Paul Lazzaro, Guest Editorialist, to The Golden Hammer
I may be retired, but that does not mean I stopped caring about my community. 2019 marks the 20th year of my residence here and 20th year as a community activist; first as vice president of marketing and public affairs for The Woodlands Operating Company (pre-Howard Hughes) and then as a successful political consultant. Recently, I became involved in the defeat of the $807 million CISD school bond as I joined the 54.5% of “No” voters, residents, and experts recognizing a bad, excessive, and wasteful bond. Not to mention its threat of an accompanying 2.3 percent increase in our already bloated property tax burden.
It is that fact that demands I speak up about the biased multi-page feature in this month’s Woodlands’ Community Impact News (mailed free to every household). This article and its graphics should be labeled as an advertisement for CISD…from the desk of Superintendent Null or elected CISD Board trustee Datren Williams who still refuses to listen to his constituents.
The Community Impact article attempts to influence and shame those who voted “No,” by listing 10 projects that would have directly benefited school facilities like gyms, cafeterias, and renovations. I doubt that any caring citizen voted against those. But, these add up only to $187.8 million. Where did CISD intend to spend the other $619.2 million that was included in the $807 million bond? The plot thickens.
In another local newspaper, Williams made clear that he intends to “communicate to the electorate the consequences of not passing a bond…”I’d like to better educate the other 94% of the electorate that didn’t vote.” During the $807 million bond referendum, Williams and Null were the two individuals who made the most threats about what would happen if the bond didn’t pass. CISD outsmarted itself by utilizing the “tried and true” method of getting a school bond passed during an off-year election when voter turnout is always low. However, this year, residents and citizens rose up in a groundswell movement that defeated the bond.
The newspaper seems to have taken a “Woodlands Elite” posture when it says the bond was defeated mostly outside south Montgomery County. They apparently failed to realize that most of the schools and students are located outside of south Montgomery County. Only 27.7 percent of CISD students live in The Woodlands Township. The final vote tally showed 63.6 percent of precincts voted “No,” and only 33.3 percent voted “Yes.” Those numbers reflect demographic profiles that were energized as soon as the $807 million bond was introduced and why they foretold its failure.
After losing, Datren Williams said, “It’s not a question of if we’re going to have another bond, it’s just how much.” Hope our educators have learned the lesson that they are there to serve as a quasi-governmental body and that the Board of Trustees is not responsible to the Superintendent and his architects. They are responsible to the people who elect them in America where a simple majority speaks for all.