Monday, November 02, 2009

5 Reasons I am Voting NO on COMBAT

I will be voting NO tomorrow on the extension of the COMBAT tax. I've struggled with this decision, but a vote for COMBAT is a vote for arrogance in County government. Here are my reasons.

1. County Government Cannot Be Trusted with a $20,000,000 Slush Fund. Make no mistake - County government has cleaned up its act over the past several years, but the lack of news coverage focusing on it has caused it to care less and less about the public trust. For instance, the committee that handles the COMBAT funds has 2 out of 3 members with genuine criminal records - crimes centered on financial misdealings. I acknowledge that voters of a district can elect who they want, but for the Legislature to place those two people on a $20,000,000 committee seems to be an intentional poke in the eye to those of us who care about good government.

2. The Vote Yes Campaign is Trashing Our County. The utter contempt that the bigwigs have for those of us who live here in their fiefdom is shown on the latest "vote Yes" mailer. On it, in a bright orange box, is a quotation from a recovering addict - "Without COMBAT, Jackson County would be like Iraq . . . with drugs." In an age where our County and City are trying desperately to lure business, tourism and Johnson Countians to our community, the politicos are conjuring images of bomb craters and shell casings. It is irresponsible, dishonest and frankly disgusting to issue such a statement, and I cannot imagine rewarding such behavior with a "yes" vote. If for no other reason, caring Jackson Countians should vote "no" as a rebuke to everyone involved in this effort.

3. $800,000 Timing Mistake. Why are we having this election now, when the tax does not expire for another 17 months? Because some backroom politicians decided that holding a special election now, at a cost of $800,000, would be a clever move at keeping turnout low, rather than holding the vote during a regular election. It's arrogance, people - we're voting tomorrow because some bigwig decided we should, and damn the taxpayer expense.

4. COMBAT Funds Get Wasted. Now, let me be crystal clear on this - the vast majority of COMBAT dollars get spent on good programs for great reasons. But some of it gets wasted - like paying a thousand dollars for a blogger to put a sticker on his car. The fact that one of our best legislators was criticized for being "picky" when she questioned the expenditure of a thousand tax dollars further illustrates just how uncaring our legislature is.

5. If We Vote No, We'll Get a Better COMBAT. Here's the key to the whole thing - we have 17 months to get COMBAT fixed and then get it approved by the voters. Right now, if you ask questions about how the program is being administered and what the plans are to improve it, you'll be told that they're working on it, and are in the process of revamping everything. "Trust us, we'll make it better." Yes, they really do hope and believe that Jackson County voters are dumb enough to trust that the legislature will make improvements after they get their way. This is the same crowd of legislators that fought Ethical Home Rule for almost 6 months. Let them make their changes first, and then come to us for approval.

As a responsible citizen, I cannot in good conscience vote for the renewal of the COMBAT Tax at this time. I am not blind to the good it has accomplished, but one would be hard pressed to spend $20,000,000 every year without accomplishing some good. I want something better, and I think the Jackson County legislature deserves a rebuke, not a reward. I will vote NO on COMBAT.

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Anonymous Brent said...

#3 is enough for me to vote this down. I realize that there are good programs that are supported with the Combat tax (like drug court)-- but there are a lot that aren't so great. And the way I see it, even without the tax, many of those good programs will still be funded out of other budgets if combat goes away....while the bad ones will justifiably get cut.

11/02/2009 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, great post. It's sad that such a great concept has been exploited into such a mess of a program. I would love vote for COMBAT, but only if they address points you raise.

I will also withhold my vote until the distribution of funds is shifted significantly towards prevention/treatment and much less towards enforcement. We need to get past the failed "War on Drugs" concept and move towards a more enlightened approach.

11/02/2009 1:52 PM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Feel free to correct me if I am wrong but isn't your boy, Mayor Smart With Nothinghouser one of the political people behind this maneuver?

I realize that, ever since you got slammed in the now infamous Squitiro diary you have pulled back from almost if not all things Funk but here is a chance to pound the former leader of the Orange Revolution which you were a part of for doing something really not smart with the money as well as arrogant and sneaky.

11/02/2009 2:18 PM  
Blogger Phil Cardarella said...

The only thing unique about COMBAT is the Drug Court diversion program and the treatment programs. About 15-20% The rest is the same "war on people who use drugs we don't like" waste.

Problem is, when in panic mode, politicos swing right. If this goes down, will The Star and organizations like the CCP push to strengthen the diversion/treatment parts, or will even more money be wasted on locking up dopers?

For every year a doper does in prison, 2.5 kids cannot go to MU! Diversion & treatment are a bargain.

11/02/2009 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The KC city Council passed a resolution # 090930 that will among other things ask the state legislature to "support legislation to exempt tax revenue from Public Safety Sales Tax from allocation under T I F. So this is a way to direct ONE and a half million dollars more sales tax money to Combat if we vote it down and then help get COMBAT exempt from making T I F payments also.

11/02/2009 4:29 PM  
Blogger ryan said...

Obviously it is working, since nobody is doing drugs anymore and there are no more crack dealers on the streets. Violent, drug-related crime in Jackson County is but a distant memory. COMBAT has been nothing but a shining success, and I am personally thrilled that we have repeatedly voted to pay for paramilitary training for our police officers to terrorize civilians by breaking into their houses in the middle of the night and shoot them.

11/02/2009 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm appalled that their renewal campaign is fear and intimidation. Not surprised, but appalled nonetheless. I also agree that a lot of good is done with the money but 100% of the money should be doing good. Not just the current 40%. Not enough accountability and they arrogantly assume they can scare us to renew.

11/02/2009 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Sanders loses this one then he is in HUGE trouble.

11/02/2009 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Tired of this bull said...

The Pro-Combat people had better have a clear plan to clean up all these signs that they are leaving on public land.

Mike Sanders should be held personally responsible for this clean-up.

11/02/2009 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Send a Green Message said...

They deserve to lose just because of how they have polluted the environment with yard signs in right of ways.

Go back to the drawing board and try again and do it right this time.

11/02/2009 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Lance said...

Drug prohibition is bad public policy that only benefits certain industrial enterprises.

Do you really need a cop to hold a gun on you to prevent you from using drugs? If so, is it right to force me to pay for part of that cop's salary for the rest of your life?

People who want to use drugs will find a way to do so. Using the force of government to try to modify peaceful behavior is inappropriate.

11/02/2009 10:42 PM  
Anonymous kccoug said...

Is this the return of Political commentary to Gone Mild?

11/03/2009 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


COMBAT has great prevention and treatment programs throughout the Jackson County Area.


11/03/2009 10:49 AM  

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