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Letter: Vote No On Courthouse

Letter to the Editor:
In the upcoming April bond issue concerning the courthouse initiative, the taxpayers of this county should vote no. The previous letter to the editor on this matter (The Media, March 10, 2010, P.2) is right on the money. But there are several other major reasons in addition to Mr. Kerner’s points for voting no on this issue, one of which I believe shakes the very basic foundation of our democratic republic. That is a government by the people, for the people, one man one vote.
This means election results have meaning. Last November the taxpayers of this county voted NO! overwhelmingly on the tax proposal, only to have that election result overturned in a special election held in February during the middle of winter with only about 28% of the electorate participating.
So let’s see how we got to this point. I’ll use 1983 as a starting point, because last fall there was an article that appeared in this paper entitled “Former Commissioners Respond” (The Media, October 21, 2009). One of the former commissioners stated that in 1983 a county tax initiative was voted down by the taxpayers. That’s almost 27 years ago.
During that time nothing, or very little, has been done to fix the “peoples house” which is the courthouse. During that same period of time, nonessential county government grew exponentially. What do I mean by nonessential?
First, what is essential county government? Essential county government consists of the county peace officers, county clerk, treasurer, assessor, collector, prosecuting attorney, county court, and county maintenance (roads, bridges, etc.). Also the buildings to house these essential government offices.
You get the idea of what I mean. These are the basic county offices that are needed to maintain and run the county, and are used by 95% or better of the people.
During the past 27 years a new county jail was built after three or four ballot initiatives were pushed down the taxpayers throat. I remember clearly that special interests and special committees were used to tell us how desperately we needed this new jail. Not only that, but we would be saving a lot of taxpayer dollars and in fact it would be a money making deal.
How’s that money making deal working out for you?
Then, as today, taxpayers were looked upon as being too stupid to know what was good for them. That is, it took three or four elections to get it approved. And if I remember right it passed in a special August election. While this took place little or nothing was done in the way of fixing the courthouse.
So here we are today 11 plus years after the new county jail issue, and little has been done to address our structurally sound, historic courthouse. Our commissioners, two of whom are recently elected and who didn’t have any questions concerning the results of their elections, convened a special committee to study the courthouse question.
This unelected committee returned their findings and suggestions to the commissioners. They determined that a new courthouse was needed and by building a new courthouse we would be saving the taxpayers money. Sound familiar!
The commissioners decided to go with the committee’s suggestion and put it on last November’s ballot. The people voted NO! Election results have meaning – end of story, right? Not in Clark County.
Once again we the people are just too stupid to see what is good for us. The courthouse committee, remember, that was set up to study the issue and should have been disbanded after presenting their findings to the commissioners, won’t accept the people’s voice. Remember also that they are not elected by the people.
So instead of disbanding they converted themselves to a “Build a New Courthouse Committee” LOBBY with the commissioners apparent approval. This lobby figured out that they could intimidate the public into voting for a new courthouse as it happens in Castro’s Cuba and Chavez’s Venezuela. They also recognized by holding an election only ninety-one days later in the middle of winter they could suppress the vote.
What’s the intimidation? Their tactics are simple. First and foremost is their mindset that says the people don’t know what’s good for them, and that come hell or high water you’re getting a new courthouse.
Second, to show how serious they are about this issue, you the voter must be punished for not voting the right way in November. So we are going to spend $8-9,000 (figure reported earlier in The Media) of your hard-earned money to hold a special “do over” election in the middle of winter.
Thirdly, to make sure the fix is in, they tell the voter to either pass this tax issue or it will be taken through increased property taxes. Some choice, eh!
That is like saying you have two choices – you’re going to be shot, so do you want it from a .22 or a .44 Magnum?
So now you see why the basic foundation of the country is at stake.
If every time some entity doesn’t like the election results, and we keep having to do “do over” elections, what is the purpose of voting?! Why don’t they just dictate to us serfs – oops – tax units, oh, I mean the people – what the correct results are supposed to be. That way we are capable of marking the right box on the ballot next time, which should save money by not having to have “do over” special elections.
Finally, you may be wondering what to do about the courthouse issue after voting NO. Well, I believe all the cards were not on the table when discussions began on the funding for either destroying the courthouse and building a new one, or repairing and updating this historic house of the people so that the people could use, enjoy and preserve their history for many years to come.
I never once heard any mention of cutting or eliminating nonessential county government. If this is the case, then the county taxpayers were not given all their true options in this matter.
I also think that the courthouse committee may have been restricted from considering any other option except to raise taxes.
If we look into cutting nonessential county government I believe we can solve the courthouse question. First of all by cutting the government you solve the supposed need for more office space. It’s pretty simple. Less government, less space needed.
Secondly, I think through these cuts we could save at least $200,000 a year or more. That’s only about 6% of the budget, In ten years that would be more than $2,000,000 dollars in savings. The courthouse of the people and the Hiller Office Building could be properly revamped and upgraded in stages in a timely manner as these savings come in.
What about the February sales tax forced on us? There are several options available, but only if you vote NO on the April bond issue.
It seems that the solution to every problem that arises is to raise taxes forcing you and your family to cut your budget, but the government never cuts its budget and keeps growing in leaps and bounds with nonessential government programs. The day is fast approaching when there won’t be enough hours in the day to pay your tax liability. That’s why not only are we being enslaved, but so are our children and grandchildren.
Ultimately putting taxpayers on the line for an unwarranted amount of debt is irresponsible. Let’s return to the sound and another one of the basic founding principles of this great nation: LIMITED GOVERNMENT!
Vote NO April 6th. God bless, the United States of America.
 David French
W. Athens, Missouri