Barrett: Spending restrictions on school board not all that shocking

Barrett: Spending restrictions on school board not all that shocking

February 6th, 2011 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

The puzzlement is puzzling.

Some Hamilton County Schools officials can't fathom why the County Commission wants to make sure that millions of dollars in revenue are spent on school construction - rather than swallowed up in the schools' general purpose budget.

But it isn't as if the school board and administration have given the commission no reason to question their stewardship. All too often when the board spends according to its own priorities, it looks like that scene from "The Little Rascals" where Grandma leaves the kids in charge of the candy counter. They frivolously divvy up the sweets, then Wheezer cries, "T'ain't enough!"

A school board that handles money half as wisely as it thinks it does wouldn't, for instance, have lavished retirement benefits on itself for part-time work. Sure hope the members who voted for those benefits think it was worth it, now that the commission is putting a bit of school funding on restriction.

Weirder still, the board and administration have revived talk of providing across-the-board $400 or $500 bonuses to school district employees. That multimillion-dollar boondoggle could wind up costing jobs.

Retirement pay for board members and bonuses for competent and iffy employees alike might not be directly related to school construction funds. But such tone-deaf behavior by the board in the midst of massive unemployment justifies the commission's desire to ensure that the revenue in question is spent on building schools, not on licorice and lemon drops.

That's not some malevolent power play. It's just good judgment honed by years of watching the board pull costly stunts with other people's money.

the Easily provoked

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's speech at a meeting organized by congressional supporters of the tea party "provoked new cries from liberals and some academics that conservative justices are shedding the appearance of impartiality," Tribune Newspapers advises.

Scalia's subversive message to the lawmakers? Follow the Constitution as written.

Whether 'tis nobler to have conservative justices who are impartial but don't appear so to liberals, academics and other redundant groups of people, or liberal justices who pretend to be impartial but really just want to put the force of law behind their prejudices.

It's nice that some choices are easy.

Late for the door

The Obama administration's top energy and climate adviser is leaving.

Good riddance.

Think what you may of her environmentalism, Carol Browner was, right up until the time of her appointment in 2009, listed as one of 14 leaders of the climate arm of Socialist International. That wing of the London-based organization opposes U.S. sovereignty and promotes "global governance," The Washington Times noted around the time of Browner's appointment.

Anyone is free to be a socialist, but the rest of us are not required to take seriously a person who still believes that wealth redistribution - aka "theft" - is a workable economic plan. And certainly no administration is obliged to offer a powerful position to an individual who holds that fundamentally un-American view.

Browner's departure was overdue about three seconds after she took office.

Tragic 'choice' all around

Headline about the Philadelphia abortion clinic where authorities say babies were fully delivered alive, then murdered with scissors: "Women: Pennsylvania abortions left us sterile, near death."

Yeah, and just think what happened to the babies.

To reach Steve Barrett, call 423-757-6329 or e-mail