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You, me and $267 per hour

From the Douglas County Sentinel: Tea Party to protest BOE pay: School board second-highest paid in state

Martinez said what the Tea Party found in talking to hundreds of people at September Saturdays was that citizens weren’t aware of the large gap in pay between the Douglas County BOE and other similar-sized school systems.

Haskell said he hasn’t heard from anyone in the public about the school board’s pay since a Sentinel investigation first brought the issue to light five months ago.

When attempting to bring about a change in policy – even one that the majority would agree, if asked, is sane – there’s an even bigger obstacle than government’s resistance to change: lack of public initiative. Most of the time it’s not that we don’t care. It’s that we don’t know enough to know if we care one way or another.

We all spend our time as we choose. Sometimes prior choices obligate our time, but they were, in almost all cases, a result of our own decision-making process. We are responsible if we do not or think we cannot make time.

We are particularly culpable when information affecting our community and our financial well-being is publicly available – via the County website, County commission meetings, Board of Education meetings, the Sentinel, local Facebook pages – and we devote little or no time or concern to watching one or more of these information sources in case something merits a call or e-mail expressing our opinion on the matter.

People, if we don’t keep a bead on local goings-on then it is a much bigger deal. Our representatives find it easier to make what we might think are bad choices because, as Sam Haskell says, they don’t hear from anyone. We find it harder to be involved because instead of a five-minute phone call or 10-minute e-mail it’s 30 minutes of reading just to get the backstory and catch up so we can then decide if we ought to spend five or 10 minutes more to speak up.

I say this all as someone who’s long neglected the school board unless something major comes up. I am responsible, in part, for this pay situation that’s been festering for the last 10 years. The Tea Party folks have done us a favor and stirred the pot. Whether you think the current pay rate is okay or not, now is your chance to speak up. Whatever your position on their pay, I would urge you to advocate for local control of it, regardless of the salary. I’ll be talking to my rep about both aspects of the issue.

If you’d be willing to devote some time to civic involvement but think it’s too difficult to keep up with the various boards and meetings and committees and authorities, maybe you should move.

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