This morning’s paper carries three separate articles concerning the mass transit proposal before the General Assembly.
One is a letter to the editor from a suburban mayor giving the standard pitch that "we’re only asking to let people vote on the idea" (and a reprise of the claimed absolute need to attract "young professionals.")
The second item is an editorial voicing, again, that this is just an opportunity to let people vote a tax increase on themselves. There is no reference to the fact that, once the tax increase is approved, the funds will be spent by an unelected body, much like the CIB, without any idea of responsibility to the naive citizens who voted approval of the idea.
The third article unfortunately causes us to wonder whether it is a precursor of what we might expect in future coverage of the legislation, and of the referendum itself if it comes to that.
This one has the above-the-fold, lead headline on the front page, as follows: "Tea party will fight transit plan." The first three words in the text are "Tea party activists...., followed by, ...and they’re willing to spend cash..." In the fifth paragraph, an organization called Americans for Prosperity is identified as "...a national tea party group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers...." The balance of the article uses nearly half of page A5.
It occurs to us that, among backers of promiscuous government spending, the label "tea party" is frequently applied as a derogatory term or even a vicious epithet. We wonder why this label is used repeatedly instead of the simple word "conservative" which never appears at all.
We also were somewhat surprised by the apparent necessity of the reference to "spending cash" while ignoring a report earlier this week that proponents have already gone through $1 million in support of the proposal. And that’s a million taxpayer dollars.
Nor do we remember ever seeing reference to "billionaire brothers" when the owners of the local basketball franchise plead poverty and drain another $10 million from the public treasury.
We do hope future discussions of the legislation, and especially of any resulting referendum on the whole concept, will be treated with objectivity and at least some attempt to present legitimate opposition along with the constant, hyped drumbeat of approval.
One other question does bother us, too. We cannot imagine why lack of public approval of the expenditures of about a billion tax dollars on behalf of two professional sports franchises never raised an eyebrow among supporters of this boondoggle.
Do they suppose a referendum will give better cover when the to-be-expected fiscal shell games with the new revenues start?