Reports are pouring in to me of telephone polling on the developing Little Rock sales tax proposal. The questions seem to be built around a one-cent tax.
The questions sample the mood, I'm told, about local, state and national govenrment. They sample opinions on city and county leaders and, interestingly, the taxpayer-subsidized, anti-labor Chamber of Commerce.
They sample opinions on a tax if it were to support, variously: police; streets, parks, an economic development slush fund; money for the port, and, get this, development of a national entertainment center on a par with the Elvis home in Memphis or the rock 'n' roll museum in Cleveland. (Pick up my garbage, fix my streets, keep me safe, try to prevent rampant code violations, thank you.)
The interesting questions, according to my correspondents, concern variations on the tax. Would it be a straight tax for operations? What about if city residents got a property tax reduction in return? What about if city residents got a garbage fee reduction in return?
ALSO: Pollsters asked about an idea to have two tax votes, part of a penny for city operations, part for a bond issue for capital projects, to sunset.
What about — and here's where my dead body comes in — a 1/4-cent 10-year sales tax to give to the anti-public school, anti-labor, anti-health insurance, anti-progressive-taxation Chamber of Commerce a taxpayer-financed slush fund to promote mean, low-wage jobs in Little Rock? That this would be even discussed given the chamber's secret squandering of taxpayer money tells me, sadly, just about everything I need to know about city leadership. They are not working for you first. (I know. The money would go to a cut-out board, not directly to the chamber itself, but it would be the essence of the chamber, not laboring people, calling the shots.)
The county wants a jail tax. The library wants a tax increase (which I support). The truckers want a tax to make their road through Arkansas smoother. The highway department wants a sales tax to build freeways to nowhere. And the goddam city, with pitiful code enforcement, an understaffed police force, potholed streets, an understaffed Fire Department and, apart from a luxuriously financed, expense account-crazy airport, a generally beggared city government, is even TALKING ABOUT taxing my grocery and burger purchases to send money to the Chamber of Commerce?
The mind boggles.
REFERENCE: One of many reminders that experts say corporate welfare doesn't work, can be destructive and steals money that could be used for proven job lures — good infrastructure and outstanding education.
UPDATE: I know city money isn't being used for this polling. I got an indication today that this poll was conducted, indeed, strictly by private interests high on some of the very points to which I object. The city is quietly disavowing any connection, in other words. The proof of that will be in the final pudding, naturally. The sales pitch phrasing of some questions will likely produce some more favorable results in several cases than they might have had respondents heard the other side of, say, the corporate welfare equation.