Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What part of 'no' don't they understand?

Some people don't seem to take “no” for an answer.

School boards seem to be worse at this than any other group of people I know.

You'd think that those in charge of teaching our children would be able to understand English – especially a simple word like “no.”

But once again, a local school district is wondering if maybe “no” actually just meant “not right now” or “ask again later.” It's like the Magic 8 Ball version of “no” with them.

Last week the Lockport Board of Education got some visitors asking them to ask taxpayers if maybe “no” really didn't mean “no.”

Two years ago, voters went to the polls to vote on a measure that would build a $6 million sports complex at the Lockport High School. It was part of a two-part capital improvement proposal to upgrade the high school. It was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 1,797 to 1,296. The other part of the proposal – which focused more on academics, was approved 1,708 to 1,442 and is the $23.5 million construction work currently being done on the school.

Fast forward to now and some folks in the athletics department are hoping they'll get a second chance at that $6 million project.

The argument they made to the school board last week was that people didn't know what they were voting on before. We're stupid, see, and we can't be trusted to make our own decisions. Since the people who know better are looking out for us, they're going to give us a second change to say “yes.”

I have children in the Lockport School District. I want them to have the best opportunities possible. But I also know what I can and can't afford. And I don't have a spare $6 million for a sports complex.

Now, the sports folks would keenly point out here, that the state is kicking in 93 percent of the cost, so, really, Lockport taxpayers would only pay $420,000. The rest would be paid with money the state has piled up in a big room in Albany.

Except there's no money piled up in a room in Albany. Albany's broke. And let's not forget where Albany gets its money – us!

Government entities have been pulling the whole “don't worry, the state pays for it,” shell game for a long time, all the while, complaining about Albany's overspending. Maybe if we only did things we could afford, Albany wouldn't spend so much.

I have nothing against sports. Growing up, I played hockey, football, baseball, soccer, tennis, even lacrosse. Not for school, mind you. Just at a park with my friends. We never asked for a $6 million sports complex, even though it would have made the games so much cooler. And to the best of my recollection, I never asked my parents for so much as a new hockey stick. When I broke one (which I did often), I got my wallet out and bought one … with my money … if I could afford it. And if I couldn't, I waited until I could.

When you're paying your own way, you learn to accept “no” as an answer.