Thursday, August 24, 2017
Is the district honest about community input?
“Keep it simple” because “the details get complicated.” In its bond presentation, the district presents that idea as summing up the feedback that we received at our community listening posts on the facilities plan and the bond. In fact, listen to the recordings: the district cherry-picked one person’s comment and presented it as the summary of feedback at three listening posts.
According to bond proponents (example here), those same listening posts showed “unified support” for putting seven years’ worth of projects into the bond proposal, resulting in the very high $191 million price tag. But take a look at the minutes of those listening posts (here, here, and here). Listen to the recordings. Is that assertion even remotely true? In fact, at two of the three listening posts, the tables weren’t even surveyed about how much of the plan should go into the bond. And to the extent there was discussion of the issue, the feedback was mixed, as even the minutes show. Or listen, for example, to what this man had to say. Somehow that wasn’t the comment cherry-picked for the PowerPoint slide. Unified support?
“Stick to the plan”? “We have a great plan”? “Just do it”? Read the minutes.
The district appears unable to resist the temptation to promote its desired conclusions by distorting the public input it receives. In 2013, for example, the district held community workshops on the development of the facilities master plan. At the final workshop—attended by hundreds of people—seventy-four percent of attendees supported plans that did not close Hoover Elementary School. (See also charts here and here.) Yet when the facilities committee presented its proposal to the school board, it stated that closing Hoover was a “common theme” of the feedback it received.
Proponents of the bond have repeatedly argued that the plan is the result of input from countless members of the public. But it’s easy to assert that the community input supports your point of view; after all, who’s going to go to the trouble of verifying the assertion? Given the examples above, though, I recommend you start asking for evidence.