Why all the secrecy?
January 26, 2011 - From the cigar-chomping Lt. Columbo to the obsessive-compulsive Adrian Monk, I've always loved quirky detectives and a good mystery.
My favorite part was when Columbo or Monk would go up against a smug bad guy who underestimated their abilities. In the end, these detectives always won because they knew how to do their job – and it's television.
There's a big mystery in Oxford right now and I'm forced to wonder why.
Some mystery investor – an individual, group or company – is going to loan the Oxford Turf Committee the hundreds of thousands of dollars necessary to blanket the OHS football field with navy blue synthetic turf (see story on Page 3).
Jim Reis, head of the turf committee, indicated this mystery investor wishes to remain anonymous. He refuses to divulge their identity or any of the loan's terms.
My question is why all the secrecy?
I've come up with three possibilities:
A) It's a truly benevolent soul who knows that genuine good deeds should always be performed anonymously whenever possible.
B) It's a person who wants to do good things with their excess cash, but doesn't want the publicity because he or she doesn't relish the prospect of facing a sea of outstretched hands from every group that needs a buck.
C) It's a person or company who stands to profit or benefit in some other way from Oxford having synthetic turf. Who knows, maybe the company that's going to install the turf is the one fronting the money, so they can drum up business elsewhere by using Oxford as part of their marketing plan?
Which is it? I honestly don't know. I have my own ideas and theories, but I want facts.
If it turns out to be either scenario A or B, certainly this newspaper would respect the investor's request for anonymity. However, if it's option C – or something else along those lines – then the public needs to know.
I've already submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the school district asking for the investor's name and contact information.
By law, if that information appears on any document or communication in the district's possession, it's now part of the public record and they have to release it.
I'm curious about who this mystery investor is because it's my job as a journalist and frankly, I want to make sure everything's on the up and up – and that the taxpayers aren't going to be left holding the bag.
While it's true the turf committee is a private group, it's also true that the football stadium is a publicly-owned facility on publicly-owned property. Therefore, I feel the public has a right to know all the aspects of this deal.
I'm truly sorry that I lack the childlike ability to blindly trust the school board and turf committee – the latter of which is not accountable to the voters or taxpayers.
Sure, I could shut my eyes, take a big swig of Kool-Aid and join the Amen Chorus. But that's not me. I want to know the who, the why and all the details in between like will this loan have to be repaid with interest?
I don't think being offered a boatload of cash is a good enough reason to shut off our brains.
I'm sure there are those reading this column who will immediately begin denouncing me all over town as a nattering nabob of negativism.
To them, I say if asking questions and wanting answers is deemed negative behavior, then we've got bigger problems than the current lack of fake grass.