Wednesday, August 16, 2006

School Daze

Today we were presented with the text of a petition asking for a referendum on the new high school.

This is the exact wording of the petition: "Bond Referendum Petition"

We, the undersigned qualified voters of Watauga County, North Carolina, do hereby petition the Watauga County Board of Commissioners for a bond election on the expenditure of funds toward renovation and/or construction of a high school in Watauga County, North Carolina.

What? "...on the expenditure of funds..."

Bond referendums in this state, as we understand it, are always yes/no elections on specific propositions, so the R.I.D. group apparently wants the people to vote up or down on whether any money -- ANY MONEY -- should be spent on improving the educational infrastructure in the county. The proponents of this proposed referendum seem pretty confident that the majority of the voters will say no, and presumably they -- the opponents of a new high school -- will say things in private, or cause letters to appear in rural mail boxes, or send flyers flying in local country stores to prejudice people against educational spending in this Year of Our Lord, or in any other year, and will engineer the outcome they seek. We suspect that any bond referendum against a new high school will succeed, given history and the talents of Deborah Greene, who appears to be behind this petition drive.

Gosh. We assume Deborah Greene is behind this because along with the petition we were handed today, we also received into our hands a letter written by Deborah Greene to Tim Romocki, Director of the Debt Management Section of the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer, which alleges a smorgasbord of nefarious dealings by our School Board and Board of County Commissioners, most particularly Jim Deal but also singling out School Board attorney Paul Miller and School Board member Deborah Miller for accusations of underhanded, unethical, and self-enriching behavior.

Proof of evil intent, according to Ms. Greene's letter, is that the Commissioners and the School Board HAVE CHANGED THEIR MINDS about the best course of action in regard to the high school. First they were going to renovate, and then "OUT OF THE BLUE" they decided it might be better to sell the existing property and build new somewhere else.


It's understandable, perhaps, when "stay the course" is the pigheaded byword of President Numbskull, that Ms. Greene would measure a local change of direction as somehow a moral failure, but then not everyone can always measure up to the remarkably stupid consistency of our national leadership.

But enough of this.

Question # 1: How high will Commissioner Keith Honeycutt jump to placate these anti-school funding people while still maintaining his public image as a great champion of ... school funding? Would, for example, Mr. Honeycutt cast the deciding vote in favor of a referendum, knowing full well that a referendum would merely be an opportunity for Ms. Greene and her confederates to rouse the old "no-zoning" emotions of county people. The result of that? Education in Watauga County would be set back -- what? -- ten years? Or 20 friggin' years?

Here's the dilemma for Mr. Honeycutt: He's on record as advocating a referendum on a new high school: "Commissioner Keith Honeycutt .... also questioned why the commissioners couldn't pursue a bond referendum to allow the public to decide the funding issue." (Watauga Democrat, 6/8/05) 'Course, at the time he was trying to rationalize why he was going to vote against the county budget, which included a modest tax increase to help pay for a new school, and he was grasping at any straw in the wind to help explain his no vote. "Yeah, a referendum! That's the ticket!"

Careful what you wish for.

But now Honeycutt's a born-again. He's supposedly in favor of a new school, according to his website (previously referenced, down-column), and this referendum petition is so obviously an anti-new school ploy. Watching what Mr. Honeycutt does to get himself out of this bind may become THE spectator sport of the fall.

Deborah Greene and allies want this issue on the November ballot, obviously. Getting it there will be tough, and once it's there -- IF this petition drive succeeds -- it'll be the force that drives all other issues. To the detriment of us all. But then that's what Deborah Greene has always been good at.

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