Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Even in Kent, right-wing rhetoric can’t fix any local problem

The city of Kent is a very odd community, even for being red-right Republican in its identification. For example, it is opposing the establishment of “pot shops” in the city; according to local officials and police, they think the aroma of pot emanating from such establishments will offend tender cilia, and believe that legal pot shops will attract “crime”—a supposition that proves that the ignorant never learn, or don’t want to. Yet officials still expect to receive its “share” of pot sales taxes from the state; if State Attorney General Bob Ferguson was less craven and concerned less about being painted as “soft” on “crime,” he might also inform such communities that such bans also mean they will not receive revenue from pot sales. 

Think that is audacious mendacity? Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke is proposing both a business & occupation tax and a $20 car license fee increase to balance the city budget. Wouldn’t this Republican town be knee-jerk opposed to such tax increases, or taxes at all? Didn’t King County voters just turn away a proposed car tab increase meant to maintain public bus service? And now the city wants to raise revenue through taxation because it can’t keep its books in order? I thought right-wingers were supposed to be “good” at that. Still, I have to give Cooke some credit; at least she isn’t trying put the heel down on Kent’s poorest people—most of them minorities and  generally ignored by elected officials—by proposing a sales tax increase. Or at least seems not to be; a B&O tax increase may well be taken off a low-income employee’s paycheck. 

I also read with some amusement a “guest op-ed” in the most recent edition of the Kent Reporter by someone named Marvin Eckfeldt, who claims to be a retired minister and former chair of the Kent Human Services Commission—an organization I suspect takes its cues of its responsibilities from the Reagan administration. Mr. Eckfeldt exhorted Kent residents to approve funding for an expensive new, and considerably larger, home for its police. “Space is needed where officers can meet and share information and crime data…Teamwork and efficiency depend on officers having common space and frequent contact.” I thought they were supposed to spend most of their time out on the street.

But what do I know? Perhaps it is better than they stay indoors more often. What are the Kent police doing to require a space three-times the size of the current facilities? According to the latest police blotter: A dispute between two roommates over who stole the other’s food out of their refrigerator; one was arrested when he admitted to “beating” his roommate’s “ass.” A homeless man was arrested for “malicious mischief” after removing a gas pump cover and falling asleep on it. A man was arrested for fourth-degree assault after he allegedly dropped his four-year-old son on the ground, at least according to his girlfriend. As usual, details are skimpy and it’s a he-said, she-said situation. And last—but not necessarily least—a man was arrested while sitting on someone’s front lawn with a barbecue burner in his possession, which he claimed he “found.” It turned out that he had warrants for theft in two states. 

It’s not all “good” news for Kent, you can bet your fundament. Boeing’s Kent Space Center facilities (no wonder nothing ever seems to going on there) will be mostly shut down and jobs sent to St. Louis and Oklahoma City. This after the craven state legislature—still in contempt for its refusal to adequately fund public education—approved $8.7 billion more in tax breaks for the state’s aerospace industry, most of which is slated to benefit  Boeing. Although some of the job loss will be made up when Amazon completes a fulfillment center on the current site, one can expect that wages—and thus taxes—will be considerably lower than that which will be lost.

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