Friday, March 09, 2007

Bonds By Huckabee

A couple of points come to mind on the now two items that will make up our school bond this May. First would be bogus issues as opposed to real ones. SAISD has made mention of the “security” problem with the current Central site, being all spread out in separate buildings. If site security were a real concern, one thing that could be done even at the existing site would be to restrict students coming and going during the school day, at least give such security personnel as we have a perimeter to defend. If that were being done at all, one would not see the lemming-like flood of Central students crossing 8 lanes of traffic at noon to get to the McDonalds across Bryant.

One of the construction sites I work is between the school and the golden arches, and I can tell you without exaggeration, that McDonalds sees hundreds of Central students (not to mention a second wave of younger Edison kids) every noon. Talk about your ultimate pass/fail course, it still strikes me as incredible that an 8x6 lane intersection with regular vehicular accidents is crossed daily by that many students who appear to be simultaneously text messaging, chatting with friends, and indulging in the age-old practice of scoping out members of the opposite sex without being bowled over like unto so many tenpins.

I brought this up a few years ago, and was told Central's cafeteria couldn't accommodate all its students at once. I replied that neither could any school I ever attended, which was why we ate in four shifts over a two hour mid-day period. At that time, Late Dark Ages to be sure, the only students allowed to leave campus for lunch were seniors with both parental approval and a GPA of at least 2.5.

Comments from SAISD backers of the new Central talk about building a more easily securable single building of 520,000 square feet. Well, not quite a single building, we already have an outdoor fieldhouse and a gymnastics building in the proposal that “Athletes Support”. Still, let's assume SAISD is more interested in the 50% of its students who require remedial courses to enter college than in keeping a single 5A football team at whatever expense. Do they really propose to put over 10 acres of floor space in one monolith building?

Here we come to a new question. What exactly do they mean to build? Will it resemble the late and unlamented faith-based prison, a rectangle with open space for the athletic fields surrounded by the building, picture a four sided Pentagon? Memo here: be sure and budget for baseball-proof window glass on the interior walls. Will it be a megolith big box? Maybe we dig out, a la Ethicon, and accomplish security and storm cellar combined in a single stroke. Hard to speculate here, we don't have so much as a back-of-the-envelope sketch of what the board has in mind. Surely they have something in mind, no rational entity, school or corporate would just dump $96 million on an architect and say, “Uh, build us something”.

Huckabee and Assoc. is charged with “selling” this idea what we don't have a clue what it will look like. SAISD has contracted to pay Huckabee $12,500 to “present the facts” to the voters. I use the quotes because Sec. 255.003 Election Code, forbids use of public funds for political advertising, and anything on a ballot is by definition political. Paragraph (b) gives the flexible escape clause of “does not apply to [an ad] that factually describes the purposes of a measure if the [ad] does not advocate passage or defeat of the measure”. The city pushed the envelope on the half-cent sales tax by publishing two inserts in the paper ($30,000) informing voters of the land of milk and honey that tax would lead to, but carefully avoiding the mention of “vote for/vote against”.

Huckabee has been there, done that, I am sure their attorneys know election code and OAG opinions as well as I do. Hint to Huckabee, and yes we know you read us at least twice a day, be careful of the volunteers. Some enthusiastic teacher sends home photocopied “Vote yes or your kids are dummies” letters, you guys are designated by contract as presentation coordinators, could be on the hook. We'll make a deal, we'll publish the address of your website, once you set it up, every time we address this topic, if you will provide a link on your single issue site and ads referring voters to your site.

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