You know how, at sporting events, you often see those T-shirt and hot-dog guns that launch items high into the stands, toward the jiggling, beckoning hands of fans?
Well, Donald Hall Sr. today launched a $75 million cannon-shot toward Jackson County taxpayers, but I think it could easily misfire.
The news was that the Hall Family and the Hall Family Foundation “announced a $75 million pledge to Children’s Mercy for the construction of a research building on the hospital’s main campus.”
The pledge came with a $1 billion condition, however. The condition is that Jackson County taxpayers approve a half-cent, $40-to-$50-million-a-year sales tax increase before the Halls fulfill the pledge. The proceeds would go toward “translational” medical research.
The reaction on my blog was quick.
“Andrew” wrote: “I hope that tactic backfires. It’s a crappy thing to do. Either give them the money or don’t, but don’t try to control everyone’s votes.”
“Jim W” wrote: “Now we have a blatant attempt by the powers that be to bribe the electorate into voting yes.”
Sarah Weitzel wrote: “Is the Hall Family Foundation entering the race?”
I guess Sarah was basically asking if Hall Family was trying to win a popularity contest…because they are already eyeballs deep in the tax proposal.
I have dubbed it the Civic Council Sales Tax, because leaders of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City (like Donald Hall Sr. and current Hallmark c.e.o. Donald Hall Jr.) hatched and are pushing the tax.
The measure, Question 1, will be on the Nov. 5 ballot throughout Jackson County. If approved, taxpayers would fork over about $1 billion in sales taxes for medical research over the initial 20-year life of the tax.
As many of you know, I oppose the tax and have registered a campaign committee called Committee to Stop a Bad Cure.
By holding out a $75 million carrot, the Hall Family and its foundation are hoping that a majority of Jackson County voters who go to the polls on Nov. 5 will bite.
The two biggest questions I hear are:
1) Why should county taxpayers be on the hook for this? And…
2) Aren’t there a lot of other public needs that take priority over this?
Naturally, the $75 million, conditional pledge has received quite a bit of news coverage.
The Star put a story on its website, as did the Kansas City Business Journal and KMBC-TV, Channel 9.
A Channel 9 reporter, Haley Harrison, sent me the news release this morning and asked me to comment.
Here’s what I wrote in response:
Harrison added my response, in its entirety, to her story.
Eric Adler, who wrote The Star’s story, quoted the leader of another opposition group, Citizens for Responsible Research. The leader of that group is a Springfield-based, personal-injury lawyer named Brad Bradshaw.
Brianne Pfannenstiel, who wrote the Business Journal story, did not quote either me or Bradshaw, but she said she arranged to call me tomorrow to discuss the tax proposal.
I guess it’s going to take a while for JimmyCsays and the Committee to Stop a Bad Cure to be afforded a chance to respond to everything the Civic Council and its campaign committee do. But don’t worry: There’s a ton of natural resistance to this tax proposal, and I will wave the opposition flag as high and as conspicuously as I can.
We, the people with mid-level incomes and lower, are against this, and there are a lot more of us than there are of them.