ZCS referendum is a stopgap


By Jeff Rieth

In May, we (Zionsville residents) are going to be asked to say “Yes” or “No” to the Zionsville Community Schools proposed referendum. No matter how the votes turn out, some are going to be disappointed. While ZCS Supt. Scott Robison claims it’s (the referendum) just for three years to cover only teachers’ pay, I call foolery. If what he is saying was remotely true, you would have to believe either these teachers are going away, or they will go pro bono after three years. While I can’t imagine those who aregood at their jobs working for free, like some ZCS teachers, I certainly don’t seethese teachersleaving, either.

For some historical perspective on stopgap,let’s look at the federal withholding tax. It, too, began innocently enough as a taxing measure in various forms during the Civil War, evolved and in 1943,became law. Milton Friedman, renowned economist and free-market advocate, was one of the chief architects of the withholding tax (regretfully so) as we know it. His understanding was when it was enacted into law,it was a stopgap measure to smooththe financing curve of the U.S. ramp-entry into World War II. Interestingly enough, we are still reminded of this every time we see our paystubs,even though the event that perpetuated its creation ended more than 66 years ago. Unfortunately, looking at this single-mindedly won’t suffice, and while ZCS may get what they want now,you may regret it later. Regret is a funny thing because, by definition, it’s always in hindsight. The forward-looking component, however,is precedent.By certain measure,precedent can be a dangerous thing.Take our legal system,for example. While many consider it the envy of the world, I would say it’s far from being dictated by law, but more by precedent and sustained by judges not wanting to be labeled “activist” for interpretations outside of what has been done prior.Absent discipline, we become callous to others’ questionable decisions enough over time that, at some future point, we wonder how we got there.

So, what are you saying to Supt. Robison if you vote “Yes?” You’re telling him it’s OK to lie, to be irresponsible with taxpayer funds and to be divisive enough as to leverage ZCS students’ futures to get what he wants … while you pay for it. Set this precedent with Supt. Robison and “chum the water” this May, and we’ll be having this same conversation again three years from now.


Jeff Rieth is a Zionsville resident. You can reach him at jarieth@att.net.