It is editorial endorsement season, and a loud round of cheers was reportedly heard the other day from the pro parks levy folks at Yes For Our Parks, when news broke that they had lost the endorsement from our friend Stefan over at (un)SoundPolitics. (u)SP is kinda the Chicago Cubs of local politics: perennial losers whose endorsement is considered the kiss of death by those who confuse cause with effect. This preeminent local righty blog is more of a looking glass than a window into mainstream political thought — a mirror image of public opinion that tends to reflect the proprietors’ own fantastical take on both policy and the polis.
Take the reliably anti-republican/pro-Republican Stefan, and his curious logic for rejecting the levies:
I like parks too, and am willing to pay a reasonable amount to support them. But the financing mechanism is flawed and the only chance of changing that is rejecting the levy.
The “financing mechanism”…? You mean going before voters for a special levy vote, rather than funding park maintenance and acquisition through the general fund? But isn’t this nickel-and-nickel approach exactly the kind of “direct democracy” for which Stefan and his cohorts routinely argue in their reflexive support for Tim Eyman and his anti-tax/anti-government initiatives?
When Eyman foisted I-747 on voters, with its arbitrary one-percent cap on growth in property tax revenues from existing construction — a rate that doesn’t even account for inflation let alone growth in demand for public services — he argued that local governments could always go directly to voters for special levies and lid lifts. Indeed, he argues that government should always go directly to voters to approve tax and fee increases. And by starving the general fund of adequate revenue growth, he got exactly what he wanted.
Local governments now routinely go to voters with special levies to fund popular and essential public services like parks, libraries and EMS, and while such dedicated levies may make for bad tax policy, elected officials really don’t have any other choice. Over 70-percent of King County’s general fund goes to the criminal justice system, so if Stefan is going to criticize the parks’ “financing mechanism,” he might want to offer up an alternative.
Perhaps he can find one through the looking glass.