FACTS Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

Isn't it amazing how Shakespeare still applies!

Here we go again! Another non-scandal at the hands of the completely cartoonish TaxFACTS group that’s going to rock Geneva to it’s very core.

Or not!

As if we needed further proof of these folks' lack of imagination, they’re calling this particular kerfuffle, “.” And they had to go all the way back to 2006 to dig it up. Where’s John Ehrlichman when you really need him?” Apparently, some people have way too much time on their hands.

Also apparently, back in 2006, a District 304 consultant laid out what he believed to be the lowest, expected, and highest potential enrollment numbers for the next five years. But instead of using his 6,412 student 2012 estimate, District 304 used a 7,472 number when pushing the April 2007 referendum that brought us the and elementary schools.

Never one to pass up a “gotcha” opportunity, the FACTS equivalent of Rufus T. Firefly, Bob McQuillan, issued the inevitable pointy fingered “Aha!” and then demanded an explanation for this unholy discrepancy at the April 9 School Board meeting.

His wacky theory du jour is, had the voters been appropriately informed and not duped by a nefarious School Board, the 2007 referendum that passed by a scant 100 votes wouldn’t have!

My two-word response to that preposterous position would have to be, “Horse feathers!”

First, none of you bother to vote to begin with and, when you do, the criteria comes down to who you’d like to share a beer with. So suddenly somehow this whole thing hinged upon a 1,000 projected student differential?

Animal crackers!

As it was, is, and always shall be, self-interest ruled the day! The folks who believed the additional schools benefited them voted yes, while the people who no longer had children in the school system voted no. It’s that simple.

“But Jeff! Those dastardly School Board members clearly engaged in monkey business when they sold us that bill of goods!”

First, exactly what school board are we talking about? Like that Zen caution against stepping in the same river twice, of the seven current board members, only three were seated at that time. So how can we blame this board? Even the superintendent was relatively new.

Not only that, but despite the early 2007 warning signs, we still believed we were on our the way to an eternal housing market boom nirvana. So what if all those subprime mortgages were starting to unravel, that only affected those silly poor people.

With a multitude of Mill Creek homes planned and a brand new subdivision coming into LaFox, I don’t think a 7,472 student estimate was out of line. Just because you hire a consultant, that doesn’t mean you have to accept his work at face value.

Even if I did buy into FACTS' claim that, like good used-car salesmen, the 2007 board employed a bit of puffery to pass a referendum, my utterly non-flippant response would be, “No! Say it ain’t so, Bob! What! A public body gilded the lily to con the taxpayers into coughing up more cash to serve that body’s specific interest? The horror! That kind of thing almost never happens.”

Apparently no one from FACTS has ever shopped on ebay or craigslist.

C’mon! Does anyone really believe that Mitt Romney is suddenly an NRA standard bearer? And it’s always up to us, the voter, to see through this kind of consistent chicanery.

Of course, then McQuillan’s dutiful minions couldn’t help but add their 2 cents about the too-obvious ulterior motives for this heinous enrollment projection impropriety.

Oh, yeah! Being elected to the School Board is rife with perks, not the least of which is having to face down the freaking FACTS folks at every bloody meeting. Then there’s that huge salary, the benefits, the power, the prestige and it’s just one small step to the presidency. Wait a minute …

Other than the fact it’s fun and they have nothing better to do, what’s the point of rehashing some 6-year-old enrollment estimates now? It’s not as if we can dismantle those schools and send ‘em back! The time for this kind of due diligence was back in 2007.

Bringing it up now only makes the TaxFACTS group look petty, mean and small.

Geneva! We have a problem to solve. Even the sages that managed to predict the housing bust had no idea it would be this precipitous and deep. With gas prices and unforeseen affordable housing driving folks back into the inner suburbs, our efforts are better spent coming up with a reasonable District 304 debt solution—fast!

Though I agree with School Board President Mark Grosso’s argument that, especially in this case, there’s no point in discussing the past, it would be a mistake to give FACTS the upper hand in this, because that’s what they really want. Explain the enrollment discrepancy for whatever it is and move on.

Of course, FACTS will go off again because that’s what they know how to do! But just like a kidney stone, that will soon pass. If you don’t address it, then they will blather on and on and on and on and on and on … well, you get the idea.

Bob McQuillan had his chance to be a leader the day he managed to pack a board meeting with 200 Genevans, but he blew that opportunity in record time. Despite all of FACTS’ bluster, their highly vaunted website boasts a grand total of 21 registered users.

I get more comments on my worst columns. (Not that there are any.)

So, Mark! Don’t make the mistake of giving McQuillan and his shrieking minority of minions the power by playing their game. You don’t want this to turn into another night at the opera.

John R April 23, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Just got off the phone with Williamsburg and Fabyan and they both have a school full of kids.
Stacy April 23, 2012 at 09:04 PM
John, I am quite happy to stand up for our schools. I don't believe we've looked at all the solutions and are far too busy placing blame, calling for school closings and firing staff. These are problems that our young children should not be facing and worrying about whether their school will close, if their favorite teacher or principal will be dismissed, is troubling. I understand that things change, economic times have changed, but no one of looking at fresh options or coming up with new ideas. Everyone just says "that's not possible," or "look at the poor decisions that have been made, its doomsday now!" I grew up in a town that without the University was quite similar to Geneva. We had a three year high school and a graduating class of 550. Leading up to that were 10 elementary schools and three junior high schools. For the most part each school had two classes in each grade with 25 students each, and they were K-6. It felt right, the same way the elementary schools are now feels "right." Maybe they overbuilt the size of two of the schools so they are half utilized. Does that mean we start shuffling kids around to spend hours a day being bussed to a school just because it is too big and we need to use up the space? I think not. Find creative ways to use that space without sacrificing our kids. If Geneva wants its community and academic integrity to suffer, then make the simple, but wrong decisions.
Stacy April 23, 2012 at 09:09 PM
John, Are you looking for a school that isn't "full" of kids? Every school will say they are full. I also believe every parent will agree that their child's schools are the perfect size. I have seen all of the elementary schools first hand and some are more "full" than others, but I don't believe that really means anything. Are you thinking we should move the one school that says is isn't "full" into other schools making them REALLY "full?" I'm not sure I understand your mot us operandi here.
John R April 23, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Hi Stacy, We are on the same page. I do not want to see any schools closed. The closing of schools is something the taxFacts group has floated. I've called the schools and they have plenty of kids. I feel like the taxFacts group has created this sense of false outrage so that they could have another stick to beat the board. We probably need all our schools. Send me an email at district304.geneva@gmail.com I'm working on getting a group together who will support this board. I'm very concerned that taxFacts has an agenda which could be very destructive to our schools. I may speak up at tonight's meeting so if you attend please say hi. I think we are of like minds on these issues. Thanks, John Ps two of us are posting as John. I'm the anti taxFact John :)
Bob McQuillan April 23, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Please listen to what GenevaTaxFACTS is saying. We have not asked for any school to be closed, any teacher to lose their job, and teacher to take a cut in pay or any child to lose their "favorite principle." We have simply asked a questions about what the administration and board said they did vs. what actually happened. Right now this is a question of trust in both the administration and board. While I know one opinion writer thinks that everyone lies on a referendum but is that really what people think about our school administration and board - I certainly did not, I believed they were honest when they said they used an expert's most expected enrollment projections. We now know that isn't true, what happened during the referendum process that the numbers were changed and who knew what was done. That referendum cost $80 million plus interest and even more when you factor in that they refinanced callable bonds into non-callable bonds at a huge 9% rate. THE COMMUNITY HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. I certainly don't teach my children to say one thing and do another to get what they want. I don't think you do that either. Lets get the right answer to the question and then deal with any issues after we know what happened. Administrators and board members have to take responsibility for what they said and did. There decision is use their own projection numbers has had consequences that this community will bear for many. many years.


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