I was reading the May 21 Columbus Dispatch and ran across an editorial cartoon that struck me as hilarious and sad.
The cartoon shows two people reading newspapers. One paper’s headline reads: “Voter Apathy in Primary Elections.” The other paper’s headline reads: “50 Million Vote on ‘Idol.’ ” One person says to the other: “Political strategists are doing something wrong.”
No kidding. In Lucas County, a little more than 10 percent of registered voters bothered to show up at the polls on May 2.
School boards threatened us with budget cuts if we refused their levy requests. The nay-sayers showed up; everyone else seemed to stay home. The board of elections blamed it on the rain.
The Toledo Zoo staff vowed to send Louie packing if we voted no on their dual-levy dance. The handful of voters who cast ballots told them to start the music. I think the tune was “Baby Elephant Walk” from an old Disney cartoon.
Yet 50 million people picked up the phone to voice who they thought may be the hottest or best singer between candidates they’ll only get to hear and know through a stinkin’ television set.
I’d like to think we are all more awake, aware and active than that. But while you were apathetic, away or asleep, here are a few tax issues that won’t make it to the ballot box:
n Toledo City Council is considering a plan to charge drivers who cause car crashes for police services. The plan is similar to an ordinance already in effect for the fire department. The chamber of commerce and Ohio Insurance Institute are calling it double taxation, because you already passed a .75-percent income tax for fire and police services.
n Lucas County Commissioners will vote to give $135,000 of your tax money to various community groups. Commissioners have doled out more than $3.5 million in so-called “Community Grant Funding” since 1998.
n The Toledo Public Schools board voted to switch superintendents and it’s costing you more than $170,000 to get rid of Dr. Eugene Sanders a few weeks early, keep him on as a consultant a few weeks longer and make a former underling his new boss.
Our elected officials say all this makes sense. As a taxpayer, it just doesn’t add up for me.
But they’re the ones who vote on these issues, not you or me. Not this time. But all those elected leaders will be on the ballot sometime soon.
If you don’t stand up and speak up, this kind of silly stuff is going to keep on happening.
You can make a difference.
Westgate neighbors aren’t afraid to do it. They lost the big-box battle with Home Depot several years ago, but gave the home improvement giant an attitude adjustment and made them a better neighbor.
More recently, many of those same Westgate neighbors gave Carty and council an earful over big-box retailer No. 2, telling them they could live next to Costco if it meant an attractive store and $10 per hour jobs. You already know who won that one.
In November, an alphabet soup of agencies will want still more of your money. TARTA, CSB, TPS and the Toledo Zoo (again) plan to put levies on the ballot.
Like it or not, levy is a four-letter word. But it doesn’t have to be one of the four-letter words I’m not allowed to type here.
It’s OK to ask questions. It’s healthy to make these agencies justify their need for the money. It’s good to keep our politicians on their toes. Make the Statue of Liberty the American Idol that really matters.
Kevin Milliken is the host of “Eye on Toledo” on WSPD 1370 AM. Contact him at email@example.com