Heidi Walters can usually be counted on to be fair and balanced in her reports, but her report on the $25.8 million Measure Q school bond gives short shrift to the Humboldt Taxpayer's League and others' reasons for opposing it ("Q-ing for Cash," Sept. 20). The Taxpayer's League's rationale is included in the sample ballot arguments, concluding that "Overall, there are insufficient descriptions, specifics or cost breakdowns of the projects to enable voters to make an informed decision on this bond issue." The district superintendent and board actually made the decision, instead of performing the necessary diligence, to ask voters to approve a bond for $25.8 million as a slush fund to draw upon when they finally get around to deciding how to spend it. They could decide to start with about $8 million for a community performing art center in Arcata and end up with cost overruns and huge architectural fees, etc., with a $20 million project with property owners in Orick, Blue Lake, Manila, McKinleyville and Arcata paying for it for the next 35 years! It is that uncertainty that should convince voters to vote no.
Superintendent Richards says he has heard mostly positive reaction to Measure Q, but I have been to meetings where there were many who expressed concern and reluctance to agree to support it. Richards said that computers will become outdated over the 25 year life of the bond, but more than just one upgrade could be funded by the bond money. The bond has been recalibrated to the point where it is "only" $19 per $100,000 of assessed value by extending it over 35 years, according to what I was told by school administration, not 25 years as Richards stated. Richards states that a citizen's oversight committee would be formed to help the board to decide which projects to do first. That couldn't be the legally mandated oversight committee, which cannot decide what projects to do. If it is another committee organized by the district, I can imagine the number of people with agendas standing in line to lobby for their special interests.
Voters should understand that voting no on this bond measure does not mean they do not support education or providing the necessary and critical needs of students. The district can go back to the drawing board and come up with a list of prioritized projects, including costs and justification, in the next election cycle that can be reviewed and commented upon by the public just as the McKinleyville Unified School District did before the voters approved their bond.
David Elsebusch, McKinleyville
If I went to a classical music concert and asked who would support a bond measure to pay for a performing arts center, I am likely to get a positive response. If I go to a sports event and ask the audience who would support sports, I've biased the answer before even asking the question. If your reporter were to take a truly random survey to find whether people in the NoHum district support Measure Q, she would have to do a bit more work. It insults the intelligence of your readers that such a pro-Measure Q article is passed off as news, and not an editorial.
My issues with Measure Q have to do with 1) buying 15 - 20 year turf with a 35-year bond, 2) the significant health and environmental problems with artificial turf that are not discussed, 3) building a new performing arts center when there are items of greater need, 4) the high proportion of money (over a third) that is going to a non-academic need, including making the school fields available for non-school sports and, finally, 5) the lack of oversight, other than rubber-stamp, on where and how the money would be spent.
The current students will be grandparents by the time this bond is paid off.
If Measure Q supporters wanted my vote, they'd have made a different list of priorities. More electrical outlets in the classrooms, insulation, doors that close and lock easily, improved library facilities, drinking fountains that work and more bathrooms are not exciting, but it may well be that this money is needed for those projects. Too bad there is nothing in the bond to ensure that the NoHum School Board or its administrators will spend the money on these mundane items instead of the flashy new artificial turf that will last half the time of its mortgage.
New bathrooms are worth the equivalent of a mortgage, artificial turf is not. I'm voting no on Measure Q, and asking your readers to do the same.
Pamela S. Sowerwine, McKinleyville
So it seems that Measure Q is aimed at improving Health and Safety issues at McKinleyville High School and Arcata High School?
If that is the case, then the money better go to build our teenagers at Mack High a safe, warm place to eat lunch. I cannot believe that students without vehicles or rides to leave campus have to shiver in the hallways if they cannot find a teacher who is willing to open his/her classroom so that they can have shelter out of the rain/wind/cold.
I went to Mack High in the mid-'80s and remember shivering in the cold hallways at lunchtime. Why has this not changed? Why did the structural improvements done a few years ago just go to benefiting the staff and teachers with new offices and a break room when the main concern should have been the students?
Are my grandchildren going to be shivering in the Mack High hallways, too?
Mara Rigge, Trinidad