Sunday, March 30, 2008
Politics of the Low Turnout
Much has been written this past month about the proposed Raytown School District Property Tax increase. And well it should. The increase is the largest ever proposed for the District. It is not a bond with life cycle that will eventually end, but a continuing tax that will be levied on the homes of all the patrons living within the Raytown School District indefinitely. One thing is all too clear, the current School District Administration has set aside the needs of the teachers. If what has been written to this blog is accurate, and much of it has been verified, they have needlessly squandered valuable tax dollars that could have gone to paying salary increases to the teachers. Purchases like the old Raytown Sewing Machine Building located next to Raytown High School. The building is in such poor condition that it is expected to be demolished rather than repaired. The annual Royals junket and other amenities should not come before paying teachers a living salary. Neither should the District be paying to hold annual “bonding outings" for teachers outside of the School District. They could bond just as well at either high school. The policy of rewarding school children with payments of $100 for perfect attendance during summer school also has questionable value. The huge cost over-runs the District is experiencing on new construction are not the fault of the taxpayers. Before the School District receives any additional money from taxpayers they should get their house in order. They should find a way to give the teachers a pay increase without raising the levy. The proposed property tax increase will hit hardest on those who can afford it the least – the elderly living on fixed incomes, young families just starting out, and small businesses. Walmart and HyVee will not be greatly affected. They have tax abatements in place to protect their bottom dollar. Proponents of the tax increase are using a time proven tactic in their campaign. They are targeting their voters and hoping against hope that a low turnout will allow them to sneak the election through. You will not see any offers for public debate this election. Look for a steady diet of “feel good stories” in the newspapers that read more like front page editorials endorsing the tax increase. A smattering of signs, a lot of telephone calls targeting their base – and before you know it, a new tax placed on the shoulders of the taxpayers. How to stop the tax increase and send a very clear message to the School District to clean up their act is equally as simple. When election day arrives, don’t forget to vote. Remind a good friend, your father, mother, brother, or sister, to take the few minutes needed to cast a vote. Your vote could very well make a difference for two reasons. With little else on the ballot (only a mildly contested school board race in Raytown) it will not take much to turn the tide. The Kansas City portion of the School District is another story. There is a lot on the ballot there. Including a tax question on the Metro Bus service and a controversial ban on smoking. How those issues will affect turnout and votes are yet to be seen. Hillary Should Stay in . . . In the waning days of the primary season before the August Democratic Convention, political commentators will have much to say about whether or not Hillary Rodham Clinton should stay in the race for president. Barrack Obama currently holds a 139 delegate lead (according to CNN News). But with over ten states left to make their choices, a little less than half of the super-delegates still unpledged, and party rules that allow delegates to vote contrary to primary results, it would be foolish of her not to finish the race. As Yogi Berra, that great master of the English language and former catcher for the New York Yankees once said, “it ain’t over until it’s over”. Win or lose, Hillary Clinton should finish the race she started.