Voting Against the Port Tax

If you are to believe those on the losing side of tax levies since last year, the tax the port passed is still affecting other tax measures. They brought it up when South Kitsap’s school bond failed. The library bond failed, the port became a question.

If tax boosters are right, residents didn’t get to vote on the port’s Industrial Development District tax to build the marina, so they’re voting against it now every chance they get.

Tonight, Bremerton City Councilman Will Maupin said the IDD tax not only affected Bremerton’s parks levy, it affected his own margin of victory. He’s winning his race with a 53-47 margin against former councilman Eric Younger.

“I guess it’s just that it’s just that there is always the feeling because of the unrest in property taxes and the port tax and the feeling that we need to make a change, that somebody else might be looking out for my well being or my property taxes more.”

You can draw attention to the fact that the other incumbent running in Bremerton, Dianne Robinson, won handily. But Robinson ran against a first-time candidate with no history on the council and a short history in the city. Maupin’s opponent, Eric Younger, does have experience on the dais and has stark differences with the incumbent.

Maupin might have a point on his own race, but that the port tax may have had an impact on Tuesday’s parks levy is easily more believable.

“I thought that when we first put that on the ballot that we had built up enough good will in the city that citizens were willing to invest some of their money in the Bremerton redevelopment. I think the port tax was an issue that didn’t die. It built up an unhappiness. I heard that over and over again as I was doorbelling and I think that’s what doomed our parks levy.”

The question then becomes how it will affect the city’s move to boost car tab fees to pay for roads. In pre-election debates all Bremerton council candidates said they favored putting a $20 boost in car tabs on the ballot. Maupin said Tuesday’s parks levy defeat will impact how the council moves forward with the street issue, but perhaps not substantially.

“It’s going to have some effect on our decision-making process, but I think the process is still what we planned all along. We’ll have a very vigorous public information campaign and see if we have support for $20 car tabs in order to support street repair.”

If all this is true and I’m running any government agency with an ability to ask voters for money, I’ve got to wonder if I would instead conspire to make do until the hangover from the port tax wears off, assuming people really are still voting against it.

If they are, when will it stop?

16 thoughts on “Voting Against the Port Tax

  1. It is remarkable how many election results were affected by the Port of Bremertons 150% stealth tax increase. I guess it is easier to blame the obvious target than take responsibility for your own inability to better explain your cause to the voter or taxpayer. A percentage of people will not vote for a tax increase, ever. A percentage will vote for a tax increase if given even a stupid reason, always. The majority must be shown the good and the bad, the benefit and the consequence to make a informed choice. The responsibility of the elected officials is to be a leader and by their actions show where we should be going and how to get there. What we get are elected officials and their backers who tell us what we should do and not to worry because they know best. Just give us the money. If nothing else the Port of Bremerton has awakened an awareness in the voter and the taxpayer that we really need to keep and eye on our money and keep the elected officials on notice that we are watching. Next will be questions on the SEED project and the Bethel Corridor improvements. Want to bet on more open discussion and articles in the paper??

  2. Back on Nov. 18, 2006, I wrote, concerning the scheme to pass the POF sales tax:

    “When government asks for more tax revenue, the question is whether our elected representatives are going to the well too often.

    “Our elected officials who will be deciding whether to take away the right to vote on a tax increase to fund passenger-only ferries should keep in mind that when you poison the well, once is enough.”

    When the Port of Bremerton leaders evaded the voters’ right to put that new tax on the ballot to pay for the Bremerton marina project, they “poisoned the well.”

    Some day, the “poison” will dissipate, but I doubt that anyone can predict how long it will take.

    Meanwhile, it will probably be a lot harder for our leaders to gain a trusting, non-skeptical reception for their ideas.

    And, if the POF proponents do lobby the legislature for a different way to get around the voters as they plan (having lost twice now in county-wide elections), it won’t make things better any sooner. Do they care? If they don’t yet, it will be a painful process to go through in making them care.

  3. Steven,

    You wrote, “If all this is true and I’m running any government agency with an ability to ask voters for money, I’ve got to wonder if I would instead conspire to make do until the hangover from the port tax wears off, assuming people really are still voting against it.

    No, you don’t got to wonder. You’ve got to prioritze.

    If you want money for new programs, eliminate old programs that have less priority or are not working.

    If you want money for new programs and all current programs are working and you are unable to prioritize, then come to the voters for new money.

    If you conspire to make do rather than aspire to achieve excellence, then you are not one I want running any government agency with an ability to ask voters for money.

  4. To answer Steven’s question, it won’t stop. Voters disgruntled with increasing taxes have been around for decades, long before the Port’s recent marina tax.

    For those who choose this level of civic participation, there will always be an initiative or increase to blame which is then used to rationalise a knee jerk reaction on another issue.

    If on the one hand a voter represents that they will always find a way to dig deep to pay for what they value, then indicates electeds go to the well too often and this is why there is backlash no matter why the tax increase, this is a contradiction and boils down to fickleness. No leader can be expected to fully win over such persons.

    The vote is over and done with. Time to move on and judge the Port on its merits. Anyone voting two or four years down the road on the basis of the marina tax and nothing more exhibits the tragic side of ‘democracy’ in action.

  5. D. Keating,
    Apparently your “tragic side of ‘democracy’ in action” includes removing elected officials that snub constituent’s opinions, use stealth to pass taxes, and then pass it off by saying they would do it again.

    What is tragic is that there are about 33% of voters like you that apparently think any means justifies the end.

    When you find your pleas to cover up what B.Mahan and C.Kincer have done don’t work, will you again rationalize that the vast majority are tragic examples of democracy?

    You sound like another person willing to dig deep into someone else’s pockets for what you value. Is the good side of democracy to you the side that can be manipulated?
    Your comment is most revealing.

  6. Tom Rosendale,

    I’m right here, and we’re all writing in English. If you want to know details about what I meant regarding the “tragic side of ‘democracy’ in action” comment, try asking instead of placing incredibly dumbed down or caricaturised interpretations in my mouth. Either that, or get busy proving your allegation that elected officials did, in fact, use stealth to pass taxes. A bit of context wouldn’t hurt, either, regarding when electeds responded about what they would do again, or why.

    Mark ticks on a wall in a dark cave until the time Kincer or Mahan are up for re-election years from now so you can “teach them a lesson” about the marina tax with your vote irrespective of their full record, but it is then you rationalising that any means justifies the end. I’ve made no pleas, and am certainly not interested in cover ups.

    If I do sound like another person willing to dig deep into someone else’s pockets for what I value, it is because you have your fingers in your ears. The only thing my comments revealed is how your mind works when extrapolating them. Your distortions have nothing to do with what I believe, and everything to do with precisely why certain constituent opinions deserve snubbing.

  7. Dona,

    I don’t care what wonderful things an elected official has done in their past; when they lose my trust, they lose my vote.

    “Do I trust the candidate”? is my “litmus” test.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  8. Ms. Keating,

    You wrote, “The vote is over and done with. Time to move on and judge the Port on its merits. Anyone voting two or four years down the road on the basis of the marina tax and nothing more exhibits the tragic side of ‘democracy’ in action.”

    The question is, shall public officials hold fast to the principle of asking voters’ permission, by means of the public’s vote, to increase taxes.

    In the Stokes-Huntington race, the final vote as I last saw it is approximately fifty-five percent YES, and forty-five percent NO.

    So, I see fifty-five percent voted for that principle as their number one value. Meanwhile, forty-five percent voted for something else.

    I regret Mary Ann chose to cast that principle aside. I agree, the vote on the Stokes-Huntington race is over and done with.

    But in two and four years down the road, I will hold Cheryl and Bill accountable for casting aside the aforementioned principle.

    We agree you are free to support something else.

  9. D. Keating,
    Maybe I was harsh in my response to you when you said people like me represent the “tragic side of democracy”. I suppose I should have said thank you very much.

    If elected officials were not held to what they did in the early part of their terms, what do you think would happen to the idea of accountability for that period? Perhaps Mr.Mahan and Ms.Kincer were thinking as you do.
    There is no lesson to be taught. It’s a question of confidence and credibility.

    Prove allegations?
    If the commissioners did not know a public vote could occur, they would have to be incompetent not to have asked on such a magnanimous tax step. Two of the commissioners have decades in politics. If they asked and got misinformation, then the CEO and the port’s attorney, Gordon Walgren, are incompetent. Even if not asked, this is the type of thing there is a CEO and an attorney at the meetings for.

    It is pretty hard to believe that Walgren, with his reputation of being a legislative whiz at these kind of things and his previous type of involvement at high levels in politics, wouldn’t be aware of cause, effects, and alternatives. The fact they didn’t fire him supports the supposition that he didn’t fail at informing them of the legal angles and repercussions.

    To dig into who said what to whom and when would be unnecessary embarrassment for somebody. The fact of what actually was done is sufficient. I would think you would approve of that.

    My ears aren’t plugged. I would love to have someone show me where I went wrong. Who wants to think their leaders are bad? Who wants to think their money was/will be wasted? Who wants to think their representatives don’t care about them? There is pain in this. Please take it away with a few wise words.

  10. Kathryn,

    A wife can accuse her husband of cheating, follow him around and spy on him. The marriage may even end due to this lack of trust, despite the fact that he may not have been cheating at all. There is nothing wrong with trust as a litmus test for voting, as long as this is accompanied by a factual determination that the allegation or accusation is true.

    Anonymous,

    If the law requires that public votes are to be taken on an issue, officials should indeed hold fast to this principle. However, what you are not speaking of is a citizen’s obligation to be aware and participate versus attempting to blame when caught asleep at the wheel. No matter how you slice it, voting out of anger over one issue, and a distorted one which presumes another’s principles on this basis, is not the sound basis for intelligent decision-making.

    Tom Rosendale,

    I can stand on the line no matter how you address me.

    This isn’t an issue of failing to hold leaders accountable. I am more than willing to hold the Port responsible for its investment in the marina and claims that it will be within certain budgetary parameters with an economic development yield to reverberate throughout the county. If Mahan and Kincer are thinking as I do, they will expend their time and energies ensuring this is the case, as well as other projects and initiatives to fulfill its stated mission.

    Confidence and credibility are not exhibited by ignoring that the Port indicated its agendae, that discussions were held for years, and that invited media chose not to cover it because other stories were more exciting.

    Yes, prove allegations. Where is your evidence that the Port deliberately attempted to keep this from the public’s knowledge and pass a stealth tax? The fact of what actually was done is not sufficient when those facts are in dispute, disregarded or distorted. I would like to see someone counterpoint Scott Ware here . Does he not know his own paper, then?

    Your ears are plugged if the only conclusion you can draw from my words is that of someone willing to dig deep into someone else’s pockets for what I value. Nothing in my writing suggested that whatsoever. And there are many who want to think their leaders are bad. Some even consider all politicians crooked and greedy.

    There is nothing which can be said to take away the pain of those who are angry that they must now pay another 25 cents a day. Perhaps if they resort to backwater politics and vote out every commissioner or oppose every project supported by the Port they will feel vindicated.

  11. Tom,

    The question is, would you hire Ms. Keating to be your elected representative at the Port or any other agency, given you have to use much of your time supervising her.

    Not me. I’m moving on.

  12. Dona,

    I’m not accusing them of anything. I’m holding them accountable for the decisions that they made and how they handled the process in those decisions.

    Like I said before, “Legal? Yes. Right? Hardly”.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  13. D. Keating,
    You just can’t envision that people have ideals other than money. I wonder why.

    The amount of money simply characterizes the extent of disregard the commissioners showed. Your use of a fictitious 25 cents a day in scorning people is probably what they thought too.

    Subsequently, money does matter when there is little left for schools, libraries, and parks.

    Have a nice day.

  14. D. Keating,
    Regarding your response to anonymous, the only ones that went to sleep at the wheel were the commissioners. The citizens were sleeping in the back seat of a Taxi having trusted the drivers.

  15. Tom,

    The real issue is your inaccurate conclusion that you’d have to use much of your time supervising me, and what it communicates regarding your ability to discern. This is further borne out by your straw man comment that the mention of 25 cents per day rules out the ability to envision other ideas. It has nothing to do with scorn, and again – your extrapolation is more revealing of your comprehension and thought process than anything I wrote.

    Perhaps you were asleep in the back seat of a taxi having trusted the drivers. Which would explain the myopic view.

    Every day is ultimately a nice day in my world.

    Kathryn,

    That you’ve decided you cannot trust them infers they’ve lost it because of something you believe they did. You’ve charged or blamed them with a fault or offence (which is the definition of an accusation), then cast your vote as if your allegation was factual. And since you’ve not once counterpointed Scott Ware’s comments regarding ongoing discussions and coverage of this issue, it would appear emotions are more important than facts.

  16. Alas, my “supervising” comment should have gone to that brave and accountable Anonymouse…who I thank for the ironic chuckle on the issue of my ability to be accountable and transparent.

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