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Letter: No vote on referendum will prevent harm to community

By Paul R. Dorr, Ocheyedan, Iowa Far too much was made about my assistance and/or my personal motives in fighting school bonds in the recent Worthington ISD #518 referendum. I can assure you that I haven't met one committee member, more so, execu...

By Paul R. Dorr, Ocheyedan, Iowa

Far too much was made about my assistance and/or my personal motives in fighting school bonds in the recent Worthington ISD #518 referendum. I can assure you that I haven’t met one committee member, more so, executive committee member, of the Worthington Citizens for Progress Committee that shares my personal view or motivation. And as they will attest with real experience, I always honored their final word with regard to the entire campaign message.

 

If you think about it, I am a bit inconsistent, in this regard. The greatest harm that can be done to the institution of public education would be to let it financially collapse. That’s exactly what’s happening in Detroit, Chicago and other major cities. But I’ve seen the pain and suffering that comes from financial disarray. In fact, I’ve seen it once before in Worthington.

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When the property owners in the Worthington area first contacted me and requested my assistance in this $79 million bond vote, I soon asked how many local bankers were involved. You see, I used to own a portion of a community bank here in Ocheyedan. I sold out in the mid-1980s. In the nine states I work in, I routinely see the harm bankers/bond dealers are doing to the middle class. The bankers are most often the ones leading the push in their communities for wasteful spending on public infrastructure -- particularly schools. But I also fight for citizens opposing wasteful new jails, outrageous courthouse additions, etc.

 

After I sold my banking interest here in Ocheyedan I was hired in 1985 by the president of a Worthington bank to come help clean up the mess their bank had made, by extending debt to customers far beyond what they could support. This was a very painful, emotional and traumatic time for many in the Midwest and, particularly, what I experienced in Worthington.

 

You’d have to have been there during conference-room meetings with other bank officers and have a staff member come in to tell us that KWOA is reporting that a banker in Ruthven had just been gunned down by an angry customer, or to hear the report of the bank in Round Lake failing, or to get the call from the president of a sister bank to hear him, panicked, state that the lobby is full of angry farmers and some are carrying pitchforks to really appreciate the pain.

 

I was raised in a farm family. The pain these families were going through in Osceola County, Iowa, and Nobles County, Minnesota was very real. If bankers and borrowers alike had used better judgment the preceding 10 years leading up to the mid 1980s, much of that suffering could’ve been avoided. Now, I understand one of those bankers is still around Worthington today.

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As a result, when called this September, I thought it much simpler this time to help get out in front of the bankers (and the bond dealers) before they did so much harm to your community again. This would be far less painful than see people have to come in later and “clean up” behind them … again.

 

I truly hope you can all sit down together and throw out your extravagant tastes and reach a common solution beneficial to most voters. The recent proposal could have done tremendous harm to families in town and on the farm. Obviously, a large number of voters agreed!

  But, if the school board won’t listen to the voters -- well Don, Rob and Tom have my phone number.

 

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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