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August 2014 • Online Edition
 

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Representative Gov’t Leaves The Lifting To Us | Print |  E-mail

by Paul Kashmann

Let us remember in this election season, as we vote for those who will represent us, that our nation was formed with a philosophy of governance that calls not simply for government of the people, but government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The operative words here are those above in bold. Especially the “by the people” part. We elect representatives because it would be impractical for 300 million of us to show up in Congress and all try to be heard. So we set up a system where we elect representatives, we make our opinions known to said public servants, and direct them to carry our community conscience back to headquarters in Washington, D.C., to try to come up with policies that reflect and address our wants and needs.

The only way the system can work as intended is if we do the heavy lifting. Nowhere in the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Magna-freaking-Carta or any other such document does it call for turning your will and your life over to anyone other than – if you believe this way – a God of your understanding. Here on this earthly plane, we have work to do.

So, please lend a hand. We need your voice. We need your vote.

This year’s ballot has a number of items to consider whose passage or defeat will have serious impact on life in our fair city for years to come.

Measure 2A asks Denver voters for permission to retain all taxes collected under our current rates, without raising those rates now or in the future without a vote of the people. The concept is known colloquially as de-Brucing – a reference to Doug Bruce, a radical anti-tax activist and supporter of the TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) Amendment, that has forced Colorado jurisdictions to return money collected if in excess of a certain level determined by said Amendment.

If 2A passes, Denver will receive an additional $68 million annually to help offset the ongoing deficits that have arisen due to the recession-driven reduction in all sources of city revenue. While this does not involve a change to our tax rates, the money does not come out of thin air, but is money that will no longer be rebated to property owners as TABOR now requires.

Let us not split hairs. Let us face this honestly and with full disclosure. No, this is not a tax rate increase. Yes, it will increase the tax bill on the average Denver home about $100. Larger homes a bit more. Smaller homes a bit less.

Here’s the deal. It takes money to run a city. Denver has trimmed some $400 million from its budget in recent years, and there is very little fat left. Library hours have been reduced and will go down further if 2A fails. Our ability to staff our police and fire fighting departments has been weakened. Both agencies are under-manned for the jobs they face. I’m thinking that’s not a situation that bodes well for public safety.

Our roads need maintenance, our trash needs to be picked up, our kids need access to recreation and after-school programs, etc., etc., etc., etc. It takes dough, people. For most of us, even in light of the recession, the money this measure costs is well within our reach. For those of us truly at wits’ end, I would submit the good that this measure will do will offset the pain it may cause.

If you can afford the tab, and decide to vote against 2A, please drop me a note and let me know which services you suggest we drop. Thanks.

I’m of like mind for 3A and 3B. Another $150 a year more or less to allow Denver Public Schools to maintain and improve its facilities and programming. I am not a blind fan of Tom Boasberg and the DPS administration, but from where I sit, I see a school district that is providing a far more varied and appealing product than was true a number of years back. Our school district is slowly integrating based on choice rather than transit, and we are offering all students more options for success than simple, reading, writing and arithmetic.

We need even more commitment to raising up our at-risk populations, a renewed devotion to support of traditional neighborhood schools, and a reaffirmation that not all students are nurtured by a diet weighed down by math and science, without a reasonable portion of arts, music and physical education to balance the scales.

I believe withholding the monies sought because of current shortfalls I want addressed is potentially far more damaging than offering up my $150 a year in support of progress I see being made. I’ll vote Yes for DPS.

I think Councilman Charlie Brown is absolutely right that if Colorado votes in favor of Amendment 64, and adult use of marijuana is legalized, Jay Leno and his fellow comedians are going to have a field day with comments about the Mile “High” City. And, I am interested to see how it all actually plays out, in view of the fact that possession and consumption of marijuana is still in violation of federal law.

However, I think while the late night jokes will be funny, they beg the question, and while we may be at odds with federal law, I’d rather we pushed the discussion rather than shied away.

And may I clear the air for the record. I don’t use the stuff and haven’t for many years. Did for a while. Don’t think the use of mind and mood altering substances is a great idea, except in small doses by adult humans.

If you want prohibition, then outlaw alcohol as well. It makes no sense to me that liquor is legal and marijuana is not. If you think another legal drug makes too many, and one is enough, I’d suggest legalizing weed, and putting the beatdown on booze. I believe alcohol is, by far, more dangerous in more ways than I have time to discuss here.

The current system of cartel-building marijuana prohibition, and our absurd “winky-winky” system of medical marijuana, is in no way protecting our children or the public interest, which should be the motivating reason for your vote on this matter. The public interest.

Regulate marijuana production and sales so you have a safe product sold to the proper audience. (Kids will still find ways to get weed, as they always have found access to alcohol.) Tax the hell out of it, and we may be paying for fewer bond issues in the future.

And if you want to reduce the number of people who find it necessary to retreat from reality, then think seriously about what we need to do as a society to give folks a reality they don’t need to retreat from so much. Now that, my friends, is a long discussion.

 
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