Kudos & Kvetch: The moments of 2011 that make one say, "C'mon, Man!"
By JEAN L. KAESS
It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?
Together, the collective consciousness of the Tri-City area has suffered through a massive flood threat and felt the pain of a family mourning the murder of a loved one. We saw a children’s home get ballyhooed and watched our school superintendent try unsuccessfully to leave St. Mary Parish.
We had a festival in a tropical storm and cheered two high school football teams into the playoffs.
And that’s been only the last six months.
While I really want to use this, my little corner of the world, to light up the area with my opinion of the Morgan City mayor and council raises, I’ll leave that to fellow reporter Geoff Stoute. He had to cover that meeting of insanity, um, council meeting Tuesday.
This week we will, instead, pause for a little reflection.
Now, as we all know, it’s not really my style to do a sappy look back at the year. I’d rather have a little fun with it, and since my husband has been kind enough to tune the television to ESPN at every waking moment since football began this season, I’d like to pay homage to those announcers.
We’re going to play our own version of “C’mon, Man!”
The St. Mary Parish School Board has had a couple in 2011. I really don’t think they can help themselves.
Four plans for redistricting are just plain ridiculous when you consider that the school board could go down to eight members and use the parish council’s single member districts. The work is done for them.
Of course, board members would have to give up their little kingdoms and actually work for votes again. (Please note: My criticism should have nothing to do with whether a soccer team is formed for students at Berwick High School, but we know how politics work in this neck of the woods. If this cause that I've been championing gets squashed, remember this date.)
What’s more, the latest plan calls for a single district to stretch from the western parish line to the Atchafalaya River. Are you really telling me that the representative who lives in Baldwin is going to be up on what’s happening at Berwick High School if I, as a parent, need help?
Still, the worst one came from Superintendent Donald Aguillard, and I don’t think many people outside of the school system caught on to exactly what he was implying.
During his interview for Lafayette Parish superintendent, Aguillard was asked how he reduced the achievement gap in St. Mary. His reply?
There was a school, now closed due to consolidation where, of the 39 fourth graders, three of them passed the LEAP in 2004. The school was in academic warning in that year. In the 2006-07 school year, the school grew 25.4 points in one year. How? "We taught English Language Arts and math. We barely taught science and social studies. We taught what those kids needed”.
Do me a favor and reread those last two sentences.
In the next year the school grew another 25.4 points. What he didn’t tell you or remind the Lafayette Parish board was that ELA and math were all that counted toward school performance scores at that time.
So, let’s re-examine that for a moment. The school system cheated those children out of learning science and social studies so it could raise scores.
And Doc was campaigning for a job based on this.
Finally, Morgan City leaders get one for actually expecting us to believe that the mayor and council’s raises have nothing to do with the road tax passage.
It’s called creative accounting, and I’m sure it’s something that all politicians are quite good at. It’s quite simple, really, and I’ll break it down for you.
Our hypothetical family has two checking accounts but no savings. They pay the bills from one checking account and purchase gifts for each other with the other.
Joe Q. Public, the husband, pops two tires in a pothole and must use the gift account to pay for his car repairs. However, his wife’s birthday is coming up and he has to get her something special because he’s been a bit of a pain lately, and he knows it. He can’t use the bill account because then the lights will get shut off.
What is a man to do? He needs another quick source of income. In Joe Q. Public’s case, he gets a payday advance and all works out as it should.
In Morgan City, roads need repair and we don’t have enough money in that account to pay for them. We have money in the general fund, but if we spend that we can’t do other things with it (like give ourselves raises) so we’ll go to the citizens and ask for money.
The citizens, who have no clue that the raise is about to be dropped on them, approve a tax for road repairs because they’re tired of popping tires in potholes.
Now that the general fund money is free, let’s see what else we can spend it on.