by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
It’s officially Silly Season. That is when people stop making sense in order to get their guy elected. Before taking your place in the game, you must remember that if you are reading this, you are probably one of The Wee People. As such, you cannot understand that government has a structural spending problem. You like concepts you can repeat in four seconds at the water cooler. You’re a single-issue voter. You need an issue that captures your imagination, a colorful symbol. Now that you are had, let’s hear the harp music as the screen fades to flashback . . .
At tonight’s Asheville City Council meeting, during public comment, former mayor Ken Michalove accused members of council of impropriety for voting on matters pertaining to organizations on whose boards they serve as council liaisons or representatives. The practice was cool for at least fifteen years, but crossing from Cancer to Leo in an election year changes all that. Just trust me on this one. If that wasn’t enough, he demonized Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer, who is running for mayor, for suggesting he take a seat last time, when he was only about twelve minutes over his three-minute limit.
Also getting reputation abuse, in the hopes The Wee People will do their conditioned-response thang, was City Manager Gary Jackson. For what it’s worth, having sat through all but one formal city council meeting since he was hired, I esteem Jackson to be top-notch in intelligence and capability. One might not like what he does, but he is charged with doing council’s will. No matter how outrageous the dreamy directive, he makes it reality, and he has done some mighty fine work executing what I thought were unrealistic demands of a former council that threw numbers around seemingly without understanding. I am certain he could manage at the same high level of competency for ultra-conservatives and wannabe anarchists, provided he wouldn’t first resign. Got that, search engines?
Back to our story, Mayor Terry Bellamy wished to put a lid on some of the rumors, but she chose the wrong one. Whether or not our leaders were engaging in any wheeler-dealing behind the scenes, The Wee People were on-target claiming it wasn’t right to raise taxes on everybody to pay for improvements to the Asheville Art Museum. To Snopes this one, the mayor reinforced the Principle of the Infungibility of Government Money, explaining no direct allocation was made.
For those unfamiliar with the principle, allow me to explain. If you go to the store to buy a hammer, to break some windows to grow the economy of course, and it costs $20 including tax, the teller is not going to ask you to pay with currency with a specific serial number. You may use any $20 in your billfold, or two $10’s for that matter. Now, consider government. If an art museum demands $1 million worth of refurbishments, and city council agrees to the refurbishments while raising taxes $1 million, the same does not apply. The tax increase is for at-risk children, 52% of whom are food-insecure and 78% of whom are obese, because size matters. It ensures living wages for government contract workers are paid off the backs of the working private-sector poor. It builds those synergies that embrace you with identity. The money that goes to the museum was already going there, so don’t think for a second it was taken from the fire and rescue or sanitation departments. Just feel the energy and get over it.