Most of my readers have seen the compilation of personal endorsements that I’ve been publishing for local elections this November. You might wonder why I’ve made so few endorsements myself.
Well, I like to maintain a little credibility, and that makes me cautious about such things. I KNOW you all believe me about the communication from aliens published in a recent post, but endorsing candidates and ballot measures carries risks a whole order of magnitude higher for making oneself an ass.
My hand was forced recently when my mother in-law, in all innocence, asked for my opinion about a flyer she found on her doorstep. Click to embiggen, as they say these days.
A bond measure. I don’t like bond measures. Just a prejudice I have that governmental units should save up for major purchases, just as people should. Better to collect interest on savings than to pay interest on debt, right? …….. RIGHT? (sound of crickets)
Yeah, I know. Hardly anyone actually operates that way these days, and few governments have done so in all history. There are actually some good reasons for going into debt sometimes, especially when you’re part of a government, but I won’t try to cover that here. I WILL say that bond issues are often just a transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the wealthy investors who buy the bonds.
So how do I evaluate the pros and cons on this Measure K? First, we look at the flyer. The particular assertions being made are often less important than who is making them.
No name on the flyer, just a URL to a freebie WordPress blog. A look at the blog shows a single screed with no person’s name. Only a handful of comments, some pro, some con. The cons allowed were easy for the author to reply to.
I commented, asking them to identify themselves, and as of this posting my comment has not been published.
If you go to the “Yes on K” website http://www.careforousd.org/ you’ll see a list of endorsers a mile long: Lotsa local politicos, Dem and Rep, despicable and respectable. Some, even I might sorta respect a bit. This agrees with the nice glossy “Yes on K” mailer I received recently.
In all the “No on K” literature I’ve seen, there’s only one name I recognize: Deborah Pauley. Yes, THAT Deborah Pauley: http://youtu.be/NutFkykjmbM?t=1m26s
Not the most reliable of sources. I could be jumping to a conclusion here, but she’s in Villa Park, Orange County’s Bel Air, and is likely to represent a certain demographic: one that sends its kids to private school and would be quite happy to stop paying ANY taxes for public schools. It exists. See:
…and it comes in two varieties, mostly.
(1) those rich enough that they can afford the best private schools,
One side has nice glossy expensive mailers and lotsa big names behind it. The other is walking black ink-only flyers around to doorsteps and uses a freebie blog. You know where my prejudices are going to be there.
So, damn, I might have to actually look at the arguments. I did, but how do I avoid making this too boring for you?
If you’re interested in this, you might have read the flyer and the web sites a little:
YES says: “Four high schools are in terrible shape. They need renovation desperately, yadayada”.
NO says “TAXES!!!”, always a good line with homeowners, and “There’s already $74.6 million just sitting there not being used!”
Well, 74.6 million ain’t what it used to be, and that money is likely to be needed for other things. I find it entirely plausible that a school district needs money. Ever since Prop 13, back in 1976, California schools have been looking under the sofa cushions for change. This is all due to a refusal to replace what was lost in property taxes with more progressive sources of revenue.
There are few laws in the state more popular by name than “Prop 13”. Old homeowners remember it as manna from heaven dropping down. It contributed to that long real estate bubble that made many people rich (or “rich”).
There’s a sizeable cult of Prop 13 fundamentalists who have a Little Shop of Horrors view of government, and must have had their jimmies seriously rustled by Prop 14 in1986, and Prop 39 in 2000 when some loopholes were poked in their dearest law. Among other things, they provide that, in order to raise property taxes a little, a school district MUST pass a bond issue.
School districts must go through contortions that are difficult for the layman to imagine to get funds from local sources, the state, and the feds. I can barely stand to read a few pages about it myself. Just for a little taste of it, look at this:
Open it just about anywhere and see how long before….
.…but one consideration seems to be that a school district
MUST pass a bond issue and put up some funds of its own to receive matching funds from the state. The “Yes on K” people mention this, but give no specifics. I wouldn’t either, in their place. It means explaining the kind of stuff in that report I mentioned above. Life is too short.
So we’re pretty welll stuck here. Either borrrow or go broke. Dontcha love it?