Higgins: Falling leaves, falling leviesWritten by Tim Higgins | | email@example.com
Fall is fast approaching, and with the change of color will come the November ballot. The City of Toledo and its often parasitic sycophants are salivating as they line up at the taxpayer trough in another attempt to continue lining their pockets through the levy process. You all know the villains:
• The Division of Recreation is looking for money to pay for pools and basketball courts designed to keep groups of an apparently hoodlum children population from accosting people in shopping malls or on street corners. This effort personifies the truly misguided attempts of City Council to lower the city’s crime rate by lowering the bar for those who are “not bad, but merely misunderstood” (so far).
• Metroparks of Toledo would like more money to spend as well. After all, they used the last they got to buy land, so they require still more money to maintain it (and buy even more). Then next time there will be even more for maintaining recent acquisitions and a little more to buy with as well …. but most of you have to get the recurring picture in this tired tale by now.
• Toledo Public Schools would like more, but there’s nothing new there. One can only paraphrase Winston Churchill by saying, “Never have so few asked for much from so many, while achieving so little.” But let’s not let the last half century of failure in public education serve as a legitimate guide to predict its future, additional funding or not. Likewise, let’s not let recently surfaced accusations that the district may have been cheating on their tests keep us from granting these historic testing underachievers a temporary financial security that will last until their next Oliver Twist moment occurs.
• As for Imagination Station complaining that donations and attendance cannot fully fund their own often misguided efforts, perhaps they should be blaming TPS for helping to create an environment where learning is far less interesting and exciting than “American Idol.” While they’re at it, they may want to blame a City Council that picked up their light bill for years without requiring a business plan or a shred of fiscal responsibility. They might even blame them for business unfriendly policies that helped to empty the city of residents who might have otherwise attended their venue.
Some of the levy efforts however are not so much evil as they are pitiful. The Toledo Public Libraries might fit into this category, not because reading is any less important than it’s ever been (in fact, quite the contrary), but because libraries have diluted their mission in attempts to expand it into competing in the private sector. Like museums, they too are incidental victims of a public education system that’s graduated far too many functional illiterates. Increasingly unable to appeal to its core audience and having failed in attempts to expand their relevance, too much of their recent funding has been used to allow them to “rent” DVDs for free and act as an Internet Cafe. Their talk about expanding and modernizing their system seems well-intentioned, but appears to mean updating their movie collection and obtaining more up-to-date computers with faster Internet access. It’s unlikely to gain much in the way of excitement in spite of providing some real value to the community.
Truly unfortunate in all of this however are far more worthy efforts that get lumped into this steaming pile of odious natural fertilizer and painted with the same wide brush of barely suppressed outrage more voters are beginning to feel at pickpocketing efforts that are beginning to threaten their own livelihoods.
Certainly one might believe that both Children’s Services and Mental Health Services belong in this category; but they can’t serve themselves well lumped in as part of a process long contaminated with cronyism, graft and patronage. One can’t help but wonder in looking at their more modest requests if they might be filled from the generosity of local citizens; something far more likely to occur if they abandoned the increasingly disreputable levy process and went directly to the public. Certainly other worthy organizations like the United Way manage to meet budgetary goals through the continued generosity of local citizens without using local government’s protection racket to provide it.
After so many years however, the levy process is beginning to show some cracks. Call it the Tea Party influence if you will, or merely an acknowledgment that the sleeper is finally awakening. The American taxpayer is at long last beginning to draw lines in the sand where these ever-growing taxes are concerned; and make no mistake about it, levies are taxes. I’m afraid that well-intentioned, misguided or simply wrong, many of these efforts may drop faster than the leaves that highlight their season of decision.
Tags: Children's Services, Division of Recreation, Imagination Station, Just Blowing Smoke, levies, Mental Health Services, Metroparks of the Toledo Area, Metroparks of Toledo, Tim Higgins, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library