I will be voting NO tomorrow on the extension of the COMBAT tax. I’ve struggled with this decision, but a vote for COMBAT is a vote for arrogance in County government. Here are my reasons.
1. County Government Cannot Be Trusted with a $20,000,000 Slush Fund. Make no mistake – County government has cleaned up its act over the past several years, but the lack of news coverage focusing on it has caused it to care less and less about the public trust. For instance, the committee that handles the COMBAT funds has 2 out of 3 members with genuine criminal records – crimes centered on financial misdealings. I acknowledge that voters of a district can elect who they want, but for the Legislature to place those two people on a $20,000,000 committee seems to be an intentional poke in the eye to those of us who care about good government.
2. The Vote Yes Campaign is Trashing Our County. The utter contempt that the bigwigs have for those of us who live here in their fiefdom is shown on the latest “vote Yes” mailer. On it, in a bright orange box, is a quotation from a recovering addict – “Without COMBAT, Jackson County would be like Iraq . . . with drugs.” In an age where our County and City are trying desperately to lure business, tourism and Johnson Countians to our community, the politicos are conjuring images of bomb craters and shell casings. It is irresponsible, dishonest and frankly disgusting to issue such a statement, and I cannot imagine rewarding such behavior with a “yes” vote. If for no other reason, caring Jackson Countians should vote “no” as a rebuke to everyone involved in this effort.
3. $800,000 Timing Mistake. Why are we having this election now, when the tax does not expire for another 17 months? Because some backroom politicians decided that holding a special election now, at a cost of $800,000, would be a clever move at keeping turnout low, rather than holding the vote during a regular election. It’s arrogance, people – we’re voting tomorrow because some bigwig decided we should, and damn the taxpayer expense.
4. COMBAT Funds Get Wasted. Now, let me be crystal clear on this – the vast majority of COMBAT dollars get spent on good programs for great reasons. But some of it gets wasted – like paying a thousand dollars for a blogger to put a sticker on his car. The fact that one of our best legislators was criticized for being “picky” when she questioned the expenditure of a thousand tax dollars further illustrates just how uncaring our legislature is.
5. If We Vote No, We’ll Get a Better COMBAT. Here’s the key to the whole thing – we have 17 months to get COMBAT fixed and then get it approved by the voters. Right now, if you ask questions about how the program is being administered and what the plans are to improve it, you’ll be told that they’re working on it, and are in the process of revamping everything. “Trust us, we’ll make it better.” Yes, they really do hope and believe that Jackson County voters are dumb enough to trust that the legislature will make improvements after they get their way. This is the same crowd of legislators that fought Ethical Home Rule for almost 6 months. Let them make their changes first, and then come to us for approval.
As a responsible citizen, I cannot in good conscience vote for the renewal of the COMBAT Tax at this time. I am not blind to the good it has accomplished, but one would be hard pressed to spend $20,000,000 every year without accomplishing some good. I want something better, and I think the Jackson County legislature deserves a rebuke, not a reward. I will vote NO on COMBAT.