Reading The Fine Print

Sometimes politicians can make much ado about nothing. And then, there are those times when questions should be asked and answered but none are forthcoming. We are presently sitting on both ends of the spectrum. Recently, Jefferson County declared themselves to be a county that upholds the Second Amendment of the United States of America. For the most part, the declaration was largely ceremonial, meaning that it really has no teeth. Most who live in the South take issue with anyone infringing on their right to own fire arms, though there are those that would like to see some sort of intervention for certain individuals and certain fire arms. For me, that is neither here nor there. Frankly, laws only exist for those that are law abiding citizens and to give recourse to punish those who are outside the law (should we catch them). The fact is that people who are intent on doing harm will take their best shot at it (no pun intended) and no “law” is going to stop them. It may punish them, but it simply cannot stop an evil person from doing an evil deed. Scary reality but true. I believe that any law that tips the scales to side of the criminal element is a law that needs rethinking. My only hope is that in our quest to make a collective opinion known (collective, not unanimous) we did not in any way bind ourselves in regard to funding certain programs that we might want to fund either now or in the future. Sometimes the simplest, most pure intentions can have unwanted side effects. Jefferson County is a forerunner in this type of resolution and most (not all) that have come before it have been municipalities rather than counties. That makes a difference, especially since education is a state and federally funded area. So, I agree with the sentiment. I believe in the rights provided in the Second Amendment. I just hope that someone reads the fine print.

And now, on to the money question. The Department of Education was presented with a $30 million + dollar “needs list” from the Lewis Group regarding the school’s physical facilities. Wow. Just Wow. That is a pretty steep needs list for a county that has been upgrading and building new schools for the last decade or so. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are some pressing needs at some of the schools. What I question is the wisdom in throwing out a 30 million dollar needs list, especially one that, in some ways, looks like it was designed to run up the potential tab. Now, before the nay sayers start blaming the DOE or the School Board, let me say that I don’t think that they want a big price tag. The Lewis Group, however, I am not so sure about. First, they (Lewis Group) may need to justify their fee for assessing the schools. Hard to justify charging a hefty fee for a light to do list, isn’t it? Second, and let me be clear that I am making no accusations here, but isn’t the Lewis Group faintly familiar to those of us who have been following the building and renovation programs for the past several years? It appears that we are using the same group that has been benefiting financially (through contracted work) from our building programs to assess the needs of the rest of our schools. Isn’t that like asking the mouse to report on the viability of leaving the cheese on the counter overnight? Do we have needs? Sure. Do we have a real, bare bones assessment of what is a real need and what is building utopia ? I am not so sure on that one and I really hope that the School Board and the County Commission have serious questions on what is what and which is which. Jefferson County is already seriously ahead of the state per capita expenditure and we simply cannot afford to just take the word of anyone that comes back with a 30 plus million in needs. It may be legitimate and it may be reaching. Who knows? What we do know is that it is a bunch of money and we cannot afford a bunch of money. We need what we need and what we need is a plan of action. What we don’t need to do is pay someone to produce that plan of action. If I know nothing else, of that much I am absolutely sure. Again, I hope someone reads the fine print.

Source: K. Depew, News Director