Community Inclusion and Euclid's Future, Don't Be Fooled Again!
It is election season once again, and that means that our residents will be heading to the polls to exercise their rights given to them by our forefathers in the name of democracy. This election has been heralded by many as being one of the most important in recent history on a national level, and because of that, it is predicted that Americans will be voting in record numbers.
Our founders established American government under a vision of truth and integrity that is both admirable and achievable even by today’s standards. Unfortunately, in what has become modern day politics, especially taxation, sometimes what you don’t know is what ultimately leads to unfortunate outcomes. Even at the local level, the voter is sometimes mislead with exaggerated claims and false promises from those we trust.
Euclid’s board of education is asking our residents to vote on Issue 111, a bond issue that will cost our residents almost 97 million dollars over the next 37 years. This will be added to your property taxes, 70% of which already go to fund Euclid’s schools, as well as a percentage of your income tax that you pay every year. This bond will go toward “capital improvements” in the schools, including the renovation/reconstruction of Euclid High School and the construction of a new Euclid Early Learning center at the location that is Forest Park Middle School.
Whilst I too agree that new construction is a great idea, we’ve been led astray in the past by those we trust. In 2009, Kent Smith, Ohio District 8 Representative, who was at that time a member of the Euclid school board wrote an open letter about the bond issue narrowly approved by Euclid. In that letter he said that the construction plan for our new elementary schools would include a “Community Inclusion Plan”. He wrote:
“The Community Inclusion Plan will also guarantee that a minimum of 25% of the construction hours will be worked by Euclid residents.” - (source - Euclid Wellness, A Euclid Community Newsletter - article "Euclid Schools Issue 109" published September 2009 by Kent Smith)
This ensured that work at the school construction sites would have some Euclid involvement and not be outsourced to neighboring communities. That Euclid residents could put in the work at these building sites and earn their pay by working within their community. 25% of the construction hours, worked by Euclid residents.
The construction has long been completed, the schools are up and running, and the final numbers are available public record. Upon review of the construction projects that brought us new elementary schools, it becomes obvious and evident that no effort was made to achieve or maintain a 25% inclusion of Euclid residents on the job at all of the construction sites.
Euclid residents never once worked the amount that Kent Smith and the school board promised. As a matter of fact, the Euclid construction project never once met that goal during construction. Additionally, Representative Smith promised that 20% of construction projects valued over $100,000.00 would go to Euclid businesses. Keeping 20% of the construction costs in Euclid businesses pocket. At the end of the project, local business contracts accounted for around 3% (not 20) of the overall construction costs.
This shows that the schools did not act in the “good faith” that was promised by school board member Kent Smith, (who is now your state representative) and that they would sooner tell us anything they could to get us to vote for their bond issue.
Euclid’s residents need to stand up this November 8th and tell our board of education that, although we value education, we are educated ourselves, and until a more equitable and agreeable plan can be reached to refurbish our schools, we won’t be fooled again. Turns out, all of our residents learned something from the construction of the new schools: “If it is too good to be true, it is”, and do not trust an empty promise from an elected official during the election season.
To read more about Issue 111, and how it affects you, visit: http://nomoreeuclidtaxes.com
Guy Wolford is a homeowner in Euclid Ohio, and has written articles for both print and online publications since 2001. A budding activist, Guy and his family enjoy taking advantage of all of the activities Euclid has to offer and always look for ways to get involved in helping to improve their city.