Friday, July 21, 2017

Mixed messages, part 4

As I wrote previously, it appeared from our work sessions that the district’s position was: if the voters approved a bond proposal, the district could choose not to pursue projects that were listed in the ballot language, as long as it didn’t use bond money for projects that were outside the ballot language.

But, as we drafted the ballot language itself, questions arose about how much flexibility the language itself might permit. For example, the ballot language the board ultimately adopted simply referred to “Lincoln renovations,” without any specific dollar amount or description, so people wondered whether that left the district free to scale those renovations up or down after bond passage. And could the project be dropped entirely?

At the same time, some people (including me) were raising questions about whether some of the projects might turn out to be unnecessary, especially capacity expansions that were five or six or seven years out on the timeline.

These two sets of questions created a dilemma for bond proponents. If the law permitted the district to revise or drop projects after bond passage, some voters might not feel confident that they’d get what they wanted from the plan. But if the law required the district to follow through on every project, some voters would worry about committing to projects that might be unnecessary.

This ambivalence crept into the district’s own “informational” materials about the bond proposal. Would voters be told what the board was told—that projects could be cut from the plan after bond passage?  Continued in part 5.

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