Sunday, February 14, 2010

This epitomizes what's wrong with Toledo

In today's Blade, the editorial board addresses the issue of the Toledo Public School income tax proposal that will be on the May ballot. In doing so, it epitomizes exactly what's wrong with this area.

They are correct that TPS needs to answer questions about their finances, but the questions The Blade wants answered are the wrong ones. They want to focus on what the schools will have to go without if they don't get more of our money. They should be more worried about what the taxpayers will have to go without if another government entity gets even more of our limited funds.

The school district needs to show parents and other voters, in grim particularity, how the district would have to cut its budget without the new revenue the tax would raise.

Really? They're suggesting that TPS board members scare the voters in order to get a tax passed. But they don't just suggest it - they come right out and say the voters should be threatened:

But unless voters feel threatened - unless they are convinced that the failure of the tax measure would make things unacceptably worse for themselves and for the pupils who attend city schools - they will vote no. That shouldn't be so hard to understand.

And not just once:

The district doesn't want to scare voters? If it wants its tax, it had better.

This is just unbelievable! Or, perhaps, it's completely believable as the only tactic that will work.

But what does it say about The Blade and the elected board members if the only way you can gain support for a proposal is through threats, intimidation and scare tactics?

They write that an emotional appeal won't work - yet fear is an emotion and they are actually recommending what they then dismiss. Where's the logic in that?

The Blade admits that things are tough all over. And they're right. But the solution isn't to badger and coerce voters into making it even tougher for themselves. The solution is to cut government spending so people have more of their own funds to spend.

Wealth in a community is not created by confiscating private funds for government spending.

The real questions the paper should be asking are all about TPS spending and why they're spending more than all but one other school district in the county and still need more. Where are the in-depth examinations of the finances of the system? Where are the investigative reports? Where are the tough questions for school board members and administrators about the (alleged) theft by a former administrator and how TPS has - or has not - changed their internal policies to prevent such actions in the future?

I guess it's just so much easier to tell TPS their best approach is to browbeat and bully voters than to actually expect them to share what's going on in the TPS checkbook. Of course, if we knew how TPS spent our money, we'd probably be less likely to give them any more. And if that's a possibility, no wonder plan is intimidation.

Has The Blade ever met a tax it didn't like? I don't recall, but it seems like every tax hike or additional government spending that's been presented in the last 15 years has had their support.

And now the city and TPS both want more and the editorial board thinks you should be bludgeoned into giving it to them. No wonder The Blade's lead story today says "U.S. ranks Toledo as nation's 8th-most impoverished."


Bob said...

Could not agree more. What this speaks to is a larger issue of school funding in general. For years, the courts have repeatedly said the current method of funding schools is unconstitutional, and yet, the legislature and the citizenry have failed to produce the political will to do anything about it. Until that mentality changes, you're left with the school district to bully and threaten to get what it needs.

Timothy W Higgins said...


I wondered at the lack of shock that TPS could so suddenly be $30 million in the red this year and potentially $70 million short for next year.

Where was the management foresight to see the issue? How could the growth of this debt occur and grow so quickly without being noticed? And most importantly, how does a tax that is projected to raise $18 million a year close a $30 million gap this year, let alone a $70 million one next?

This certainly appears to be a form of mathematics with which I am unfamiliar.

James said...

Good points, all. Tim, remember the foresight over Sanders and Burns and the missing 600 grand? It's no wonder if they can't manage that sum of money, how can they be trusted to handle millions and millions more? Maggie, maybe the Blade should have asked the questions about what TPS will do with the money if the levy is passed? And you can count on TPS to make sure we vote "for the children" in their campaign. That old slogan always works on the suckers (oops, voters) in Toledo.

skeeter1107 said...

Mr. Higgins,

To answer your question regarding what form of Mathematics? As a product of the Toledo Public Schools, I can tell you that it's "New Math" sir.

Two things come to mind. Eighteen doesn't equal 30 or 70 without spending cuts. Secondly, should they actually get it passed, the tax further burdens income producing citizens the City needs. In doing so, it provides a not so subtle impetus for the taxpaying citizens to leave Toledo while leaving retirees and non-payers behind.

By excluding all forms of income and only including earned income, I see it as a cynical attempt to get people who won't pay the tax to vote for it. Otherwise, if it was a school income tax that included all income including interest and dividends, it would have no chance.

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