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Curmudgeon's Corner: School bond's benefits far outweigh its costs (OPINION)

March 27, 2012

In two weeks there will be a referendum in North Kingstown. If the past is any guide, the turnout will be light. Most likely, senior citizens like me will make up most of the voters and many of us are concerned about rising property taxes. These fears will be buttressed by groups like the North Kingstown Taxpayers Organization and elected officials like Bill Mudge.
Curiously, Mr. Mudge, who has spoken out against the bond issue at school committee and town council meetings, said at last week’s work session that he was in favor of replacing the roof at Davisville Middle School. He didn’t say how it should be financed.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must say that my wife works at Davisville Middle School and has attested to the fact that the roof leaks so badly that the custodians have to place buckets all over the school to catch rainwater that literally pours in. In addition, the failure of one of the boilers is a regular occurrence during the winter months.
Let me suggest some other reasons why you should vote in favor of the bond issue. First, the Rhode Island Department of Education has reviewed and approved all of the projects that would be funded with the bonds. RIDE has funds available and has committed to reimburse the town for 35% of the cost of the needed repairs. If the bond issue fails, the money goes somewhere else.
Second, the estimated costs of the repairs listed are a “worse-case scenario”. Due to the depressed state of the construction industry, it is likely that the actual costs will be lower. Therefore, it will probably be unnecessary to issue the entire amount of the bonds.
Next, while the desperately needed new roof at Davisville Middle School is the highest priority and most expensive project to be funded by the bonds, there are $1.6 million in improvements required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and another $468,000 needed to bring school properties up to current building code standards. One way or another, sooner or later, these projects will have to be paid for.
Finally, the median assessed value of a single-family residence in North Kingstown is about $300,000. If all the bonds are issued, the real estate tax on such a property will increase by around $2 a month over the life of the bonds. Surely this is not too much to bear, even for seniors.
Also, keep in mind that the bond counsel has ruled that the balance of the 2004 bond issue cannot be used for these repairs. The unissued portion of these bonds cost the town’s taxpayers nothing. So will any unissued bonds from the proposed issue.
This curmudgeon urges you to vote in favor of the bond issue on April 3rd.

n In Afghanistan, 16 civilians, more than half of them children, were allegedly killed by Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 38, who was in his fourth combat tour. Reportedly on one of his earlier tours in Iraq he had part of his foot blown off and suffered a “mild” traumatic brain injury but had been cleared by doctors for return to duty. He was allegedly passed over for promotion to sergeant first class and is in financial difficulty.
The apologist-in-chief quickly decried these “killings” and the press began hinting that the Army may seek the death penalty for the soldier who turned himself in after the shooting spree. (Note that President Obama had described the 2009 killings of 12 unarmed soldiers and wounding of 30 others by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who shouted “Allahu akbar” –the jihadist’s battle cry- at Ft. Hood as an “incident of workplace violence”.)
The Afghanis demanded that the American soldier be tried in their court. He has subsequently been returned to maximum security at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. No word on whether the Afghanis who assassinated six US servicemen the week before would be turned over to us for trial or whether they have even been found.
I suspect this incident will become the My Lai Massacre of the Afghan War and hasten our retreat and the ultimate return of that country –at least the southern drug-growing region and eastern tribal areas- to the Taliban. Hamid Karzai and his cronies have enough money stashed in secret accounts to leave shortly after we do.

n Remember when those crazy Catholics and other right-to-lifers were saying that Obamacare would pay for abortions and President Obama assured a pro-life congressman from the Bible belt that wasn’t the case to get his vote? Well, last week Obama’s health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, issued a regulation that one dollar would be collected from every monthly health insurance premium to fund abortions. Obama lied.
And remember when the President and then-speaker of the house Nance Pelosi were delighted to report that the ten-year cost of Obamacare was “only” $940 billion? Well, last week the Congressional Budget Office reported that –oops—the cost was really a bit above $1.74 trillion or almost double what we were told. Again, Obama lied.
Remember when President Obama promised that no one would lose their present health insurance plan under his proposal? It turns out that the employers of 20 million workers have said that when fully implemented, Obamacare will be too expensive and they will have to drop coverage. Again, Obama lied.
Have you noticed how the mainstream media jump on every poor choice of words and gaffe uttered by Republican presidential candidates especially Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum? Last week our current President was touting his favorite energy projects: solar and wind power. During his speech in Montana, Obama claimed that one of his predecessors in the Oval Office, Rutherford B. Hayes, thought that no one would ever use the newly-invented telephone. Obama said Hayes is not on Mount Rushmore because he looked backward, not forward. Turns out Obama lied again.
President Hayes was introduced to the telephone while at a hotel in Rocky Point, Rhode Island on June 28, 1877. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, spoke to Hayes from Providence, 13 miles away over a telegraph line. The President is reported to have said, “This is wonderful”. In October 1877, Hayes had a telephone installed at the White House and was assigned number “1”.
Do you remember when in 2007 then-candidate Obama told an interviewer that what was really needed is a government-sponsored, single-payer health care system but that the majority of Americans would not accept it? Therefore, he said, such a system would have to be gradually introduced. Well, Obama told the truth that time.
Remember that 2 out of 3 Americans were against Obamacare when it was passed? Well, polls now show the number is up to 3 out of every 4 opposed.

Richard August is a North Kingstown resident and a regular contributor to the Standard Times. His opinions are his own.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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