The Monroe School Levy is about go before voters and I have been hearing since my article last week that the levy opposition in that district under state financial emergency had shabby campaign signs and a poor, broken down group of protestors who were in need of more education themselves. Such comments from the pro levy supporters are normal since they can’t argue the real facts, so they attack the credibility of the people who oppose them. In this case the organized effort to oppose the 7.03 mill levy Monroe needs to stay out-of-state control. The situation is so heated that 25% of all Monroe homes have viewed articles at The Voice forums on Mainstreet Monroe’s website, and it is obvious that levy supporters are not at all happy to see an opposition standing against them.
Upon reading the comments at The Voice I decided to go into Monroe myself to see all these haphazard signs by the No Monroe resistance and what I found were some really nice signs that were well thought out and financed, and they were all over town. That had to infuriate the Monroe School System. It doesn’t matter what school district it is, the government education system does not like opposition to their plans.
With all the discussion on both sides, I will have to say I admire Tom Birdwell of the current Monroe School Board. His argument is that residents either vote for the 7.03 mill 5 year levy in Monroe, or the state will force Monroe to merge with Middletown where there is room in some of their buildings. But the catch is that Middletown already is operating at 47.16 mills, 7.02 mills higher than Monroe’s current mills rate. Birdwell is offering to speak to anybody personally to answer their questions, which is a very stand-up thing to do. But what he is assuming is that the state will be able to successfully force the people of Monroe to pay for taxes that they didn’t vote for in a forced merge with Middletown—that Middletown was foolish enough to approve. At that mill rate, no wonder Middletown is a ghost town these days. You certainly don’t see businesses flocking to locate there. More info on the specifics of the levy is at the link below. The truth is Monroe is not obligated to pay for taxes they didn’t approve of, and a state bureaucrat cannot politically do so. Birdwell made a compelling argument, but it is without any teeth. The state may be able to legally arrange such an injustice, but some politician will lose skin off their back with such a move, and this shoots major holes in the Yes Monroe position that Birdwell represents.
At the heart of the No Levy argument is former school board member Mike Irwin who appears to be attempting to redeem some of his views from the past. Some school board members learn once they’ve been through the management of a district what the problems are, and they do correct their thinking. Often school board members feel they must go along with the patriotism of a district and they ignore the perilous situations that the unions put them in. School board members know there isn’t much they can do about 80% of their costs that are tied up in wages and benefits, and budget items are controlled by union contracts. If a school board shows resistance to the union elements, then the union will threaten to strike. If a school board member does not lie down and play dead before the labor union, then the union attacks the character of the school board member publicly. This doesn’t happen directly most of the time, but indirectly through community infiltration into peer groups. School board members with weak stomachs find it’s best to just get along with everyone. They work closely with the PTA groups who become the voice of the union indirectly and are the source of much community infiltration. (That’s why they call them Parent Teacher Associations.) The people who always get left out of the education debate are the long-term residents who have already raised their kids and pay their taxes, but get sick of being hit up constantly by out-of-control costs driven by excessive labor expectations.
Older residents have learned to brave the multiple perils that come at their children, and have learned not to respond neurotically to every claim a unionized work force claims. Most of the pro levy supporters, teachers included are under 40. Many of the people criticizing the No Levy people on The Voice are in fact in their early 30’s and have very young children in the district. These thirty year olds are children raising children and they must be listened to with caution. As parents they have a long way to go and a whole lot to learn before they get there. Someday, when they become older and wiser they will also be No Voters. But the way the education system works currently is it is the youth who get all the attention, the students in the schools of course, and their young, inexperienced credit card debt incurring parents. In a game of the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the quiet ones get ignored—and those are the typical “No Voters.”
As I drove through Monroe taking the pictures shown on this article it was nice to see those quiet types finally sticking up for themselves and voicing their opinion with some well designed No Levy campaign signs. After I took enough pictures I went on over to Kings Island to ride a few roller coasters and think about the dynamics of the education situation under a setting sun while in line under a mister machine. At Kings Island that night I watched some of the people playing all the games set up in Coney Island–the games where players threw undersized rings around oversized bottles, and tried to shoot basketballs into undersized rims to win prizes. I realized that many of the people playing those games were younger people—and were probably levy supporters in their local school districts. They were doing with their children essentially what they were doing while playing carnival games at Kings Island—throwing money at a chance to win a prize.
Parents who vote for school levies believe that if they just pay a little more money, that they’ll win a prize for their children, and that prize is a good life. What the parents don’t understand is that the games are all rigged. Every now and then someone does win, but most people don’t. Public education is a scam as it is set up now, without competition so they can charge anything they want for their service. In Monroe and every other school district in the country it is collective bargaining that is the real villain of the out-of-control costs. Nobody in their right mind would pay all employees the same level of income based on years of service as opposed to performance. Collective bargaining is what has driven up the wages and forced Middletown to maintain a 47.16 mill levy left over from their heyday of economic activity. The unions in Middletown destroyed their industry, and the Middletown Mall is the ancient relic of that previous economic boom. What’s left now are the high taxes to pay the public employees after all the people who had money packed up and left town voting with their feet. That’s why Middletown has room in their school buildings, because enrollment is down. Now Monroe is facing the same temptation. If they give in to the union, they will find themselves in a slow decline economically with business as usual returning to the administration of the district finances, just as Little Miami did when they finally passed their levy after 9 attempts. If residents say NO to the levy they will put the weight of the financial strain squarely on the union where it belongs to wiggle, squirm, and play the squeaky wheel game. But finances will be forced out of the shadows so everyone can see what’s happening.
Monroe will have to decide what kind of community they want, and experience says that growth occurs by saying NO. Saying YES is agreeing to a slow death. Saying NO stops the bleeding. But regardless of what happens on Tuesday August 7th, at least the quiet NO voters have decided to voice their opinion with a spirited debate which is healthy, and very much-needed.
“With Tale of the Dragon, Rich Hoffman combines NASCAR, Rebel Without a Cause, and Smokey and the Bandit. If you like fast cars, and hate speed traps, this is the book for you. And just every once in a while, any real American wishes he had a Firebird like the one in Tale of the Dragon.“