Title: More than just a swimming pool!
Recent Kingsport Times-News article.
For starters, this is by no means an attack on any of the great people associated with West Ridge. I believe those folks would agree that questions from the public should be answered by their elected representatives. If not, then those representatives are not doing a good job of representing the public, but instead representing their interest(s) and those of a select few. As for myself, I will not represent the interests of a few, but those of ALL voters and residents of the 5th Sullivan County Board of Education District.
Believe me, I’m fully aware of the slings and arrows that are about to come my way once certain people read this blog update. To me, a good representative doesn’t shy away from answering or asking the hard tough questions and they must say to heck with the consequences of what some people might say. Instead, they should drive on and do the right things anyway, which is what I will do once elected, God willing.
The swimming pool, or lack thereof at West Ridge, hasn’t been one of the big questions I’ve received thus far. Regardless, it’s still an important issue to discuss, especially given the astronomical $11 million price tag we’re hearing. This is outrageous, especially considering this was part of the original plan in the first place until somehow it wasn’t. Also, funds were set aside to build one after the fact, until they were somehow reappropriated - or misappropriated in my book.
To quote The Big Lebowski, “Where’s the money?”
Before delving further into the questions about a swimming pool, I think the public should be asking the following questions.
1.) Why was the process of building West Ridge initially such a secret?
2.) Why has the process of closing various schools in recent years been so secretive?
3.) Why hasn’t there been accountability for all the money that was spent on West Ridge?
4.) Who secretly profited off West Ridge?
According to many reliable sources, there was under-the-table money and kickbacks. I’m not making allegations directed at any one person, but these are questions and concerns brought up by many in recent years. I get it, some of it might very well be hearsay from those who either were or are still upset, but many of these people are honest and reliable, and it’s because of those good people that I bring all of this up here.
Now, I’m not one to put much stock in hearsay or nonsensical conspiracy theories, but I can say if the public is concerned about certain issues, then as their elected representative I’ll be concerned about those issues as well.
That said, when it comes to an $11 million pool, with the cost-benefit analysis not favoring such an expenditure at present, it’s a non-starter for me at the moment. I say that because many other problems and concerns need to be addressed first well before we spend millions of taxpayer dollars on something that 99.99% of the public isn’t asking for.
I certainly realize the merits of having a pool, not just for a swim team and those who might compete at a West Ridge pool from time to time. There are several public programs to consider. I remember going to the Sullivan North pool in the summer when I was very young. I remember the swimming classes that my late mother enrolled me and my brother in. I remember like it was yesterday- swimming nearly 3/4th of the length of the pool underwater without coming up for a breath and winning a tootsie roll. So I have sentimental reasons for wanting a pool, but sentimentality has no place in fair and rational decisions, especially when it comes to spending the taxpayer’s money.
More About My Campaign
Please put the following link in your favorites at least until March 5th as I’ll certainly be adding more blog updates between now and then.
Todd A. McKinley, BA, MSL