Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Proposition put creativity in the mix

Philip Allaire had a really great idea. Using his skills as a businessman, Allaire posed a plan to help the Nampa School District escape from a $5 million deficit. He created a nonprofit, Enriching Endowments, proposed selling raffle tickets for homes he purchased and would use the proceeds to pay down the school district’s accounting mess.

The Idaho Press-Tribune opined on Friday that Allaire’s proposal was not grounded in reality, magnanimous but not fully vetted, because the proposal got sideways with Idaho state lottery officials who say the plan violated state regulations.

Because the state lottery objected, Allaire gave up on his proposal.

“The irony of the situation is that the same form of bureaucracy and incompetence of government that created the financial crisis we currently face is now preventing a common sense and cost effective solution,” he wrote in a press release. “Had it not been for the obstinate attitude and positions of the Idaho lottery, the generosity of the community would have provided a solution to the financial troubles that have threatened the future of Nampa’s students.”

He’s absolutely right.

Allaire’s proposition put some creativity in the mix. It was a private, nonprofit, charitable solution. The Press-Tribune accuses Allaire of not fully airing his idea with lawyers before going public with his plan.

But under-reported in the press is Allaire’s side of the story. From the same statement released to the media, Allaire claims the Idaho lottery obstructed his plan from the beginning. He said the lottery’s position regarding online raffle ticket sales, end dates for drawings and prize donations are not based in Idaho law. But Allaire says he has no desire to spend time and energy in a legal tussle with the state lottery.

It is unfortunate that the blame in all of this has been placed on a private citizen who thrust himself into the spotlight to help his community. The blame should really be placed on the policymakers and bureaucracy that have created a regulatory barrier to a plan that would help students, parents and teachers in the Nampa School District. Whether Allaire is right or the lottery is right doesn’t matter. Either way, government stands in the way of enabling a free-market solution from occurring.

Where is the outrage at government for making it harder to solve this problem? Where is the outrage at government for standing in the way of a solution that required no additional taxes and had the potential to stop or offset serious cuts to the Nampa school system? Where is the outrage at government for failing to help Allaire make his plan become reality? Where is the outrage at government for having a thicket of regulations that make it so that an individual who comes forward with an idea cannot determine if it is legal or not, or has to battle to prove that it is permissible?

This reminds me of a case a few years ago where volunteer doctors arrived in Joplin, Mo., site of a devastating tornado, to offer free eye exams and glasses. They were told to go home because they weren’t licensed to practice medicine in that state. Then as now, certain sectors of the community were upset with the doctors for failing to acquire the proper documentation or to “fully vet their idea” before arriving to provide aid.

Once again, a Good Samaritan has raced to help the community, not because he was compelled, but because he cares. Because he didn’t want students like mine, parents like me and teachers like the ones who teach my kids to suffer. And once again, government has stepped in to shut it down at great cost to the community and the giving nature of people like Philip Allaire.

Wayne Hoffman

Wayne Hoffman

Wayne Hoffman is the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a non-partisan educational research institute and government watchdog.

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