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9:18 a.m. - May 26, 2003
Touch my wallet and you better have a good explanation, something like you're trying to get a better look at my ass instead of wanting money
My local school district has placed a parcel tax on the June ballot; a parcel tax is a set amount due to the originating agency (the school district) for a specific period of time. My school district wants $128.00 for three years, meaning if the parcel tax is approved, every homeowner’s property taxes will reflect the added amount. It’s easy enough to say $128.00 is only $10.66 per month or .35 per day “the cost of a newspaper” because truthfully, it isn’t a large amount at all. Even for those on limited incomes, $128.00 doesn’t seem too daunting though keep in mind the amount is tacked on to the regular property tax which for some is fairly high; annually, I pay a little over $5,000 for the privilege of owning a home. Next year I’m looking at double that amount, not a pretty picture for penny-pinching me. Hmm. I wonder if I could add another “p” in that sentence?

I digress.

It’s $128.00 and what’s the big deal, right? I was thinking about how I’d vote last night and decided not to support the parcel tax. It’s not that I’m selfish or want to see more layoffs, but I see budget problems – whether at the state level (ours is nearing $40 billion dollars) or the local (city deficit, $100 million, school district deficit, $89 million) – as a common sense conclusion to lack of foresight. Why is it that people like you and me are expected to, obligated, to live within our means yet government entities aren’t? Yes, yes, I realize tax structures and forecasts and services and unexpected slowdowns; you don’t need to cite economics to me. It just galls me that my school district would request – and it is definitely a request, paired as it is with doom and gloom scenario-building “Do you want your child’s teacher to be laid off?” and “Music, art, extracurriculars eliminated, plus 30 children in each classroom!” – more money rather than figuring out where the money they currently have goes. As a former teacher, I saw abundant waste and I’m not referring to two-ply toilet paper; I’m talking about principal salaries that begin at $130,000 for each of the 32 schools in my district, the $100,000 murals and electronic marquees each school has “to boost pride” and on and on. But you know what the absolute worst is? An infusion of cash wouldn’t fill the holes and gaps and restore stability; it would simply be used to operate as is and the fundamental weaknesses would not be addressed. In a few years when the parcel tax expires, they will ask for more funding even if the state’s deficits are remissed.

I don’t have the answers but I know the school district bureaucrats don’t, either. What kills me as a former teacher in today’s climate is that art, music, and the other so-called “lesser imports” are gutted while football is a sacred cow.

Yes, that’s right. I have a problem with football. I like watching it, I would consider myself a fan, I would miss the sport were it to disappear overnight. Ax football which costs the district more than $2 million per year solely for insurance premiums and I’ll support a parcel tax because then I’d know the district is absolutely rock bottom and has done everything it could to gain solvency. Districts screaming for money while keeping football programs (unarguably the most expensive sport for school districts) is no different than a former dowager hanging onto her mink stole when she’s living in a cardboard box. The real world doesn’t work this way, folks. When the bills pile up and creditors knock on the door, you don’t take a can to the neighbors and request assistance only so you can continue in the lifestyle to which you’ve grown accustomed; why should your neighbors pay for your cable modem, NetFlix, and tequila-and-taco night festivities? Instead, things have to go until the budget is met. It’s a simple concept that government seems immune to – or avoids.

And maybe by targeting football I come across as an iconoclast or someone nursing wounds of being cut from the team or insensitive to the needs of entertainment and guidance and positive self-esteem building that comes with football, but I could give a rat’s ass. I’m indignant when someone asks me for money when they aren’t using theirs right, that’s all. I’m irked and my vote is No. I wish we still had the old fashioned ballots so I could handwrite HELL NO but as it is, everything’s touch-screen now.

I need to get to work; must accomplish much today.

Be good.


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