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Get High on Life

By Harold Keller / L’Observateur / July 27, 1998

Unhappy about politics? Make the changes!

With all the public relations polls and surveys taken, it is said thatpoliticians do not vote convictions anymore. They vote according topopular opinions.In this election age, a poll can be taken with a small number of people.National polls interview only about 800-1,200 people and, as a rule, get anaccurate feeling of the pulse of the people. In a political election, the onlypoll that counts is the one on election day when people cast their votes.Last Saturday, in St. John the Baptist Parish, 5,000 voters out ofapproximately 25,000 registered (20 percent) cast their votes on twoissues. Both were millage property taxes. The first proposal on the ballotwas a renewal of a 16.08 mills for the sheriff’s department. The proposalpassed easily with 75 percent of the votes cast in favor of the renewal.Evidently, the people said to Sheriff Wayne Jones and his department,”Congratulations on a job well done! Keep up the good work.”The other proposal, a 25-mills property tax by the St. John Parish SchoolBoard, failed with only 43 percent of the votes cast in favor of themeasure that would have given the teachers a substantial pay raise. I don’tthink the defeat was directed to the teachers themselves. I think thepublic was saying to the school board and the school board officepersonnel to show us something before you ask to be rewarded.Herman Clayton, president of the St. John Employees Union, said that thepublic was not informed. He said, “It’s time to regroup. It’s not time forfinger-pointing.”Tim Patrick of LaPlace, who actively opposed the millage, said that thepublic was informed and that’s why it failed. Patrick said that the publicdoesn’t trust the school board or the union.Regardless of what Mr. Clayton or Mr. Patrick think, people will pointfingers. It’s just human nature. We love to shift the blame. Some peoplesay that because we have so many private schools, those people could careless about public education. I don’t buy that because all of us have to livein the same community. Good education, public or private, will benefit allthe people.Most of the blame for the school system we have is directed toward theschool board and top administrators. I, personally, don’t mind blaming thatgroup. When you stop to think of it, the school system, its school boardmembers and top administrators are a direct reflection of the people wholive in this parish. The top administrators are appointed by the schoolboard, and the school board is elected by the same people who defeated therecent proposal.The bottom line is that the majority of the finger-pointing should be inour direction. It should be aimed at us.As a point of information, all the school board members are up for re-election this fall. It’s a responsible job, but the pay is pretty good – $800a month.If you’re not satisfied, I challenge you to have enough guts to get involved.If not, as the old saying goes, “Put up or shut up.”

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

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