When Will The North Revolt?

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Boondoggle.

Roll the word around on your tongue: Boooondogggggle.

Now: enunciate the phrase: Gila County Board of Supervisors.

See how well that all rolls together?

All right. Maybe we’re jumping the gun. The supervisors last week actually put off a decision on proposal to build a $1.6 million race track at the county fairgrounds in Globe. But it sounds like they’re more worried about upset horse lovers than the sketchy economics of the proposal — or the likely reaction from North County voters.

The Industrial Development Authority came to the board seeking approval of the race track for cars, either right on top of the unused horse race track or in a nearby canyon.

Now, the backers of the strange plan insist that the race track will generate all kinds of economic activity and therefore sales tax, which will presumably pay off the bonds the county would have to issue to build the facility.

Hogwash. The backers provided the faintest of economic justifications, since only two such tracks apparently operate elsewhere in the state at present. Hmm. Could it be it’s not such a great moneymaker after all?

But that’s not even our chief objection.

The proposal looks like one more lopsided effort to use property tax values in Northern Gila County to help finance some far-fetched economic development scheme in Southern Gila County.

Mind you, Gila County already spends $250,000 annually on the county fairgrounds in Globe, which returns maybe $10,000 annually in revenue.

All the while, Northern Gila County jurors must drive to Globe to do their civic duty, police officers must squander day after day to escort prisoners to Globe and county facilities remain lopsidedly distributed.

Now, we used to sputter and fume at the Globe politicos who have turned the county budget into their own little economic stimulus plan — spending money mostly collected in North County to keep voters happy in South County.

But these days we have to sheepishly quote Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” That’s because North County voters for the most part didn’t bother to turn out when Ronnie McDaniel ran for a seat on the board of supervisors after redistricting for the first time created a genuine swing seat. Unfortunately, he ran in the Democratic Primary and we think that North County Independents who could have voted him in instead voted in the Republican Primary — perhaps to boost the prospects of Sheriff Adam Shepherd.

In any case, the board of supervisors remains firmly in the grip of Globe — as evidenced by the careful attention given to this outlandish proposal.

Just goes to prove: Elections matter. But we hope that the board majority won’t now act with such high-handed glee that they lay the groundwork for a revolt of the North, which not only provides most of the tax base, but also now accounts for a majority of the county population.

A lesson in irony

We’ve got lots more to learn from the Payson Unified School District’s $20,000 survey of teachers and classroom instruction. But a few of the initial results jump off the page.

First, it looks like the teachers have good control of their classrooms, understand the state standards and incorporate those standards into their lesson plans.

On the other hand, they’re mostly not focusing on higher-level thinking skills or paying much attention to the latest research on how to get through to students.

Now, in coming issues — we’ll take a much more careful look at the survey and the mudslide rumbling down off the mountain of state and federal “reforms.”

But the initial results of this survey feel like a big glug of Arsenic of Irony. State and federal politicians impose a curriculum, insist on non-stop standardized testing and link school funding and teacher promotions to the test results. Naturally, the teachers scurry to teach kids how to pass the tests. Guess what: Now they’re all teaching slavishly to the test and short-changing the critical thinking skills the students actually need.

And ... wait for it ... The district wants teachers to pay attention to the educational research. Get it? Isn’t that funny? This is the same district that not long ago closed its highest performing school, dramatically increased elementary school class sizes and ignored research on the failure of the middle school model to produce results — all the clear results of educational research.

Looks like politicians, school board members and administrators all need a little in-service refresher class: Irony 101.

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