Sunday, June 21, 2015
"Drowned in a Murky Pool of Politics" --- Mewling Record Editorial Cries For Thee, PRISCILLA BENNETT, DAVID SHOAR, MICHAEL WANCHICK, JERRY CAMERON AND DARRELL LOCKLEAR
Sunday St Augustine Record ukase, annotated:
Politcs (sic) doomed tax hike in St. Johns County, not the people
Posted: June 20, 2015 - 4:02pm
When the sales tax vote came down Tuesday, no one was more chagrined or disappointed than our own editorial board.
ED ASKS: Who is that? Only two names left on your masthead?
It’s hard to argue in any meaningful way that, whether you supported or opposed the tax hike, the most equitable and democratic way to decide it was a vote of the people. But what’s lost in this argument, and much more to the point, is that the vast majority of residents did not fit into the highly polarized (and very vocal) fringes — “for” and “against.” A lot of thoughtful people were waiting to form an opinion based on facts. And the truth is, they were in short supply on both sides.
Early on, The Record questioned the commissioners’ collective backbone in failing to bring the referendum plea to the public long before it did. County Administrator Mike Wanchick had been telling his tale of the revenue wall the county was speeding toward for more than three years.
So the problem was not a surprise to any sitting commissioner, and should never have become the “emergency” we were warned of when the effort cropped up after the November election cycle was done.
From there the tax hike effort backslid, and we have editorialized about it on a couple of occasions.
All of the sitting commissioners had run on “no new taxes” platforms and some clearly stated that the county would grow its way out of any deficits. Two of the commissioners stated from the start that they stood against any kind of tax increase. One was waffling as the vote neared, one was a strong proponent for the sales tax and one was leaning against. It was a mixed signal, leaving some residents wondering why, if the commissioners were stacking up against it, they should support it.
The private funding of the survey followed. It was widely presumed to be a sales tax “push” and, we believe, the results showed that to be the case. It was, at the least, a distraction.
ED ANSWERS: NO -- IT WAS A "BADGE OF FRAUD."
Wanchick continued taking his talk on the road. The county had spelled out its arguments for the added revenue. But the newspaper was waiting for the details of how the pie would be sliced. That information was vague, incomplete and very late in the game in terms of the second reading of the referendum.
ED'S TRANSLATION: THIS DUMB 'OLE OFF-YEAR SALES TAX REFERENDUM PROPOSAL WAS NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME
As the editorial board met weekly over the past couple of months, the inevitable (sic) question came up: “What should we do with it?” And the answer was always he same: We didn’t have substantive information on which to make an assessment. It was money first, spending later. The cart was, by this time, in front of the horse.
Then Jeb Smith announced that he’d vote down the referendum. That changed commission dynamics.
Then Commissioner Bill McClure brought the school board into the picture. That changed the revenue.
That changed everything. And, from where we sit, the tax hike issue was, by that time, officially a moving target. No one could follow its arc, or estimate where the thing was going to land.
ED SAYS: THANKS TO TOM REYNOLDS FOR SUGGESTING THE SCHOOL BOARD'S INVOLVEMENT -- IT DISRUPTED THE WANCHICK-SHOAR-BENNETT AXIS' PRE-REHEARSED SCRIPT!
What’s happened in the past with county or school sales tax hike efforts — and what we were fairly sure would happen again — was that the referendum would be postponed and then be approved in July. The county would then have several months to get its projections out and projects prioritized. And The Record would take the time to break it down, leading up to a November election.
ED SAYS: THIS IS MEANINGLESS "INSIDE BASEBALL." THANKS TO THE DOZENS OF LOCAL RESIDENTS WHO SPOKE JUNE 16, DISRUPTING THE WANCHICK-SHOAR-BENNETT AXIS' PRE-REHEARSED SCRIPT!
Informed electorates make informed decisions. The quick exit Tuesday night took that away. And there’s not much to say beyond that. It should have run its course, and been voted up or down, not drowned in a murky pool of politics, which it clearly was — from within the commission and without.
ED SAYS: YOU ARE SO WRONG -- WHO AGREES WITH THIS MEWLING CRAPTRAP?
The way it happened, we’re (sic) not sure that it will even be a lesson learned. Reason took a breather at the meeting Tuesday night, and that’s just a shame.
ED SAYS: WE, THE PEOPLE, WON ANOTHER ONE, THE FIRST MAJOR PUBLIC INTEREST VICTORY AT THE SJC BCC IN RECENT YEARS -- The chauvinistic Developers, Owners and Controllers and Push-Poll Manipulators are Mad as Hell -- Are they going to hold their breath, move, or secede?