The letters are in the mail.
Hamblen County Mayor David Purkey and Commission Chair Stancil Ford want your vote FOR increasing the local sales tax in the referendum.
Purkey and Ford have sent out a "tax us more" letter using the old 2002 "pick your poison" wheel tax blackmail tactic.
"Pick your poison" was the Tribune headline during the 2002 wheel tax referendum when Commission Chair Maudie Briggs proclaimed loudly and clearly that voters could choose EITHER the wheel tax OR there would be a property tax hike.
Well, voters "chose" the wheel tax in May 2002, and Hamblen County Commissioners, no doubt laughing the whole time, took that $1 Million+ and then went ahead and increased the property tax by 15 cents anyway.
Predictably, the Citizen Tribune (a/k/a Jack Fishman) has endorsed the higher sales tax and, just as predictably, the Tribune is running a series of articles on the sales tax referendum---a series that so far has only included comments and interviews of people who support the newspaper's editorial stand.
Fair and balanced? Nope. Slanted and tilted toward taxes, taxes, and more taxes. Yes.
Ford and Purkey stated yesterday that the "education foundation" paid for the printing and mailing of the letter that they signed and that went out on county letterhead. Purkey and Ford were apparently referring to HC*Excell, a 501(c)(3) non-profit---but the letter itself doesn't provide the identity of the financier.
County Mayor David Purkey has already been quoted in the newspaper encouraging people to vote to increase the local sales tax and stating that the commission was unanimous in supporting the sales tax increase.
At yesterday's commission meeting, Commissioner Larry Baker pointed out that Purkey's statement about the commission supporting the sales tax increase was wrong. Baker said that he did NOT vote to support the sales tax increase; he only voted to put the sales tax on a referendum. Stancil Ford agreed that the only vote commissioners took was to put the referendum on the ballot.
School Board Chairman Janice Haun got her turn in the newspaper yesterday. Her message was the same old/same old-- send more money to the school board. Haun said that she ISN'T sure where the money will go, but she IS sure that she wants it and that Dr. Lynch will find a place to spend it. She never mentioned that the school system got an extra $5 Million in BEP money last year. Hopefully, Dr. Lynch was able to find a place to spend that!
Purkey, Ford, Haun...Who will be next in line to tell voters how to vote and to encourage a YES vote for a sales tax increase?
Morristown City Mayor Sami Barile and/or City Administrator Jim Crumley, both of whom are adept at overspending, raising taxes by 40% in one year, and then dreaming up the sales tax increase to get county taxpayers to help city officials lower the city tax rate.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Thom Robinson keeps a somewhat low profile but would be good for a pro-tax soundbite.
Director of Schools Dale Lynch will surely jump in and push for more money. The schools got an extra $5M in BEP funding last year. But, of course, that can't be enough. More, more, more!
HC*Excell Director Tish Jones will be pushing for higher taxes of all kinds as she constantly repeats "it's for the children, it's for the children, it's for the children."
Alex Rom-Roginski, newly-elected Chamber of Commerce president and Tish Jones' husband, would gladly speak in favor of higher taxes as he has before.
Commissioner Ricky Bruce, who has been telling Hamblen Countians for years that they are undertaxed, should be giving his enthusiastic support for this tax increase and the next and the next!
Commissioner Joe Spoone, whose wife, sister, and brother get school system paychecks, might say something, but he usually likes to remain quiet and let others vote for the tax increases that end up benefiting him and his family.
Commissioner Joe Swann, whose wife is a school teacher, thinks you just can't tax people enough "for the children" no matter where the money goes or what happens.
A smattering of P-16 officials, industry leaders, and perhaps even a current or former principal or teacher would round everything out nicely.
By the time the newspaper series ends, everyone should know exactly how to vote (remove tongue from cheek).