My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

Category: Information Only (page 1 of 49)

The worst thing about quarantine

Know what the worst thing is about quaratine?  I know that a lot of people will saying being stuck inside, missing friends…maybe having to deal with the kids every day all day.  Those people aren't wrong….but they ain't exactly right either.  There is a sight that is more deflating and vexing than anything else out there.  It vexes even the most hardened quarantine campaigner and it's this:

Honestly, when I come down in the morning – you know that I'm a ray of sunshine, right?  Of course you do.  However, there's nothing that will extingush my good mood…make my shoulders sag faster than rounding the corner into the kitchen and being faced with the ever-present sink full of dishes.  I mean, it's never a fun thing to behold but after being in quarantine for 4,000 days it's more than I can bear first thing in the morning.

I don't know where the hell they all come from!  I know we run that dishwasher at least once a day but it never seems to keep up.  Many times we have to run the dishwasher just to empty the sink and by the time the dishwasher is done, we've collected enough dishes to fill the sink again.

I used to love to cook….and I guess I still do but now it's a chore because it's a necessity.  I mean, every day I dream up a menu based on whatever we have.  I try to look on it as a challenge….Instacart has been a lifesaver but I really do miss going to the store to pick out the stuff that I want to cook….where the menu drives the purchasing…

I know, first world problems…..stay safe everyone.

Schools and Taxes

As I understand it, our local elected folks are having discussions about raising taxes over the next three years by about 10 cents….and that's just extra money for the schools operating budget.  That doesn't include building a school or increasing funding for City programs.  I'm simply stunned.  Something has gone horribly wrong when taxes have to go up that much and that isn't all that will be required.  The budget projections to rebuild Dean appear to be about twice that of Baldwin – that surprised me.  Everyone knows that the rate is essentially meaningless without valuation and valuations in the City aren't plummeting like they were in 2008.  They're stagnant or slightly up….so it isn't as though the rate is going up to keep the tax bills flat.  The other big part that's missing in this discussion, and it's something I think our Council should be asking for, is a plan to increase the school's performance.  Indeed, we seem to be facing this increase to simply maintain the status quo.

My rather harsh stance on this has surprised some folks.  "Don't you support the schools?" is a common refrain.  I sent my kid to those same schools so of course I do.  In addition, while on Council, I made some tough deals and worked to get budgets passed that increased taxes – that built a new elementary school and started a Science and Tech program.  My critics might ponder on that a bit.  I took a lot of heat for making that deal for Baldwin.  The city actually had to cut its operating budget to fund the construction of Baldwin.  I helped make that deal and I took the heat – many of my party members called for my head during those years – so of course I support the schools.

However, what I don't support is what seems to have happened since.  When we made the deal to build Baldwin it was supposed to put the schools on a glide slope so that, as debt service payments rolled off, they could afford – with some tweaking – to rebuild Dean.  Evidently someone dramatically missed the mark on their budget projections.  Indeed, I feel as though someone wasn't exactly straight with me at the time.

Let's be clear: what we are facing is an existential threat for our schools and city.  People are having discussions on social media about folding the City back into the County.  It's heartbreaking.  Should we throw up our hands and give up?  Never.  However, we can and should demand more from our leadership than simply increasing taxes.  With even the latest increases the City has a difficult value proposition.  We will need strong leaders – who aren't busy playing games – and much more public involvement to get this train back on the tracks.

I have avoided city hall like the plague since leaving office but I'll be at the budget meeting tomorrow night.  Before I write further on the matter I need to get a better flavor for what's going on….I admit that it's the size of the increase that so surprised me but I owe it to the schools to get better informed as to what's going on if I am to be a critic.  I suppose it is possible that I'll leave that meeting singing a different tune.  I don't think it'll happen but I'm open to the possibility.


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