Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Only Fools and Editorialists Believe "Forever" Promises from Politicians

. . . what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money.
- On the Waterfront
Yael Abouhalkah says that property taxes are off limits as Kansas City struggles to correct a structurally imbalanced budget. His "reasoning" is that taxpayers were promised in brochures, nonbinding resolutions and advocacy "fact sheets" from years ago that property taxes would not go up.

Perhaps Abouhalkah and the Star ought to pay the shortfall. If voters honestly believed that prior politicians and printers of brochures could tie the hands of future politicians, then the fault lies with our press. When they should have been forcing clear, specific answers as to where the money would come from and how future councils could be bound by promises of politicians past, they were issuing gushy editorials endorsing every tax and bond issue that a credit crazy council could create.

If voters didn't realize that the numbers didn't add up, it's because the Star failed to do its job. If voters didn't realize that civic salesmen were selling snake oil when they claimed that we could have shiny projects without paying for them, it's because the Star failed to do its job.

As I look at the budget, I'm not yet convinced that increasing property taxes is a good direction to go. But for Yael Abouhalkah to claim that property taxes are off the table because he chose to be a cheerleader rather than a journalist is unconvincing, and a little repulsive.

It's kind of amusing that Abouhalkah dug out the old brochures and "fact sheets" - none of which ever had the force of law or claimed to be impartial - to support his bleating about old promises. I don't have a file cabinet full of old paper, so I did a quick Google search that turned up his editorial claiming that 2004 bond supporters' claims that there would be no tax increase was "true". I also found this gem of objectivity after Credit Card Kay's bond issue passed: "The entire Kansas City region will benefit from her dogged efforts to overcome tough obstacles and improve the city's future.... Even Barnes' critics have to acknowledge one fact: The mayor knows how to get things done."

The Kansas City Star in general and Yael Abouhalkah in particular have failed the voters of Kansas City. Now, serious people are trying to correct mistakes that the Star could and should have prevented. I hope Mr. Abouhalkah understands if they choose to ignore him this time around.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kansas City Star in general and Yael Abouhalkah in particular have failed the voters of Kansas City

Like Funkhouser?

I bet you didn't mind Yael when he was cheerleading for Funk. How is the Super Secret Economic Commission going Dan?

But your work on the JACO Ethics debacle is excellent.

2/11/2009 2:07 PM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

The Funk has garnered many new nicknames... I myself have created a few. One I like, not my own by the way, which comes to mind now... Flunkhouser.

Where is the guy who touted himself as being Smart WIth The Money???

2/11/2009 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know where the author of "On the Waterfront" went to high school?

2/13/2009 2:33 AM  

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