Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

School bond tests Culver's tradition


   By Tony Ahern
   Publisher
   Culver has always been one of those towns and school districts that are the envy of neighbors -- small but united, committed to reaching for excellence, committed to each other.
   Culver is a community which has historically been happy to add a dollar or two to the tax bill if the school board saw fit to ask.
   That tradition is being tested this political season. The school board is asking district voters for a $20 million bond to build a new elementary school, add to the high school and middle school, and address other needs.
   The reason the bond levy is needed is the same reason that it might be difficult to pass -- all that growth. For decades, the Culver district largely consisted of the same nucleus of farm families and the handful of town dwellers. That's changed. New housing developments have surged the city's population, and enrollment jumped 12 percent this year from last. A handful of additional housing projects have been approved and are planned.
   It seems that the school board has done a quality job in outlining the district's specific needs. I also applaud their decision to defer the interest on the bond for three years, until the 1995 $7 million bond (which built the middle school) is paid off. Until then, the bond would add only about 20 cents per $1,000 in tax assessed value to the tax bill. After that, the bond, if passed, would cost about $600 to $650 per year for a person with a $100,000 tax valued home (though those are quickly disappearing).
   You folks new to the Culver community, ask yourselves, what drew you there? Was it the quality small-town life, the good schools, the opportunities your children may have by attending a smaller school?
   This vote is your chance to set your roots into that proud Culver tradition. This bond isn't cheap. A "yes" vote takes a commitment. But the community deserves that commitment. If you haven't already, vote "yes" for the school bond.
   Rapid growth in Culver is a fact. Do your part to make that growth a positive for the community, not the impetus for downfall.
   xxxxxxxxxxx
   I'm not one of those political junkies who plug into C-Span in the middle of summer to watch a Congressional debate on an energy bill, but I do enjoy election season and those Sunday morning talk shows. Meet the Press brings in two candidates seeking federal level positions and sits them right next to each other in a bare studio -- no handlers, no corny ads blurring reality -- while host Tim Russert does a masterful job of asking each tough, relevant questions. It's a squirm-fest, very entertaining.
   This past Sunday afternoon I caught a moment of the George Stephanopoulos show, where quintessential conservative George Will exasperatedly tried to convince the national audience that we were actually very happy with President Bush and the Republican Congress. Of course, Will's so smart, and so confident in his opinion, that he almost had me convinced that he was right and the plethora of polls I'd seen in the past few weeks were all wrong.
   But the best Sunday TV political talk was on CNN, the confrontation between Wolf Blitzer and Lynne Cheney, the second lady, Vice President Dick Cheney's wife. Cheney was on the show to promote a children's book she recently wrote. Blitzer has some other topics in mind.
   Conservatives, in general, aren't big fans of CNN, preferring Fox News, the voice of the Contract With America generation, I guess. I've always thought CNN was much more fair, insightful and nonpartisan than Fox, which makes no apologies for being conservative. But I have to say, recently CNN has been showing liberal colors, case in point its program "Broken Government" that basically says the Republicans have messed up and need voted out.
   So, Mrs. Cheney entered the interview with a mean on, hammering CNN for its coverage of the war and its political programming. If you haven't seen it or heard it, go to CNN.com and find it. It's an instant classic.
   As you may have heard by now, among their topics was the ludicrous attack of Democrat Jim Webb, running against incumbent Virginia senator George Allen. Webb, like Mrs. Cheney, is a novelist, and has written some steamy scenes that, according to Allen backers, make him a freak and unfit for office.
   And Mrs. Cheney towed the Republican party line: Yes, Mr. Webb is a freak and unfit for office. Problem was, Mrs. Cheney likes to steam up the pages too. Back in the early 1980s, she wrote a book called "Sisters" that included some themes commonly addressed late at night on Cinemax. When Wolf hit Cheney with questions about glass houses and a pot being black, Cheney just glared, and did her best to dodge the questions and throw the mud back at Webb, saying he was "full of bologna."
   You can imagine: must see political TV. I was giddy on my couch.
   For political protection purposes, Cheney had the publisher of "Sisters" not re-issue the novel during the 2004 presidential campaign. Unfortunately for her, a few people had already bought the book. Now a collector's quality edition can be had on Ebay for about $1,000.
   The moral, I guess: in politics you even have to watch what you think; the thought police are mobilizing. You definitely have to watch what you write.