out the details of who was doing what in the local elections several days ago, and only because Movie Mad Men said THEY wanted to impact the elections (which come to think of it means they probably have to file something with the state) so I finally had a friend walk me through the details. Frankly, I didn’t quite figure it out. I’m still confused.

Q: Now I’m confused, too. You seem pretty open, why do the Movie Mad Men claim you haven’t been “transparent” in all this?

B: Well, for one thing it would be tough for them to make $15,000 – $25,000 by admitting we’ve been transparent. I think that might bring in about five bucks. And have you ever heard the expression, “you can’t reason someone out of something they haven’t been reasoned into?” There is even a mom, a Leslie someone, deeply involved in the “I Support” cause who is soliciting New Trier High School students to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign of Movie Mad Men because “this movie has to get made” according to her.

J: Now she’s offering to buy Starbucks for kids who vote in the upcoming elections with her — to stop people like “us” from influencing elections.

B: Hmm. My kids would do just about anything for a Starbucks, she’ll get plenty of takers. I wonder if I go with her to vote if I’ll get a cappuccino out of it? Well anyway I think it’s safe to say these are not people motivated by reason. Of course they are going to say we haven’t been transparent.

Q: Really? There’s a mom who’s soliciting students for Kickst — oh never mind I don’t have a file drawer for that one. Moving on. Betsy you work for The Heritage Foundation. That’s a well known conservative think tank. The movie makers and their allies keep telling people they were involved in this. 

B: Yes I work for them as a development writer. Best job ever.

Q: They didn’t help you, fund you, direct you, anything? Come on.

B: No, no, no, and no. You come on! Think about it. Heritage has millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter feeds and even their own news site. Don’t you think if they were “behind the New Trier story” in any way shape or form they might have mentioned it once or twice in those outlets? Unless I missed it – they never did. Whether you like Heritage or not, this is an organization that knows how to get its message out. Absolutely no input/involvement or otherwise from there.

Q: Okay. Jasmine, haven’t you written for “Breitbart”? Isn’t that proof they are controlling everything?

J: Sure, I did write for them a few times last year. Hundreds of people did. Not sure why that means I suddenly don’t have first amendment rights, or how it is that “Breitbart” directed all national media associated with this story. I didn’t know they had that kind of influence!

B: Jasmine, tell the nice interviewer the whole story. He’s going to find out anyway.

J: Okay okay: Steve Bannon calls me three times a day, and then he, President Trump and I, do a late-night wrap up session about 10:00 each evening. (Remember how you’ve never seen Kellyanne Conway and me in the same room at the same time?) But now that I think about it, the New Trier thing has never come up. Note to self to bring it to the next meeting.

B: Jasmine, that was really good.

Q: Ladies – stop. This is important: Then why are these erstwhile filmmakers leading this effort?

B: Um, follow the money.

Q: Why else?

J: Follow the money.

A: Why else?

B: Follow the money! And, actors need stages.

Q: There has to be more to it.

B: Look, I’ll be serious for a minute. It’s apparently hard for a lot of people to accept that real New Trier parents and community members cared about adding intellectual diversity to a really important discussion that our kids are having when it comes to race, not just on Seminar Day but in countless other contexts, too. Apparently we touched a nerve and gave people a voice. For some folks I guess that’s scary.

We think we’ve impacted the conversation on these issues in a really positive way. If we’d been responded to constructively instead of with panic attacks, silly movies, absurd charges of bigotry, and people secretly using the whole thing to build mailing lists for their lobbying group, it would probably be even more positive.

Q: Please, don’t hold back!

J: There’s more. We’ve also realized through all this that kids aren’t being taught how to engage with ideas and debate them.  Rather, they are learning to shut down diversity by calling folks who don’t agree with them “bigots” and “haters.” So then when they get to college, they are presented with different world views, and instead of debating and talking about ideas, they look for safe rooms, or they panic in other ways. Look at what happened at Middlebury College recently.

Q: You are drawing a line from New Trier, to Middlebury and similar protests raging on campuses right now?

B: I’ll jump in here. Yes. I think that’s why the national media was so interested in this in a way that really caught us by surprise. I mean, personally I’d love to think I controlled the Associated Press and CNN and the WSJ as much as the next New Trier mom does. But, I think what happened is the story intersected with the national narrative about these very same issues on college campuses that looking back, now makes sense. I will say this: I think after all this New Trier kids are going to be less likely to need “safe rooms” wherever they end up in college.

Q: Hmmm. Ladies let’s get back to the near term. Do you think the “documentary” will get made?

J: Oh come on, it’s already made. The Kickstarter thing is all about the drama and pulling in the bucks for “the truth” — these guys are actors.

B: Right. I Just hope the filmmakers do a better with this than they did with their 2007 “hit” the witc — oh wait, this is a family-oriented interview.

Q: Whoa. We will skip right over that one. Okay, then what?

B: Well then I think we have to get busy rigging the local elections, right Jasmine?

J: You crack yourself up, don’t you?

B: Um – sometimes, yeah.

Okay the movie comes out, then people see what nonsense this all is, and how the only people who DIDN’T make any money off the whole Seminar Day controversy was Parents of New Trier. And frankly, my successful entrepreneur friends are NEVER going to let me live that one down!

Yep, integrity pays, it just doesn’t pay cash.

Q: You said that already.

B: I know, but I liked it so much I wanted to say it again.

J: Look, yes, if they are going to show this faux documentary, then we are eager to see what they come up with and the extent of the conspiracy theories the Movie Mad Men are willing to put out there.

B: And if they go so far that they get into defamation territory – and right now I’d say they’re circling the airport and running low on fuel – then we’ll consider our options.

Q: Ouch. Seriously?

J: The filmmakers don’t seem to have any money – but many of the project backers do. They can be held legally accountable for the “film makers’” claims, and any damage caused by them.

B: Hey Jasmine, if we go that route, maybe we can finally get paid back for our expenses related to PONT!

J: No, let’s decide right now it would go straight to ProjectHood.org, and similar folks who are doing great work on poverty and education and race-related issues.

Come on, Betsy, commit.

B: But Jasmine, my spring break trip an—

J: Now please.

B: (Sigh.) You are a good woman Jasmine. Agreed.

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(Full disclosure: no actual interviewer was involved in the production of this interview. No seriously. We’ve employed here a literary device that is sometimes used to make a point. We don’t want to be accused of not being transparent.)



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