The previous commentary in this space queried whether members of the Caddo Parish Commission had learned anything from two defeats of a tax renewal that would have had a net result of raising property taxes. If the responses from a couple of them indicate anything, the answer is, not at all.
This millage requested would have increased from 1.55 to 1.75, because of failure to roll forward in the past, and the parish was sitting on over twice the overall authorized amount of $23 million in uncommitted funds. It came up with a list of modest, uncritical project to take most of that money. It narrowly failed when on last October’s ballot when placed with some other unrelated matters, but wasobliterated three-to-one earlier this month by a slightly smaller voting public when joined by just two small measures on the ballot.
Members of that public who voiced an opinion to me or to others mentioned several reasons why they rejected it. Besides the fact it represented a tax increase, others included that it was unnecessary given the surpluses, that it was arrogant of the parish to try again after the people spoke the first time, and that they didn’t see the list of wants as compelling.
But none of this seemed to be picked up by Democrat CommissionerMichael Williams, who stated “those on the other side got their message out better than we did.” While this is a possibility and actually does serve as a valid explanation from time to time, it’s delusional to think that, as in this instance, something which got the approval of roughly 2,000 out of 9,000 votes suffered from a messaging problem. It’s wasn’t the messaging that was at fault, but the message itself.
Another commissioner whose remarks on the subject make the intelligent voter want to go rap him on the forehead and ask if anybody’s home is Republican John Escudé. He seemed to think it was all the fault of the Internet for the landslide loss, opining that the “social media and the blogosphere is [sic] a powerful, powerful tool.” Williams added that he thought opponents used these and other tactics misled voters. Hard to mislead even a portion of 77 percent that would have mattered, don’t you think?
Still, that doesn’t matter, because whatever and however voters decide about something, that’s what they decide. And it’s not like Escudé or Williams don’t know how to shoot off an e-mail message or make social media post of their own, so either they are dunderheads when it comes to plotting out a campaign – and that seems unlikely since they’ve managed to win multiple elections for their posts – or, again, the truth simply is if the message against renewal was not so compelling in the first place, it never would have had the traction to attract seven-ninth’s of the vote.
Yet the award for the most brain-dead comment about this went to Escudé. Mr. Sour Grapes defiantly declared that, because of the outcome that means potentially dipping into the ample free reserves, “we’re just going to have less money to pursue economic development …. We won’t be as competitive as Texas, for example, but it’s not the end of the world.”
Note the worldview on display here. In Escudé’s mind, government spending, not the market, drives economic development. To him, bigger government is better while you don’t get that kind of return by letting the people keep more of what they earn. He sees government as a necessary central planning tool that is superior over the decision-making of individuals when it comes to producing economic growth. While that attitude might make the Republican cozy with Democrats on the Commission, it certainly runs against the grain of his district, and apparently of a lot of parish-wide voters as well. And in a nutshell explains why he is so clueless about it all.
Perhaps had the parish asked for renewal at the present amount, or dropped it lower, the proposition might have passed. But if this pair of clowns stands in for most of the Commission’s inability to learn a lesson (Commissioner Stephanie Lynch did speak against the measure, and others may have sobered up since), it seems clearer than ever that the only thing that will stick with them would come in next fall. By booting them out of office.