Columbia, Missouri, taxes, and its police force

We just viewed a television interview with Columbia Mayor R. McDavid. The interview was in regard to his plan ask voters to increase property taxes to remedy the understaffing of the police department.

Dr. McDavid made several points that perked up our ears:

  • We should ignore the blogosphere and talk radio. (Now there’s a challenge.)
  • The Columbia Police Department is understaffed by at least 30%.
  • The voters will get a chance to determine the size of the Columbia Police Department.

We do not wish to get into the policy weeds concerning the differences between the Columbia PD chief and the Boone County sheriff, or the question of which taxes should or should not be raised, nor the issues currently swirling about violent crime in Columbia (just perception per the mayor?) There are several broader points to be made, points we believe should contribute to a sound evaluation (not ‘perception’) of the situation.

When a politician says he is ignoring talk radio and its many callers, a defensive posture, he is likely aliening people who might be persuaded to his point of view. Not a good tactic.

We accept that the Columbia PD is understaffed. Our question is: Why? The city recently changed its method of budgeting. It asked for and last fiscal year got a surplus from the various departments. Having no plan to handle the surplus – certainly not returning it to the taxpayers – the city returned it to the departments. Now the city is asking for a tax increase to handle a policing situation it should have known about years ago. It is quite common for politicians to accede to the demands of special interests, or favored causes like ‘green’ energy to the detriment of essential services. It is also common for politicians to protect non-essential services and ask for tax increases to support the essential ones. Recently voters approved a permanent sales tax increase to provide a one-time upgrade to the 911 center, the Public Safety Joint Communications office. Clearly the understaffing of the PD did not occur at once, but over years. In our opinion and considering the importance of public safety, we would like to see the people responsible identified and then recalled or fired.

Yes, the voters will get to determine the size of the Columbia PD. Of course in phrasing the issue this way, the Mayor is deflecting responsibility from the city to the voters. But when did the voters ever get the chance to determine the size of any part of the city government? Or of the city government as a whole? Or to determine which services are not essential, so part of their budget could be transferred to the PD?

The manipulation of voters by politicians and bureaucrats, while common, is still scandalous. What to do? Education of the electorate is surely an urgent need. In the meantime a NO vote on the property tax increase is called for.




July quotes of the month

Obama won in every state that did not require a Photo ID and lost in every state that did require a Photo ID in order to vote. – Bill O’Reilly The long-term outlook for conservatism, and specifically for a social conservatism based on a view of reason and reality that is broader than the liberal one, is therefore excellent. Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret: you may drive nature out with a pitchfork, but she will keep coming back. The task of conservatives today is to promote that process, and the most effective way for them to do so is not to try to get along by conceding basic points but to insist on principle in every possible setting. — James Kalb By some strange process of moral entropy, those institutions which had been the bearers and preservers of our cultural inheritance have mutated into its deadly enemies. It was Williams College, once again, that prompts this melancholy thought. Just last month, the college sponsored “Worlds of Wonder: The Queerness of Childhood,” an “interdisciplinary workshop” that basked in the imprimatur of a dozen college entities from the Dean’s office to the “Committee for Human Sexuality and Diversity” and the “Queer Student Union.” — Roger Kimball Suicide by government. — Rich Lowry on Detroit An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate. Tyler Durden (Zerohedge) Of course, if you subscribe to President Calvin Coolidge’s belief that “it is more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” the filibuster is a beautiful, noble tool. [T]here’s something special going on in terms of the relationship between the legacy media and the Democratic party. They are both, essentially, the party of government and government-imposed liberalism. The ones who get paid by the DNC (or the taxpayers) amount to the policy arm of the party. The ones who work for MSNBC, Newsweek et al are the marketing and public-relations arm of the same party. Obviously this is an exaggeration. There are plenty of exceptions to the rule. But as a generalization there’s a basic truth to it. — Jonah Goldberg [S]cience does not respect consensus. There was once widespread agreement about phlogiston (a nonexistent element said to be a crucial part of combustion), eugenics, the impossibility of continental drift, the idea that genes were made of protein (not DNA) and stomach ulcers were caused by stress, and so forth — all of which proved false. Science, Richard Feyman once said, is “the belief in the ignorance of experts.” — Matt Ridley, former global-warming believer Few public controversies touch an institution so central to the lives of so many, and few inspire such attendant passion by good people on all sides. Few public controversies will ever demonstrate so vividly the beauty of what our Framers gave us, a gift the Court pawns today to buy its stolen moment in the spotlight: a system of government that permits us to rule ourselves…. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent. — Justice Antonin Scalia on United States v. Windsor Troglo Troglo