Columns » Outsider

'Yes, I've heard the jokes about politicians and elephant dung'



Hard to believe that there's an election in a few days, much less one with multiple ballot issues. I mean, let's be honest; does anybody really care whether Gov. Bill and Dickie Wadhams get our permission to borrow a couple of billion for the roads, or not? More to the point, does anyone really believe that the roads will be less congested, yea or nay? And does anyone, other than the excellent Annie Oatman-Gardner, know what MERTAA is? (OK, it's Metro and Rural Transit Access Authority.)

And does anyone think that the city actually negotiated one heck of a good contract with the cable TV folks, and we ought to thank them profusely and vote yes?

And if you were dumb enough, or bored enough, to read that idiotic campaign mailer with pro and con summaries of the aforementioned ballot issues, would it surprise you to know that:

A Doug Bruce-authored initiative requires the county to prepare and mail them.

That's the same Dougster who writes the con statements, since no one else bothers.

And our very own Mayor Mary Lou helpfully provided pro statements, since no one else bothered.

Rather than cluttering up our mailboxes with partisan drivel, why don't we just have a nice debate between the mayor and the Dougster on cable Channel 18, at say, 3 a.m. next Wednesday?

But there are two or three issues on the ballot which might pass, and which might make a positive difference to the city.

This newspaper declined to endorse D-11's mill-levy increase. I disagree. Thanks to the state Legislature, not to mention the Dougster's TABOR amendment, D-11 is getting close to 600 bucks less per student from the state (inflation-adjusted) than it did 10 years ago. I'm prejudiced; I graduated from Palmer High School, as did my daughter, and it's arguably the best high school in the city. Think about it -- how many inner-city schools can make that claim?

This newspaper also declined to support the zoo's timid attempt to feed at the public trough. I'm gonna vote for it. I like the zoo, I think it benefits the community, I think they'll use the money wisely, and we can certainly afford it. Besides, I owe 'em; in 1957, they gave me a job cleaning up after the elephants. And yes, I've heard the jokes about politicians and elephant dung. ...

Don't know if you've thought much about collective bargaining for fire and police. The Indy gave cogent reasons for supporting it; in opposition, Councilman Bill Guman, in the Gazette, expressed his concern that Council's power over the budget would be somehow diluted.

Guman's right; binding arbitration would force Council to re-order their priorities. Right now, Council's budgetary decisions are driven by politics, not by a defined hierarchy of city needs. That's why the city budget is so schizophrenic, as in: We can't hire enough cops, but we can give the tourist industry $2.5 million for promotional activities.

Collective bargaining would simply mean that the city couldn't balance its budget on the backs of public-safety employees. Obviously, Council members will oppose anything that might diminish their power (I did, too, when on Council), but so what?

But who knows? Maybe most of you would rather trust politicians like me than the men and women who fight fires and chase criminals. And if that's the case, call me! I've got a bridge you might like to buy.

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