‘Magician’ conjures up some Prop P wizardry

To the editor:

See the wizard at work.

He focuses our attention on what he wants us to see, telling us that what we see is real.

It is real, but it is a distraction. It is not the whole truth, and it is definitely not where the real action is taking place. We gasp when the magician finishes his sleight-of-hand, and we see a new reality.

Now you know how the members of the Mehlville School District’s Proposition P Oversight Committee must feel.

They thought their job was to ensure that the capital projects identified specifically under Proposition P were completed within a budget of about $68 million to $72 mil-lion. But, as reported by the Call, we now know that millions more are planned to be collected and are already being spent. Stay with me here because there are a lot of numbers to digest, which makes it easy for the financial wizards to perform their magic.

For me, the big problem is that more than $25 million of our tax money is projected to be diverted from retiring the bond-like financial instruments set up in Proposition P. The $25 million is equal to 15 percent of the total 49 cents that the voters approved.

As Gloria Brazell was reported to say, people voted for the 49 cents for Proposi-tion P, not to spend 41 cents. And she is absolutely right.

Actions need to be taken by the board to regain control and earn back the trust of the taxpayers and voters. First, the board should return some of the 49 cents to the taxpayers in a reasonable manner that does not jeopardize the projects under the original Proposition P. Second, the board should reconvene the CACF under Dan Fowler’s capable leadership.

That way, the Proposition P plan can truly be re-scoped, if necessary, to fit the current financial reality. Finally, the board should delay at least one sizable project that has not been started until everyone on the Oversight Committee is satisfied that control has been regained. A delay would surely get the attention of all involved and would add gravitas to the situation.

I am tired of listening to the magician’s claim that the Oversight Committee did not get the message through all the financial smoke and mirrors. Usually you have to go to Las Vegas to see smoke and mirrors. But I won’t have the money for a Vegas trip because the wizards in the Mehlville School District have broken the spirit of the law.

Kent Bettale