Opinion » Bill Cope

Ask Bi... Badger Bob

The school bond bind


Cope Note: I have just now--not 10 minutes ago--returned from my polling spot, where I voted for the largest school bond in the history of Idaho. "For," I say, but I'm not feeling very good about it. As soon as I got home, I checked my e-mail and found this request for advice in my "Ask Bill" box. My apologies to the lady, but I'm handing it over to Badger Bob. I don't believe I can help with her concerns, since I share her ambivalence. For 20 years, I have watched the Meridian School District struggle to keep its head above the flood of youngsters pouring into our community and frankly, I don't know what to do about it. On the other hand, Bob is meaner than me, blunter than me and the last time he felt ambivalent about something was when the Beatles broke up. I think it may take just such a nasty, crusty, crotchety mean-streak as Bob's to offer anything truly helpful.

Dear Mr. Cope,

I have just now--not 20 minutes ago-- returned from my polling spot, where I voted for the $140 million school bond. But I do not feel at all good about my "yes" vote, even though I have four children already attending Meridian schools and two more on the way. Three, if you count little Jenna/Jimmy who is due in February. I am sooo excited. You wouldn't think I could be this excited over my seventh delivery, but honestly, Mr. Cope, I have not been this excited since we moved here from Arizona. Have you ever been to Arizona? It's nice down there but it is just not as good a place to raise children as Meridian. That is why we came here. To raise children. That, and my husband Skippy's new job.

I voted for more schools because when my little Skippy Jr. went to his first day at Tammy DeWeerd Elementary, there were over 200 children beyond what anyone expected. That is like thinking you are going to have a baby, and quadruplets pop out. Ha! And things are even worse at my daughter Brighamina's high school. Gracious, they had to set up port-o-toilets for the drama students to meet in because they ran out of temporary classrooms.

Trouble is, I am afraid that some day we homeowners here in Meridian will be forced out of our homes by the taxes it takes to pay for the new schools it takes to keep up with all the in-coming children. That is what Skippy says will happen, and that is why he voted against the bond. Imagine that! We Packards might as well have not showed up to vote since we canceled each other out anyway. Ha!

But Skippy has a point, does he not, Mr. Cope? After all, how can we raise children in a good place to raise children if we have to raise them somewhere else, because they keep raising taxes on our property to pay for the rising number of children? Is there any way we can put a stop to new children coming here? After all, if my neighborhood Maverick store can put up a sign that says "NO MORE THAN THREE TEENAGERS IN THE STORE AT ONCE," could not Meridian put up a sign, too? Something like, "OUR SCHOOLS ARE TEMPORARILY FILLED TO CAPACITY. YOU MUST EITHER WAIT OUTSIDE THE DISTRICT FOR AN OPENING, OR EDUCATE YOUR CHILDREN SOMEWHERE ELSE." That would solve the problem, I think. What are your thoughts, Mr. Cope?


Leona Packard,

full-time mom

Bob Berserquier here, Leona girl. Cope won't say what he really thinks on this matter because he still has a kid in the Meridian system. I told him if he's seriously worried about some sort of retaliation, he should send her to school with an alias. I even suggested a fake name for his girl--"Fanny Boppenhamer"--but he won't go along. Big baby.

So's you want to put a lid on the number of kids coming to town, huh? Good idea, Toots, but you're not going far enough. Even if you plugged the in-coming kids tap today, these Meridian schools would still look like a North Korean May Day parade. The only solution is to set the limit retroactively. Catch my drift? Anyone here before, say ... 1995 can stay. The rest of you ... am-scray! (When did you say you moved here, Leona? I didn't catch it.)

But we can't stop there. We have to put together a mob of outraged citizens willing to go burn down the Department of Commerce. I say if we didn't have a state-run bureau of bozos whose job it is to tell the rest of the world what a great goddam place Idaho is to raise house apes, we could stem the tide at its source. Following me? And then, while the torches are still hot, we should swing by those planning and zoning agencies that keep allowing subdivisions to plop down anywhere and everywhere like pregnant pigs. And when we're finished with them, we should pay a visit to a few dozen developers.

Hey, these developer guys turn towns into cities, cities into unlivable, then sit back and laugh while the rest of us trip over backwards to play systems catch-up. Their biggest civic concern is keeping a good, tight short-hairs-hold on our elected officials, so's no one ever makes them cough up some impact fees for the damage they do. I figure treating them to a little midnight ride out of town strapped to their own backhoes is about the only option we got left. And think about this: We could auction off their assets and hire another teacher or two. Talk about your win-win solutions, eh?

But there's one more thing, Leona. We need to have a little sit-down--you, me and Skippy makes three--to discuss birth control. Seven kids? What? You trying to get your own teevee show?

Now, I'm sure you and Skippy are beautiful, wonderful, wise parents and all, and I'm sure your kids are all grade-A prime. But we ain't hacking a homestead out of the wilderness anymore, Toots. It's not like wild bears will carry off a few of your young'uns before they grow up! Seriously, it's time for you to slow down while you still have a uterus.

And believe me, I'm not here to interfere with your reproductive rights. But to put it to you straight, folks are getting fed up with paying for your litter. In fact, I have just now--not 30 minutes ago--returned from my polling spot where I voted against that bond. And I don't even own any property. Ha! What do you think of that, Leona? It wouldn'ta cost me a nickel. The way I figure, if we work a little harder to make this a crappy place to raise kids, maybe a few thousand of you will head back to California ... Texas ... wherever the hell you said you come from ... and eventually this'll be a better place to raise kids. Savvy?