Rock/pop Clubs by Night
Rock/Pop Club Directory
Rock/Pop Bands in Town
Jazz Clubs by Night
Jazz Club Directory
Jazz Bands in Town
If the Palesky tax cap loses at the ballot box in November, it won’t be because it’s a slap-dash proposal drafted by boobs, relying on wacky expectations, and riddled with unconstitutional provisions.
Although, it is all that.
By themselves, those petty problems wouldn’t be sufficient to douse the white-hot anger smoldering in the Maine electorate over the failure of the governor and the Legislature to enact real tax reform. If the election were held today, Palesky, flaws and all, would win in a landslide.
The key word in the preceding sentence is "today." The actual vote is still more than two months away. That gives pro-cap forces plenty of time to squander their advantage by allowing spokespeople with more love of the limelight than brains to make ill-considered, outrageous, and deceptive statements. Of course, if those spokespeople didn’t make ill-considered, outrageous, and deceptive statements, they might not have anything to say at all.
Some examples: In July, Eric Cianchette, co-founder of Tax Cap Yes! (TCY? Isn’t that a yogurt franchise?), told the editorial board of the Courier newspapers that one of the major advantages of limiting tax bills to one percent of a home’s assessed value is that it would provide much-needed relief to Maine’s most oppressed minority: rich out-of-staters who own summer property here. "If they are not using the services, they should not have to pay more money," Cianchette said. "They’re paying their fair share."
Sympathy for seasonal visitors, such as Martha Stewart and the Rockefellers, lacks something as a campaign theme. Somebody needs to stifle Cianchette before his comments turn up in the opposition’s TV spots.
As long as the Stifle-ator is in use, maybe it should be turned on Steve Scharf and his pals. Scharf, a Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives, showed up with his posse at an August 4 rally held by anti-cap forces in Portland. According to news accounts, the pro-cappers nearly drowned out the speakers with chants, heckling, and the occasional expletive. No need for a healthy debate, when thuggery will suffice.
A few days later, TCY’s other co-founder, Phil Harriman, issued a press release that, at first glance, seemed to indicate Portland Mayor Nathan Smith had endorsed the Palesky cap. "Portland Mayor Agrees Property Taxes Are Too High and Indicates He Supports A Reasonable Cap," read the headline. In fact, Smith doesn’t include the one-percent cap under his definition of reasonable, preferring more liberal spending limits. Harriman’s release teetered on the brink of being deceptive.
Clearly, the pro-cap campaign is in need of adult supervision.
To fill that gap, TCY announced on August 16 that Mark Gartley was lending "his years of political and business experience" to the cause.
Gartley does, indeed, have lots of political experience, most of it on the losing side. A former prisoner of war in Vietnam, he ran for Congress in the state’s 2nd District in 1974, collecting just 29 percent of the vote. Another congressional bid in 1978 also fell short, but he improved to 42 percent. In between those campaigns, Gartley served as Maine’s secretary of state, although not, as TCY’s news release claims, "under" independent Gov. James Longley, a revered icon of fiscal conservatives. The secretary is chosen by the majority party in the Legislature, in that case, the Democrats.
By the mid-1990s, Gartley had moved to Southern Maine and shifted allegiances to the GOP. Last year, he agreed to head a group seeking approval from Westbrook voters to establish a racino in that city. The proposal was soundly defeated. This past spring, he ran for the Westbrook City Council, extending his streak of coming up on the short end of the vote.
Gartley admitted there are some problems with the pro-cap campaign. "It’s sort of all volunteers at this point," he said. "It’s not as well organized as it should be. We’ll try to get better organized in the next few weeks."
Yeah, that would be good, because "in the next few weeks," there’s going to be an election. What’s more, the opposition has hired the state’s best political operative, Dennis Bailey, who has not, to date, said anything ill-considered, outrageous or deceptive. He does, however, have an organization — Citizens United To Protect Our Public Safety, Schools, and Communities — that’s raising money like crazy, while focusing the debate on the loss of municipal services that will allegedly occur if the cap passes.
Gartley doesn’t seem worried about the other side hijacking the campaign.
"The issues are crystal clear," he said. "There’ll be all kinds of little spins on it, but what’s going to shine through [is] no matter how you spin it, it’s a tax-policy issue."
As mottoes go, that one probably won’t make it into "Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations." But at least it’s an improvement over the stuff we’ve been getting from Cianchette, Scharf, and Harriman.
If I’ve taxed your patience, email me at email@example.comThe Politics and Other Mistakes archive.
Issue Date: August 27 - September 2, 2004
Back to the Features table of contents
|© 2000 - 2013 Phoenix Media Communications Group|