It#8217;s smart growth vs. the tax rate on May 2

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2006

Nothing major out of the State of the City event last night at the Hilton. It was pretty swank (valet parking and the two words newspaper people hate the most, “Cash Bar”), but unless I missed it (and I wasn’t paying a heckuvalot of attention) there were no major announcements.

In the past, the event has been used to make some major, or not-so-major (i.e. Petals in 2001) economic announcement, but it appeared last night’s event was merely to tout how smart we are here in Suffolk with our “Smart Growth,” our “Priorities,” our “Vision,” etc.

I came down pretty hard on the State of the Schools event several weeks ago, perhaps unjustifiably, for being inane. The State of the City was no different. But I guess it’s supposed to be. The Chamber of Commerce sponsors it and I want to be supportive of Lonnie Staylor and his group. I was probably just in a foul mood that day…


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Not surprisingly, the big paper came out today in support of the incumbents n Calvin Jones, Bobby Ralph and Joe Barlow n in the May 2 City Council election, ostensibly for their staunch support of smart growth and the UDO, except of course, when they are against it.

As I’ve said here before, if smart growth and the UDO is what matters most to you then you need to vote for the incumbents. The best way to judge what a person is going to do in the future is what they have done in the past. These three and Charles Brown who is running unopposed in the Cypress borough, have reliably provided the majority for the past four years (two in Barlow’s case) that has upheld the plan.

Of course, I’m not suggesting the challengers are intent on dismantling the UDO. I don’t know. They say they won’t and all we have to go by is their word. Anybody who says they will is only guessing or trying to scare voters.

On the other hand, if it’s the tax rate that’s most important to you (and judging by the turnout at Wednesday’s public hearing on the assessments, that’s the case with no small number of our city’s residents), I’d suggest you vote for one of the challengers. That same majority that has supported smart growth has also steadfastly opposed too much of a drop in the tax rate, despite skyrocketing assessments, so that their “priorities” can continue to be funded. Again, judging by what they’ve done in the past, it’s likely they will continue to do that in the future. Again, the challengers claim to want lower taxes, but they have no record on which we can judge them and they may find, once in office, that the higher tax rate is necessary. Who knows?

I guess what I’m saying is not to listen to what people or newspapers say when it comes to casting your vote in this contest. Just like council makes and touts its priorities, voters have to do the same. The question you need to ask yourself May 2 is, “What is most important to me, smart growth or the tax rate?” Once you decide that, your candidate choice should be obvious.