Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 161
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for October 17, 2002

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Have you seen all the ballot issues we face this election? Their text took up 2 full newspaper pages, so few will read the details. Here’s my take on them:

Constitutional Amendment 1 allows St. Louis voters to amend their charter to reorganize their city and county offices without requiring the rest of the state to approve. Since it would allow them to eliminate duplications and save their (and our) taxpayer dollars, I’m voting YES.

Amendment 2 would give public safety unions (police, firefighters, ambulance, etc.) the right to collective bargaining. That means they’d be able to have wages or working conditions submitted to binding arbitration. They win an arbitration award and the city has to pay - taxes go up or other services are cut. You’ve seen what arbitrators did for baseball player salaries! While I sympathize with emergency personnel, I’ll vote NO.

Amendment 3 extends term limits just a little bit. As they exist now, term limits mean that someone elected in a special election to fill the last year of a State Senate term can only serve 5 years as opposed to the 8 allowed his colleagues. I think this is fair and will vote YES.

Amendment 4 allows a couple of municipal utilities to get together and have a joint project without oversight by the state’s Public Service Commission. I don’t understand – why should a municipal power service be less subject to regulation than an investor-owned one? Whose special interest would this serve? I’ll vote NO.

Then, there’s a call for a Constitutional Convention. We have to vote on it every 20 years. I see no egregious fault in the current constitution that would advise us to allow the politicians to get their hands on it to do a complete rewrite and will thus vote NO.

Proposition A is the cigarette tax. This monster takes over 7 columns of the newspaper by itself, which should be a warning. It’s proposed by the do-gooders, who believe that the best way to save poor folks from a dangerous habit is to rip them off. Then, the various special interests got involved, so the proposition is loaded down with all kinds of special allocations for one group or another. There are many reasons to oppose this tax. Liberals should oppose it because it is “regressive,” bearing most heavily on lower income people who can least afford it. Conservatives should oppose it because it’s another means of transferring money from consumers to the government, thereby extending economic slowdowns. Both civil liberties advocates and law enforcement should oppose it as it will lead to new crimes of cigarette smuggling and the growth of gangs. Sensible people should oppose it because the state squandered the “tobacco settlement” money, spending it on state operations rather than helping stop smoking. I’ll vote NO!

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