Earn our trust

The folks over at the Ysleta school district are going to try again.

Earlier this year they held an election seeking approval for $451 million in bonds.  The voters turned them down but it was close.

Now four months later they have announced that they will hold another election in November seeking $430 million.

Last time they published an extensive list of what they were thinking of spending the money on.  This time they have not issued a similar list yet.

Part of the problem the voters had is that the district reserved the right to change how we were told the money would be spent.  This graphic was available on the district’s web site:

yisdproject list

Another issue is the belief that many voters have that our local governments cannot handle major construction projects well.  Since the failure of their bond election we have seen the city bungle construction projects and not move forward on the quality of life bonds that the voters gave them back in 2012.

We have a children’s hospital in bankruptcy.  Our county hospital is losing money without even considering the money that the children’s hospital owes it.  The county allowed the hospital to sell $152 million worth of bonds to build new clinics that would save us $17 million a year in the emergency room according to the hospital administrator.  We have not seen the clinics and we have not seen the savings.

EPISD voted to repurpose $59 million that the voters were told would build a new high school.

The city can’t even build a one square block park, even at the outrageous price of $6 million.  The engineering department has essentially been eviscerated and the city has hired two out of town engineering firms.  Local firms need not apply.  We approved $473 million in bonds for quality of life projects three years ago and have seen nothing significant produced.

My sense is the public knows that YISD needs money.  The voters might be more apt to approve their requests if a more reasonable approach was taken.  They should ask for some money for a deserving project, say around $50 million.  Then they should complete the project thus proving to us that they will do what they promise and that they can handle the construction.

They need to prove that they can handle the money if we give it to them.

We deserve better

Brutus

8 Responses to Earn our trust

  1. YISD recently had a day where grandparents could read to their grandchild. It was 10 minutes of reading and then all the grandparents were herded into the gym where they were shown a video on the bond issue and given a presentation by an associate superintendent. Then bingo and light refreshments were provided. Look at the deception that YISD is committed to. I fear the bond issue! What other tricks are planned with our money and children?!

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    • Anonymous says:

      What a great observation! Free bingo and refreshments for grandma and grandpa and 10 minutes with the grandchild so YISD can get support on the next bond issue. The real purpose of getting them to come read to their grandkids.

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  2. mamboman3 says:

    I think they keep doing these huge bond elections so that the more money they can get approved by the voters, the more they have to “reappropriate” for other stuff the voters never approved or stuff they knew the voters would never approve, or stuff they just didn’t want the voters to know about….more money to play around with, in other words. Our 2012 bond election is looking more and more like that. The county also often comes up saying it’s got money from something way back “that was never spent” or that’s been sitting there for years without getting spent on what it was supposed to be spent on, and we voters tend to forget or are easily kept in the dark about unspent old bond money…and if we do ever ask about it will surely be told that it was appropriated for something and we can’t touch it for anything else…but they can!

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    • Reality Checker says:

      If money from bonds has been sitting unused, we’ve also been paying expensive interest on that money. If things are built later than intended, we’re paying for them without getting the benefit associated with the debt and higher taxes that have already kicked in.

      UMC is also guilty of “repurposing” bond money.

      Let’s call it what it is: the old bait-and-switch.

      You also never see detailed annual reconciliations of the uses of bond money compared to the original plans that were sold to the public.

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  3. Brutus says:

    Deputy,

    I agree, the current system panders to the voters.

    Then again maintenance should be paid for from the annual operating budgets.

    Brutus

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  4. And, another issue that is always overlooked is that a major reason they now say that entire school campuses need to be rebuilt is the lack of proper day to day maintenance, despite the presence of full time “maintenance” people on campus. The Administration needs to explain why these campuses have been allowed to fall into such disrepair.

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  5. Jerry K says:

    The issues of competence and trust are paramount. The public entities have rarely shown competence on large projects and SJ Park isn’t even a large one! The elected officials talk about paying employees more, but for what? Probably to get their votes.

    But trust is even more important and since the stadium coup de etat no one trusts the city anymore. Add in the EPISD test score scandal and the three county judges in jail and Sal Meno…don’t expect miracles!

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  6. Deputy Dawg says:

    Brutus, here is the slight flaw in the “one project” proposal: Say the project is to fix a particular campus, like Eastwood. Who will vote in favor of that? People that live around Eastwood that have skin in the game. Who will vote against it? Everyone else in the district who are not going to get anything. That is the way El Paso voters are. So a large district has to present these enormous bonds so that every school, in every neighborhood gets something, even if it is only a new gym floor. In El Paso, the question is always “Whats in it for me?”

    Another problem with that way of thinking is that if you hold onsie-twosie bond elections, there is no guarantee that they will pass, and projects that might be very important (like fixing infrastructure or roofing) might not pass when something flashy that is less important like remodeling libraries would pass.

    I think that is why they roll all of the projects into one giant bond.

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