Readers comments 1-26-18
Rationale or magical thinking?
Matt Magilike’s Readers’ Comment in the January 19 edition of the COURIER clearly pointed out a significant flaw in the city council recommendation of a general obligation bond to fund the new police station.
The council has not presented rationale arguments stipulating why commercial property owners get a tax discount and tax exempt entities get a free ride while individual homeowners are hit with a disproportionately higher bill.
The explanation in the December 15 COURIER article stating the council was opting for GO bond funding with the “explanatory” quote from Councilmember Sam Pedroza, “Claremonters don’t like parcel taxes,” had a hint of magical thinking.
It is far more likely that Measure PS failed because voters didn’t like the faulty police station plan for which the tax was to be used. To attribute the 2015 failure of Measure PS to the method of funding is to ignore the fact that the proposal was excessive and strategically flawed.
In the December 15 article, Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen noted that several informational meetings and responses to a questionnaire during the fall had produced a limited amount of feedback.
Most telling however was that most of those people who did take the time and effort to provide feedback overwhelmingly favored a parcel tax. Only a small minority preferred a GO bond.
We are in a political period favoring self-serving alternative realities. The rationale behind the decision of the council to use general obligation bond funding may fit in that culture.
A GO bond assesses yearly payments based on the value of a resident’s property, and excludes non-profits from having to pay anything for the services they receive. The reality is that several large areas of Claremont are covered by non-profits, these are areas and constituents the police clearly serve.
A parcel tax would seem a far more equitable distribution of funding responsibility, and would penalize individual homeowners less. Perhaps the council could provide the COURIER readers a more comprehensive and logical outline of the pros and cons supporting their funding rationale.
The long year
I woke up on Sunday, January 21, and for one quick moment thought I was in some sort of Twilight Zone in which time was, for lack of a better word, elastic. Here’s why:
It feels like we are in the eighth year of a two-term Donald Trump presidency despite the fact that only the first year is behind us. How is this possible? Could it be that his shenanigans and unpredictable behavior have gotten more news coverage (books, the press, magazines, talking heads, Tweets, etc.) than just about anyone I can recall in my lifetime?
I used to think the Kardashians were getting way too much attention, but they pale in comparison to the 24/7 Trump news cycle. Oh, how I long for the days in which the president of the United States was a thoughtful, measured, restrained and reasonably competent executive, rather than an abrasively loud performer in some surreal three-ring circus.
Alas, that ship has sailed, at least for the next three years.
Boo hoo all the way to the bank
Just when I cannot conceive of a further outrage by the GOP, the details of this tax abomination (they call it “reform”) have begun to surface. By releasing it on the typical Friday slow news day, maybe they thought that we wouldn’t notice. But we have. And the well heeled and their GOP allies will be shedding crocodile tears all the way to their investment bankers.
This atrocious legislation is a kick in the face to millennials like Michael Hobbs who writes, “I am 35 years old—the oldest millennial, the first millennial—and for a decade now, I’ve been waiting for adulthood to kick in. My rent consumes nearly half my income, I haven’t had a steady job since Pluto was a planet and my savings are dwindling faster than the ice caps the baby boomers melted.”
Bernie Sanders was correct in labeling this tax bill the “biggest robbery in America.” Who said there’s no free lunch? Here is a gourmet helping of pork for the richest ever to have lived on the planet. Caesar’s wealth would pale in comparison to the fortunes of those who stand to benefit by this tax bill heading straight for the gates of hell.
It is a punch to the solar plexus of the middle class and those striving to make it there. Millions will lose their health care. Others, especially retirees, will be forced to make painful choices between copayments and food or rent as the health insurance markets are further destabilized.
Students, taking on more debt than any other generation in the history of this nation, now face taxation on whatever scholarship aid they receive in the original version of this bill. What were they thinking?
One grad student I know would be looking at the possibility of a huge tax bite on his annual stipend. Tell me, how much more debt do you GOP fat cats think America’s students should be forced to carry? Oh, that’s right, your trust fund darlings won’t have to borrow a cent.
And the Buffett rule—that proposition that no millionaire or billionaire should pay taxes at a lower rate than his or her secretary—don’t fall out of your seat laughing. Hedge fund managers, with salaries of up to a billion a year will only pay at the usual 15 percent rate, not the 30 percent rate that will hit many of us.
There will be some Republicans who cry “class war” on reading this. Yes, I would answer, it is class war. This is only the latest skirmish in a massive class war launched during the Reagan years when gross national pProduct soared and wages for the average working stiff flatlined. Since the ‘80s, wealth inequality has only increased.
In what way is our democracy served by having a mere handful of plutocrats owning as much as the entire bottom half of the country, especially when they use their largesse to distort our politics beyond all recognition? Tell me, just how much of their ill-gotten riches have trickled down?
I would suggest that as bad as this tax bill is, there’s nothing in it that can’t be undone after 2020. This damage to our livelihoods and our nation will be remedied by a concerted effort by Democrats and disgusted Republicans and Independents working to restore political sanity and fiscal integrity.
The recent election in Alabama gives me hope—when a racist, misogynistic “good ol’ boy” can be beaten by a Democratic DA who successfully put away the KKK bombers who had killed those four little girls at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. I am overwhelmed by the massive turnout organized by African American women who racked up a black vote comparable to what President Obama achieved in 2008—in a special election no less!
Yes, Democrats are “Fired up and ready to go!” I’m enthused by the candidate taking on Paul Ryan’s district in Wisconsin who goes by the moniker “Ironstash.” Randy Bryce is a solid blue-collar iron worker and is as authentic to northern Wisconsin as any beaver in a pond or bear in the woods. And his moustache would rival that of Tom Selleck. He looks likes the sort one might run into after work at any Wisconsin roadside tavern. And he’s pulling in a ton of money from all over the country to fund a credible campaign.
All this is to say that the new year looks bright, and this tax bill catastrophe could become a fading memory after 2020—if we work to make it so.
So, let us ring in 2018 with a toast to a massive Democratic wave election. We can make it happen. It’s time to check this president.