by Marion Marks
Monday morning quarterbacks always have 20-20 vision interpreting election results, and the two bond issues Saturday, that had different results, are no exception. Here is my simplistic interpretation of why one passed and another failed.
The Biomed Bond which cost taxpayers the least of the two passed by a handy margin for the following reasons:
- Well-targeted print, air-wave advertising messages that were easy for general public to translate into a “Yes” vote.
- General public belief in the importance of supporting the biomedical industry, community and healthcare fears in general.
- Negatives overshadowed by many CPSB negatives that deflected by mixed negative-vote speakers.
The CPSB “ReInvestment” Bond, which was basically no more than a re-approval for capital funds, failed for the following reasons:
- The newly elected school board members failed to educate the voters that most were in on the bond plan even before they were elected. It is believed that most, who were supported by the same PAC and worked together or through many of the same partied through the election and along the way to approving the bond initiative before they had been on the board for less than 30 days. Doubt among many that the board was any more than a rubber stamp for some higher group without benefit of having a study before the plan was put on the ballot.
- The Highland community, composed of the majority of the schools slated for closure, was the vocal segment in voter turn-out as well as voting “NO” for closing their schools and families of employees here felt they were being treated as second-class citizens.
- Neighborhoods with neighborhood schools still have ownership and loyalty when they feel neglected, as this initiative seemed to Highland. Social media for the Highland Coalition was burning for several weeks prior to the election, and pockets of leaders pressed the correct buttons to get a “NO” vote to the polls.
- Even with a short special-interest ballot, as the limited May ballot was, it’s important to lay better ground work than the CPSB did in this case. Superintendent Goree, even with his excellent work to raise morale at a number of failing schools, fell short of selling voters that real change is present in a failing system. The consolidation of some failing high schools still has not been accomplished, and their strong alumni blocked at every turn efforts to make these the poster schools for change. This fact alone alienated many educated voters who feel politics rather than education and community long-term benefits were the beneficiary of the proposed bond measure.
- The construction community turned off many voters who felt that the call for “construction jobs and profits above educational values” was the true message that came through in the marketing of the bond.
- Communication from the CPSB administration to voters and school administrators reeked of illegal political electioneering. The use of schools to give a single “Vote YES” message rather than allow open discussion at school forums turned many potential positive supporters against the CPSB. Signage at schools was blatantly “VOTE YES” which is neither educational to voters nor legal, as interpreted in past court decisions.
In review, The Biomed bond may have benefitted from the negative focus on the CPSB. Regardless, Monday morning coffee and water fountain discussions will rehash the results and suggest better ways to address the educational needs of the community.
I can only hope that better community discussions will engage the broader citizen base without the feeling that herding toward a predetermined bond result is the agenda. All the cats of Caddo could not have felt a worse herd mentality than the diverse manipulations that started last December after the final run-off for board seats. Herding cats should be better understood by our leaders, because, even in Caddo, it is destined for failure.