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Pledges of financial support for HS -- with strings attached

 
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Ellen
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Joined: 15 May 2004
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Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2004 11:31 pm    Post subject: Pledges of financial support for HS -- with strings attached Reply with quote

First it was UT-Battelle, which announced June 15th that it would donate $2 million toward the rebuilding of the Oak Ridge High School, if the voters approve the referendum to increase the sales tax. Many people (including editorial writers) expressed dismay that the gift had strings attached, but considering that UT-Battelle had already paid for a structural investigation of the school and development of conceptual plans for a rebuild, we could rationalize that they felt it was time for the community to make a commitment, too.

Next came Oak Ridge Associated Universities' June 24th announcement that ORAU would donate $1 million to the rebuilding project over a five-year period if voters approve the Aug. 5 referendum increasing the city's sales tax.

On Monday evening it was BWXT Y-12, which announced a pledge of $1 million to be donated over a 5-year period, contingent on voters approving the 1/2 percent increase in the city's local option sales tax and DOE's extending BWXT Y-12's contract to manage the Y-12 National Security Complex. The newspaper articles about this announcement report that the amount could grow to $2.5 million in the future, "as BWXT Y-12 grows," but it's not clear what that means (or when the money would arrive).

This looks like a pattern. I expect a couple more donors to step forward in the coming days with similar strings-attached "deals."

I would feel better about this proposal if voters were truly able to decide the sales tax question on its merits, without the complication of knowing that large sums of money will be yanked away if we don't obediently approve the proposed sales tax increase. If these donor organizations truly believe in the importance and value of the project, they should be donating the money unconditionally, while working to convince voters that the referendum proposal is the best option for the community.

Consistent with my belief in open government, I prefer for the electorate to be persuaded, not bribed.

Anyway, if the referendum fails, the schools will still need the donors' assistance in upgrading ORHS, but the total project budget will be smaller.


Last edited by Ellen on Mon Feb 28, 2005 8:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ellen
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Joined: 15 May 2004
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Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2004 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My crystal ball is working. Now Wackenhut has announced a $500,000 contribution, over a 5-year period, conditioned on the voters approving the sales tax.

Supporters of the project have suggested that they expect $8 million in private donations, so I'm expecting a few more announcements. Confused
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny how it's only relative to the private sector contributions that you are complaining, despite the fact that there are "strings attached" on all sides.

The federal QZAB funding, allocated by the State, comes with some "strings attached" as well -- notably, a requirement for a percentage to be matched by business contributions. Commitments to date exceed, on an order of magnitude, the amount already approved.

City Council's support is conditional upon approval by the voters, but also conditional upon success in the Foundation's fundraising campaign -- if private donations fall short of the goal, the project will be scaled back. Tax dollars will not make up the difference.

Public education is a public responsibility, and we all benefit from it. That we are able to even conceive a scenario where other sources will pay for a third of the project is a fantastic gift for which we should be immensely grateful.
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Ellen
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Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing your views, "Guest."

============================

Monday's news included reports that Peggy and Tom Hanrahan of the Realty Center have pledged $10,000 to the ORHS project. I am pleased to note that there is no indication that there are any conditions attached to their gift. Thumbs Up

Thanks for your commitment to the community, Peggy and Tom. Cool
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