Opinion » Bill Cope

2C Flakes

An ill wind blows from the west

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This happened on the Saturday morning before the school bond elections. I was sitting at one of Meridian's busier intersections when I saw three guys--all about my age, I'm guessing--each holding a brightly colored placard big enough to be read easily by passing motorists. As I spend somewhere between 95 and 98 percent of my time within a half-mile radius of my favorite sofa in Meridian, I can't say for sure that you Boise folks saw the same placards leading up to Tuesday's elections, but I bet you did. I can't remember exactly what they read, but the message was clear. "Vote NO on the School Levy." All the placards read the same, with big bold letters in vivid colors on a heavy, stiff stock. Those babies didn't come cheap.

I had seen what I believe to be the same placards before--last May when the Meridian School District tried to get an earlier version of the levy passed, but failed. One of the reasons it failed the first time--if not the primary reason--was that then, as now, there were all these guys standing around at busy Meridian intersections, flashing placards to passing motorists: "Vote NO on the School Levy."

I'd heard stories that those guys with the placards were not from Meridian, but were in fact shipped in from Canyon County to screw with our school district. This infuriated me to no end--that the intellectual and moral mange which has infected Canyon County for decades was spreading outside the dumpy confines of Nampa and Caldwell, across the line into my town. It made me even more angry to hear rumors that the Idaho Freedom Foundation--that mysteriously wealthy source that has been slopping out pre-fab legislation for our governor and Legislature to wallow in--was behind the effort to defeat the levy. After all, just how do a pack of guys--all of whom have the free time to stand around on street corners flashing placards--get a hold of the same expensive posters unless somebody is coordinating the event, eh? And isn't it possible, even probable, that someone was even slipping them a few bucks to stand out on street corners and screw with our school district?

Anyway, last May, when I saw those ... uh, what might we call them? ... outside agitators? ... Canyon County head lice working their way onto Ada County heads? ... bums putting in a few hours for Thunderbird money? ... flashing their imported placards on Meridian's streets, I seethed silently and drove on by.

Not this time. On the morning in question, a mere 72 hours until the polls would determine whether the Meridian and Boise school districts would remain viable entities in which our communities could trust to provide a decent education to future generations of Meridianaters and Boiseists, I decided not to drive on by. I pulled in behind the three placard flashers and approached them.

"Where the hell you guys from?" I asked. And it's entirely possible I came across a tad confrontational when I asked it, for within seconds, they were as defensive as guilty teenagers.

"What's it matter where we're from?" bristled one, as another went into what sounded like a rehearsed soliloquy on what portion of the property taxes we pay goes into public education.

Things pretty much went downhill from there. To the one who asked "What's it matter ... ," I said something to the effect that I didn't appreciate right-wing dipwads from Nampa coming over here messing with our school system, and to the soliloquizer, I said it would be fine and dandy with me if all of my property tax dollars went to education. In response, one of them called me an idiot and I returned the insult by calling him an idiot, and after that, it was all "You're an idiot!"/"No, you're the idiot!" etc., etc.

After maybe a minute of such scintillating repartee, I left. As I walked away, I said with all the confidence I could cough up, "You're going to lose this one." But truth is, it felt like an empty promise even to me. In my heart, in my soul, in my gut, I didn't trust the fine, fine voters of the Meridian School District. My instincts were telling me these anti-public school bumpkins were probably going to win this one, just as they'd won the last one.

Yeehaw, you can't imagine how happy I was Wednesday morning to learn they had indeed lost this one. That the fine, fine voters of the Meridian School District had come through for future generations of Meridianaters, just as the fine, fine voters of the Boise School District had come through for future generations of Boiseists.

Frankly, I was never as worried about the Boise voters as much as I was about the Meridian crowd. Boise voters are ... uh, how shall I put this? ... let us say, noticeably more sophisticated than their commuter cousins in Meridian. It's a sad thing to admit about my own old 'hood, but I must often face the reality that the difference between so many Meridian voters and so many Canyon County voters is a lot less than the five-minute drive to the county line.

But this time, Meridian swung to the light. All of Ada County went for more enlightenment, in fact, while all of Canyon County--with one exception, and bless you for that, Caldwell--went darker. The county that has cursed Idaho with the likes of Steve Symms, John McGee, Ralph Smeed, Butch Otter, Wayne Hoffman and his Koch-funded IFF (tell me I'm wrong, Hoffman) have cursed their children to an even more inferior future.

Too bad, and not just for the kids, either. It's a shame we can't come up with some sort of quarantine. A wall, maybe, or dome. You know what I mean ... some way keep their degeneracy in one place.