Why vote? They're going to get what they want anyway
February 02, 2011 - I'm beginning to think this 235-year-old experiment in self-government is a failure. I'm starting to wonder if it's really worth voting for or against anything or anyone because ultimately, those who hold power are going to get what they want one way or another.
We might as well stay home on Election Day and enjoy our bread and circuses because the Emperor has the vision to know what's best for us.
Case in point, it appears Oxford Community Schools could get those new tennis courts it wanted for the high school.
You may recall that tennis courts were part of the $70 million school bond proposal that district voters FAILED in February 2009. That proposal included four courts at $40,000 each for a total of $160,000.
The slimmed-down $32.7 million bond proposal that voters approved in November 2009 contained no mention whatsoever of tennis courts – at least not in the bond application that I read.
If you recall, the second bond proposal was supposed to focus on needs, not wants; essentials, not luxuries.
Now, we're being told that if the bond project's bids come in lower than expected, the district could use the resulting savings to build eight tennis courts for $320,000.
Am I happy that the district could save a bundle?
You bet. I just did a cartwheel.
Am I happy that instead of just saving money, they want to waste it on something frivolous?
Not on your life. Whatever happened to the concept of saving money purely for the sake of saving it, not because you want to spend it on something else?
Do I believe it's wrong to spend tax money for something the voters originally rejected?
Well, I'm writing this column, aren't I?
To me, if the school district does this, it's thumbing its nose at the voters. The district's basically saying, "We know you denied us the money for this the first time, but we're going to find a way to get what we want – and we're going to double it! Your ballot said 'no, no,' but we say 'yes, yes.'"
Granted, what the school district wants to do is within the bounds of the law because it falls under the very broad language of "constructing, equipping, developing and improving athletic facilities" that appeared on the ballot.
But does this make it morally right? Does that make it ethically correct? My answer is a resounding "NO!"
When a bond is placed on the ballot, the voters are presented with a whole laundry list of everything the school district wants to construct and purchase. This enables the people to make an informed decision as to whether or not it's worth taking on extra debt and taxing themselves for it.
To not include something in that list prior to the vote, then add it in after the funding's been secured is dirty pool in my book. It's a classic case of bait-and-switch.
I don't care if it's legal. I don't care if a significant savings allows for it. It's wrong, especially when it's something the voters previously rejected.
Why even bother to tell the voters what you want the money for if you're just going to build and buy what you want anyway?
Oh, that's right. We at least have to maintain the facade of adhering to democratic principles lest the unwashed masses become disgruntled and revolt.
So, when it comes right down to it, elections are just for show. It's all about romancing the voters – whispering sweet nothings in their ears, telling them what they want to hear in order to seal the deal.
Once it gets what it wants, government stops calling or even returning our messages. No more dinners. No more roses. Not even cab fare. Being a voter is supposed to make you feel proud and responsible, not used and cheap.
Anyone else need a shower? I feel dirty.
Oh, by the way, if this community is truly in such desperate need of tennis courts, then why don't we get the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Department to fix up the existing courts at Seymour Lake Park that have been allowed to fall into such disrepair over the years.
Back in 2002, the parks department asked voters for a millage increase to, among other things, tear out and reconstruct the tennis courts at Seymour Lake Park.
"Deplorable condition" was how Parks Director Ron Davis described the courts' condition back then.
Voters rejected the tax increase 3,177 to 2,083.
But if something's drastically changed in the last nine years and now, Oxford simply can't live without tennis, then by all means, let's push the parks department to seek a millage increase for the sole purpose of renovating and maintaining those sorry-looking courts.
It should pass overwhelmingly, right?
Better still, why not start a private fund-raising campaign to do it? We built a giant playground and splash pad at that same park thanks to such campaigns; why not do it for the tennis courts that people are clamoring for?
Maybe we could find a mysterious private investor to loan us the money just like the turf committee did.
Then we can get to work on that dodgeball arena because we have to accommodate every single sport out there.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.