It’s time to put the election behind us and move ahead E-mail
Opinion
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 10:10

By L&T Publisher Earl Watt

Prior to the school bond election watch party, I had prepared two statements to make that night, one if the bond passed, and one if the bond failed.

Both were similar and would have discussed hard work behind us and hard work ahead of us.

It’s not unusual to have two statements prepared for elections or in other highly publicized activities.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower had two statements prepared for the D-Day invasion, one if it was successful and another if it failed.

Had the bond issue failed, I wanted to make sure that the supporters were willing to accept the will of the voters and to find alternative ways to address the overcrowding issue.

But it seems two board members still aren’t willing to let go of their opposition to the plan even though the community overwhelmingly supported the measure by more than 76 percent.

Last night, Steve Helm and Tammy Sutherland-Abbott voted against two resolutions to move the financing of the bond forward so the improvements supported by 76 percent of the voters can get started.

In a Facebook posting, Sutherland-Abbott said she would support whatever the voters supported. That was apparently not true.

Helm continues to whine about the joint meeting between the city commission and school board that took place Sunday before the vote.

An open meeting took place between the school and city boards with the city manager and school superintendent in attendance along with legal counsel for both boards as well as media and community members.

Helm, who was in attendance via the phone, left only Sutherland-Abbott not in attendance for the school board and only Ron Warren absent from the city commission.

Helm, who has been able to see the inner workings of the interlocal agreement throughout the process and ask questions of counsel, chose the 11th hour to rail against the meeting over the phone when only cosmetic changes were made late to the agreement, and only abstained from voting rather than vote yes or no, basically the same as a “present” vote.

All other school board members in attendance voted to approve the agreement even after Helm’s tirade about the lateness of the notice of the meeting.

What Helm doesn’t point out is that opponents would have said that the sales tax was not yet signed, and that could have garnered more opposition to the plan. Once the agreements between legal counsel had taken in to account all the requests from their respective boards, and it was done prior to the election, the appropriate course of action was to schedule a public meeting as soon as possible. In this case, that meant Sunday afternoon, and both boards were willing to do so with the exception of Helm and Sutherland-Abbott.

Later, Sutherland-Abbott complained that when she said she would not attend a Sunday meeting did not mean she would not attend a Sunday meeting. Instead, she said, she wanted to be notified again even though she made it clear on Friday that she would not be attending a Sunday meeting.

On election day, Sutherland-Abbott made a request to see where the funding for the Citizens For Responsible Growth came from and how the grassroots group spent the money.

Like anyone, she can see the report that is being filed with the State of Kansas. It is an open record.

It seems Helm and Sutherland-Abbott prepared one response prior to the election  and do not care how the community voted. They planned to reject your decision if it did not match theirs, and they will obstruct any effort to carry out with 76 percent of the voters said they wanted.

They should at least explain to you why they have chosen to ignore the will of the people they were elected to serve. At this point, those who voted yes or no are probably scratching their heads.

The election is over, and the community spoke. We shouldn’t waste any more time discussing a weekend meeting that was necessary to inform the public prior to the vote.

It is my hope that Helm and Sutherland-Abbott will accept the results of the vote and be a part of a new era of cooperation in the community.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press.

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