Jul 30, 2014
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Letter: What Happened To Civility and Open Debate?

Lakeridge PTA President and Mercer Island Schools Foundation board member Cliff Sharples writes in a letter to the editor that he is dismayed by "disinformation" that is trying to "discredit endorsers of the school bond".

Letter: What Happened To Civility and Open Debate?

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

What happened to civility and open debate on Mercer Island? From what I can see, there are a handful of extremely vocal opponents to the school bond measure who are doing almost everything they can to get residents to vote no. There seems to be absolutely no regard for facts and a campaign of discrediting anyone who supports the bond.

When the property was raised, naysayers of the bond distributed an inflammatory, doctored diagram being passed off as the plan for how would be sited to all the property’s neighbors. When the endorsed and then financially supported the bond measure, there were false accusations that the Foundation was behaving illegally because of their non-profit status. When Kris Kelsay tried to get her personal opinions heard based on the almost 2 years of work she’s done studying the school facilities issue, there were attacks on her work as . The list goes on…

Debating the issues and the proposed construction plan is one thing. Public discussion is important, which is why the District held over 20 public meetings around the school facilities issue in the past 2 years. Public input is critical, which is why the school board commissioned the 21st Century Facilities Planning Committee, and it’s 20 community volunteers representing a cross-section of the Island’s population and constituents, to spend a year researching the situation, exploring alternatives and making a recommendation. Being responsive to public desires is also something the school district’s administration is sensitive to, which is why they recommended to the school board, who in turn agreed, to rebuild Island Park Elementary on its current site based on the neighborhood’s feedback.

Efforts to discredit people and organizations that do not share your opinion, however, are not appropriate. This appears to be one of the key strategies of the people behind this “no reinvestment of school infrastructure” campaigns. Let’s not let a few vocal naysayers who are spreading disinformation and trying to discredit endorsers of the school bond distract us from really studying the aspects of this fiscally responsible, solid and well-constructed plan to keep Mercer Island Schools great for the next 50 years.

Thank you and Sincerely,

Cliff Sharples

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