Thursday, September 17, 2009

A puzzle; and a heartwarming story

I think it’s fair to say some cool weather arrived last night. At least it did on the Gator homestead. Today will be one of the coolest in quite some time; then we’ll be off on a warmer, cooler, merry-go-round right through the weekend. I wish I knew how this cooler temperature will affect my visit to my senior fitness session this morning.

We’re going to be voting on five citizen initiatives and two other items in November. The airwaves and the print media are now getting jam packed with advertising and comments about those items. As one would expect, none of the initiatives is without some controversy.

One of them has caused a little waffling thinking on my part. We will be asked if we want the excise tax we pay on our automobiles to be halved and sales tax on newly purchased hybrids eliminated. I think it’s that second half that has me on the fence.

The purpose of the sale tax elimination, of course, is to promote the sales of the energy efficient vehicles. That leads me to wonder who will benefit from that loss of a sales tax revenue stream, the state or the car companies.

WCSHTV Ch. 6 reported on its NewsCenter program that the “No on Question 2” campaign kicked off yesterday in Portland. The groups opposed to the ballot question, question two on the November ballot, say the revenue loss to municipalities will be devastating. Those groups say they believe communities will have to increase property taxes to make up for the loss.

They say that road improvement projects and other road use projects will have to be cut back because of the lack of funding. It is a specious argument and it is this kind of scare tactic that at first blush makes me want to vote “Yes.”

Excise tax revenue is not dedicated revenue. It goes into the communities’ general fund and can be spent anywhere in the budget. Communities could still cut funding for road projects, but they would be cutting it out of the general fund.

The one area which all three levels of government, local, state and federal, have not done is look at their spending and set priorities so that some spending can be eliminated. You and I have to adjust our budgets during these hard economic times; for some reason governments believe they are exempt.

As I say every time I get on this kick to you who ask me just where I’d make the cuts, I didn’t make the decisions that led to the need. I’d bet I could find some, though, but darn few people would like them.

So for the next few weeks, I’ll be internally debating supporting the referendum or going against what I believe, cutting taxes and voting against that referendum. Both sides make good points, and both sides make some specious ones. This one could be a hard decision.

Now to change the pace. I hope you all saw that incredibly warm baseball moment that happened in Philadelphia Tuesday night. I didn’t see it when it happened and first saw it on the NBC Today show yesterday morning. It was repeated on the NBC Nightly News last night, one of the few warm moments that program has had in a while.

A dad, a long time Phillies fan, had taken his three year old daughter to the Phillies’ game. What nearly every fan dreams of when attending the major league games happened. The dad caught a foul ball, a treasure for any fan. After high fiving all around him and showing off his catch, the dad handed the ball to the little girl. She threw it back to the field.

I’m not sure I anticipated the dad’s reaction. First it was disbelief, then a very broad, loving smile crossed his face and eyes and he clutched that little girl very close to him with a huge hug. There was absolutely nothing but the love of a dad for his little girl in that moment. I found it to be a very touching scene.

I only saw a snippet of the story last night, but I think the team sent the dad a new ball. That was confirmed this morning.


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