04 April 2008

Are school bonds boring? $40 Million says they're not. And a few minor rants. Oh, and a note for Spidey.

I went to a breakfast at Westchester this morning put on by the Committee for the School Bond, or some such organization. $20 a head, lots of people turned out. Actually, it seems that the same people turn out for all of these community things.

At the outset, let me say that I have always supported school bonds, and I support this one. Education is one sacred trust of society. One which we're not very good at, by the way.

The Board of Education is seen as a no-future, hack political post of no real meaning. It's made fun of. Mark Twain said: "First God made idiots. He was practicing. Then he made school boards." Consider however: The Marion County Board of Education has 5 members. They have issued a bond call returnable at the May 13 primary for $40.1 MILLION dollars, and they home that the state SBA (School Building Authority) tosses in another $21 million. As is the case with every bond I've seen for years, there are projects spread all over the county which, in my cynical world, is a way to get support for the bond from everyone. That is terribly short-sighted and it's a darn shame that it's reasonable given past voting patterns. Again, Dr. Reality dictates things that aren't terribly palatable. So, on average, each Board member controls $12 Million. That's not a hack job. Remember Vice-President Spiro Agnew? He went to the vice-presidency from the governorship of Maryland. He became Governor right after serving on the Baltimore School Board, and that's where his initial malfeasances took place.

Part of the bond will be used to raze Miller, Dunbar and the current East Fairmont Junior High School. I'm a touch disappointed that Butcher School isn't on the list. It's located right at the end of the Fourth Street Bridge (featured in Fairmont native John Knowles least known book, A Vein of Riches) and Butcher has been a malignant eyesore for 30 years.

The Committee is talking about how the schools can be used in the community. Well, that hasn't really been tried yet, has it? We spend LOTS of money on school facilities and they are dreadfully under-utilized. One reason is that the Board fears that if they let one group use the schools, then they'll have to open it to the Wiccans and Satanists and Khmer Rouge and who knows who else. Nuts. We need to have the courage to apply common sense to utilization of public facilities. This is a subject I've harped on for years in the Boy Scout Council. Our 4 county area has a WONDERFUL 1000 acre camp that is DREADFULLY underutilized. We need to be providing opportunities for our people, not using public or semi-public places as private clubs.

Oh, one of the projects for the bond is a new gym for North Marion High School. That's where the former gym (which is what, maybe 30 years old?) essentially collapsed because it was built on pyritic soil. (Soil having pyrites is unstable, and takes the use of pilasters or some such to have a stable foundation.) One hopes that a soil engineer will be used this time, as was recommended by the architect the LAST time.

Let's see - $40 Million - how much is that? Well, about 4,000 bottom of the line Hyundai sedans. 40,000 laptop computers. 6 medivac helicopters. 400 decent homes. We are talking a LOT of money and, frankly, all of the rah-rah trivializes that. On the other hand, the public isn't taking a very strong position participating in the life of the community, and that's a fundamental problem.

Let me rant on a tangent - the shooting last weekend at that low-class bar at 5th & Fairmont - there was a drunken, unruly crowd of WITNESSES, none of whom had the courage or the character to come forward and tell the police what happened. Friends, if we are too busy, too lazy or too afraid to participate in the safety of our community, it's not going to be safe. The City has 3 or 4 cruisers out on midnight shift - the County about the same - and the State Police aren't out regularly at night. It's OUR community, and WE have the responsibility to keep it safe.

I did have some theological questions prompted by the Bond breakfast. Rev. D. D. Meighen (aside - he is a great guy, works VERY hard for the community, and I love the guy) prayed that God would help get the School Bond passed. First, is that a proper subject for a prayer? Does God vote? What if opponents of the School Bond also invoke the blessing and assistance of The Almighty? How does God choose? If the opponents don't call on God, with D. D.'s prayer make the passage more likely? I'm much more comfortable in asking God for wisdom and strength and guidance, not corporeal miracles or intervention in non-spiritual matters.

While I'm on theology, I have a question for Pastor Josh and Brother Joel (who is a pastor in Indiana) - the part in the Lord's Prayer about ". . . forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us . . ." - is that conditional? In other words, are we asking for forgiveness and independently ask for assistance to forgive others? Or are we striking a deal whereby we agree to be forgiven commensurately with how we forgive others? Sorry, boys, you're going to have to endure rather elementary theological questions for a long time to come.

The West Virginia Lawyer Magazine has picked up this poor scribes review column. The biggest problem will be keeping it short enough for space limitations. So many books, so little time. The first pilot installment was published in the March-April issue, found at: http://www.wvbar.org/barinfo/lawyer/marapr2008.pdf

The Bar previously has published isolated reviews and a couple of stray articles.

I also have several writing projects - one of them is a book of things I've learned or believe. One is sticking in my mind tonight: "If the question is, 'has anyone called 911 about this yet?', the answer is 'no,' so go ahead and make the call." A minute of delay can make a BIG difference.

Personal to Spidey: Dearest, if you'll put my email address as a user who can visit your blog, I'd love to look in on you!

Pippa passes. (Which will again be explained in the Fullness of Time. Perhaps a contest! A book from Roger's Endless Box of Books to the person who tenders the best explanation for that phrase! Postage paid, even if it's to Sarai in Hawaii or Clank in the U.K.! Contest ends one week from tonight, 11 April 2008)



Clank Napper said...

I am presuming it has nothing to do with my cousin pulling the head off my Tammi and Pippa dolls when I was seven.

Love the Mark Twain quote.

Joel said...

Yes, it's conditional. Jesus makes the emphasis clear in Matthew 6:14-15. But the propensity to forgive is characteristic of the authentic Christian because he or she has a new nature. An unforgiving attitude is characteristic of a worldly, self-centered nature. Refusal to forgive is a trait not of the believer, but of the unbeliever.

Bro Joel

Spidey said...

i have sent you an invite.

Gail said...

Elu, if you think your local school board is not up to the task, Google "Clayton County, GA." board of education and read all about a truly dysfunctional board of ed.

Joel said...

Can't resist the contest. Pippa passed through her village and observed the seedy side of life. Not one of Browning's best and kind of vulgar for his time, but then I am not a poetry geek, either, so my ill-considered opinion does not count. His line "God's in his Heaven--All's right with the world" seems terribly optimistic for our current circumstances. Don't send books. I have a den full of them.

Bro Joel